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June 2019

Opening Act

Alias Patrick Kelly

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Artist: Alias Patrick Kelly

Socials: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

TrunkSpace: You recently released your new EP, An Unclaimed Inheritance.For you, as an artist, what is the journey like in bringing something like this to life and releasing it out into the world? Does it require a bit of personal unplugging from the music at some point in order to let the universe take control?
Kelly: I’d say that curiosity is the first thing at least as far as the writing goes. In that way it’s a completely selfish act. The first and only person that I’m looking to satisfy is myself. I REALLY enjoy writing songs. I want to know what’s rattling around in my head. I want to see how far a moment of inspiration can go. Can I see it through to becoming a “complete” idea? Will it have a sense of balance? Does it have enough restraint to allow the listener to draw their own conclusion? There’s a lot of “wonder” in the act itself. Ninety-five percent of what I write begins on an acoustic guitar but I’ve got a Logic Pro set up at the house which really helps bring the songs to life. I’ll usually demo the acoustic and the vocal to a click. Then the really exciting part begins. I’ll program drum parts in Ultrabeat and then start finding melodies and electric guitar sounds. It’s about 50/50 as far as knowing what I want and just playing around with sounds and ideas to find out “what the song wants.” I love the accidents and discoveries that happen along the way. If I find something unexpected that gives me goosebumps or just trips me out then that’s usually the part I keep. Again, it goes back to a sense of wonder, curiosity, and play. After demoing I’ll take the songs into an actual studio and cut everything “for real.” Demoing at home as thoroughly as I do saves so much time in the studio. Not just mine but everybody involved in the recording. On this EP I did most of the studio work with a band as opposed to my last album which was done with my drummer Mike Froedge and then me playing 90 percent of all the other stuff. The end result paid off in quality, feel, and time management. My guitarist, Matt Hanson, took my melody sketches and finessed them into something more lyrical especially on songs like “Invisible” and “West.” Bruce Butkovich (also my co-Producer) put his own swagger on the bass parts I had initially sketched. I enjoy both ways of working but it’s always better when you’re in good company.

To answer your second question – yeah, after writing, recording, mixing, and mastering I unplug from the musical aspects of the EP. Time to dream up a title and a cover. Do I just release it on Bandcamp or do I try to push it further out into the world career wise? Does it make sense for a guy at my level to make a music video? Should I make two videos? It’s the unsexy part of the process but it’s been enormously insightful learning about the best ways to get the release into people’s hands, whether it’s to get it reviewed or simply heard. However, while all of this is being planned and arranged I still make time to sit down with my acoustic and write more. It’s what I enjoy the most.

TrunkSpace: You infuse the songs on the EP with a lot of emotion. Does music act a bit like therapy for you throughout the creative process or are you on the outside looking in and taking more of a storytellers approach?
Kelly: There’s definitely both but it’s probably 80 percent therapy. It’s the main reason I pick up my guitar up at all. It doesn’t matter if I’m actively working on a song or simply playing for the enjoyment of it – I do it to feel better. To my wife, it’s probably most noticeable in the morning. If I can wake up before everybody and take my guitar outside and play for an hour or two, my attitude is much more manageable for everyone, including myself. If I wake up to an alarm and just hit the ground running and don’t stop until bedtime then I end up feeling like I wasted my entire day no matter how many chores/errands I got done or how much money I made at the day job. A day without any creative alone time to me is always a bit overcast.

As far as the storyteller approach, there’s always a bit of me and my experience rolling around in there. For example, “Lamb” is a fictional story about a young man who grew up without a father and ends up in jail as a result of no one having been there to help raise him into a man. Even though it’s fiction the song is a result of my own “anxiety” due to the fact that I had just become a step father to a little girl who doesn’t know her bio-dad. That song is probably my sub-conscious telling me, “Don’t screw her up. She needs you. Be there and be present for her.” Creating a fiction loaded with facts is always more interesting than just the plain facts. It has the potential to become something more mythical than simply historical. For entertainment purposes, mythical is always better.

TrunkSpace: You have mentioned that at times the idea for a song more or less drops into your lap and that it can feel a bit like youre not the one doing the writing. Are you someone who can shut off the creative brain or do you find that youre always playing around with ideas, even on a subconscious level?
Kelly: I’m always working on things sub-consciously. Tucking away little ideas comes in handy later when the actual “moment” arrives. It leaves them readily available to draw from. It’s like cache memory in a computer. I don’t know if it’s a skill or an instinct but it’s definitely there in me. Songs and ideas seem to have more purpose and depth when they’ve been sitting around in the back of my mind simmering for awhile. Often I don’t even realize that my brain is putting things together and then all of a sudden along comes a trigger – chord progression, melody, conversation, etc – then the next thing I know is I’m having that “eureka” moment of inception. That’s typically what I’m looking for. When I first started to attempt songwriting I didn’t really have moments like that. I didn’t know how to access it or how to nurture it but over time I figured it out and discovered what works for me. It took patience and work, I had to earn it. I respect those “eureka” moments. I don’t have to finish the song right then and there (although I always try to), but as long as I have the foundation of what the song needs to be I can come back and hammer out the details later if necessary. That part is work but I enjoy it as well.

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to An Unclaimed Inheritancein its entirety?
Kelly: Sincerity – first and foremost. I want the listener to know that I mean it and that I’m invested. I’m a writer not because I want to entertain, I’m a writer because I want to learn and understand my experiences as a human. It’s how I figure out how to proceed with my own life whether I’m doing it through a character or blatantly and out in the open.

TrunkSpace: Our influences always find their way into our work. Sometimes its subtle and unplanned, and other times its more obvious and purposeful. As you listen back to the songs that you have created on the EP, where do you hear your musical influences trickling through?
Kelly: For me they usually come out subtly. I’m a big fan of John Frusciante’s work as a solo artist as well as his work with the Chili Peppers. Every now and then I’ll find myself approaching a lead guitar melody the way that he might. It’s probably most evident on the songs “Lamb” and “West.” I played bass on a few songs on the EP and really tried to give them their own melodic space separate from the main melodies that are out in front. I’m pretty sure I picked that up from Eric Avery (Jane’s Addiction) and Simon Gallup (The Cure). “Old Boy” and “Tallest of Trees” would be the best examples. I like how Maynard from Tool will utilize humor to make some sort of cuttingly profound point in a song. There’s a bit of that in the second verse of “Gasoline.” Other than things like that I’d say my influences are more between the lines. I want my songs to be “me” more than obviously influenced by someone else. If the influences start to become too obvious I try my best to hide them. I want to stand on my own.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with An Unclaimed Inheritanceand how it all came together in the end?
Kelly: I’m proud of all of it but the thing I’m most proud of is when I let go of the wheel and trusted others to execute something that I would’ve normally done myself. As I mentioned earlier, I played almost everything on my previous album “Corruptibility Index” by myself except the drums and a couple of other instruments. My decision to record most of the EP in a band environment was because I wanted to do it quicker than the last album. Recording takes time away from my family and I wanted to minimize that by getting a lot of the basic tracks in one take. We had rehearsed pretty thoroughly beforehand whether it was one-on-one or as a group. My guys nailed it!

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day when music is not a part of your everyday life? How important is it to who you are as a person, never mind as an artist?
Kelly: Nope. I love it. Totally have to have it in my life. It’s just always been there whether it was watching my parents singing duets at church or “The Partridge Family” coming on TV when I was a kid. My first memories are of me singing in the car with my father. I remember him trying to show me the difference between the different vocal harmonies going on. I still like to just sit around and listen to music alone. Not just songs but entire albums. I’m an album guy for sure. It’s always been soothing or simply fascinating to me.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Kelly: Time management. I have a family, a full time job, an erratic part time job, and I play bass guitar in another band. I don’t always carve out as much time as I should to write or practice. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If too much time goes by without actually playing or writing music alone I usually end up feeling pretty low until I get that guitar back in my hands. It’s in those times that I can turn into a grouch and a bit of a prick.

TrunkSpace: The video for your single Invisibleis racking up the views. Is bringing a visual element to a piece of music something you enjoy? Are you able to appease a different part of your creative brain in expanding on the narrative like that?
Kelly: As long as there is a purpose to the visual then ‘yes.’ “Invisible” is a song that was just begging for a video. I felt that something visual to accompany that song would make the message clearer. I’d never made one before so I was definitely nervous. My friend Jim Johnson directed it. He’d done some work on commercials, short films but I think this was the first thing he ever really led. It was great though, you could tell he was ready to “level up.” He had that confidence and enthusiasm. He really believed in the song. Originally, he was going to charge me for the video which I had agreed to but after I sent him the song and the lyric sheet he called me back and said that he’d do it for nothing. There are people in his life dealing with post combat PTSD. I think that he really wanted to do it for them. He and the producer, Jaime Spaar, found the lead actor, Adam Bresler. I’m good enough in the video whenever I show up but Bresler is the one that really ‘sells’ it. It’s his show. He was an Army Medic for a long time who saw combat. He’s lived everything that “Invisible” is about. It’s very generous of him to go on camera and ‘re-open’ that place inside of him where he keeps all of those memories. He’s very proactive in his recovery and I think that making this video has been cathartic for him. Not just for his own sake but because he can share the video with others who are going thru it. In fact, he’s more responsible for the views it’s getting than I am. He’s really proud of it.

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?
Kelly: Absolutely. Forward is the only way. I always want to know what comes next.

An Unclaimed Inheritance” is available now.

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Wingman Wednesday

Burl Moseley

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If Burl Moseley ever wants to explore a career beyond acting, motivational speaking may be a seamless transition. The “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star is confident in both himself and his abilities, projecting that self-assurance onto others in a way that helps to build them up as opposed to knock them down. And unlike many creatives, he doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on himself, especially in the casting room, preferring to go in with a clear head and deliver an audition that is tension-free.

A great teacher of mine once said that the world will beat you up plenty so you must not do it to yourself,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “So, I don’t.”

We recently sat down with Moseley to discuss the impact of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” performing at Radio City Music Hall, and the correlation between martial arts and acting.

TrunkSpace: You have been working on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” since 2015. Where has your life and career been impacted the most by joining the series?
Moseley: Oh, wow… on the life side, the cast, we all became a total family. I can’t tell you how much joy has been a direct result of just knowing each and every single one of these uber-talented people! We get together for dinners and go to amusement parks… it’s just wonderful. On the career side, the show has opened up quite a few doors that were previously closed to me. This past pilot season was my best one yet!

TrunkSpace: You have spent nearly 20 episodes portraying Jim Kittsworth on the show. As an actor, what are some of the benefits of getting to spend such a long time with one character?
Moseley: I really got to know the character inside and out. The timing of Jim’s reactions and responses was something that I always had fun exploring, within the framework of any given scene. Another benefit is that memorization is a breeze because I’d often read a script and go, “Of course Jim would say that! Haha!”

TrunkSpace: How has the character grown and developed since you first read for him all of those years ago? What has surprised you the most about your journey getting to play Jim given what you knew then and what you know now?
Moseley: Jim initially started as an antagonist on the series and grew to be much more of a friend. Given his beginnings, I was quite surprised to see him go from teasing Rebecca and Paula in say the first season, to employing Rebecca and being a sometime co-conspirator with Paula by Season 4. Watching earlier seasons is such a blast because I forgot what a jerk he used to be!

TrunkSpace: Fans of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are very passionate about the show and its characters. In your opinion, what is it about the series that has turned viewers into long-lasting fans? Is it the writing? The tone? The characters? Something else entirely?
Moseley: I think it’s all of the above. The “something else” being how candidly the show talks about mental illness. The show does a fantastic job of discussing the topic without shame or prejudice, and really helps remove the stigma that’s usually associated with talking about mental health.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of about your time spent on the series?
Moseley: (Laughter) Definitely the song “Don’t Be A Lawyer.” It was a beast and I feel like the entire team just knocked it out of the park. Also, after the series wrapped, I got to perform the song live in front of 6,000 screaming fans each night at Radio City Music Hall this past spring – a banner moment that I’ll never forget.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been training in martial arts for years. What are some of the lessons you learned in the dojo that can be applied to a career as an actor? Are there any parallels to the two journeys?
Moseley: Ooh… that’s an interesting question that I wasn’t expecting! I see you, TrunkSpace!! Well, I think the best lesson is also the first lesson that you learn in any martial art – diffuse the situation. The most direct parallel I feel starts in the casting room. Some actors I’ve spoken to feel great pressure in these rooms. Pressure to impress and so forth. But, I feel if one can sort of release that feeling and understand that casting usually only wants the best for you and the project, the tension leaves the room.

TrunkSpace: Beyond the dojo, what is a piece of advice that you have received over the course of your career that you have carried with you moving forward, and possibly, passed along to others at some point?
Moseley: Know your worth. Give yourself a raise. I once ran into the actor Mykelti Williamson at the Parker Hotel in New York City and that was the advice that he gave to me. I’ve been passing it along ever since. Also, something that I personally espouse is to have a hobby! Don’t let acting (or any job in the entertainment sector) be the sole focus. Take a break and recharge by doing something enjoyable that has nothing to do with the business.

TrunkSpace: Creative people, particularly those who seek perfection from themselves, can be very hard on their own work. Where are you hardest on yourself?
Moseley: I’m not. A great teacher of mine once said that the world will beat you up plenty so you must not do it to yourself. So, I don’t.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Moseley: Radio City Music Hall, without a doubt.

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?
Moseley: To quote Doc Brown from the movie “Back to the Future,” “Please, Marty! Nobody should know too much about their own destiny!!” So, nah, I’ll take a pass on that time machine. Buuut, then again, Doc DOES end up reading the note in the end and it saves his life, so… maybe just a quick little peek.

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Musical Mondaze

States & Capitals

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For Richie Arthur, who grew up on a steady musical diet of everything from John Mayer to Guns N’ Roses, maintaining a sound that was distinct to his own while paying homage to his influences was very important. For his new project States & Capitals, which is set to drop its debut album “The Feelings LP” on August 2, he labored over what that meant sonically until he had an artistic epiphany.

At first I thought it was something you had to work on, but I definitely found, over time, you’ve just got to make music,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Just go out and do it and it’ll all come as you go.”

We recently sat down with Arthur to discuss wearing multiple hats in the studio, tinkering with songs, and why he hopes listeners will feel everything he felt when writing “The Feelings LP.”

TrunkSpace: Your debut album, “The Feelings LP,” is due out August 2. What kind of emotions are you juggling with as you lead up to its release, especially knowing that this might be the first impression that people have of the music and the band in general?
Arthur: A lot of different ones. Very exciting. It’s the first album that I’ve done that’s full length and as well as producing myself. So, it’s very exciting… very scary. It’s been a lot of different emotions. There’s very, very low moments and very high moments. We’re on tour right now and we’re playing the two new songs that are out (and one that’s not out yet) on that record, and the reaction has been great. So, it’s slowly but surely becoming more exciting than scary. And I’m thinking, as we get closer, it’ll be a lot more exciting.

TrunkSpace: Did musician Richie and producer Richie ever butt heads? Did you ever have moments where you wanted something creatively but maybe you knew you couldn’t pull it off production wise?
Arthur: For sure. There was because, like I said, I’m fairly new to production and there was a lot of… I heard a lot of a live feel too it, and I kind of had to reel it back in and just remember that it’s all about the song on the record. When you go live, you can do all of that stuff. You can show it off live. But on the record I had to channel the very simple and just simplify everything to get the song across and make sure the words are pinpoint. There was definitely moments like that, but I found myself, towards the end, enjoying the production side a lot more because, like I said, the live thing is so much fun, but I’d never actually sat there and did the studio thing all by myself.

So, I learned a lot by going through that process and trying to figure out how to keep that live feel and show it off as much as you can without taking anything away from the song.

TrunkSpace: Did you get bitten by the bug in terms of wanting to be on the production side more, perhaps even for other artists?
Arthur: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely. That’s something I’ve always wanted to get into. I think that’s something that I will definitely get into down the road. I’ve talked to a few buddies about doing it. It’s nothing I ever actually set in stone. I’m very focused on my project and making this go, but it opened up a whole new world for me, and the ideas that it gave for the future, I’m very excited for. So, I’m thinking within the next year or two, once I kind of settle with the project, I could try to get in with some other guys and try to produce other music and write other music for other people. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned trying to find the balance between the live sound and that crispness of making sure every word hits when you’re recording. Now that you’ve wrapped production and there’s some separation with it, do you feel like you’ve accomplished everything that you wanted to when you set out to make the album?
Arthur: Yeah, I do. With this one it was cool because I wrote a couple of the songs, like two years ago when I was living in LA… three years ago when I was there… and then, towards the end, some of the songs I wrote right before the album, so it was cool to kind of just take that and really get them to where they needed to be without making it so bandy. It was cool to just kind of take the time and really figure that out.

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to sort of put a stamp on a song and call it a wrap? Does it get to the point where you can almost tinker too much with them?
Arthur: Yeah, definitely. I’ve done that too. I forget what song it was… I’d have to really go back because like I said, they’ve been going through the process… but there’s been tunes that were completely different because I went so far with them. And it was just to the point where it was so just not a song anymore. I literally stripped them down and redid them. So, you can definitely go too far. I think I finally found the balance of knowing when the song was done. You kind of listen back and nothing really stands out. You kind of just listen to it and jam, which I did with the other ones, but then I’m like, “Oh…” after a couple minutes, “…what if I do this?” You just watch yourself go up that mountain. You definitely need to try to find that balance of, yes, it could use something else but it doesn’t need it. But then there are times where it needs it. You’ve got to try things. And again, if you push it too far, you just go back and try again.

TrunkSpace: Well, and the songs have to live with you for a long time. You’re going to be performing them, so you have to be invested in them. You still have to feel that drive to want spend time with those songs.
Arthur: Exactly. You need that feeling. Every song, for me at least, with this album, is like you need to feel where I was coming from when writing them, rather than when I went in and actually recorded the song. I definitely made sure I kept that ground of, “All right, this is a song that I wrote, it needs to get across, have some cool sounds here, has some cool sounds there, show the melody off a little bit here, but don’t take away from that this is the song that I wrote and this is from me and within me, and this is something that’s always going to be a part of me.” You’ve got to keep that and show that and make it you. You don’t want to push something too hard and then a year from now just feel like you never even did it.

TrunkSpace: What can someone learn about you both as a musician and as a person in listening to the album in its entirety?
Arthur: Well, I think a big thing for me is I have such a love for all different music – stuff that my parents grew up on, and stuff that I grew up on. I try to keep every song influence that I’ve ever had in my life within my music. So, I think that you can kind of learn just the amount of music that I’ve tried throughout my career. I’m only 22 now, but I’ve been making music since I was like seven, seriously too… professionally. And so, I’ve gone through a lot of different trials and error. I’ve been in straight up rock bands. I’ve been in straight up pop punk bands. I’ve been in straight up cover bands. And I’ve done all the old covers, ’80s to today’s music, like Bieber. All that stuff. So, I think you can kind of learn all the music that I’ve kind of channeled throughout the years to get me to this project. And I’m really proud of where I brought this project now. I think it’s definitely the furthest that I’ve ever gone. And I just think it’s so cool that I hear where my John Mayer influence is, and I hear where my Guns N’ Roses influence is, and I hear where my Boys Like Girls influence is. I just try to keep it all in. I don’t try to just put everything to bed. I try to keep a little bit of everything throughout my life within my music.

TrunkSpace: And you’re right, you can’t hear those influences, but at the same time, your sound is unique to you. Was that overall vibe something you set out to create or did it just come natural?
Arthur: Well, at first it was something I thought you had to work on really hard and I kept failing. I took like two or three years there where I just didn’t put out anything because I was trying to, like I said, keep all my influences but make my own sound. And I kind of learned within time, it’s natural. Even this album, I wasn’t intending on it being an album, I was just making songs. And then I was like, “Well, it all fits. It’s all my own thing.” And every time I listen to it it’s like, I can tell it’s States & Capitals. It came naturally for sure. At first I thought it was something you had to work on, but I definitely found, over time, you’ve just got to make music. Just go out and do it and it’ll all come as you go.

The Feelings LP” is due August 2 via JIRNY. Tour dates are available here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Dash Williams

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Photo By: The Riker Brothers/Grooming By: Michelle Harvey

Being funny for a living is no laughing matter, especially when you can back it up with some serious dramatic chops. For young multi-hyphenate Dash Williams, who can currently be seen starring in the new Epix series “Perpetual Grace LTD,” acting may be his calling, but comedy is the ultimate tool in his performance toolbox.

When I act it’s helpful to be able to think quickly and comedy helps me do that,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Williams to discuss establishing himself in the industry at such a young age, why the Epix ensemble is so epic, and the reason its best not to overthink the jobs he takes on.

TrunkSpace: You’re a comedian. You’re an actor. Are they the same road on your journey or are they two separate paths that lead in different directions? How do you view the two facets of your career?
Williams: I think they definitely service each other. The skills that I use when I act transfer over. When I act it’s helpful to be able to think quickly and comedy helps me do that.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting since you were three years old. At what point in your journey as an actor do you think you understood that this creative avenue was one that you’d stick with and make a career out of?
Williams: I’ve been acting my whole life and I’ve always known that I would make a career out of acting. Acting has always been my go-to creative avenue to express myself.

TrunkSpace: You’ve also been doing improv since you were seven years old. Which of your interests – acting and comedy – do you think has been more difficult to gain respect in based on your age at the time of entry? Was one been more difficult than the other in terms of establishing yourself?
Williams: I think comedy has developed a lot since I started doing it. I started to feel established when I became a part of the first teen class at UCB. Age is less of a factor in other areas of performance because they’ve been around for longer.

TrunkSpace: As someone who is used to working in front of both an audience and a camera, does the method in which you work differ based on the environment you’re performing in? Would we see a different Dash on the set of a series than we would in a comedy club?
Williams: Performing in front of an audience is different in that I get a reaction immediately and can tune what I’m doing based on that reaction. When I am on set I have to trust that what I’m doing is good because there isn’t an audience there to give me that type of reaction.

TrunkSpace: You’re working alongside an amazing cast in your new series “Perpetual Grace LTD.” Do you view your time on a project like this as much of a learning experience as you do a job, especially when you’re surrounded by so many accomplished performers?
Williams: I take every chance that I get to perform as a learning experience but especially when I’m working with great actors like Jimmi Simpson. Being in scenes with Jimmi and the rest of our ensemble was an amazing experience.

TrunkSpace: As a performer, it’s always important to live in the moment, but when you’re working on such a big show like “Perpetual Grace LTD” or your other series “Fresh Off the Boat,” is it hard not to see them as career game changers? How do you stay grounded in the moment and not think, “This is a job that will lead to bigger and better things in the future?”
Williams: As an actor you learn to stop thinking of jobs in terms of what they will do for your career because you never really know. When I first booked “Fresh Off the Boat” I was only supposed to be on it for one episode. This one episode part turned into a multi-season part, and there was no way to predict that.

TrunkSpace: For the audience the final product is always the most memorable, but for those involved in a project we’d imagine that it goes much further than that. What is something from your time working on “Perpetual Grace LTD” that you’ll take with you through the rest of your life and career?
Williams: I will always remember how supportive our set was. The creator of the show, Steve Conrad, is full of trust and respect, not just for the cast and crew but for the audience as well. He’s a genius and such an interesting new voice in television.

Photo By: The Riker Brothers/Grooming By: Michelle Harvey

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far… a total “pinch me” moment?
Williams: The most recent highlight was after the “Perpetual Grace LTD” premiere when I got to talk to Sir Ben Kingsley about the show. It was also just incredible to sit in the theatre and watch the audience’s reaction.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you and said, “Dash, here is a blank check… go out and greenlight anything you want for yourself,” what kind of project would you put into production and why?
Williams: I would probably greenlight a sketch show in America with some of my favorite British comedians that I feel are under appreciated here.

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: I don’t think I would because I enjoy watching my career unfold.

Perpetual Grace LTD” airs Sundays on Epix.

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Musical Mondaze

The Dollyrots

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Sadness. Regret. Contemplation. Happiness.

These were just a few of the ingredients that went into making The Dollyrots seventh studio album, “Daydream Explosion,” which is set for release on July 12 via Wicked Cool Records. For bassist and frontwoman Kelly Ogden (one half of the punk-pop duo that also features her husband Luis Cabezas), the record was a difficult one to make as she looked to find her creative footing amidst personal tragedy, but in the end, she believes that the songs speak for themselves.

I honestly, truly… and I know that people always say this… but I do think it’s our best work yet,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Ogden to discuss keeping it fresh, creating something outside of themselves, and finding time to write when life has other ideas.

TrunkSpace: “Daydream Explosion” will be the seventh full-length for The Dollyrots. Are there still firsts for you each time you head into the studio or hit the road?
Ogden: For sure. I mean, honestly, this record feels kind of new in a lot of different ways. We released our first album on our own and got picked up by Lookout! Records, so we did the label thing and then our next two were on Blackheart Records, and then we started the DIY route. So, we’ve been releasing our records through crowdsource campaigns for the past, I think, five albums. We started this one the same way. We did a pre-order through PledgeMusic and we were in a studio in Minnesota – which is also a first – Pachyderm Studios. It’s just this epic place outside of Minneapolis where some of our favorite 90s records were recorded. “In Utero,” for example. Some Babes in Toyland. Soul Asylum. Just some really, really awesome records. So, we were in the studio and we were ready to get started for the day and we get an email from Billboard, just being like, “Hey, you guys want to make a comment? Are you pulling your project from PledgeMusic or what?” And we were like, “What? What are you talking about? Our campaign is going great. No. What’s happening?” Because we had been in the studio for a week at that point, so we just were not really in the real world. So, at that point, we had to rethink how we were going to make this record and we had been doing it the same way for, like I said, the past five albums. We ended up having to pull the plug on our Pledge campaign, which, fortunately, happened before we had reached 100%, so our fans hadn’t been charged. We made out relatively unscathed, or, our fans made out unscathed. And then we just moved it over to a Shopify store where we were doing it and sent our roughs over to Wicked Cool Records, which is run by Little Steven of E Street Band. We were like, “Hey, you guys want to take a listen? What do you think? You think that we could get some airplay?” And they got back to us immediately and they were like, “Let’s just put it out on Wicked Cool.”

So, we’re in very new territory. We recorded in a snowstorm in Minnesota at Pachyderm Studio. Finally we’re putting it out with a record label, which we haven’t done in a really, really long time. It all feels kind of shiny and exciting. And musically, it’s definitely a bit of a different album, I think, for us.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the history of Pachyderm. When you’re creating in a space like that, does it translate creatively to what you’re doing? Does it feel different being in a space where so many great people created?
Ogden: It does. I think it’s like when you go to your state capital building or you go into any sort of historic place. This is a rock and roll historic place. It still has a vibe and I think all the experiences that happen inside of a place, somehow there must be little bits and pieces still hanging out in some way. We couldn’t not acknowledge the fact that some of our favorite rock stars slept in the bedroom that we slept in, and swam in the pool drunk after their sessions at night, and made snacks in the same kitchen, and made epic records in that studio. So, it does bring something outside of ourselves when we go to different places. It was exciting for us. We’ve had the privilege of recording in a lot of really cool studios, but this one was one that we had wanted to go to since we were young kids learning how to play guitar, listening to all those bands’ records.

TrunkSpace: Do albums start to feel like chapters of your life, especially with seven under your belt? Does it feel like you’re looking back at yearbooks?
Ogden: It does, definitely. I go back and listen and I can remember the feeling of the songs, and what we were doing, and the shows that we were playing. I think, probably for fans, it’s the same way. When I listen to music from when I was 17 – which is all the time I will admit – it does make me remember the time back then. So, I think, as much as it is for me, I feel like it probably is for our fans too… just a way to kind of go back in time a little bit and remember how it used to feel.

The last few have been kind of wild for us because with “Barefoot and Pregnant” I was pregnant with our first kid. “Whiplash Splash,” I was pregnant with our second kid. This one, I am not pregnant. Woo-hoo. (Laughter)

But I do have a whole new life experience being a mother and we bring our little kids on tour. People say, “When you have kids you’re going to see life through their eyes.” It’s totally true. I was getting kind of sick of touring. It was just the same thing all the time. It was exhausting. We were drinking too much. I was just kind of feeling like it wasn’t positive in the ways that it used to be. I still loved getting to see all of our fans and I loved performing on stage, but it didn’t have the magic anymore that it had before we kind of burned ourselves into the ground for a while. So, now that we have kids, we tour in a different way and part of it is about sharing the experience with them and them getting to meet all of our friends across the States and England, even parts of Europe now. It definitely is a different experience.

And writing this record, for better or worse, was definitely a struggle in some ways and a gift in others. My dad passed away the week of Christmas. We had booked Pachyderm for the third week in January and Luis and I are very skilled procrastinators, so I think we had about seven songs under our belt and we wanted to have at least 18 demoed out and tracked before we got to the studio to finish working on them with our producer, John Fields. So, my dad died and he had been sick for a while, but we certainly weren’t expecting it right then. He had been doing really good. It was the holidays, and we went out to eat a couple days before and everything seemed okay. We had kind of planned on having that break, where we had extra help from the family and stuff to watch the kids to write this record, and that didn’t happen because I couldn’t really function. So we were definitely cramming. We have a studio in our backyard and we put the kids to bed, put the monitor on, and we would just come back here and pray for inspiration. We would just start playing. Luis would start playing something on the guitar, and I would just pray that a melody would pop into my head and then words, and somehow it did, over and over and over again. And I feel like the result is something that’s a little bit outside of ourselves. It’s outside of our normal lyrics and melody – just everything. I honestly, truly… and I know that people always say this… but I do think it’s our best work yet.

And I don’t think it’s our best work because it’s overcomplicated or we’re playing our best. I just think that the music is very inspired and it still has the same spirit that it should. It’s just really good.

TrunkSpace: Do you feel like part of that was because emotionally you were dealing with so much that the music kind of became an outlet, in a way?
Ogden: Yeah, I think it definitely did. Any time you have a life experience like that I think that you’re super tapped into your emotions. And it wasn’t that it was all sad emotions. It was a lot of happy emotions, some regretful emotions, and a lot of looking back and reliving great things too. It definitely did help.

I hope our next record will just be real boring, though. No birth. No death. Just a nice boring kids record or something. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You had “Whiplash Splash” drop in 2017. You put out an album with Jaret Reddick, “Sittin’ In A Tree,” earlier this year. And now you have “Daydream Explosion” coming out in less than a month. If you look at the last few years as a whole, has this been a particularly fertile year for songwriting for you?
Ogden: Yeah, I think so. Because Luis is my husband and my band mate, for us I feel like before we had kids we thought that we were busy. And now that we have kids, we realize how precious time is and how little time we have to sit and ponder a guitar melody or a word in a phrase of a song. I think now we move more quickly and with purpose. We don’t have time to overthink anymore. I did that record with Jaret and it was the same thing. We just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and when we felt like there were enough songs, then we went for it and recorded them. But, there isn’t a whole lot of second guessing or pondering at this point in life, it’s just a lot of forward movement because it has to be.

TrunkSpace: Has the focus or inspiration of your writing changed since having kids? Do you find yourself going, “Okay, they’re really going to dig this song,” and move forward with something that you maybe wouldn’t have prior to being a mother?
Ogden: I think not so much in the writing yet because when Luis and I write… we’ve been together since we were 17, so a lot of our writing still stems from our youthful love. I don’t really know how else to say it. Maybe it could also be called immature and codependent. (Laughter) That’s what we have to write with. Yeah, we’re parents now and all that, but when we get to do music it’s when we really get to be ourselves together again without the kids.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned your youthful love. Do you believe in creative soulmates and is that how it is for you and Luis where there is a connection on an artistic level as well?
Ogden: I think Luis and I were both artistic as teenagers. We both were painting all the time and we both did a lot of writing. We were good students too. We ended up going to school for science, but we went to a liberal arts school that was very artistic based. And I think both of us love music and art and all those things. That said, we do create awesome art together, but it’s not easy. I would say it’s one of the more difficult parts of our relationship, I think, because it’s hard. It’s hard to do. We’ve written with outside writers here and there. When we were on Blackheart Records, after “Because I’m Awesome” came out, there’s that whole pressure because it was like, “’Because I’m Awesome’ is almost a hit – almost a Top 40 radio hit. Next record, you’re going to do it!” And so we wrote with all these people and that was a different experience because it was like a person in there with the two of us. But not until I started writing with Jaret Reddick on the duets album had I just written songs with somebody not Luis in the room. And that was really, really easy. Jaret and I have been friends for over a decade now. Luis and I lived on tour buses with Bowling for Soup for a lot of those touring years there. So, he’s kind of like a brother. He’s definitely one of my best friends in the world and I think because there is no personal baggage and all the history and all of the things like, “Well, I need to make lunch for tomorrow, I need to go clean up dinner, I need to switch the laundry over,” I’m not thinking about those things when I’m writing with Jaret. But when Luis and I write together it’s like our whole life is still in the room. It’s not really an outlet, so it is kind of difficult. I think some of our biggest fights have been around songwriting.

TrunkSpace: Because it’s tough to turn off life, right? You can’t flick that switch.
Ogden: Yeah. And some days I just really don’t feel like doing it either, but we have to push each other and try and get each other to that place. And Luis, he’s definitely the more aggressive component of The Dollyrots and so he likes to get a little bit more amped up in his writing and that is not the way I like to write. I like it to be easy, cool, natural, floating down from the ether. So, we do butt heads sometimes depending on the style of song that we’re writing. If we’re writing more aggressive songs, like “City of Angels,” he’s like, “You’re softening it. You’re softening it. I want it to be this.” So, that is a struggle.

TrunkSpace: When all is said and done and you hang up your bass guitar, what do you hope your legacy is? What do you want to be remembered for musically?
Ogden: Definitely a girl onstage with an instrument playing music that is not a terrible influence. I hope that I inspire people to do something artistic, whether they’re kids or grownups. I’ve had a lot of adults say, “I feel like without seeing you up there, I wouldn’t have tried to learn an instrument.” And I’m like, “You can do it. It’s not hard. Learn our songs. You can totally do this.” So, I just really want people to feel encouraged to try and find a way to have an outlet. And more than anything, our music is just there to make people feel better. We’re political people. We are deep people, emotionally, but we try to keep the music in a place where you can listen to it and it can make you feel better. If you really want to look deeply into our lyrics then it can make you feel terrible too, but at least on the surface we want to be a feelgood thing in people’s lives and so we try and keep it at that.

Daydream Explosion” drops July 12 on Wicked Cool Records. Their latest single, “I Know How to Party” is available now.

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Musical Mondaze

Edan Archer

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It’s not always easy for an artist to find their place in the universe. They create, but at the same time, can’t help but wonder for what purpose, and, if the artistic contributions they’re making will leave their mark. For singer-songwriter Edan Archer, this is an internal struggle that she can’t help return to as she gears up to release her latest album, “Journey Proud,” set to drop on August 2.

I think someone’s art is kind of like their face – some may find it pleasing, some may not, some prefer different features, but we can’t always change our face to match what people like,” she shares in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Archer to discuss journey-prouding, the impact of a space on a recording, and why the life of an independent artist can take its toll.

TrunkSpace: You’re set to release your new album, “Journey Proud,” on August 2. What emotions do you juggle with as you prepare to unleash new material onto the world?
Archer: I think the most common emotion is the feeling of worthiness, and wondering if what I’m contributing to the community is ‘good enough.’ Those feelings can be paralyzing for an artist, both while they’re creating art and while they’re releasing it to the world, and I think it’s important to work on compartmentalizing. I think someone’s art is kind of like their face – some may find it pleasing, some may not, some prefer different features, but we can’t always change our face to match what people like. We can just try to accept what we are and what we produce, and keep trying to improve.

TrunkSpace: Playing off the title of the album… what are you most proud of by way of your journey in bringing “Journey Proud” into existence?
Archer: I’m a bit hesitant about the album title because I know a lot of people will interpret the “proud” in the traditional sense, where I’m actually using a more archaic and idiosyncratic interpretation to mean is less self-congratulatory. The feeling of being journey-proud used to refer to being so nervous and excited about a venture or trip that it was hard to sleep or even to eat. It’s that feeling a kid might have the day before they go on vacation, or soon after arriving, where you just can’t go to sleep yet because you’re still going on adrenaline and still journey-proud from traveling. I’ve since discovered that it’s an obscure phrase that I’ll likely spend a lot of time explaining! (Laughter) But that’s okay. For me, it refers to the feeling of creating something and embarking on a trip that lasts a lifetime, that of being a musician. The ultimate destination is a place inside myself, where I approach the “journey” or “work” of life with a happy heart and am not dissuaded by the challenges I might encounter.

TrunkSpace: The album was recorded at two different studios, Atomic Sound in Brooklyn, NY and Magnetic Sound in Nashville, Tennessee. Does a space play into how you can feel and emote when laying down tracks? Do the surroundings impact the music itself?
Archer: The space definitely affects the feel and sound of the recordings. The New York sessions had a New York band, and we all went in together and laid down six songs in three days, which was a lot for us, considering we hadn’t played together before. There was some work done with tempos and vibes, and the fact that there was a big room where we could all see each other through our various isolation booths meant that we could really play ‘together.’ Some of the vocals are done live, and some were done quickly, while the rest of the band took a break. Atomic Sound is an amazing space that has a lot of rock cred, and it was an honor to record there.

The Nashville sessions came later when I realized I wanted to release a full album instead of an EP. So I found a sweet, chill spot and was really able to take my time and kind of add to the songs the way I wanted. The Nashville players were also fantastic and really nailed the honky-tonk vibe, and the studio felt like a second home where I brought my dog and just got into a relaxed space. I think the album sounds cohesive and that the songs go together, but I can also feel the different energies between the two sessions.

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Journey Proud” in its entirety?
Archer: Hmmm… I think a few things are quite clear from the album. It’s apparent that I feel things deeply, and more strongly than I would like to. That’s something I struggle with. It’s clear that I’ve had troubles with love, with alcohol, and with feelings of belonging in the world. I think a bit of my cheekiness comes across as well – I like to play and tease a bit – and I hope the listener would sense my honesty and find something similar to their life experiences, and maybe in the very least realize that other people experience those feelings too. I end the album with “Little Birds,” which is a more spiritual take on this life’s illusions and finding peace with the seemingly endless dissatisfaction of existence in the simplicity of nature. I think of it as a bit of a lullaby, after the journey of the album.

TrunkSpace: We love great lyrics here… the kind that linger in our heads for days after our first listen. What is a particular piece of writing from “Journey Proud” that you’re particularly happy with and why?
Archer: That’s a tricky one! So sometimes I might feel proud of a clever turn of phrase, that makes me seem smart or something. But the most meaningful and lasting are the lines that I feel describe simply and truthfully what I wanted to describe. A rhyme can make that more powerful, almost like a spell or an incantation, and our brain might hold onto it for longer. I’m not sure which lyric will resonate with listeners, it probably depends on what they’re going through and what they need to hear.

TrunkSpace: You grew up in a musical family. Do you think that your passion for music comes from the creative nurturing of your mother and father? Would you be writing, recording and performing today if it weren’t for your upbringing?
Archer: I think people with internal struggles, like my depression and anxiety, are often drawn to art as a way of processing the sensory input of life. It’s likely that I would have developed some form of creative expression – but I’m too clumsy to be a dancer and have the worst drawing skills ever, so I’m not sure! I do think that with so many distractions in life if a child isn’t raised around music, they are less likely to seek it out, and go through the frustrating aspects of actually learning to play. (Which isn’t fun at first!) I do think that growing up the way I did made it easy to seek out music when I needed it, and to apply my own creative impulses, and to continue in the musical tradition in which I was raised.

Photo By: Starr Sarriego/Hair & Makeup By: Luisa Franco

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Archer: The hardest thing for me is to justify spending my time and resources on what some may consider a trivial pursuit. The financial, emotional, and physical challenges of being an independent artist take a lot of courage to meet. I feel like people do have judgments about artists, and I internalize that and often judge myself harshly for the life I’ve chosen. I’ve chosen not to have children, and traveling takes me away from my family often at critical times, so those are all sacrifices I’ve made for abstraction and artistic fulfillment. If at the end of my life, someone asks me if it was worth it, I’d say I couldn’t even answer because what is “worth”? I’ve had to live according to my own little principles, and hope that I leave something meaningful behind.

TrunkSpace: What is the first song you ever wrote and do you, A.) still perform it, and B.) what did that song say about who you were at the time of its creation?
Archer: Good lord, no! (Laughter) The first song I wrote I was about four, and it was on the piano in the pentatonic scale… you know, the black keys. It had imagery I took from church and was about dying and being reincarnated. It was called “Pray My Life” and said, “Wave the palm over, for I once lived.” I do not play it but I still remember it because my family teases me about my seriousness and how I would sing that song but couldn’t pronounce my Rs.

TrunkSpace: Would 12-year-old Edan be surprised by the artist her future self has become?
Archer: I think the 12-year-old me would recognize myself completely. I still play guitar, write on the guitar and piano, I still have the same Appalachian, Irish and alt-rock motifs. I can still play a show all by myself, which just means that I keep my music pretty close to organic and to my original roots. I’m closer to where I started now than I was a few years ago, when I was still exploring jazz and Latin rhythms. In a way, I’ve come full circle. I think it was Picasso who said it took him a lifetime to paint like a child. I’m no Picasso, but I see a glimpse of what he means – to strip away all of our excess and pretense and come to the root of who we are. I’m trying for that now.

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?
Archer: I remind myself every day that I’m not doing what I’m doing because of any assumption of how I think my journey will end. I can only do what I feel overwhelmingly compelled to do, so that when I’m on my deathbed I know I tried to produce what I wanted to produce, and honored the bit of talent that the universe gave me. But hell, ask me again next week.

Journey Proud” drops August 2. Archer’s latest single, “Six Wing Angel,” is available now.

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Wingman Wednesday

Benjamin Charles Watson

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Noah Asanias/GROOMING: Frida Norrman/STYLING: Derek Perret

For an actor, joining an existing series can be a daunting task, but any nerves Benjamin Charles Watson had upon signing up for Season 3 of “Designated Survivor” quickly vanished after the first day of filming. As confident digital officer Dontae Evans, the Jamaican-born actor’s emergence into the political thriller came at a time when the series was transitioning from ABC to its new home, Netflix. While many of the original cast members remain (Kiefer Sutherland, for example, still plays President Thomas Kirkman), many new faces have been hired on at the fictional White House, making Watson’s arrival a welcome addition to the ever-growing on-set family.

I was basically joining a family that had already established its relationship for two years,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “But I was accepted with open arms and quickly became one of the team.”

We recently sat down with Watson to discuss how the current political climate impacts the show, its newfound realism, and his “Snowpiercer” future.

TrunkSpace: You joined the latest season of “Designated Survivor” as digital officer Dontae Evans. Were there nerves joining the cast of an established series with the on-set tone already in place, even with the show making the leap to its new home Netflix?
Watson: I was absolutely scared to join a team that had already established itself with its audience. Being the new guy, I had to carefully study the first two seasons in order to match the tone. After the first day of filming, my nerves disappeared because I had the opportunity to work with actors I’ve always wanted to work with. I was basically joining a family that had already established its relationship for two years. But I was accepted with open arms and quickly became one of the team.

TrunkSpace: On the opposite side of that, is there also something exciting about joining a series that already has an established audience, knowing that there will be eyeballs waiting for it when the episodes eventually air?
Watson: It was very exciting joining a show that has such a fan base, but at the same time it made me nervous. This show is filled with characters that are dearly loved by its audiences and some characters didn’t return for Season 3. As a new member of the team, I had to make sure my character would be loved and accepted as a new member of the West Wing. And I think it was accomplished. Also, Dontae on the team will bring a fresh audience that has never experienced the show.

TrunkSpace: While you’re new to the series, tonally, has anything changed given that there are no longer the same restrictions with the content given its new home? Is it grittier than what people will recall from its time on ABC?
Watson: I think after leaving ABC and finding its new home on Netflix, the show has gotten better. We’re able to push boundaries a bit further and also explore real topics that affect the American people. I find that the show is a lot more realistic and engaging. We parallel some real-world events and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

TrunkSpace: There are some heavy hitters in the cast. As an actor, do you view an experience like this – and any experience really – just as much of a learning experience as you do a job? Can you take a role like Dontae Evans and apply the time on set to future roles/jobs?
Watson: This show was a huge learning experience as an actor. Getting the opportunity to watch Kiefer Sutherland work, was absolutely phenomenal. He’s such a master craftsman and sharing screen time with him on a one-on-one basis was exhilarating. I understand what it takes to be an actor at his caliber, and it was fascinating to watch him work. He was an incredible scene partner and absolutely a dream to work opposite.

Dontae is a lot stronger than I am in real life. He fully knows who he is as a person and is unapologetic about it. I’ve taken Dontae and applied him to my real-life, including auditions. He is strong, confident, fearless and wears his heart on his sleeve. He taught me a lot about life and how to become the person I truly desire to become.

TrunkSpace: We’re living in a very politically-focused time right now, particularly here in the United States. Does a show like “Designated Survivor” benefit creatively during a period of such uncertainty and unrest because so many people are attuned to what is going on around them? Does the attention on real-life politics spill over into the fictional world?
Watson: With the political uncertainty happening in the USA right now, I think it works amazingly for the show. This show gets the audience to look at the inside of The White House from a point of view they’ve never seen. This season, we’ve touched on so many real-world events that many individuals don’t necessarily know about stateside and abroad.

TrunkSpace: For the audience the final product is always the most memorable, but for those involved in a project we’d imagine that it goes much further than that. What is something from your time working on “Designated Survivor” that you’ll take with you through the rest of your life and career?
Watson: The thing I will take away from working on “Designated Survivor” is knowing that I’ve done the work and trusting that life I’ve prepared for my character will show up once the director calls “Action!” Also, just knowing and trusting myself and being confident in my abilities. I remember having a rough time on a scene and Julie White, who plays Lorraine Zimmer, saw how badly I was beating myself up and she told me that it’s okay and I know what I’m doing so just be easy on myself. After this pep talk, I attacked this scene in a completely different way and I’m happy I had her to calm me down.

TrunkSpace: When you receive a new script on a project that you’re working on – in this case “Designated Survivor” – what are you most excited to discover when reading about your character’s latest narrative progression? Is it his overall arc? Is it a great piece of dialogue? What are the most intriguing aspects for you personally about reading a new script for the first time?
Watson: Whenever we got a new script I’m so intrigued to discover more about Dontae’s arc throughout the episode and how it affects his overall objective goal. Dontae’s biggest reveal is that he’s HIV positive and I had no idea until I received and read the script! It blew my mind because I was so excited to research and explore the aspects of living with a disease that affect a lot of individuals, including African American men, and has been stigmatized for a long time. As an actor, I love researching every aspect of my character and knowing him fully from early childhood to his current life.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Noah Asanias/GROOMING: Frida Norrman/STYLING: Derek Perret

TrunkSpace: You’re also set to star in the small screen adaptation of “Snowpiercer” for TNT. This is a show that people are very excited about. For those fans of the film, what can they expect when they see the series air later this year, and how your character Brakeman Fuller falls into things?
Watson: I’ve been a huge fan of “Snowpiercer” for such a long time! The fans can expect something out of this world. You’re going to be drawn into a world that is chaotic and extreme, but full of heart and hope.

Brakeman Fuller is obedient, but he’s a bit weak and a follower. He’s primarily seen with John Osweiler (played by Sam Otto). The thing about Brakeman Fuller is that when the going gets tough, he’s not down to fight.

TrunkSpace: What is a character that you portrayed – even as a guest spot – that you wished you had more time to spend with and explore further?
Watson: I had a guest spot on “Travelers” and I wish I had more time to explore my character Lars. The episode was entitled “17 Minutes” and we see my character basically crying because one of his best friends dies. I just wish I had more time to explore the dynamic and greater inner work of Lars, especially his relationship with his best friends.

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?
Watson: Time machine! I’m not sure if I’d jump into the future 10 years. I’d be worried that by entering the future, I’d change the trajectory of my path by viewing it. What if by looking into the future, that the specific timeline would be changed? What if I saw myself and then I’d have to explain to myself who I was? Too many possibilities. But if I do go into the future and don’t like what I see, I would probably come back to the past and work diligently to change my future. SOOOOO, MAYBE I WOULD…

Season 3 of “Designated Survivor” is available now on Netflix.

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Opening Act

Luke Hogan

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Artist: Luke Hogan

Socials: Facebook/Instagram

Hometown: Portland, OR

TrunkSpace: You built the studio that you ultimately recorded your album in. Walk us through what that initial moment was like when you went from starting out in that space as a carpenter to returning to it as a singer-songwriter? Did it feel like you had traveled full circle?
Hogan: It was really cool to get to work in a space I had created, and with the person I had created it with. (Tomas Dolas, “Thank You Stranger” producer.) Anyone who’s ever been to a recording studio can appreciate how important it is to be comfortable with the space and the people you’re working with – I certainly had that luxury this time around. Also, it was fun to pop by when other bands were working in there – everyone seemed to really enjoy working in the studio we made.

TrunkSpace: As we mentioned, you’re a carpenter by trade. At this point, as you gear up to release your debut album, do you still see yourself as a carpenter first? Has there been an internal transition for you in terms of how you see yourself as your focus has changed?
Hogan: I am really trying my best to make the transition to seeing myself as a musician first as we speak – mostly it’s just been reflected in my paycheck – but I am spending way more time on music stuff, booking, gigging more, etc. The process of putting out this first record has forced me to focus on things like that. Right now it kinda feels like I have two part-time jobs.

TrunkSpace: How long had “Thank You Stranger” been itching to get out of you? Was this a long and winding journey for you to see the album become a reality?
Hogan: I certainly wouldn’t argue with that characterization. Some of these songs have been around for a really long time – “Nothing Special,” the closing track, is from 2004. But there are also newer songs on the record that didn’t exist when we started recording, so I’m glad we didn’t rush. Moving across the country to LA, then back home, then back to LA, then up to the Northwest, with plenty of detours along the way, all these events were part of the process of making and putting out this record. So yes, I suppose it has been a bit of an adventure. And it’s still actually not out yet…

TrunkSpace: For first-time listeners, what would they learn about you as a person and as an artist in sitting down to listen to “Thank You Stranger” in its entirety?
Hogan: Hopefully they don’t just think I’m some sad bastard. I think overall this record is really about trying to find your place, which is something most people can identify with, so ideally listeners would be able to find some common ground there. Hopefully they hear somebody who’s trying his best to make it all fit together in an honest and thoughtful way.

TrunkSpace: You have said that you connect with records on a very personal level. As someone who builds those connections with music, is there something kind of thrilling to putting an album out into the world knowing that you could be paying that same feeling forward – someone could be connecting to your music in the very same way?
Hogan: For sure, that’s really the point for me. I really enjoy writing, performing and recording but the end goal is to create something that people connect with. If there was some kid in high school who was just starting to write songs and he took influence from my record, that would be amazing.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Thank You Stranger” and how it all came together in the end?
Hogan: I’m really proud of all the people who helped make this record a reality, whether they played on it, made artwork for it, produced it, whatever – everyone did an amazing job and for very little compensation, if any at all. They know who they are. In terms of the record itself, it definitely feels to me like it tells a story, and certainly captures a very transformative period of my life. I’m really happy with the variety of instrumentation as well – some songs are full band, some more minimal. I think we really used the studio and all that it had to offer to its full potential. Right now, at least, it really feels like I made the record I wanted to make.

TrunkSpace: If you weren’t on your current path with “Thank You Stranger,” would creating music still be a part of your life, even if you weren’t sharing the results with people like you are now?
Hogan: Definitely, music was always more than just a hobby even when I was just writing songs at home and not really sharing them with anyone. It’s always been a big part of how I identify myself.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Hogan: It’s always been my goal to excel as a lyricist, so I suppose that’s where I am hardest on myself, but really the whole writing process is what I take the most seriously. But part of taking your writing seriously also involves trying not to take it too seriously, so there’s always that.

TrunkSpace: Music is a passion. Carpentry is a passion. Do the two ever intersect for you? Is there anything about the two – crafting something out of nothing – that excites the same part of your brain?
Hogan: Yes, obviously building Studio 22 and making this record there is a very literal example of the two intersecting, but on another level, for two things that are such a big part of one’s life it would be foolish not to expect them to intersect in many other ways, even ways you don’t necessarily see play out before your eyes. It would be interesting to find out which parts of the brain are excited by more physical, concrete creativity (like carpentry), as opposed to more abstract creativity, and if they overlap at all.

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?
Hogan: At this point, I think I’m all in, so yes. I’m hoping for the best.

Thank You Stranger” will be available this Fall. Hogan’s latest single, “Windowpane,” is available now.

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Sit and Spin

Robin Alice’s Here & There

RobinAliceReviewFeatured

Artist: Robin Alice

Album: Here & There

Reason We’re Cranking It: Fans of the “Pitch Perfect” franchise will recognize Kelley Jakle, who appeared as Jessica in all three films, but it is her powerful vocals and the range in which she displays that impeccable skill set that makes us wish this EP was a full-length so that we could enjoy even more of the Robin Alice experience.

What The Album Tells Us About Them: Americana with a melodic pop, the duo – which in addition to Jakle also features the guitar work of Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa – write with systematic synergy, a natural pairing that seems to be glued together by an artistic attraction, or, creative love at first sight. The future is always uncertain, but if these two stay the course and keep writing together, the possibilities in what they can accomplish together are limitless.

Track Stuck On Repeat: Patsy Cline laced with soul, “Late Bloomer” is actually the exact opposite, flowering from the first note all the way through to the last. Jakle’s emotion can be felt in each line that she delivers, making us not only hear what she is singing, but feel it at the same time.

And that means…

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Opening Act

Cosmo Gold

CosmoGoldFeatured

Artist: Cosmo Gold

Socials: Facebook/Instagram/Twitter

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Members: Emily Gold, Peter Maffei, Stephen Burns, Mike Deluccia

TrunkSpace: Your debut EP was released on June 7. Did the band feel any pressure in delivering on the songs in a way that served as the best possible introduction of Cosmo Gold to the masses? Did that “This is our first impression…” focus ever trickle into the process?
Gold: Naturally, we wanted to make a good impression but when we initially began the writing process we didn’t even know we were going to be starting over as a “new” band. This project evolved from my previous band, Velvet, and the songs just seemed to organically become this other thing. So I’m not sure we would have done anything different if it had been, say, our second or third release. However, I think track listing and choosing the order of the singles was subject to that focus.

TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what do you think someone might learn about Cosmo Gold through the music itself?
Gold: I think the wide variety of our influences will come through.

TrunkSpace: What would your 10-year-old self think about the EP? Would she be surprised by the musical journey you’ve traveled thus far as an adult?
Gold: I would be proud of how far my musicianship has come but I’m not sure I’d be surprised. I loved super lush, dramatic kind of arrangements even as a kid and would make Garageband tracks in middle school using all the strings, drum loops, etc. It was basically a primordial version of how I like to make music now.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to Cosmo Gold songs, are they ever truly finished? Is what we hear on “Waiting On The City” the same version of the songs we’d hear in a live setting a year from now, or do you find yourselves always tinkering and tweaking?
Gold: Who knows! Always open to growth if a better musical choice bubbles up through performance or if we had different resources or sonic limitations. If we somehow played the Hollywood Bowl, for example, you bet your ass I’m getting a full orchestra and choir with like three extra guitar players.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Gold: The final arrangements. My band and I were pretty meticulous about every element – we ripped some of the songs apart and re-recorded/rewrote parts. “Carnivore pt. I (Beautiful Day)” and “Carnivore pt. II & III” is especially fun to listen through and remember all of the choices we made. We thought about that one a lot and I’m really proud with how it turned out.

TrunkSpace: You’ve all been involved in other projects over the years. What is it about this one and its members that fuels your creative fire?
Gold: I think our commitment to communication and collaboration. We all have a say in the creative and musical direction of the band, which is both exciting and challenging. Also, we are like family. We live together and hang out all the time so it doesn’t feel like the band is separated in any way from the rest of our lives.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Gold: Live performances. If we have a weird set I have a hard time not being bummed about it. But, I now also see it as an opportunity for growth.

TrunkSpace: Many musicians say that music is a form of therapy. Is it that way for you? How has creating music helped you navigate this wild ride we call life?
Gold: Absolutely. I don’t know how people get through life without expressing themselves creatively. Writing songs is cathartic for me. It takes a complex emotion and puts it into a neat three to five minute thing that exists outside of the brain. It’s very satisfying.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your musical career thus far?
Gold: Working on this record.

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?
Gold: Yikes! Seems like a freaky Butterfly Effect type of situation!

Waiting On The City” is available now.

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