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The Brother Brothers

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Artist: The Brother Brothers

City Attended: Waltham, MA

Venue: Charles River Museum

Concert Date: 12-13-20

The Reason We Went: The harmonies that identical twin brothers Adam and David Moss displayed on their 2018 full-length debut, Some People I Know, were a mesmerizing window that peered into the duo’s potential as artists and songwriters. Getting to see them in the intimate setting of an industrial museum, surrounded by items from our collective pasts – including old cars, bikes, steam-powered contraptions and various equipment that helped to shape our present – was an opportunity too good to pass up.

What We Thought: Although getting out of the cold New England air and into the venue proved to be a difficult task (watch the instructional video on the Charles River Museum’s website so you don’t make the same mistakes we did!!!!), the music that The Brother Brothers offered up to the audience was so warm and welcoming that it melted the Boston-area chill. The magical, historical feel of the space combined with Adam and David’s almost-whimsical way of engaging an audience through song made this a very special night. Those in attendance familiar with Some People I Know relished in live takes of “Mary Ann,” “Frankie,” and “Colorado,” while it was an acoustic rendition of Peter Rowan’s “Angel Island” to close out the night that served as the perfect exclamation point on an exceptional evening on the Charles.

Bonus Takeaway: If the new tracks shared by Adam and David are any indication, The Brother Brother’s upcoming follow-up to Some People I Know will be an even more noteworthy collection of songs than their debut. Stay tuned for that one in 2020!

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Opening Act

Holy Pinto

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Artist: Holy Pinto (Aymen Saleh)

Latest Release: Three new singles, Holy Trinity Singles Club, located here.

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

TrunkSpace: You recently dropped three new singles. What was it about these songs that you felt would work better as singles instead of holding them for a future EP or album?
Saleh: I think this singles series is a (pretty fun!) identity-crisis project. In the last year or so this band has really opened up to being solely me doing all the writing/recording and I wanted to mess around with what I could do musically and try figure out what feels right, for right now at least. The songs are really different in style, subject matter, mood and delivery and I took that opportunity to dress them up in their own ways.

I feel a requirement for a full-length album is to be really coherent both lyrically and musically, and I didn’t think any one of these songs/ideas/statements could be expanded into a full album if I kept pulling at the string and unraveling it. So I kept them alone and bundled them together as a little collection of misfits. Holy Pinto’s album #3 is yet to reveal itself to me… BUT I’m gonna try to force it to soon!

TrunkSpace: What are some of the benefits to releasing tracks independently of an album in 2019? Does it give more focus to the individual songs when they aren’t part of a collection?
Saleh: Honestly – I think it’s an absolute disaster of an idea for a band in the position I’m in. Releasing singles as a small artist (at least for me) hasn’t worked that well – I’ve always needed a full album campaign to move forward. I actually reckon the songs are getting far less focus because of it, but that’s okay and I kind of knew it going in.

I guess the benefits that some people find are that it could potentially give you more shots at having a single song ‘break through’ and gather steam, rather than releasing an entire album of songs and watching it sink or swim. Someone recently referred to this approach as “Spotify Roulette” to me.

I just really liked the context for the release of these songs and believed in them as a mini-misfit collection, so kinda went with that, for better or for worse!

TrunkSpace: Let’s go back to that first single, “Acquaintances, Friends – Love Ends.” What could someone learn about you as both an artist and as a person in sitting down to listen to that song, had they never been exposed to your music before?
Saleh: (Laughter) Maybe quite a bit?! All the silly metaphors come from a very real place. I don’t think there’s a moment where I’m telling a lie or exaggerating something… I did wanna drive tractors as a kid. I guess objectively you could learn about some of my upbringing and likes/dislikes. There’s strong allusions to my current life in America – not sure whether it lands as strongly outside of the context of knowing the band/me/our story, but it’s in there!

TrunkSpace: Creatively, is “Acquaintances, Friends – Love Ends” coming from a different place than those songs that appeared on your recent full-length, Adult? Would this track – and the two singles to come – have been at home on that album or would they have felt out of place for you as an artist?
Saleh: Yeah, a different place from the full-length, for sure. I think it’s a lyrical, beat poetry type song. I heard this song called “Presumably Dead Arm” by Sidney Gish and it seemed like a very quirky, fun, stream of consciousness type ramble that seems to have nuggets of true pain in it. It really inspired me to want to write a stream of consciousness or super word-y song again, which is something I don’t think I’ve done since maybe 2015’s “Best Pals.” It’s something that’s definitely within the scope of what I’ve done in the past, but not on a full-length record, which have always felt more ‘serious’. Maybe that’s the wrong approach, I’d probably be okay with an album full of those kinda tracks, maybe the next record should be ‘anti-serious’!

TrunkSpace: We read that a big portion of these three new singles involved you taking on an experimentation in sound. How important is it for you as an artist to continue to grow and adapt your sound? If we were flash forward three albums from now, would you hope that you’d be creating in different way sonically than you are today?
Saleh: I just hope whatever I’m creating feels right, is enjoyable and inspires me. I did “Malady” and was like ‘this is an awesome new direction! This is what LP3 will sound like’. Now, two months on from it’s recording, I’m like… ‘that was fun for what it was, I got to throw a cloth over a snare drum so it sounded muffled and make a cool sound,’ but there’s something right now in me that makes that approach feel sterile and I would hate to move forward with sounding like that full-time. My opinion could easily change again in two weeks time. This is quite a pivotal time for me in that retrospect, I have no idea what I want or what’s going to come out the other side. I’ve promised myself (as of today) to just focus on the songs and after they’re finished, the songs usually tell me what they want. I’m trying hard not to overthink it. Maybe these singles were a way of playfully interacting with and distancing myself from the overthinking.

Photo By: Kelly Bolter

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the three new singles?
Saleh: Upon reflection – I love the song “Acquaintances, Friends.” It made me cringe for so long, but it was exactly what I wanted to do at the time, I find it kind of funny (in a good way) and there’s a couple of lyrics in there that are some of those that I’m most proud of. Whenever I have a lyric pop into my head that distills exactly what’s on my mind into one easily digestible sentence, that’s where I’m super proud of the writing. The drum sound, style and groove of “Malady” I’m very proud of too, it was a cool thing that I wasn’t sure I could do or pull off. Taking that approach with “Malady” on the drums came as a direct response to being deeply disappointed with how I played ‘Bully’ – its reckless intensity shaped the song in a way I didn’t originally envisage. So, I switched it up in a big way for “Malady,” which was recorded afterwards. I’m truly figuring out what I do and don’t want to sound like – in real time, even – it’s a tough process but hopefully rewarding.

TrunkSpace: You had Adult out earlier this year, and now three new songs on top of that. Do you envision that 2020 will be just as prolific for you as a songwriter?
Saleh: I really, really hope so. I’m dropping an EP in February 2020 that contains songs about my adopted hometown Milwaukee – that’s already recorded and finished. Next year, I want to write a record I feel really passionate about. It wouldn’t come out ‘til 2021, but I’d want to see it taking shape and bloom.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist and how do you overcome those self-critical insecurities?
Saleh: I struggle with feelings about my voice a lot. That can be daily, both in live performances and listening back to recordings. I honestly can’t say I’ve been able to overcome it, but having just sung in this band for a few years, because I’ve had to, means that it’s objectively become a bit better to the outside observer and sounds a little bit better to me. That expression about comparison being the killer of all happiness – how if we look to our peers, social media, etc all the time we’ll never be happy in ourselves – rings true right now, in all of life, creativity and career. So for that, I guess I just switch off social media as much as I can and try be present with my own friends, environment + endeavors.

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?
Saleh: (Laughter) Definitely yes, but on a scale of evaluation that would take far more than an interview question to delve into!! I’ll say – I wouldn’t have thought I’d ever be singing, in any way at any level, and I wouldn’t have thought I’d be living in America.

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?
Saleh: This is an awesome question. I wouldn’t, because it’d inform my life choices, and it’s those choices or random tangents that have always proved to have made life more colorful. My life has been weird, and I’m happy for it to keep being so. I reckon the certainty would get rid of the meandering nature of the journey. I’ll embrace the adventure and stomach its difficulties along the way!

Check out all three of Holy Pinto’s latest singles here.

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Wingman Wednesday

Adwin Brown

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Photo By: Shanna Fisher

Adwin Brown has a really great outlook on fame, which a good thing considering how his career continues to build upon itself, recently joining the cast of the Netflix hit “You” in its second season. While fans have sunken their teeth into the psychological thriller, the Florida native is just as excited to be a part of it as the audience is to take it all in.

I can’t even begin to describe how thrilling it is to be on a show that has such a strong and dedicated fan base,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “It’s so fun to go on social media and see how passionate fans are about the show’s characters and the choices they make.”

We recently sat down with Brown to discuss joining a successful show mid run, not having to worry about character variables, and his views on fame in a fame-hungry society.

TrunkSpace: First, congratulations on joining the cast of “You” in Season 2! Not only is it a feat to get a show on the air, but it seems like, more than ever, it’s difficult to keep one on the air. That being said, what is it like joining a series that already has an established on-set tone? Is it a bit like being the new kid at school?
Brown
: It is definitely like being the new kid in school! You’re coming into a situation where a lot of the cast/crew from Season 1 already have established relationships with each other, so the idea of trying to enter their space, personally and artistically, can be intimidating! But from the first table read, everyone was so warm and welcoming that I knew I had nothing to worry about.

The majority of my scenes are with Penn Badgley, who is truly the most genuine and humble guy; his energy alone made my whole set experience pretty dope. Thankfully, we also had a handful of actors who were in the same position as me, so we were all able to bond over similar feelings. I’m grateful I didn’t have to go through this experience as the only newbie!

TrunkSpace: There must be something nice about booking a job that already has a fan base. Is that something you think about going into a project like “You” where you know at the end of the day, people are going to be watching when it premieres?
Brown: I mean, if I said no, I’d be lying! I can’t even begin to describe how thrilling it is to be on a show that has such a strong and dedicated fan base. It’s so fun to go on social media and see how passionate fans are about the show’s characters and the choices they make. People all over the world loved following Joe’s journey in Season 1, so I have to admit there is a part of me that feels a responsibility to make sure the fans enjoy Season 2 just as much, if not more!

TrunkSpace: From an acting perspective, did you know your character Calvin’s full season arc when you joined the cast, or did elements of his journey become revealed to you throughout production? Does that impact how you make choices for a character in the early going – if in fact you don’t have the full picture?
Brown: I didn’t know Calvin’s full season arc at all! Which as an actor, not only made things pretty exciting but it also allowed me to really live in the moment and focus on the situation at hand in that precise moment. I think when you know the outcome of your character’s arc, it can sometimes give you too many variables to worry about at once, so I’m glad the writers let me learn about Calvin on a week to week basis. When we would have our table reads, it was always really exciting for me to learn new details about Calvin and try and figure out how I could use those new discoveries on set.

TrunkSpace: “You” is the kind of series where there is no guarantee that everyone we’re following along with is going to make it to the end. Does that give the work a sort of creative high stakes in that, in a way, you’re kind of acting on a tightrope not necessarily knowing (at least for the audience) who is going to fall and who isn’t?
Brown: Yes, absolutely! The stakes for this show are unbelievably high and I honestly think that’s what makes it so addicting! You get attached to these characters and you want what’s best for them, but in the back of your mind… you know exactly what Joe is capable of, so you’re on the edge of your seat the entire season. I mean, I distinctly remember certain table reads where the entire cast/crew in the room audibly gasped about certain outcomes in the script. So if we were shocked about what happens in Season 2, I know our audience will be too!

TrunkSpace: Without giving away any spoilers, what are you most excited about for people to see heading into Season 2?
Brown: I’m really excited to see how fans react to the new setting of Season 2. Joe leaves New York City, and ends up living in Los Angeles… and that idea alone is so intriguing to me. He’s on the run trying to escape his past and lay low, so he decides to move to a city where everyone is literally desperate for attention? That juxtaposition is iconic.

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 “You” thus far that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Brown: When I look back on my experience working on “You,” one of the first things that comes to mind is how much I respect Penn. “You” isn’t really an ensemble kind of show, right? Yes, there are other lead characters, but the show is told from Joe’s perspective… Penn Badgley is THE lead. Meaning he’s usually the first actor called to set that morning, and usually the last actor to leave at night. He’s pretty much in every scene, and he has to do all that voice over work – which I think we can all agree is a huge part of the show’s identity. Mind you, Penn is originally from NYC where they shot Season 1, but Season 2 takes place in LA, so he had to relocate away from his family for almost five months! And not once, not once, did I ever hear him complain about anything. He showed up to work every day with a smile on his face and was nothing short of professional and pleasant. The way he treated the cast/crew is a real testament to the kind of guy he is, and I hope I can bring half that much energy to every future set I’m on!

Photo By: Shanna Fisher

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?
Brown: This is a good question! I do believe that when you get to a certain level in your acting career, fame does seem to become a part of the package. And to be truthful, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that necessarily, it all just depends on what your motives are.

For example, if I shoot a feature film that I’m extremely passionate about, of course I want to do my best and make sure that people are aware of said film. So, maybe I would be a guest on “The Ellen Show” or get a spread in a popular magazine… those things could potentially make me “famous” but my motive for doing them is to further share my art with a larger audience. The issue that I think a lot of people face is they get a taste of fame, they become addicted, and they want more… and in order to get more, they change their motives. When it comes to fame, I think the real important question to ask yourself is “Why are you famous?” and if you’re satisfied with the answer, that’s all that really matters.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Adwin, here’s a blank check. Go and greenlight any kind of project that you want for yourself,” what kind of project would you put into development?
Brown: Hmm… I’m not good at answering questions like this because I’m too Type A to let my imagination run this freely, but I can give you some cute highlights. It’s definitely a comedy. Will Smith and Queen Latifah play my parents. Maya Rudolph plays my bougie Aunt. Keke Palmer plays my sister. Hilarity ensues. Oh, and at some point, there is a dance number and I slay it.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Brown: I feel like I shouldn’t say “You” because I’ve already been talking about it so much! But honestly, I’ve always wanted to be a part of the Netflix family, so it really has been a highlight for me. Another great highlight was doing “Will & Grace,” that’s something I’ll never forget. It’s an iconic show with a hilarious stellar cast and I can’t believe I got the chance to watch them work for a week – a definite crash course in doing a live comedy television show! I soaked it all in like a sponge.

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?
Brown: Wow, we love a time machine question! My answer would have to be a solid NO, simply because I’m enjoying the present too much. Life is meant to be full of surprises, right? Why would I skip all those chapters in my book of life when the one I’m on now is so damn good?! I’d rather just keep going page by page.

Season 2 of “You” streams on Netflix December 26.

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Wingman Wednesday

Ashlie Atkinson

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Photographer: Emily Assiran/Makeup: Tommy Napoli/Hair: Ben Martin/Stylist: Lisa Tinglum

Even with her recent roles as Janice on the immensely-popular series Mr. Robot and as Peggy in the upcoming season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ashlie Atkinson is not willing to jump into the future to see where it all leads, but she’s certainly looking forward to living it it. The Arkansas native hopes to direct episodes of a series she is a regular on while also lending her creative insight to a writer’s room on a project she created, but until then, she’s going to enjoy the ride her career has taken her on thus far.

It’s been straight highlights for years now,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I hope it lasts.”

We recently sat down with Atkinson to discuss being the “new roommate” on Mr. Robot, internal poodle discovery, and the project with a stacked cast that we would have all sat down to watch.

TrunkSpace: Is there a level of nervousness involved for you when joining a series that already has an established on-set tone? Do you feel a bit like the new kid at school who has joined the graduating class in its final year?
Atkinson: That’s a really good analogy! The one I’ve been using is, “the new roommate” because it’s not about a fear of being bullied, like at school or anything, but definitely is a big decisive movement into an atmosphere that the other people have come to think of as a second home, right? And you’re, like, all up in their scenes and their work friendships and asking where the toilet paper gets kept and what day the trash goes out. And, of course, I can’t ignore that I’m moving into Bobby Cannavale’s old room, and he’s genuinely one of the best actors of my generation and yes, now that I think of it I probably should have been more nervous!!!!

TrunkSpace: Mr. Robot is such a critically-acclaimed series. When appearing in a project like this, with so many eyes on it, does it feel like a “game changer” moment? If work begets work in this industry, does the bigger the project lead to even bigger projects?
Atkinson: I meeeeean, we’ll see? Of course, yeah in some ways I’m doing things I’ve always wanted to do in Mr. Robot, and it is a big splashy exciting series, and I would *love* for it to lead to other opportunities to work with more folks I admire on impactful, cool work. But as far as any concept of “making it”, I’ve never really felt like that was a real journey I would take as a character actor, y’know? I’ve been acting for 15 years, and I have had peaks and valleys and right now is definitely one of the most exciting times of my career, and it’d be great if it could stay busy and exciting, I’d love that! But I can’t get too spun out about “staying relevant” or anything buzzy like that.

TrunkSpace: Walk us through what your first day on set was like for Mr. Robot. Was it a whirlwind, or did you take time to savor the moment?
Atkinson: Well, I had costume fittings and table reads and camera tests to see how Janice’s look worked, so I got to meet folks beforehand and have some casual contact without the pressure of shooting. But my first day of shooting was for the dinner scene with Dom and her mom, and then the crazy reveal outside the house, and it was SO. COLD. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and we’re outside, and there’s a huge crane, and my nose is running like I’m a third-grader, and Grace Gummer is making me laugh, and there’s just no time to overthink it. It was heavenly.

TrunkSpace: Your character is described as a “chatty taxidermist.” When we hear “chatty,” we think, “That probably means a lot of dialogue to remember!” What did your pages look like and how did you prepare to bring Janice to life?
Atkinson: What was new for me was how many scenes were me on a phone, talking to Dom as I did taxidermy. In the table reads, there were stage directions in those scenes that were literally “Janice up to her elbows in a poodle.” And I got super excited about the idea of learning that stuff, so my manager arranged for me to meet a taxidermist and work through the steps of the process. It feels so good to do scenes as a character and be able to perform the specific action the character is doing with even a small amount of ability.

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 Mr. Robot that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life/career?
Atkinson: I’m gonna play pretty close to the vest here and just say that the conversations I had with Grace, with Rami, with Sam, with John Lenic, with Jeff Muhlstock… I learned a lot about what goes into making a show this rare, this special. Sam was kind enough to let me shadow him on some days where I didn’t have to act, and I got to really focus on his process and the collaboration between him and Tod and the crew and the actors. It was priceless.

TrunkSpace: You have appeared in so many memorable series over the years. Which for you was the most special in terms of an experience that you’ll never forget?
Atkinson: God, okay, a series. I mean, can I narrow it down to three? Rescue Me was special because it was my first recurring, and I made my first “camp friends” there – meaning the folks you meet on a job who you may or may not keep up with after it’s all over, but who you will always love. Then there’s Us & Them, my greatest heartbreak: the US remake of Gavin & Stacey, which Fox ordered 13 episodes of and then buried before we could ever air in this country. The cast was comprised of the nicest, funniest people to populate a prime time cast: Jason Ritter, Alexis Bledel, Dustin Ybarra, Jane Kaczmarek, Kerri Kenney, Michael Ian Black, and Kurt Fuller! It was RIDICULOUS, the talent. I’m still mad about that one. And finally, One Dollar on CBS All-Access, where I got to reunite with one of my favorite directors (and really good friends) Craig Zobel and go to Pittsburgh for five months in the summer with a rambunctious cast of collaborative character actor types and make a drama about the death of the American Dream. We shot it in 2018, and I’m still talking with most of those folks at least once a week!

Photographer: Emily Assiran/Makeup: Tommy Napoli/Hair: Ben Martin/Stylist: Lisa Tinglum

TrunkSpace: Is there a character you had previously spent time with – even in a guest role capacity – that you wished you had more time to explore, and if so, why that person?
Atkinson: There’s that old saying: “Give an actor a week, they’ll take a week; give them a year, they’ll take a year.” I don’t think there has been a single role that I have ever been like “Okay, nailed it, moving on.” If I had to pick one to go back to, it would be a stage role — IMOGEN in IMOGEN SAYS NOTHING, a play I did at Yale Rep. She’s a bear masquerading as a human prostitute in Shakespearean England, and I would kill to get to inhabit her for a little while longer.

TrunkSpace: Beyond acting, you’re also a writer and producer. In the BEST best case scenario, what would your career look like moving forward? If you could greenlight your own future in the way you wanted it to play out, how would you split your time between acting, writing and producing?
Atkinson: I’d love to direct episodes of a show for which I am a series regular. I’d love to be in a writer’s room for a show I created. I have three films I’m working on developing, a jukebox musical concept based on an ‘80s movie that I am obSESSed with writing, and I want to keep directing plays. I’m writing a web series with my friend – I think having any super-detailed idea of how things are going to progress will only keep me from enjoying how things are actually progressing.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Atkinson: Oh man. That’s too hard. I have been given a ridiculous number of high points in this life. BlacKkKlansman was one, getting to work on Mr. Robot with Sam was another, working on One Dollar with my friends was another. I made a bunch of rap videos for MTV as “Chunky Pam,” that’s another. I went back to my alma mater to direct a verse play about lesbian pirates, for God’s sake. I’ve been the lead, I’ve been the love interest, I’ve been the villain, I’ve been the comic relief. It’s been straight highlights for years now. I hope it lasts.

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?
Atkinson: No way. I think I’ll just let the mystery be. Also, how self-absorbed would I have to be to be like, “I have access to an honest to god time machine, so obviously my first priority is going into the future to see if I ever get to direct for TV” or whatever?

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Deep Focus

Graham & Parker Phillips

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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 Graham and Parker Phillips, co-writers/directors of The Bygone, about brotherly backup, a different kind of bat cave, and steering clear of future cinematic water-based worlds.

TrunkSpace: The film and television business is one that isn’t exactly known for its loyalty. As brothers, do you feel like you have an advantage going into a project together knowing that each of you has the other’s back at all times?
Parker Phillips: Often times it does feel like it’s us against the world. We’ve joked that if one day we win any sort of award we will read off the list of people we would like to not thank, but the truth is we were lucky enough to be surrounded by very supportive producers and collaborators on this film and yes, having a brother as your co-writer/director is about as good of support as you can hope for. I’d hate to go at it alone.

TrunkSpace: That being said, disagreements surely happen both on set and off. But creatively do you feel like you two are aligned with similar artistic POVs?
Graham Phillips: Our vision was always so closely aligned that often times what felt like a big deal just wasn’t as it could work effectively either way. When those disagreements were in pre-production they were usually resolved on the tennis court, but with the time crunch of shooting we couldn’t exactly break away for a quick hit, so we stepped aside with our Director of Photography and 1st AD and made them the tie breakers.

TrunkSpace: Your new film The Bygone hit VOD on November 12. It’s never easy getting a film made, never mind getting one distributed. Throughout the process – and looking beyond creative – what was the most difficult aspect you faced in seeing your vision become a reality in this way?
Parker Phillips: Well, because of financial constraints, not everything we wrote in the screenplay could make it onto the screen. With the exception of one location, we shot the entire film within 45 miles of Oklahoma City, which presented it’s own challenges.
Graham Phillips: The exception being Alabaster Caverns, which is where we shot the ending of the film. The script called for an abandoned gold mine location and we found ours near the Kansas border in northern Oklahoma. The one rule we had while shooting there was to not wake up the nine thousand hibernating bats. As unfortunate as it is unsurprising, after shooting blanks from my character’s shotgun, the bats rose from their slumber and proceeded to fly around our heads for the remaining four days at that location.

TrunkSpace: Independent film requires creative sacrifices at times, both for budget and time-based constraints. With that said, would you have made a different version of The Bygone if you had an unlimited budget, or was it always supposed to be THIS movie?
Graham Phillips: Sure, a larger budget would have been great but we knew we could make this movie for a small amount. More money gives you more shooting days which is all any director wants, but at the end of the day we got it done. It was a subject that was really important for us to tell in the right way and we hope we succeeded in that regard. Then again, there’s a saying that you never really finish a film, you simply abandon it when you run out of time and money. There is obviously some truth to that.

TrunkSpace: What is a lesson learned throughout the process of making The Bygone that you’ll apply to the next project and all future projects moving forward?
Graham Phillips: To really scrutinize the script. Make sure you absolutely need every scene and trim as much fat as you can before you begin shooting. So much is lost on the cutting room floor, so you really want to protect against that. We cut 20 percent of the lines and 10 percent of the scenes in the film. Part of that was unavoidable as certain things just didn’t work the way they should have, but when you think about where that time and money could have been reallocated, you can’t help but fixate on how to make the next one even more streamlined.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the film?
Parker Phillips: The performances. What we were able to get out of our talented cast and all that they were able to give to our film. We consider ourselves “actors directors” in that we feel without the actor properly invested, the audience will never be, and everyday seeing them in the wardrobe of the characters we created was a real treat.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you tomorrow and said, “Okay, guys, here’s a blank check… go out and make whatever type of project you want,” what kind of film or series would you put in development?
Parker Phillips: Probably something with armor, castles, and trebuchets.

TrunkSpace: Two part question. What is the most fun aspect of DIY’ing your own concept from start to finish and getting a film made, and on the opposite side of that coin, the least fun that you would just as happily do without moving forward?
Parker Phillips: The film was entirely our vision from start to finish, which is an amazing experience. But film is also so much about the power of collaboration and we look forward to wearing fewer hats on projects in the future. For instance, our next film, Rumble Through the Dark, is written by Michael Farris Smith and based on his own novel, The Fighter, and we are loving working with a writer. It frees us to work from a mindset of creative interpretation rather than translation of our own material.
Graham Phillips: That’s true. There are far less arguments happening between the two of us now that we have a writer. At this stage in The Bygone we were critiquing each other’s dialogue and driving each other crazy. Working with a talented writer allows you to hold the perspective of a director from the beginning, focusing on what will actually be in the frame, as opposed to wading through the trenches of literary doubt with your laptop and coffee.
Parker Phillips: Or bourbon in some instances.

TrunkSpace: What has been the highlight of your careers thus far?
Parker Phillips: For me, watching my brother gallop out of a barn on a horse bareback and thinking how amazing it was shooting something we had begun writing together at a bar two years prior.
Graham Phillips: Probably not falling off that horse.

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?
Parker Phillips: I don’t think I’d chose to take the ride. So much of this business is the path you take and what you create along the way. There are certain projects that we want to make in the distant future when we can command a higher budget, but I’m far more interested in how we get there than the final result.
Graham Phillips: Totally disagree. If we’re making the next Waterworld, I want to know now so I can change our path and stick with the indies.

The Bygone is available now on VOD.

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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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Trunk Bubbles

Alfred Rodríguez

AlfredRodriguezFeatured2

Name: Alfred Rodríguez

Website: HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Death of The Endless and Emp, from Adam Warren’s Empowered.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your writing style? What kind of writer do you hope to be?
Rodríguez: Well, the first question is a though one. I would say that I truly care for the dialogue as much as for the action shown in each panel. And I like to break the story down in rough thumbnails, in order to get a sense of the rhythm and space available to the artist.

As for the second one, that’s easy: I hope I could be a writer capable of conveying emotions in the reader. If they put down the book – or the device of their choosing for that matter – and keep thinking on the characters and the story they’ve just read… well, I think I could say it was a job well done!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for writing?
Rodríguez: Comic books were always around since I was a little kid. My parents used to buy them for me to keep me busy while we were in the waiting room of a hospital, for example. In those prehistoric times, internet wasn’t around to offer hours of entertainment at your fingertips, therefore, reading comic books was the best way to make your imagination fly to strange and fantastic worlds.

As many kids, I also wanted to make comics, and I used to think that a single person did all the work I read in those pages. I wasn’t really aware of what the job of a writer was in terms of comics until I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I started noticing familiar names in the credits pages. Names like J.M. DeMatteis, Dennis O’neil, David Michelinie, among many others.

Then, I read my first Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman, and that’s where I truly understood what a comic book writer could do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rodríguez:Yes! I fell in love with all Spider-Man titles of the early 90’s. I loved that sense of a shared universe with other Marvel characters, and I felt the same way when I discovered Batman and the DC universe as a whole.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Rodríguez: The X-Men. I think Stan Lee described them perfectly: The Strangest Super Heroes of All. That’s what they are to me. Yes, they do some super hero stuff, but they are much more than that. They are family, and their adventures are a soap-opera as much as a super hero story.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as a writer?
Rodríguez: I think I’m fairly capable of understanding the characters and finding behavioral patterns. That helps me to keep the characters consistent with their actions and their dialogue; and I think that is something the reader appreciates, perhaps even in a subconscious way.

TrunkSpace: You are stepping in as guest writer on the Neymar Jr. Comics series Social Monsters with the Day of the Dead Special, set to debut October 31. Did you feel pressure working on a title that has such a big, universally known talent involved in Neymar Jr.?
Rodríguez: Well, yes…and no.

“Yes”, because when I started typing Saber’s dialogue I went like, “Wait a minute! This guy is a Neymar Jr’s proxy! A proxy for the football star my dad watches on TV every week! I have to make him sound cool!” And that’s real pressure there, you know?

And “No”, because I knew I had the guidance and mentoring of seasoned comic book pros- like Head Writer and Editor in Chief Jason M. Burns – who are always taking good care of such an important IP as the Neymar Jr. brand. I knew that I could count on them to provide me with the best insights and direction for the story I wanted to tell.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the issue? What did you want to achieve?
Rodríguez: Since it was a Day of The Dead Special, I knew I wanted to take our characters to my country, Mexico.

The “problem” was that we have hundreds of museums and items to choose from to create an entertaining and educational story, so I had to narrow my options down to those related to the “Day of The Dead” or “death” as a concept. And then I remembered that we already have a classic “monster” to fight with. One that our typical “super heroes”, the Luchadores, have fought before: The Mummies of Guanajuato. So in a way, I wanted to convey that feel of the classic Lucha Libre movies, with our heroes fighting the mummies; while paying homage to a city that means so much to me and my wife.

TrunkSpace: Although grounded in reality from a historical sense, the Social Monsters series is very much the kind where anything is possible. How much fun is it writing in a world where there are really no boundaries to what you want to put on the page as far as your imagination goes?
Rodríguez: It’s liberating! But at the same time, it poses quite a challenge, because in a world where not even the sky is the limit, it is tempting to “abuse” that power in terms of story, and there’s always the risk of making the story too far out, or the characters too powerful for the reader to even care for them and their exploits. And that’s also the fun part, you know? To find the best way to tell a fantastic story but keeping our characters close to the reader.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Rodríguez: The fact that I could have our heroes coming to Mexico, because that way, I was able to share a little bit of our culture with our readers, while keeping true to the essence of what Social Monsters is about: entertaining and educational content for readers of all ages.

TrunkSpace: You also run a podcast about all things comic books. Can you tell us about that and how it came into creation?
Rodríguez: Sure thing!

I started toying with the idea of hosting my own podcast while listening to the very scarce comic book-related podcasts in my country, back in 2012. One day, I was invited as a guest in one of those podcasts, and I took mental notes on how it was made. So, I started out recording audio on my mobile phone and mixing it (poorly) with a simple audio edit software I found online. That’s how El Café Comiquero (The Comic Book Coffee Shop would be the most accurate translation) came to be.

The first 10-15 episodes were… not bad, but far from “good”, since it was only me, talking non-stop for an hour or so. Until I found my partner in crime: my own brother, Raul. Not only did we grow up together (obviously), but we also grew up reading, mostly, the same comics and watching the same movies and TV shows. So, one day I asked him if he would be interested in co-hosting the show with me, he said yes, and 329 episodes later, I can tell you that this podcast have become an essential part of our lives.

In this podcast we talk about all kinds of comic books, movies, TV shows and pop culture-related topics. You can find us in almost all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcast under the name “El Café Comiquero”. And, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “El Café Comiquero” as well.

If you speak Spanish – or if you are taking Spanish lessons – and want to practice it a little bit while listening to some nice geeky content, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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