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May 2018

Sit and Spin

Chief White Lightning’s Bleach Blonde Heritage

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Song Title: “Bleach Blonde Heritage”

From The Album: Chief White Lightning

Single Sentence Singles Review: Like a cliffhanger ending from your favorite television show, this track from the upcoming Chief White Lightning debut leaves you wanting more, so much so that you’ll be binge-listening the song as a replay until the album drops later this summer.

Beyond The Track: The brainchild of Joshua Logan, the Chief White Lightning self-titled debut is out July 13 on El Camino Media. Keep track of future tour dates here.

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Sit and Spin

Damien Jurado’s Percy Faith

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Song Title: “Percy Faith”

From The Album: The Horizon Just Laughed (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: If the singer/songwriter genre came with a secret sauce, Jurado would have mastered the recipe in the kitchen with “Percy Faith,” a musical course best served frequently.

Beyond The Track: The Horizon Just Laughed is out now and will be available for streaming July 6 via Secretly Canadian. Although Damien Jurado is finishing up the last leg of his North American tour now, he’ll be out on the road throughout the summer playing festivals and will then travel overseas in the fall. For a full list of dates, visit here.

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Trunk Gaming

Marvel Strike Force

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Game: Marvel Strike Force

Initial Release Date: March 2018

Publsher: FoxNext

Genre: RPG

Platforms: Android and IOS

Why We’re Playing It: MARVEL! Need we say more? We’ve been impatiently waiting for this one to hit the app stores ever since we saw the first trailer of Wolverine thrashing some bad guys. This is an RPG style game, so it works well on mobile devices, but it looks like an action-packed fighting game once you give your character the attack command. The app is free, but it will cost you something… ALL of your free time. This is addictive and fun, especially if you’re into RPGs. Nuff said!

What It’s All About: To keep this synopsis spoiler free, we’ll just say that you start by playing as Spider-Man, working for Nick Fury. Kingpin has captured other heroes in orbs throughout the city, and it’s up to you save and recruit them for your team. As you play more into the game, you unlock abilities and powers for your superheroes to use in their fight against evil.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: One of the best aspects of this game is getting to see some of your favorite heroes team up for combo attacks. For example, you can “taunt” with Luke Cage, then on your next attack, he will team up with one of the other characters, like Spidey, for a devastating combo… and it just looks so cool!

Bonus Level: Lately, there have been more obscure comic book characters finding their way to mainstream moviegoers and gamers. Long-time comic book fans knew who the characters were before, but remember when you’re mom or grandma did not know who Star Lord was? Well, Strike Force delivers on this front as well. Sure, you get to play as some of the classic Marvel heroes, but they also have some lesser known characters thrown into the mix, and it’s a nice bit of diversity.

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Wingman Wednesday

Mouna Traoré

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Photo By: Denise Grant

When you’re pursuing your dreams and things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to get discouraged and drift from the personal path you’ve set yourself on. It wasn’t that long ago that Mouna Traoré considered walking away from acting, but the joy she experiences while performing kept her focused and driven to succeed. Now she’s starring in two new series, BET’s “In Contempt” and “Condor,” which premieres on the Audience Network June 6.

We recently sat down with Traoré to discuss how working on “In Contempt” has bolstered her confidence, the thing she reminds herself of daily, and why she’d like to establish herself as a writer in the future.

TrunkSpace: You’re currently starring in BET’s “In Contempt.” As far as your own personal journey with the series thus far, where has it impacted your life the most?
Traoré: I think that starring in “In Contempt” bolstered my confidence more than anything else. As a performer, it’s natural to feel insecure because there is so much rejection, and before this project I was very anxious about what direction my career was going to take. I was very clear on the fact that I wanted to work on projects that reflected my social and political views, and made career decisions that reflected that, but I never imagined that my dream job would manifest so quickly or so in line with who I am and the kind of stories I want to tell.

TrunkSpace: The show tackles a lot of hot button topics and handles them in a very real, grounded way. How refreshing is that as a performer to be able to work on a series that is balancing both entertaining people and saying something substantial about the state of things at the same time?
Traoré: It’s not only refreshing to work on a series that is both entertaining and socially engaged, it’s also inspiring. Working on “In Contempt” has been an incredible learning experience. It feels wonderful to be part of a project that validates the stories of oppressed and marginalized people while it actively empowers its audience. For the first time, I feel like I’m using my talent to make a difference and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity!

TrunkSpace: Did you find a connection with your character Vanessa out of the gates or did it take some discovery to find who she is beyond what was presented to you?
Traoré: As soon as I read the breakdown for the character Vanessa Hastings I thought, “THIS IS ME!” Vanessa is a fish out of water at the Defenders Association and I’ve felt like that a lot. Like Vanessa, I’ve been very accustomed to being the only black person in a lot of spaces. I also grew up with white step parents, and have felt very removed from black communities at times. Reading the scripts, I felt as though I knew this girl implicitly. At times, I still am that girl!

TrunkSpace: One of the things that seems so great about BET as a network is that they really give their series a chance to grow and find an audience. Is that a breath of fresh air as an actor, not having to constantly look over your shoulder wondering if a cancellation is looming?
Traoré: It’s definitely lovely to feel like our show has the opportunity to grow and find its audience. It takes a lot of pressure off you as a performer and gives you a kind of freedom and confidence. It’s also awesome to know that the people who watch are dedicated fans, who are in it until the end.

TrunkSpace: We’ve read that you’ve considered walking away from acting on a few occasions. What helped you to stay the course and continue to reach for your dreams?
Traoré: Knowing that deep down, the purest joy I’ve ever felt since I was born has come from acting is the only thing that has kept me from walking away. And valuing the process and experience of creating as an actor more than the goals or the superficial rewards. When I realized I had the ability to make choices based on my happiness and not an idea of what I should do or what other people want, it changed everything. And having a team that loves and supports me 100 percent has also helped!

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to sometimes separate the business aspect of acting – which at times can be a little deflating – from the side of the craft that fuels you from a creative space? Is it important to remind yourself WHY you love it?
Traoré: The only thing that keeps me in the industry is the knowledge of why I love it. I remind myself of why I do this daily. And I choose to create my own work to keep that feeling alive. Being an artist is a privilege and the business aspect is a necessary component no matter what level you’re working at. You can either use it to your advantage or let it consume you.

TrunkSpace: Beyond “In Contempt you’re also set to star in “Condor” which premieres on June 6th. The series has a really deep bench in terms of the quality of talent both in front of and behind the camera. Again, as far as your experience is concerned, what did you take from your time on the show? What will you carry with you through the rest of your career/life?
Traoré: After working on “Condor” I was moved by the level of dedication and artistry I observed from the cast and crew members on the show. For such a big budget project with so many big names, it was a remarkably relaxed set. The directors as well as the showrunners Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg completely trusted us as actors to do our jobs, and it was liberating. The experience illuminated the fact collaboration is key to creativity.

Photo: Sven Frenzel/BET

TrunkSpace: Your character Iris seems far removed from Vanessa of “In Contempt.” Is that part of the dream, getting to play a diverse group of characters in a diverse body of projects?
Traoré: Playing vastly different characters is the most exciting part of the job! It’s such a dream to bounce around different realms of human experience. Iris is moons away from Vanessa, and it’s so much fun making that leap. It can be challenging but also educational.

TrunkSpace: We read that acting first landed on your radar at age three. If you could sit down and have a conversation with that younger version of yourself today, what would she think about your path to becoming a professional actress?
Traoré: She would probably be very unimpressed with me. She would probably say, “Why aren’t you famous yet?” and roll her eyes. She’d probably think I should’ve started earlier and suggest I should’ve run away from home or something. Young me was an idiot. Old me would have a lot explaining to do.

TrunkSpace: Finally Mouna, we spoke about moments where you considered taking a break from acting, but we’re curious, as you look further down the road, are there things professionally that you want to accomplish outside of acting and do you see a day when acting takes a backseat to those other pursuits?
Traoré: I would really love to also establish myself as a writer. I dream of having my own TV show like Issa Rae and eventually creating a whole empire of content for film and TV. It’ll be a long time before acting takes a backseat, but I can see myself getting to a place where creating content is more stimulating than performing it.

In Contempt” airs Tuesdays on BET.

Condor” premieres June 6 on AT&T Audience Network.

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Laugh It Up

Johnny Azari

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Name: Johnny Azari

Socials: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

Why We’re Laughing: Combining a bad boy persona with a social commentary spin that cats like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin made iconic to their comedic brand, Azari is saying things that he hopes will resonate beyond punchlines.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Azari: As a kid all my teachers called me a “good kid with bad behavior.” Still not entirely sure what that means. I think I was always a comedian. It was just that nobody pulled me aside and told me that that was what I was doing – they just called me an asshole.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Azari: I fell into comedy from touring the country singing sad, sad blues music. I would be in dive bars in towns like Evolution Is Illegal, Idaho, just bumming everyone out. So in between songs I try and chipper things up. Didn’t take long ‘til the banter became the show. So in July of 2015 I made the conscious choice to just do stand-up without the music. That’s when I stopped my tour and did a month of mics in Chicago. I haven’t looked back since.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Azari: I don’t think you ever stop looking for it. Your voice changes as you grow as a human being. But I knew from the get I wanted to be a rebel comic, outlaw and going after the truth and society’s hypocrisy. Observational day to day, “this is why I’m a loser” comedy never appealed to me. I feel like we are manufacturing our own extinction as a species currently and there just isn’t time for any art to address anything but that. But that’s me – a self righteous prick who’ll whore out the revolution to get his fireman smackled.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Azari: I think my narrative hasn’t changed much. The growth has been in learning to cut the fat and keep every sentence funny, or at least try to. Also as I progress I’m leaning more toward cleaner comedy. It’s harder and when done right way funnier, and, you can reach a larger audience. Dirty is always there if you want it. She follows you around like a three-legged dog. Clean takes a lot of thought and skill.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Azari: It has been until recently. I did 36 shows in 27 days over 8,000 miles and four states. I was grinding the first draft of the new hour together in that time. When I got back home from that I turned everything off. Xanax, Netflix, and forcing my wife to fuck me while I lay on my back and sob for two weeks. But normally I don’t stop writing. I can’t stop if I want to. My brain just grinds constantly. Thank God I found comedy, a perfect outlet for the neurotic.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Azari: Depends on how I feel about it. Most of them I finish pretty fast.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Azari: Three to five.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Azari: That happens for sure. Though when you do it all the time it doesn’t feel like bombing anymore because you aren’t filled with the fear and terror that normally comes with bombing. After you do a bit enough times to know it works, when it doesn’t land or certain parts don’t hit, you know it’s the room and then you have to start playing the game to twist their minds into your narrative so similar jokes later in the set won’t die.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Azari: Of course. A performer can only give the room what the room gives them. If the room feels like a roofied fat chick you have to carry to bed, then that’s how your set feels. But if they are lively and know they are at a comedy show and that their feelings don’t matter in that room, then you can have a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Azari: I played a nudist colony once as a musical act. I closed by getting naked and singing “Blowin’ in The Wind” by Bob Dylan. They did not think it was funny. Fucking hippies.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Azari: I can very easily get to evil very fast so I have to check myself. Usually I can ignore it and pretend I didn’t hear. If that doesn’t work then I ask nicely. Then I talk to them like a child. If they continue, I go Adolf Hitler on their ass and make the room seriously tense. I have a bunch of handles, none of them are funny because fuck you for interrupting a staged performance.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Azari: Comedy is booming. It’s more popular than it’s ever been. I love seeing the range and explosion in the art. It makes me happy that there is so much to laugh at.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Azari: My dad. He’s a funny fuck. Besides him, all the people that every other comic says inspires them. (Laughter)

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Sit and Spin

Halestorm’s Uncomfortable

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Song Title: “Uncomfortable”

From The Album: Vicious (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: After waking up on the wrong side of the bed, we were feeling the dump of this hump day, but then this machine gun single with its rat-a-tat-tat of Lzzy Hale’s vocals had us embracing the sonic comfortableness of “Uncomfortable.”

Beyond The Track: Vicious drops July 27th from Atlantic. The band will be out on the road in support of the album later this summer. For a complete list of dates, visit here.

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Next Up

Emilie Germain

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Photo By: Michel Pinto

Name: Emilie Germain

Hometown: Puteaux, France

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Germain: I was 22. I have been acting since age seven – plays exclusively back in France. I always knew I loved acting. I begged my parents to go to theater camp during the summer, but I’m the first actor of the family and making it my living wasn’t something I considered fully until I realized that, “Hey, this is my life and I’m going to do what I love for a living because I can.” When I first transferred to San Jose State as an exchange student, I dropped all my classes for acting classes and shot my first film and completely fell in love with the film-making process. There was no going back after that.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Germain: My grandfather would watch me every Wednesday (not a school day in France) and insisted that we watch “Modern Times,” “The Three Stooges,” “Gone with the Wind” and “Some Like It Hot” on rotation. My grandfather was someone very guarded, who rarely showed his feelings. Seeing his face light up when we would watch them, helped me understand, early on, the eternal power of an amazing story on screen. I’ve also been blessed growing up watching phenomenal French actors Josiane Balasko, Nathalie Baye, Sophie Marceau, Vincent Cassel, Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon… who constantly inspired me by consistently giving themselves entirely in every film they were involved in.

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career as an actor? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Germain: I prioritized the craft and still do. I think that it is the most important element to cherish. I know it is a tough industry. Clearly, it can take years until something significant happens, but acting is the job so when the moment comes, I want to be ready. Of course, there are mandatory steps that I follow: update my reel, shoot new headshots every six months, update my resume, sign up to LA Casting and Actors Access, network, join SAG, get an agent, regularly communicate with my agent, etc., but I also came here with a network of people I went to film school with. Many of them are doing great and I think a support system is essential. I consider most of these people my family of heart. We’ve been through hell and back together and they share my passion and determination. I have their backs and they have mine. Of course, I’ve also met amazing new people along the way. Going 100 percent after my dreams is both challenging and rewarding. I am constantly learning new things about the industry, but being true to myself, knowing what I want and going after it are really the things that stand out. The plan is to keep working hard, keep going forward and trust my gut.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Germain: I didn’t exactly move from home directly to pursuing my dream career. I had been acting all my life but I hadn’t considered it as a career until I shot my first film during my first year in the United States. When I moved to San Francisco, all became crystal clear and I enrolled at Academy of Art where I studied acting and started shooting on a regular basis. It’s after I completed my Meisner technique training, that I finally felt it was time for me to move to LA and officially start my career as an actor.

TrunkSpace: Was that move an easy transition for you initially? How long did it take you to feel at home and find a good support group of friends and peers?
Germain: I experienced more of a culture shock moving from San Francisco to LA than I did moving from Paris to San Francisco. It was very hard for me to adjust to the pace, the traffic, the mentality … for over a year. I never had to drive on a daily basis before so that in itself, was something… interesting, and I was coming from a very hippy, chill community into smack middle of Hollywood on my own, so I had a “how to live in LA” phase to go through on top of learning about the industry. Eventually, I found my angels, the area where I really feel at home and work started coming in and has been consistent since.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Germain: I have had the privilege to work on several feature films as the lead. That was a big milestone for me. I had led countless shorts but when I first found out I was working alongside Corey Page in the film “Can’t Be Undone,” who I had religiously watched every single day after school back in France on the Australian TV show “Heartbreak High,” it was epic. That same year I got to work with Sally Field in “Hello My Name is Doris,” I got myself a credit on the film “Starry Eyes” and I shot my first lead in a horror feature film “Sweet Kitty.” In 2016, I gave birth to my twin sons Enzo and Sebastien, who play baby Calhoun in “Modern Family” season 8 and as you can imagine, I’ve been pretty busy taking care of my little monkeys for the past year, but now that things are a little less crazy, I am back at it full time and I actually just found out I booked two other features shooting later this year so I’ll keep you posted!

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific type of role you’d like to take on or a specific genre that you feel more at home in?
Germain: I’ve had the pleasure to play with every genre and I truly love them all. I tend to feel most at home in drama but at the end, what really matters is how the story makes me feel when I first read a script. I am currently working on three features films: a horror, a comedy and a drama. All of them have a very unique perspective and voice and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Part of the fun is being able to travel within all those worlds and bring each story to life. I love working on a film that makes me think about life in a new way and open a dialogue about its message. For that reason there are many many… really many roles I’d like to play.

Photo By: Michel Pinto

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Germain: Empathy. Tenacity. Faith. An infinite imagination and a wide open heart.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Germain: My dream acting career simply consists in telling beautiful, powerful stories that empower the voiceless, the underdogs, and other dreamers that intend to do good in this world on an international level. This is why, eventually, I intend to have my own production company to make sure all those films get made.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Germain: Believe in yourself and the truth in your heart at all times. In the beginning, train. Take classes. Practice. The most seasoned actors still learn every day because there is always something new to discover. Shoot as many films as you can, student films or your own at first to build your reel and learn how to work on camera until it becomes second nature. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. You can manifest opportunities all day long but you have to be ready for them. It s hard at first to cope with the inevitable amount of rejection that comes with this path but you have to trust that there are roles specifically made for you out there. Always take into consideration that it takes a whole team of committed, passionate and determined people working together to make this happen. Surround yourself with those people. It takes a team to make a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
GermainIMDB/Instagram

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Musical Mondaze

Joan Of Arc

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Honesty in music is a necessity. It not only helps listeners connect in a way that goes beyond the surface layer, but it also plugs the songwriters into the art on an emotional level, creating a loop of authenticity that circulates throughout the process. When an artist then translates that honesty to the promotion of new music, the result is both refreshing and unexpected, especially in our current social media age where people tend to put their best selves forward.

We recently sat down with Joan of Arc founder Tim Kinsella just days before the release of the band’s latest album “1984” and received a dose of that refreshing honesty. Unfiltered and straightforward, Kinsella talks about stepping away from the microphone, how making records totally dominates his life, and why he never emotionally carries more than he needs to.

TrunkSpace: “1984” is due to drop on June 1st. What emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new music to the world, especially after spending so much time with it personally? Does it get easier given how many albums you’ve recorded over the life of the band?
Kinsella: Most of the emotional juggling happens long before the thing becomes public. Through the process of making a record there is the constant tension between the guiding principle of what you think the thing might be and gently steering it towards that, while also remaining open to allowing it to guide you. So that is a lot of tension and release and surrender and control. By this point in the process I’m just excited for people to hear it and I’m excited for it to be largely off my mind so I can concentrate better on what’s next.

TrunkSpace: What does “1984” say about Joan of Arc in 2018?
Kinsella: Obviously the big difference on this record is Melina (Ausikaitis) doing all the singing. And hopefully me stepping aside is impactful since my voice is largely the only constant identifier across JOA records up until now. In deference and respect to the cultural shifts gaining traction with the #metoo movement etc., I am happy to publicly step aside from the mic and let our sister do all the talking. So that’s why 2018. But why “1984” in 2018? “1984” is obviously shorthand for dystopian totalitarianism. And “1984” is a long time ago now. As shown on the record artwork, we were little kids then. And now we’re all in our 40s. We are way beyond that shit – and when I say “we” I don’t mean us as a band, I mean humanity in the most inclusive sense.

TrunkSpace: Are albums a bit like chapters of your life? Does it become a situation where it starts to feel like, “Those were my ‘How Memory Works’ years and these are my ‘1984’ years?”
Kinsella: Yeah, for sure. I often surprise my friends by being able to know exactly what year a thing happened (little things like a friend’s divorce or a movie coming out or a specific holiday party) and that ability is 100 percent the result of knowing what record happened what year. The making of the records totally dominates my life, so all the events of any year get sucked into and filed under that process. I only experience and understand my own life through the making of the records. I like my friends but I don’t need them. And I like my family and stuff. And I like having a little money when I can. But honestly, making records comes before everything else in the world in my mind. I don’t think that’s necessarily right or healthy, but it’s who I am and I accept it.

TrunkSpace: The band has been in existence for over 20 years. People change dramatically over the course of two decades. How has your own personal growth impacted the band and the music?
Kinsella: Hmm. I guess the band constantly evolves which helps me remain present, and I constantly evolve which helps the band remain present. There are some exceptions (i.e.: this one Melina does all the singing) and the process is always different every time – like this one is recorded live with no overdubs and this one is pieced together on computers etc. But in terms of content, at any point in the last 20 years I could describe whichever the newest JOA record of that year was to you, in great detail, and you would never be able to tell if I was describing the first record or the latest. It remains motivated by 100 percent the same impulse from my perspective. And it is nothing more than refining the same sensibilities and how they’re executed and expressed.

TrunkSpace: With so much writing and recording already under your belts, how do you approach a record like “1984” and look to keep the process itself fresh? What (if anything) did you do differently with this album that you have yet to try within the Joan of Arc universe?
Kinsella: Man, I’d be happy to never write another record. Thing is that the processes for making a record are infinite and I’m endlessly curious to see what the results will be. JOA would’ve broken up 100 times by now if it wasn’t for finding a new process to generate each record. I have 60-something guitar and vocal demos I like and 30-something synth/programmed songs started that I like. Some of these have been around for five years and I’ve tried to throw them away every six months but they still make the cut. So when a new process for recording is determined, then we dig into that pile and pull from it according to what song seeds will work for that specific process. In the case of “1984” only three of those things made the record. In the case of the previous record, none of them did ‘cause the process was about spontaneously generating material as a group. Bobby (Burg) got slaphappy at practice the other day when we were arranging a new song and he said, “It doesn’t matter what we do or how we do it, we can’t not sound like ourselves.”

 

TrunkSpace: The band has seen over two dozen members come and go through the course of its artistic lifetime. How do those different faces and points of view alter the dynamic of Joan of Arc and how do you view the current lineup and the creative output that exists because of this particular alignment?
Kinsella: That sort of open membership policy was definitely an evolutionary survivalist strategy, but it was already happening from the very first shows and first record. It just took us a little while to recognize that was how we were operating. We have a lot of friends and have always enjoyed what people might contribute. Sometimes that has been a matter of playing on a couple songs or sometimes just learning whatever part needs to be covered for some shows. It really depends on the person. For example, in the case of this record, Melina’s songs were the central force that everything organized around and I love it. But in the big picture this arrangement has its upsides and downsides. It allows us to meander and follow hunches in different directions, but it’d certainly be ideal if we could afford to pay one hotshot that could play everyone’s parts.

TrunkSpace: We’ve talked about the band growing and changing over the course of the last 20+ years, but how has the fan base changed? Are you finding just as many new fans being drawn to Joan of Arc as you are those who have been with you since the early days?
Kinsella: I couldn’t really say. The shows are sometimes a lot smaller than they were in the past. A lot of the past supporters now have kids and full time jobs and might be too tired to go out to shows and I don’t think a ton of teenagers are looking for a new band of 40 year olds to help them make sense of their rage. I imagine our fans are mostly around the same age as us, creative people, weirdos.

TrunkSpace: Fan feedback can often be the fuel that powers the creative brain. What’s a profound/powerful story that you were told by a listener in terms of how your music directly impacted them that you have carried with you throughout the course of your career?
Kinsella: Honestly I talked about this with my therapist just a couple hours ago. It is so hard for me to comprehend that there are listeners that I kinda block people out when they occasionally attempt to tell me that the music has meant something to them. I hope that’s not motivated by arrogance. My therapist says it isn’t. And I am so immensely grateful every day to do what I do. But it’s such a private thing between us, the people making it. It fries my circuits to imagine being responsible for anyone else’s experience in that way. Too much pressure. So I shut down when anyone I don’t know tells me about their experience of the band. Like I can hear them and often it’s mind-boggling, but as soon as we walk away from each other I just gotta get back to my reality and shuttle it from my mind immediately. I am aware of never carrying anything more than I need to carry.

TrunkSpace: What do you consider “success” in music and by that definition, have you achieved it?
Kinsella: Yes! Literally every single day since I was a teenager.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments for the last time, what do you hope Joan of Arc is remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Kinsella: Honestly, that question seems as likely to me as asking me about when I grow a tail someday, will I tuck it or curl it. I could not survive one day without playing music. Sometimes it almost happens and I become a miserable prick. I like that the records exist as time capsules. We are real people that lived whatever joy or confusion went into the capturing of that moment. And I like that we are a very different band live than on the records. I hope both of those modes shock people awake in some small way. Ultimately I guess I only want what I imagine everyone wants most deeply, just to appear as real to anyone else.

1984” drops June 1st on Joyful Noise Recordings.

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Wingman Wednesday

Joshua Pak

JoshuaPakFeatured
Photo By: Alana Paterson

Licensed Practical Nurse by day, actor by night. It sounds a bit like the premise of a new superhero movie, and while the day/night schedule juggling is not exactly accurate to his story, it’s a log line that happens to be pretty close to the life of Joshua Pak. The Calgary, Alberta native can be seen in the recently released Charlize Theron film “Tully” and is set to appear in the most recent update of “Freaky Friday” premiering on the Disney Channel this summer. And yes, he is also a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Give this man a cape!

We recently sat down with Pak to discuss being present in a scene, the best advice he received from director Jason Reitman, and why he’s leaving the time traveling adventures to Marty McFly.

TrunkSpace: You appear in the new film “Tully” opposite Charlize Theron. They say that work begets work in this business. Are you hopeful that the film will be a game changer for your career and open up additional doors?
Pak: Since being cast and having it appear on my resume, it has definitely led more casting directors to have me come in and audition. It has also been a conversation piece at times whenever I’m in a director or producer session. However, breakout star when the film premieres? Likely not. More opportunities? Absolutely. No matter where I am in my career, I’m always going to have to work for it.

TrunkSpace: Within your performance, what are you most proud of? Where do you feel that you were stretched the most in inhabiting Dallas?
Pak: Charlize and Jason (Reitman) believe being present lends to moments that you can’t plan for. We would do a general blocking of the scenes and run the dialogue very flat. But everything was done on “Action!” On most of the projects I have worked on in the past, there would usually be a very thorough rehearsal before we shoot, that’s what I’m used to. In this instance, I was challenged to trust my instincts, which is an ongoing battle as an actor since it is something we question all the time. I’m proud of the fact that I was able to throw away everything I had prepared and really just be present.

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, the film is directed by Jason Reitman, but it is also written by Diablo Cody. As far as creative teams are concerned, we would be hard-pressed to find one that carries quite as much industry cred as that. Did you view your time on “Tully” just as much of an education as you did a job?
Pak: Absolutely. Every set is different and I always learn something new. This is the first time I have worked on a project with multiple A-list creatives and talent attached. Oscar-nominated director, Oscar-winning writer, and an Oscar-winning actress who is my scene partner for two days. It was an absolute masters class! Whenever I was in the green room, I couldn’t help but peek out and watch these geniuses work. Believe me, I took a lot of mental notes.

TrunkSpace: Was there a piece of advice or direction that Jason passed on to you while in production that you’ll take with you throughout the rest of your career?
Pak: Jason told me not to worry about performing and to focus on finding truth in the dialogue. He said it’s just as important to listen as it is to talk and that acting is just as much about how you hear things as it is about how you say things.

TrunkSpace: You’re also set to appear in the Disney Channel update of “Freaky Friday,” which will premiere on the network this summer. Is there something kind of nice about working on a project that has an established fan base/interest level, because, to an extent, you know that people are going to tune in and see your work?
Pak: Disney has made different versions of movies and TV shows and they have extremely dedicated fans because they are able to reach all generations – so it’s incredibly thrilling to be part of a story that people are familiar with. This version of “Freaky Friday” will be a lot of fun as it’s a music-driven movie.

TrunkSpace: “Tully” is a comedy. “Freaky Friday” is not exactly heavy drama. Is comedy the direction you see your career heading or are you eager to also dive into more dramatic roles and other genres?
Pak: I love comedy. Because in life, comedy exists even during the most “dramatic” circumstances. It is something I want to continue doing, however; I do want to explore many genres of film and television so I can express myself and be seen playing different characters. At the end of the day, I always want to be able to reinvent myself.

TrunkSpace: The first audition you ever had was for the film “Superbad.” You read for the part of McLovin’, which was more CHARACTER than character. That’s a big first audition to tackle. What did you take away from that experience and what did it teach you about the auditioning process?
Pak: Oh my god. I was so new and really had no clue what I was walking into. During the audition, the casting director was laughing and laughing very hard. I found out later from my agent that she was laughing at the fact that I was delivering the dialogue like a theater performance: to the reader, to the camera operator, to the casting director, to the walls. She told my agent that I had potential but I needed to take audition classes. I followed their advice and learned very quickly that auditions are a completely different animal than scene study or a film set. Let me say it, auditions are HARD! There is nothing easy about them but it is an integral part of the process and a skill that needs to be worked on consistently.

TrunkSpace: You’re a Licensed Practical Nurse. Within that profession, you must experience a lot of human emotion as an outside observer. In a way, has it helped you with your acting, almost from a character study standpoint?
Pak: Very much so. I get to care for people in some of the most difficult and frightening times of their lives. Working in healthcare has not only aided my craftsmanship as an actor but also as a human being.

TrunkSpace: Is acting the career path you always saw yourself taking, or was it a detour from the path you were paving as a Licensed Practical Nurse?
Pak: The interesting thing about actors is that we take on many different jobs to support our craft. I always saw myself pursuing acting, but I was at a point in my life where I needed stability and flexibility. The entertainment industry is very unpredictable so I took a bit of a hiatus to go back to school because I wanted something more concrete behind me to support this path of mine.

TrunkSpace: We read that you love yourself some “Back to the Future,” so we have to ask… if someone claiming to be a “Doc” came to you with a time-traveling car and offered you a chance to catch a glimpse of your career 10 years into the future, would you take it?
Pak: As tempting as it would be, no! I love those movies but those adventures were meant for Marty McFly, not me! I’m a huge believer that everything happens for a reason.

TrunkSpace: And as an extension of the previous question… neon-colored hoverboards, how badly did you want one as a kid?
Pak: I wanted one so bad! As a kid, I thought that by now we would have flying cars and hoverboards – maybe in another lifetime.

Tully” is in theaters now and will be available on DVD and VOD in August.

Freak Friday” premieres this summer on the Disney Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Aliyah O’Brien

AliyahObrienFeatured
Photo By: Shimon

There was a time when there were only a small handful of new shows that viewers had to track, mostly in the fall, but thanks to an endless number of cable networks and streaming platforms producing scripted programming, it seems there is a never-ending supply of series premieres to plan for. With life taking a large portion of our time (family, work, sleep, etc.) how do we divvy up the scattered free hours that we have for the most recent pop culture players and newbie debuts.

Well for starters, you could tune-in to anything Aliyah O’Brien is starring in. Guaranteed to capture your attention, the Toronto-based actress is a charismatic  scene stealer, recreating on-screen likability in almost every character she inhabits. But don’t take our word for it. Her new series “Take Two” premieres June 21 on ABC, opening the door for her most recent character, Detective Christine Rollins, to win you over.

We recently sat down with O’Brien to discuss the balance that the show strikes, why she has been cast in a lot of authoritative roles, and how she reacts when she gets on a roller coaster.

TrunkSpace: In an industry where it seems everything is hurry up and wait, how exciting was it to receive a straight to series order for “Take Two?”
O’Brien: Oh my gosh – it’s a gift from the universe, my friend. Yeah, it’s a real treat. I didn’t realize how many pilots get made and then don’t go to series. I had a conversation with a friend about this, and it’s something like 15 percent. I mean, “Huh?” It’s so odd to book a pilot, and then let alone have it get made.

TrunkSpace: The premiere is set for June 21 on ABC. In a day and age where there’s so much content available to people, why is “Take Two” one that they should make time for?
O’Brien: I think people are really going to like it. It’s really fun, and for me anyways, it has that nice balance of the mystery of solving the crime, which is engaging, but also it’s grounded and real. I think you care about the characters enough that you will also want to see their lives unfold as they solve the mysteries. I’m really partial to dramadies that are grounded and real and relatable, but that also have some fun and uplifting elements. I think people will really like it, and I think we got a good cast that’s doing a great job. and our writers are fantastic. I’m hopeful that it does well and we do this for many years.

TrunkSpace: And it seems to have its own distinct voice, which should help it stand out.
O’Brien: Exactly. Our creator/showrunners, Andrew (Marlowe) and Terri (Edda Miller), are veterans in this genre, and I think that what we have is unique, but it’s also backed by tons of experience. What I really like about them is, though we are doing a formulaic procedural type show, they play a lot against stereotypes, and they come up with some interesting concepts and twists where you’re always surprised, which is super fun. I know for myself, with my character, which I can’t really reveal a ton of, but they did some stuff that surprised me even, and played against stereotypes, and I always really appreciate that.

TrunkSpace: Like you said, you can’t give too much away about your character, but what’s interesting about her that you wouldn’t mind exploring for 100 episodes or more?
O’Brien
: I think that what’s cool is that she is… I always like playing a boss, someone that’s bad-ass and tough, and but that also has depth and care and sass and humor. I think that Detective Christine Rollins is not only really good at her job, but she also has a little fun. Hopefully down the road you’ll also discover that she’s also a very caring human being, so she’s not just a surfacy sort of emotionally-suppressed woman, which I’ve played a lot of those. (Laughter) That’s not… that is boring.

TrunkSpace: We’ve also noticed that you’ve played a lot of authoritative figures.
O’Brien: Isn’t it interesting? It’s true, I usually play these sort of strong, tough women, and I guess there’s an element of me that is that obviously or I probably wouldn’t get cast as those roles. Then there’s the side of me that’s like this crazy hippy chick who’s really soulful and has a house full of crystals and is kind of a nerd and is freaked out a lot of the time and is constantly working on that. (Laughter) It’s really funny how people perceive you, and how you perceive yourself and how you feel.

TrunkSpace: In the case of auditions, so much of how you’re perceived takes place within the matter of seconds, correct?
O’Brien: Yes, and I think a huge part of it is that I’m a tall brunette woman that has a lower registered voice, and I guess maybe by comparison to a lot of the women I know, I do have some confidence and some gravitas, or at least I can fake it. I’m working on it. I’m working really hard at building that side of myself and really owning it. I guess that maybe it’s showing up.

TrunkSpace: Does acting help with that? Does portraying other people force you to take an outside perspective of yourself at times?
O’Brien: Yeah, totally. It’s sort of like there’s a feedback loop that happens where you get these jobs that freak the shit out of you, and therefore you need to work on yourself so that you can show up and be a great actor and be open and available. Then by proxy you grow, and you grow as a person, and then you get even bigger roles and better roles, and it just kind of constantly gives you more opportunity to work on yourself. I never feel like I’ve arrived and I’m now super confident and “I got this!” There’s always challenge. It’s a great opportunity for me to work on my inner life.

TrunkSpace: Going back to “Take Two,” one of the things that the showrunners are well-known for is creating characters who are great at bantering back and forth. Will that be an element of this series as well, and does that make tackling a character more interesting when you get to own strong dialogue?
O’Brien: Hell yes! Tons of great banter, and very clever, witty scripts. Definitely.

It definitely makes it more fun to do and I think it feels quite natural for me because I am a bit sassy in real life. This character just sort of feels like I stepped into it and it felt like a glove – it wasn’t like I had to do any work. It was like, “This is pretty much me.” I enjoy it very much. 

TrunkSpace: So now that the premiere date is only a few weeks away, is it a nerve-racking wait to see how it will be perceived?
O’Brien: You know what, no. Maybe when we get closer to it it will be nerve-racking, but in my life right now, I’m pretty surrendered to whatever is meant to happen will happen. Obviously I’d love for it to go a lot of years. I have a plan where I’m going to live in Bali part-time and do the show and do some other stuff. I’m going to spend at least a couple of months a year in Bali. That would really help out my plan. (Laughter)  

I go with the flow, and if it didn’t work out, then I would come up with a new plan. I’m sort of one of those people though that does tend to, if I’m going to be nervous, it’s like right before. When we’re down to the wire, then I might be nervous. Otherwise, I don’t get excited about a trip usually until I’m on the plane.

TrunkSpace: So you’re the person who is game to get on the roller coaster, but then when it’s ticking up and ready to go, you start to panic?
O’Brien: Kind of, although usually, because I love crazy shit like that, I’m like, “Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhh!” I scream, but I secretly just love it. (Laughter) I am that person that leaps and then is like, “What the fuck have I done?” But it’s too late, which is good. (Laughter)

Featured image by: Shimon.

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