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August 2020

Sit and Spin

Bonny Light Horseman’s Buzzin’ Fly

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Song Title: Buzzin’ Fly

Single Sentence Singles Review: As far as covers go, this reimagining of Jeff Buckley’s Buzzin’ Fly is buzzing with so much warmth and richness that it simultaneously pays perfect homage to the original while also holding true to the exceptional Bonny Light Horseman sound.

Beyond The Track: Bandcamp proceeds from “Buzzin’ Fly” will go to support Bonny Light Horseman’s touring band and crew members impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown. Get the single here.

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Anna Graceman

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Anna Graceman released her latest album, The Way The Night Behaves, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, grounding the pop songstress and keeping her away from the road where she could promote the album in a traditional live venue setting. And while she misses performing on stage, she is finding her groove holding virtual concerts, and more than anything, is just happy to be able to share new music with her fans who need an emotional escape – something that music continues to be for her.

I’m vulnerable and it allows me to work through things,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Music is a therapy for me.”

Her latest single, “Slip (Frank Pole Remix)” is available now.

We recently sat down with Graceman to discuss keeping her creative options open, the Olympic connection, and why working with Bebe Rexha was a dream come true.

TrunkSpace: You have had such an interesting career and seem to continue to find new ways to bring your music to the masses. How important is it for an artist to stay open to new ideas and approaches, especially given that the way people consume music/content seems to be continuously evolving?
Graceman: I always try to stay open. Different kinds of music and new ways of experiencing music can expand your reach when it comes to connecting with people. I’m a huge admirer of vinyl records and yet I love that I can stream any song anywhere I want. You don’t have to compromise yourself or your music in order to move with the times. If anything, there are more options and opportunities to connect through music.

TrunkSpace: What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned up to this point in your career as it relates to promoting music and giving a song/album its best chance at finding an audience?
Graceman: I landed a song of mine on some playlists recently and the amount of attention it’s received since then has been incredible. I’ve been able to reach people all the way in Norway and Sweden, places I’ve never even been to before. It can be a bit of a gamble because sometimes you’ll land on playlists and sometimes you won’t but it’s something that any artist can do.

TrunkSpace: How much of what you knew about promoting a record had to be thrown out the window with the release of your latest album, The Way The Night Behaves, which was released in the middle of such a difficult time for so many people given the pandemic and social upheaval going on not only in the States but in the world?
Graceman: I did what I could when it came to promoting the album, but in these crazy times, the album wasn’t what was most important. In the end, I’m just grateful to share my music at all. My hope is that the songs I release can help people in whatever they’re going through.

TrunkSpace: Your latest single “Slip (Frank Pole Remix)” was released last Friday. As a songwriter, what is the process like in choosing which songs will represent the album? Does it get to the point where you have to separate yourself emotionally from the songs when you call wrap on the production of an album?
Graceman: It can definitely be a challenge picking and choosing songs because for me, they’re all special. They all deserve extra love. This album was unique because I’d actually released 12 of the songs previously. I’d challenged myself at the beginning of 2019 to release a song and a video every month for that year. I knew I wanted to release them all together on an album and thought I might even wanna add a couple extra songs. I added two, “Slip” and “Night Follows”. Because those two songs were more recent, I felt I should push them and create new ways of sharing them. The other 12 songs on the album had their time to shine when they were released as singles.

TrunkSpace: If someone sat down to listen to The Way The Night Behaves front to back, what would they learn about you both as an artist and as a person?
Graceman: I have a connection with every song and I feel my emotions very deeply. The experiences I have, no matter if they’re good or bad, fuel my creativity. I’m so grateful to have discovered music at an early age. It helps me focus and direct my feelings with intention. I always try to channel personal experiences into my songs. I’m vulnerable and it allows me to work through things. Music is a therapy for me.

TrunkSpace: Normally you would tour to support a new album, but that is not something that is possible in every state right now. How much are you itching to get back on a stage and in front of a crowd?
Graceman: Being on stage and performing for people is such a unique experience. Unfortunately, touring isn’t an option for most artists at this time. I’m grateful to have the option to do virtual live shows. It’s obviously not the same as performing in person but there are positives to it. Doing a virtual live show allows me to reach people in places I’ve never performed before. People who have wanted to see a live show of mine can now see one!

TrunkSpace: What do you get from performing live that you can’t achieve in the studio? Does one offer something unique to your creative brain that the other doesn’t, and vice versa?
Graceman: There’s an amazing energy that comes from performing live. It’s hard to describe. I usually get nervous before shows but once I’m up there singing and playing, I’m totally at ease. It’s so much fun! There’s a tangible feeling in the room when you’re at a live show. Whether you’re the performer or someone in the audience.

TrunkSpace: Your song “Miracle” will be used to help promote the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Is it even possible to fathom just how many people may hear the song given how big of an event the Olympics are all over the world? What are you expectations for how something like that might impact your career as a whole?
Graceman: It still hasn’t really sunk in yet! It’s such an incredible opportunity. The Olympics are a worldwide event. Having Bebe Rexha cut “Miracle” is a dream come true. To on top of that, know people all over the world will be listening to and singing a song I wrote, is insane!

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest highlight of your career thus far and why?
Graceman: There are so many highlights that it’s hard to pick one! Meeting and working with writers/artists I admire is always special though. Writing with Shane McAnally was an incredible experience. He is so talented and kind. It was such an honor to sit with him and write.

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?
Graceman: I’m not sure that I’d want to. This musical journey of mine has taken so many positive and unexpected turns. I’m happy taking it day by day, enjoying every moment I get to do what I love.

Slip (Frank Pole Remix)” is available now. 

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Sit and Spin

dad sports’ name & place

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Single Cover Art By: Adam Elkhadem

Song Title: name & place

Single Sentence Singles Review: If we were coming of age all over again, we would imagine it would sound a lot like this whimsical lo-fi single, which is the dog days of summer translated into song and then amplified for the purpose of creating memories.

Beyond The Track: Hailing from Ottawa, dad sports just signed to Grand Jury Music, an independent record label out of New York.

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The Atomic Bitchwax

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Definite it however you want, but the music that The Atomic Bitchwax makes is pure metal and it always has been since they first started churning out tunes together back in the mid 1990s. With their latest album Scorpio (pictured left) due to drop on August 28 via Tee Pee Records, the trio from Long Branch, New Jersey is happy to still be rocking after all these years.

I’m thankful for being fortunate enough to be able to create music on soooo many levels,” said drummer Bob Pantella in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I’ll be at it until I die.”

We recently sat down with Pantella to discuss the sub-genre debate, why fans need to get used to the band supporting THIS album, and what one hour on stage can make him forget all about.

TrunkSpace: There are so many genres and sub-genres to music these days that it makes your head spin just trying to get a handle on what bands are describing themselves as, but with The Atomic Bitchwax, what we hear is just some straight forward in-your-face rock. When you look at where you started in 1992 to where you are today on the eve of Scorpio releasing, where do you hear the biggest differences musically? What has changed for the band creatively in that time span?
Pantella: Yeah, I know what you mean with all the different genres. I lost track of all the sub-genres years ago. To me it’s all “Metal,” which is a sub-genre in itself of “Hard Rock,” which is a sub-genre of “Rock,” which is a sub-genre of “Rock and Roll.” That’s enough sub-genres for me.

I don’t think that if a band has an original sound or a unique “look” that it should automatically be considered its own genre. On the creativity side of things, we’ve probably mutated due to member changes through the years but overall I think we still get turned by the same music we did when we were 15. We all pretty much grew up in the same circumstances with the same influences, generally speaking of course.

TrunkSpace: Scorpio is due to drop August 28. What kind of emotions do you juggle with when releasing new material to the masses, and is the experience different this time around given that the entire world, essentially, has ground to a halt?
Pantella: What can I say that hasn’t been said already a billion times… it’s great to be able to release new material but without being able to properly promote Scorpio, it really feels like pissing in the wind. We put a lot of time and effort into this album. If and when it comes time to be able to tour again next year or the year after, I know exactly what’s gonna happen… “YOU GUYS NEED A NEW ALBUM,” at which point I’m gonna lose my shit! This IS the new album and it’s going to be for a while! After we tour it properly and give it its due, then we’ll record another record.

TrunkSpace: So how has promoting the album changed? How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Pantella: Well, I think I answered most of that in the last question but one way is videos, LOTS of videos. We’re not doing live streaming or drive-in concerts. None of that bullshit. We’d rather wait until we can do it the right way… and there’s only ONE right way. You know it and I know it…

TrunkSpace: If someone sat down and listened to Scorpio front to back, what would they learn about you guys and where you’re as a band and as songwriters in 2020?
Pantella: HA!!! If you like to get really high and drive really fast, you’ll love this record… but don’t get really high and don’t drive really fast. Nah, I’m only joking… definitely get really fucking high and drive really fucking fast!!

TrunkSpace: Outside of the music itself, what did you want to accomplish with the production on Scorpio that perhaps you were unable to achieve on earlier releases? Did you accomplish your vision for the album as a whole when you called wrap on the process?
Pantella: You start with a vision, you get REALLY close, then you veer off track a little and then it’s time to put it down.

As Bowie once said, “You never really finish an album, you just abandon it.”

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Pantella: There’s really not one thing in particular, it’s more about the process of recording and mixing it in general. As much as I love playing live, I really love recording. It really puts your skills as a musician in the hot seat.

TrunkSpace: You guys have been at it – writing, recording and touring – together since the early ‘90s. What has kept the creative gears turning and was there ever a point where you’ve considered walking away or is music something that you need in your life more than something you want in your life?
Pantella: I think about walking away from it every time I get the mail! (Laughter) BUT, it’s like a drug or the most amazing pussy you’ve ever had, times a billion! I’m thankful for being fortunate enough to be able to create music on soooo many levels. I’ll be at it until I die.

TrunkSpace: When the dust clears and you guys are able to hit the road again… are there still firsts waiting for you out there after performing over 1,500 shows around the globe? Outside of the creative, how do you keep the mechanics of a working band fresh?
Pantella: That one hour on stage and the energy you get back from it – in front actual people – makes the bad food, long drives, shitty motels, long drives, little to no money, long drives, no sleep and long drives totally and unequivocally worth it! Nothing better!

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Pantella: The end of every long drive!

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?
Pantella: Hell fucking no! I’m very happy where I’m at. A lot can happen in 10 years, good or bad. Right now I can still perform and record. I still have most of my hearing, I still have my hair, and thank the gods above I can still get a raging hard-on for music!

Scorpio is available this Friday from Tee Pee Records.

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Trunk Bubbles

Allan Otero

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Name: Allan Otero

Website: Here or Here

1. Favorite character growing up:
There were actually quite a lot. In animation, I can name adventurers such as Flash Gordon, Thundar the Barbarian or Tarzan. In comics, I liked The Fantastic Four very much, particularly for Kirby’s artwork. At that time, I didn’t pay too much attention to the name of the artists; I only enjoyed good art as I still do today. But my favorite was always Spider-Man.

2. Favorite character now:
The first one that comes to mind is definitely Batman. The problem is that I enjoyed so much the comic books from the ‘80s and 90s (and earlier) that I still miss that flavor. Claremont and Byrne´s X-Men and in general everything done by the latter mentioned artist, made me feel something that I haven’t felt ever again.

3. Your most recent work:
Conspiracy Vol. 2: Area 51, Abductions and all related stuff. As an X-Files fan, I’m tremendously enjoying illustrating this 5-issue mini-series.

4. How would you describe your style?
I could’t tell. I can’t say my artwork qualifies as “realistic” but I do try to respect the correct anatomy as much as possible to the best of my abilities. And I try to pay attention to backgrounds – I think that’s an aspect commonly overlooked in most current books (with some notable exceptions).

5. Is there any particular artist that has inspired you throughout your career?
There’s a line, that in my mind and personal taste, I can trace back to the incomparable Jack Kirby, followed by John Buscema, John Romita, Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, George Perez, Alan Davis… up until John Byrne. I’ve enjoyed his art very much, as I mentioned before, thanks in part to how old I was when I discovered him. All of them have inspired me, which doesn’t mean that my art is in any way as good as theirs.

6. How did you break out in the comic book industry?
Arcana Studio (a Canadian publisher) gave me my first opportunity working on their flagship title: Kade. Later, in the U.S., Zenescope Entertainment opened its doors to me and since that day, I’ve enjoyed and loved all their characters and stories that have come into my hands. I feel at home.

7. Is there any character from any comic book universe that you like to draw while sketching for warm ups?
Spider-Man is the first that comes to mind when I start sketching.

8. Are there any characters or titles you’d like to work on in the future?
Batman and Spider-Man are my favorites, but I think a character like Silver Surfer would be great to illustrate because of the infinite possibilities of worlds to explore.

9. What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Besides procrastinating? The care and attention I put into my finished pages… I tend to be so meticulous that I often spend more time than I should on a single page (in terms of deadlines).

10. What Zenescope title have you enjoyed working the most with?
Satan’s Hollow, a horror story, with supernatural elements and characters. Those themes fascinate me and, since it is a title marketed for mature readers, I felt a lot of freedom when drawing. In general, Zenescope comics are very enjoyable to illustrate.

11. Can you tell us something about your next comic book projects?
I’m still working on the Conspiracy mini-series and after that, only Zenescope will tell.

Every project I’ve ever worked on, aside from being a challenge, has also been really exciting… that’s something of utmost importance to me, because I tend to get bored when a concept or story doesn’t catch my attention and with Zenescope that has never happened.

12. What piece of advice would you give to young aspiring artists out there who are considering to make a career in the comic book industry?
Besides the usual stuff (anatomy, perspective, etc,), to actually enjoy the ride. Make comics/art that you like to read/see yourself. Never stop learning… don’t assume you already know everything. And be grateful if you do what you love to do.

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Meg Smith’s Cross My Heart I Hope U Die

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Song Title: Cross My Heart I Hope U Die

Single Sentence Singles Review: With a delectably-venomous title to set the table, Smith serves up an audible feast that is both the saltiest and sweetest earworm you’ll ingest all year!

Beyond The Track: “Cross My Heart I Hope U Die” will be featured on Smith’s debut EP, due later this year. As for what she hoped to accomplish with the track? “It came to a point where I decided to totally forget all my preconceived notions about what my music should sound like. So I went into the session and I was like ‘Today I want to write the spookiest song ever.’”

And that means…

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EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Munk Duane’s Dangerous

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TrunkSpace Exclusive Premiere
Munk Duane’s Dangerous

Boston-based songwriter Munk Duane is dropping a new single today, and you can check out the official video for it first at TrunkSpace, but before you do, here’s what Duane had to say about the song.

“Despite a person’s intentions, ignoring expertise, embracing conspiracy/paranoia and cultivating division have brought us to where we are today. These practitioners are, in a word, dangerous, both to individuals and to society. They possess no self-awareness of the danger they pose, no accountability for the their destructive philosophies and exist in every societal permutation, from family members to leadership. The people who think they are the most loyal to Democracy are the ones tearing it apart.”

ENJOY!

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Smith, Lyle & Moore

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With the new single “Werewolf” just released, self-proclaimed musical perfectionists Smith, Lyle & Moore are eager to share their songs with the masses, though they admit to being unsure if they’ve caught creative lightening in a bottle – at least until they can see how audiences respond to their collective efforts.

“There is perfection in imperfection, but if you are too close to something you sometimes can’t see the perfection in the imperfection – you just see the imperfection,” Andrew Smith said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Smith and Jack Moore to discuss their musical bond, recipe testing their secret sauce, and rewards yet to be achieved.

TrunkSpace: Prior to coming together, you had all found musical companionship in other bands and projects. What was it about this unit that clicked creatively when you began to flesh out your first batch of songs together?
Smith: With Tyler, lyricism. With Jack, his guitar playing. The first time I heard “And some days I am a… mother fucking werewolf” I fell in love with the song. It was unexpected, badass, and great. I had never heard anything like it, especially in the context of what came across as a typical folk song until that lyric. With Jack, there’s just a soul to his guitar playing that he must have latched on to from growing up around his dad. I’ve played guitar my whole life and know lots of “great” musicians. But emotion > technical ability, and the emotion of Jack’s playing is fantastic and unmatched in any guitarist I have played with.
Moore: I think the whole process felt natural from the get go. Andrew and I had very strong common ground with our influences, and leading with those in the making of the tracks we didn’t feel like we needed to deviate creatively from one another’s goals musically.

TrunkSpace: Is there such a thing as creative soulmates? Can musicians such as yourselves find creative kinship with some but not others?
Smith: With soulmates, there’s only supposed to be one for you in the world, right? In that case, no. There is no such thing as a musical soulmate. But like how you can have multiple best friends throughout your life, you can have multiple musical best-friends who you click with (but they don’t even have to be your friends – you can musically connect with a songwriter in a single session). A musical soulmate is pretty similar to finding a band you love – you just get to be involved in the creation of the music instead of just enjoying it.
Moore: Maybe even more so musically than romantically, in the way that I would go back to an old writing partner, but not an ex. (Laughter) And of course, in the same way as you have chemistry with someone’s personality you find it musically speaking also.

TrunkSpace: The band came together in a really organic way. Musically, does that put less pressure on you when you realize that you’re not creating to create, but instead, creating because the environment is perfect for it?
Smith: I think most non-boybands come together fairly organically. That being said, it’s the opposite for me – there is a lot of pressure inherent in a passion project because anything less than elusive “perfection” feels like failure. In that regard, maybe this project is a failure. (Laughter) But I love it and it is great… just not perfect. But is anything? Hm… There is perfection in imperfection, but if you are too close to something you sometimes can’t see the perfection in the imperfection – you just see the imperfection. Like if you stand at the base of a massive skyscraper, like 1 foot away from it, and have to analyze the beauty of its architecture, you’re gonna miss a lot of what’s going on. Maybe you focus on the handprint on the pane of glass in front of your face and it bugs you – you just want a crystal clear pane of glass there. If you stood at the base of the empire state building, you’d have almost no idea what makes it beautiful (the top is so cool and iconic!). I’m standing with my face pressed against the glass of the building blowing air into my cheeks. I can’t even tell if it’s a skyscraper or a house.
Moore: Absolutely, we always have a lot of fun when we write, and we really just try and make the best songs we can and do them justice for ourselves. I always just think, “what would I wanna hear” during the creation process. It’s something I think I’ll always stick by.

TrunkSpace: What kind of emotions do you juggle with when releasing new material to the masses, and is the experience different this time around given that the entire world, essentially, has ground to a halt?
Smith: The emotion is fear of failure and bouncing between thinking what you’ve created is great and horrible. The world grinding to a halt plays no role in the emotion involved in releasing music, for me.
Moore: I suppose the obvious is how it’s going to be received, and have you done everything you can possibly do to make it as good as it can be. That’s definitely been a recurring theme. People often ask about releasing in the pandemic, but I’d say it’s about par for the course for us given the list of unusual hurdles we have had to overcome making the record. I think the true impact lies with the live performance side of the music, not recorded as I’m sure there are a lot of people sitting around bored in the mood to discover some new music, so in some ways maybe we have a more captive, but also more anxious and frustrated audience. Time will tell.

TrunkSpace: Normally you would tour to support a new release, but that is not something that is possible in every state right now. How has promoting the upcoming music changed? How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Smith: By being creative, hopefully. And/or by grinding it out. Throughout the span of this project coming to fruition, there have been a lot of creative things that we’ve tried to promote the music. For example, years ago there was a Snapchat hack that released about 5 million usernames and area codes. I downloaded the hack the day that news was released, and it was scrubbed from the internet shortly thereafter. I then created 650 different Snapchat accounts and coded something to add the hack-released-usernames to each of these accounts automatically. Each of the 650 accounts followed users from a specific area code. This would hypothetically allow for targeted promotion when on tour, by using area codes to deduce location of users. After adding all 5 million people, I ran tests on the accounts – a story posted to all of the accounts would be viewed by 500,000 people. Unfortunately, I was taken away from music for a couple years and in that time-frame Snapchat deactivated all of the accounts I created so I was never able to capitalize on it. I always wait too long – until things are too perfect – and it bit me and us in the ass, especially now understanding the value of having 500,000 eyes on something. My god… the lost opportunity… but thinking of creative ways to get yourself out there is what it’s all about; no music speaks for itself. No song uploaded without a push will become huge, in my opinion. You need to be creative in getting your music in front of people and into their ears. Is that from a creative video? Or some program you create? Or just by talking to lots of people and engaging with them? It could be any or all of the above. For us, it probably won’t be a video (at least with these four songs). So it will have to be something else. Or a combination of other things. We have a little bit of secret sauce and are recipe testing more secret sauce to find something that fits and works.
Moore: Certainly the landscape has changed here with regards of conventional promotion of a record – as you say it’s practically impossible to do any kind of congruent tour at the moment, so we have to rely on the recorded music to do the speaking. That definitely makes it more of a challenge, but a fun one too.

TrunkSpace: If someone sat down and listened to your upcoming EP front to back, what would they learn about you and where you’re at as a band and as songwriters in 2020?
Smith: They’d learn more about where we were in the past because these songs weren’t written this year. But I think the themes on this album are points of view on the world that still hold true – which is sort of what you want (sometimes)… to create something and say something that you still believe in years later. There is something special about a song that is very “2020” or very “1987” – a song that lives in a year – and there is also something special about songs that don’t. To me, these songs don’t.
Moore: I’d like to think it would give a great idea of the band’s energy and what’s to come. As a foundation, and thinking about the other songs we have written, I think we chose the best possible introductory four to give people a feel of what we’re about.

TrunkSpace: Outside of the music itself, what did you want to accomplish with the production of the EP and do you feel like you checked off all of the boxes when you called wrap?
Smith: To make something that feels new-old. To accomplish a timelessness and freshness at the same time. I’m way to close to the project to know if I checked off all of the boxes. I definitely didn’t check them all off. But I have too many boxes – i.e., does this record sound as good as a Bob Ludwig mastered Nigel Godrich Produced masterpiece? Hell no, unfortunately. But maybe those aspirations were unrealistic? Anything short of that feels like failure because I set a high bar. Probably the songs would benefit from another person mixing them (I produced and mixed). But they’re closer than they ever have been to what the vision was… I think. I have no perspective on them at all.
Moore: It’s funny, it feels like you lay down a marker in time when you write a song, the more powerful it is, the more you are able to recall who you were and how you felt at the time, and that certainly rings true with these songs.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Smith: The production elements.
Moore: I’m proud of overcoming everything that was thrown at us on the way, and being genuinely truly happy about how they sound individually and collectively. We’re pretty perfectionist in this band so it took a lot for us to go, “Okay, this is it.”

TrunkSpace: What has been the most rewarding aspect of creating together thus far? What has this project done for you personally that you felt was a missing component from those you participated in previously?
Smith: Working on music you love is rewarding. But nothing is ever finished. Sometimes I hear the songs and feel accomplished and like they’re great, and other times I don’t like them. It’s all perspective. And I truly have none. I’m pretty sure the songs are good.

The component that this project contains that others didn’t is that it was done purely out of an obsession to make something I liked; it wasn’t to deliver something specific to a label or manager of another artist. It was making music for fun… even though a lot of it wasn’t fun, it was torture… because when I work on something I love, I guess I sometimes beat it into the ground until I hate it and then take time away until I don’t hate it, and then do the same over and over. I guess the rewarding aspect of making this, for me, hasn’t been achieved. I will feel rewarded/accomplished if we can figure out how to get millions of streams on these songs. I need verification that they are good from something external. These songs are meant to be a stepping stone to a full record. I’ll feel accomplished if/when that full record comes out. It is mostly finished and fully recorded, we just need a push from people out in the world to make it come to fruition — we need people to love these songs and share them and in effect contribute to this project, to help push us to the next chapter.
Moore: It was just a super fun and diverse EP to create. It really dragged us everywhere, both emotionally and geographically. At times it felt like some monster that had to be slain, but we got there in the end.

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?
Smith: Sure – if we had any hits in 10 years, I could release them 10 years earlier and have 10 years more content out of the way. If history is a judge of the future, we’d need a time machine if we ever wanted to release a 2nd record… because these 4 songs took a long time… But in actuality, we have a full record basically finished and the reason these songs took so long is because I was learning who I was as a producer and engineer in the midst of making this record. I’m very fast and have a set-up that I understand and know how to use well now – something I didn’t have when this project started; the result is that I am able to lay down ideas quickly, efficiently, and well, and that allows for me to have more perspective and complete things quickly. Its all about perspective. Let me trade the time machine for a memory-eraser. I’d erase my memory every day. I’d make amazing music that sounds incredible if I could erase my memory everyday before working on the song I worked on yesterday.
Moore: I think it might spoil the fun. (Laughter) Besides, looking at it could influence you to do things differently which would alter the outcome of what you had seen, presumably. (Laughter) I think it’s just important to enjoy the journey of it all; the fun part is watching it all evolve.

“Werewolf” is available today.

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Trunk Gaming

Fall Guys

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Fall Guys

Initial Release Date: August 4, 2020

Developer: Mediatonic

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Designer: Joseph Walsh

Engine: Unity

Platform: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows

Genre: Battle Royale, Platform, Racing

Why We’re Playing It: It can be hard to find a video game that the whole family can enjoy no matter your skill set, age or level of play. Luckily, Fall Guys ticks all of those boxes and it’s a barrel of laughs, a bucket of fun and a whole heap of hilariousness.

What It’s All About?: Fall Guys is a battle royale-style competition game that draws inspiration from the 1980s game show, Takeshi’s Castle. We’ll pause while you Google that OR you can just say it’s American Gladiators with super cute characters dressed up as hot dogs, chickens and other super non-intimidating outfits.

That’s Worth A Power-Up!: Fall Guys throws in a wide mix of free-for-all and team challenge competitions that culminate into a final mini-game, which incorporates a mixture of elements from other mini-games. With millions of players worldwide, you will most likely never be pitted against the same players twice, so you never know what to expect from game to game, which helps add to the replay value.

Bonus Level: If you have PlayStation Plus membership, you can score this game for free this month, but if you don’t have PS Plus, it will only set you back $19.99 as of the time this article is published.

And that’s why this game is a certified quarter muncher!

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Deep Focus

Sergio Navarretta

SergioNavarrettaFeatured

In our ongoing column Deep Focus, TrunkSpace is going behind the camera to talk with the directors, writers and producers who infuse our world with that perennial pop culture goodness that we can’t get enough of.

This time out we’re chatting with Sergio Navarretta, director and producer of The Cuban, about press tours in pajamas, making a project that says something important, and how he overcame debilitating anxiety.

TrunkSpace: Your film The Cuban was released in the middle of a very difficult time for a lot of people. What is it like promoting a project right now, and do you believe your film has a better chance of finding a wider audience with much of the country still on lockdown?
Navarretta: Most definitely. I am a big proponent of finding the positive in every situation. When the pandemic hit we had to put our theatrical release for The Cuban on hold, which was disappointing. But giving up seemed too easy and the message of the film drove me to push as much as I could to keep forging on even when it felt impossible. Sometimes adversity helps us to examine things more closely, and to re-evaluate our lives and what’s important. I really saw this pause as a chance to re-examine things in my life and within the industry – things that were in the process of changing anyways. My team and I were able to brainstorm innovative ways to get the film to much larger audiences than we’d initially anticipated via drive-in theaters and virtual cinemas. Also doing a virtual press tour in support of the film has been a thrill! I get to do interviews and Q&As with Louis Gossett Jr., Ana Golja and Shohreh Aghdashloo from the comfort of my home office (sometimes in my pajamas) and have enjoyed the benefit of being in many places at once without ever leaving my home. This period has also afforded me more time to spend with family and friends and in a way I have been able to reclaim my life. In the world pre COVID-19, it was easy for me to get caught up in the stressful, hurried pace of things. But, the truth is, the best way to open up the channels of creativity is when you are not running. For me, even in the midst of releasing my feature, this pandemic has been a return to the so-called simple things in life.

TrunkSpace: In a lot of ways, The Cuban feels like a throwback. We have become so used to seeing the cineplexes filled with franchises and existing brands that it’s easy to lose track of wonderful films like this. What drew you to the material?
Navarretta: Thank you for acknowledging that. I made the kind of movie I would want to see. I never grew up on Hollywood movies. I grew up watching Italian films with my parents where nothing explodes, the protagonist doesn’t fly and there is no shark that kills everyone by the end. They were “simple” films, slices of life in the neo-realistic style, with subtle arcs but left me satisfied and reflecting on life. The American films of the 1970s really influenced me later on, as well, which inspired the deliberate use of vintage Cooke Pancros refurbished lenses. I give a lot of credit to my cinematographer, Celiana Cardenas, who was able to manifest the look I wanted. I like classic storytelling, and allowing the characters and plot to drive the story. In terms of the material, I was involved from the very beginning, so there is a lot of me in it, i.e: my fascination with Cuba or the use of Afro-Cuban jazz. Making The Cuban was a very personal journey and in some ways cathartic. It was a way of dealing with the loss of my father and all the stories that died with him.

TrunkSpace: You wore many hats on the film as you do with many of your projects. Does director Sergio ever butt heads with producer Sergio in terms of what one wants to accomplish creatively and what the other knows is possible given budget and time constraints?
Navarretta: I think I’ve become good at it and the older I get, the more credit I give myself. I am a people person and passionate about what I do, so I find it difficult to delegate. I like being involved in all the aspects of production and being a part of the problem solving that inevitably needs to happen. It helps me appreciate the entire process a lot more. But at the same time, I have been working with my partner, Alessandra Piccione, for several years now. I know she has my back, so when my director hat is on I can rest assured and be there 100%. We have a trust that is essential when you are completely immersed in a project like this. Ultimately, I try not to argue with myself, and go over-budget, for example. The biggest lesson I have learned is to never compromise and always give it your all, even when it seems impossible or even when budget and time are a limitation.

TrunkSpace: What is a compromise that you had to make as a director on The Cuban that you feel actually ended up benefiting the end product? Was there a happy accident that occurred that ultimately turned out better in the end?
Navarretta: Yes, definitely. Shooting in Cuba, even with the best intentions, was not something we could really plan for. I went down with my very seasoned crew for a four-day second unit shoot and ended up moving to Havana for several weeks. We started with a traditional approach: scouting, having production meetings, trying to break through cultural barriers, language barriers, etc. But when it came time to shoot, we were forced to throw the plan out the window and I had to think quickly on my feet. Thankfully, Havana is an incredibly creative and culturally-vibrant place, and with no cell phone or other life distractions I found myself completely in the present moment. A lot of the shots that made it into the film from Cuba came out of my imagination while I was there. In the end, it taught me to trust the process. What will be will be, and that sometimes you just need to surrender and be okay with that.

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 The Cuban that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Navarretta: That is a great question. The thing I will remember most fondly is meeting the legendary Lou Gossett Jr. Being at his home in Malibu for the first time was surreal. When you spend your whole life fantasizing about this elusive mirage called Hollywood, and you have the opportunity to work with (and eventually become friends with) a living legend, you realize that anything is possible and if you are going to spend three or more years on a project, you may as well make something that says something important. Making a movie because it’s cool to make a movie does not appeal to me and frankly would never get me through those days where you want to give up. Also, I’ve always wanted to work with Shohreh Aghdashloo, so I remember the day I was directing her for the first time on set and thinking ‘is this for real’? I sat behind the monitor and thought, man it doesn’t get much better than this.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Navarretta: I am really proud of the score, and working with world class musicians like Hilario Duran. He is a real virtuoso, and brought magic to the experience. We recorded the music prior to shooting the film, so those compositions are in my bones. Every time I hear any of those tracks, it brings me right back there. I am also proud of the look. The film is beautiful to look at, and I was able to use visual language to tell a story in a way I never could before.

TrunkSpace: There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead of us, but how do you think our collective COVID-19 experience will impact the film industry long term?
Navarretta: I think ultimately change is imminent and as an artistic community we will continue to adapt as the industry always has. I lived through shooting on film and having to move to digital fairly quickly. The medium changes, the industry evolves but at the core is classic storytelling. What the Greeks were doing 2000 years ago at the amphitheaters is the same as what we are now capturing on digital formats. If anything, because of the new COVID-19 protocols for sets it will become more expensive and complicated to shoot, I think it will force us to look even more closely at the content we are making and why we are making it. Maybe it is a renaissance period, and like the 1970s amazing projects will come out of it. Every once in a while you need a shake up to bring things back to the core of the matter, which in this case is a powerful art form that is a means to communicate and to move people emotionally.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as a director and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Navarretta: I am hardest on myself when it comes to pushing beyond my comfort zone. Change is always scary, but thankfully I have a burning curiosity to explore new things. Somehow I’ve been wired to act in spite of fear, and jump into situations that terrify me. That is how I overcame debilitating anxiety, and am able to do what I do today. It also helps when the driving force is helping others somehow. I never want to let people down so making absurd commitments helps build confidence and gets me out of bed in the morning.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career as a whole thus far?
Navarretta: I have had so many monumental moments over the years, traveling to film festivals all over the world and meeting filmmakers and actors I have always admired. I would say the highlight was at the premiere of my first film, Looking for Angelina, where Jan Harlan, who was Stanley Kubrick’s long time producer and brother in law, was in the audience. After he saw the film, he told me he enjoyed it very much and we later sat on a panel together discussing the filmmaking process. Having an intimate look into the life of a master like Kubrick is something I will never forget.

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?
Navarretta: I prefer not to know. What I didn’t know is what got me here in the first place. If someone would have told me how hard it would be and how much I would need to suffer to continue doing what I love, I would have definitely given up a long time ago. There is nothing rational about this. Ignorance is bliss and the discovery of things as well as the mystery of life is what makes it fascinating. Also, I’m terrified of disappointment so it’s best to live in the present moment, and not be too concerned with a past that doesn’t exist anymore, nor a future that is not guaranteed. Isn’t this a big part of the message of The Cuban? The music brings the characters into the present moment, which is what life is all about.

The Cuban is available now via virtual cinemas. For more information, please visit here.

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