January 2019

Laugh It Up

Jessie Johnson


Name: Jessie Johnson

Socials: Twitter/Instagram/Facebook

TrunkSpace: Was comedy always in the cards? Were you a “funny” kid, even at an early age?
Johnson: My family loves humor. We laugh all the time. As a kid, my sister and cousins and I would write skits and perform them for the adults in our family. Sometimes we would record them on a tape player. One was about a news anchor really getting to the bottom of ‘who stole the cookies from the cookie jar’. It was me. I was definitely the one in school cracking jokes. My high school psychology class nicknamed me “funny girl.”

TrunkSpace: When did you decide to pursue stand-up comedy as a career and did you make a plan for how you would attack things?
Johnson: A couple years ago I realized that my dream of dreams was to be a successful stand-up comedian and that I could potentially do it. My plan was to move to Los Angeles, California, where I am now, and to jump in head first to getting better and getting more opportunities. Eventually I’d like to get signed by an agency and have a manager and get on TV and tour the world… but my plan is always the same: to be the best version of myself consistently, and to continuously learn and understand the craft of stand-up comedy.

TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a comic?
Johnson: It took me about four years for me to discover my voice as a comic. I remember when things really started to click. I was in a contest to win a piece of shit car, it was called the piece of shit car contest. I made it to the finals with some other comics I respect and was pretty nervous. Leading up to the show, I just kept reminding myself to have fun and be me. I didn’t win the car but I did go last that night and held my own. I felt really free on stage – something clicked – I had heard my voice. After that and to this day I continue to look within and get closer to knowing it.

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?
Johnson: My first approach on stage was to get the guts to go up. I would tell the same jokes over and over and learn things like, where to hold the microphone so people could hear me, move the mic stand out of the way, make eye contact with people. My approach now is to be passionate about what I want to say and have a cohesive act. So, completely different. I don’t think about the technical aspects anymore I’m just working on being myself, having fun and having something to say.

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?
Johnson: I wish I could answer yes to this question but the truth is I find myself distracted from comedy all the time. I get spouts of depression and feelings from time to time that I have lost my sense of humor. I read a lot of self-help books and work on myself. Some days are very easy and I wake up laughing, other days are like a 24-hour battle for my mind.

TrunkSpace: How much work goes into a joke before it’s ready to be tested out in front of a live audience?
Johnson: This really depends for me but most of my jokes I can honestly say pop into my head and are virtually done then and there. I’ll continue working on them, add them as a tag for a pre-existing joke, change a word here or there, but some of my favorite jokes dropped right into my head and straight on to the paper. Most of my time writing feels like just jotting down a lot of trash but being ready with the pen and paper in hopes something will spark.

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?
Johnson: If a joke doesn’t work the first time I will immediately work on the delivery or wording before using it again.

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?
Johnson: This is possible… I’ve heard. No, I’ve been there. It’s important to read your audience. I have a set that is mapped out pretty well in advance, but lately I’ll go up with no prepared set order because you don’t know what the audience is like until you get to the venue. I chalk this happening up as just knowing your audience. And also sometimes audiences just don’t like you.

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?
Johnson: ‘You should never blame your audience’ is something we hear all the time and I believe it to an extent, but damn can you be thankful for a great audience. Yes, it is much more fun to perform in front of a lively, willing audience.

TrunkSpace: What is your most memorable performance experience (good or bad!) that will stick with you for the rest of your career and why?
Johnson: I don’t know why this question is so difficult for me to answer. As I think back to all the shows I’ve done and the great and bad memories I have… they all just blur together. Nothing really sticks out as the most memorable because I don’t think it’s happened yet.

TrunkSpace: How do you handle hecklers? What approach do you take?
Johnson: I’m very non aggressive with hecklers. For me, it works best to stay chill and try to get them back on board. Most the time, in my opinion, those types of people are lonely, sad, attention seeking narcissists that wish they were on stage but have never taken the time to write a joke or go to open mics or put any effort in once so ever but they see you doing it and making it look easy so they think ‘oh wow I can do this’ because their brains are so tiny and void of any intellect and like the real clueless douchebag that they are they yell out, wanting to feel part of something. I want to let them know in a funny way to stop but I’m not about to tear their weak small-minded brains down. I will say, the worst is when the heckler is too drunk to function. I hate seeing people getting kicked out of comedy clubs but the older I get in the game the more I think that is the best method for blacked out hecklers. Just, remove them. Please.

TrunkSpace: What are your thoughts on the stand-up landscape in 2019? Are you optimistic for the future of live comedy?
Johnson: I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I just work hard on the craft and aim to be undeniably funny and a good person. I am always optimistic that that will be enough and that this field will always have room for people like me.

TrunkSpace: Finally, who do YOU find funny?
Johnson: Shapel Lacey. He’s a legend.


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The Featured Presentation

Joe Minoso

Photo By: Brant Brogan

As firefighter Joe Cruz on the popular NBC series “Chicago Fire,” Joe Minoso has experienced every career first imaginable. The life-changing part was not only his introduction to a series regular role, but it is a job that has lasted for nearly a decade, paving unexpected pathways for the New York native both professionally and personally.

We recently sat down with Minoso to discuss where “Chicago Fire” has impacted his life the most, the mixed bag of social media, and how he found the love of his life at the job of his life.

TrunkSpace: The “Chicago Fire” universe has been a part of your life now for most of the current decade. How has your time as Joe Cruz – the work and everything involved with it – impacted your life the most?
Minoso: Wow! It’s really weird to hear most of the decade. But yes, definitely it has been incredibly impactful. I would say the largest way was that I met the love of my life and now wife working on “Chicago Fire.” She was a makeup artist for three seasons on the show and still does work there from time to time. But she’s currently moved on to her own business in paramedical tattooing, which is an incredible, emerging field that she’s just going to be phenomenal at. I’m super proud of her.

TrunkSpace: What has been the most enjoyable aspect of getting to play the same character for well over 100 episodes of a series? How has Joe changed since you shot your first scene to where you are today, and how has that changed the experience for you personally?
Minoso: I think what is most enjoyable about playing a character on episodic television is getting to learn new facets of the character year to year. As the writers discover interesting new story arcs for you, it develops more character nuances. Those are always fun to learn about when you come back every year. I would say since the first shot, Cruz has definitely become a firefighter who is more aware of his skill set and far more comfortable in a leadership position. He’s really made strides as a firefighter to be one of the best. And I think that that work ethic is starting to show up in his personal life. He just seems to be more put together. He’s really coming into his own and you can see that more readily, especially now with his new girlfriend Chloe.

TrunkSpace: The series is immensely popular with fans. How long did it take you to become comfortable with having the spotlight of a successful television series shined onto your own life, both in reality and in the social media world?
Minoso: I’m pretty lucky, I don’t get bothered most places I go, so any kind of fame or celebrity isn’t something that I really deal with often. Most of the time it’s someone who is very nice and asking if they can take a photo because they are huge fans of the show, to which I happily reply, “Absolutely!” I’m happy to do it. The fans helped keep us around. As for social media, that’s a mixed bag. I try to keep it as light and inspirational as I can. Whatever social media platform I may have developed over the years, I would like to use towards championing goodness, charity, respect, humanity and laughter.

TrunkSpace: What is the relationship like between the series and real world first responders? In particular, what is it like to hear feedback directly from those who live these types of experiences day in and day out?
Minoso: I would say mostly very positive. We come across a lot of first responders who absolutely love our show – across the world! There are definitely those who get on us about not doing things right, or not showing how things are in real life, but while I understand the issue, some of the things that we would like to show are almost too unbelievable or impossible for television. And firefighters or first responders love busting each others’ chops, so more than anything, I just think they’re looking for something to make fun of.

Honestly though, it’s mostly really great feedback. And they are some of the greatest, salt of the earth, bravest people you’ll ever meet in your life.

TrunkSpace: “Chicago Fire” seems to allow its performers the chance to play in various genre sandboxes, from heavy drama to lighter, more comedic moments, which we would imagine, helps to keep things fresh. Would it be more difficult to spend as much time on a sitcom where you’re always having to deliver on the same beats, as opposed to a show like this where each day brings a different approach?
Minoso: I consider myself one of the lucky ones on the show. I feel like I get to play in a lot of those sandboxes. Some of the other characters are limited to just drama or comedy, but I think Cruz is a character that seamlessly goes from one to the other. That’s been one of the great things about playing him is the opportunity to do so many different things.

TrunkSpace: To date, what are you most proud of with your work as Joe Cruz?
Minoso: I am really proud of my relationship work with my fellow firefighters. I feel like we really look and act like a family. I don’t know how much acting is actually involved. We pretty much are family at this point. But I think ensemble work is some of the hardest stuff to do and I think we are at our best as a show when we’re there as a group.

Photo By: Brant Brogan

TrunkSpace: Prior to on-camera work, you spent a lot of time on the stage. When it comes to performance, is theater your first love?
Minoso: There’s no way it can’t be. It introduced me to the great world of performing and storytelling. The immediate response you get from an audience is one of the most thrilling, adrenaline-inducing moments you could ever ask for. But I have really grown to love the camera medium. I feel that you can tell far more expansive stories this way. However, I’ll always love theater and I look forward to revisiting it someday.

TrunkSpace: When you started to do more work in front of the camera, did you have to take a different approach to your craft than you did with your work in a live setting? Did it take some fine-tuning for you to get comfortable in that new world?
Minoso: There’s a lot of similarities, but I would say the biggest change I had to make was understanding that the audience was not 100 feet away in a seat up in the balcony, but two inches away from my face. I think once I started thinking of it that way, it helped bring my performance down to an acceptable level for television. That being said, I can still be a pretty broad and bombastic actor. I work hard to try and keep it in a believable place.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Minoso: “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago Fire.” Everything that has come with the show has been a first and new for me. My first red carpet, my first premiere, my first photo shoot, my first pilot, my first series regular role, my first stunt sequence, my first autograph… and the love of my life to top it all off. It has changed my life in immeasurable ways and I will forever hold it as one of the most special moments of my life.

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?
Minoso: I wouldn’t. Half the fun of the story are the surprises that come along the way. Just like a great film, you wouldn’t enjoy the peaks if you didn’t suffer the valleys. I feel like knowing would take away from that.

Chicago Fire” airs Wednesdays on NBC.

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Edo Ferragamo

Photo By: Lapo Quagli

Artist: Edo Ferragamo

Socials: Instagram/Facebook

Hometown: Florence, Italy

TrunkSpace: The new year is upon us, and for you, that means new music being released. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to release new material on the world?
Ferragamo: I couldn’t be more excited! I think every artist in general is always wishing to release his work, but it’s not always that easy. In my case, this is going to be my debut EP and I’ve been waiting for a long time to put it out. These last couple of years I’ve been focusing mainly on writing songs and I have so many. The hardest part was probably selecting my favorites!

TrunkSpace: Listening to your music, we can’t help but hear so many different influences that had a hand at creating your musical POV. How long did it take you to find your voice as an artist?
Ferragamo: A long time to be honest! I’m not completely sure if I found my “ultimate voice” as an artist quite yet. I think it’s a constant development and I’m getting closer and closer. I grew up playing and listening to classic rock, then I went to Berklee College of Music and got into funk and fusion. From there I approached the EDM world, and now I’m very much into pop/ urban/electronic. I think it’s very important to explore different genres to understand what you like most!

TrunkSpace: Would the Edo who first picked up a guitar and dreamed of becoming a musician be surprised by what your sound has shaped into, and if so, why?
Ferragamo: Definitely. I was very much, as a kid, into all the great classic rock bands. Not to say that I don’t like them anymore, but they are a bit outdated now.

TrunkSpace: What are you most excited about in terms of the music you have locked and loaded for release?
Ferragamo: The first single, “Common People,” that I co-wrote with my friend and great rapper/singer Cayenne Noluck (who’s also performing on the record) is definitely one of my favorites. Not only is it very catchy and uplifting, it talks about something very close to my heart, which is the importance of spreading love in today’s world!

TrunkSpace: What does the music we’ll hear from you in 2019 say about who you are as an artist today?
Ferragamo: The music is very uplifting, up-to-date pop sounds with urban influences and a lot of organic elements – guitar is my main instrument on most songs. I want fans to feel free and peaceful. I’d like to give them some uplifting and positive energy!

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing music that you can’t find by being a listener to it alone? What keeps you writing and creating?
Ferragamo: My favorite part is definitely going inside a room with nothing and coming out with something tangible when making music. I think the process is really magical! Creating something that before didn’t exist, something you cannot touch or see, but something you can hear and FEEL! I also love the feeling of my brain really working hard to place and structure the emotions coming from my heart and putting it into a song.

TrunkSpace: You were born in Italy and went to school in Boston (our hometown!). How did Italy shape your musical path, and did Boston force it to veer in another direction? Did the city and people of Boston influence your music directly?
Ferragamo: Italy, and especially Florence, is a place full of art and history. There is no way that it cannot influence you as a person. It’s almost overwhelming sometimes! I feel so fortunate being born as an Italian. My roots are strong and I will never change them. However, I think that my main change in music specifically happened in Boston. Just the fact that I was able to surround myself with so many incredibly talented musicians was something super valuable. I discovered new ways of playing, new genres and new styles. It was not always easy, but hard work always pays off!

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your life?
Ferragamo: Absolutely not!

TrunkSpace: Outside of another artist, was there someone in your life who inspired or supported your creative endeavors that you feel was important to you getting where you are today with your music?
Ferragamo: Yes, I’m very passionate about sports and working out, so my trainer Andrea, who always pushed me since I was 12-years-old to become a better person. (Stronger, faster and wiser.) Not to say that this inspired my creative juices, but it definitely defined my character as a person and helped my motivation in general!

TrunkSpace: Again, we just jumped into 2019. Any New Year’s resolutions that you took on?
Ferragamo: Not really any New Year’s resolutions! I want to thank my fans for supporting me throughout this journey that is only at the beginning. I have so much music to share, so please keep following me as I move forward.

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Trunk Bubbles

Niko Walter


Name: Niko Walter

Website: Twitter

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Hellboy

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) Gasolina/Skybound/Monthly

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Walter: Heavy. Lots of shadow. Fairly stiff. Male. Somber. Straightforward.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Walter: I had the great fortune growing up that my parents were protective of what they let into our home. Computers, internet, video games, television and movies came late in life, relative not just to kids today but to most of my peers at the time. As a result, when I got my first issue of Ditko/Lee Spider-Man as a child, it was the most visually exciting thing I’d seen outside Disney animation, only it wasn’t weighed down with lame musical numbers or boring romance. It was great. I read that book until it fell to tatters and then got some more. Drawing came later when I met my buddy Andy in middle school. He was a doodler. Always scribbling in class on the back of tests, notebooks and the like. He was a comics guy too. One afternoon, bored, we got out some “Spawn” trades and tried our best to copy the splash pages. Great memory. There are a hundred small moments like it that pushed me towards comics but that was the moment I realized I enjoyed drawing.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Walter: I went through phases. As a kid it was the character that counted. Spider-Man loomed large. Approaching my teen years the artist started to become priority. I was big on Todd McFarlane and by extension Greg Capullo. Some Jim Lee and the Kubert brothers mixed in as well. In high school I was looking for concept so I was going through guys like Frank Miller, Warren Ellis and Alan Moore. When the “Hellboy” movie was coming out I came across Mike Mignola for the first time – promo poster or something – just a profile of Hellboy’s face. Blew away everything I had seen up to that point. Still my favorite artist. I don’t much talk about comics anymore and it’s rare I think back on reading them as a kid but it certainly strikes me at this moment just how much I enjoyed those comics growing up

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Walter: Mostly it was just years of grinding away to get to that point where you look down at something you’ve drawn and it isn’t the worst thing you’ve ever seen. Once I got to that point I wanted to find out what other people thought about it. I figured tried and true: take a portfolio to conventions and talk to editors. It worked. There were some premature efforts before that. I mailed in some samples and pitches. Went nowhere. Had a few writers contact me online and did some work with them that resulted in the same thing – though much of that was on me.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Walter: I went to a convention and showed my portfolio to Sean Mackiewicz. He saw some potential there and shortly after offered me a job. That first job was raw but he stuck by me and after offered me more work. I’m grateful to him for that.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Walter: I decided to draw comics when I was a senior in high school. Got my first real gig at 27. Almost 10 years. Now that I’ve gotten in, the dream has shifted. Now I’m dreaming of doing it well. Could take a lifetime.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Walter: I vacillate between characters I enjoy drawing and drawing things I suck at and look to improve. Former is mostly characters I know and grew up on and the latter is everything else, but especially women.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Walter: Could be but I’ve got an issue here. Take the Punisher. Great character. Skulls, guns and an opportunity to drape everything in shadows. Great stuff. Would fit with what I would like to do if I could do what I imagined. Trouble is, Parlov has drawn Punisher. And Zaffino for that matter. For me it’s best to avoid hoping for a specific existing title and if I get something, try to do it better than the last thing I did.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Walter: I’ve got an idea for a book of my own. I’ve got a character, the world that surrounds him and the makings of a plot. Filled with things I like and like drawing and very little of what I don’t. That’s the ticket. One of these days I’ll strike out and give it a shot. Other than that, if something comes my way, chances are I’m game.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Walter: Comic art appealed to me in part because it so often lacks mystery. It’s simple, it pops and everyone can understand it. It’s attainable. I can look at a Caravaggio or Bernini all day long but I can’t make heads or tails of it. I mean how it was accomplished. I know that there were brushes and paint or stone and chisel but the rest might as well be a miracle. With a lot of comics, it’s lines on paper. I can see how it was made… even as a kid. I doubt anyone will be lining up in 400 years to look, awestruck and humbled, at pages from “ROM Spaceknight,” but there were thousands of kids who, for 30 minutes a month, looked wide eyed at that chrome robot and stepped outside their lives. Not bad. Of course, many of those kids are now adults who worship mans mastery of science and have forgotten all about mystery and miracles. Not sure how that balances out.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Walter: I’m almost always working in Photoshop. Been attempting to get back to doing traditional ink on paper but I have gotten so accustomed to working digitally that it’s rough going. I know how to get the results I want digitally but can’t seem to get the same lines out of a brush. From the other side, it makes no nevermind to me at all. So long as I like the result I don’t care how the artist did it or by what method.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Walter: Difficult question. Things are moving pretty fast lately but I’ll say this – people today have a great desire for entertainment. If you stick with it and commit you might make it. Be practical. Think about pay, benefits, how much (and for how long) you will have to put in to get something out. Be aware of where you stack up. Plenty of people out there with a dream incapable of seeing their work objectively, people who may avoid heartbreak with honesty. Consider your motives and excise rationalizations if possible. Other than that, keep at it and good luck.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Walter: I’ve yet to do it. I may attend one to see what it’s like from the other side of the table but I went to a few conventions when I was looking to break in and I found it in no way to my liking.

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Walter: Nothing yet. So far, fairly straightforward commissions.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2019?
Walter: “Gasolina” will still be coming out. I’ll post sketches regularly. If I have the time I might try my hand at something of my own. Other than that, it’s up in the air.

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Listen Up

The Verve Pipe

Photo By: Jamie Geysbeek

As The Verve Pipe prepares to embark on a winter tour, frontman Brian Vander Ark teases that the band will be pulling double duty, not just entertaining their longtime fans at stops from Richmond to Boston, but writing new material as well.

This is the year that we’re back in the studio and working on new material,” he says. “We had to take a nice little break in 2018, and actually most of 2017, just to play live and get to know each other again live. We’ve got plenty of ideas now.”

The Michigan-born band best known for their 1997 hit “The Freshmen” has experienced the highs and lows of the music industry, but have proven that perseverance is the best defense against a machine that is so well adept at chewing up and spitting out those whose chase their musical dreams.

We recently sat down with Vander Ark to discuss how he keeps The Verve Pipe fresh after over two decades, navigating the digital age, and what he values as an artist now that his younger self never would have appreciated.

TrunkSpace: You’ve toured the world and have experienced the ins and outs of the industry. When you hit the road now are there still firsts out there?
Brian Vander Ark: I love this question. Good start. It’s never been asked and it’s a good one.

I’d like to think that I’ve seen it all and that, pardon the pun, I knew everything, but I’m always surprised by the people that come out now. The crowds have become more and more diverse age wise. It’s not just the alternative folks that are coming out. We’ve got young people coming out as well. I think that might be reflective of the kids albums we’ve put out and now those kids have grown, so I think that actually helped us exponentially, although it was a happy accident. No one ever planned on that.

Really for me, it’s about cultivating those connections and when you cultivate the new connections, you learn about the fans. We always try to hang out with the fans a little bit after the show or even pre-show. You learn their stories. It’s always fresh.

What’s the same usually are the back rooms and the camaraderie with the band. We’ve got eight guys out and we all know what gets on each others’ nerves and what not to do. (Laughter) Also, we know what pleases each other and know what to do.

I think what keeps it fresh are the fans. They’re ever-changing and ever-growing and that’s a terrific thing. Also what we like to do is we have people request songs. You put your request in through social media and then we’ll play those requests. We have to sometimes go through our old catalog and relearn songs, so every soundcheck we’ll say, “What’s requested tonight? Let’s work on that,” and we’ll work on the songs through soundcheck. So, we try to keep it as fresh as possible.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned cultivating the connection with the fans. It seems like nowadays, especially with many of the younger bands, they rely so heavily on social media to do that and the personal connection of it is lost. It sounds like you guys are making sure to put yourselves in front of the fans as well.
Brian Vander Ark: Yeah. I’m probably one of the few out there that will say that social media, I think, is way overrated. Maybe I’m not the only one that says that – maybe there are other people that say it – but I’ve felt that way over the course of the last three or four years. I’m very resistant to expectations that come with posting on social media. A good example is in your Twitter feed. If they don’t see it, they don’t see it. No one is going to find out what The Verve Pipe or Brian Vander Ark has to say by going to the feed and looking at it, you know? It just comes up. And that’s the way that Facebook is as well. You have to go to the page. So, I rely heavily on our mailing list and I rely on meeting people at the shows. I think that’s how you cultivate connections. I don’t know how you cultivate it through social media. I haven’t figured that out yet and I don’t know that I ever will. I just think there’s something that gets lost in the digital age and I’m just not seeing any fruitful results. Where it was fruitful was when we released “Parachute.” We released every song individually every two weeks and that was very successful for us. But as far as cultivating any connections, I’m not sure that really works.

TrunkSpace: Most people would never say, “Wow, I really remember that time Brian posted that thing on Twitter,” but they’d say, “I remember that time Brian took a few minutes to talk to me after the show and it made the show more memorable.”
Brian Vander Ark: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly what the important thing is, I think… dropping that barrier between the fan and the musician, or the performer, the actor, anything, and just letting the curtain down. It really ingratiates you with fans, I think.

TrunkSpace: Are albums a bit like chapters in your life and do you associate them with memories even more so than just the years themselves? Do they become pieces of your own personal calendar?
Brian Vander Ark: That’s exactly what they are. I couldn’t have said it better. They’re memory albums – our own scrapbook. It’s probably every five years or so I’ll listen to an early album and just get a great laugh out of it and chuckle out of it just because some of the songs on the first couple of albums are just terrible – the production and knowing what we went through and stuff, but I get a good kick out of it now.

There was so much good and so much bad that happened once we got signed with RCA within such a short period of time. We’re talking, in 1998 I think, we were on top of the world and by the end of 1999, we barely sold 7,000 or 8,000 records of our follow up record to “Villains,” which sold almost two million. So there’s top and bottom right there, you know? I think the trends had changed with Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. It just goes to show that those changes happen and to enjoy that moment. When I listen to the albums now or listen to those songs now and we play those songs I go, “Oh man, I had such high expectations for this song and for this album.” Though it’s disappointing, it’s nice to be able to play them and be able to say, “Wow, this is a really great song that really was lost in the masses.” Which if it’s lost in the masses, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not valid. A good song is a good song and people have discovered, years later, some of our material and they were like, “I had no idea that you guys even did this song.” “Colorful” is a great example. To this day, I still have people come up and say, “I had no idea that was you guys.”

Photo By: Jamie Geysbeek

TrunkSpace: You mentioned looking back over your music. If you could sit down with young Brian when he was first picking up a guitar, would he be surprised by how your career played out and the musical journey you’ve put yourself on?
Brian Vander Ark: Yeah. First of all, he would be surprised that I’m not coloring my hair anymore probably. (Laughter) I think he would be disgusted with the way my head looks right now. (Laughter) “This is ridiculous!”

That’s another great question. I got to say, I think yes. I think we always expected once we got signed to a major label that that was our ticket for the rest of our lives. You don’t realize that if you don’t get the priority of the label, you’re dead in the water. You just assume, “Well, we got signed now, here we go. We’re gonna go out and do this.” And then when it’s confirmed with your first single… “Photograph” did pretty well for us. We made a video and then made a second video, and then “The Freshmen” came out and was huge for us. Then you’re like, “Okay, this is never gonna end.” And even though I had seen every episode then of “Behind the Music” and I watched every warning sign come at me, we followed every cliché and wrong turn possible. That’s the one thing that would surprise me. “Wow, I really fell for all that.” That’s what my young person would say.

What I would like to say to that person though is, “You take it way too seriously.” This is a great life. I get to make music for a living, I get to travel with my kids on occasion, I have a beautiful family, and at the end of the day, I just got to play a fun show with people that I really love. That’s something that I wouldn’t have valued 25 years ago. There’s no way I would’ve valued that then.

TrunkSpace: And what’s really amazing is that some of those people that you’re playing to have been with you, supporting your music, for decades.
Brian Vander Ark: Oh, absolutely. I travel the country and do speaking tours as well, and I have a lot of people that say, “Oh my God, I totally know that song!” I go into financial industries and talk to their people about refocusing, rebranding, reinvention, and cultivating connections – that kind of thing – and at least three quarters of the room has already heard of the band, no matter where I am in the US. I still marvel at that. “It’s really pretty amazing that 75 percent of the people here know who The Verve Pipe is.”

Unless they’re confusing us with The Verve, but I never asked. (Laughter)

Tour dates are available here.

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Listen Up

Flint Eastwood


Flint Eastwood is Jax Anderson. Jax Anderson is Flint Eastwood.

Regardless of how you categorize her alongside of her music, one thing is for certain – she is a breath of fresh air, one infused with positivity, who connects with her fans through shared experiences and presenting herself as part indie artist and part motivational speaker. Her message is one of community, bridging the gap between those who feel they are struggling with personalized demons and those who bring assurance that the demons visit us all in time. In other words – you are not alone.

We recently sat down with Anderson to discuss how her creativity is fueled by listeners, accessing the things we can all relate to, and why she chooses to perform under the name Flint Eastwood.

TrunkSpace: How do you balance creative expectations and career expectations, and, are they one in the same or two completely different roads you’re traveling on?
Anderson: I think for me, I’ve always had this idea of what I want to do with Flint Eastwood. My whole purpose with this project is just to help people. Creatively and career wise, that’s what I want to do. As long as I’m doing that, I’ll continue with Flint Eastwood and if I feel like I’m not doing that, then I’ll either change the path and follow down something else, or I’ll do something that turns into something totally different. I think for me, creatively and career wise, it’s just the same goal, which is to help people. Everything’s kind of viewed through that lens.

TrunkSpace: Sometimes even when we’re surrounded by people, being human can feel very lonely. Often people will connect with a songwriter in a way that sort of helps them feel like they’re not alone in the world. Does the opposite work for you? Does having an audience connect with your music give you a sense of connection and community?
Anderson: Yeah, for sure. I think what initially drew me to music is just the sense of community that it brings. In every genre, music is just a common thread that kind of transcends any type of difference that you may have with anyone. I think that’s such a beautiful thing, and it’s something that I think is a very rare thing for human beings to experience. I think having a community around what I do is extremely important. I always thought it was awesome being able to follow a band and kind of be able to discover other bands and discover other things that I may like, just because I have that commonality of liking the same band as somebody else, and going to the show and meeting new friends. It’s really cool to be able to go to shows and kind of see repeated faces and see even new faces, and just see things that we have in common and be able to connect on just being human. It’s a really comforting feeling, especially whenever you’re on the road for a while. To be able to end a show and talk with people, and it feel like you’re all a family is a really comforting thing.

TrunkSpace: The most powerful music is always the most honest music, but does putting that much of yourself into something open you up to the sort of snap judgments of the social media age where everyone has a soapbox that they’re ready to stand on?
Anderson: Just me as an artist, I always want to be a beacon of hope and a beacon of positivity, ‘cause I do think that there’s a lot of negativity in the world. I think there are certain artists that it is so vital for them to have their platforms and be really vocal and use their platform for something that they feel like is good. For me, I feel like my soapbox is just positivity.

Yeah, I mean any time you put anything out there in the world, whether you’re going to school to be a teacher or going to school to be an artist, or you’re actually doing things – anytime you do anything that’s other than just sitting at home and being by yourself, you open yourself up to judgment. For me, I just don’t pay attention to that. I have way too much stuff to do and way too much stuff that I want to get done to ever pay attention to people that are being negative. I’m the type of person too that’s like, “Yeah, everybody’s allowed to have their opinions. I am not going to be for everybody, and that’s totally okay.”

TrunkSpace: Where did the inspiration come from to spread positivity through your music?
Anderson: For me, input equals output. If you’re putting positive things into your life, typically things are going to be a little bit more positive for you. Granted, there are different circumstances that people are going into, and things that people can’t really help. Everybody deals with pain or negativity in a different manner, but for me personally, I just feel like I spent so much of my life being sad that I finally just made the decision that I didn’t want to be sad anymore. I just kind of changed my perspective. I mean, it took a really long time – I say it as if it’s easy – but I made an intentional effort to take a look at the people around me and take a look at the things that I was putting into my life, and to base it all around this core value of being a beacon of hope and being a beacon of positivity, and spreading that to people around me and surrounding myself with those kind of people. Hopefully connecting people and helping them with whatever they’re going through because, you know, all of us have shit in life. All of us have gone through stuff and all of us have difficult times and if we can just admit that and admit that we have hard times and things aren’t easy, then it makes things a lot more relatable and it makes things a lot more easier to cope.

For me, I just want to let people know that it’s going to be okay, you know?

TrunkSpace: And that’s a great way to be, particularly in a world where there seems to be so much promotion of negativity. When you hear how your positive messages impact your listeners, does that keep you moving forward on this journey? Does your audience inspire you to continue on the Flint Eastwood path?
Anderson: Definitely. Music has been that for me in so many instances. The times that I was at my darkest, there were different records that just got me through. To be able to create that for other people as well is just something that’s… you hit it right on the head, it’s exactly what keeps me going. Granted I’m not saying that I’m this savior that comes in and changes everyone’s lives and blah, blah, blah, blah… what we were saying before, I’m not going to connect with everybody and not everybody’s going to fuck with what I do, but the people who do feel the things that I have felt and have gone through the things that I’ve gone through, I just want to be able to give that kind of empathy towards them and let them know that they’re not alone and let them know it’s going to be okay.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular reason that you spread that message as Flint Eastwood and not as Jax Anderson?
Anderson: Yeah, I wanted to give it a feel that it was more than just me. I wanted to give it a feel that it was more of a community and it was more of a group effort, because honestly, yes Flint Eastwood is just me, but there are so many friends and there’s so many people that are involved and behind the scenes and with the creation of everything that it’s crazy. I’m extremely grateful for the people that are around me and I kind of felt saying that it was just Jax Anderson wouldn’t be truthful.

Flint Eastwood’s latest EP, “Broke Royalty,” is available now from Neon Gold Records.

Visit here for tour dates.

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The Featured Presentation

Cooper Andrews


Whenever established shows attempt to introduce new characters well into the life of a series, generally it feels like sharks are being jumped. But when meeting new characters is ingrained in the very premise of a show, such as “The Walking Dead,” the audience is more accepting of a revolving door and even anticipates first-time faces, often while simultaneously having to say goodbye to longtime favorites.

Few characters in the history of “The Walking Dead” have brought synchronous smiles to the faces of the fandom more so than Jerry, King Ezekiel’s ax wielding, peace sign flashing right-hand man. Portrayed by Cooper Andrews with a jovial perfection, the affable resident of the Kingdom offers hope in a world where it, much like their resources, is becoming increasingly scarce.

Landing a memorable role in one of the most popular shows in all of television has a tendency to impact a career, and for Andrews, the after-effects have been no exception. Later this week the New York native will appear in the crime drama “Den of Thieves” opposite Gerard Butler and 50 Cent, and as it has been reported, he is set to star as Victor Vasquez in the highly anticipated “Shazam!,” due in theaters April 5, 2019.

We recently sat down with Andrews to discuss the fandom’s acceptance of Jerry, building a backstory for his undersized chest pad, and how he went full circle on “The Walking Dead,” from boom operator to star.

TrunkSpace: Not every job in the world has the power to change someone’s life, but we have to imagine that landing a role in “The Walking Dead” is one of those gigs where you can sort of feel the crackle in the air of things to come?
Andrews: Yes. Once I started on the show, I didn’t have a clue how people would respond to him (Jerry), but it’s been going well. I’ve been getting some cool opportunities from the show, just getting to go around the country and getting to go to other countries now. Just as an actor, working with all those performers, it gave me a confidence that I didn’t have as an actor before, I don’t think.

TrunkSpace: And from what we read, things moved pretty quickly. You auditioned, and then you knew within a couple of days that you were going to Georgia. Did the fact that it happened so quickly allow you to not overthink it?
Andrews: Yeah, pretty much. From me finding out to me leaving was just a few hours. I was with my friend shooting a fight sequence, and I got the phone call. I was sitting with all of this camera gear in a swimming pool. So yeah, I really didn’t have time to process it.

TrunkSpace: How soon did you feel the reach of “The Walking Dead” fandom and their acceptance of both Jerry as a character and you as a performer?
Andrews: The day after it aired I was already bumping into people who were like, “Hey, are you…” You know, with that kind of surprise, “Are you that guy?” But to the point where people just say my name now, that’s weird.

TrunkSpace: We mentioned this to Khary Payton recently as well, but with all of those from the Kingdom, the characters have made such a big impact, but in the grand scheme of things, you guys haven’t been around that long. For fans, it feels like folks like Jerry and King Ezekiel have been around for many seasons.
Andrews: And honestly when I was watching it, it does feel that way. I do a yearly binge of the show. I’m on Season 4 right now, and it was just one of those things where I’m like, “Man, I forgot how much I love this show.” I never forgot that, but with just how much story happens before we even get there, I’m like, “Wow, I feel like we’ve been on here forever, but it has not been that long.”

TrunkSpace: Jerry’s comic relief is often injected into the series at times where it feels like, as an audience, we need it. Do you feel like Jerry and other characters who offer those playful moments are important to the success of the series – a sort of balance of light and darkness?
Andrews: I don’t know how Jerry affects any of the series, but as far as I feel how I try to make him effective is, and I think when they gave me all the cool writing stuff, all these awesome one-liners, I think it’s important for people to remember that there is something other than fighting. And Jerry, I think, is a big part of that. He’s an optimist. For me, that’s an awesome thing to be on a show like that. And I think the other characters on the show kind of need that optimism. So yeah, I definitely think that the show needs it, too.

TrunkSpace: We know fans love to obsess about backstory, but one of the things that we love is that we can take a character like Jerry and try to read between the lines and dissect who he is and why he is. Like with Jerry’s affable nature, a part of that, for us, feels like perhaps it’s a bit of a coping mechanism for him in this new world. Maybe it’s how he gets through all of the darkness, by being the light.
Andrews: Yeah. I definitely feel that. I feel like Jerry’s whole goal is to move forward. And I had this… there’s this joke about me and the chest plate. I like Jerry not having a backstory. I like that idea, because Jerry is a very forward person. He thinks about the future. He thinks about what’s to come. But when I wear that chest pad, it’s so tight and so small that I always wonder, “Huh, I wonder if this was always my chest pad?” I’ve had that thought recently, or since Season 8 I’ve had that thought, I should say. I just always thought, maybe if there was a backstory, I wondered if there was a kid involved or something that he had, and he tried to set the example for his kid. But that’s just a thought. Maybe there’s nothing to do with it, and they just don’t make my size. (Laughter)

AMC – © 2017 AMC Film Holdings LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TrunkSpace: Another item that became synonymous with your character was the ax. In the episode “Some Guy,” you lose that item, which got us to wondering, from a performance standpoint, did you approach Jerry differently after that? As if, by losing the ax, it altered the way he carried himself?
Andrews: I played it like this… when Jerry loses the ax, and he’s like, “Shit balls,” I definitely had more of a, “It’s just an ax” mentality about it. The reason I was upset is that, “Oh, I kind of needed this weapon right now to go through all of these things. This stick might not handle it.” I think a very big thing about the Kingdom is that they’re all spirit. Even right now, everyone has run from the Kingdom, but they’re still the Kingdom. They don’t need the Kingdom to be the Kingdom. I don’t need my ax to be complete. It’s just an extension of what we can do. So that’s how I played it.

TrunkSpace: In that same “Some Guy” episode, there was this really great, powerful moment for your character that we felt you played perfectly. At some point, and we’re paraphrasing here, but you call Ezekiel, “Your Majesty” and he says, “You don’t need to call me that.” And you respond with, very seriously, “Yes, I do.” That was such a great moment for Jerry and the season as a whole because we suddenly saw the character’s vulnerable side.
Andrews: Yeah. Jerry’s very much clinging on to everything that he had at that moment. Like if there was one more thing that happens, I’m gonna freaking lose it. “Yes, I do have to call you that, like more than ever right now.” Yeah, that was… I love that line.

TrunkSpace: It’s an exciting time for you because not only are you dealing with all out war in “The Walking Dead,” but you also have a film due out this week called “Den of Thieves” and it was recently announced that you’ll be starring in “Shazam!,” which is due out next year. People are always talking about “overnight successes,” but nobody’s an overnight success. Most people are always working towards a goal.
Andrews: First off it’s fun, but it’s one of those things where I’m like, “Huh, is this my life now? Is this what’s happening, or is this just a moment?” So I try not to get my head into that space too much because then I’m afraid I’ll try to give myself an expectation. But I do set goals for myself every year film-wise, working in the industry-wise. It’s always silly things. Last year my New Year’s resolution was to be in a movie. And then like four days later I was cast in “Den of Thieves,” and I was like, “Oh, sweet.”

TrunkSpace: (Laughter) It’s good to get those resolutions out of the way very early.
Andrews: (Laughter) Yeah. I was wanting to clear it.

TrunkSpace: And not only did “Den of Thieves” help you achieve that resolution, but it must have been a great experience because that cast is stacked.
Andrews: It was such a great experience. I love movies because we can really take our time to just focus on doing like two or three pages a day. When we’re shooting the show, we’re shooting maybe eight and nine pages a day and going through it quickly. We all put our best in, but we have to keep to a schedule, so it’s like we don’t get to take that extra time that a film gets to.

TrunkSpace: When we started our chat we talked about what a game changer “The Walking Dead” was, but fast forward about a year from now and “Shazam!” could change things for you again in a single opening day weekend.
Andrews: The biggest thing I’m excited about is, I’m a DC guy over Marvel. I was raised on Superman, reading his comics for like over a decade. I knew about Shazam, but I didn’t know the details about everything. I always read when he crossed over into Superman’s world or things like “Kingdom Come,” but the idea of Shazam I thought was always incredible. Just his honesty, just his pureness to be given the ability to shape the world, in a sense, is exciting. Getting to play this character is gonna be a lot of fun.

TrunkSpace: And I think a lot of the comic-loving population feels the same way you do. We knew of Shazam as a character, but we didn’t know every single detail about him, which may actually lead to the film being one of DC’s biggest cinematic successes… much like “Guardians of the Galaxy” was for Marvel.
Andrews: Oh for sure. I don’t know if you remember, but back when “Batman Begins” came out, everyone was like, “Michael Keaton is Batman! Michael Keaton is Batman! There was no other Batman!” I love Michael Keaton, don’t get me wrong. I loved it. But I was like, “I could see a new Batman.” And then Christian Bale happened. And then it was so funny because when Ben Affleck was announced, I then was reading, “Christian Bale is the only real Batman!” (Laughter) It’s just funny how that works.

With Shazam, there isn’t gonna be, “This is the only true Shazam!”

TrunkSpace: Maybe in 20 years from now people will be like, “This is not Victor Vasquez! Cooper Andrews is the only Victor Vasquez!” And it will come full circle!
Andrews: (Laughter) Yes!

I had an awesome full circle moment on that last episode of “The Walking Dead” that we did. So two or three years ago, Season 5, I was doing second unit boom operating. And so that means we do a section of a scene from this episode, then a section of a scene from another episode, throughout the season, because they’re just trying to cover everything. And there’s this scene where Andy Lincoln is behind the wheel of this car. I’m on the radio with my mixer, and I’m like, “All right, I’m just gonna get perspective from the camera side. I don’t think anything’s happening here.” And then Andy just starts yelling in the car. He’s like, “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” I was like. “Whoa. Okay. I’m gonna move the microphone inside the car, and we’re gonna see what happens.” I put the mic in and then I hear, “And action.” And it goes quiet. And then nothing. And then I hear, “And cut.” And I was like, “I don’t know what just happened, but we got whatever that was.”

And it was him just yelling at himself to get into that moment, because it’s hard when you do these pickup shots. You have to get your head in there quick, and you can’t do like two pages of dialogue to build up an emotion, so he just yells it out. And with this last episode that aired, when you see me in the car at the beginning, I did that same exact thing like 50 yards away from when he originally did it – the same exact shot. It was the camera outside the car looking in, and it was just on my face and me having to go intense. And I was thinking, “Man, what do I… Oh, yeah!” And I just did it. And I was like, “This happened, full circle, 50 yards away.”

Den of Thieves” arrives in theaters this Friday.

The Walking Dead” returns February 25 on AMC.

Shazam!” is is due in theaters April 5, 2019.

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The Featured Presentation

Stella Maeve



With its third season winding down and a fourth recently announced, “The Magicians” continues to be a surprise hit for both SyFy and its stars. Stella Maeve, who portrays Julia in the pull-few-punches fantasy, admits she never goes into a project expecting it to be a success, and while she read the Lev Grossman books that the series is based on and found them entertaining, her motivation comes from the work and not the end result. If there is an experience to be had – a place to grow from personally and/or professionally – then that is where you will find her. Thankfully for fans, she saw that in “The Magicians.”

We recently sat down with Maeve to discuss life imitating art, applying character arcs to reality, and gaining knowledge while applying it.

TrunkSpace: How has being involved in “The Magicians” impacted your life the most?
Maeve: It’s funny how art can imitate life and life imitates art, and it’s interesting in retrospect to sort of see where you’re at, as in the individuals themselves, and how you can learn from whatever it is you’re going through or take from your experiences within your life and bring the attributes to the work to make it more realistic. It’s funny how I’ll look back and be like, “Wow, that’s wild that that happened at that time when I was portraying Julia as a character.” A lot of it is just mirror images, which is cool. I think you learn a lot about yourself. As a human being, I always wanna grow and I’m constantly changing. I just wanna get better, so it’s nice to sort of get to learn through your character’s mistakes. And then also, to me, Stella as a human, learn through my mistakes and then try to do it differently either within the show or within my personal life, which is great.

TrunkSpace: That must really come into play when you’re able to spend so much time with a single character. Getting to see your character grow while you yourself are growing must be a trippy experience at times.
Maeve: It is trippy. It is bizarre. But I think the goal is to evolve, right? In life and on the screen. What else is the point to sort of watch these characters’ journeys? In the book, it’s almost like they’re stunted and you sort of see periods of sporadic growth but no significant changes. Quentin throughout may remain on the same note, or Julia may come back to the same note, but when you format this stuff to television, you want to take people along for this ride, and you want to show them that they’re invested in something that is going to grow and change. Just like us as people, we want to grow and change. I mean I would hope, for the better of mankind that we all want to be better and grow and change.

So, I think the goal is to constantly have these characters evolving, and constantly strive to be better and change. And we’ll watch them mess up just like we do in life, and then we’ll watch them pick themselves back up. But, hopefully, in the end, it’s worth it, and we make it worth it for the viewers and I guess for ourselves, as well, to sort of have that impact, and show that people can evolve and people can change, and really, as humans, can constantly grow.

TrunkSpace: Do you ever look at your own life and think in terms of a character arc? “What was my arc during this period of my life?”
Maeve: Oh yeah, totally. Gosh, I’m trying to think of a specific example, but I can’t. There’s so many times that it’s happened that it’s on a parallel or it’s simultaneous, or it’s just kismet and wild and you’re like, “What!” I can’t just pick one, but absolutely. And it’s also hard too because sometimes the way that they write for these characters, they haven’t learned the lesson that I myself, Stella, have learned. So it’s sort of like, “Oh no, I wished that she had gotten past it.” I mean, it gets frustrating, right? You’re like, “Well, I, Stella, know that this isn’t right,” or, “I know this can be done differently, but Julia doesn’t know it yet,” and then vice versa as well. But I think it’s all sort of subconscious and it all comes in retrospect because in the moment you’re so in it that it’s hard to unveil it. With Julia the character, I just try to have patience, like I do with myself. Sometimes it gets frustrating, and sometimes you have to run into the brick wall a million times before you sort of see why you’re doing it or are able to correct the changes. But that’s what life is. Nobody gets it on the first try. Nobody’s perfect all the time. And I think that’s why people can relate to this show so much, and to Julia, because bad things happen to good people, and life isn’t fair, and we are faced with traumas and issues constantly. To have the belief that everything is great all the time is not reality. Things are gonna get ugly, things are gonna get uncomfortable, and it’s just about how we navigate our way through it, to get to the other side.

TrunkSpace: Do you think that characters come into your life for a reason, much like the way people do? Did Julia come along at a certain time where it felt like she was there for a reason?
Maeve: Gosh, I wish I had the answer to that. I ask my mom that. (Laughter) I constantly ask myself the question, “Is it all random and chaotic, or is there the divine? Does everything happen for a reason?” I believe personally it’s a little bit of both. I believe that a lot of it is random and chaotic and coincidental, but not for no reason, because then what would be the fun of life? You’ve got to believe that there is some sort of divine intervention, that there’s some sort of kismet and magic, for lack of a better term, to our existence and why things happen when they do.

THE MAGICIANS — Pictured: Stella Maeve as Julia — (Photo by: Eike Schroter/Syfy)

TrunkSpace: Julia has had some really rough, dramatic moments throughout the series. From a performance standpoint, creatively does that have you longing for the lighter moments within the series, or even lighter work outside of the series itself?
Maeve: It’s always nice to have your hands in a few different pockets. I just want to have as many experiences in this life and maximize as much as I can out of it before it’s gone. So, I love getting to play all types of characters. And I’ve totally loved and enjoyed getting to play Julia as well. It’s nice to get to be somebody else and try on another skin. And Julia has been that and there are going to be other roles that would be totally different archetypes, and I love that. I love the variety. I think it’s great to try everything. When are you ever gonna get to be like, I don’t know, a Texas hooker? Or when are you ever going to be given the opportunity to play one of the most glamorous zurich escorts? When are you ever going to get to see these different walks of life and sort of apply your knowledge to it, and then also gain tons of knowledge from it? You’re getting to totally get involved and invested in a part or a walk of life that you would never normally and while also educating yourself and trying to understand. Acting is essentially the study of people, so in the grand scheme of things, it’s the way to connect us. It’s a way to have empathy and understanding and a way for us as people to unite and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Because, you know, people can relate through work. People come together through it, people watch it, people see it. I like it as a metaphor in that sense.

TrunkSpace: Well, people see it as entertainment, but there really is a psychological aspect to being able to plug into a show or movie and unplug from your own life.
Maeve: Totally, and it’s therapeutic as well, because people can put on your show or your movie, or whatever it is you’re doing, and they might use it as a form of escapism in their daily life, because they don’t want to deal with what they’re going through. Or it could be used for the total opposite, to be able to relate to something, to be able to say, “Oh my gosh, I went through that. I totally understand that. Wow, that’s my story.” So, in its own way, I think a form of therapy.

TrunkSpace: In terms of the popularity of “The Magicians,” did that take some getting used to for you? Did it take you by surprise?
Maeve: I think it was definitely shocking at first, because I didn’t know that it was going to be such a success. You never know with this stuff, what’s going to take and what’s not going to take. And yeah, I was definitely shocked at the fact that people loved it so much because you just never know. But I read the books, and I thought they were great, and the response has been… it’s been crazy, and in a great, beautiful way. People really love it.

TrunkSpace: Not banking on the success of a project before it’s a success is probably a good defense mechanism as well?
Maeve: Yeah, I never take on something because of how I think it’s going to do. As an artist, I pick out a role that speaks to me – or a script, or a director, or anything in particular. And if it’s something that I think is interesting and a great piece of art that I want to be involved with, that’s what I go with. There’s a little bit of selfishness in that, but it’s awesome because you get to create with others and make something that is bigger than yourself, so then therein lies the non selfish aspect of it, but also you’re getting a high out of it as well.

I’ve never done it for money. I’ve never done it for the success. I never even worried about if anyone else was gonna like it. I just always was like, “Does this speak to me? Is this something that I find fascinating? Who are the people that are involved? How is this carved out? What are the archetypes? What is this that we’re getting involved with?” Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, and it’s sort of irrelevant how it comes out. It’s more of just walking away and saying that you got to be a part of something that was fantastic. I’ve had films that never even got shown, but it didn’t matter because it’s the experience of getting to make them that really counts.

The Magicians” airs Wednesdays on SyFy.

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Listen Up

Joey Dosik

Photo By: GL Askew II

Music has many functions. People listen for different reasons. Some bind songs to memories. Others use them as outlets of emotional deliverance. For singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joey Dosik, his own journey with music became a form of therapy.

While recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, Dosik found a balance between physical healing and expressive restoration. Marrying his love for music to the pastime he’s most passionate about, basketball, the concept EP “Game Winner” was born. Recently re-released on Secretly Canadian and featuring four bonus tracks, the mini-album serves as a harbinger of the full-length he’s currently working on, one we’re eagerly looking forward to.

We recently sat down with Dosik to find common basketball ground, what it’s like promoting “Game Winner” a second time around, and why you can hear a little bit of every genre in the music you listen to these days.

TrunkSpace: You’re a big Lakers fan. Full disclosure, we’re Boston guys.
Dosik: (Laughter) Right on. That’s cool. That’s fine. You know, I used to date a girl who is from New England and I remember finding her green Celtics’ Starter jacket in the closet one day and just being terrified at the sight of it.

TrunkSpace: You heard the record scratch to a halt in your mind?
Dosik: (Laughter) Completely. I’ve got respect for Boston fans though. Boston fans are great.

TrunkSpace: When fans of two rival teams are in the same room, there needs to be a “love the game” policy taken.
Dosik: Exactly. That’s a good policy.

TrunkSpace: We just discovered “Game Winner” a few weeks ago, but for you it’s been a part of your life for some time now. Even with the re-release, do you feel like a creatively different person now than when you put that together?
Dosik: Absolutely. The EP sort of represents a moment in time that was vulnerable for me because I made it while I was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and there’s something about that time that was… the EP sort of froze that moment forever for me. I’m a different person since then and I’m excited for some of the music that I’ll be getting out. I’m kind of finishing a full-length record here. But, yeah, I mean, you know, it was a moment in time where I tried to make the best of a tough situation and I’m so thankful for it because it allowed me to bring the thing that I love as much as music, which is basketball, kind of into my creative fold and it’s been a blessing for me.

TrunkSpace: How do you go about getting into the mindset to promote the record all over again as you’ve already creatively moved on from it?
Dosik: Well, I spent a lot of time thinking about songwriting, and in songwriting I always try and see if there’s a way that I can make the songs sort of… what’s the right word… make the songs a bit adjustable to different situation. So, with a song like “Game Winner,” or a song like “Running Away,” or “Competitive Streak,” I feel like I can do the songs in a lot of different ways. I can do them with a full band. I can do them myself. I could do them in a broken down setting. I played “Game Winner” at the Garden last year. I can play it just me and a piano.

So, the crazy thing about songs is that sometimes you write them and you say, “Okay, cool. Here’s this weird basketball love song.” But now looking back on what it is that I did, I realize that it really was a sort of music therapy and the song continues to bring different meaning to me in my own life as I get older. And the cool thing about “Game Winner” is that they’re going to just keep happening. I mean, we just saw last night how the women’s American hockey team shot a game winner in overtime. So, it’s kind of that, hopefully, songs can be the gifts that keep on giving.

TrunkSpace: And the beauty of songs is that they can mean different things to different people. Five people could sit down and listen to “Game Winner” and each one of them could pull something different from it.
Dosik: Right on. Yeah, that’s the kind of thing that really excites me, man. The fact that that’s happening just kind of makes it all worth while – all the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into making a record.

TrunkSpace: So on something like your new full-length, do you have more creative freedom than you did on “Game Winner” because that was specifically a concept album? Is there more open space to create?
Dosik: Definitely. Limitation can be oddly freeing, but the album that I’m working on is not just basketball related.

TrunkSpace: Do you consciously add multi-layered meanings into your music or do you just write what’s honest to you as a songwriter and then let people find in them what they may?
Dosik: I’ve heard a lot of songwriters say that once you write and perform it and release it, the song is no longer yours, and I kind of see both sides of the coin. It’ll always be mine because it came out of my brain, and like I said, the songs do kind of mean different things to me as I get older and go through different life experiences and continue to perform them, but, yeah, I’m more than happy to hand the songs off to listeners and let them find their own meaning in their own lives. That kind of stuff always excites me.

TrunkSpace: You play multiple instruments. We know there are probably multiple ways that you go about creating new songs, but is there one instrument in particular that usually serves as the launching pad for the earliest nuggets of songs?
Dosik: It could be a lot of different things. Usually it’s chords from the piano or a melody from my voice, or just words. It’s also fun to write to a drum beat. It’s also fun to write to a bass line. I think piano being my first instrument, and the voice kind of being so close to my body, I think those are the things that usually first inspire me.

Photo By: GL Askew II

TrunkSpace: You play the saxophone. We are lovers of all things ‘80s saxophone solos here and think we need more of them like Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back.” Have you ever written a pop song specifically for the saxophone?
Dosik: When I was a jazz obsessed saxophone player I wrote many songs for the saxophone, but they weren’t pop songs. My family, every time they come to see one of my shows or when they listen to a track that I’ve made, they always say, “You know, you should really take out the saxophone again.” And so I’m getting the full-court press from the family to try and come up with it, and I would love to figure that one out. So, hopefully that’s next on the docket.

TrunkSpace: You’ve mastered many instruments, but are there any that you’d still like to take up and add to your repertoire?
Dosik: I don’t know if I’d call myself a master at any instrument. I can definitely play them and I still really desire to get better at all of the instruments that I play. I guess the one that I think about a lot right now is drums. I’ve played drums on recordings of mine but it’s an amazing instrument. It’s really just a bunch of instruments combined into one and I really enjoy recording them and getting sounds out of them. So, I guess drums is one that I’m thinking about a lot.

TrunkSpace: You’ve written and performed in many genres. As you look forward in your career, are you hoping to continue to expand your creative horizons and write without musical margins? Are you an artist who is willing to go anywhere creatively?
Dosik: Yeah. I feel like genres are just there for record stores and are there for people to write about it, honestly. There will never be a substitute for actually hearing music. It’s also a way that we communicate with others about what it is that we’re hearing, but I think the interesting thing about music nowadays is that everything is so boxed in so whenever you hear something it’s usually a combination of at least three genres of music. Nothing is necessarily that clear cut anymore. When you listen to pop music you’re hearing so many different types of music. So, yeah, I hope to continue to evolve and explore all things that inspire me.

Game Winner” is available now from Secretly Canadian.

Joey Dosik tour dates can be found here.

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The Featured Presentation

Hartley Sawyer

Photo By: Storm Santos

It’s been one year since Hartley Sawyer joined the cast of “The Flash,” and what a year it’s been.

Taking on the over-the-top personality of Ralph Dibny, aka Elongated Man, would stretch any performer, but for this lifelong comic book reader, settling into the part meant showing the iconic DC character’s heart, and judging by the fandom’s response, he’s bending him in the right direction.

We recently sat down with Sawyer to discuss humanizing Ralph, the joy he gets in interacting with the fans, and why a Gingold on the rocks is in order this Halloween.

TrunkSpace: “The Flash” has a passionate and very loyal fandom. How soon after signing on to play Ralph Dibny did you feel the reach of that fandom and in what ways has it touched your life?
Sawyer: It was almost immediately. In the weeks leading up to the airing of Ralph’s debut episode, I remember the shoots around the city of Vancouver. These were often at night, many times into the wee hours of the morning. Will never forget the first time I saw the crowd of fans behind police barricades, cheering and calling out whenever they got a glimpse of one of the cast. The fandom is a wonderful group of people, and my interaction with them has been an honor and a joy.

TrunkSpace: Ralph is a very popular character in the DC Universe. Did you feel any pressure stepping into his stretchy shoes and how long was it before you felt ownership in him, at least as far as the series is concerned?
Sawyer: I felt the pressure to do Ralph justice, and to bring him to life in live action. I’m a lifelong comic book fan. I know what it’s like to have extremely strong opinions on an actor being cast as a particular character. I was aware of that pressure, but it didn’t overtake me in any way. The writers, as usual, did a brilliant job with Ralph’s first episode. And with Tom Cavanagh at the helm, by the end of Day 1 I felt like I had an understanding of Ralph that was deeper than I expected. This only progressed as we worked our way through Ralph’s arc in season four.

TrunkSpace: Throughout your journey in discovering who Ralph is, did you tap into any of the vast source material that exists in the comic books?
Sawyer: I didn’t get into it too much. I didn’t want to fixate on anything and feel like I had to play something a certain way, or avoid something because it had been on the comic book pages. I was aware of “Identity Crisis” and had read that some time ago. That was helpful to me in the sense that from the first moment I knew the depth of caring and emotion that Ralph as a character is capable of. It’s shrouded in his sarcasm and his sense of humor, but that is always there.

TrunkSpace: What has the long-term character journey been like for you, getting to see him grow and develop between Season 4 and Season 5?
Sawyer: It’s been great. One of my goals was always to humanize him whenever possible. He’s always going to be a bit of a walking Tex Avery cartoon, but when that “mask” is taken away, we get the Ralph he really is – the one that Sue comes to know and love in the comics. Barry Allen was Ralph’s mirror in Season 4, reminding him of who he really is. He’s all heart.

TrunkSpace: We get to see a lot more of the detective side of Ralph this season, which is a part of his persona that the readers of the comic always enjoyed. How has it been exploring that side of things and having a different focus this year?
Sawyer: We’ve done some of it, and there is a lot more to come. Tom’s new Wells, Sherloque, plays into that quite a bit. The detective side of Ralph is easily one of the parts of him I enjoy the most.

TrunkSpace: How has appearing on the show impacted your career the most? Has getting the opportunity to play Elongated Man opened up new doors that weren’t available prior to slipping into his elongated skin?
Sawyer: It’s a great role on a great show. It’s sheer joy for me and I’m very lucky. It’s rare in acting to get a great role on a show that has fans this passionate and this wonderful. I’m loving the ride.

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Hartley Sawyer as Dibney and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon — Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved

TrunkSpace: Your first episode premiered on Halloween night of last year. Any plans to celebrate your first Flasherversary this October 31?
Sawyer: I haven’t thought about it much. But now that you mention it, a Gingold on the rocks might be in order…

TrunkSpace: What would 10-year-old Hartley say if he was told he’d be playing a superhero some day?
Sawyer: “Is it Batman?”

TrunkSpace: We’re Boston based, and we know you spent some time in Beantown while at Emerson College. How did the city help shape your artistic focus and game plan? Did it influence you at all?
Sawyer: In hindsight, Boston was really my warm up for Los Angeles. It was the first time I was away from home and “on my own.” I found many things in that city. I met some of my closest friends during my time in Boston.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a writer. With your current focus on “The Flash,” are you able to pursue that side of yourself right now, and ultimately, do you hope that the two avenues converge more in the future so that you’re balancing both sides of your industry interests?
Sawyer: I’m working on some things I’m really excited about. It is a goal of mine to have those two avenues converge more in the future. But I’m in no rush.

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? (And a bonus question, how would Ralph Dibny answer that?)
Sawyer: I would not take that journey. I don’t even watch movie trailers anymore – too much is given away. Ralph wouldn’t take that journey either. Time travel is a very delicate and dangerous thing. Just ask Barry Allen.

The Flash” airs Tuesdays on The CW.

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