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March 2017

Next Up

Lauren Winnenberg

Winnenberg_NextUp

Name: Lauren Winnenberg

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Current Location: Brooklyn, NY

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Winnenberg: When I was a kid I was a dancer. Most of my middle school experience was spent in a studio between dance classes, but my entire life I was the kid who wanted to be in the front of the Christmas program… who would audition for the big roles in my school plays. I even remember coercing my little brother into putting on performances for my parents. I remember sticking him in old dance costumes of mine or my mother’s and trying to convince him that sequins weren’t girly or lame. I think I knew I wanted to perform and produce for a living when I figured out that people could actually do that. I remember learning in middle school about college and things I could study and learning that I could go to school for dance or singing or acting and never have to open a math book again and being so excited about that kind of future.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Winnenberg: Not an actor per say, but I will always remember a performance when I was in the 7th grade. I saw a youth theater production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat” and watched this teenage girl play Potiphar’s Wife in a flapper dress while tap dancing and I was enthralled. I grew up Christian and had heard the story of Joseph a billion times before, but seeing how that character in a story I knew so well could be portrayed so differently than anything else I had ever experienced before, I realized how actors had an agency and power to take a character and transform into something entirely their own. I wanted to do whatever it was that she was doing.

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?
Winnenberg: My approach has been completely trial and error honestly. I found myself where I am now because after I moved to New York I had decided to let go of acting for a while. I focused on my ambitions in playwriting and directing, dabbled in production and arts administration, and after not needing to act to survive, I found my passion for the craft again. I started reading for people for fun, and I got back to this childlike discovery of being an actor. I joined Theatre 68, a theater company, and started performing scenes, and now I’ve come back to being an actor again, but from the perspective that this is what I love, not a means to being a successful adult. Additionally, I now see acting as one of many art forms I can work in, and not just one thing I do. Yes I act, but now I also do performance art, I sing, I write, I create. Acting is a tool for me to create, to express myself, to try new things, but I don’t rely on it for everything, including a paycheck. I have many different entry points into “the industry” and a career in the arts.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Winnenberg: When I was 17 I left home and started college about an hour and a half away from my parents. I was studying Theatre Arts at Concordia University Irvine. That’s how I started exploring the Southern California / LA area and what they had to offer. I stayed in Anaheim for a year after graduating in 2014, and after trying to find work, a path for my work and not feeling successful or satisfied with what I was doing, I applied for an MA program at NYU Tisch in Arts Politics. And I got in. So at 22, I moved to New York.

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?
Winnenberg: I actually grew up a military kid. I’m 24 and I’ve lived in 10 different cities over the course of my life, some being in different countries. So the actual aspect of moving has never really being a shock for me as it’s something I’ve had to do my whole life. But that’s not to say I wasn’t gifted a huge blessing. Around the same time I got into NYU, three of my friends from undergrad were getting ready to graduate and possibly drop everything and move to New York. And I needed roommates. So we connected back with them and our family of four moved to New York. And honestly, I couldn’t do the first few months without them. I don’t know if it was being in Grad School or being in New York, but it was a lot to process. I also started reaching out to theater companies I wanted to work with and people I wanted to get to know, and then I started finding people who would not only be future artistic partners, but they became my support group. I also ended up finding people I had no desire to work with again, which out of that frustration was how I found my family of actors at Theatre 68, and they are exactly that, family.

TrunkSpace: What has been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Winnenberg: I started a theater company! One of the friends I met during a show I worked on last winter brought up the prospect of starting something with me and another colleague of hers. We had all been workshopping an adaption of “Macbeth” together over the summer, and we found something special artistically with the four of us we wanted to pursue. So we sat in her Upper West Side studio apartment in the middle of August and devised this thing, Salty Corkscrew. Currently, we’re working on getting up a Short Play Festival (April 23rd), which will feature work I’ve personally written as well as some other playwrights, and being in a reading setting creating acting opportunities for actors we want to work with and for ourselves. Starting a company really gives you perspective on your own insecurities as an actor. You don’t have time to muse over whether or not you’re good enough when you’re also producing the damn thing and need an actor! And it gave me a way to explore new roles and kinds of work without having to go through the stress of auditioning.

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?
Winnenberg: I love crazy, bitchy, powerful women. I love writing them. I love playing them. I think there’s so much that can be done with a flawed female character and that is so fun for me to explore. My comfort zone has always been theater (if you can’t already tell). A few weeks ago I was in a web series for a friend of mine and it was exciting and terrifying at the same time because I had done so little on camera. Genre-wise, my Masters was in Arts Activism and Socially Engaged Art, but what I like to do tends to straddle/ blur the lines of socially/ politically conscious and entertainment. I love working with dark humor and comedy, I think it’s a magical tool to comment on social and politically issues without completely sacrificing the enjoyment of a piece.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Winnenberg: Resilience. You will get so far as an actor, as someone in the arts, as a person, if you’re able to find the parts of you that are tough and scrappy and lean into those. You have to be able to both get your fulfillment from being an artist and at the same time not fully rely on it. Being flexible enough to try new things and put some things down for a while to come back later. But you can’t give up. You have to keep going. You have to still get out of bed in the morning. You have to keep fighting. And you can’t let it make you hard.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Winnenberg: I want a show at the Public. Either I want to direct one, write one, or both. I want to be running a theater company that can support myself and others. And I want to be able to have the freedom to direct one show, act in another, and produce or write one. I want to become a strong enough playwright where I can direct my own work. I want an all-female production of “Glengarry Glenn Ross” on Broadway (and I would either be acting in it or directing it). I want to be at the place where I can balance acting, directing and writing.

Also, if I ever got to be on Broad City or do ANYTHING (like even ordering coffee) with Rachel Bloom I’d probably pee myself from excitement.

Winnenberg in a performance art piece.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Winnenberg: Just do it. You will never be “ready” so why wait?

And don’t be afraid to rely on people, your friends are the family you have as an adult. You don’t have to have everything together and you probably won’t ever. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to trust people and open yourself up. Maybe you’ll get hurt easier, but an authentic connection with another person is necessary and can’t be faked. I’m a big believer in wearing your heart on your sleeve but always having a sewing kit on hand.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Winnenberg: I will be Directing and Acting in two plays for Theatre 68’s One Act Festival at the end of March/ beginning of April and for future projects you can…

Check out my website at www.laurenwinnenberg.com

And you can find Salty Corkscrew on Facebook for events and future productions!

Also you can follow me on Social Media:

Twitter: Nutty_Brunette
Instagram: MissLaurenDanlow

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Musical Mondaze

Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors

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Photo by: Astin Page

You don’t have to be in a funk just because it’s Monday. Instead, get funky!

TrunkSpace brings you another edition of Musical Mondaze. This time out we’re sitting down with Drew Holcomb, who, with his band The Neighbors, is set to release his latest album “Souvenir” on Friday. While the songwriting process proved to be a different one for Holcomb this time out, the results were the same… a superbly-crafted collection of Americana songs that deliver on melody and emotion in equal doses.

We sat down with Holcomb to discuss how the album was crafted, how his musical roots found their soil, and how his songwriting has changed as he has.

TrunkSpace: What did you hope to achieve when you set out to write “Souvenir” and did it zig and zag on you in terms of how you ultimately thought it would turn out?
Holcomb: Yeah, it did. I think the biggest disruption that we sort of intentionally did this time was, instead of writing alone, I actually invited my band into the process. We would meet on Mondays and write together. I’ve never done that before. It just brought a much broader musicality, I think, to the record and some lyrical things that I probably wouldn’t have brought to the table on my own. It was much more collaborative than anything I’ve ever done before.

TrunkSpace: You mention that the band got together every Monday to write. What does that look like for you from a writer’s standpoint when you place yourself within a specific time frame to accomplish things creatively? Do you have that ability to turn it off and on?
Holcomb: Not necessarily. The time together was really just a matter of picking up the puzzle pieces that we were all working on separately on our own. We were emailing around back and forth, you know, song ideas and melodies. Typically what would happen is we would have sent stuff around in the days prior to that and get together and have decided which idea we were going to run with. As a guy who’s never really enjoyed the co-writing thing, kind of as a rule, this was very different for me because I’m writing with guys who I’ve been on stage with for 10, 12 years, so… there’s a certain amount of trust and kinship there. We weren’t just writing a song to write a song. We were writing a song for me to sing and for us to perform as a band. In a really healthy way, it sort of expands and narrows the focus all at once because you kind of know the parameters of what you’re dealing with so you can kind of head in that direction.

And we wouldn’t necessarily try to finish a song every time. It was like, “Hey, we’ve got six hours, let’s write for a little while and then go get some food and then come back and write for a little while.” Sometimes we’d finish something and sometimes we would hit a wall and go to something else. It was a very laid back sort of way to write. The reason I invited them in the first place is actually because I was sort of having a bit of writer’s black. The “Medicine” album was such a personal record for me and we toured it so extensively that I was just kind of creatively and physically exhausted and I just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.

TrunkSpace: With “Medicine” in particular, didn’t you write a great number of songs that didn’t even make the album? The volume itself sounds like it would have been creatively exhausting.
Holcomb: Yeah. I think I probably wrote 20 to 30 songs at least, for that record. And that was an entirely solo writing experience, so, yeah, it was just a lot. This record has a lot of emotion to it, but a lot of it is shared. Suffering shared is a lot easier than walking it alone, just in life, so I think the same thing is true in songwriting. When you’re kind of baring your soul, when you’re doing it in collaboration with someone you trust, there’s almost a sort of relief associated with that.

TrunkSpace: Is one of the benefits of working in that collaboration atmosphere having the ability to know sort of instantaneously if something is working or not?
Holcomb: Yeah. Definitely. Although, there’s also the opposite side of that. Sometimes you hit an impasse where one person has a direction they want to take something and one person has another. Or, a lyrical idea that two people like and one person doesn’t and you have to sort of play the chess game of, like, what’s gonna end up being the thing and what’s not. You do get the benefit of instant feedback, but you also get the benefit of instant friction. But, because we’re writing specifically for our own band and it’s my voice, the guy’s sort of defer to me for the final say because I’m the one who has to communicate whatever it is we’re writing.

TrunkSpace: When you bring those final songs into the studio and the producers then step in and also lend a collaborative voice, how much of the album (or specific songs) changed at that stage?
Holcomb: This record, our producers Joe (Pisapia) and Ian (Fitchuk) are both musicians, so that brings a lot. We basically set up the room where there’s enough microphones set up and everything’s going so that we can kind of hit any instrument in a room at any given time and it’s kind of ready to record. We would lay down the basic guitar, vocal, drum, bass… live… pick a take that we really loved, stick with it, and then sort of build onto that. Every single person sort of bounced ideas around. Instead of starting the basics and doing that for every song and then adding everything later, we would do one song at a time start to finish, so we’d basically spend a day or a half of a day on just that song until it’s finished. And then once it’s finished, it’s done. We leave it alone.

In that process, for the whole song, everyone’s engaged. It’s not like the guitar guy is just doing guitar and then he leaves and then comes back another day. So, that really creates a very active and musical and less technical atmosphere. Sometimes the studio can feel more like an engineering space than it does a music space and I wanted to eradicate that from the scene.

TrunkSpace: You mention leaving the songs alone once you’re finished with them, but does your creative brain ever stop tinkering with them?
Holcomb: Perfection is such an illusion. At some point you have to let the performance be the performance and leave it alone. Obviously these songs, they grow and change shape even after they’ve been recorded, especially when you play them live. For me, I make peace with the fact that you’re gonna go back and listen to a record and go, “Aww, we should have done this or should have done that.” But, in the moment, you kind of find the thing that works and that’s resonating with the room and everybody is sort of on the same page with. Once you get to that space where everybody is like, “This is good… this is feeling great,” then you kind of let it be. You let the road be the place where you tinker. I’m not a guy who works on a song in a studio for a month. I work on it for a day, mix it for another day, make some decisions, and then it’s done and then you just kind of let the world have it. The way that I kind of tinker is, when we tour I might change a melody here or change an arrangement, or things like that.

TrunkSpace: As we humans get older and settle down, there seems to be less and less time for the creative brain. Whether it’s career or kids or the general chaos of life, how do you make time for your craft as your life evolves?
Holcomb: You’ve got to block it off. I have an office in the studio where I write and I try to go there a couple times a week and try to get through enough of the emails/paperwork that happens when you’re 34 with kids so you can kind of turn that side of your brain off and read and listen to music. But even something as simple as, when I get home and we’re cooking dinner with my kids, it’s like, “Let’s turn music on.” It’s a matter of, like, spending as much time in the chaos of life… paying attention, but also then blocking off time to work at it and to hone the craft and to, you know, collect thoughts and words and lines and points of view so that you can have the beginnings of songs.

One of the things that we’re gonna start doing after this tour as a band is we’re going to get together every week and we’re going to write and record every week when we’re not touring. Just to kind of keep, at least for one day, just to kind of keep the creative energy moving forward.

TrunkSpace: You put music on when you’re spending time with your kids. Was that a part of your life when you were growing up? Was music a strong aspect of your upbringing?
Holcomb: Yeah, really in two ways. One, we traveled a lot… like road trips. We had a big conversion van with four kids. Any time we were in the car, which was a lot growing up in suburbia outside of Memphis… you’re driving to the grocery store or you’re driving to soccer practice or whatever as a kid… there was always music. It wasn’t talk radio or sports radio. My dad liked music a lot. And then, road trips… lots of records, CD and tapes. The second thing… my mom played a little bit of piano and our alarm clock for school was her playing all of the gospel hymns on the piano. Those were really the two ways that music settled into me as a kid.

TrunkSpace: With four kids on those road trips, did you guys fight over what type of music you’d listen to?
Holcomb: (Laughter) At the end of the day, it was a sort of a dictatorship by my parents. They sort of loved all of the oldies. My dad was a big Dylan fan. He was an Otis Redding fan. And Al Greene. It was either Motown/soul or classic 70s California rock.

TrunkSpace: Did becoming a parent yourself have an instant effect on your songwriting in terms of where you drew inspiration from?
Holcomb: Yeah, I think probably subliminally. There are obviously songs like “Momma’s Sunshine” that are explicitly about my daughter or kids, but I think more than anything in my songwriting, it sort of took a little bit more of a… like a song like “Fight for Love.” Being a little bit more explicit in the, sort of preaching a little bit, you know? Like, “Hey, you’ve got to do this if you want to survive this frickin’ crazy world we live in.” That’s a little bit directed at myself, but it’s also directed at my kids.

I think the most interesting thing is that, just kind of in my work, I think now along the lines of legacy and what are my kinds gonna think about me when I’m old. There’s the practical side of it that I think about more than I used to, which is just like, making sure my kids have their needs met. My wife and I both work in order for that to be the case. She’s in that same category of thinking through those things. But also, just wanting to make art and make something that has value.

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Opening Act

Natural Born Leaders

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Artist/Band: Natural Born Leaders

Members: Kevin Murtha (Drums), James “Jimmy Jambers” Eddington (Bass), Austin Haynes (MC), Ben Survant (Saxophone), Mike Martinez (Rhythm Guitar & Vocals), Rex Shaffer (Lead Guitar)

Website: https://www.facebook.com/naturalbornleadersband

Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina

Latest Album/ReleaseClick Here To Hear More

Influences: Rage Against the Machine, Lauryn Hill, Pretty Lights, Bob Marley, Immortal Technique, Pantera, Wu-Tang, Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Cypress Hill, The Beatles, God & the Devil, Corporate Greed, Beautiful People, Parliament-Funkadelic, Nirvana, Sublime, Big Pun, Biggie, Afroman

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
NBL: We did an acoustic performance on Asheville FM’s Open Door Radio Show hosted by Davaion Bristol and they coined us the term Gumbo Funk. From there we’ve gone a little further to call it Soul-Punk-Gumbo-Funk, or Hip-Hop-Cosmic-Slop, but honestly we embrace sounds from many musical genres with an overtly Hip Hop overtone. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll have our very own genre.

TrunkSpace: A six person band is a lot of different points of view to digest in order to create what will become singular songs with ultimately one point of view behind the wheel. How do you manage that creatively in terms of putting everybody’s thoughts together democratically?
NBL: We usually take into account that we will each have many different thoughts going in many different directions, so we are never married to any one specific way of making the songs. The songs naturally progress and constantly evolve whether it be through practice, “jams”, or through live performance. Some songs take a week to write and others simmer on the skillet for a month or so. And we vote. A lot.

TrunkSpace: You’re not only infusing a bunch of different points of view, but also, a bunch of different genres of music. How do you marry all of those different styles into one cohesive sound?
NBL: It comes from the gut… never the brain. Since mostly everything new starts with a jam we usually take it as it comes. We all listen and play multiple styles and genres of music, but groove well on a personal level and we like to think it reflects in our music. We never set out to write a song with a specific genre in mind. Everything comes as natural as possible.

TrunkSpace: How did the band first form and what was the journey to get it to where it is today, both in the sound and the make up?
NBL: Mike and James had been playing together for about a year, and slightly over a year ago Austin’s previous project took an indefinite hiatus and we joined forces and started piecing together this project. Our original goal was to make something different than any of our previous projects. Joining next was the saxy sax man, Ben (James housemate), who added a little jazz to the equation. Then Kevin met us at random the night after our original drummer quit. Couldn’t have timed it better. Last, we had played a couple shows with Rex’s previous band and he was an absolute monster on the strings. After tons of begging him to join he finally caved. In our current and most final form we’ve been together since September of 2016.

TrunkSpace: Who is responsible for the lyrics of Natural Born Leaders songs and how important is it for you that your songs are saying something, whether it’s politically or socially, about the current climate of the country/world?
NBL: Respectively whoever is rapping or singing usually writes their own lyrics. Our two front men both have different perspectives of the world and how to approach the public with their thoughts and ideas. Sometimes even opposite ends of the spectrum ideas will find their ways into single songs. They are both revolutionaries and activists in their own rights. They wouldn’t necessarily go as far to say that they are “conscious,” that in itself kind of limits the band’s public perception and our content. They do try to bring a lot of those “conscious” thoughts and ideas to the table and maybe even push the boundaries of what that even means. However, we all do think it’s necessary in today’s world to speak out against the many injustices being carried out by and against our people nationally and worldwide. Not everyone has a voice and if we have the platform and microphone to project ours, we will do our absolute best to use it.

TrunkSpace: The band’s music is funky and brings people to their feet to dance, but how important is it to you that they’re looking beyond that instant reaction and finding those messages beneath? Or, is it a matter of music being different things to different people and taking from it what works for you?
NBL: The message is extremely important, but as you said, everyone interprets the sound differently. We can lead a man or woman to water but we can’t show them how to figure out what it all means. Same with the music. We’d hope you’d dig deeper, but at the end of the day, we can’t fault anyone for just wanting to dance. Sometimes we just want to dance too.

TrunkSpace: The country is so divided right now over so many different issues. Is it a fear that, as an artist, if you speak out one way or another, you’re instantly alienating what could be a portion of your future listeners?
Martinez: Different strokes for different folks. I write things that make me happy and for every one person who doesn’t like it I’m positive there’s another one who does. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
Haynes: For me, rather than think about who I may be alienating, I think about who I’m attracting with my lyrics/delivery. In a way I’m shaping my environment and creating my reality. All music isn’t for everyone and sometimes music grows on you based on where you’re at in your life. I think artists who don’t make pop music would be lying to themselves to think that everyone would like them. When we write our lyrics we’re speaking our own personal truths/perspectives. Artists of all types are best when they push the envelope. This doesn’t always make people happy (at first), but it takes art to new heights and keeps the art progressively moving forward.

TrunkSpace: Music has long been a platform for people to discuss the issues of the day, and in many ways, reflect them to audiences who may not be paying attention to the news or other outlets where those issues are being covered. Many people have suggested that a musical revolution is happening right now where more and more artists are saying more than they have before. What are your thoughts on this as a whole, particularly from the point of view as artists yourselves?
Haynes: I think that’s a very valid observation and I personally agree that musicians are becoming less afraid to discuss current issues. You can see it in Hollywood as well, as more and more actors and actresses speak out on political and social matters. I would even go as far as to say that there is a collective rising of consciousness happening around the globe in general right now. And I think it’s an inevitable effect of the power of the internet/technology and a sign of the times when you consider how fast information spreads in general now.

TrunkSpace: In your opinion, what can music accomplish and provide for the end user (listener) that other entertainment mediums/platforms cannot?
Haynes: Live music especially can provide a sense of interconnectedness. When you see artists/musicians live, who are masters of their craft, you can usually witness a strong sense of community within their fan base. I think this is because live music has the ability to touch all of people’s senses at once; from listening to the music, to watching the music being played, to feeling the bass notes resonate through your body, to smelling the collective environment around you and tasting the various treats of the collective. Music not only brings people together but also creates the sense of community for fans to feel at home amongst one another.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Natural Born Leaders in 2017?
NBL: This year you can definitely expect an album, many collaborations, and lots of travel! We’ll be seeing y’all!

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Next Up

Gina Omilon

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Name: Gina Omilon

Hometown: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Current Location: Los Angeles, California

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Omilon: I started out as a ballet dancer when I was around five or six years old. That was my big dream. I wanted to be Clara in “The Nutcracker” in New York City. But as a kid, you don’t always get to choose what activities your family can continue to afford. So I got into acting because it was still performing, but it was offered as a part of school. (So free.) I would have been around 12 or 13 years old. I knew that was what I wanted to do forever because I was always happy doing it, no matter what. Of course, you’re still viewed as a kid, but once I hit 16 years old, I began the actual “career” side of it, and then everyone around me knew I wasn’t joking.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Omilon: In Grade 4, we went to a performance of “Guys and Dolls,” put on by the high school in my school division. (The same high school that I ended up going to.) I couldn’t tell you what the musical was even about, what they wore, or any specific details… but I still remember the feeling I got in fourth grade watching that musical. We would see musicals every year in my school division, but “Guys and Dolls,” to this day, is the one I remember as completely enamoring me as a child.

Then, it sounds funny, but “High School Musical,” was a huge influence too. I was OBSESSED with “High School Musical.” I knew every dance move, and every lyric, for EVERY character. I could have put on a one woman “High School Musical” show. I’d make my friends dance the counter parts with me in the living room. That movie, and entire series, was my favorite.

Neither of these are Academy Award-winning productions of course, but I was a kid. I didn’t care about how it was reviewed. I just cared about passion.

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?
Omilon: I didn’t really have a plan at the beginning other than “I’m going to do it.” I fantasized that I would be discovered in a mall. But I lived in Canada, and not in a performing arts city. That was never going to happen. So as I grew up, I did begin to formulate some type of plan. In Grade 10, I went to Los Angeles for about one and a half months during Pilot Season. I went through a Disney training program and that got me situated with the city. It was really hard work, but once again, I was always happy. So because that didn’t scare me away, I began looking into schools in Los Angeles. I would have loved to have just moved there, but since I wasn’t an American citizen, I had to find a different way to get to Los Angeles legally. In Grade 12, I flew down for several university auditions, and when I was accepted (into AMDA), that was as far as that portion of the plan went. From there, it was graduate, which I did in June 2016, with my Bachelor of Fine Arts. Now I’m onto the part of, book work, book work, book work, and keep trying to attain a permanent work visa.

Los Angeles and New York were always the plan though. I never considered Toronto or Vancouver, so, so far, I’m on track because I’ve worked in both LA and New York.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Omilon: I think from 16 and on, I always knew I was going to end up moving away to pursue my career. I had to move out of Alberta if I wanted a successful career. At 17 I started all of the applications to come to the United States, and then I moved when I was 18.

The idea of moving away never scared me though. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be able to call multiple places home. I had dreamt of England, Italy, Ireland, and so on. Moving always seemed right. Plus, my family and I are huge travelers so I felt comfortable going outside of Canada as I was already used to traveling. My mom herself moved from Italy to Canada, so I feel like I’m a younger version of her moving from Canada to the United States.

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?
Omilon: The move was a fairly easy transition for me. I’m not sure how it would have been if I had simply just moved to Los Angeles without a plan, but because I moved with the purpose of college, there was already immediately structure and people to meet. I was lucky to have a great set of roommates right off the bat, so I don’t have any horror stories. I met great people through school, and the structure of college classes almost made me forget I was transitioning. I’ve always been a school nerd and I feel so comfortable in an education setting, so I felt like I was already home. The only difference was if I looked out the window during class, I was looking at the Hollywood sign and palm trees, not a bunch of snow. I am however, five to six years later, still struggling to adjust to the heat Los Angeles receives every day. My body refuses to adjust to that.

TrunkSpace: What has been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Omilon: I definitely don’t think I have had a big break yet. I’ve been featured on CBS’ “Criminal Minds,” will be in a video airing on Crypt TV soon, and am a reoccurring host on “Hip Dot.” But, my plan is to win Emmys and Oscars so, I’m working towards that.

With my writing… I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m a professional writer too… I feel very blessed to have received a lot of attention. I am currently working on two screenplays, but my play “Revelation,” which ran for a month at the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival, has been receiving a lot of attention. Two theater companies, one in Oregon and one in London, England, have been in talks with me about producing the play at their respective theaters. There is also a lot of interest on expanding the script to make it a feature film. That’s exciting for me as a writer because it means the words, stories, and world that I’m creating, is affecting people and they want more of it!

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?
Omilon: I always like to do a bit of everything, but my current dream is to be a lead role on a sitcom. Something like Monica on “Friends” or Robin on “How I Met Your Mother” is what I want to do! And when Broadway revives “Once,” I’d love to play the role of Girl.

As far as writing, I want to write an episode of “Black Mirror.” They don’t know it yet, but I am so their girl!

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Omilon: I would say the greatest strength an actor can have, outside of acting itself, is… that’s hard. There’s too many things that come to mind, I need to think of one. I’d like to say, the gift of remembering there’s more to life than acting, because this business does its best to tear you down and make you feel like you’re not worth it just because a target demographic doesn’t give you approval ratings or something. But even more than that, I would say being kind and positive. When I think of the actors I love, they’re not the ones who are always politically involved, or the ones that have big box office hits, they’re the ones who just are genuinely nice people. I believe Ashton Kutcher is the celebrity who said all you need to be in life is kind, and a hard worker. That’s how my parents raised me and I believe that’s true. If you’re not kind and a hard worker, it doesn’t matter how strong your acting is.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Omilon: I want to win Emmys and Oscars. Acting is definitely not about awards for me, it’s about waking up and not hating my job. BUT… like I said, I am a school nerd. I went viciously after academic awards, so acting awards are a similar concept for me. I want recognition for my work. I want Emmys and Oscars for Acting AND Writing. I also really want an Oscar for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, on the same film. So many professors I had told me “you can’t direct and write”, but I believe Hollywood begs to differ. So that’s another goal too.

Truly, I just want my path to lead to a place where I don’t have to work five side jobs to pay my rent and student loans. I just want to be able to act and only act, and that be enough. I’m not in this for the money (although it’d be nice because my student loans are ridiculous), I’m in it because I do not want to spend the rest of my life wondering “what if I had pursued it.” I want to live my life, pursuing it.

I will reach all those goals, there’s never been any doubt in my mind about that. Might not be soon, but it will happen. I refuse to live by any other mindset. It’s “not if, but when.” My high school technical theater teacher said that to me about my future when I graduated and I’ll never forget.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Omilon: Do it! Totally do it! I always think you should make sure you really want something before you do it, but I’m a logical thinker so I can figure that out quick by trying it for a short period. But some people struggle because they need to do it long term before their decision. Or sometimes fear sets in. So I say just DO IT. BUT…don’t be afraid to move back home or to change your dream. This lifestyle isn’t for everyone and you should never feel trapped to admit that to yourself or others.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Omilon: Yay! I ‘d love to hear from people. Here are the best ways:
Website: www.ginaomilon.com
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/ginaomilonofficial
Instagram: @ginaomilon

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Bottled Up Emotions

Bear Republic’s Red Rocket Ale

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Brewer: Bear Republic

Beer: Red Rocket Ale

Alcohol Content by Volume: 6.8%

Bear Republic describes this beer as a “bastardized Scottish style red ale” on its label. That sounds like a mouthful to say, especially when my mouth is already filled with a three-second swig of Red Rocket, so I’m going to call it something a little more on point and to the point: DELICIOUS!

Now this is the kind of beer this old emoticon can spend a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night with. (Sundays are for whiskey!) Great aroma (like fragrant pine needles soaked in grapefruit juice), great color (like liquified caramel) and great taste (a hoppy flavor slap with a backdoor malt zing that lingers on the tongue).

A new favorite!

DRUNKEN EMOJI RATING

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Opening Act

Lowland Hum

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Artist/Band: Lowland Hum

Members: Daniel and Lauren Goans (Husband/Wife team)

Website: http://www.lowlandhum.com

Hometown: Charlottesville, VA

Latest Album/Release: Thin (February 2017)

Influences: Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Simon

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Lowland Hum: Minimalist, Harmony-driven, Indie Acoustic

TrunkSpace: You recently released your album “Thin.” Does the album encompass a particular theme or viewpoint and what do you hope listeners take from it?
Lowland Hum: This album explores themes of limitation, exhaustion and frailty, but also growth, patience and hope. I think it may be our most self-aware collection of songs yet, so we are delving into some heavy themes but not taking ourselves too seriously.

TrunkSpace: What did the two of you attempt to do differently with this album to branch out creatively? Did you set out to do something musically or lyrically that you had yet to accomplish in the past?
Lowland Hum: We chose to limit ourselves in these recordings to close to what we can pull off live just the two of us. So the instrumentation is much more sparse on this album. It was a great challenge.

TrunkSpace: You recorded “Thin” with your own studio equipment in a friend’s attic. Did that control over the process allow you to approach the album as a whole at your own pace?
Lowland Hum: Definitely. We got to take our time with this one, which was really rewarding.

TrunkSpace: You two are married. Many people believe that couples shouldn’t work together, but, what about create together? Is there conflict that can carry over between the two worlds… home and the creative space?
Lowland Hum: We literally spend every waking and sleeping moment together. So relational conflict is unavoidable. At this point it kind of feels like there is not much separation between home and work. We work out of our home when we are not on the road. Our relationship informs our work and our work informs our relationship. It can be challenging but maybe because we don’t really know any other way, we like it.

TrunkSpace: It’s long been said that being in a band is like being in a marriage, but when you’re actually married, it takes it to to a whole different level. What advice do you give to other artists who are trying to maintain a happy band “marriage” in order to achieve their creative dreams?
Lowland Hum: It can be a challenge to keep an open creative space in which all partners feel safe to explore ideas. We recommend something we call “Yes Town.” Yes Town is a set amount of time in which you say yes to every idea. It can be hard to get creative momentum if you try to edit and trouble shoot at the same time that you are trying to generate ideas. Yes Town lets each partner involved take ideas to their ultimate conclusion, otherwise you may be snuffing out a good idea before it has had the chance to be fully formed. Later on there is a time for editing, saying no, and being critical, but not until you have left a safe space for exploration.

TrunkSpace: Making music that connects with people is all about honesty and emotion. Is it easier to deliver on that when the person you’re creating with is someone who you have shared in every conceivable emotion with?
Lowland Hum: There is definitely a certain level of safety we feel with one another. We work hard to push and challenge each other in our writing, while also cultivating space for vulnerability.

TrunkSpace: How important is the creation of your music in your own emotional journey? Is it used as a tool… to get you through particular life moments, good or bad?
Lowland Hum: We are both pretty big on processing, whether that be verbal processing, or processing through journaling and contemplative time. Not everything we write is autobiographical, but I think it is impossible to keep ourselves and our personal processes out of our writing entirely. Some little bit of who we are or what we are learning or thinking about always finds its way into our songs in some way.

TrunkSpace: With your songs so laced with emotion, is it comforting to know that your music may help others get through those same particular life moments?
Lowland Hum: When we write a song, we go into it knowing that it will mean different things to different people. You can’t control what it might “do” to or for a listener. This aspect of songwriting is really exciting to us. Sometimes something we have written will take on a new, unintended meaning even to us years after we have written it. It is sort of like you put this thing in motion, with some intentions, but it takes on a life of its own almost immediately.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Lowland Hum in 2017?
Lowland Hum: We are spending a lot of 2017 on the road, to share these new songs with audiences all over the country. After taking a slightly slower year in 2016 to write and record “Thin” we are excited to get back into the rhythms of road life.

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Wingman Wednesday

Jennifer Marsala

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TAKEN — “Pilot” — Pictured: — (Photo by: Cristos Kalohoridis/NBC)

Funny. Talented. Beautiful. That’s Jennifer Marsala in a nutshell.

As the star of the new NBC series “Taken,” which delves into the past of the Liam Neeson-played character (portrayed in the television show by Clive Standen) to learn how he mastered his very particular set of skills, Marsala has quickly become a fan favorite of the ongoing origin story, bringing charm and a natural lightheartedness to an otherwise serious behind-the-scenes look of the intelligence community.

We recently sat down with the Las Vegas-native and magic lover to discuss the series, going into the field without a weapon, and the wonders of free cheese.

TrunkSpace: “Taken” premiered on NBC a few weeks ago. As an actress, do you stress about a project finding an audience or do you have to push that aside and focus on the job at hand?
Marsala: It’s interesting. I didn’t so much on the night of the premiere. The cast was all together, we had a party, it was a sort of a celebration of everything we accomplished together, but I found myself doing it this Monday night with the second episode. Sort of going, “I hope people are watching us!” (Laughter) Because, you know, we had so much fun and this cast is really unique from… I mean, I’ve loved most casts that I’ve worked with and all of the people, but with this cast, we were away for four months in Toronto and when you’re away from your lives and your families, you become really, really close. And this cast is super close and loves each other so much and I think you think about it because you go, “I want to go back and do this again with these people.” I don’t want it to be this one moment in time. I want it to be something that, you know, we get to continue to do. So, I did have a moment this Monday night where I was thinking about it. (Laughter) I hope I don’t have to think about it too much more.

TrunkSpace: It seems like a great time for an actor because there are so many different platforms and mediums for your craft, but at the same time, you’re going up against a lot of competition, which must make it more difficult to break through that noise of everything else that’s circulating in front of the eyes of viewers?
Marsala: Yeah. I think it is. I hope we’re lucky in that the franchise has some built in fans and for the people who were not fans of the movie, I hope they find something in it. The characters are almost all different. The only character that you find in this is… it’s a modern day origin story… the only character that’s the connective tissue to the movies later is the Bryan Mills character. And everybody else is this sort of team that surrounds him as he gets his particular set of skills. Or hones them. I mean, he obviously has this raw material that is incredible, which is why he is a part of this team to begin with. But these people are all going to teach him something that he can carry with him when he gets to the movies and I think the opportunity is to get new people watching because you’re adding something to the space of the movie that wasn’t there before.

But yeah, listen, there are so many ways to watch TV now that you always hope that people find you. And we’re on at 10 o’clock at night. Who stays up? (Laughter) I’m so thankful to everybody who’s staying up at 10 o’clock at night to watch us!

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how all of the characters have influence on who Bryan becomes in the films. Do you think that will give viewers a different perspective of the films themselves when they go back and revisit them after watching the series?
Marsala: I think so. The great thing about TV is we only know what we know so far. As we continue to shoot, we learn more, so every week we get a script and we’re learning something else. I think, if we’re lucky enough to go on seasons, then I think you’ll definitely see more of the connective tissue. I would imagine characters that are a part of the movie… you know, his wife and everything… will start to come in as the series goes on. That’s not where we are in the series right now. We’re so many years before that happens. I can’t speak for the writers, but I’d imagine the intention would be to sort of lay that connective tissue from this period of his life to the movies as it goes on.

TrunkSpace: How has your character Riley changed from when you first read for her to where she is in the current set of episodes you’ve shot?
Marsala: I loved her already from the pilot. She seems to have this sense of humor under pressure, which I found really appealing. How do you maintain a sense of humor in these pressure cooker situations, which I really like. What the series tries to do is highlight a different member of the team in different episodes and Episode 4 is a big episode for Riley. You sort of learn what brought her to this job, and for me, it was really important because she has also suffered a loss and you find out about it in Episode 4. That shows what her connection to Bryan is. What her investment in Bryan is on the team. Everybody is hard on him, but I always from the beginning thought of Riley as somebody who was on Team Bryan, someone who really wanted him to be successful and part of the team. When we came to Episode 4 and I saw that, you know, she had suffered this loss that had brought her to this as a career as well, it sort of made a lot more sense to me why I always got the sense that she was rooting for him.

TrunkSpace: As an actress, does the fact that you’re learning more about your character as you go make television a more exciting creative environment than say, film?
Marsala: Yeah, definitely. It’s a different way of working. When you get a film script you go, “Okay, I know about this character because I know where they start and where they end.” So, the work is within these two defined posts, right… the beginning and the end. I think for TV it’s interesting because you can make a choice and in the next week find out something totally that you hadn’t anticipated and it’s a journey that you were not expecting. I find it really exciting to have that be the case because your character will grow and evolve, and as other people’s characters grow and evolve in the show, your relationships grow and evolve.

I always wanted to do TV because I felt that… I grew up doing repertory theater, working with the same actors all of the time and seeing them in different roles and how they change as people. I think working with the cast and seeing how their characters change and evolve and your relationships grow is so exciting. So yeah, it’s my preferred way to work. It’s like getting a Christmas present every time you open a script and find out what your character is up to this week. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: So when you look at some shows that defy logic and are on the air for 10, 11, 12 years and running… is the idea of playing the same character for that many years something that’s appealing to you, if, knock on wood, “Taken” became a huge, long-term success?
Marsala: Yeah. I mean, knock on wood is right! That’s a quality problem to have, right? Too many years of working on the same project? Obviously if you love the character that you’re playing, there’s something really nice about sort of deepening within that character for an extended period of time that I find very appealing. And then I think when you get to that point… that’s why a lot of people use their hiatus to do other projects where they can explore other characters and really sort of get a sense of playing somebody else, but… that’s what we’re all looking for, is the opportunity to get to play in the worlds we create for the most amount of time possible. I would love that. That would be a real gift to be able to do.

TrunkSpace: Riley works in intelligence. Due to a seemingly countless number of news stories over the last few months, the intelligence world has had a spotlight shined on it.
Marsala: Yeah! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Do you think the current political and social landscape has directly influenced the series at all in terms of just how it’s being approached?
Marsala: It was interesting because we were shooting during the run up to the election. We were shooting in Canada, so we were all a little bit removed from here. The group that we work for is the ODNI… the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That is an organization that was started after 9/11 to coordinate what’s happening in all of the different intelligence agencies. I think it is, now more than ever, really essential. Yeah, I mean, listen, there’s such a spotlight on what’s going on in the intelligence community right now that there’s going to be, if we get a second season, a lot to mine from in that world.

TrunkSpace: The news itself has almost become pop culture now and people seem more informed about what’s going on than ever. I wonder if that knowledge of what’s going on will place more of an interest in a show like “Taken,” which focuses on that world?
Marsala: Yeah. I definitely think so. I’ve had people that I sort of knew from before… someone I went to high school with just sent me a Facebook message saying, “I have had a Top Secret security clearance for years and you don’t know how right you guys are in what you’re talking about in this show.” Which is always kind of nice when you hear that because you feel like you’re suspending disbelief a bit, obviously when you’re doing a work of fiction, but that it is as accurate as you can be with everything. I see so much potential in a second season to mine what is happening right now, which I’m sure that they would if we get one. Because it is true… this is pop culture now. People are much more informed than ever before about this and it is fascinating. Just really, really edge of your seat kind of stuff.

TrunkSpace: Well, they always say “you can’t write this stuff” when it comes to the crazy stories you see on the news, but at the same time, the “Taken” writers are in fact writing this stuff!
Marsala: Yeah. (Laughter) You can write it. Anything they say is not believable in fiction seems to be currently happening in the real world, so who knows! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Did you get a chance to do any sort of in-the-field, real world training to get comfortable in Riley’s career?
Marsala: No. I mean, the boys did. We work in two separate groups that have a little bit of an overlap right now. Riley is not a field operative, although that does change in Episode 4. She pops out for different things. In Episode 2 we learn that Riley has some medical training. In Episode 4 I get out in the field and I think ideally she would like to be in the field more. It’s always very exciting. Those days when I was out in the field were very exciting. But, the boys had weapons training and they’re obviously handling that stuff more. I kept saying, “Give Riley a gun or a knife or something!” (Laughter) It’s funny because the character description even of Riley is, “armed with a sharp sense of humor.” I was like, “Come on, guys! No weapons? Her only weapon is jokes? This does not seem appropriate for what she’s doing.” (Laughter) But, hopefully as we go on, we’ll see her in the field more.

TrunkSpace: Maybe in season two Riley will get a bazooka!
Marsala: (Laughter) I think so. I think the longer you go without a weapon, the bigger your weapon should be.

TrunkSpace: “Taken” is an origin story and we’re curious what your origin story has been… that journey from where it began to where you are now?
Marsala: Well, I started in theater. I grew up in Las Vegas and from the time I was really little… my uncle worked as a sound man at the Hilton, which is where like every big musical act came to perform. My aunt and uncle would take me and put me in the sound booth, prop me up on pillows, and I would watch, you know, every big performer come through and then go backstage with my little autograph book. I remember going back one time and I saw this sort of snack table and it had all of these assorted fancy cheeses on it and I thought, “Show business is for me!” (Laughter) It was a real pivotal moment for me. I thought, “They give you as many snacks as you want if you’re famous… I’m definitely pursuing this!” But I had no musical talent, so I started acting instead. (Laughter) I think if I had any discernible musical talent that I would have gone that way, but sadly, I might be tone deaf.

So, I started in theater and I grew up doing repertory theater and school theater and acting and then left Vegas. I was touring with shows and then I found myself at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting, just pursuing this. I never had a back up plan. It was sort of always what I was going to do. I worked my way through a series of comically strange day jobs when I moved to Los Angeles. (Laughter) I was an electrician’s assistant for a little while. I was a wedding planner. I did many, many jobs before it sort of hit that this could be the day job and that you could be living the dream, so… it was always for me, acting, from the time I was a really little kid.

TrunkSpace: Has the acting world offered as much fancy cheeses as the live music world?
Marsala: (Laughter) No and it’s ridiculous and something that I intend to remedy! Although, they do always have at the crafty table, sort of cubed cheeses, which come out at like three in the morning when you’re so tired and your senses are down and you’re like, “I think the best thing I could do right now is eat a pound of Gouda.” So I did that much too frequently on set. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And you actually did some stand-up comedy as well, correct?
Marsala: I did. It’s interesting because my resume is filled with drama, but actually, my goal was always to be on a sitcom. That’s literally all I wanted, was to do a multi-camera sitcom with a live audience. It has the most direct connection to theater, you know, the world that I come from. I love comedy. I do improv and years ago I thought, “What’s the scariest thing in the comedy world that I could actually think of to try?” And as I thought about it, I thought stand-up. I had just one goal, which was like, if I just don’t pee my pants, I did it… I win. So, I did it for a little while and I’m happy to report… never wet myself. (Laughter)

I do it occasionally. I still write a bit, but it is the most terrifying. I have the most respect for my friends who get up five nights a week at clubs and really do it. When I was doing improv, if you get up and you’re brilliant, the audience is with you. They think, “She just made that up!” And then if it’s bad, they think, “Oh, but, she just made it up.” But with stand-up, you get up and they’re like, “Oh, she wrote this! She spent time on it. She memorized it. She got up and she thought we would think it was funny. We hate her!” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: It does seem that part of the allure for an audience at a stand-up show is to not always be the easiest audience.
Marsala: Yes! It’s a very antagonistic thing, which I had not anticipated. It’s not unlike being in a magic show, which I also love. I’m also a big magic fan. There’s something about, “Oh, so you think you can fool me? You think you can make me laugh? Try it!” And I don’t quite get it because it’s a very strange mentality to have. (Laughter) It’s almost like people don’t want to be made to laugh, so there is that sort of working against you. I was very lucky and tend to have audiences who are nicer, but I think they just take one look at me and think, “Oh, she could run off the stage crying. We should be a little nicer to her.” (Laughter)

“Taken” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

TAKEN — “Off Side” Episode 103 — Pictured: Jennifer Marsala as Riley — (Photo by: Panagiotis Pantazidis/NBC)
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Next Up

Mariel Matero

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Name: Mariel Matero

Hometown: Hampton, New Hampshire

Current Location: New York, New York (Queens to be exact)

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Matero: My senior year of high school I was flunking Algebra 2. Most colleges I was applying to only required three years of high school math but I had to get approval from the head of the math department to ditch the class. I had recently been cast as Mame in the spring musical. I went to the head of the department to plead my case. She took out a pen and wrote, “Mame doesn’t need math” on the form and signed it. That’s when I thought, maybe I could make this whole acting thing work… it got me out of Algebra 2. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t take math, take math. But if you’re miserable and excelling in other areas, maybe talk to someone about it.

Should I not be condoning this?

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Matero: My mom and I used to watch “I Love Lucy” and laugh and laugh. Lucille Ball’s comedic timing was just genius.

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?
Matero: I’m still approaching it. For me, the plan is about being ready for the opportunity when it comes, creating relationships and creating your own work.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Matero: After graduating from University of New Hampshire, I spent a year working as a receptionist at a spa. I kept getting this feeling that I needed to get to NYC, enroll in an acting class and just TRY. I had spent four years getting my degree in English, minoring in Theatre and it was nagging at me that I hadn’t truly gone for it. After talking to my college professor, who recommended a studio to check out in New York, my dad drove me down one weekend to go to an informational meeting at T. Schreiber Studio on West 26th Street. I knew in my heart it was meant to be the minute we left. In less than a month I had quit my job, packed up the car and my dad and I were driving to my aunt and uncle’s house in Westchester. I stayed with them for six months (will never be able to thank them enough), got a job waiting tables and each week hopped on the Metro North train into the city for scene study class with Peter Jensen at T. Schreiber. He’s still there… go take class with him! The year was 2004. I was 22. Now I’m 24. I’m bad at math, remember?

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?
Matero: For the most part it was easier than I’d anticipated. I was living with family and quickly met people in my acting class and at the restaurant where I worked. One of my best friends from home was getting his Masters at NYU that fall so we supported each other as we navigated through the city those first couple of years.

TrunkSpace: What has been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Matero: People are still talking about that one time I played a talking, smoking, potted-plant.

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?
Matero: I love comedy. Something about the pace of it all. Making people laugh is a drug like no other, but I’m not going to try stand-up. Will leave that to my husband and professionals.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Matero: A tough skin. An open heart. A disturbing amount of resilience and energy.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Matero: I don’t have an ultimate, “this is where I want to be x years from now” because the future is fluid and I don’t know what’s down the road. I would love to be able to work with my friends on a show like “Seinfeld” or “Broad City.” I can say that’s a dream… to be a part of something, whether it be a show or web-series or movie, with like-minded individuals and friends and laugh a lot. You gotta laugh. Oh, and it’d be nice to make a few bucks doing it so eventually we can get a place with a washer/dryer. Dream BIG.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Matero: Listen to the voice inside your heart. Don’t do it for fame. Don’t do it for fortune. Do it because it’s calling you. Do it because there is only one of you on this earth and you have a story to tell. Do it because… why not?

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Matero: www.marielmatero.com is my hub.

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Musical Mondaze

Carousel Kings

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You don’t have to be in a funk just because it’s Monday. Instead, get funky!

TrunkSpace brings you another edition of Musical Mondaze. This time out we’re sitting down with Carousel Kings. Their latest album “Charm City” was released on Victory Records in early February, and shortly after, the Pennsylvania-based pop-punk band hit the road for a breakneck 40-city tour.

We sat down with lead singer David Alexander to discuss fronting the band for nearly a decade, floating in salt water to discover the creative spark, and the unexpected benefit of writing songs that connect with people.

TrunkSpace: You guys just kicked of your latest tour, right?
Alexander: Yeah. We played New Jersey yesterday. It was the first show of the tour. We’re headed up to New Hampshire now. We just pulled into a rest stop. We’re going to get some Starbucks before we head up there. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The number of dates you guys are doing on this tour is crazy. You are packing them in!
Alexander: Dude, yeah! I think it’s like 40 shows in 43 days, or something similar to that. And then on a few off days, we’re doing music video shoots as well, so we don’t really have a day off. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Do you have any sort of vocal cord maintenance plan that you have to stick to on a tour like this where the schedule is so tight?
Alexander: Yeah. Dude, the vocal cord thing… I feel like I try not to get the singer/frontman syndrome going too much, but, I mean, when your instrument is your voice, I feel like you have to sleep more than other people. You know, you have to recharge. I just got a water bottle, so I’m just trying to make sure that I drink the proper amount each day. I got this big 64 ounce, like, jug. So, just a lot of water. Water and sleep. Vocal rest is very important, so whenever we’re not playing, I just try to hide. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: When you head out on a new tour, is there any sort of ritual or routine that you go through beforehand to prepare yourself for the road ahead?
Alexander: I don’t know. This tour, it was all like getting the van ready. We have bunks in the back, so, that was the main priority. I guess just making sure the comfort stuff on the road is as… I just want the van to be as comfortable as possible because that’s like our home.

TrunkSpace: You started the band in 2008. There have been different members throughout the years, but did you have any idea that you’d be here almost a decade later? Was there a long term outlook in the cards then?
Alexander: I personally always knew that I wanted to be in a band. I didn’t necessarily know that Carousel Kings would be that band, but when I started this, that was the goal. I feel like every goal we’ve set so far, we’ve achieved, so we just continue setting the bar higher and higher.

I feel like the year thing seems like too long, you know? I feel like I’ve been doing this for awhile, but I try to just appreciate the now moment as much as I can and not dwell on it.

TrunkSpace: So what’s the key for a band today, in 2017, to finding a balance between the art side of things and making a living? Does it need to be compartmentalized?
Alexander: I don’t know. You have to really want to do it in 2017. I feel, maybe 20 or 30 years ago, record labels were signing bands and sending out money and saying, “Oh, we want to build this band,” or this or that. Nowadays, it’s just not like that. You’ve got to want it. That’s why I respect any band that’s at the top of the game, so to speak. You can’t do it without wanting to do it in your heart, so I feel like the love of the art is what will push your band to greater success.

TrunkSpace: You guys have shared the stage with some bands that have been making a career of their music for decades. Do you pick their brains to sort of get a sense of what they’ve done to sustain things throughout the years and keep it fresh?
Alexander: Yeah. I’m friends with Dustin Davidson from August Burns Red, and I feel like I pick his brain a lot. Another band that was local to us was This Or The Apocalypse, and their singer Ricky Armellino, he helps me out with vocal lessons and definitely was a mentor as far as like, just figuring the basics out, man. You know, merch sales and what’s the best way to… basically, we’ve just always continuously reinvested any earnings, so to speak, back into the business or back into the band. I think I definitely picked that up from the ABR guys. Dude, they still tour in a van if they’re not in a Warped Tour or something like that. I think that is the model, dude. Don’t go excessive. Stick within your means, but be smart about it.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the Warped Tour. You guys did your first in 2015, right?
Alexander: Yeah. I think it was… we won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands one year… it might have been 2012 or something. So that was the first actual Warped date we played and once we got a taste of that, then yeah, it was a few years later we got two or three weeks… half of the Warped Tour. That was amazing, dude. It was like summer camp. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Was that a big milestone to reach for the band?
Alexander: Yeah. I feel like I definitely had to psyche myself into this mindset where it’s like, alright, I can’t fanboy over these other bands. (Laughter) It was definitely surreal, man. It was crazy and I felt really blessed to be there.

TrunkSpace: “Charm City” has been out for about a month now. What has the album meant for you?
Alexander: “Charm City” just feels so right, man. It felt cohesive as far as with the other members of CK. I feel really lucky and grateful to even have a third album, you know what I mean? It’s amazing. It’s totally surreal. I couldn’t be happier. I hope a bunch more people will listen to us and find out about “Charm City.” I know how much work we put into it as a group and, I don’t know, maybe that will relate to some people. But, I couldn’t be happier.

TrunkSpace: Is this the first time a lot of fans will hear these particular songs live with this tour you just kicked off?
Alexander: Yeah. We’ve never played any of these songs… I mean, I guess a few of the singles we were playing at some shows, but yeah, this tour we’re trying to play as many new songs as possible. We have a new light setup for our stage show and it’s really exciting. We’re stoked. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Was there something creatively that you set out to accomplish with “Charm City” that you hadn’t tried or achieved the previous times in the studio?
Alexander: I think I really loved our previous release “Unity” and I feel like we wanted to take that and go in whatever direction that was and try to not force it, if that makes sense? I could just refer back to our first album. I felt like we were just put in this box of like, “Oh, easycore and this and that and you have to have these certain things.” I just kind of wanted to get away from what other people thought or expected of us or wanted from us. We wanted to do what made us happy as musicians. Whatever creatively came naturally is what we went with.

TrunkSpace: In terms of how the process of “Charm City” came together, is that a process that you’d like to apply to future albums?
Alexander: Absolutely. I feel like our writing process for this previous album is what we’re going to continue doing. We did a lot of what is called flotation therapy. So basically we would just like do nothing and relax and float on salt water. We were in these sensory deprivation rooms for like, between an hour and three hours, just to try to get down to the natural ideas of whatever is down there. Dude, the mind is crazy, and once you’re able to shut off all the bullshit that’s around you, you can really access your true creative side.

TrunkSpace: Do you pop up out of there with all of these ideas that you just need to get down on paper right away?
Alexander: Sometimes. Other times it’s just a relaxing thing and it just helps me relax. But yeah, there are times… even the “Charm City” concept. That was all directly from right after a flotation therapy session. I was in there, I was like, “This is our third album. Third time’s a charm. ‘Charm City,’ it’s where I go in my dreams.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What’s the most profound way you’ve heard a Carousel Kings song affect someone? Has somebody come up to you and said, “This song got me through x, y, or z?”
Alexander: Yeah, man. That happens more often than I would have ever expected or anticipated. There’s a few songs. “Cancer” was one. “Something Isn’t Right” was one. There’s definitely a lot of songs on there. Old songs and newer songs where fans have come and said, “Your album helped me get through this.” I don’t know, man, that to me is like… that’s the thing that always wants me to keep going and it feels like I’m doing something good with my life. Those genuine connections are really awesome.

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Opening Act

Hayley Reardon

Reardon_OpeningAct

Artist/Band: Hayley Reardon

Website: www.hayleyreardon.com

Hometown: Nashville

Latest Album/Release: Good (2016)

Influences: Patty Griffin, Ben Howard, Joni Mitchell

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Reardon: Folk, singer/songwriter

TrunkSpace: You’ve accomplished quite a bit in such a short period of time as a singer/songwriter, but do you think that your age has at any point held you back in terms of moving further along? Did it ever feel like people within the business didn’t take you seriously as an artist because of how young you were?
Reardon: Definitely. Starting as young as I did has been both a blessing and curse for most of my career. I remember being 16 and thinking there was no way I could possibly have a sustainable career as a “grown up” because the only compliments I ever got were about how good I was “for my age.” I thought people only liked me and my songs because it was cute to hear a teenager sing about her life. On the other hand, a lot of the greatest success and most fulfilling moments of that time came about because I wasn’t afraid to write about what was real to me. It works both ways, and while I’m so lucky to be 20 and look back at six years of doing what I love, I still feel the need to prove myself as “adult enough” a lot of the time.

TrunkSpace: How did you first get drawn into songwriting and ultimately discover your own voice and sound?
Reardon: I picked up my first guitar when I was 11 and began making up songs as soon as I could hold down my first few chords. I had always loved poems and writing and singing so I guess learning to play an instrument promoted me to try and tie all those things together. I began looking for open mics around New England… I’d print out lists and my dad would drive me… and wrote and wrote and wrote until I started to have a sense of what “Hayley Reardon” sounds like. I will say, however, that discovering my voice and sound is a journey that I’ve been on since then. I’d like to think I’m always evolving.

TrunkSpace: Has that sound evolved as you’ve matured and discovered new influences and point of views?
Reardon: I hope so! Naturally as I grow and my perspective changes, my songs do too both musically and thematically.

TrunkSpace: How does the songwriting process work for you? Do you physically sit down and focus just on that task or do you have to wait for inspiration to hit you?
Reardon: A little bit of both. I try to always be collecting ideas and phrases, but for the most part lately I wait for inspiration to lead me to the beginnings of a song. Then the discipline comes into play as I have to make appointments with myself to actually sit down and finish it.

TrunkSpace: Your lyrics seem very personal and at times, as if we’re listening to private conversations between yourself and someone else. Are you ever concerned about putting too much of yourself into a song?
Reardon: I actually don’t worry about that. Songs are pretty much the only place I know how to talk about the inner workings of my life and mind without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious. There are certainly some topics that are hard to write about, but for me there is no such thing as putting too much of myself into a song.

TrunkSpace: As an artist who has come of age in the age of social media, how important has that tool been in the development of your career?
Reardon: I think social media is invaluable for anyone pursing a creative path right now. It allows us to connect and share with people around the world who actually care about what we do. For me personally it’s been really helpful in connecting with younger fans. I was doing a lot of teen empowerment work in schools and camps for a few years and social media has allowed me to keep up with so many of the amazing teens I’ve worked with.

Photo By: Jessica Steddom

TrunkSpace: Social media is another platform where people can sometimes offer too much of themselves to the world. How do you approach the personal life aspect of social media in order to balance what fans can learn about you and what you keep for just yourself?
Reardon: I know a lot of people who only post at certain times of day and are super specific about what content they put on their Instragm, Facebook, etc. When it comes to the personal parts of my social media (when I’m not posting about new music, shows, or videos) I have no “strategy.” If I feel like sharing a little extra about what I’m feeling that day I do, or I just post a random picture of a dog I met in the park. I just share when I want to and don’t when I don’t. That being said, I don’t have Snapchat and I don’t use Instagram stories. That’s too much for me.

TrunkSpace: Your latest album was funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign. How much of a confidence boost was that to you to know that your fans were willing to invest in you as an artist so that they could experience the new music?
Reardon: Funding my record through Kickstarter was both so challenging and so rewarding. I’m forever thankful I made the decision to be brave and ask for help because the outpouring of support from both friends and strangers was so inspiring. It reminded me that what I do actually means something to people.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Hayley Reardon in 2017?
Reardon: New music and more shows!!! I’m planning my first trip over to the UK to play which is super exciting. I also have a new EP in the works and a whole bunch of ideas around that.

For New Englanders… I have some spring shows coming up at the Me & Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead, MA (my hometown!) on April 14th (http://www.meandthee.org/concerts/hayley-reardon-2017/) and Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH on April 21st (https://greatwaters.ticketleap.com/hayley-reardon/)

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