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May 2018

Sit and Spin

Alice Boman’s Heartbeat

HeartbeatFeatured

Song Title: “Heartbeat”

From The Album: (released as a single)

Single Sentence Singles Review: As far as the senses are concerned, music is designed to directly influence you through sound, but “Heartbeat” transcends that and becomes something you can feel… goosebumps!

Beyond The Track: If you live in the States and you were hoping to catch Boman live, you’re fresh out of luck for the time being. Keep an eye on future tour dates here!

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Laugh It Up

Erin Maguire

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Name: Erin Maguire

Website: www.erinmaguire.com

Socials: Twitter/Facebook

Why We’re Laughing: Likable in a “she should spearhead her own sitcom” kind of way, Magure’s (sometimes) self-deprecating brand of humor brings the audience into the jokes as opposed to leaving them on the outside looking in.

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a funny kid, even at an early age?
Maguire: Always. Ever since I played Van Itch in Dr. Seuss’s “The Bread and Butter Battles” and people laughed because my goggles were too big and kept sliding off my face, I realized that I was destined for a life of people laughing at me. Or just my face. I was always a ham.

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how long you would attack things?
Maguire: Well, here’s a funny thing I remembered recently… a recovered memory. Thank you, therapy! When I was in second grade, I told a group of my friends I was gonna be a stand-up when I was older. And my best friend at the time said, “There’s no money in that!” Boy was she… right. (Laughter) I showed her! So I guess I was ahead of my time in using “The Secret.” I called it in second grade. But for the majority of my life, I was a sketch/improv comic. I grew up in Boston doing sketch. I went to school for theatre and walked down that path while I also had a foot in sketch and improv in NYC. But I went full tilt into stand-up about five years ago. As far as giving myself some sort of “deadline,” the answer is no. At a certain point, I think you need to decide if you’re all-in but I never said, “I’m giving this a year and if I don’t have my own Netflix series by such-and-such a date, I’m out!” That’s not why you do it. Then you’re missing the thread. Or I’m just an emotional cutter. 😉

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Maguire: I’m still figuring it out.

TrunkSpace: Is the approach you take now on stage different from the approach you took when you first started out? Is it one act that grew into itself or would you consider them two completely different acts?
Maguire: It is different – when I look back at tapes from when I first started to now, it’s wild. You don’t realize you’re growing when you’re in it. But I’m sure I’ll look back at videos of my sets now in about two years and say, “Well crap, that sucked.” It’s evolving. It’s not a totally different act. I like to think of it as Homer Simpson when he was on “The Tracy Ullman Show” to Homer Simpson now. You can tell the character is in there but it hasn’t reached maturation yet. That’s me. The Homer Simpson of comedy.

TrunkSpace: Is the neon “Open” sign in your brain always turned on, and by that we mean, are you always writing and on alert for new material?
Maguire: Much to my husband’s dismay, yes. It is always on. It’s always on the lookout. But really, stupid stuff just keeps happening to me. It’s hard to tell if it’s random or if my brain is creating scenarios at this point. It’s like the “Inception” of comedy.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a new audience?
Maguire: It varies from joke to joke. Some things seem to come easier than others. I’ll try jokes that I’ve written hours before a show and they work. Some, I could spend days on and they still don’t feel like they’re there.

TrunkSpace: If a joke doesn’t seem to be working, how many chances do you give it in a live setting before you decide to rework it or move on from it altogether?
Maguire: It used to be if it didn’t work right out of the gate, I would cut and run. Now, I’m a lot more fearless and sometimes my jokes stay too long at the party. It’s almost like the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction and I’m digging my heels in a bit too long. It’s coming back down now. I’ll try something maybe five times now.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to kill one night and bomb the next with essentially the same set, and if so, what do you chalk that up as?
Maguire: ABSOLUTELY. Audiences like different things and react differently. Also, my energy may vary from show to show. A lot of times, I find the second shows of the night to be the better ones, because I’m too tired to get in my own way. Over “efforting” and working too hard can be my Achilles’ heel sometimes. But energy and what a crowd chooses to connect with can vary wildly from night to night and show to show.

TrunkSpace: Does a receptive and willing audience fuel your fire of funny and help to put you on your game for the rest of your set?
Maguire: ANOTHER ABSOLUTELY. Comedy is a group participation sport. The more they react, the more I open up. There’s something to that whole collective consciousness thing.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Maguire: The flops always teach you more than the wins. My first flop will stay with me forever. I was put on an All Stars show at Gotham when I was about two months into stand-up. I had five minutes. My first joke out of the gate landed with a thud and the remaining four minutes and 45 seconds lasted about 12 years. That’s what it felt like. These people looked like they wanted to skewer me. And I didn’t have enough in my arsenal at that point to pivot away. I had to step away from stand-up for about three months after that. But I came back stronger. I think the lesson is don’t let those moments stall you in your tracks. Now I have alligator skin and I don’t take the flops personally. I also never wore that same outfit on stage again because I am crazy superstitious. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Maguire: Hecklers usually want to be part of the show. I acknowledge them (because ignoring them WILL NOT make them go away). I don’t say anything too harsh because that’s not my style. I talk to them just long enough to find a segue back into a bit and I never go back to them again. A lot of the times, clubs shut down the hecklers for you. So that’s a good thing. But if you’re not in a club, you need to be prepared to go to bat.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2018? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Maguire: I think the future looks bright for women! Thanks to the #metoo movement, I know a lot in the industry are turning their attention to female-driven comedies and voices. So that’s awesome. But by the same turn, I also feel like there’s a big comedy boom happening where everyone and their mom is getting a Netflix special. No really. I’m pretty sure my mother has one coming out this fall. So the landscape is getting oversaturated. I think it will level out. It’s like when someone lives in a town that the NY Times says is the “new Brooklyn,” then everyone moves out there and they build a crap ton of condos. The place gets overrun and people find a new place to hang. Everything ebbs and flows. And we’re kind of in a flood. But it will level out.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Maguire: I LOVE Patton Oswalt, Eddie Izzard, John Mulaney, Ryan Hamilton, and of course Carol Burnett. They’re all super smart comedians, totally left of center, and totally cool in their own skin.

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Los Elk

LosElkFeatured

Artist/Band: Los Elk

Members: Slam (Amir Rivera, guitar/vox), Bondi (Ryan Bondell, drums), Moose (Gabe Follettie, bass), & Nash (Justin Fisher, guitar)

Website: www.loselkband.com
Facebook/Instagram/YouTube

Hometown: Boston, MA

Latest Album/Release: New single, “Deja Voodoo” streaming now!

Influences: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kooks, Kings of Leon, The Strokes, D’Angelo, John Mayer, Two Door Cinema Club, and countless more.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Los Elk: Ah, the classic question. Ironically, also one of the hardest. In a nutshell, we write Indie Rock tunes that pull deep influence from the melodies and rhythms of Funk and RnB. That said, any song or artist that a band member has on blast is fair game to melt into the songwriting process. Between the four of us there is a tornado of inspiration ranging from classic jazz to hard trap. The soundtrack of our travels jumps from Flatbush Zombies to John Mayer, from the latest J. Cole record to the deepest Red Hot Chili Peppers cut there is. Overall though, our songs reflect who we are as people, and right now that means high energy performances filled with jumping, dancing, sweating and some ratchet debauchery.

TrunkSpace: Your music is crafted in such a way that it’s difficult to NOT want to get up and dance. How interactive are your live performances with fans working their bodies to the rhythm that you’re putting out there into the world?
Los Elk: In many ways, we pride ourselves on being a community band. Without the wonderful people who support us in the audience (and beyond), this amazing journey comes to a crashing halt. Attending a Los Elk set will never mean watching some jaded musicians going through the motions. We’re putting our lives on the line with this shit, and performances are the battlefield. When people choose to spend their precious life moments watching us do our thing, we honor that sacrifice by giving it everything we’ve got. We let the energy of the room naturally lead certain aspects of the vibe, so no two shows are the same. Who knows, if the energy is lit enough, it may be the night that we literally take off all our clothes and crowd surf face down. Hah! Kidding (maybe), but you know what we mean.

TrunkSpace: Just in listening to your music, there seems to be a diverse list of genre-based influences that play a part in your particular sound. It’s hard to define Los Elk, even in a day and age where there are so many sub-genres of music. Is that something that the band takes pride in, being able to bring a little bit of everything to the fold and still making it all work sonically?
Los Elk: Absolutely. As we mentioned before, there is a constant barrage of new influences working their way into the songwriting process. If Bondi has been listening to a lot of D’Angelo, he’s going to want to lay down a thick pocket groove. At the same time, Slam might shred a West African-influenced guitar melody because he’s been jamming to the Niger artist, Bombino. The same goes for Moose and Nash with whatever is heavy in their rotation. Of course, this is simplified description of the actual process, but the result is a crazy mashup of soundscapes and vibes that melt into a completely new creation. It’s a huge reason why we all love Los Elk. As long as it grooves and can theoretically make sense, nothing is off the table.

TrunkSpace: The band released the single “Dèjá Voodoo” back in late 2017. What’s up next for Los Elk as far as the studio is concerned?
Los Elk: We’re planning to re-enter the studio this summer and record a three-song EP. Until it makes sense to dive into recording our first full length album, we’ve been digging three-song EPs. It’s enough to sink your teeth into and get a sense of where the band is musically, but it’s also not an overwhelming amount of material that requires vast budgets and huge timelines. We have so many songs that can currently only be heard at a live show, and we’re trying to change that.

TrunkSpace: You recently returned from a tour with Ripe. Does being on the road allow you guys to approach music from a different POV, because in many ways, you’re getting to step away from the day to day of life to focus entirely on music, correct? Does the band get any writing done while on the road?
Los Elk: Being on the road is a completely different way of living. How and when you eat, sleep, shower, change, relax… everything changes. Suddenly the only mission is the next show. Even when it’s a travel day and you’re spending 10 hours in a car, you’re doing it for that next show… that next opportunity to really connect with someone and bring the heat. Writing definitely happens on the road, but in two different ways. One is literal, in which you break out your instruments and give it a go. The second is more macro, in that you’re accruing all these crazy experiences and moments that will feed into the songwriting one way or another.

TrunkSpace: The band came together at Skidmore College back in 2011. When you look back, how has the sound changed the most since those early days together? Where have you seen (or heard) the most growth?
Los Elk: It’s been a long journey since Skidmore. In many ways, you may say that our sound has become more refined. The purpose behind our playing, and goals as a band, have become so much more focused since graduation, and the music reflects that. Back at school, we had no idea what Los Elk would become or what we wanted it to become, for that matter. You just need time to figure that all out. Looking back on old footage and recordings from the very early days is a total trip. There’s a frantic energy surrounding the whole thing, almost like the abundance of residual energy surrounding the explosive birth of a new entity, like the BIG BANG. As time moved forward, that frantic energy became more focused and refined, laced with purpose and passion. We’re no longer a college band, and we’ve got a hell of a lot more experience under our belts to bring to the table.

TrunkSpace: Is there something creatively inspiring about working within a band atmosphere? Does the creative drive of each individual member fuel the unit as a whole?
Los Elk: Being in Los Elk is like being in a four-way marriage. Except nobody is sleeping with each other. At least, not like that. Being in a band means coming together and attempting to do something larger than life. It requires immense sacrifice, self growth, and the ability to lay individual desire to the side for the vision of a greater good. This is where the idea of “laying our lives on the line” comes from. There are no promises in this industry. It’s almost like placing a bet in a casino. Our wager is the incredible amount of time, energy and sacrifice put forth into this one thing. The potential payoff is entrance into an incredible way of life, in which we are able to do what we love every day. So, do ya feel lucky, punk?

TrunkSpace: We love great music, but within great music we are particularly drawn to great lines, the kind that make us curse the universe for not coming up with them ourselves. What is one of your personal favorite Los Elk lyrics and why?
Los Elk: Oh, man! We know the feeling. Of course, people are going to be drawn to different lyrics depending on how their life has unfolded. You have the current pleasure of chatting with Bondi, and one of my favorite lines comes from the chorus of our song “Hands.” It asks, “Who are you, where’d you go? Used to know but now I don’t // Are you better are you worse, was I a gift was I a curse? // Are you filled with regrets, do you still smoke cigarettes? I want to know.”

There are no right or wrong interpretations of song lyrics, but, to me, this chorus digs at the existential curiosity of how we affect other people’s lives. We become so deeply connected with people, and then for whatever reason, they are removed from your life in that way. At the end of the day, you can’t help but wonder how you may have changed their lives… for better or for worse.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from Los Elk for the rest of 2018?
Los Elk: We’re constantly trying to push the boundaries, and do the next big bad thing. In addition to getting back into the studio and releasing a new music video for “Deja Voodoo,” we have some incredible shows and festivals booked. We’re particularly excited for our hometown show in Boston on May 19th at the Paradise Rock Club. We’ll be supporting our good friends in Lawrence, an incredibly talented band we’ve shared bills with in the past. We encourage everyone to connect with us on our socials so that we can stay in touch and see what you goons are up to.

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Sit and Spin

Simian Mobile Disco’s Murmurations

MurmurationsFeatured

Artist: Simian Mobile Disco

Album: “Murmurations”

Label: Wichita

Reason We’re Cranking It: Even though we’re not scientists by trade, we still appreciate a good experiment, and experimenting is exactly what the duo of James Ford and Jas Shaw have become so adept at doing, only their research isn’t conducted in a lab with variables, but instead, in a studio with sounds.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Not having a signature sound that will pin them to their own sonic past gives them the freedom to shape themselves into whatever they want in the future. Creative diversity is part and parcel of the Simian Mobile Disco experience. “Murmurations” is as different as its predecessor as it will be of its successor.

Track Stuck On Repeat: A trickling tromp of a journey through an ‘80s landscape, “We Go” is the longest (time-wise) track on the album, but also the longest (lasting) track as well, setting up shop in your brain and leaving its crackling neon sign on OPEN at all times.

Coming To A City Near You: Unfortunately Simian Mobile Disco had to cancel their U.S. tour. Shaw is currently undergoing chemotherapy for a rare disease called AL amyloidosis. Thoughts and prayers to he and his family and we look forward to him returning to the road!

And that means…

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Listen Up

Domenico Lancellotti

DomenicoFeatured
Photo By: Caroline Bittencour

Hauntingly delicate instrumentation combined with a gentle vocal delivery that makes you feel instantly at home in the sonic domicile that he has built are two of the key components that draw you to Domenico Lancellotti’s latest album, “The Good is a Big God.” The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist first began work on the project six years ago, though at the time he had no idea it would become a future samda soundscape to add to his discography.

We recently sat down with Lancellotti to discuss bringing colors to songs, declaring the album ready, and why a collaborative band atmosphere is so inspiring.

TrunkSpace: Work began on “The Good is a Big God” six year ago, though by the sounds of it, the music was never consciously meant to become an album. Like in life, is it important in music to be flexible and willing to go with the flow, so to speak?
Lancellotti: At first I was working on an art film as the final part to an artistic residence that I did in London. At the same time I was working also on a variety of soundtracks to accompany theater performances. I thought about this album on a regular basis. I thought about it as a composition, where each piece is a complete body of work – but also the ensemble of compositions as all one piece.

The record became part of my routine and began to take shape progressively. I’m always alert so I don‘t miss anything.

TrunkSpace: At what point did you decide that those songs you first began working on in 2012 would become an album? When did the collective picture of the music become clear?
Lancellotti: When I left Occupation London, I had a set of nine songs, beautifully arranged and finished, but I needed to add other colors. I reached out to my usual partners and we recorded sounds freely in the studio. Also, new songs emerged and I wanted to record them. I used the six tracks that I did in London and the rest was written later in order to give more contrast to the record.

TrunkSpace: With such a wide range of time represented in the songwriting on “The Good is a Big God,” does the album still say something – make a statement – about who you are as an artist specifically in 2018?
Lancellotti: Time goes by and we change – in my case, the financial struggle to raise money for a project like this made things go slower. The record becomes a film, placed in my everyday life. We could continue building it, repairing and adding new things endlessly, but at some point we have to say it’s ready.

At the moment, I’m working on a soundtrack for an art piece by Lucia Koch, a Brazilian artist, that will be on display at the Kansas City Biennial in August. The themes present will probably end up on a new record.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the work you did on the album? What are you most excited for people to hear or experience?
Lancellotti: I was thrilled to work with Sean (O’Hagan). I had worked on a soundtrack to a play that took place in the end of the 19th Century, and built that piece with a string quartet. I had never worked in this format as I always have been connected more to popular music. For me, it was like the sound was coming from the ground. The volume, the many ways the strings relate to each other in creating harmony, the textures, the countless resources and possibilities this format gives to you made me beyond excited. I started to compose on the guitar so Sean could transpose it, always thinking about the quartet without wanting it to sound like something bigger. At the live performances, I’ve been playing with a trio: bass, drums, guitar, along with a string quartet.

TrunkSpace: You have some incredible contributors lending their talents to the songs on the album. Are you someone who finds creative inspiration in the creativity of others?
Lancellotti: Yes! I understand music as a place of encounter. I think a collaborative band system is quite inspiring. Music is pure connection.

TrunkSpace: Staying with the subject of inspiration, so often we hear about who has inspired artists, but on the opposite side of that coin, we’d like to know how you hope your music impacts others. For those who seek inspiration in “The Good is a Big God,” what do you hope they discover?
Lancellotti: I don’t have any idea how far my work can reach. My generation in Brazil cannot count on the mainstream vehicles of communication, but this also gives us freedom.

I have a record player and some vinyl, the majority of it came from my father’s collection. The things I listen to, most of the time, are the same things I listened to when I was younger. The music I make begins with this urgency to materialize things that are flooding into my mind and keep me awake. It’s also a pleasure to play with my “sound brotherhood” and to share music with them.

TrunkSpace: What do you personally get out of music through writing that you couldn’t achieve as a listener alone?
Lancellotti: I’m not sure if I understand the question because my English is in bad shape and I cannot trust Google. But I have some ways to compose – sometimes I have a melodic idea in my head, sometimes a sequence of guitar chords leads me to an idea of a melody and lyric, sometimes a song comes complete, sometimes we get together to play and we make music collectively. In each case there are elements that cannot be decontextualized.

TrunkSpace: We know that you’re a multi-instrumentalist, but are there additional instruments you’d like to take up in the present, and if so, what instruments and why?
Lancellotti: Though I’m a drummer and also play a little bit of percussion, and I use the guitar as a tool to compose. Other instruments I usually play with are – keyboards, bass, synths, electronics, mpc’s – all of which I consider to be percussion.

TrunkSpace: Does instrument diversity enable you to approach songwriting from a different perspective depending on what you’re writing with in any given moment?
Lancellotti: I compose with the guitar, but when I’m in a recording session I use other sounds.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your instruments for the last time, what do you hope you’re remembered for? What do you want your legacy to be?
Lancellotti: I will always be creating music, as long as I am alive and able to work. I’m just following the steps of the ones that came before me and others who will continue to do so after. We are all a part of a giant mosaic.

The Good as a Big God” is available today from Luaka Bop.

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Deep Focus

Jillian Clare

JillianClareFeatured
Photo By: Deidhra Fahey Photography

In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with actress-turned-director Jillian Clare about her new films “To The Beat!” and “Pretty Broken.”  We recently sat down with the Oregon native to discuss her transition behind the camera, how preparing to direct for the first time is a lot like riding a roller coaster, and why she should be Batgirl.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting since you were a kid, but for how long has the dream of directing and producing been growing inside you?
Clare: Oh, man. Well, I started acting when I was about six in Portland, Oregon, and then my family moved to LA when I was eight. I just have always loved filmmaking and loved being on set. When I hit my teenage years, my acting jobs were becoming few and far between, because of the whole aspect of adults being hired to play teens – it’s pretty common. You look at something like “Clueless” or “Beverly Hills, 90210” and they’re all in their 20s. Heck, I’m still even auditioning for teenagers now. So I hit that phase in my life. My mom is a great writer, and she decided to write a series that I could be in. And this was before web series were even really a thing. I think there was one or two out there. She wrote a web series and it was at a big agency for a while, and it was with my management company at the time, and nobody really knew what to do with a web series back then. It was one of those things where you were just like, “How do we do this? This is interesting. We should put it online, but how do we do that?” So we ended up producing it ourselves, and just doing it, and then finding a platform. Back then, the only online platform was KoldCast, so that’s where we put up our first show, “Miss Behave.” We produced three seasons. So I started producing when I was about 15 or 16 years old. And then it kinda just snowballed – you catch the bug. You get bitten and you’re like, “Oh, I like doing this too. I can be in charge and make decisions. This is fun.” (Laughter) But we did that, and my mom went off and did some other stuff, I produced a couple short films for fun, and then I produced a film called “Pretty Broken,” which I also starred in. (“Pretty Broken” premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival earlier this month.)

TrunkSpace: And that’s when “To The Beat!” came into your life?
Clare: Yeah, and then “To The Beat!” came along. We had been asked to write a teen dance film and produce it, and then I was like, “You know what? I think I can direct this one. I think I’m ready.” I’ve always wanted to direct, but I’ve never been given the perfect opportunity, and since I was a child actor, I felt that I could communicate well with the kids, and it would kind of be in my zone. So then I just did it. And then, here we are.

TrunkSpace: What was that first day on set like? Did you go in with butterflies, or were you confident from the outset?
Clare: Oh, man. I think it was a combination of both. Being a co-writer on the script, I was very well-versed in it, and I knew what we needed. And my DP, Broderick Engelhard, and I, we spent a lot of time on the shots, so I knew that production side of it and that that side of it was going to run smooth. We had a really good team, so I didn’t have nerves about that, it was just the nerves of like, “Holy crap, I’m about to do this!” It’s like when you get on a roller coaster, and it’s about to take off, and you’re just sitting there kind of like, “Oh crap…” I remember sitting in my car before I went in, and just being like, “Deep breath. And go.” (Laughter) It’s like doing a stage play for the first time. You’re just like, “Okay, and the audience is about to see me, here you go.”

TrunkSpace: It’s almost just having to get the first day out of the way.
Clare: Yeah. It’s finding that balance, and finding how you communicate. This is the first time I’ve ever directed anything, so for me, it was finding the balance of working with a crew, and working with the kids, and the adult actors as well, and seeing how I can balance everything perfectly. But after about that first day, I think I was just like on such a high. I was like, “Oh, man. I got this. I can do it.” And it was a great experience. It was just wonderful. We had wonderful, wonderful little kids, and the adult actors too. Everyone was so great and it was just fun to work with them all.

TrunkSpace: Working on a film, you really start to feel like you’re living in a bubble. That creative excitement travels with you even when you leave the set at the end of the day.
Clare: Exactly. It is a total bubble. I did a shoot this weekend, and I was shooting down in Laguna Beach for it, and I just came back this morning. And I’m like, “Oh, wow. Okay, here’s real life again. Where am I?” (Laughter) But it totally is a bubble.

The adult actors are all friends of mine, so that was nice too, because I already had a relationship with them and it was easier for me to communicate with them. And they respected me already. I didn’t have to earn the respect of the adults, which I feel can be difficult because I’m younger than all of them. So that was a concern I had. They were all incredible and awesome. Yeah, it was sad when it ended. I was like, “Wait, but can we do more?”

TrunkSpace: Re-shoots!
Clare: (Laughter) Yeah, right? “Guys, we have some re-shoots.” And they’re like, “Jillian, no, the footage is great.” “Yeah, well, I just wanted a different take on this line, let’s just go back.” (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Do you find that directing impacted your creative brain in a different way than acting does?
Clare: Oh, 100 percent. It’s that hunger to be in creative control, which is, I think, something that a lot of actors struggle with a lot, because we’re very creative beings. So it’s that hunger to be like, “I get to make the decisions,” which is awesome. I’m a Leo so I’m like, “I wanna make the decisions, and have fun doing it!” We’re gearing up to do a sequel for “To The Beat!,” which I’m also going to direct. So, I get to get behind the camera again. Although I will say, I just did Season 2 of the mini series that I’m on called “Ladies of the Lake” and it was nice to just be the actor for a change. Going in, I just do my stuff, and then leave – that felt great.

TrunkSpace: What did you learn in making the first “To The Beat!” that you’ll apply to directing the sequel?
Clare: Oh, man. There’s probably a lot. I know that other people have asked me what I’ve learned from it, and it’s one of those things that… I feel like when you’re doing something with directing, you learn a lot, but it’s not stuff that you can really put into words. It’s just being the person that everyone needs you to be, I guess. And learning how to be the person who’s in control, but not mean and in control. Making sure that everyone knows that they have a good captain on board.

TrunkSpace: Someone comes to you tomorrow and says, “Jillian, here’s a blank check, go make whatever kind of project you’d like.” What would you put into development?
Clare: Oh, gosh. What a crazy question! There’s so many things. Let’s see. I’ve already done a horror film. I didn’t produce one, but I’ve already been in one. I love films like “Get Out,” “A Quiet Place” and “The Shining.” I love psychological thrillers. I think I’d probably say, “Let’s make the coolest psychological thriller in the world!”

TrunkSpace: We also saw that you want to play Batgirl, so you could always combine the two. (Laughter)
Clare: I do. I so do. Somebody call Joss Whedon. I need to be Batgirl. I have red hair. I am ready. I box. I’ve got the fighting down. Let’s do this!

To The Beat!” is available now on DVD and VOD.

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Sit and Spin

Homesafe’s Run

Runfeatured

Song Title: “Run

From The Album: One (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: “Run” is a song about not running from what life throws at you, and with this pop-punk track full of melodic vocals and heavy guitar riffs, you’ll feel like you can face anything that life dishes out!

Beyond The Track: One is due June 29th from Pure Noise Records. Homesafe is hitting the road this summer with Hot Mulligan, Heart Attack Man and Jetty Bones. Check out the upcoming dates here.

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Listen Up

Kassin

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Photo By: Fabio Audi

Finding truth within the old adage of music being a universal language is often an exercise that we as listeners don’t take the time to test. Humans are creatures of habit, and as such, we are drawn to what we know. In the case of songs, that tends to be genres that we’re familiar with and lyrics sung in our own native tongue. Branching out beyond what’s comfortable can often lead to beautiful results, such is the case with the new album “Relax” from Brazilian producer and songwriter Alexandre Kassin (performing under Kassin), which has opened our eyes (and ears) to an an entirely new style of pop – a soulful Latin vibe mixed with a trippy dreamscape of sounds – and has proven that having a surface understanding of what you’re listening to is not nearly as important as grasping the artistic expressions of the creator who brought it to life.

We recently sat down with Kassin to discuss his personal relationship with his music, the reason he writes about truth, and the moment he hears a song outside of his head for the first time.

TrunkSpace: “Relax” seems deeply personal at times. Do you think it’s possible for an artist to put too much of him or herself into a song or is that honesty an ingredient in what makes great music great?
Kassin: It’s a personal album for sure, but more in terms of having a particular point of view over certain themes. Very few songs are autobiographical. Some songs I wrote about stories I heard, some songs I had for a long time and somehow they fit well on this album. “Stricnina,” for example, is an old song but it reflects the logic behind the lyrics on the rest of the record.

TrunkSpace: You write a song like “A Paisagem Morta” or “As Coisas Que Nós Não Fizems” and then, we assume, have to revisit the feelings that spawned those tracks every time you perform them live. Is it difficult to shed the emotional connection to a song or do they eventually become less about your own personal ties and more about the songs themselves?
Kassin: “A Paisagem Morta” I wrote for a very dear friend of mine who suddenly found himself in love with another woman, even though he was married. He was in a moment of doubt between choosing his marriage or a new love. He chose his marriage and I wrote the song as my thoughts on this situation.

On “As Coisas Que Nós Não Fizemo,” I took a more personal view on the end of my first marriage and tried to put it in a positive way. Even though the song is a bit melancholic, the lyrics have a light feeling on a complicated matter…

I realize people normally don’t write about divorce, I wanted to write these songs about it because I think it’s really beautiful to spend your life with somebody else; sharing moments, happiness, sadness, food; and after it ends, nobody wants to touch the subject. I wanted to talk about it because I think it’s part of life.

TrunkSpace: Many songwriters use songwriting as a form of personal reflection or as a type of therapy. Is it that way for you as well?
Kassin: For me, I like singing something that I feel is true. I like the truth, not in a therapeutic way, but in an artistic sense. I feel that, musically, my albums are very diverse so the lyrics need to be truthful to make the connection as a whole. Even if some irony is added.

TrunkSpace: “Relax” drops today. What emotions do you wrestle with as you gear up to release new material? Is it difficult to let go of something when you put so much of yourself into it?
Kassin: It’s always a challenge. I feel very happy with this album. I think my last album, “Sonhando Devagar,” was a huge step forward from “Futurismo” (my album with the +2’s). I wanted “Relax” to be a new step forward, a totally new direction from my previous albums. They are all connected by the songwriting, but you can quickly point to which song is on which album. I feel I achieved that with “Relax.”

TrunkSpace: There are so many different styles and techniques present on the album. What do you think “Relax” would say about who you are as an artist to someone who ONLY had this particular album to go by?
Kassin: I think my records are for people who love music. Listeners hear that in my albums. I know when you hear them that you are listening to a lot of different genres, not just one.

TrunkSpace: Of course, a single record is not all that defines you. Not only have you released numerous albums of your own, but you’ve produced about 100 records for other artists as well. As you look back over your career in music, what are you most proud of thus far?
Kassin: I am proud of all of it. I really love music. You need to love it to make all this stuff and sometimes I feel people think it’s not cool to say that. I think out of my records, I’m very proud of some albums I did for my idols: like Bebeto Castilho (“Amendoeira”), the Los Hermanos’ records, Vanessa Da Mata, Zé Manoel (“Canção do Silencio” is a masterpiece), Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Erasmo Carlos, Totonho e os Cabra, Me and the Plant (“Journeys Thought…” I did this record with Roy Cicala). I don’t know, I’ve done so many records it’s really hard to point to a few. I like all of them. I only regret sometimes not having the time to finish something as I had wanted.

TrunkSpace: If you could sit down and have a conversation with your 16-year-old self, would he be happy with the artist you’ve become? Would he be surprised?
Kassin: I started working when I was 12. I think about it daily that what I do in life didn’t change, just the scope of it changed. I never expected I would actually become what I became, but it was already there. I was buying records and listening to them all day when I was 8. And I still do it, so nothing has changed. It’s kind of boring you could say but that’s how it is…

I’m surprised for sure, making a living from music is a gift.

TrunkSpace: Is your songwriting process different now than when you first started writing? Do you approach it from a different perspective in your present day form?
Kassin: It’s changed a lot during the years. Nowadays, I can think of a melody and know the chord I want on it. So when I write, I think melody, lyrics and arrangements together. The idea is in my head until I start recording. I don’t play it on an instrument beforehand. When I record the song, it’s usually the first time I hear it outside my head. It’s odd, but it’s how it is.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a songwriter?
Kassin: It’s still a process for me. I think I’m getting better at it. I think about songs everyday. It’s an addiction, it’s a muscle as well. I never thought of myself as a singer, but I had so many personal songs that at a certain point, if I didn’t sing them, nobody would. I needed to give a voice to them. After that, they were covered by other people. It’s beautiful to hear Bebel Gilberto singing “Tranquilo” or Caetano Veloso singing “Agua,” it means a lot to me that they heard it and made it their own.

TrunkSpace: Is there anything you would give up music for or to experience?
Kassin: I don’t think so. I love music. That’s my thing.

Relax” is available today from Luaka Bop.

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Sit and Spin

Blue Heaven’s Shade

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Song Title: “Shade”

From The Album: Volume One (art pictured at left)

Single Sentence Singles Review: An infectious groove combined with Levi Miller’s sugar-coated vocals makes this a poppy mood-altering pill worth popping.

Beyond The Track: Volume One drops June 15th from No Sleep Records. An East Coast tour is already under way, with dates listed here.

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The Featured Presentation

Rena Owen

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Owen in “Sirens.” © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Siren” star Rena Owen felt at home in her character’s skin (even with the skin condition that was revealed!) from the outset of joining the Freeform mermaid drama, but the more time she spent with Helen, the more she understood why she was cast in the role. The New Zealand-born actress describes the character as the “old eccentric girl on the block,” but the curious behavior Helen presents also hides secrets, many of which will be unraveled by the time Season 1 draws to a close on May 24.

We recently sat down with Owen to discuss the power of being herself in imaginary circumstances, how the show evolved throughout the course of production, and why you shouldn’t be sad when an influx of unicorn projects streams out of Hollywood.

TrunkSpace: What have you taken from your “Siren” journey thus far that you’ll carry with you through the rest of your career? What has been a pleasant surprise?
Owen: I don’t know if there’s been any surprises. I think the thing that you take from every job that you do as an actress is the people – the people and the place. I’d never worked with any of the actors or any of the key creators or any of our crew, so I got to work with some really amazing people and we very much became a family. I’d never been in Vancouver before and I loved living there for four months. I think the only thing that I can add that maybe is relatively new from an actor’s perspective is the older you get as an actor, if you survive the game, is the more you realize about the power of just being yourself in imaginary circumstances. I think, as all young actors seem to do, we all want to act, but the older you get, the more relaxed you become. So that’s what you’ll get to take to the next job. You watch the old pros. You watch them and they’re just so relaxed in who they are. And that gets easier with age because you’ve become more secure in who you are and more comfortable in your own skin.

TrunkSpace: So the more comfortable you are in your own skin, the easier it is for you to slip into somebody else’s?
Owen: Absolutely. You’re just bringing yourself to that role. You’re just bringing yourself to the game. So I’m just being me, as Helen, in these imaginary circumstances, and she was a perfect character for me. Because she’s quite eccentric, she’s left of field, she’s a little bit odd, she’s an enigma, and I’m all of those things so it was really great to just… I’m perfect for the role and you’ll find that even more so as we get to the last episode.

TrunkSpace: Have you seen the “Siren” fan base grow from the premiere episode to where you are now at the tail end of Season 1?
Owen: First and foremost, I’ve got to say I was incredibly grateful because I know that this is a young person’s show. You know, it’s a YA, a Young Adult show, and that’s what Freeform does. So initially from the first few episodes I was so grateful that the fans really liked Helen, the old eccentric girl on the block. (Laughter) I really was grateful that they liked Helen because most young people aren’t interested in old people. That includes my own nephews and nieces.

Quite a few fans picked up right from the trailer that I was possibly a merperson, because I know when the first trailer came out, there’s that look between Helen and Ryn, and quite a few fans then said, “Oh, I think she might be a merperson,” because another person said, “It takes one to know one.” And then there was the skin condition in Episode… well first, the behavior, the fact that she was being protective of Ryn, and people going, “Why is she doing that… I’m sure she’s a merperson.” And then the skin condition. A lot of fans did say, “I told you she’s a merperson!” But it wasn’t really until Episode 4 that it was like, “Yep, we knew it, we knew it.” And now there’s a hunger and a fascination to know exactly what her merperson history is, which you will find out. There’s some interesting little information that gets dropped in Episode 8 and you’re like, “Oh, okay!” And then there’s a lot more that you will learn about Helen’s history in Episode 10, and actually there’s another thing that kind of gets said in Episode 9 and I can’t really reveal it. But that’s the moment, this one line where I went, “Oh, now I know why they always thought I was right for this role.”

TrunkSpace: You have done a lot of television work over the course of your career, but from what we could tell, it’s been a few years since you’ve spent this much time with one character. Do you enjoy the process of discovering who a character is, in this case Helen, as you go through the season?
Owen: Absolutely. You’re right, the last TV show I did as a series regular was with Brian Cox on an Australian TV series called “The Straits.” I think we did 10 episodes. And we were meant to go to Season 2 and then ABC took a budget cut and we were their most expensive show. So, the luxury of doing a series is, first and foremost, you get to be in one place for longer than a week. (Laughter) You get to actually live in a place for four months and you get to have a routine and a life. Recently I went down to the Gulf Coast to do two weeks on a movie. You’re in and out and you’re on a lot of planes and then a lot of hotel rooms, so it really is a gift to be on a series because you really do get to have a life and have a routine. And Vancouver is a stunning place to live and work. And absolutely, more was revealed about Helen with each episode. Initially it was kind of a little frustrating because all of us actors want to know the whole story arc and everything about our characters, but they didn’t give that to us. They kind of gave it to us when we needed it, because they just didn’t want us getting locked down on certain concepts or certain ideas. I think it was a clever strategy because for us actors it kept us on the edge thinking, “What’s going to happen?” We were just like the audience, like, “What’s going to be happening in the next episode?” We wouldn’t know until we got the script, which would be often a week before we started shooting it.

So yeah, you learn new things, you evolve, and then if things were dropped in an episode and I didn’t quite understand… Eric Wald, our writer, and our showrunner, Emily Whitesell, they were always available to us if we go, “Hey, I just want a little bit more understanding of what’s the history here.”

Owen in “Sirens.” © 2018 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

TrunkSpace: The first season is 10 episodes long, which for a viewer is great because with these shortened seasons, there’s never any filler. It’s all A storyline stuff that you’re going to be seeing, so it keeps the audience engaged.
Owen: Absolutely. And that’s something of great value to me because I’m also a writer. And so I’m always looking to what makes things, or helps things, work. That was kind of relatively new for me where you’re working on a show that’s really evolving day by day. Or week by week. Or episode to episode. The writers are finding the episodes with their directors and then the actors come on set – you’re doing scenes and then it takes a different shape or a different course. And the gift of being able to be that flexible to a certain degree, and because I’ve been a writer, I’m more introspective, so I’ll always go, “Look, do you mind if I say this word instead of that word?” And if a writer says no, you say the words the writer wants you to say. It’s a collaborative thing and I, coming out of theater, I guess I’m lucky in that way because it is collaboration – you work with the writers, you work with your fellow actors, you work with your director.

TrunkSpace: There have been famous mermaids on the screen before, but tonally “Siren” is so different than anything we’ve seen on the subject as of yet. That has to be a big part of the appeal, at least at the outset for new viewers.
Owen: Absolutely. And when I first got the pilot, I was really impressed because it had destruction – it had the formula that we’ve all become familiar with. But its content was so original and its content was so cutting edge. Here you’ve got this really exotic sea creature and she’s beautiful and she’s an enigma. She’s just all of these things, but she’s also a top level predator and I’m like, “Oh my god!” This is like “True Blood” but with mermaids, not vampires, you know? And when you look at those kind of fantastical creatures, the only one left after mermaids is unicorn. So don’t cry when the wave of unicorn stories start to happen!

Siren” airs Thursdays on Freeform.

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