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April 2017

Wingman Wednesday

Margaret Anne Florence

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Photo by: Caitlin Mitchell

As the star of CMT’s “Sun Records,” Margaret Anne Florence has charmed us all. While the music of that era continues to inspire and elicit toe-tapping happiness, it’s the Charleston, South Carolina native’s irrefutable on-screen charisma that has entertained us well beyond the shaking of Elvis Presley’s hound dog hips.

We recently sat down with Florence to discuss the series, the bittersweet arrival of the season finale, and getting the songs of “Little Shop of Horrors” stuck in our heads.

TrunkSpace: In reading your various tweets about “Sun Records,” it seems like you are genuinely in love with being a part of the show. Is that a fair assessment?
Florence: Oh yeah! I love it! It has really been a dream job and I couldn’t be working with a better group of people. I’m just really proud of the show and excited for people to see it every week. I wasn’t big into Twitter until, really, the show started. It’s really fun to interact with people while they’re watching and kind of give some behind-the-scenes tidbits. It’s been cool. We’re so lucky to have had such a great response, so that’s been really nice.

TrunkSpace: It does seem like the show has found a fanbase that has embraced the classic TV model and tunes in every week, as opposed to waiting for it to stream.
Florence: Yes. Exactly. I kind of still think it’s fun to watch TV live and not binge. I mean, binging is good too, but I feel like there’s something fun about waiting until the next week to see what happens.

TrunkSpace: The season finale is set to debut this Thursday night. Is it bittersweet knowing that with a renewal yet to be announced, that the season finale could also be the series finale?
Florence: Yes! It’s very depressing! (Laughter) This journey… something is happening every week, so it feels like it’s a really sad thing to end, but hopefully we’ll get the chance to keep going. It’s been so much fun and I’m excited… I mean, I think the last episode’s great, so I’m excited for people to see that. But it is sad. I thought about it this morning. I was like, “God, it kind of feels like somebody dying or something.” (Laughter) But, hopefully it will just be the beginning of even better things. Regardless of what happens, again, I’m just so proud to be a part of it and it was so much fun and such a great experience. It’s all good whatever happens after this.

TrunkSpace: Have you been given any indication when a decision will be made on a second season?
Florence: I think soon. I know CMT really loves the show and is proud of it, so I hope they’ll be able to give us another season, but, you just don’t know. Especially with so much television content out there with all of the streaming and everything, so it’s a lot. It’s a lot of competition and a lot of different shows in the marketplace. I know it’s not because they don’t love the show if it doesn’t move forward. I think it would be purely just a financial decision, so we’ll see. They’ve been super supportive of us and that’s all you can ask for, so… hopefully soon. We’re kind of all waiting. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Does your character Marion still have a lot of story left to tell?
Florence: Yeah, she does. Marion was a really fascinating woman in her own right in history. We’re certainly taking liberties with the stories, obviously, but she had her own really successful career in radio and kind of what was sort of being bounced around was Sam Phillips and Marion also started the first all female radio station, WHER, so there was some talk about bringing that in in the second season to do that with my character. She really started that and it was run by women. Only women were on the air. I think that’s kind of a great thing to highlight if they decide to do that. So, there’s plenty more for Marion to do. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: We spoke to your costar Keir O’Donnell last week and asked him this question.
Florence: I love Keir.

TrunkSpace: Is there more pressure from an acting standpoint portraying somebody who actually walked this earth as opposed to a fictional character?
Florence: Yes. Definitely. And I know that’s what Keir said… I read his interview. (Laughter) But it is. Luckily I’m not Elvis. I’m not Johnny Cash. Those people are so well known and so identified publicly and everybody’s got their opinion on how that should be played. The great thing for me is Marion was a real person and there was some history available about her, but not a ton. I definitely was able to sort of take what I read about her and with what the writers created and make her my own person, which is nice. You do feel that responsibility because this was a real person that had life and a family and you definitely don’t want to do anything that would not highlight them in the best way for their contributions in what they did. I feel like we’ve done a really good job of that with Marion… and the writers have too, just from what I’ve gathered talking to some people who knew her while we were shooting in Memphis. She passed away in the late 80s. I just think that she was a really special woman and I hope that we’ve sort of highlighted those things about her.

TrunkSpace: So as you look back over your involvement in the show, from production to now, what for you has been the biggest highlight and the thing that you will carry with you throughout your life?
Florence: Oh my gosssssh! Wow.

Really, the cast and just everybody who works on the show. You don’t always have that, you know… on a movie or on a TV show or whatever. We just had all that time living together, basically, in Memphis, to make those friendships. It’s not like we were going home to our separate lives. We were all living and breathing together 24 hours a day, so you kind of become fast friends that way. And I think you also build a good show that way. I feel like that is really reflected in a lot of the episodes… the relationships we all have. So, certainly the people are the best part of the takeaway from everything because you can always have that going forward. But, just being part of a show that takes place in an era that I love and working on something that’s about Elvis Presley who I’ve always loved since I was a child and teenager… it’s just been kind of a crazy experience for me. This has sort of been one of my bigger jobs, so to have something that has such a personal meaning to me… I don’t know if I’ll ever find something like that again. It could be a once in a lifetime. It was just so special to be a part of it.

Florence in “Sun Records.” CMT

TrunkSpace: The show takes place during such an iconic time period and to a lot of viewers who didn’t live through that, it must seem like an almost fictional era. Everything looks so different right down to the wardrobe and the microphones used. So much visually has changed between then and now.
Florence: I love that about it. That is so fun to me, especially to play something different than yourself and to look different than you normally look every day… I feel like you can just, I don’t know, have more fun with it and do such a better job when you’re kind of outside of yourself. So that was so much fun, to play all of that and wear those clothes and the hair and makeup. It gives you that sort of Marion sass, I like to call it. (Laughter) That was such a great part of making a show like this, was to be in a different time period and play a whole different life. It’s really fun.

TrunkSpace: Has your career been impacted as result of your performance in “Sun Records?” Have you seen increased audition opportunities or been offered roles based on the exposure Marion has brought?
Florence: Yeah. I’ve been really lucky to have some really nice positive feedback from people that have seen it and certainly my agent and manager are showing people clips from the show if they haven’t seen it. Somebody made me an offer on a film. I think it’s definitely leading to auditions. I’m actually prepping for two auditions I have tomorrow. I certainly think that this is a definite positive effect on my career and I’ve certainly got a lot of great footage and scenes for people to see. It’s been really exciting. You’re really just only as good as your last job, they say. You’re still an actor at the end of the day and if this job ends, you’ve still got to find another job. That’s just the nature of the business. You just keep going forward. I’m very lucky to have this and hopefully it will lead me to some good things.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in New York City. If these other opportunities expanded further and you were asked to relocate to Los Angeles, would that be something you’d be open to or are you an East Coast person at heart?
Florence: Well, I’m originally from Charleston, South Carolina, so I do like to be East Coast just because we travel home quite a bit to be with family. That is not to say that if an opportunity came up that I’d be opposed to going to Los Angeles. I originally came to New York to do musical theater and I’ve kind of established myself here, especially in the business and with casting people and all that, so to go to LA without any real project happening would sort of be like starting fresh. I feel like I’m definitely a New York girl and I love the East Coast, but a job if it comes up, I’m certainly open to going anywhere really.

TrunkSpace: And it definitely seems that the industry has branched out well beyond the borders of Los Angeles with projects shooting all over.
Florence: Exactly. It’s funny, everybody in the cast (of “Sun Records”) is from LA but me. Everybody there was like, “I’m traveling for such and such.” I was like, “Does anyone actually shoot in Los Angeles?” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Tax breaks!
Florence: Exactly. Things are shooting all over. There’s even stuff that’s been happening periodically, on and off, in Charleston. I have shot a film down there before actually with Kevin Costner called “The New Daughter,” so, any time something pops up somewhere that I like to be, I’m happy to go. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You’ve done a lot of musical theater and stage work, but we read that you actually once, many years ago, performed in “Little Shop of Horrors.” Tell us you got to sing “Suddenly Seymour?”
Florence: (Laughter) I did! I did that show in Charleston, actually. Yes, I did, I sang “Suddenly Seymour.” I had the whole blonde wig… talk about a character that’s not like yourself. Oh my gosh! (Laughter) That was a really crazy experience, but it was a lot of fun, so I was glad I got to do that.

TrunkSpace: It’s just one of those musicals where the songs infect your brain. Just watching the movie from the 80s, those songs stay with you for days.
Florence: Oh yes! When you’re in a show, you cannot get the songs out of your head. They just play continuously in your mind from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. (Laughter) So, hopefully it’s a show that you like because it sort of haunts you. (Laughter)

Florence as Marion in “Sun Records” CMT

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular type of role you’re hoping to play in your career… the kind of job that would be the ultimate dream gig?
Florence: Well, I have to say, if you were going to give me a dream gig, it was “Sun Records.” That combined, as I said, everything from my childhood… the music I loved, the time period I loved. It was really the perfect storm for me, getting this job. I think about that now as this last episode is about to air. As any actor has that feeling… “Will you get another job as good as being Marion Keisker?” You don’t always have the characters that you love like that and connect to and have that personal connection with. Sometimes you just have to hope that something else like that will come your way. Is there something else that I want to play? Oh sure, there’s a million things. I actually love doing comedy too, so I really might enjoy doing some kind of sitcom or something like that. I think that’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy that, so maybe change it up with a little comedy. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Having such a perfect gig right now in “Sun Records” must almost be like a blessing and a curse because while it’s so great, you don’t want to peak too early!
Florence: No. (Laughter) You definitely don’t want to peak to early. I think it’s building in your career. I mean, I remember when I booked my first commercial. That was like the best thing that ever happened to me in the world. Obviously things have moved on from there. (Laughter) So hopefully as you progress in your career, the opportunities will continue to progress with you. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of other things that I’m just as excited and happy about.

The season finale of “Sun Records” premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. on CMT.

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Wingman Wednesday

Celestino Cornielle

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Ricky Middlesworth Photography

It won’t take long before everybody is saying his name. And that’s not just because Celestino Cornielle is a hell of a name to say. Set to make his big screen debut this Friday in the “The Fate of the Furious,” the former model and self-described mystic is about to be catapulted into stardom with his portrayal of Raldo, a Havana heavy, in the Universal Pictures mega-franchise starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Cornielle is a living example of the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” Having previously auditioned for (and losing out on) a role in “2 Fast 2 Furious,” he turned his focus inward, perfecting his craft and getting back on his horse, once again fatefully finding himself in the path of the franchise and ultimately becoming a part of its unstoppable pop culture reach.

We recently sat down with Cornielle to discuss the impact of Raldo on his career, his love for antique vehicles, and his unflinching commitment to his beard.

TrunkSpace: Most of the times as an actor, you never really know if the project you’ve worked on is going to find an audience or not, but with a film like “The Fate of the Furious,” it’s pretty much a guarantee that it’s going to blow out the box office this weekend. What’s that wait like?
Cornielle: It’s interesting. I actually had a friend over last night. We were hanging and we were discussing that it’s something that comes back to me many times. I don’t think that I fully quite understand the weight of it because I’m still going through the process. It’s kind of like… it’s hard for you to see all angles when you are yourself within it. I remember on set talking with Vin. He was telling me, “Man, you’ve got no idea how much work you’re gonna get when this project comes out.” (Laughter) And I laugh because, that would be so fucking cool, but also it’s like… I haven’t experienced it so I don’t really know what that feels like, yet I understand that this is Universal’s biggest franchise and this is huge. This is not only my big screen debut, but it is a much anticipated installment of this huge franchise. If I take a moment to take a breath and just take that all in… it’s mind blowing. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Well, just knowing how many people are going to see it in that first weekend alone and then jump on their phone to Google search you… it’s intense.
Cornielle: Exactly! (Laughter) It’s quite exciting. I think part of the magic in life is embracing the beauty of becoming. That higher uncertainty. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m just embracing it and… surfing the wave. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: When it comes to landing the part… and not to play off the title… but was it fate or hard work? What was it that brought you to the “The Fate of the Furious” at this moment in your life?
Cornielle: I’m a mystic, so yes, I believe that fate has a lot to do with it, yet I believe that there’s potential. Meaning that, we don’t wake up and our entire life is written out for us and then we’re just following the script. No, we have free will and we have the potential to draw things to us or draw things away from us. But, the journey itself has been very fateful and prophetic for me, being that the catalyst to make me consider acting as a craft… to pursue it seriously… was when I auditioned for “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

TrunkSpace: In the world of creative people, sometimes the only thing we can control is our own creativity and then so much of it is in the hands of other people. How do you hope to control your own destiny and capitalize on what Vin suggested will be an increased workload once “The Fate of the Furious” is released?
Cornielle: Well, I believe in consult. I believe that if you want to do something quick, you do it yourself, but if you want to have longevity, then you do it in a collective. I understand that many opportunities will be presented to me. I also understand that opportunities themselves can be distracting. So it’s important for me to have consults, so one of the things that I’m doing is adding a new member to my team, which is a manager that comes with his own set of experiences and relations so that we can look at these opportunities and be like, “Hey, is this something that we want to bite down on or something that we simply want to pass on?” So that’s what I’m doing. I leaning on wiser consults. As my mother would say to me as a child, “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo,” which translates to, “The devil knows more because he’s old than because he’s the devil.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Your character in the film is a Havana heavy, right? Somebody who is going toe to toe with Vin’s character Dom?
Cornielle: Yes. I play Raldo. In the streets they call him “El Sabroso”, which means “The Tasty One” because he gets a taste of all the action that comes in and out of Havana. Now, Raldo comes from the east side of Cuba. He comes from the countryside and he migrated to Havana for opportunities as many have done. It is done in this country with immigration and so forth, right? But, he builds a name for himself. He went up the ranks in the streets and he’s holding it down, so in essence, when Toretto goes to Cuba to unwind a bit, he’s in my backyard. He’s in my house. So that, needless to say, leads into a big cockfight between the two alpha males. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And without giving any spoilers away, that cockfight ultimately leads into a deeper reveal at the end of the film with Raldo, correct?
Cornielle: That is correct. Our dynamic… our exchange… has a surprising twist, just like the entire movie. The relationships are put to the test and a lot of new relationships are built and they’re built on certain character… on honor. And that’s, in essence, the journey Vin and I travel on, which is very fulfilling. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Cars are such a big part of the film. Are you a car guy in real life?
Cornielle: You know, interestingly enough, I’m into antiques. So for us to go to Cuba and to be part of the whole Cuba scene where basically all of the cars are antiques, was really cool. I have an International Scout… a 1976 International Scout. And my motorcycle is a 1986 K100 that I’ve turned into café racer. I’m big into the antiques, so it was quite a treat to be in Cuba… different than what you’ve seen in every installment in that it’s always the biggest, baddest muscle car. We go real old school, man. We’re riding old school cars that hold within themselves, within the culture, a lot of honor and value because in Cuba you drive these old antiques and they are passed down from generation to generation. And a lot of them, which we reference in the movie, are running with tractor parts and boat parts. They just do whatever they have to do to keep them running because they represent a means of income.

TrunkSpace: It becomes a part of their family lineage.
Cornielle: Exactly! So we’re riding for that. With that understanding, then you begin to understand the bigger weight being carried between the race that Raldo and Dom engage in, because they’re riding for pink slip. And although in some of the other installments they’ve taken a ride for pink slips and yes it involved honor, but it was more like they were just having a cockfight. This is something different because if I lose my car, I am dishonoring my entire family line. I got this from my grandpa and he got it from his, so there’s a lot riding on it. There’s a lot of honor riding on it, which makes the race that much more juicy.

TrunkSpace: So as a lover of antiques, was it hard to watch those antiques get destroyed on set because, from what we have seen in the past, the franchise is not afraid to smash up a car or… a hundred?
Cornielle: (Laughter) Yeah. You’ve got all these cars and you’re like this big kid with cars you can crash. The entire experience was so surreal, not just because of the opportunity it represents, but also because it’s a HUGE budget. To be a part of that… “Holy shit, they just crashed that car!”

TrunkSpace: In the trailer alone we think we saw more cars destroyed than we have in any movie before or since.
Cornielle: Exactly. It’s surreal. Just the budget and the magnitude of the project… it’s incredible.

TrunkSpace: Do you ever have to pinch yourself and sort of remind yourself that you were a part of it, especially with the film yet to be released?
Cornielle: I’ve had to stop, take a deep breath, and pinch myself throughout the entire experience. I’m heading to New York this coming weekend to be a part of the premiere and even going through that, I’ll have to take moments to be like, “Holy shit, I’m on the red carpet with Vin Diesel.” I have those moments all of the time. I think it’s just a process that I have to go through because it still hasn’t fully hit me of what it means. Like you mentioned, the next day everyone is going to Google you and Vin tells me I’m going to get more opportunities and work… it’s just like, “Whoa.” I’m still going through the process. (Laughter) As an artist, I just appreciate it and I’m happy to go and be a part of the experience, but what exactly it means to me as a person and the future of my work, I haven’t really wrapped my mind around the potential.

TrunkSpace: And acting wasn’t always a calling for you, correct? It was something you discovered a little later in life?
Cornielle: Yeah. It’s something that I fell into. It wasn’t ever something I was pursuing or considered as a possibility for me. I was doing body work in energetic healing and that, to make a long story short, lead me to modeling, which lead me to my agent sending me to acting auditions. My failing so miserably at the “2 Fast 2 Furious” audition just really shattered me. It really affected my psyche. It really beat me up that I could be so terrible and feel so humiliated. And I in essence did what you see in the movies, man… they get beat up and then go into the jungle and train. (Laughter) That’s what I did. I said, “It ain’t gonna happen to me again” and in the process of that, I actually fell in love with it. And because I’m so passionate in everything that I do, I really committed to pursuing the craft and embracing the artistic journey and that’s how I ended up where I am today.

Ricky Middlesworth Photography

TrunkSpace: You have one of the best beards in the biz. Tell us you’re still rocking it!
Cornielle: (Laughter) Absolutely, man! I love my beard! Many projects have asked me to cut it and I always kindly decline. I was filming “Major Crimes”… I’m in the two-part season finale, so Wednesday the 5th and Wednesday the 12th you’ll get to see me portray a very dynamic individual, but initially, to book me on that, we went back and forth for like two weeks because they wanted me to cut my beard. Ultimately I’m glad that I held my ground because as we were filming that, I got a surprise call from “The Fate of the Furious” camp and the first thing they asked me was, “Do you still have your beard?” It turns out they added a surprise scene that I think all of the fans are going to enjoy. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Beards are such a commitment. It’s like being married to your face. Shaving it is like divorcing your face.
Cornielle: (Laughter) There’s no way to explain it. It’s kind of like trying to explain my love for motorcycles to someone who’s afraid to ride a motorcycle. There’s just no way to do it. So with a beard, you really build a relationship. I grow my beard on a daily basis and it’s like, this is a part of me. And each beard is different. Everyone carries their own beard differently and it’s like a fingerprint.

TrunkSpace: And then when you do shave it off and look in the mirror, you don’t recognize yourself.
Cornielle: Not only do you look like a baby, but your whole jawline changes so much. It’s so weird. I’ve seen videos of fathers who shave their beards and then their own babies are looking at them like, “Who the hell are you?” (Laughter)

Check out Cornielle in the season finale of “Major Crimes” airing tonight at 9 p.m. on TNT.

“The Fate of the Furious” will be in theaters everywhere on Friday.

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Next Up

Larry Ulrich

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Name: Larry Ulrich

Hometown: La Marque, TX

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Ulrich: I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was watching the Oscars at the age of four. I would always tell my mother that one day she will see me winning an award on the same stage. From there, I’ve always positioned myself to be the best actor I can possibly be.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Ulrich: I was always drawn to Laurence Fishburne. I enjoyed his performance in “School Daze” and later, “Boyz n the Hood.” From there, I’ve supported his films throughout. One of my goals is to study under him as I continue to earn leading roles.

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?
Ulrich: A.) I decided to approach my career by staying consistent with placing myself in environments where I can always network with people who are in positions to help me. B.) I did not have a plan formulated. I believe that if something is meant to happen, it will happen. All we can do is stay current and place ourselves in positions to be at the right place at the right time.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Ulrich: I moved from Texas to Los Angeles when I was 27 years old, back in 2007. I have been here 10 years.

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?
Ulrich: The initial move was an easy transition. It took years for me to feel at home due to financial hardships and living under various roofs. The struggling actor “stereotype” is factual. Later, I decided to work full-time and earn my master’s degree from Pepperdine University. Now as acting as my first priority, I can finally label myself as comfortable.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Ulrich: My biggest role was earning the lead in the Nollywood film “Ijé: The Journey.” I played Jalen Turner, a lawyer who was responsible for dismissing a first-degree murder charge for a woman who killed her abusive husband. This role gave me the confidence that I have the leading man talent.

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?
Ulrich: I always enjoy the genre of drama. I believe that drama stretches the actor’s range to make the character believable. I always thrive on challenges.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Ulrich: The greatest strength is the ability to be professional and transparent to work with. I pride myself upon “easy to work with” because we never know what a director, cinematographer or producer’s tomorrow may be. People will always recommend or refer you to other projects when you are likable.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Ulrich: My ultimate dream is to have a consistent film acting career to where I’m financially and emotionally stable. I would like my path to be a path of inspiration and motivation for new up and coming actors.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Ulrich: Do it. Don’t hesitate because it’s your dream and you are responsible for making it reality. Additionally, I would advise younger actors to create their own content. There are many platforms where creators can broadcast their talent. Creating your own content benefits the actor in many ways, such as learning the producing business through trial and error, establishing new connections and feeling the emotions of being in charge. Never give up and continue going after it.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Ulrich: Below are my manager’s information along with my social media handles:

Shakir Entertainment Management
Shaun Cairo (Talent Manager)
P.O. Box 274
New York, NY 10019
Shakirentertainment.mgmt@gmail.com
347-305-2881

www.larryulrichproductions.com
https://www.facebook.com/larryjulrich
https://www.instagram.com/larryulrichproductioncompany/?hl=en
https://twitter.com/larryjulrich
https://www.linkedin.com/in/larry-ulrich-ma-9b86198b/

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Next Up

Jenna Lex

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Name: Jenna Lex

Hometown: Guilford, CT

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Lex: A similar cliché to most: I was in 4th grade and we were putting on a show about the planets. I did not want to be a planet… I wanted to be the narrator because they stayed “onstage” the whole time. My teacher told my mom to get me into acting after that.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Lex: My family was very limiting on being allowed to watch TV or movies, so I actually was never inspired by anyone until I became a teenager (and could sneak TV on my computer).

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?
Lex: I turned 16 and had no idea what I was doing but I remember sending headshots and resumes to a laundry list of casting. It was not until I moved to LA that I truly understood how to attack it. I only ever knew the kind of acting I craved to do.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Lex: I asked to move away when I was 13, but it took ’til I was 19 when I went to college in NYC and just never returned home.

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?
Lex: I never truly felt at home in NYC. I think it was because I always knew it was a stepping stone to Los Angeles. The move to Los Angeles was surprisingly easy. It just felt right.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Lex: Ironically it was not in the medium I am working towards. However, I had booked a musical at Long Wharf Theatre a few years back. It was booking that completely on my own merit and in a medium that I am not as confident in that I realized what I was put on this planet to do.

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?
Lex: Of course we all have that niche that we know we can rock the best, that we feel most comfortable in. You’d have to imagine Reese Witherspoon circa early 2000s for that image. But I look forward to the challenges of acting. Finding those roles that require you to be vulnerable, to tap into a part of you that you maybe shy away from in real life or don’t get the opportunity to explore. That’s the incredible part about acting. The opportunity to experience multiple lives. It is such a gift to be an actor. But I’m ranting now.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Lex: Drive. You have to want it. It’s that simple.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Lex: I have always said to sitcom work. Mainly because making people laugh is vital, especially the way our world is shaping currently. However, the ultimate dream is the freedom. The level where you are able to jump around from TV and film, from comedy to drama to action or more. Where you aren’t boxed in so you feel you have the freedom to explore any aspect of the medium that you could possibly dream of.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Lex: Do it. Do it now. Not later, not when you feel financially stable enough, not when where you’re living becomes too small. Because at the end of the day, you can always move again. So do it. Now. Now now now.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Lex: My handy dandy website www.jenna-lex.com and pretty soon you can come grab a drink and watch me perform with some improv comedy friends at iO West in Hollywood.

Also, because I am technically a millennial: my instragram is @jenna.lex

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Musical Mondaze

CFM

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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 Charles Moothart, a shredding multi-instrumentalist who has performed alongside Ty Segall for years, including in the hard rock band Fuzz, which formed in 2011. Most recently Moothart has returned his focus to his own side project, CFM, to release his second studio album, “Dichotomy Desaturated.”

We recently sat down with Moothart to discuss juggling his various projects, feeling vulnerable with his solo work, and how he tends to come up with new riffs or chord progressions.

TrunkSpace: You create and perform in a number of different bands/projects. Do you view them all as separate islands or do they connect for you creatively in some way?
Moothart: Generally I try to view everything I do as separate. There are certainly moments where you’re working on a song or an idea is kind of floating around and I might not necessarily know where it will end up or where it will land or what the end idea will be. It’s not like I try to be super militant about keeping things separately, but when it comes down to it, yeah… I try to keep everything separated and let everything kind of exist in its own realm, at least mentally.

TrunkSpace: What about on stage? Do you ever blend those different realms together?
Moothart: Yeah, that’s definitely one side of it. Everybody I’m involved with, we try to keep it all separate. There are definitely times where people will ask, if I’m playing with Ty or something, people will be like, “Are you going to play a Fuzz song?” You definitely try to keep things separated that way.

TrunkSpace: What were your goals with “Dichotomy Desaturated” and as you listen back now, do you feel like you achieved those goals?
Moothart: Yeah. Definitely. The last record kind of came about somewhat indirectly, so once I kind of took that stuff out and started playing live, I wanted to go in to making a record that would kind of have the lessons I had learned from playing songs live and include those in the songwriting process and just go into it with a more direct idea of actually trying to write a fully cohesive record. So yeah, in that way, definitely. I’m proud of the record. There’s a lot of things on it that are scary to me. The whole thing generally feels very vulnerable, so in another way, I can listen to it and hear things that I would do differently, but not necessarily in a bad way. In that way I’m also happy with it because I feel like it points out things to me… some things that I could work on. It kind of allows me to go out of body and kind of become critical of certain ideas, which to me is also a bonus. I don’t look at that as a negative.

TrunkSpace: Does that mean that you then take those things that you would have wanted to do differently and apply those changes to the way you’re playing the songs live?
Moothart: Yeah. A lot of these songs from this record… we haven’t really gotten to play live. We’ve started playing a couple of them and right now we’re working on learning the rest of them. But yeah, I definitely hope to tweak some things live just to keep it… even just beyond what I would want to change, just to make it more interesting because there are certain things that I think translate on the record that maybe wouldn’t translate as well live. So, I definitely want to be able to switch it up, but it’s also just more of a future reference kind of thing with certain ideas or certain kind of song characteristics just for writing in the future. It’s just kind of more like a mental note. Like, “You were trying to do this and this is kind of the way that it would maybe translate better to a listener.”

TrunkSpace: You mentioned you feel vulnerable with this record. Was there anything musically that you tried differently in the songwriting or recording that sort of emphasizes that feeling?
Moothart: Yeah. For sure. The biggest one is… really, most of it just kind of comes down to songwriting because that’s kind of something that’s always been elusive to me. I like writing riffs and I like writing chord progressions, but vocal melodies are something that I’m still trying to wrap my head around because I’m still trying to figure out… singing. (Laughter) So yeah, a lot it is just kind of trying to find more of a groove with songs or let songs kind of sit in their own space because my brain tends to want complicate things or make things more intricate. I guess that’s kind of just where I immediately go. I think about how I can switch everything up to keep it, just like, constantly changing. To me that’s what makes something interesting, but in reality sometimes it’s more interesting to just be able to have someone who is listening to just be kind of captivated by just the idea of what’s happening or the groove that the song sits in. More stuff like that. On the record there’s more acoustic moments or mellower moments where the idea would be, hopefully, that people can actually just listen to it and be kind of sucked in. And then that allows for the louder moments of the record to actually kick instead of it being, like, all right in the front. So that’s a big thing for me.

TrunkSpace: Is one of the benefits of playing live being able to extend those groove moments you were just referencing? If you can tell that an audience is enjoying the ride, you can just kind of prolong the ride for as long as you like, right?
Moothart: For sure. Both sides have that effect in a different way. The interesting thing too with what you’re saying with live is sometimes there’s a song that you’re not sure what it’s all about or maybe you don’t think it’s a really strong idea, and then sometimes those are the songs that people react to the most and you’re like, “Whoa… what about that is what people like?” That’s where I mentioned going out of body… it’s always hard to be self-critical and understand what someone else is going to hear it as because when you have your own idea, you kind have already decided what the song sounds like but you don’t know what it sounds like to someone who isn’t in your head. I think that’s the overall long term goal. I think that’s what, I don’t know, for lack of a better word… what great musicians or great performers or great songwriters… whatever that means in whatever genre, they’re able to do is kind of like tweak things as they go and be able to read a certain situation. You should be able to be open to what the people who are listening want. Not that that should always be your first priority, but if people are there to enjoy your music then you should hopefully be able to go with that and read what that means.

TrunkSpace: How does a guitarist transcend from playing guitar really well and playing whatever they want to sort of having that signature sound where as soon as you hear the riff you know it’s that particular guitarist? What is that thing that clicks and then all of a sudden somebody just has their own sound?
Moothart: Man, I have no idea. I really don’t know. That’s something I’m trying to wrap my head around. To me, a huge one for that is the Velvet Underground. As soon as the Velvet Underground or any Lou Reed song starts playing, you’re like, “Oh… that’s Lou Reed.” And to me, that goes to what I was talking about… find the groove. That dude knows how to sit in the fucking groove forever. (Laughter) And it’s like endlessly captivating. I have no idea. That’s like the fucking holy grail… a coveted secret. But, I feel like a lot of it comes down to people kind of just trying to remove themselves from any kind of outside expectation or just kind of letting things come to them exactly as they want and not being scared of something either sounding similar to what they have done before or similar to something else. Kind of just having that faith that their ideas is their idea and that’s what they want to do, so fuck it and go for it. To me, that’s kind of the main idea. It’s the same with The Stooges. All of The Stooges music is on a base level, basic, but no one else could do it. To me that’s it. It’s not really caring about anything, I guess.

TrunkSpace: Would a part of that also be not relying too heavily on influences because, once you put too much of them into yourself, then all of those elements become a part of your work as opposed to your work being wholly original?
Moothart: Exactly. And then it’s just going to sound regurgitated. Yeah. And it’s funny you say that because there’s been a couple of times when… it’s interesting when people ask, and I totally understand the question, but, “What are your influences?” I appreciate and understand that question, but it’s also a hard question to answer because the idea at the end of the day is to not necessarily have your influences be… you should wear your influences on your sleeve and never hide from them, but you also don’t want to just sound like them. It shouldn’t be immediately accessible, unless that’s what you’re going for, which is cool too.

TrunkSpace: So then maybe the influence question would be better served as, “What artists made you love music?”
Moothart: Yeah. Yeah. For sure. Totally. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: That’s a good segue into our next question. We read that you picked up your first guitar at 12. Was music a big part of your life even before that?
Moothart: It was, I think, more than I realized. My parents were both really into music. Neither of them are musicians or anything, but my mom definitely, around the house and in the car, she was always playing music. And my sister and my mom would always be singing along to songs and they were really good with lyrics or picking up people’s lyrics, which is something I’ve never been good at. In retrospect, yeah, my mom was definitely always playing music. When I started playing instruments, they were stoked. They wanted me to be exploring that, so in that way, for sure. I feel lucky to have had that influence, but it wasn’t something that at the time… like, I wouldn’t have looked back and thought that music was a huge part of my life as a kid, but then I talk about it with other people and some people didn’t have that experience. I definitely feel lucky for that.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to writing riffs or chord progressions… do you need to have a guitar in your hand to come up with a concept for a song, or can it start out in your head or as a hum?
Moothart: Most of the time it’s through playing an instrument. I’m pretty much constantly playing guitar throughout the day. I’ll do it even if it’s for like five minutes or whatever. I’m kind of always picking it up and putting it down, so a lot of things will just kind of come from there. There are rare moments where I’ll be walking around or driving around and a riff will kind of pop into my head. I’m trying to get better at dissecting that because usually I just forget it. That does happen sometimes, but it’s always interesting when that happens for me because when I try to translate it to guitar, I’m not connecting. It’s almost like two separate parts of my brain, but I’m trying to bring them together. “I hear this, but how do I play it?” And then I’m playing it and it’s like… sometimes I can’t figure out what the fuck was in my head and then I forget it most of the time. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: That is something that is really impressive about musicians, especially prolific ones… the ability to remember all of the songs that they have written and not confuse them with other songs that they have written. Are there moments where you’re writing and you come up with an amazing idea and all of a sudden it’s gone?
Moothart: Oh yeah! All the time. It’s really frustrating. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Will you record ideas even in their early stages?
Moothart: Yeah. That’s probably my favorite part of my iPhone. Not to be hawking iPhones. But yeah, the voice memo on the iPhone… that’s my saving grace a lot of times. If I have an idea, I’ll record it and then kind of just keep playing. There’s a time where I forget a riff within literally like, two minutes. I’ll be playing it and then I’ll play a different chord progression and then I’ll try and go back to that riff and it’s gone. It’s all about the smaller parts… the rhythm of something… that is always hard to return to. You can remember what notes you played, but it’s the rhythm.

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Opening Act

Piece of Cake

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Artist/Band: Piece of Cake

Members: Brynn Bixby (Lead vocals, keyboard), Dave Nolden (Bass, vocals), Rob Lejman (Drums), Mark Alletag (Sax, guitar).

Website: https://soundcloud.com/pieceofcakemusic

Hometown: Chicago (Northwest Burbs)

Latest Album/Release: Piece of Cake (May 2016) (Available at Spotify and Apple music)

Influences: Jenny Lewis, Fiona Apple, Spoon

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Bixby: I try not to, but if I have to pick a genre I usually start off with indie-folk-pop. Describing my music is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I’d rather someone just listen and take what they can from it. I was once told it sounded like Amy Winehouse meets Jenny Lewis, which is probably the biggest compliment anyone could ever give me, so I’ll go with that.

TrunkSpace: Everyone loves cake and when one is present, they want a piece. Is that reflective of your music as well? Does everyone want a Piece of Cake?
Bixby: I hope so. We have been pretty well received live. Our shows are always a good time and I think that we have a sound that most people can connect with. It’s not your usual lineup, so I think we bring something that you don’t hear in every bar/venue/backyard. I can’t speak for everyone, but I damn sure want a piece of cake.

TrunkSpace: Jokes aside, your music seems very accessible. And by that we mean, there’s something for everyone without alienating fans of any one sound. What was that initial conversation like when you guys got together to form the band? Was there a discussion about the sound you wanted to create or was it more of a natural blending of musical tastes that ultimately became what Piece of Cake is?
Bixby: I started writing songs for Piece of Cake back in 2012, when I was in another project, a pop-rock trio called Caught In Your Pockets. I was looking for a different sound and wrote a couple of songs that I themed around the idea of “Piece of Cake.” One was called “Sweet Tooth City,” another “Easy As Pie,” it was random and fun. It felt natural and freeing to write outside of what I was doing at the time. About two or three years later Caught In Your Pockets broke up and I went back to this idea. I haven’t actually used any of the tunes I wrote back then, I should revisit them, but I wrote “Somebody,” a ballad I recorded and released as the first Piece of Cake single. It was a totally different vibe than anything I had written before and I wasn’t playing with a band at the time. It really spoke to what I was going through emotionally; starting over, moving on, figuring out my self-identity as a songwriter. It opened up a new process for me, and I wrote a few more songs before I reached out to anyone to get together. I’ve known everyone in the band for at least eight years, and I just started jamming with them and getting their opinions on new material. It really came along after about a year, and we recorded our first album and started playing out regularly. Everyone involved has another project that they play with and a diverse musical background so it’s been a blast working on this. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has been a part of it.

TrunkSpace: What is the key for a band in finding an audience in 2017? Is it hard work? Is it luck? Is it a combination of the two?
Bixby: I wish I actually knew the answer to this question, it would be very helpful to me. From what I can tell, it’s a combination of the two. Luckily, we have had a lot of support from friends, family, and other local musicians with this project. I am extremely grateful for that. Mostly, I think people want to hear something different that they can relate to. If you can’t engage, what’s the point?

TrunkSpace: The chicken or the egg question. Does a band decide its identity or do the fans decide it for them? When it comes to a band, how much of the scene that you ultimately find yourself in is defined by who is in the scene itself?
Bixby: It’s all about perception. I know what Piece of Cake is for me, and I know what I think we sound like, but that’s not how everyone interprets it. I try not to worry too much about how we are labeled or what genre we fit in. It’s exhausting. I find that what I consider to be the best bands are those that cross multiple genres and influences and just do their thing.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of scenes, Piece of Cake is based in Chicago, a city known for having a great music scene decade after decade. What are your thoughts on it today in 2017? What’s great about it and what would you like to see changed or improved?
Bixby: Chicago is a hell of a city for live music. There is constantly something worth checking out and so many amazing local artists and bands. I love the scene for that because there are a ton of people to collaborate with. But, at the same time, there is an oversaturation of bands, and it can be hard to get noticed or book a show when there are a million other people trying to do the same. Still, we are lucky to have access to all the great venues in Chicago, and I appreciate the DIY scene and constant support from fellow musicians.

As always, I would definitely love to see more women artists in the spotlight in the Chicago music scene. It can feel like a boys club so much of the time. There are a multitude of badass women artists around and I love seeing these ladies rise to the occasion and steal the show.

The main thing I would like to see improve in the Chicago scene is that every single person who is part of it feels safe and is free of harassment and abuse at these shows and events. I am fortunate to not have had many personal experiences with this kind of disgusting behavior, but far too many people have, and it has to stop. This is a place for creativity and diversity. If you can’t handle it, get out.

TrunkSpace: The band has a great sound that seems as if it would translate really well to getting a crowd on their feet. What does a Piece of Cake live show look like?
Bixby: We try and have as much fun as possible. There is usually cake, so that’s a plus. I have a tendency to jump around and head bang, and I always appreciate it when people join in and get down. I think our live shows are energetic and people are usually enjoying it. It’s pretty hard not to move your body when you hear the horns kick in, the groove is very real. Did I mention we have cake?

TrunkSpace: What does the band hope to accomplish in its career together?
Bixby: I just want to play and record music with my friends. We are getting back in the studio this spring to record some new tunes, which should be great. When we recorded our album, it was a 24-hour marathon and this time it will be much more laid back. I am also trying to book a small tour this summer and get on the road to play for some new friendly faces.

TrunkSpace: Separate from career goals, what do you hope people take from the music itself?
Bixby: I just hope that people can listen and enjoy, even if it’s just for a distraction. People can take whatever they want from it, I just ask that they give it a shot! Obviously I wish everyone would buy our album and be lifelong fans. Is that too much to ask?

TrunkSpace: What would happen if Cake and Piece of Cake shared a stage?
Bixby: Everyone would be really confused, including me. I’m totally down for it though. Let me know what they say.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Piece of Cake in 2017?
Bixby: New tunes, killer shows, and more cake.

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Remember When

Trevor Lissauer

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It’s that time again. Let’s sit back, relax and take a trip down memory lane with those individuals who inadvertently played a role in our pop culture past.

This time out we’re chatting with Trevor Lissauer, an actor best known to pop culture aficionados as Miles Goodman from the television series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and Zack from “The Skateboard Kid.” When not acting, Lissauer is letting his freak zebra fly as one half of the synth-pop duo Animal Cloud, whose debut full-length album “Beautiful Sky” is available now.

We sat down with Lissauer to discuss his time on “Sabrina,” how Animal Cloud pulls of their live show, and the possibility of winning 20 Oscars in the span of two years.

TrunkSpace: You starred on “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” in the early 2000s. Although in the grand scheme of things that wasn’t that long ago, the industry itself has changed leaps and bounds since. From an acting perspective, where have you seen the biggest change?
Lissauer: After “Sabrina” there was a writer’s strike a few years later and the only thing I noticed was… there seemed to be a lot more opportunities for actors who weren’t necessarily really well known to be in television. And then because the movie productions stopped, because of the writer’s strike… and I’m not blaming anything, I’m just saying that this is what I noticed is that, the film actors decided to start working in television when it wasn’t the norm at the time. So instead of holding an audition to find, like, “Hey, the actor for the new pilot no one has heard of, we’re just going to give it to somebody famous.” So then they started flooding all of the pilots with all of these known actors, so then there were less auditions for actors who weren’t as known as them. And now it has just become the norm, but from what I remember, and I could be totally wrong, but I feel like it’s where it all started.

TrunkSpace: It certainly gives the studios and networks a chance to better hedge their financial bets by having known commodities in their projects.
Lissauer: Exactly. It’s a smart move. I would have done that too. It’s the smart move. I don’t have a problem with any of it. In the 90s, I remember in one pilot season auditioning nonstop… so many freaking pilot auditions. And then after the writer’s strike, it was less and less. It’s just such a random occurrence, auditions. You never know.

TrunkSpace: “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” used the classic sitcom formula, which is one that isn’t as common these days.
Lissauer: They still have that type of sitcomy thing on Nickelodeon and Disney. I did a “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn” last year. I played some aggravated hockey player guy. But, that was total “Sabrina” because there was no audience, but I think they have a laugh track. You rehearse the first two days and then you start filming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That’s what we did on “Sabrina.” No audience. You have a table read on Monday, then we start rehearsing and you hang out in your trailer when you’re not rehearsing or doing whatever else you want. Tuesday you do it one more time and then you have a run-through for the network execs at the end of the day on Tuesday. And then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday… you just show up on the days that you film. It’s a great job. Couldn’t ask for a better job in terms of a weekly paycheck. It was fun.

TrunkSpace: And when you were on the show, it was airing on The WB. The network itself was still sort of in the infancy stages at that time and finding an audience… certainly not where it is today.
Lissauer: Yeah. I didn’t think a whole lot about that kind of stuff at the time. I was just like, “Oh, I’m on a show. Hey look… I’m on TV! It’s Friday night and there I am.” I didn’t even watch every episode because I would go out and do things on Friday night, but when I was home, before I would go out I’d go, “Oh, there it is.” It’s kind of cool to see that.

TrunkSpace: Your character Miles never really had any arc resolution. He was sort of just written out, correct?
Lissauer: I think he went of to Rabbinical school at the end.

No, I’m kidding. Miles was Jewish and I was raised Jewish, so it wasn’t that far off. I’m not a religious person, but that’s just the home I was raised in. But yeah, he was just gone. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What do you think happened to his character?
Lissauer: Hopefully he did not grow up to be an accountant like his dad because he hated that job in one episode… the idea of that. I don’t know where Miles would be. He had a lot of phobias, that’s for sure. I think he would be good if he went off to work for some paranormal investigation group. I think that would have made him extremely happy.

TrunkSpace: Maybe he went on to do his own “Ghost Hunters” TV show?
Lissauer: Ghost hunters who also investigate the JFK cover-up. I think he would be in heaven. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: A lot of times actors will say that appearing on an established show, particularly sitcoms, can be both a blessing and a curse. Was “Sabrina” that kind of experience for you?
Lissauer: Oh, it was a curse like no other. (Laughter) No. Not at all! It was a job. I don’t think about that stuff. I think people might limit me or put me in a box… I don’t know about it if that’s the case and I don’t care if they do because I usually end up getting all the jobs that I’m meant to get. Maybe it’s an airy-fairy way of looking at it, but I don’t have much control over it, so I just take what comes my way. I guess I audition for characters sometimes that are similar. Maybe they’ve seen me and they’re like, “He plays a neurotic intense guy,” but I’ve played a lot of different types of characters. Like the character on “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,” which I think I’m going to be nominated for a Golden Globe for. I’m kidding. That was a really mean jerk hockey player. I mean, I don’t know… why did I get that part? I don’t know. It’s nothing like I am in real life.

Lissauer with the cast of “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”

TrunkSpace: Your band Animal Cloud recently released a new album. Is the band your main focus or do you try to keep an even balance between music and acting?
Lissauer: Well, it’s kind of whatever is in front of me. If I have an audition, I’m like, “Hey, I’ve got to work on my audition.” The way we make music… it’s not like this thing that takes up so much of our time. That album, we put it out on Valentine’s Day this year, and we’ve been working on it for two years because we were originally only going to do seven songs and then it turned into 12. The way we write, he’ll (Keith Tenenbaum) send me some music and I’ll put vocals to it and send it back to him. Or I’ll send him some vocals or a very simple melody, like just on a piano, and then he sends me back that melody completely orchestrated and then I redo all my vocals. So, we don’t always have to be together and drive back and forth and do stuff. It’s all digital now. For recording, we just record.

My main focus would be acting because that’s what I’ve been doing for so long. Music is a little more difficult. We’ve had songs on “Nip/Tuck,” “Party of Five,” “Felicity,” and a lot of independent films. That’s just like a little bit of money here and there, but we basically do the music for fun. But, if it turned into something, then yeah, that would be great.

TrunkSpace: You guys take your music to the stage and play out live, which must not be easy to pull off?
Lissauer: We definitely play live and that’s where the whole thing with the animal masks and the little jumpsuits… or not our “little” jumpsuits… our JUMPSUITS came from. The first time we ever played it was just jeans and T-shirts and a little party for fun. And then we went, “If we’re going to play out, how are we going to do this?” So, when we play live, we also have backing tracks. So Keith will have his drum kit and then his keyboard to the left of him and his laptop and everything is run into the house speakers. He’s got backing tracks, he has to wear headphones to hear his metronome playing so that he plays to the time and we all keep in time together, and then he plays keys and drums at the same time while the backing tracks are going. And then I’m playing keys or guitar or just singing and then I have a computer voice that speaks to the audience between each song. It says something funny and it always ends with, “We like you.” Like one of the ridiculous things that I might say is, “Did you know it would take 30 servings of foods high in fiber to match the fiber content of just one Animal Cloud band. We like you.” So, as we’re getting ready for the next song, we’re making them laugh.

TrunkSpace: What were your goals with the album itself?
Lissauer: We just made the album just to do it. We have two EPs that came out earlier on iTunes. We got to work with this guy Brad Smith. He was the bass player and main songwriter of the band Blind Melon and he wrote their big hit “No Rain,” so that was pretty cool. He’s a friend of ours now through almost two years of recordings, so that was fun.

Animal Cloud

TrunkSpace: What a great songwriting springboard to have someone in the room who wrote a song that has had such a lasting impact on pop culture.
Lissauer: It’s always an interesting feeling to even think about it even today right now. It’s that same thing for acting. When I moved out here when I was 18, my very first acting job was a HIGHLY-PRAISED film called “The Skateboard Kid.” That’s a joke, by the way. You should go to YouTube and you should watch the trailer because it’s hysterical. The skateboard is the voice of Dom DeLuise. Tim Busfield played my father and I grew up knowing Tim because he played Poindexter in “Revenge of the Nerds” and I was like, “This guy’s playing my dad now!” I used to watch him on “Trapper John M.D.” But that’s been my whole career… working with people that I grew up watching. It’s always interesting. When I moved out here, my life became very interesting… the nondescript word for, I don’t know what.

TrunkSpace: So what’s the ultimate goal as you look towards the future? What would you like to be talking about if we sat down again in two years?
Lissauer: I won 20 Oscars. 20 Oscars and no less. I’ll be a failure if it’s 19! (Laughter) The goal is to always be happy with whatever I’m doing and feel fulfilled with however big or small the job is or the experience I’m having. That’s my daily goal. I try not to think so much, but, if I had my druthers two years from now, I’ll have a steady gig on a TV show that I myself would enjoy watching and working with some good people. And if I was able to do some films of the same caliber, that would be fantastic.

What are we in right now? April 2017? So by April 2019… I’m on a show, got some movies going on, some cool stuff has happened with the product that Animal Cloud put out, and I got a nice gal at my side. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: And don’t forget the 20 Oscars.
Lissauer: And 20 Oscars! All for Production Design. (Laughter)

Purchase Animal Cloud’s “Beautiful Sky” here.

Learn more about Lissauer and Animal Cloud here.

The latest music video from Animal Cloud.

And because Lissauer dared us to watch it, here’s The Skateboard Kid trailer!

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Next Up

Sarah Schodrof

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Name: Sarah Schodrof

Hometown: I was born in Tinley Park, Illinois but I moved shortly after and moved a lot. I grew up between Illinois, North Carolina, Utah, Iowa, and Florida.

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

TrunkSpace: When did you know that you wanted to act for a living?
Schodrof: I’m not sure exactly when I knew I wanted to act for a living. I started acting classes when I was eight, after asking my mom to sign me up, and it never occurred to me to stop since I always loved it. Acting for a living was just the next logical step for me I guess, because of course you eventually want to get paid for your work once you get older and realize that’s an option. Once I auditioned for and accepted my admission into USC’s BFA Acting program is when I made the commitment to pursue acting for the long haul though. I would have continued acting regardless, but committing yourself to a four year degree in acting is a big deal, especially when you could spend your time and money on a more “practical” degree. But I went for my passion and didn’t make a backup plan so I think that’s when I knew, and definitely when the people around me knew, that I was serious about making acting a career for myself.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular performance or actor/actress from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Schodrof: The only performance I remember really being affected by at a young age was when I went on a school field trip to see a play about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. I think this might have been what propelled me to ask my mom to sign me up for acting classes. I just remember telling one of the actors that she did a “really good job” on the way out of the theater, which was a big moment for me because I was shy but I felt it was important to tell this adult stranger that she was a good actor. If you count high school as childhood, I was also obsessed with all the performances in the film version of “Doubt” when it came out. Meryl Streep, Viola Davis, and Amy Adams were powerhouses and so interesting. I continue to watch their careers.

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?
Schodrof: There was no plan I made for myself except for to keep going. Take classes, prepare, audition, network, make your own work… you have to do what you know is good for yourself as an actor. Whatever keeps you interested and engaged. There is no one way into the industry so you just have to make a habit out of doing good work and putting yourself out there and every once in awhile something will stick.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to move away from your home and pursue acting as a career? How old were you at the time?
Schodrof: I moved to Los Angeles for a pilot season with my mom when I was 16, but that was during the writer’s strike so I only had a handful of auditions before we had to go back to Florida where I finished high school. I finally moved to Los Angeles full time to get my acting degree at USC when I was 18. I graduated when I was 22 and was able to audition a lot more then.

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?
Schodrof: Since I made the move for college I think it was easier for me than it is for a lot of people. It’s a lot easier to make friends in school, everyone lives walking distance from one another and you spend so much time together in class and play rehearsals. So I made a couple close friends very quickly, which is usually all I need. It’s harder now that I’m out of school though. The city is so spread out, there’s a ton of traffic and everyone has unique schedules so seeing friends is a real effort. Keeping in touch with friends, making an effort to meet new people and doing acting classes or other group activities makes it easier though. It helps keep a sense of community in a city that can be isolating.

TrunkSpace: What has been been your biggest break in terms of a particular role or project thus far?
Schodrof: I just shot a commercial for Toyota last month and that will be the most recognizable thing I’ve done once it comes out. As far as TV goes, I was written into a sitcom pilot by my friend George Khouri whom I met when we acted together in a production of “Cinderella.” We shot his show, “Black Coffee,” last year and it premiered late last year in Beverly Hills. It’s currently being pitched so you never know what could come of that. George is a great networker and we have a talented cast on that. In terms of theater, I was really excited to work with playwright/novelist/director Timothy Allen Smith in the last staging of “Captive,” a dramatic play about a school shooting.

I’ve yet to have a big break. Honestly though I am hoping for my next small “break” to come from a short film I am currently writing with a friend from an old acting class. We’re going to produce and act in it together and we hope to make an appearance on the short film festival circuit.

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?
Schodrof: I just want to play roles that interest me and are three dimensional, but those can be all kinds of characters. The genres that I feel most at home in (though I enjoy all) have to be drama and then neurotic characters in comedies.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength an actor/actress can have outside of acting ability itself?
Schodrof: Curiosity. You have to be interested in the story and each character you’re playing with. It can be the difference between watching an actor perform versus watching someone really try to deal with something and figure something out.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your acting career? Where would you like your path to lead?
Schodrof: My dream is to make acting my full time job and to have the projects I work on be fulfilling and provocative projects that have something to say.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring actor/actress who is considering moving away from home to pursue their dream?
Schodrof: I think I would tell them to really decide what specifically they want to do and why because I’ve found being clear with yourself really gives you a sense of direction. After that, I would say do your research about the logistics of moving, the city and getting started in the new acting scene. Google and ask friends with experience. When you get to the new city, make sure you take acting classes that are inspiring to you and also reputable so that local managers and agents will know you have good training before they sign you. Once you have begun training and gotten representation in the new city, then you just keep going. Do good work and put yourself out there.

TrunkSpace: Where can people (and casting directors) learn more about you?
Schodrof: www.SarahSchodrof.com

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Opening Act

Tonio Armani

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Artist/Band: Tonio Armani

Website: www.facebook.com/iamtonioarmani

Hometown: Columbus, Georgia

Latest Album/Release: Diggin in the Crates

Influences: R-Kelly, Jodeci, Tyrese

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Armani: R&B / Trap Soul / Hip-Hop

TrunkSpace: Where does your passion for creating and performing music stem from? Was there a particular person or experience from early in your life that you can directly point to in terms of helping to plant those seeds for where you are today?
Armani: My kids inspired me to keep going.

TrunkSpace: In creating new music, how important is collaborating with other people, or, do you tend to work exclusively on your own and then bring in a producer when the material is as close to finished as possible?
Armani: It doesn’t matter. I love creating good music for the world to listen to.

TrunkSpace: Are you trained in any particular instruments and if so, how important was that journey (of learning those instruments) in sculpting what your career is today?
Armani: My voice is my instrument. I train myself every day to perfect my craft.

TrunkSpace: Where do you find your lyrical inspiration when writing new songs? Do you tend to write from experience or do you approach writing as more of a storyteller?
Armani: I can write a song about any and everything.

TrunkSpace: What is the most difficult aspect of exposing your music to a mass audience in 2017? What are the hurdles that artists have to leap in order to break through all of the noise?
Armani: Getting music heard by the right people. Being at the right place at the right time. I just need that one person who can help me advance my career. I wanna do this for as long as I can.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular dream in your mind in terms of where you’d like to see your musical career take you? What’s the goal?
Armani: Selling out my own show.

TrunkSpace: You’re based out of Columbus, GA. What is the music scene like there currently and is it a supportive community or is it competitive?
Armani: It’s competitive, but I’m ready for the challenge.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Tonio Armani in 2017?
Armani: Tonio Armani will be working twice as hard as I worked last year. I’m a superstar.

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Trunk Bubbles

Franchesco!

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Name: Franchesco!

Website: www.patreon.com/franchesco

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Franchesco!: People refer to my artwork as “pin-up,” which is perfectly fine by me. Most folks associate that term with vintage images of beautiful women… so that’s winning as far as I’m concerned.

Plus in comic books, pin-ups are considered full-page illustrations, inside the issue (not the cover itself). I’ve always enjoyed full-page illustrations, as opposed to sequential art. That’s not to say I don’t like sequential art, just that I enjoy the big beautiful splashy images most of all. So why not do “that thing” all day, every day!

TrunkSpace: What is the earliest memory you have of applying your talent of art in the creation of a particular drawing or picture?
Franchesco!: The earliest recollection I have is when I would draw all kinds of trees… no leaves or anything, just the trunks and branches… not sure why, but yeah. (Laughter) Tons of trees, go figure. Wishing I had at least one of those tree sketches today. Weird that I can remember that, now that I think about it. Great question! I do have some images stored in the Fresco Vaults that are from when I was in 1st or 2nd grade. I should scan those up one of these days. Just for kicks.

TrunkSpace: Did kids/peers you grew up with also recognize your talent as an artist and ask you to draw things for them?
Franchesco!: I would get a lot of attention from people around me when I drew stuff, so I would do more of it.

I recall in grade school, drawing a “rose” for a girl in my class. Her friends saw it and they wanted one too… I was like a rose drawing machine that day… but I didn’t mind… it made them happy, so I was happy to do it. It got so that I could draw roses from memory, so it made folks even more impressed. But like anything, we do it long enough, it becomes second nature. More of a parlor trick, than anything else… but it made them smile… so that can’t be a bad thing. I still enjoy making people happy with my humble parlor tricks.

TrunkSpace: Now, as an adult, people are asking you to draw things for them all of the time and, you get to make money doing it! What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Franchesco!: Surprisingly enough… I don’t get a lot of crazy requests. I either have very well-adjusted folks asking me for stuff… or I have a very high tolerance for crazy, that it feels normal to me. Not sure which, but I do have really awesome patrons.

TrunkSpace: You have a knack for drawing gorgeous, sexy women. What is the key to translating sexiness to the page? As the creator of these pieces, what is it that you set out to achieve?
Franchesco!: It’s never been a goal of mine, to do “sexy.” I guess it’s like when I used to draw those roses for all the girls in my class… it’s what people responded to, so I would do more of “that” thing. Turns out that pretty girls is what folks seem to respond to the most these days. I enjoy drawing pretty much everything and anything… but like they say… “Let Them Eat Cake!” Or cheesecake, because that’s how I roll.

I’m guessing at this point, I would have to work hard at “not” being sexy… because it’s just how I do it, how it feels the most natural for me. I never tried to “be sexy.” Not sure I have it in me to be un-sexy. Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow!!

Just recently I was commissioned to do a cover, and we went through the whole process… concept, sketches, blah, blah, blah… and I did a little extra doodle of sorts, that might be used as a variant, as an aside, featuring a beautiful woman… and everyone who saw it said “THAT” is what the cover should be, not the one we had completed. So we switched gears and went with the pretty girl instead. So yeah… it is what it is, not that I’m complaining.

TrunkSpace: In looking at your body of work, we notice a theme of going back to classic pin-up style icons like Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe. What is it about those particular women and that particular time period that ignites a creative spark?
Franchesco!: Not sure what it is, and that’s probably the answer… the thing that we can’t put our finger on… that “X-factor”… they both had that… by the tons.


TrunkSpace: Another set of themes we notice in your work are thigh high stockings and heels… once again, a classic pin-up style look. How important is that outfit selection in creating your work and what does that process look like? Do you research a look? Will you alter an outfit after the fact if you’re not happy with the results?
Franchesco!: I have a love-hate relationship with my art. I hate it when I’m working on it… because I want it to be “better,” whatever that means. Never feels like I’m quite good enough. It’s only after I have the benefit of the passage of time that I can look at my stuff with a less critical eye. Having said that, I still look at the stuff and think of all the things I would probably change… to make it “better.” So yes, I’m constantly making changes, hopefully for the better. And yes, its pretty important… especially when it comes to pin-ups… nothing is more of a downer, when someone can’t get the stuff right. Putting clunky clown shoes on a sexy woman instead of a pair of sleek stilettos just looks wrong… although, now that I think about it… I really wanna draw a sexy babe wearing clown shoes now… and nothing else. Just to see if I can make it work.

TrunkSpace: Is there one piece of work you’ve done in your career that you are the most proud of, or, are they all like children and it’s impossible to pick a favorite?
Franchesco!: I love them all, but the one piece I’m most proud of… is the one I happen to be working on, at any given time. I really enjoy the creative process… and tend to cherish it more than I probably should, which is why working on monthly comics are no longer attractive to me. It’s such a fast-paced process, generally super rushed, forcing far too many compromises… requiring letting go of the piece way too soon. I have gotten to a point where I know when to say when. So I hate to let a piece go off to press until that achievement has been unlocked.

TrunkSpace: Has technology altered how you approach your work at all?
Franchesco!: 100 percent yes. When I first started, there was no “traditional” term used, when creating art. You either drew it with actual pigment on actual paper or canvas or whatever, or you didn’t. Now that we have digital means of creating art… I enjoy incorporating more and more of that into my process. Digital plays heavily in my work these days, but I still enjoy creating the line art traditionally… for no other reason, because I still can. Plus there is something special about the idea of “Original Art.” There can be only one. Digital art allows us to spit out beautiful/flawless prints all day every day of the same image. But because of that very fact… its no way near as special… as one and only one piece of art, that exists in traditional format.

There are millions of images of the Mona Lisa in this world… but… there is only one that constantly draws massive crowds, being displayed under bulletproof glass in Paris, France. The one we believe to be the original painting created by the artist’s own hand.

So, even if we are creating digital images with our own hand… there is still that disconnect… it’s not quite as tactile as when we hold an original piece that was not only constructed by, but was held by its creator.

TrunkSpace: Songwriters are always said to have “voices,” and not in the physical sense. They find their voice when their art becomes inherently theirs. Do artists have voices and if so, do you believe that you have found yours?
Franchesco!: Great question. (They are all great questions actually.) Not sure if I’ve found my voice yet, but I’m having all kinds of fun making it up as I’m humming along. Not sure what the future holds… but it looks bright. I can’t wait to get the images swimming around in my head, onto a sheet of Bristol board… so everyone else can see them as well.

TrunkSpace
: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2017?
Franchesco!: The folks who follow me on my Patreon and I… are creating a really fun project I’m really passionate about. The plan is, that once we’re all done with it… we take it to Kickstarter and share it with the rest of the world. Crowdfunding has become a great new way for creators to follow their muse, without having to ask permission from others, to make art that day. We’ve all had to sing for our supper as artists in some way… and sometimes, we may not like the music that is being played… but we don’t enjoy starving… so we sing that song… even if it’s not a personal favorite. With Patreon, my followers are allowing me the luxury of doing that very thing that makes my heart sing… without having to worry about putting food on my table and a roof over my head. And that’s a very beautiful thing… most beautiful indeed. I love my Patreon family so much… because with their generous support, I get to make more art!!

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