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November 2019

Wingman Wednesday

Josh Blacker

JoshBlackerFeatured
Photographer: Noah Asanias/Stylist: Joanna Kulpa

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s watching “high concept” television like “ALF,” the idea of a series as big in scope and as deep in character as “See” would have been inconceivable at the time. Television has come so far in the years since the dials were controlled by only three networks that nowadays every night can be spent watching a summer blockbuster in the comfort of your own home. And for the actors who bring amazing projects like “See” to life, it’s no different behind the scenes.

It felt more like being on the set of a big budget blockbuster than traditional episodic television,” said series star Josh Blacker in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Blacker to discuss embracing the fantastical wardrobe, bringing the sightless experience to his performance, and the role that was a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: A new series. A new streaming service. High-stakes storytelling. How excited are you to finally have “See” going out wide into the world and, we would imagine, finally having the freedom to share that excitement with people once you don’t have to worry about sharing any spoilers.
Blacker: I’m thrilled that people will finally be able to enter into the epic world of “See” that Apple has brought to life. It’s beyond anything I’ve ever been involved in and I think people are going to be blown away by the scope of this series. I can’t wait to hear people’s thoughts about the show and share some of my experiences making it.

TrunkSpace: Not a lot has been revealed about the series yet as much of it be being kept under wraps, but knowing what you know about “See,” what are going to be those must-see elements that you feel will not only pull audiences in, but keep them enthralled for the duration of the season?
Blacker: Oh, man, there are so many elements to “See” that will have people engrossed from the beginning. The talent involved at every stage and in every department is truly remarkable. The scope of the world building is truly epic. The sets built into the middle of nowhere in the wilds of British Columbia are a majestic backdrop to a truly unique story that has all the things people love in a good show. Love, death, secrecy, betrayal, action, and so much more. Our writer, Stephen Knight, is remarkable.

TrunkSpace: Upon last check, the trailer for the series has nearly 28 million views. Does this feel like the kind of project that could be a game changer for you in terms of your career moving forward?
Blacker: I certainly hope so!

TrunkSpace: From what we’ve seen so far of “See,” it looks less like a television series and more like a big budget tentpole film. As an audience, it’s amazing to see how far television has come since our days of watching ONLY the three major networks, but from someone who works inside the industry – and specifically this project – do episodics have that “movie” feel behind the scenes as well?
Blacker: Oh absolutely! From my very first wardrobe fitting to the moment I walked onto set for the first time you could just tell that Apple had spared no expense in creating the world of “See.” It felt more like being on the set of a big budget blockbuster than traditional episodic television.

TrunkSpace: Let’s talk wardrobe for a minute. We hear “dystopian future” and we think, “YES, 10-year-old us would be so excited to be dressing up like Conan.” When you’re working on a project that exists in a heightened, fictional reality, is there a bit of wish fulfillment for you and your inner 10-year-old? Having grown up watching this kind of action, is it surreal to now be performing it on-camera?
Blacker: That’s so funny because it’s exactly what I thought when I first saw the wardrobe and visuals for my character, the Witchfinder Warrior. It was a little overwhelming at first, but as soon as I finished getting into wardrobe and makeup, I looked in the mirror and the 10 year old in me was over the moon. This is the type of project I was transfixed by as a kid and to be able to be a part of it has been a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “See” thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Blacker: There are SO many amazing memories from the eight months of shooting. But, I think the one that stands out the most is the two-month boot camp we went through at the very beginning and working with our amazing blindness consultant Joe Strechay. He is such an incredibly warm and kind man and his guidance and mentorship in helping me bring the sightless experience to screen authentically was something I’ll always remember.

Photographer: Noah Asanias/Stylist: Joanna Kulpa

TrunkSpace: What are your views on fame as it relates to your acting career? Is it part of the package that you have come to terms with it, or, would you be comfortable focusing on your craft and never having to be recognized outside of the work itself?
Blacker: I think ideally it’d be nice to have a balance between the two. It’s a bit of a catch 22, in that having a degree of ‘fame’ allows you to work on bigger and more exciting projects but it can come at a cost – the loss of anonymity. However, the longer I work the more I enjoy hearing from fans and engaging with them online. Most of them are so sweet and kind and it really does fill me with joy to hear how something I’ve been in has affected them in some way. So if fame means working a lot on really good projects and being recognized by more and more people for that work, I’ll gladly take it.

TrunkSpace: You’ve appeared in a lot of fan-favorite shows over the years, including “Arrow,” “The 100” and “Travelers.” Are there any characters that you wished you had more time to explore given how interesting they were to you personally?
Blacker: I love working on the fan-favorite shows. The fans of those shows are so educated and so supportive it really makes me wish I could explore all of those characters for much longer. I’d love to have had more time with all of those characters, but if I had to choose one, it’d be Magee on “Arrow.” He was supposed to appear in more than one episode, but we had a conflict with the schedule so unfortunately that didn’t happen. He was such a dark, conflicted person and I’d love to have been able to explore his world a lot more.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Blacker: There are so many! Although, working with Jodie Foster on “Elysium” was a dream come true. I’ve admired her work for so long and to finally share the screen with her was an honor.

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?
Blacker: I love the idea of time travel! Someone, please put me in your time travel film or show. But, in real life, I try not to look ahead or back too much. I love the surprises that life and particularly life in this business brings, so I think I’d pass on the journey to my future. The joy I get every time I walk on set for the first time is something I want to experience as it happens.

See” is available now on Apple TV+.

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Wingman Wednesday

Bandits on the Run

BanditsOnTheRunFeatured
Photo By: David Katzinger

Self-described misfits, the members of Bandits on the Run – Regina Strayhorn, Adrian Blake Enscoe and Sydney Shepherd – have found creative kinship as a trio. From busking in the New York City subways to traveling the world, they’re now bringing their three-part harmonies to the digital space with their new EP, Bandits Live at the Power Station, available now.

If you’re listening to the EP while waiting for the train, you may actually get a glimmer of what it’s like to encounter us alone one fall night on a deserted G train platform,” they said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “And that’s exactly what we want.”

We recently sat down with the band to discuss the energy of live invention, mutual understandings, and creating a shared moment with their listeners.

TrunkSpace: Your recent EP, Bandits Live at the Power Station, seems like the best possible way to enjoy the band, which is, in as live of a setting as possible. Does going into the studio require a different approach creatively to the music the group makes, because again, it seems like you’re all most at home on the stage?
Bandits: We are definitely most at home on the stage. The three of us are actors as well as musicians/writers, so performance comes naturally for us. When recording in studio as opposed to a live performance, it’s sort of like film acting vs. stage acting. Everything is under a microscope in the studio, every creak and breath is captured, which is delicious and exciting, but also challenges us to be more specific about what we are doing and the sounds we want to make. With something like the Power Station EP, we feel we found a bit of a middle ground. Because we are performing everything live, playing/singing together all at once, that energy of live creation is there, but captured in a very intentional way.

TrunkSpace: We read in a previous interview where you referred to yourselves as misfits by nature. Outside of finding a connection between yourselves as individuals, does music give you an outlet to channel that misfit energy through?
Bandits: Bandits is the primary outlet for our misfit-ness. We are so lucky to have found in each other a small family of creators who are hungry to make our true voices be heard. Everyone is used to being put in a box, but sometimes performers even moreso. There’s so much people assume about you based on the way you look or the energy they perceive from you, and we love inviting folks in for a closer look, encouraging them to dig deeper beneath the surface. We’re inspired by so many genres and so many of our collective and individual experiences, and we refuse to adhere to one sound. We have yet to find someone who can really nail us down into a genre, so we feel like we’re succeeding quite a bit in breaking down boundaries. We also understand each other’s voices to a point where we can really lift each other up and support each other, and celebrate our uniqueness not only as a band but as characters within the whole.

TrunkSpace: There are amazing three-part harmonies throughout your music that just seem to fit together in a way that transcends chance. Do you believe in creative love at first sight, and when you three first came together, was the creative connection – and the ability to blend them together seamlessly – apparent right away?
Bandits: In a word, yes. We do believe in creative love at first sight. Sydney and Regina began creating together many years before bandits – it started as a project where Regina would write a poem and Sydney would set it to music, and quickly escalated to both of them writing words and music seamlessly flowing one to the other. When Adrian and Sydney met years later – listen to “Love in the Underground” if you want the story of how – the energy was much the same, vibrant and symbiotic. When Regina moved to New York City and we tried our hand at singing all together, there was an undeniable and electric alchemy stronger than any of us had felt before. We were instantly a band. It was the weirdest thing. We’ve only grown stronger in our ability to collaborate and gel with each other. Even though our voices are so unique on their own, they somehow fit together in a way that defies logic. There are some recordings where we truly can’t tell each other’s voices apart, and we love it.

TrunkSpace: As a group, you seem to write from the perspective of outside storytellers… watchers of humanity. How have the journeys of others inspired you to turn their uniquely-taken paths into songs? Is it as simple as witnessing someone on the street and giving them a narrative?
Bandits: It’s so interesting that you say that, because many of our songs are actually deeply personal. Or if they’re told from an outside perspective, it’s usually an imaginary person we are infusing with our own stories and personalities. Sure, Regina’s never watched her cowboy lover ride off into the sunset like in “Cowboy on the Run,” Adrian’s never haunted the walls of a gal’s house like in “Funky Ghost,” and Sydney’s never turned her lover into a crow like in “Bonnie Jean,” but these stories are tales that are based, whether loosely or closely, on similar feelings and experiences, even if those experiences are daydreams.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about Bandits on the Run, both as artists and as individuals, in sitting down to listen to Bandits Live at the Power Station front to back?
Bandits: We’ve always been about synergy when we perform live, amongst ourselves and our audience, but also within whatever space we’re holding up. We actually began our journey busking on the NYC subways – always playing unplugged, and just soaking in the majestic acoustics of this space that most people think of as solely utilitarian. Our mission was to break up a mundane commute with a little spark of color and soul. When we snuck into the Power Station that night, we actually found ourselves in a familiar vibe to our late-night busking days… in this beautiful, cavernous acoustic environment with only ourselves and our instruments, there to make our own tiny mark on this space where the history is palpable. We played our hearts out to the room in what felt like an echo of our origins. If you’re listening to the EP while waiting for the train, you may actually get a glimmer of what it’s like to encounter us alone one fall night on a deserted G train platform. And that’s exactly what we want.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the EP?
Bandits: Honestly for us the best part of the whole thing is having a recording that sounds exactly like us playing live and unplugged. There’s always the temptation when you get in the studio to embellish, polish, and elaborate, but we’re really proud that at our core we’ve got a very full and detailed sound – which we can make completely organically and acoustically. This process taught us not to shy away from that. We were recording on some amazing analog equipment with a really incredible team (producer William Garrett and engineer Ian Kagey) which really set the scene for us to be at our most natural. It’s a 100 percent accurate recording of the moment, the room, and of the song in the room. Neil Young says that when he plays a song he is the song, and we want to use our songs to be present right next to you and share a moment with you, even through all the technology and 1s and 0s in between us. With this EP we found trust.

TrunkSpace: What do you get out of being in a band, particularly this trio, that you can’t achieve in a solo capacity? Creatively, what keeps you writing and performing as a unit?
Bandits: It’s very difficult to three-part-harmonize as one person. We jest we jest! But really. It’s hard. Truly, we’ve made our own rules for Bandits. There are some tunes that are so heavily written by one person that they could almost be solo numbers, and some written by all of us in the room building something brick by brick all at the same time. When you’re writing by yourself you don’t have that option, you’re all on your own.

Another wonderful thing about writing together: accidents. Sydney may hear a melody a certain way in her head, then while singing it Adrian may play a different chord on the guitar that she never thought of but somehow makes the song blossom, Regina may change a few words in lyric offhandedly that turns out to hold the key to a song’s true meaning, the list goes on. And of course it isn’t always magic, we’ll experiment and fight and change things and work on a line a million times, but that process is a trial by fire that often ends up in a song exceeding what we thought we were capable of.

TrunkSpace: Can you envision a day where music is not a part of your day to day life or will it always be present in what you do, even if the method changes?
Bandits: Music will always be with us. No matter what. We can’t fathom a day where we won’t play music together. It’s part of our identities and our love for each other and the way we interact with each other and with the greater world around us. We truly don’t think that will ever change. We’ll always be open to experimentation and growth of course, but so far we’ve always been on similar wavelengths, and we’re really digging this ride together.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Bandits: Travel! Adventure! Serendipity! In the past few years, through equal parts gritty determination and dumb luck, we’ve been afforded the chance to travel beyond NYC, from the west coast to Western Europe. Every time we find ourselves in a new city, we’re given the chance to introduce ourselves with our music, playing in the street, at bars, in bookstores and coffee shops, outside of cathedrals, on boats, on beaches, on mountaintops and rooftops. We’ve encountered so many interesting people and experienced so many unique places, we could spend a whole night telling you only our favorite stories (and trust us, we will one day), but getting to explore the world this way is the real highlight of what we do.

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?
Bandits: Oh, no. The great unknown is far too exciting and inspiring. We trust that wherever we’ll be in 10 years, it’ll be full of beauty and madness and creation and adventure in even greater capacities than we could ever imagine. How we get there will be the fun part.

Bandits Live at the Power Station is available now.

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Wingman Wednesday

Kim Shaw

KimShawFeatured

If you’re like us, you swap out your pumpkin-flavored everythings for peppermint the day after Halloween and begin your slow holiday burn. Thanks to Hallmark Channel, those festive vibes are gifted to us in regular rotation as part of the annual Countdown to Christmas event. Tonight we’re unwrapping “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” starring Kim Shaw and Kevin McGarry, and we’re not the only ones sprinting into the season.

I’m happy to take the holiday charge, I think about Christmas year-round so it feels like the rest of society is just catching up,” said Shaw in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Shaw to discuss on-screen chemistry, shooting in her home country, and why she has comedy in her sights.

TrunkSpace: Your new movie “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” premiers only a few days after Halloween. With our slightly-sunken Jack-O-Lanterns still out on the stoop, do you feel like you’re leading the holiday charge because, quite honestly, the festive vibes have already taken hold of all of us here?
Shaw: I know, right! My Stories on Instagram today went from dancing in my Halloween costume straight to Kevin and I with Christmas lights above our heads! I’m happy to take the holiday charge, I think about Christmas year-round so it feels like the rest of society is just catching up!

TrunkSpace: We’re suckers for Hallmark holiday movies here, and the popularity around the Countdown to Christmas event continues to grow. In your opinion, what is it about movies like “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” that continues to draw such big audiences for the network?
Shaw: Hallmark is at the top of the game for making feel good romantic movies. I think the Countdown represents the countdown to spending quality time with family, eating rich foods and being cozy on the couch, so who wouldn’t want to start that in November?

TrunkSpace: So much of what makes a movie like “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” work is the chemistry between its leads. In your case, that was Kevin McGarry. How much time did you two have together prior to arriving on set to play with that chemistry and see what worked/what didn’t?
Shaw: Mr. McGarry and I worked together on an episode of “Saving Hope” a few years ago and had an instant rapport. It worked perfectly for our characters in “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” to have a smitten history. Kevin is a really funny, witty guy, so I was very happy to get to work with him again.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, Hallmark movies shoot at an incredible pace. When you’re shooting so many pages in a single day, does it require a different preparation for the material than you would normally take?
Shaw: I try to start memorizing the material as soon as we have a locked script. Sometimes we shoot 10 to 12 pages a day and when it’s only two of you in most of the scenes it’s an inordinate amount of lines.

TrunkSpace: For fans, the final product of a film or series is always the most memorable part, but for those involved in a project, we’d imagine it goes much deeper than that. For you, what is something about your time working on “Christmas Scavenger Hunt” that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Shaw: I love shooting in Canada. I was born there but grew up in the States so it’s always a treat for me to get to go back to the motherland. And of course Kevin. We laughed so much shooting this, it’s not often a costar is so silly.

TrunkSpace: Is it difficult to find a connection with a character when you’re inhabiting them for only a short period of time? Is the experience different for you than, say, something like “Saving Hope,” where you spent 31 episodes with Dr. Cassie Williams?
Shaw: That’s a great question! You have to make bigger initial choices when you only get to play someone for a short period of time. You have to create the layers yourself without dozens of storylines. I learned something new about Cassie every episode of “Saving Hope,” which helped create a deep, well-rounded personality for her. Playing Belinda in “Christmas Scavenger Hunt,” I had to make strong choices for her from one script.

Shaw and McGarry in Christmas Scavenger Hunt

TrunkSpace: Is there a character that you have portrayed over the course of your career that you wished you had more time to spend with, and of so, why?
Shaw: I had a lot of fun playing Tina in “I Just Want My Pants Back” on MTV. She was quick on her feet and always got into trouble. It was extremely fun to mess around inside her head. And why not Belinda from “Christmas Scavenger Hunt!” It would be fun to see what happens with her and Dustin after they find their happy ending!

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Kim, here is a blank check, go and develop any kind of project that you want for yourself,” what type would you greenlight?
Shaw: Comedy! I want to do more comedy. Something that I could cast my friends in and other people I admire. Film and TV is such a community and I would love to highlight and support the people I’ve met along the way.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Shaw: Honestly, I am happy to have worked on everything I’ve been a part of. This business is a hustle and I’ve been lucky to play some really interesting people.

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?
Shaw: (Laughter) That’s a funny idea. Hm. I think I’d rather wait and see what happens! Hopefully it will be a career I can be proud of. Filled with more successes than setbacks and more laugh lines than tears.

Christmas Scavenger Hunter” premieres Sunday November 3 on Hallmark Channel.

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Opening Act

Jordan Sommerlad

JordanSommerlad

Artist: Jordan Sommerlad

Latest Album: Your Favorite Palindrome (Stream/Purchase HERE)

Hometown: New York, NY

TrunkSpace: You have said that music helps you separate from “the worries of the day.” As an artist, is it your hope that an audience can do the same by listening to your music? Is your creative escapism meant to be passed on to the end user?
Sommerlad: I definitely get that feeling of escape when I’m working on music, but I don’t know if that applies as a listener so much. I turn to music when I want to explore whatever I’m feeling or thinking about, not so much to escape from it. I think movies, books and other art forms might be better for that. For me, music provides a unique kind of clarity to what’s going on in your life. The best kind of musical experience is when you’re listening to a song that feels like it was written just for you in that moment you’re going through right then.

TrunkSpace: You released your debut solo album, Your Favorite Palindrome, on October 4. What did it mean to you to achieve this creative accomplishment given how long music has been a part of your life?
Sommerlad: This was definitely the most work I’ve put into any musical project. I’ve released lots of music under different names and bands over the years, but I think the idea to release this under my own name was in part because the music spanned a big chunk of my life. I also think this is the most personal my music has been, so that played into it as well. There’s certainly a feeling of catharsis now that it’s out because it had been in the works for so long, but I’m mostly just excited to get back to the writing process.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and as a person in sitting down to listen to Your Favorite Palindrome, front to back?
Sommerlad: I hope they would be surprised. Something I try to do is create a different sound for every song. I don’t start with templates of other songs I’ve written, I try to use different tones and styles for everything new. I don’t want someone to hear one song of mine and feel like they’ve heard them all.

TrunkSpace: There are nine songs on the album. Are those songs a snapshot of who you are now, or do some of them go back years and have only now seen the light of day?
Sommerlad: All in all there’s a span of three years of songs on this album. The first track “Shake Me” was written shortly after I moved to New York, so that one has been hidden for a very long time. That being said, everything that went into these songs was recorded at the earliest over a year ago, it’s been a lot of mixing, mastering scheduling releases, etc, so in some sense I feel like I let these go a while ago, but still not nearly long enough to have a good sense of perspective. I’m excited to revisit these in a few years and see how much of it still resonates.

TrunkSpace: When you set out to record this album, what were the creative expectations you placed on yourself, and now that it is out into the world and you have some separation with it, do you feel like you achieved everything you set out to?
Sommerlad: I really just wanted to make something that I liked more than the last thing I made. I think that’s always a good goal to have, and might be more achievable than making something that is “better” than the last thing you made since that’s kind of up to other people to decide. I also wanted to make this one a more collaborative process than previous projects, so I outsourced the mixing and mastering to someone who actually knows what they’re doing, as well as recruiting a drummer for all of the tracks. So in both of those senses, I think I did what I wanted to.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Sommerlad: At the end of the track “Another Tomorrow” there’s a string-based outro. I worry that I have a tendency to take shortcuts in the writing process and once a song is structured I don’t explore to see if it can develop further, but on this one I think I pulled off an unexpected turn that I’m really happy with. I also had a violinist come in and record the parts, instead of just using synthesizers. That outro is probably my favorite part of the album, and I could have easily just let that song end after the last build, which would have worked, but wouldn’t have been nearly as good.

Photo By: Lizzy Miller

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and did that manifest during the creation and recording of this album?
Sommerlad: I think the hardest thing to overcome is the idea that sometimes the good stuff is in the imperfections. Especially in the music I love, it’s the human elements that keep a song alive after many listens. Stuff that’s set perfectly to a metronome and 100 percent pitch perfect can be catchy and fun at first but I find those songs don’t stick around. But songs where you can hear the little mistakes have a much longer shelf life. But when you’re making something it’s hard to get past the fact that other people won’t hear those little mistakes the same way you do.

TrunkSpace: You’re based in New York City. Artistically, there’s always something going on in the Big Apple. How does that melting pot of creativity impact or inspire you as an artist?
Sommerlad: It’s definitely a sensory overload pretty much every day. With so much going on there’s never a shortage of humanity for inspiration. I also stay up late – I like going on night walks reviewing recordings I’ve been working on – so it’s a perfect place for that.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with your 10-year-old self and gave him a glimpse of his future, would he be surprised by where his musical journey has taken him thus far?
Sommerlad: Yes. At 10 I had just taken piano lessons for a few years, never played guitar, definitely couldn’t even pretend to sing. At that point I had just started writing music, but just little things on the piano. Not to mention back then it was a lot harder to record anything at all. I got my first 4-track recorder from my Aunt a couple years later after I started playing guitar and that really opened things up.

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of whatyour career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Sommerlad: No, I don’t think so. There’s nothing more exciting to me than hearing a recording when it’s first starting to take shape, so I don’t think I’d want to spoil that. I also just might want different things 10 years from now than I do now, but keeping the dream alive in your imagination is important. You have to be a little delusional to think your music might ever make it past your immediate social circles – I’d hate to ruin that fantasy.

Your Favorite Palindrome is available now.

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