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June 2019

The Featured Presentation

Madeleine McGraw

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Photographer: JSquared Photography/Hair: Gui Schoedler/Make-up: Desirae Cherman/Stylist: Jessica Margolis

Animated Disney movies are enjoyed generation after generation, over and over again. For example, our parents watched “Cinderella” in the 1950s, and then we watched it in the 1980s, and now our kids are watching it in a different century than when it was produced. That timeless, evergreen viewing experience is not lost on 10-year-old Madeleine McGraw, who plays Bonnie in “Toy Story 4,” set to hit theaters on June 21.

I almost can’t wrap my head around it,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with McGraw to discuss how she reacted upon learning she had been cast in the fan-favorite franchise, being a part of the Marvel cinematic universe, and the kindness of her “pretend dad” Patrick Fugit.

TrunkSpace: We are huge fans of the “Toy Story” movies because there is always something for everyone in them – both kids and adults alike. Were you a fan of the movies prior to being cast, and what was your first thought when you learned that you’d be playing Bonnie?
McGraw: I was five when I booked the role of Bonnie and I had definitely seen all three “Toy Story” movies. I loved them so much! We used to drive from Northern California to Southern California a lot and I would always bring all three movies for our drives. I remember when my mom and dad told me I booked Bonnie. I ran around our house screaming! I was so excited.

TrunkSpace: Bonnie is a character who was previously established in “Toy Story 3” and then appeared in a few of their holiday specials as well. Were you nervous taking on a character who had been voiced by a previous performer? Did you have the freedom to make her your own in this latest installment?
McGraw: When I first got the audition they were definitely looking for a voice match. I listened to the talented Emily Hahn and realized Emily and I sounded similar. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially Emily. You get very attached to a character you work on for such a long time.

TrunkSpace: Disney movies like “Bambi” and “Cinderella” are more than 70 years old but are still enjoyed by kids today. Is it cool knowing that your work will be watched by people for generations to come?
McGraw: Oh my goodness… YES! I know I am only 10, but I do think about how someday my kids, or even my grandkids, will get to enjoy this amazing series of movies. I almost can’t wrap my head around it.

TrunkSpace: What was the most enjoyable aspect of getting to play Bonnie in “Toy Story 4?”
McGraw: Well, I loved getting to work with Josh Cooley (director) these past four years and I hope to work with him and Jonas Rivera (producer) again and again. They were always super supportive. I also loved getting to record at the Pixar Studios in Emeryville. It was like an extension of Disneyland. I didn’t want to leave.

TrunkSpace: Without giving away any spoilers, what are you most excited for people to see when they sit down and watch “Toy Story 4” when it hits theaters on June 21?
McGraw: I can’t wait for everyone to meet Forky and watch his adventure with the original toys.

TrunkSpace: The franchise is one that always gets plenty of merchandise tie-ins, including toys. What is it like seeing a toy based on a character that you portrayed on the big screen?
McGraw: I don’t know if they will make a Bonnie toy, but I was incredibly lucky to voice a car in “Cars 3.” I played Maddy McGear. (Named after me – Maddy McGraw.) Having a character named after me was probably one of the most incredible things that has ever happened to me. Then when I saw the cute die-cast Maddy McGear car, I cried. It was a really special moment.

TrunkSpace: You also appeared in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” portraying a young Hope Van Dyne. With the recent release of “Avengers: End Game,” what does it feel like knowing that you were a part of such a huge, international success as the Marvel cinematic universe?
McGraw: It definitely doesn’t feel real. But it does feel incredibly special. I am a HUGE Marvel Fan! My brothers have their whole room decorated in Marvel stuff. My pretend dad from “Outcast,” Patrick Fugit (we are still super close), his awesome wife, Jenny, and my whole family, always go to see all the Marvel movies together. It was so cool to take him to see “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” The whole Marvel experience is something I will never EVER forget! I still can’t believe I was a part of it. So grateful!

Photographer: JSquared Photography/Hair: Gui Schoedler/Make-up: Desirae Cherman/Stylist: Jessica Margolis

TrunkSpace: Another project that you starred in with a comic book connection is “Outcast.” Are there any characters from the world of comic books that you’d like a chance to play in the future?
McGraw: Playing Amber Barnes was such a gift. Robert Kirkman is, well, a genius. So if he came up with a new comic book character that I could play, that would be awesome. But honestly, I love Marvel so much, it would be an honor to play any of them.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
McGraw: Well, the highlight for me would definitely have to be all the amazing people I have met. Some of my closest friends and mentors in my life I have met because of acting. My friend Megan Park (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”) has been such an incredible friend and mentor to me. She cast me in her directorial debut and she keeps casting me in just about anything she can. Besides directing and acting, she is such a gifted writer. I admire her so much. Meeting her and having her in my life is definitely a highlight. Same with my pretend dad from “Outcast,” Patrick Fugit, he is one of the coolest people I know. I had a tough audition recently and I asked my mom to call him and see if he could help me. He totally made space in his day to help me out. So meeting him has also been a huge highlight.

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?
McGraw: No, I would want to experience the journey as it comes. I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise or work any less hard. I like having goals and working to reach them.

Toy Story 4” unwraps in theaters June 21.

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Photographer: JSquared Photography/Hair: Gui Schoedler/Make-up: Desirae Cherman/Stylist: Jessica Margolis

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Jade Jackson

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Photo By: Matt Bizer

It’s comforting to think that we might have angels looking over us, fully prepared to step in and save us from the world and ourselves just as we’re about to teeter off of whatever ledge it is that we’re dangling from. Of course, that’s not reality, but for some, real-life angels do exist. Singer-songwriter Jade Jackson had one, and as it turned out, he looked a lot like punk rock legend and Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness.

In fact, it was Ness.

He showed up at just the right moment, swooping me away from the doubts depression was feeding my mind and helped me believe in my music again,” Jackson said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

Her latest album, “Wilderness,” was produced by Ness and is set to be released on June 28 from ANTI-.

We recently sat down with Jackson to discuss the power of vulnerability, overcoming her demons, and why being committed to your craft isn’t an easy task.

TrunkSpace: In sitting down to listen to your music for the first time, what do you think someone might learn about you?
Jackson: Songwriting is therapeutic for me. It’s where the energies stored inside get the chance to escape and change form. Being honest about my feelings is vulnerable and vulnerability gives people the opportunity to look into who I really am.

TrunkSpace: You first decided to pursue a career in music at just 13 years old! Would 13-year-old Jade be surprised by the artist you are today?
Jackson: No. 13-year-old me had a fire in her belly that propelled me in the direction leading to where I am now.

TrunkSpace: Part of that original spark to pursue music came about after seeing Social Distortion live. Years later, it would be frontman Mike Ness who helped kick-start the path that you’re currently on. For so many people, meeting their heroes ends in heartbreak, but for you, could there have been a more serendipitous journey from where you began to where you are now?
Jackson: It’s quite the serendipitous story, isn’t it? Mike and his music inspired me to pursue my passion tirelessly. Him reaching out to work with me helped keep my dreams alive during a very dark season in my life. He showed up at just the right moment, swooping me away from the doubts depression was feeding my mind and helped me believe in my music again.

TrunkSpace: Ness has put out some amazing solo albums with a hard-crashing country twang, including one or our favorites, “Cheating at Solitaire,” released in 1999. How much did he influence your own sound, which itself has that prairie punk vibe that we can’t get enough of?
Jackson: Mike and I have the same country heroes. We bond in our love for George Jones, Buck Owens and Johnny Cash. “Cheating at Solitaire” is a brilliant work of art that’s influenced me on both a subconscious and conscious level.

TrunkSpace: Artists come and go. Some fade. Some burn out. That being said, Mike Ness has not only been active for decades, but he has been relevant as well. Did you take any advice from him, specifically about career longevity, that you’ll carry with you?
Jackson: Be patient. Be true to your art. Work hard, sweat and never stop. His career is a great model of what I want for my own. I think people underestimate the work that goes into records and touring. Mike works his ass off and cares deeply about every detail. Being that committed to your craft isn’t an easy task. I’ve learned, am learning, and will continue to learn a lot from him in the years to come.

TrunkSpace: What are you hardest on yourself about as an artist?
Jackson: There have been several shows that’ve ended with me curled up in the green room in tears, wanting to disappear. Touring wears your body, soul and spirit ragged. And it’s that imbalance mixed with a show where I feel I’ve failed to connect that allows past demons to take control and steal my peace. Those are the hardest moments for me to overcome. It is possible to overcome them though. It takes a lot of spirit and I must admit that CBD olie is very useful in helping to regulate your emotions and moods. If you can find something like that, which helps to balance you back out and refresh your body, then it is possible to overcome those moments. And overcoming them is what makes me stronger.

Photo By: Xina Hamari

TrunkSpace: You’ll be releasing your second album “Wilderness” in late June. What emotions are you juggling with as you prepare to release it into the world? Is it difficult relinquishing control over something you’re so close to and letting the universe have its say now?
Jackson: Laying the tracks down in the studio was the hardest part. Singing my songs in an isolated booth without human connection was difficult but I’ve discovered performing those same songs live and sharing them with the world empowers me. The more honest I am about my feelings, the less I care about what people think of me.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Jackson: I’m proud of the team around me and our ability to work together to create something that feels honest and true.

TrunkSpace: Where and when are you the most creatively inspired?
Jackson: It totally varies.

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?
Jackson: No. I try not to focus on the destination. It’s difficult, but practicing being in the moment and doing the best I can with what I have at the time is most important to me.

Wilderness” is available June 28 on ANTI-.

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Damn Tall Buildings

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Photo By: SCOTT MCCORMICK

Meeting at Berklee College of Music and cutting their collective teeth busking on the streets of Boston, the foursome that eventually became Damn Tall Buildings feel the least alone when they’re together and playing music. After a brief hiatus of physical separation, the talented musicians moved to Brooklyn, New York together and altered their focus, which rekindled their creative ambitions and lead to their latest album, “Don’t Look Down,” released independently on June 7.

If that togetherness shines for you in the recordings then you’ve gotten a pretty good glimpse of who we are,” the band stated in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Damn Tall Buildings to discuss “all” the feelings, finding an artistic connection with each other, and why striking a balance between self-care and self-sacrifice is so important.

TrunkSpace: Your new album “Don’t Look Down” dropped last week. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you gear up to release new material into the world?
Damn Tall Buildings: ALL THE FEELINGS. It’s a real mix of excitement and anxiety. We’re really proud of this record and that has been stoking the fire pretty intensely. A wonderful and new-to-us aspect of this project is that the recording and a large chunk of production/distribution was made possible by two-hundred-odd backers on Kickstarter. The generosity of these fine folks refueled a desire to reach beyond the stage and do our utmost to bring everyone who’s ever been there for us a piece of our spirit they can/will want to carry with them.

TrunkSpace: What were the creative goals when you first set out to tackle the album, and now that you have some separation from it, would you say that you were able to put a check in every one of those boxes?
Damn Tall Buildings: One example of the things we faced early on was the task of finding/building/recording sonic worlds for each song, and balancing them inside this eclectic universe of an LP. It felt like Dan (Cardinal) of Dimension Sound Studios became our fifth member during the process of creating this album, and the end result feels continually good to us, which we’re taking as a good sign.

TrunkSpace: For those who are not yet familiar with the band, if they were to listen to “Don’t Look Down” for the first time, what would it tell them about who Damn Tall Buildings is as a band? How does the music itself represent its members as human beings?
Damn Tall Buildings: Our live performance is chalk full of unbridled honesty around one mic, and Dan captured that spirit masterfully. The album is home to a lot of collective truths of ours and is an honest capturing of who we were when we recorded it. Very much like how every live performance of ours is an honest display of who we are then. In the end, we’re a family. Seems to be we tend to feel the least alone when we’re playing music together. If that togetherness shines for you in the recordings then you’ve gotten a pretty good glimpse of who we are.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Damn Tall Buildings: The fact that we made it! It exists! It had been a few years since our ‘15 EP and all that time and life built up pressure to the point of us saying, “We either make this record, or we reconsider the future of the band,”

TrunkSpace: The cover art for “Don’t Look Down” is very compelling. Can you talk to us a bit about how that all came together and ultimately carried over into the visual branding for the singles as well?
Damn Tall Buildings: We had the pleasure of working with Scott McCormick down in CO. He’s the creator of some of our favorite album art (Gregory Alan Isakov, The Infamous Stringdusters, Mandolin Orange), and the idea that transformed into our cover art was among the first he’d mentioned to us. The imagery pays homage to an age old Chinese myth of Wan Hu, the first “astronaut”. The tale tells of a sixteenth-century official who (as told by George Edward Pendray/quoted on Wikipedia): “Wan decided to take advantage of China’s advanced rocket and fireworks technology to launch himself into outer space. He supposedly had a chair built with forty-seven rockets attached. On the day of lift-off, Wan, splendidly attired, climbed into his rocket chair and forty seven servants lit the fuses and then hastily ran for cover. There was a huge explosion. When the smoke cleared, Wan and the chair were gone, and was said never to have been seen again.”

We’re tickled by this example of someone who took their loftiest goal and literally shot for the stars. It feels very akin to our decision to make this record and our keen desire to do it “right” (up to our standards). Scott’s deft creativity has given the album a visual anchor that we are as proud of as we are of the music.

TrunkSpace: The band is based in Brooklyn but you got your start busking on the streets of Boston. How did that city and its scene influence the band and shape you into the artists that you are today?
Damn Tall Buildings: We all came to Boston for college (all four of us attended Berklee College of Music), but busking together is mainly what helped us find our creative voices. Boston made for a great incubator, and everyone we met during our time there has played a huge role in shaping us as players, performers and people. We are lucky enough to still get to make music with/along side some of our oldest Boston friends & influences (Twisted Pine, The Western Den, Lula Wiles, Honeysuckle just to name a FEW). In addition to band family, places like Club Passim, The Burren, Cantab Lounge, Club Church (RIP) became homes to us while we’ve grown into our current sound. As a band, growing up in Boston taught us that true friendship and being true to yourself are two vital ingredients for success, no matter where we find ourselves.

Photo By: SCOTT MCCORMICK

TrunkSpace: Between Boston and Brooklyn, you all went your separate ways for a bit. Did that absence make the creative heart grow fonder? When you came back together, did it make even more sense than when you first started out in Boston?
Damn Tall Buildings: Our separate ways were physical/goal-based, which is to say we were still gigging on weekends, sometimes every other week for months at a time. Still, the creative heart did grow fond as we found it continuously hard to connect while only seeing one another for shows. New songs came floating to the surface during this stint and kinda demanded to be made into a record. Deciding to move to Brooklyn together and re-tuning our collective focus in ways we hadn’t since our early days certainly rekindled our creative fires, and made it possible to make the recordings we’d been dreaming of.

TrunkSpace: What is it about being in a band – and this band in particular – that you can’t achieve in a solo capacity? Are your artistic fires fueled by the creativity of those around you?
Damn Tall Buildings: Absolutely. There’s an undeniable something that happens when you connect with someone. It’s like coming to a profound understanding for the first time. Your blood pumps just a bit better for a moment, and your whole body feels like it’s buzzing on a new frequency. The four of us definitely feel that buzz when we play and the vibes are so multiplied together, it often becomes infectious.

We are RICH with people around us who share their gifts with us. We wouldn’t be who we are today without getting to explore our art with our musical family.

TrunkSpace: What is the most difficult thing about being a working musician in 2019?
Damn Tall Buildings: (Laughter) Probably staying healthy. Mentally and physically. Often spiritually. This profession takes a toll on all three and sometimes it’ll take folks out when they’re not lookin’. This is a big one because every performance is a gift to the audience. Whatever you’re feeling most inside you when performing will inevitably be directed outward. Healing can turn to poison if the doctor stops caring. So we’ll say the most difficult thing (and what we’re always navigating here at DTB HQ), is finding the balance of self-care and self-sacrifice that can sustain the level of experience that we and our fans have come to expect from our work as a band.

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?
Damn Tall Buildings: If we could take the journey and didn’t like what we see could we go back and change things? Even so, probably not. About four years ago a musician friend that we all respect told us that the best years of his career were living in a shitty van and playing rooms for however many people, so we have taken that as creed. We’re trying to embrace every bump of this ride as we go, and carry that creed forward to bigger and better things, no matter the journey.

Don’t Look Down” is available now.

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