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January 2019

Wingman Wednesday

Chantal Thuy

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Photo By: Storm Santos

Scene stealer Chantal Thuy has left a lasting impression on fans of the CW series “Black Lightning” since joining the ensemble cast in its first season. Not only is her character Grace Choi inspiring young girls to embrace who they are, but in return, those viewers are educating the Montreal native on proper comic book care.

They are not only super encouraging but also teach me things like not to fold a comic book in my back pocket, ever.”

We recently sat down with Thuy to discuss Grace’s influence on the LGBTQ community, watching her develop season to season, and why the joy of the journey may lie in the mystery of what comes next.

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Chantal think about her future self getting to play in the DC metahuman universe? Would she be surprised?
Thuy: Ten-year-old Chantal could not have dreamed that she’d be in this fortune position – it’s a dream come true! And maybe also 10-year-old Chantal was too busy playing on monkey bars and building snow forts.

TrunkSpace: Your character Grace Choi is a comic book fangirl. What has the experience been like of getting to interact with the real world fangirls and fanboys who follow the series?
Thuy: I’ve been incredibly lucky to have the most supportive and loving “Black Lightning” fans that I’ve grown incredibly fond of. I talk to everyone on social media but look forward to meeting them in person. They are not only super encouraging but also teach me things like not to fold a comic book in my back pocket, ever. The girls also make really great fan art, and write lovely letters.

TrunkSpace: Grace seems like such an important character in that she represents the LGBTQ community and is not bogged down by cliches that other series tend to fall back on. Does it feel like your portrayal of Grace is giving young people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community a cinematic role model that they can relate to?
Thuy: Yes, a million times yes. One thing I hear a lot is how much it means to the girls to have Grace take ownership of the word “bi”, and having it specified and spoken in a throw away, non-apologetic way. And I love that I can make them feel seen and acknowledged, because that has always been a primary motivator for me as an actress, was to help further representation across the board.

TrunkSpace: As far as your own personal journey with the character, what have you enjoyed most about getting to inhabit Grace and see her develop further over time?
Thuy: I love that week by week, I get to discover more about Grace through the eyes of the writers and showrunners; they don’t tell me much in advance, so I am always wowing and awing at the character development. It’s all very, very exciting.

TrunkSpace: Has Grace taken on a life of her own in a way that wasn’t originally intended? Are there aspects of the character’s personality that exist now that weren’t there when you first signed on to play her?
Thuy: Yes, there’s definitely really interesting developments happening for Grace in Season 2 that I didn’t know were coming last year. And as the story develops, I am digging deeper into Grace’s own life story, which is very full, dark and complex.

TrunkSpace: You’re playing the lead role in the theatrical production “Linda Vista,” which premiered recently at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Does performing on stage give you a different creative thrill than working in front of the camera?
Thuy: This is actually a Steppenwolf ensemble play with all the original cast members, lead by the fantastic Ian Barford. Performing on stage is a whole difference experience because you get the audience as a thrilling component in the storytelling process. It’s been incredible to work with such an amazing cast, Dexter Bullard (director), Tracy Letts (playwright) and the Center Theatre Group.

TrunkSpace: What is the most challenging aspect of taking on “Linda Vista” for you as a performer? Where do you feel you will be stretching yourself the most?
Thuy: It’s stretched me in some aspects of my physical comfort zones, as I have never done an intimacy scene like the one in the play. And I’ve also never worked a space like the Mark Taper Forum (which, I think, is 739 seats), so there’s a fun challenge.

Photo: Carin Baer/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

TrunkSpace: Speaking of challenges, what are the biggest challenges of pursuing a career in the creative arts in 2019 and do you think those who were working 30 years ago faced the same set of challenges?
Thuy: There’s still a limited number of roles for Asian American actresses, and the depth and complexity of the roles available are varied. So I feel very lucky to be exploring the characters I am currently portraying, and I hope that the richness and amount of roles available for women of color will continue to rise as we continue to more accurately represent our current society. But we are still fortunate in our present day circumstances because I know it was even tougher for Asian actresses 30 years ago.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Thuy: I think this past year has truly been a blessing. I’ve been praying to be able to make an impact as far as representation, and also hoping to work in theater more. Being able to do both these things this year feels surreal.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Thuy: I think I’d always like to know, out of curiosity. But I most likely would say no, because I’ve learned that part of the process of life is having to surrender to the good and the bad. I think not knowing makes you have to develop more faith, more strength. And maybe not knowing makes the journey that much more fun and rewarding.

Black Lightening” airs Mondays on The CW.

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Opening Act

Ph4de

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Artist: Ph4de

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Jacksonville, TX

TrunkSpace: You began recording music when you were 13 years old. Would the 13-year-old Ph4de be surprised by how the rest of your musical journey has gone since you began it back in your bedroom?
PH4DE: Oh man. No question. In soooooooooo many ways too. I grew up super poor with very low expectations for life until I got a bit more matured. I would say my biggest aspirations at that age involved actually making my music sound good technically since I was my own engineer, producer, writer, etc.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in Jacksonville, TX. How did your surroundings help to shape you as an artist and sculpt your artistic point of view?
PH4DE: The city was a major deterrent from wanting to be like the average guy who lived there. Success doesn’t drive down the street and give you the motivation of what is actually possible to be achieved there. I have nothing but love and respect for the city of Jacksonville, but it doesn’t offer opportunity. I think THAT aspect of growing up in the city sculpted my artist influence to be darker and more of a harsh reality. I wasn’t born into dreams, I was born into nightmares.

TrunkSpace: It was recently announced that you were signing with InVogue Records. Do you feel like this is a new chapter in your musical journey and what do you hope comes out of the relationship with the label, not only for your music, but for you personally as well?
PH4DE: Definitely! InVogue offered a proposal that kept me in charge of all creative dynamics while investing in the brand and movement that the fans have helped me create! Network = Net Worth so I’m only hoping to strengthen my core team, and provide a better product for the fans.

TrunkSpace: You also have a new single out. While it’s called “Don’t Say Much,” we think it does say much (or a lot) about who you are as an artist. For those who are being introduced to you for the first time through that particular track, what do you think it tells them about your music, both now and in the future?
PH4DE: DSM is to let everyone know that we will earn our position at the top through the energy that we bring to the stage, studio and our content overall. As an introduction it’s perfectly true to what we represent – in terms of energy. I’m not a one-lane artist, and you will see plenty of other styles from me, BUT, the energy will always influence change.

TrunkSpace: Singles seem to be far more popular with artists than full albums these days. What are the benefits to releasing singles over a record, and do think this is a trend that will continue, particularly as technology continues to advance?
PH4DE: I definitely can see why artists have went towards singles. More than anyone, the up and coming artists. It’s hard to get one song heard, much less a collection of 12. Dropping an entire album over 12 weeks (as singles) is 1200 percent more beneficial to a struggling artist, as their fan base will get a fair listen to every song.

I still love albums. Can’t wait to start working on a debut.

TrunkSpace: Looking over the social media landscape, it seems like it takes more and more for an artist to stand out and be heard/noticed. What are the keys to finding success with your music, and does it change track to track with each single you release?
PH4DE: Social media isn’t producing near as many musical artists as it’s producing actors. It’s simply become the new casting call for industry plants. (Not in all cases, but it’s obvious when a viral personality magically starts doing music.) To me, it’s still about the music. Fuck the stunts, fuck the trolling.

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t experience by being a listener alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
PH4DE: Challenge, competition, adversity. Hip-Hop, to me, is still about it’s core elements, and that is still what keeps me creating. When listening, music can give you the key to your destiny. When writing, you hold all keys.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
PH4DE: Never.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
PH4DE: Lyrics. Period. You will always find metaphors, double entendres, similes, etc. in my music. I’m a lyricist and emcee first. The singing, melodies and beats are extra.

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Musical Mondaze

You Me At Six

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As one of the few rock bands to top the various “Top” charts in recent years, You Me At Six has been relentlessly writing, recording and touring since first forming in Surrey, England back in 2004. For bassist Matt Barnes, the hard work that is required to maintain a career in the music industry feels a lot less like a job and more of a chance to share incredible, life-changing experiences with his best mates.

Touring is holiday and studio is just a hang out, so do what you love and never work a day in your life.”

We recently sat down with Barnes to discuss the health of the genre, how their albums were directly impacted by outside musical influences, and the factors that forced the band to consider walking away from it all.

TrunkSpace: You guys are out touring in support of your latest album, “VI,” with stops in the States starting on February 21 in Boston. Do you find you’re still experiencing “firsts” out there on the highways and byways? Does it still feel fresh?
Barnes: I think this is our 14th time touring the U.S. now, so I wouldn’t say it feels fresh. (Laughter) However, now that we know all the good spots and have friends all over the country it is even better, as we know where to go and what to do.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people use writing music as a form of personal therapy – a way to work out whatever demons they have. Does performing have therapeutic benefits as well? Can you get in front of a crowd and come off the stage a different person than as you went on?
Barnes: I would say sometimes if you are having a bit of a bad day it can completely change your mood into a positive mindset. However, sometimes it can be tricky if you are not in the right mindset right before you play to try and get into the vibe. If the show is going really well and the crowd is loving it, there is no better feeling.

TrunkSpace: You Me At Six is one of the few rock bands who performs well on the charts, and yet, outside of the mainstream, rock and all of its sub-genres seem to have very thriving scenes. As one of the few rock bands cracking the mainstream in 2019, what’s it going to take to see the genre as a whole find its footing again?
Barnes: We have always been lucky to cross over into a few different genres. We have always written and played music that we want to play and have been lucky to be acknowledged as a crossover rock band. I also think the genre ‘rock’ never lost its footing, so to speak. Yes, the radio is full of songs that sound the same – (laughter) – but there have and will always be rock fans coming to gigs and loving the scene. Especially in the UK, there are some amazing new rock bands coming up, which is so good to see.

TrunkSpace: Six albums is no easy feat for any artist in this industry. What has been the magic recipe to the longevity of You Me At Six? What has kept you engaged both creatively and personally in the band?
Barnes: We are all still best mates so hanging out and writing music has always been so much fun – it has never felt like a job. Touring is holiday and studio is just a hang out, so do what you love and never work a day in your life.

TrunkSpace: What do you get from writing and performing in You Me At Six that you can’t access from a solo mindset? What are the benefits for you personally in having a group of people fighting the fight alongside of you?
Barnes: Well, you have your best mates to your left and right that you trust with your life!

TrunkSpace: Do albums become a bit like chapters of your life? Like: “These were my ‘VI’ years and those were my ‘Cavalier Youth’ years?”
Barnes: You can hear that we are listening to specific genres at certain points of records, which I find quite interesting. We loved pop punk for our first two albums, then strayed a bit heavier for “Sinners Never Sleep,” then went a bit more pop for “Cavalier Youth.” Then we were listening to a lot of rock and hip hop for “Night People,” and on our latest album “VI,” we listened to so many genres it is an amalgamation of everything we have ever done.

Photo By: Jordan Curtis Hughes

TrunkSpace: You Me At Six has experienced a lot together over the years. After everything you’ve been through and the point of view changes that come with age, do you see the band differently now than you did when it first came together? Does it serve a different purpose for you in 2019 than it did when you came together in 2004?
Barnes: Nope, we still just turn up, play gigs and get pissed. Just these days the gigs are bigger.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your musical career thus far; what is the moment that you will carry with you through the rest of your life?
Barnes: We have played the Reading and Leeds festivals quite a few times, but last time we played, it was on the Main Stage and we must have played to 80,000 people. It was a life-changing moment.

TrunkSpace: How have your own experiences – the journey that made you who you are as a person – shaped your musical POV?
Barnes: Over the years we have all been through a lot personally that changed us. There have been points where some of us haven’t wanted to do this anymore for many reasons, be it the label trying to mess with us and screw us out of deals, or family issues – but we have always gotten through it.

TrunkSpace: What do you personally get out of music through writing and performing that you couldn’t get through being a listener alone?
Barnes: Well, you can project thoughts and feelings that can only be expressed in creative ways. It’s a magical thing to have an outlet where people are listening to and feeling what you are writing about and we feel blessed to have the outlet.

VI” is available now.

You Me At Six tour dates are available here.

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Sit and Spin

Dizzy’s Bleachers

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Artist: Dizzy

Song Title: “Bleachers”

Single Sentence Singles Review: Layered and multidimensional, there’s a lot to love about “Bleachers,” though the most memorable aspect of the song lies in Katie Munshaw’s playful and hypnotic vocals, which, if given the chance to continue to shine this brightly, will be destined for greatness.

Beyond The Track: “Bleachers” is the latest single off of the Canadian quartet’s debut album Baby Teeth, released in August from Royal Mountain Records/Communion Music.

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Wingman Wednesday

Grey Griffin

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Photo By: Deidhra Fahey

She has a voice that has inspired generations of pop culture fans, including those reading this, whether realized or not.

For Grey Griffin, who has applied her talents as a voice actress to everything from “The Fairly OddParents” to “The Loud House” and all animated points of interest in between, getting to work on such memorable brands while still maintaining a level of anonymity is her favorite part of the job.

We recently sat down with Griffin to discuss leaving her mark on viewers, why she lives in fear or angry tweets, and being pleasantly surprised by the popularity of “Supernatural.”

TrunkSpace: First off, we’re getting some serious street cred at home with our kids for this chat because they’re massive “The Loud House” fans. What is it like working on a project that has such a lasting impact on the next generation of pop culture lovers?
Griffin: Aw! That’s so flattering! Gosh, the success of the show has been such a pleasant surprise! I knew it was good when we did the short but I never DREAMED we’d dethrone Spongebob in the ratings! (Incidentally, my grandmother thought Spongebob was a little piece of cheese.)

TrunkSpace: Over the course of your career, you’ve worked on a number of series that have influenced different generations, from “The Fairly OddParents” to “Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends.” You’ve also given your own take on iconic characters from established universes like “The Transformers,” “Curious George” and “Batman.” Do you feel like you have left your mark on the world of pop culture, because from the outside looking in, it sure seems like you’ve had a hand in entertaining young and old alike?
Griffin: It’s so crazy when I meet ADULTS who say I was their CHILDHOOD! When you’re all by yourself in a booth, you forget how many people your voice will reach and the longevity of those characters! It’s overwhelming to imagine!

TrunkSpace: Is there something nice about being able to have such a successful career and be involved in so many high profile projects, and yet still maintain a level of privacy in your personal life because your voice has led the creative charge?
Griffin: It’s my FAVORITE THING about this job!!!! I can take my kids to Disneyland and nobody bothers us! (Even though I’m the new voice of The Redhead on “The Pirates of the Caribbean!”)

TrunkSpace: There are a number of interesting things about your work on “The Loud House” that we’d love to touch on. For starters, you juggle multiple characters on that show, including siblings Lola, Lana, and Lily. Parents say that they never have favorites when it comes to their kids, but when it comes to characters, do you have a favorite? Is there one Loud who is more fun to inhabit than others?
Griffin: I have a soft spot for Scoots! The old lady on the scooter? Grumpy old ladies are fun to play… because I AM one! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: The other fascinating thing about that particular project is that your son Tex voices Lincoln Loud, making it a true family behind the scenes as well. Two part question. Is Tex named after Tex Avery, and, if so, was it his destiny to be the voice of future animated characters?
Griffin: Well his daddy is a country rock musician (he sings and plays bass for the Old 97s) so his name was a tribute to Tex Ritter and Tex Avery!

My son caught the acting bug early. Even observing him as a toddler, I knew we’d be acting together someday!

TrunkSpace: On a live action series, a set often becomes a second family. Is animation more isolating, at least when it comes to costar interaction?
Griffin: It truly depends on the project. Sometimes there are a lot of on-camera people in a cast and they tend to like to work alone, but we are like REAL sisters on “The Loud House!” We go out for meals together. The ladies brought food over when I had my babies. We laugh and squabble just like any family. I still text my “T.U.F.F. Puppy” castmates and we meet for drinks…

Voice people are a tight-knit community!

TrunkSpace: Is your approach to discovering an animated character the same as you would take with a live action character? What does that process look like?
Griffin: I have such a limited amount of on-camera experience but I will say that doing so much voiceover has made my brain extra lazy when it comes to memorization, so when I’m doing a live-action project, my approach is pretty much, “DON’T FORGET YOUR LINES!!!!”

Supernatural — “ScoobyNatural” — Pictured (L-R): Dean and Daphne — Photo: The CW — Photo: © 2018 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

TrunkSpace: You’ve given life to iconic characters like Captain Marvel, Betty Rubble and Daphne of “Scooby Doo” fame. Is it more difficult voicing a character with such a rich history because you’re having to walk in their animated footsteps as opposed to establishing them for the first time?
Griffin: I think it truly is because I think, as actors, we want so much to please everyone! When I take over an iconic character like Daphne, Betty, Captain Marvel or most recently, Jane Jetson… I just live in abject fear of angry tweets and blog posts! (Laughter) Please LIKE ME!!!!

TrunkSpace: Speaking of Daphne, you starred in one of our favorite hours of episodic television of all time, the “Supernatural” cartoon crossover, “ScoobyNatural.” Was that experience a different one for you with that character, because tonally, it seems like it had some fun moments that you’d never find in a standard “Scooby Doo” episode?
Griffin: Misha (Collins) is actually a fellow parent at our school so I was used to seeing him in “dad mode”! I honestly had no idea what a huge show “Supernatural” was or what an impact that project would make! It was awesome!

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far and are there any bucket list items that you’re still hoping to put a check mark next to?
Griffin: I’m a big Disney nut so doing a voice on The Pirates ride was pretty amazing…

I’d also really love to tackle one of the princesses someday. Not literally of course.

The Loud House” airs on Nickelodeon.
Her stand-up comedy special, “My First Comedy Special,” is available now on Amazon Prime.
Griffin can also be heard as Arcee in the new “Bumblebee” film.

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Musical Mondaze

Sister Sparrow

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Photo By: Shervin Lainez

For singer/songwriter Arleigh Kincheloe, music is a personal journey, one that she was guided on from a very early age by her musical parents, and that she too is now paving for her own son. Learning to read by scanning Emmylou Harris liner notes, the Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds frontwoman has evolved her sonic identity with her latest album, “Gold,” which is available now from Thirty Tigers.

We recently sat down with Kincheloe to discuss finding her confidence, embracing change, and why you should always listen to that little voice in your head telling you to take a chance.

TrunkSpace: Your video for the single “Gold” dropped last week. What emotions do you juggle with as you release new material into the world?
Kincheloe: It’s always a little bit scary just that first initial, “Okay, everyone can see this.” (Laughter) But I really like this video. I think it’s very different from any one we’ve ever done before and I think it kind of shows a little bit more of a true side of me that is… a little bit more vulnerable and a little bit more exposed. The videographer is a very close friend of mine, Mel Barlow. She’s actually my brother’s girlfriend, so I’m super, super comfortable with her and she’s an amazing artist. It was cool to work with her on that, because it was just the two of us in a room.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to the stuff beyond the music itself… the videos, choosing album artwork, and everything else that goes into maintaining a career as a professional artist… do you enjoy that aspect of what you do?
Kincheloe: I’d say it kind of comes and goes in terms of enjoying it. (Laughter) Sometimes it feels like, “How am I ever going to come up with something cool?” Or, “Does this really fit?” Or, “Is this really me?” You go through a range of emotions when it comes to that stuff because unlike the music, which to me comes a little bit more naturally, I think the visual stuff is definitely not my department so I always find it… I always kind of lean on other people. But I will say that with this record, I had way more to do with the visual aspect of it and I got a lot more hands-on in terms of picking the direction and picking the photos and picking this and that. So I definitely feel pretty proud of this go round and it’s a really good feeling to be like, “Oh, I actually did have some input here, and I don’t feel embarrassed by it.” (Laughter) So that’s good.

TrunkSpace: In terms of our overall life experiences on this journey we call life, they always have a way of seeping into creative output. For you, where have you seen your songwriting change throughout the years by way of those personal experiences? What big moments in your life altered your creative POV?
Kincheloe: I think that that’s a great question and there have been very strong changes that have come in my writing from my life. I started writing songs when I was still living in the Catskills and I was 18 years old. The first record that we ever put out is a lot of those songs and even the second record has some of those songs as well. But once we moved to New York City, I think I started to kind of… life got a little harder and I was really struggling to kind of make ends meet and struggling to try to make the dream a reality, so my writing got a little bit, I don’t know, harder or something edgier.

But then it always comes full circle, and with this record, with “Gold,” I was working on it while I was pregnant and then I was working on it after I became a mom, so it was the biggest shift in my life so far, as you can imagine. But I think with that shift came a lot of courage and confidence that I didn’t really have as much of before, and so I was able to kind of go in different directions and try new things that really were exciting. It felt really good to do that, so I’m really proud of it.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned courage and confidence. It seems one of the benefits of getting older is that you become more comfortable with yourself, and that is often reflected in the writing of songwriters as they progress in their careers.
Kincheloe: One would hope that. (Laughter) I think it’s always hard. Even though I can talk about having more confidence, I think back on some of these moments and I’m like, “Did I really, though?” Because I can remember being just as scared in some of the sessions that we did, and not being sure of myself. But then when it came down to making decisions about the product or the music and the project, I felt more confident. So it’s interesting. I think being creative is always super vulnerable, and I don’t think anyone could be 100 percent confident in creativity because that’s what it’s all about. You have to be a little bit vulnerable and scared of some things.

TrunkSpace: Would that younger version of you, writing in the Catskills, be surprised by the artist you are today?
Kincheloe: No, I don’t think so. I honestly think that I’m just coming more and more to where I wanted to be when I started out. Is that weird?

TrunkSpace: Not at all!
Kincheloe: I think that I’m getting closer to the essence of who I have always been, especially creatively. I think that some of this stuff is like, “Yeah, yeah yeah, this is what I was thinking when I was 18,” but I didn’t know my ass from my elbow enough to say what I was thinking. It feels so good because I can say that this is actually closer to what I was setting out to do.

Photo By: Shervin Lainez

TrunkSpace: Is there a side of growth as an artist that can be a double-edged sword? And by that we mean, you establish yourself as an artist with a specific sound, and then if you venture too far away from that sound, people say, “This is not what I know.” But then if you stay too close to what they already know, they say, “She didn’t show any growth here.” Is it sometimes a balancing act?
Kincheloe: Yes, 100 percent. You’re never going to please everybody, and you have to be okay with that. I think, in previous years, we’ve all been kind of afraid and we felt this sort of die hard loyalty to our fans to keep it in one place or keep it where we thought that they wanted it. But the thing is, we are the musicians. We have to make the choices. And you have to be brave enough to do what feels right to you because otherwise that’s not really art. If you’re just copying yourself over and over again, to please somebody, eventually that’s going to burn out. And again, you can’t please everybody so why not please yourself? And hopefully some people will still like it.

TrunkSpace: If the work isn’t inspiring you, how can it inspire someone else? Not only will the project burn out, but eventually so will your passion for it.
Kincheloe: 100 percent. I think that’s a really good point and that’s one of the factors that I think was leading me in this direction, because we’ve been doing this for 10 years now. That’s a lot of years of a lot of similar stuff. And I love that stuff, don’t get me wrong. I’m really proud of everything that we’ve done, but at a certain point, if there’s a little voice inside of you telling you to do something different or take a chance, I think that you should always go with that.

TrunkSpace: Your parents were in bands. You hear all of the time about how we become the kind of spouses or significant others that we saw our parents be. Does that apply to music in any way? Are you the kind of bandmate that you are today because of how you saw your parents interact with their fellow creatives?
Kincheloe: Hmm, that’s an interesting thought that I have never thought about. I love that question. I think that you may be onto something. My brother and I are… I think we try to be really copacetic and congenial. My dad was always that way. He’s kind of like a go-with-the-flow, happy to be there, kind of drummer.

I think you learn from watching what your parents do in every way, so I think that I definitely picked up on that. I think that watching my mom be able to sing in front of people is the reason why I thought it was okay and not scary when I was nine years old.

TrunkSpace: Do you have a more personal connection to music as a whole because it was a part of your upbringing in a way?
Kincheloe: Yes, absolutely. I actually learned how to read by listening to Emmylou Harris records and Bonnie Raitt records and reading along with the lyrics on the liner notes. I would come up to a word and be like, “I don’t know what that is, but I hear her saying it but I don’t understand.” My mom would be like, “Yeah, there’s a silent g in that one.” And that was little Arleigh sitting on the floor while mom was making dinner and I’m like six or whatever. So it’s a super, super personal and lifelong thing for me that’s been connected to my learning to be a person and, let alone be a musician, but absolutely becoming a human being.

TrunkSpace: It must be so interesting now that you’re doing music professionally to be able to say that there’s somebody else out there sort of having that personal connection to your music the same way that you did with Emmylou Harris?
Kincheloe: Totally, and I hear a lot of people tell me that their kids listen and love it and it just really feels full-circle, and especially now that I’m a mom. When my son hears music in general he freaks out, but when my voice comes over the speakers he knows it and he has a certain reaction. It’s a really crazy thing to watch.

Tour dates are available here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Siobhán Williams

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Based on the graphic novel by Rick Remender, “Deadly Class” is one the most anticipated series of the new year for comic book-loving television viewers. With an incredible ensemble cast that represents the future of Hollywood, the Syfy action-fest takes place at a high school for assassins during the 1980s and is filled to the brim with counterculture references, many of which are still relevant today.

This time out we’re chatting with Siobhán Williams, who plays Brandy Lynn, to discuss the fears of taking on such a controversial character, why she ultimately decided to tackle Brandy, and the reason she’d rather be playing Red Dead Redemption 2 than chasing fame.

TrunkSpace: Between the release of “Welcome to Marwen” and the first season of “Deadly Class” kicking off, we would imagine this is a very exciting time for you. Is it necessary to strike a balance between enjoying the moment and suppressing expectations, because this does seem like a business where so much is out of your control once a project calls wrap.
Williams: Thank you! It’s definitely been exciting. For sure, there is so much that can go wrong within a project. It’s a miracle to even get a script green-lit, and once that happens there are about seven million different roadblocks that can set it back or stop it from ever seeing the light of day. Even if it does come out, your scenes could be cut or role diminished, any number of things. You can never have expectations in this industry – you have to remain present and enjoy the process. Art is never finished, only abandoned, so I think every artist needs to learn to enjoy the process. I don’t think any decent artist can look back at their completed work and say “it’s perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing.” But truly I think this is something that can be applied to the human condition as a whole – so much is out of our control in life, we just have to do our best and do what fulfills us and hope for the best.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the great cast, “Deadly Class” also has a number of people behind the camera with a track record for bringing compelling storytelling to the masses, including the Russo Brothers. Did you view your time on “Deadly Class” as just as much of an education as you did a job? What did you absorb from the people around you that you’ll apply to your career moving forward?
Williams: I view every job I have as an education. I learned most of what I know about acting and film/TV on set – asking questions within each department and observing the people around me. “Deadly Class” was a particularly inspiring environment because everyone on set seemed to be striving to learn. I think the most admirable people are those who are open-minded, egoless, and always endeavoring to learn and ask questions. Those are the people who are the most intelligent and successful, because they just suck up information like a sponge. People who are cocky and close-minded never grow or evolve. I have a real love for cameras and photography, so I’d say what I learned most on “Deadly Class” was regarding technical directing. I watched all of our episodic directors closely and took note of their processes.

TrunkSpace: Your character Brandy Lynn may prove to be a bit controversial. She says and does things that will make many people do spit takes while watching. Was there a part of you that was hesitant to take on a character that people will love to hate?
Williams: Absolutely, I was hesitant. I’m still pretty scared of Brandy. I remember having a lot of conversations with my boyfriend about how it would affect my career if the show blew up and I became known for portraying a racist. Would the world hate me? But then I read the comics and discovered how intelligent and highly political they were. I realized that “Deadly Class” is (among other things) a commentary on how flawed the system is – how the wealth gap is fucking up America, how corporate greed is fucking up America. And I realized that I owe it to 2019 to portray a character that is a real-world villain. People like Brandy exist. They are everywhere, coming out of the woodwork especially now that they’ve been enabled and endorsed by the political climate in this country. People are mad that Brandy doesn’t look like J.K. Simmons in “Oz.” She doesn’t instantly look terrifying. She doesn’t look like a monster, but she is one. She’s the kind of person that we should be terrified of in real life. A seemingly innocuous, harmless individual with hatred boiling under the surface waiting for the first opportunity to strike. And if we are upset to see a fictional teenage girl spewing her parent’s indoctrinated fascist hatred on a television show but are fine electing representatives who do the same, well – that just goes to show how badly this story needs to be told.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that coin, from a performance standpoint, is bad sometimes good? And by that we mean, when you’re able to inhabit a character with traits so far removed from societal norm, does it make your time on set more fantastical?
Williams: I wouldn’t say that playing a fascist is fantastical. But from an acting standpoint, the further a character is from myself the more challenging and therefore more interesting it is to play. I never wanted to be an actor who just played myself – but on television. I never wanted to be in shows where I could “just look hot” and read the lines in a minimalist and soapy teen way. I’ve always wanted to be a character actor, and travel as far from myself in as many ways as possible – and playing Brandy definitely does that. Roles that require research, a different era, a different accent, a new skill – those are things that draw me to projects. And somehow, amazingly, “Deadly Class” provided me with all of the above.

In terms of playing a villain – I do have to say that villains are often my favorite characters in shows. Christopher Heyerdahl (who plays The Swede in “Hell on Wheels”) is one of my favorite villains of all time. Watching him was so maddening it was almost cathartic. I don’t know if people will love to hate Brandy – or if they’ll just hate to hate her. But I guess we will see.

DEADLY CLASS — “Noise, Noise, Noise” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Siobhan Williams as Brandy, Jack Gillett as Lex — (Photo by: Katie Yu/SYFY)

TrunkSpace: Beyond the character work, there’s also a lot of stunt work involved in your portrayal of Brandy Lynn. How does the physical aspect of the job enhance your on-set experience? When you know you’re walking into a stunt-heavy day, is it exciting, daunting or a mixture of both?
Williams: It’s so exciting! I love it. The only time it’s daunting is when I’m still in pain from stunt rehearsals like two days before. I love the challenge that choreography provides, and I love feeling strong, and one thing I love about Brandy is her fighting style. She isn’t technical like Saya or balletic like Maria, she’s just fucking savage. She does whatever it takes to win, and it’s not finessed, it’s just scrappy.

TrunkSpace: You have a dance background. Does that skill set work to your advantage when learning and perfecting a particular fight sequence or on-camera stunt?
Williams: I think so – my memory for choreography helps, and having a lot of flexibility and core strength that I’ve retained from ballet.

TrunkSpace: “Deadly Class” is based on a graphic novel. Comics continue to be a well that Hollywood taps into, both for film and television adaptation. As an actress, what is it like having that source material (and existing audience!) available to you, but at the same time, not having the pressure of stepping into a brand that the masses have been exposed to yet, like the Spider-Man or Batman universes?
Williams: Oh, it’s awesome. It’s great having the creator of this entire world (Rick Remender) to guide us. The comics are amazing to be consistently referring back to for information and backstory, and for tone. And the fact that Brandy hasn’t been as elaborated on gives me creative freedom to enhance and add to her.

TrunkSpace: If “Deadly Class” becomes a smash hit and it catapults you to a new level of fame and recognition, is that something that you would welcome? Is fame a part of the equation, or is it a necessary evil to pursue your dreams in this industry?
Williams: Umm. That’s a tough question, and something I try not to think about. Fame isn’t something I’ve ever wanted – acknowledgment of work, that’s something that would be nice I guess. But fame? I dunno. I’m a pretty insular person and the concept of fame is uncomfortable to me. I think that some celebrities invite fame, and in order to be on the front of the tabloids and be really famous you have be working damn hard for it – paying a publicist and doing tons of interviews and photoshoots and going to the clubs where celebs go to be “seen” – I mean, I think it takes conscious effort, and there’s just so many things I’d rather be doing. Like volunteering with animals or hanging with my cats or playing Red Dead Redemption 2. But maybe I’m wrong. I dunno. Maybe fame shows up uninvited sometimes.

Williams with Steve Carell in “Welcome To Marwen”

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Williams: Working with Steve Carell and Bob Zemeckis was definitely one of them. Realizing that maybe I can use this career for good and help raise awareness/money for causes that are important to me is the biggest one. That’s ongoing though.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Williams: Dude, no. Messing with the time/space continuum never goes over well. Have you watched “Back to the Future”?!

Deadly Class” premieres January 16 on Syfy.

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Opening Act

Erin Harpe

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Photo By: Michael Kurgansky

Artist: Erin Harpe

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Boston, MA

TrunkSpace: We’re just emerging from the holiday season cocoon, during which time, you were supporting your new holiday album, “The Christmas Swing.” We’d have to imagine you’re ready to put the Run Run Rudolphs behind you for awhile at this point?
Harpe: That’s one of the hazards of putting out a Christmas album! We played the songs live a bunch in November and December, and now we can’t play them for the rest of the year! I’m fine with that, and ready to move on to the next project.

TrunkSpace: That being said, is it a nice break to be able to step away and sort of refuel the creative tank while still getting the chance to perform? That seems like a situation of having your cake and eating it too.
Harpe: We’ll see. I’ll let you know if and when I’m able to step away! (Laughter) Running a record label with my husband/bass player Jim Countryman, we rarely take a break. I usually go from creating an album to promoting (creating the album art, making a music video which I did myself, to sending out the product) during the week, while gigging most weekends. It’s a lot of work, but I’m grateful to be able to be doing this! I find my creative tank most full when I’m in the middle of a project and I’ve given myself a real deadline.

TrunkSpace: As far as the year ahead is concerned, what does 2019 hold for you in terms of new music? What’s on your creative radar?
Harpe: The first part of the year I will be channeling Memphis Minnie, going back to my roots playing some acoustic blues: first at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis at the end of January, where I’ll be performing solo; second is my second UK tour with my acoustic duo in March, featuring Jim Countryman on ukelele bass and myself on acoustic guitar, kazoo and foot percussion; and third I’ll be teaching guitar at Augusta Blues & Swing Week in West Virginia in July! I may just come out with an acoustic album next… I’ll also be putting together demos for the next Erin Harpe & the Delta Swingers album, and releasing a new EP for my “other band” Lovewhip!

TrunkSpace: You wear many hats in the creation of your music, from guitarist to singer, to band leader and songwriter. Do you identify with one role more than the others? If you could only do one, would you be content hanging out in just a singular creative space?
Harpe: If I could do one, that would probably be music production. I produced my last two albums, and I fell in love with the process of putting together recordings – arranging, writing, composing parts. I don’t know if you can really separate the different “jobs” because producing encompasses all of those – guitar, singing, being music director, songwriting and performance. I don’t think I’ll ever give up performing though.

TrunkSpace: You learned to play guitar from your dad. Do you think having that personal connection to the process helped to build a personal relationship with the instrument itself?
Harpe: Definitely. I grew up around guitar, the sounds and the cool-looking vintage instruments my dad played and collected. Funny enough, I started out playing classical flute, but once I switched to guitar, the connection was undeniable.

TrunkSpace: Would the young Erin who first picked up a guitar be surprised by how her career in music has played out thus far?
Harpe: Yes! I was very shy growing up so I never would have believed I could do over 1000 gigs, and remember lyrics in front of people, much less win awards and play music full-time!

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t experience by being a listener alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
Harpe: I get to hear my creations. I get to reshape music to how I imagine it! That drives me. Let’s just say maybe, sometimes I feel like music is getting too generic, too formulaic, too overdone, too lacking in soul and grit, too whatever. I can change that! I can buck the trend, come out with something I like. I can prove that there are some people who know the difference. It may be a small number, but they are out there!

Photo By: Dave Geissler

TrunkSpace: As you mentioned, you’re about to embark on a trip to Memphis for the 2019 International Blues Challenge. How do you prepare for an event like that, both mentally and performance-wise?
Harpe: I have to write my set list and time my set, and practice it a lot! That’s the only way to not be nervous, but I’m sure I’ll still be nervous, but it’ll be fine. I’ll jump up and down a bit before my sets. It’s definitely more nerve-racking playing solo than with the band! I’m also going to be performing my Memphis set a few times in public. (Including January 17 at the Plough & Stars in Cambridge, MA.)

I also have to tell myself to go to bed at a reasonable hour in Memphis.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Harpe: Probably with that question of “success.” I find myself asking “why haven’t I succeeded yet,” when I actually have succeeded in so many aspects of my career. I’m working on giving myself more credit and not comparing my career to other “more famous” musicians.

TrunkSpace: We’re jumping headfirst into 2019. Any New Year’s resolutions that you’re hoping to hold onto as you travel through the months ahead?
Harpe: My resolution is to write more songs, and put out more music, and to reach out more and collaborate this year with other artists and musicians. It’s tough running a band, it can feel lonely at times, and it’s easier when you build community!

For show dates visit here.

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Sit and Spin

Tallies’ Self-Titled Debut

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Artist: Tallies

Album: Self-Titled (Pictured At Left)

Label: Kanine Records

Reason We’re Cranking It: As a genre, dream pop can shuttle you off to another world, but this particular album has dropped us right in the middle of a whimsical landscape that tickles all of our nostalgic fancies. If “The NeverEnding Story” was remade a bit darker and specifically for those adults who first fell in love with it as kids, this would be its soundtrack.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: With their first professional record, the Toronto-based quartet is putting music fans on notice. Although we’re only two weeks into the new year, they’ve made a strong push for best debut of 2019.

Track Stuck On Repeat: The band should be very proud of “Not So Proud,” a song that feels like the rebellious offspring of The Strokes and The Go-Go’s. We’re hooked.

Coming To A City Near You: The band is currently not on tour, but you can keep track of when they hit the road here.

And that means…

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Musical Mondaze

Buke & Gase

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While the majority of their upcoming album “Scholars” was finished about a year ago, the songs that make up the record tell a story that they are eager to share, though they admit the individual interpretations are in the ears of the beholder. And therein lies the beauty of music. Like all art, what we see, hear and feel from any piece is our own unique experience. How we absorb songs and carry those interpretations with us throughout our lives is a sonic “Choose Your Own Adventure.” We’ll go left, you go right, but in the end, an album like “Scholars” can move us all in different ways.

We recently sat down with Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez to discuss first impressions, how they’re constantly pulling each other in different creative directions, and why professional and personal goals don’t always see eye to eye in music.

TrunkSpace: “Scholars” drops on January 18. What emotions do you juggle with as you
prepare to release new material into the world?
Sanchez: I can feel a bit nervous about it but at the same time the album is work that we mostly completed a year ago and we’ve been performing these songs for awhile now – they’ve had a life of their own. They represent an emotional story that we are familiar with now. What will be different is that more people will hear this music within the confines of their own earbuds, in a critical setting or what have you, hopefully our audience will own this music and interpret it in ways that suits them. It’s exciting to see what happens next. It’s also exciting to just get it out into the world finally, and move forward with whatever new music is ahead of us.

TrunkSpace: As we understand it, the vast majority of the music that you two create as Buke & Gase comes out of the two of you sitting down in one room and clanging your minds together. Do you believe in creative kinship at first sight, and if so, did you experience that with each other when you first met?
Dyer: I think we had a particularly intense first meeting, confusing creative kinship with intimate kinship. We generally don’t talk about this (out of embarrassment or fear of judgment?), but I’ve been seeing the importance of discussing the subject more recently. I can only speak from my perspective, but I find artists tend to be quick to fall in love. Not that we feel more than a non-artist, but we pay closer attention to our feelings, giving them more weight and autonomy over our lives. So oftentimes artists who might be better off as working partners end up coupling together, and in a fit of fiery passion, completely destroy their true calling of creative companionship. What many people consider to be celebrity drama might merely be an artists’ misinterpretation of attraction. We fell into what we thought was love, while continuing to make music together, and through time the intimate relationship died for both of us. In truth, for the past seven years or so, the creation of music has become the only thing that brings us together.

TrunkSpace: Is there something artistically inspiring about working together as a duo that you have been unable to achieve in a solo capacity? How does being in that room with your creative counterpart make you a stronger songwriter?
Sanchez: It’s a completely different experience working together versus creating music in a solo setting. When we improvise together it’s like a roller coaster ride – when it’s going well, we hop on the train and go. Sometimes it’s familiar territory and sometimes we end up places we’ve never been. The process of creating music we use requires us to rely on each other in ways that relinquishes our ego or specific sonic desires to a degree. We’re constantly pulling each other in different directions and you either follow or it falls apart. This is inspiring because we wind up creating music that neither of us could make on our own.

TrunkSpace: When choosing the tracks that would make up the album, you had over 60 songs to choose from. Was the process of whittling it down a difficult one, and how did you approach deciding what would ultimately become a part of “Scholars” and what would be best left for future releases?
Dyer: Many of the pieces were easy to set aside as lyrics were less concise or the energy wasn’t overwhelming. But of the songs that were complete and energetically enticing, it became a coin toss. Some we wanted to have on the album but there just wasn’t enough time for them. Hence B, C, D and Z sides.

Photo By: Buke & Gase

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Sanchez: I think we were able to get over our creative slump. We actually completed another record in 2014 but were unhappy with it and decided to not release it at the last minute. What followed was a long period of reinvention and trying to figure out what we had done wrong and not repeat it. It took a lot of trial and error of process, but ultimately we figured out the problem. Creatively we were getting in our own way, too critical and having too much control of the finished product and we had to find ways to get ourselves out of the room and let the music take control. I think we succeeded with “Scholars.”

TrunkSpace: Aron, you invent instruments, and in the process, create sounds that ears have never heard before. How much of that musical maiden voyage is part of Buke & Gase in terms of its sonic identity? Could you envision a day where there’s a Buke & Gase album that did not utilize your instrumental inventions?
Sanchez: Well, for some of this album we relied a lot less on the Buke and the Gase already – we tried some other processes to create and perform, using software and midi controllers. We’re doing this because we didn’t want to be tied down to the sonic limitations of our previous work. All of the instrumental creations for this project were solutions to a problem: how do we create interesting music that we can perform live and just be a duo? At first we tried expanding the sonic capabilities of electric stringed instruments and minimal percussion that we could perform simultaneously. That has now expanded to using computers and electronics to help us do more with what we have. This expansion has also mirrored our interests in other forms of music.

TrunkSpace: Does that make touring difficult? Does it take experimentation to carry over every sound that you’ve created in the studio and transfer it to the stage?
Sanchez: I’m always thinking about how our gear setup can be compact and easily tourable – our equipment has always been an integral and influential part of our music creation. The gear and music creation are always in conversation to some extent and are requiring different things of each other, thus we have to experiment and there’s lots of trial and error to get things right. Using more electronics and software has helped that a lot, and we now have a lot of sonic control over our live performances.

Photo By: Buke & Gase

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Dyer: I have pictured it, but I want to do everything in my power to avoid that possibility. I don’t feel either of us are limited to this particular project, which makes room for future musical opportunities. The question of having music in my life versus not is so much more existential than you might have wanted to hear: it’s the main reason I haven’t started a family. It’s hard to imagine having children AND being a musician (with limited means, I mean, for crying out loud, I have soooooo many side jobs to maintain MY life month-to-month, how could I conscientiously do that with another human to care for?! And then go on tour??!). The only models I have of that are already successful female artists and… men (who generally don’t have to have a child on their tit/hip for the formative years). Having a child would mean musical suicide, for all I know. So I guess when I’ve pictured my life without music, it’s because a fresh, new human needs my attention and love. What would you say to this?

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as artists?
Dyer: Internally. Personally. In the worst ways.
Sanchez: I can be too much of a perfectionist sometimes.

TrunkSpace: We’re jumping headfirst into 2019. Any New Year’s resolutions that you’re hoping to hold onto as you travel through the months ahead?
Dyer: My 2019 mantra is: FUTURE POSITIVE
Sanchez: Stay Real. Everything is OK.

Scholars” is available January 18 from Brassland.

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