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Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts

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We all cope with the difficulties of life in different ways. For singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton, a “crushing” divorce inspired him to take to the road where he embarked on an adventure of self discovery and healing. The miles of asphalt that passed beneath his tires also lead to his latest album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere, available tomorrow on Wicked Cool Records.

“Taking that road trip changed me, and the course of my life, in the most incredible way,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Forever thankful.”

We recently sat down with Hamilton to discuss getting truthful, shedding pressure, and why forced isolation has been a struggle for him.

TrunkSpace: Your new album, Nowhere To Go But Everywhere, was written during a road trip across the USA. We love ourselves a good highways and byways journey of self-discovery. Outside of this collection of songs, what was the best thing that came out of that trip for you?
Hamilton: I went on the road trip in the wake of my divorce. Divorce is a CRUSHING thing to go through. Getting the hell out of there, and hitting the open road was my way of facing my demons, and emotionally processing everything. I spent nights in the desert, in the mountains… everywhere. The solitude, the quiet, the beauty… not only was it the perfect setting, for me, to deal with the emotional aftermath of divorce, it became an overwhelming adventure of self discovery, healing, and learning things about myself I never knew. I didn’t plan to, or even think about writing any new songs ‘til about halfway through that trip. Taking that road trip changed me, and the course of my life, in the most incredible way. Forever thankful.

TrunkSpace: How did being on the road influence your writing? Where did it impact you the most?
Hamilton: The solitude, the beauty, and the lack of distractions seemed to make things more raw… more real. I found myself just telling the truth, all the way, without trying to be clever during the songwriting process. I just wrote what I felt, and being on the road lent itself to writing that way. The songs came out different. It felt like therapy.

TrunkSpace: Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is the follow up to This Is The Sound, which won the Independent Music Award for Best Indie Album. Did you feel any creative pressure heading into the follow up?
Hamilton: Yeah, I did! (Laughter) Truth is, I wasn’t planning on writing/recording another album anytime soon. But, life happened, and these songs started appearing. So, in a way, it took the pressure off – because this new album came out of nowhere, and the songs came from a very unexpected place.

TrunkSpace: The album is due to drop September 18. 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?
Hamilton: It does feel a little different. But I’m proud of us, and our label for going for it. Music has a healing power, and we need it more than ever right now. I always juggle the emotions of hoping I’m working as hard as I can, to do everything I can, to make the album as successful as it can be. I feel that pressure more than ever right now, because I know this is the best album I’ve ever made.

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 album changed? How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Hamilton: Thankfully we live in a time where digital, online promotion is possible. Now that touring is off the table, we focus more attention to promotion online. Fingers crossed! And may I just add: I CAN’T WAIT TO TOUR AGAIN. I miss it so much.

TrunkSpace: Jack Kerouac’s belt is featured on the back of the album. “On The Road” obviously impacted you at some point in your life as it has countless others – which makes us wonder, what would it mean to you to have Nowhere To Go But Everywhere be the inspiration for others to go out and find themselves on the road? Why is it the perfect companion piece to a long stretch of open sky highway?
Hamilton: Several people have said things along the line: “It’s the perfect Road Trip album”. I find that fascinating. Ya know, since it was written on a road trip. (Laughter) Being the owner of Jack’s belt is an unexpected honor, and I will treasure his belt forever. Reading “On the Road” changed me. I was in college, and not too long after that, I found myself dropping out of school, and going on tour for the first time. Jack’s writing gave me inspiration to go for it. That’s pretty damn powerful.

TrunkSpace: If someone sat down to listen to Nowhere To Go But Everywhere front to back, what would they learn about you both as an artist and as a person?
Hamilton: That I’m broken, but I’m still full of hope.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Hamilton: Its honesty, and the quality of the songwriting. I pushed myself harder than ever.

TrunkSpace: We have all been in some form of lockdown for the majority of 2020. How much of your time spent social distancing has also been spent creating? Have you experienced a creative jolt during this period – and will it lead to another album?
Hamilton: I haven’t really had any creative jolts. I find myself forcing myself to stay creative, to keep the depression at bay. The loneliness, and isolation-inspired sadness is a struggle for me.

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?
Hamilton: Damn straight I would! I’ve spent a decade operating in the middle… PRAYING for a break. At this point, I’ll take any clues to get me to that ever illusive “next level’ in this fucked up backwards business of music.

Nowhere To Go But Everywhere is available tomorrow via Wicked Cool Records.

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The Featured Presentation

Alison Araya

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Photo By: Daniela Cuiffa

We have all found ways to occupy our time in 2020. For actress Alison Araya, that included reintroducing herself to her green thumb. When not talking to her plants and establishing a balcony garden, she can be seen starring as Aunt Victoria in the new Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms, a role she is quite literally kicking up her heels over.

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Araya to discuss finding comfort in the new, embracing cultural nuances, and why she takes time to BREATHE.

TrunkSpace: Your new project, Julie and the Phantoms is a musical. Music has always been a great escape for people, and an escape is what people need this year more than ever. Does it feel like this series could be hitting at the right time for people? Will the combination of storytelling and music be just what the doctor ordered for those looking to “check out” mentally for a few hours and be entertained again?
Araya: Julie and the Phantoms is a show with so much spirit and heart. It promises to be entertaining and the music is out of this world catchy and cool! At this uncertain time in our collective history, we have all turned to the arts for comfort. Many have discovered new shows, movies, books and music to help cope with the multitude of feelings we are all experiencing. Some stories help us escape and others help us connect. I believe JATP is a show that will connect audiences, through the family, music, the personal journeys of the characters. And it couldn’t come at a better time!

TrunkSpace: In the series you play Aunt Victoria. What was it about this character that offered you something new that you had yet to experience on camera before? What part of your journey with Victoria felt like the biggest “first”?
Araya: Aunt Victoria was a first in many ways. As a woman, Aunt Victoria is a little larger than life, a little flamboyant and extra! I tend to play professionals so it was so much fun to step into Victoria’s shoes. Literally! Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with a great shoe and the costume designers and I had loads of fun creating Victoria’s look, which includes some killer shoes! But most importantly, being a part of an onscreen LatinX family and having the opportunity to fully step into embracing the cultural nuances of representing a LatinX family, is something I am deeply proud of.

TrunkSpace: Julie and the Phantoms hit Netflix on September 10. As an actress, how does having a series premiere on a streaming platform all at once change the roll out experience? Does it make exploring audience feedback online more rewarding them they can binge through an entire season in one sitting and then give their opinion on it?
Araya: Media platforms have evolved and shifted so much in recent years, audiences have had to adapt. The beauty of online streaming is the convenience and the ability to watch at will. As an actress, one of the most exciting aspects of being involved in a Netflix show is that my friends and family all over the world can watch! JATP streamed to over 190 countries on September 10th, which is amazing! Fans will be able to decide whether to watch one at a time or all at once or many times over! I’m so proud of this show and excited to hear how audiences respond!

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 Julie and the Phantoms that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Araya: JATP was an incredible experience for many reasons. Working with the legendary Kenny Ortega was awesome and a dream come true! Something I will always remember about my experience filming JATP was the first time I heard one of the songs recorded by Madison and Charlie. I had mentioned that I hadn’t heard any of the songs yet and Charlie let me listen to one of the songs, as I sat there waiting for the next set up, I was weeping. The music was so incredibly beautiful, I was literally moved to tears. I’ll always remember that moment.

TrunkSpace: We’re in a bit of a weird time for the entertainment industry right now. While many films have been pushed back and production delays are setting up a pretty quiet fall TV season, some big projects are going right into homes, like Mulan and Bill & Ted Face the Music. How do you think COVID-19 will impact your industry as a whole moving forward?
Araya: No doubt the world at large has been impacted by the challenges of 2020. The entertainment industry has certainly felt the blow, however, the ‘biz’ is made up of highly resilient and adaptable people. In BC alone the local industry has been impacted by tax cuts, US dollar, writers strike and a host of other challenges over the years but we have always come back and have come back stronger! I am of this mind that this moment in our collective history is an opportunity for us as storytellers to do better and represent a greater cross-section of humanity through our stories.

TrunkSpace: As an actress – a profession where you generally are required to work directly with other people in a scene – how have you kept the tools in your toolbox sharp during this extended period of isolation?
Araya: Quarantine definitely forced us to get creative! I went back to my old acting books and rewatched some of my favorite films. I watched a lot of actors roundtables to stay connected to my craft. Also, thanks to Zoom I was able to participate in play readings which fill the creative tank! But the greatest gift was the time to go within and the space to grow.

TrunkSpace: Outside of acting, how have you kept yourself busy during quarantine? We know you are a plant lover – has gardening been an outlet that you’ve turned to during this time?
Araya: My plant babies definitely got me through quarantine. I’m always on the go, so being home and talking (yes, I talk to my plants!) they did so well! I also grew a garden on my balcony. It was the first time I attempted it and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I grew my garden from seeds and to watch the garden grow was so rewarding. Once my kale and chard came in, my morning routine consisted of harvesting my greens, making my smoothie and sitting out on the balcony watching the world and admiring my green thumb! It definitely helped keep the quarantine blues away.

TrunkSpace: What has been the biggest surprise to come out of a career as an actress that you could have never anticipated? What have you achieved/received by venturing down this path that otherwise you would have missed out on?
Araya: Being able to do what I love is such a gift. A career as an actor is not a linear path and I have been at this for a loooong time. Each year is different, some more rewarding than others, but along the way, I have met some of the most beautiful and inspiring people. Acting has also allowed me to investigate myself on a deeper level; I believe the better you know yourself the more you can give as an artist. That journey is a lifelong one and I’m grateful to continue it.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actress/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Araya: I like to hold myself to a high standard at work and in life. But we are human and fallible and we make mistakes. Any time I have come into an insecure moment on set, whether it’s flubbing a line or getting caught up in your head, I know, from years of doing this, the inner critic has no place in that moment. I’ve worked with actors as a coach and have seen actors shut down and I’ll talk them through it. I’ve learned to be that same voice for myself. Instead of allowing myself to spiral, I’ll acknowledge whatever is challenging me in the moment, remind myself that I got this and BREATHE.

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?
Araya: Tough question! I am so curious by nature and love to be two steps ahead of the game but if given the chance to travel forward and get a glimpse of my future, I’d pass. I know for me, had someone said “this is where you’d be 10 years from now” I couldn’t have imagined it. But I know that every experience big or small has shaped my present. So, I’ll keep on enjoying the moments and stay open to all the possibilities the future has!

Julie and the Phantoms is available now on Netflix.

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Listen Up

Liz Longley

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Photo By: Kate Rentz

With her sixth full-length album, Liz Longley is venturing into a new chapter of her musical journey, one that gifted her the independence to release her music on her own terms. Due this Friday, Funeral For My Past was fully funded through her fan base, leading to her becoming the fourth-most funded female solo artist on Kickstarter of all time.

How my fans came together and contributed to Funeral For My Past is nothing short of extraordinary,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “I am still in awe every time I think back on the journey this album has been on and how they completely changed my journey as an artist.”

We recently sat down with Longley to discuss mutual musical understandings, presidential playlists, and the evolution of “making it”.

TrunkSpace: What we love about your music is that it just makes us feel good – and feeling good is something that is in short supply this year. Does releasing Funeral For My Past feel different than previous albums given the state of the country/world? Because in a way, you’re serving as a facilitator of escape.
Longley: Releasing Funeral For My Past this month feels vastly different from any album release I’ve had in the past. Most of us are not only looking for an escape, but to feel less alone in what we’re experiencing. Without the ability to gather for live music like we did before, putting out this music is an outreach to listeners… it’s a way to say, “Hey, you’re not alone. Take a breath. You got this.”

TrunkSpace: For many people, music is like therapy. When you experience the way people connect to your music – oftentimes in ways that you could probably never imagine – what does that do for you creatively? Is it a well that you go to when inspiration is running dry?
Longley: The ability to connect with someone through music is the “why” behind what I do. That’s what keeps me going… hearing stories of people relating to my music. But the actual process of creating music is such an intimate thing, that to allow any outside influence, whether positive or negative, would only muddy the water.

TrunkSpace: That fan connection was probably never more apparent than when you were propelled to the fourth most-funded solo female artist of all time on Kickstarter. Does the fan contribution to Funeral For My Past make it feel extra special? When you look back on this period in 10 or 20 years, what will bring the biggest smile to your face?
Longley: How my fans came together and contributed to Funeral For My Past is nothing short of extraordinary. I am still in awe every time I think back on the journey this album has been on and how they completely changed my journey as an artist. It allowed me to be independent and release my music on my own terms. That will always make me smile!

TrunkSpace: What do you get writing and performing that you can’t achieve as a listener alone? What does that extra creative bump do for your brain that drifting off to another artist’s album is unable to achieve?
Longley: Simply the vibration of music is healing. It’s one thing to put music in your ears, but to create the resonance yourself does something for the mind, body and spirit. Still, I get a rush from listening to music, and hearing other people express themselves in a new way. Nothing is better than hearing a song that so perfectly sums up something you’re feeling.

TrunkSpace: We spoke last in 2017 just after the release of Weightless. Are you a different songwriter today than you were then and if so, why?
Longley: Ya know, I’m now reflecting on the titles of these records and realizing how much they point to where I was in my life. With Weightless I wanted to escape how I was feeling… cut the strings, and float above it all. In Funeral For My Past, I’m like okay… let’s dig into the feelings, try to understand them, heal the pain, and move on empowered. I still write songs from the same place, but as my outlook on life changed, so did the message in the songs.

TrunkSpace: If you sat down with 10-year-old Liz for a conversation, what would surprise that young girl most about the artist you are today?
Longley: I think she’d be shocked that she “made” it… and that “making it” is nothing like she had imagined. When you’re a kid, gosh, even when you’re a young adult, you have an idea of what success means. Now I know that success has nothing to do with big stages, or flashy production. Success has everything to do with whether or not you believe you’re making a difference in people’s lives.

TrunkSpace: Normally you would tour to support a new album, but that is not something that is possible in every state right now. How do you get the word out for Funeral For My Past when people can’t get out themselves?
Longley: Good question. Let me know if you find the answer. For now, I’m playing shows online and working to get more radio play. I’ve also just launched a Patreon page where I share behind the scenes for everything album related, which is fun! I’m doing my best to stay connected to the people that care. Word of mouth is a powerful tool… so if I just keep showing up, hopefully the word will get out. Also, if Obama could put me on his next playlist that’d be great, too.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Longley: With this record, I’m most proud of how authentically it captures who I am as an artist. So often in the recording process, you can lose the heart of the music in search for perfection. Working with producer Paul Moak, I learned that a perfect vocal recording has nothing to do with how much people FEEL what you’re singing. When I got lost in search of perfection, he constantly led me back to who I am as an artist and what really matters when you’re making an album.

TrunkSpace: Touring musicians tend to lead nomadic lives. What has being stationary for much of 2020 done for you emotionally? Has it been a welcome distraction or is the road calling you?
Longley: Staying home has left me feeling a mix of things. I often feel stuck in a box, missing the outside world and the stimulation from the ever-changing scenery of being a touring musician. At the same time, it’s been a good reminder that you don’t always have to be moving full speed ahead. This year was going to be the biggest year of my life. I was supposed to get married, release my best record, tour the country… but I’m humbly sitting at home and making the most of the precious moments that exist between the chaos of the outside world.

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?
Longley: I think I’d rather not know… the mystery of it keeps me going.

Funeral For My Past is available this Friday.

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The Featured Presentation

Molly Evensen

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Photo By: Robyn Von Swank

Originally An American Pickle was destined for a theatrical release, but 2020 had other plans. When theaters closed due to COVID-19, the film’s star Molly Evensen wondered if people would ever see her hard work play out on screen, but thankfully it found a home beyond the megaplexes and premiered on HBO Max. In the end An American Pickle not only ensured its summer release, but it gave people self-quarantining at home a much needed escape.

I’m honored to have it come out during this time and grateful that people can watch it from the comfort and safety of their own homes,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace. “Hopefully it brings some joy and escapism in a time where both of those things are greatly needed.”

We recently sat down with Evensen to discuss managing expectations, taking leaps of faith, and her favorite literary escapes of 2020.

TrunkSpace: New England raised here. DunkinDonuts (aka, Dunks or Dunkies) is like the air we breathe here. And thenwe read that you were once IN a Dunkiesad? Youre blowing our minds! Tell us you got some wicked awesomefree munchkins out of the deal!?
Evensen: New England is beautiful and Dunkin’ Donuts is great! They were such a treat to work with. But alas, there were no munchkins.” It was still a very fun and silly day so I suppose I’ll let it slide.

TrunkSpace: In all seriousness, the far more impressive project you are currently promoting is An American Pickle, which for us, arrived at the perfect time because we needed a mental escape from the realities of, well, reality. Did it feel kind of special to have this film come out at a time when there wasnt a lot of other new content circulating? In a way, it was just the check outpeople needed.
Evensen: It does feel very special to have it released during this strange time we’re living in. We shot the film almost two years ago and never did I ever think the world would look the way it does right now. The initial plan was for a theatrical release and when the theaters shut down and so many films were being pushed and rescheduled, I was a little worried that An American Pickle would be scrapped all together. I definitely sighed a huge sigh of relief when they made the HBO Max announcement. I’m honored to have it come out during this time and grateful that people can watch it from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Hopefully it brings some joy and escapism in a time where both of those things are greatly needed.

TrunkSpace: You worked alongside Seth Rogen in the project, which was the first HBO Max original release. Is it difficult to not assign expectations to a project of this size and how it could impact the rest of your career? How do you temper those what ifswith each project you take on?
Evensen: This is a great question. Id say yes and no. Is that a cop out to say both? Yes, because its such a huge and cool opportunity overall. But also no, because I learned pretty early on that nothing is a guarantee. I was edited out of my first big commercial after telling all of my friends and family to watch for itthat was a humbling experience. I also booked an episode on a new series last year and my character wound up being written out in script rewrites. Thats just business, its nothing personal. Having had those experiences, Id like to say Im cautiously optimistic about things, but also hesitant to assign too much expectation from the get go. I think its human nature to get excited and to daydream, but trying to approach it from a more businesslike mindset saves a lot of mental energy in the long run. I also find Im more productive when I focus on the present instead of daydreaming about the future.

TrunkSpace: We would imagine that a project of this size and scope would be just as much of a learning experience as it would be a job. What did you learn by observing or by osmosis on the An American Pickle set that youll apply to the rest of your career going forward?
Evensen: I think this is the first set where I really experienced what its like to have a scene partner who actually listens to you. And let me tell you, that is a game changer. So in that regard, I learned how to be an effective and giving scene partner.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your on-screen performance as Clara?
Evensen: Without giving too much away, there’s a crowd scene where I mouth the words, “I’m sorry.” I improvised that and have received a lot of great feedback about it, which is cool.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product is always the most memorable, but for those involved in the project it must go much further than that. Whats the most memorable aspect of getting to work on An American Pickle that youll carry with you through the rest of your life and career?
Evensen: I’d say the moment I answered the phone and found out I booked the job was quite memorable. The film came at a very transitional time in life for me. I had just taken a leap of faith and quit my serving job a week before I booked the film. Now, Im not saying go out and quit your job, but I think this is a great example of trusting your gut and taking a leap.

TrunkSpace: What has been an unexpected bonus or reward something you could have never anticipated when you first started your journey as an actress to a career in the arts? What is an aspect of your life that you wouldnt have now had you not taken this path, but at the same time, one that you cant imagine your life without now?
Evensen: I think as someone in the arts you have to have some degree of empathy in order to understand characters and to experience emotions. I think Ive always been fairly empathetic, but my empathy has grown over the years. And because of that I think my world view has grown and shifted so much by simply by being curious and listening to those around me. I love staring out at city lights and thinking about how there are millions of people living where those lights are who I will never meet, but they all have their own unique lives with people who love them and goals and dreams and things that are important to them. So Id say overall a deeper curiosity for othersexperiences and a desire to listen and to understand. I know this doesnt just apply to actors, but it has certainly been a bonus for me.\

TrunkSpace: There are ups and downs in any career, but certainly the entertainment industry is known for delivering peaks and valleys. Was there ever a moment where you considered walking away from acting, and if so, what kept you on your path and looking forward?
Evensen: I have never considered walking away from acting. Im a very stubborn person. The more I hear no, the harder I work to hear the word yes. No is not an option for me. I will say there have been some very discouraging times and times where my patience and determination have been greatly tested. Im fortunate to have a very large supportive immediate and extended family. They have pushed me forward on the days where Ive struggled.

TrunkSpace: We read that you enjoy reading. What good books have you dove into this year to escape?
Evensen: This list could go on for a while, so Ill keep it to the most recent. I just finished reading “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.” Wow, it was a beautiful book. Before that, I read the new Hunger Games prequel. I enjoyed it, but it also made me mad and that’s all I will say about that. Currently I’m reading a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang called “Stories of Your Life.” I’m a big fan of the film Arrival and it’s based on a short story in this book.

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?
Evensen: As tempting as it would be, I’d politely decline. I’ve had plans and ideas for how Id like things to go, but Im continuously surprised by how much better everything turns out when it just unfolds. Currently working on finding peace in going with the flow and allowing life to surprise me.

An American Pickle is available now on HBO Max.

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Trunk Bubbles

Eduardo Ancer

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Name: Eduardo Ancer

Website: Here or Here

How did you break into the world of comic books?
My first foray into comic books was an indie comic called La Tierra Que Cubre (The Land Over All) in 2004 that I created with some friends. The idea was to produce a miniseries, but we were kind of young, and we could only deliver the first issue. This book was penciled by a good friend of mine who goes by the nickname “Rampant” and it was colored by Dono Sanchez – colorist for Marvel comics – and Tato Caballero. It was a true labor of love, I had to sell my car in order to pay a top colorist and print it in full color. The book performed pretty well by the standards of the market at that time, but not enough to carry on.

Later on, I met Carlos Gutierrez, from Metacube – an animation studio – where I had the chance to land a full time job. Under the Metacube umbrella, René Cordova and I produced another book, a 4-issue miniseries called Republica de Lucha (“Lucha Republic”).

At Metacube I had the chance of meeting folks like Carlos Villa (currently working for Marvel) and Pablo Polanco – Aztlan´s penciller – while working on an animated film that was released a couple of years back, Dia de Muertos (Day of The Dead). Long story short, while we were discussing the many projects we had, that’s when the idea for Aztlan was born.

Please, tell us about the Aztlan project.
Technically, Aztlan is a sort of sequel in spirit to The Land Over All. The concept was developed between 2010-2013, and we knew Pablo Polanco was just the right guy to pencil it. In 2014, he started working on the first volume, which was released until 2017 at the FIL (International Book Fair) of Guadalajara. The book performed really well, and we started to work on volume two right away.

Since its inception, we knew Aztlan had to be developed as a comic book, but we didn’t want to publish it in floppies. We pushed for the format it was released: A European sized hardcover book, that we could even export to other markets. The first book had a small, but decent print run, and now it is sold out.

How would you describe what Aztlan is about?
Aztlan is a Mesoamerican fantasy, based on the Legend of the Five Suns of the Aztec Calendar. It is said that the world we live in is the Fifth Sun, or the fifth era if you will, and there was four Suns before that, and all of them were destroyed. Aztlan is the story of the Fourth Sun, and the heroes that tried to prevent its cataclysm. I think it is a beautiful story; what the heroes have to face and live through is something very human, and I think everyone, regardless of their culture, could relate to it, especially in this year, in which the end of the world is a constant thought in many people’s minds. Our heroes have to make a choice: do nothing, stay in their comfort zone, or try to do their best to save their world. That’s a very universal theme, something any person in the world could relate to.

The fact that the story is set in a different world allows the story to portrait lots of fantastical things and creatures, it doesn’t have to be historically accurate, right?
Yeah, we even have some megaterium running around, and some people told us “but the megaterium wasn’t alive during the time of the Aztecs”. And of course we are aware of it, and many other historical inaccuracies, but you have to keep in mind that this story is set in a different time and a different world, and above all, that it is a fantasy book. In a way, it is an essay to speculate what a world, in which Mesoamerican cultures thrived, could be like. A Mesoamerican world that went through a cultural, artistic and even technological revolution, unlike the Aztecs from the Fifth Sun, whose development was brutally halted by the Spanish Conquest.

The art looks gorgeous. What can you tell us about Pablo Polanco’s artwork?
We were really lucky to find him. If you’ve ever pictured and artist living in a studio, with the blinds down, painting on a canvas and not even owning a bed –because in Pablo’s words “it makes you feel too comfortable”- that’s Pablo. And the most amazing thing is that he had never, ever penciled a comic book in his life before Aztlan!!! In fact, when he started working on the book, he wasn´t too keen on drawing digitally, he needed to feel the pencil, the paper, the inks and colors, but two weeks after he touched a Cintiq for the first time, he just rocked those pages. He’s a monster in the very best sense of the word.

A funny thing is that he wanted to treat every panel as an individual painting. He draws in a large format and tends to add an insane amount of detail into every panel. We always told him “You don´t have to do it, we are going to scale it down and some parts will be covered with text bubbles. Those houses you spent two days working on? I’m going to put text over them!” But he just didn’t care. And now we are thankful he didn’t listen to us, because the level of detail he puts into every page is breathtaking. He told us he even drew an actual cellphone hidden somewhere in the art just for fun (laughs). I’m trying to convince him to draw a Starbucks cup for the readers to find, just like in that infamous scene in the last season of Game of Thrones. (Laughter)

Please tell us about the Kickstarter campaign for Aztlan Volume 2
This second volume will be released simultaneously with a reprint of the first volume with a new and revised edition that will be available in four languages: Spanish, English, French and even Nahuatl, the language the real Aztecs spoke and that many indigenous people still speak to this day. The Nahuatl edition will only have a limited print run of 500 copies, by the way. The second volume will be available only in Spanish and English, for now, due to print and delivery costs.

Now, the book is done, and we are taking care of every detail in order to have a top notch final product. That’s why we need all the help we can get through this Kickstarter campaign. There are many tiers with different rewards. If you want both books, we are offering a special package price, among other cool perks. And yes, we can deliver worldwide. If you´re anywhere in the US, be sure we are working on offering an affordable delivery option.

The Kickstarter campaign ends on September 20th, so you still have time – but don´t wait until the very end – to reserve your copy!

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Listen Up

Two Bird Stone

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For the Americana band Two Bird Stone, the magic isn’t only in the music, but in its members. Having known each other for two decades, there is a kinship in their creativeness that translates into the songwriting, a fact that is apparent when listening to their latest album, Hands And Knees, set for release tomorrow via Soundly Music.

Collaborations are second nature for us, but the secret sauce is the fact that we’ve known and loved each other for over 20 years,” said lead singer Liam Thomas Bailey in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Bailey to discuss releasing a record in the middle of a pandemic, the evolution of lyrical literacy, and non-duel concepts.

TrunkSpace: Americana has been enjoying a real resurgence in recent years. Why do you think the genre is connecting with audiences in 2020?
Bailey: I think the understated production, more acoustic instrumentation, and less commercial nature of Americana provides a nice balance for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the amount of information, vitriol, and sensationalism we face on any given day. I also think the growing popularity reflects another side of our increasing connectivity: older music enthusiasts have more access to platforms that help them find new music!

TrunkSpace: This has been a difficult year for many and music has become a much-needed distraction from a real world that is sometimes too real. What do you hope people will find in Two Bird Stone’s music when they press play?
Bailey: I hope folks find our music reassuring. We sing songs about love, hope, the nature of change, and the beauty of the experience change will provide. I also feel that there is a sense of reassurance embedded in the very essence of the timeless fiddle tunes we quote within our songs. Fiddle tunes are great evidence that we go on; we modify and we create.

TrunkSpace: There’s such great instrumentation in your songs. How do the Two Bird Stone songs come to life? Is it music first and then lyrics or does the creative inspiration come from different places?
Bailey: This record was all about development. I provided the song material and the band piled on as they came into the project. We’ve all played for many other artists professionally. Collaborations are second nature for us, but the secret sauce is the fact that we’ve known and loved each other for over 20 years.

TrunkSpace: Your album, Hands And Knees, is due on September 11. 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?
Bailey: Wow, what great question. Of course, it’s always very daunting to dangle your creative efforts in front of the public for the edification of strangers, but now that you mention it, it feels less so in the midst of the pandemic. I don’t think it’s ever been easier to throw my hands up and say, “What the hell?! It’s not like I’m going to make things any worse!!”

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?
Bailey: Streaming shows, no radio tour, no definitive release-related performances; things are so far out of one’s control that there’s no use in the feeling of disappointment. I don’t really think about it.

TrunkSpace: How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Bailey: I’ve been lucky enough to experience the thrill of playing enormous tours supporting international acts as a sideman without ever having to maintain ANY social media platforms. Of course, now I wish I had been active on Instagram and Facebook through those years, but in light of the fact that I wasn’t, I’ve been using this time to learn what I can about socials to develop a presence I can maintain. We also have a small team of folks that are close to the project that help get the word out.

TrunkSpace: If someone sat down and listened to your upcoming Hands And Knees front to back, what would they learn about you and where you’re at as a band and as songwriters in 2020?
Bailey: Our reviews have been glowing, but I feel like the writers share an understanding that this music (and this band) have been developing throughout the production of our first record and that the future holds a fully realized Two Bird Stone. If you love music, this album will absolutely make your ears perk up and get you involved, but we won’t have the problem of the “difficult second record” – our next album will be our punchiest and most definitive.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Bailey: I’m most proud of the writing. My writing suffered on my earlier records because it wasn’t a priority for me. That may sound ridiculous, but I was always preoccupied with the actual music, and dropping words into my music was just a way to get a song done. I’m very far from that approach these days. If I can’t find a clearly stated message in a song then I know it won’t function properly. People will recognize potential in this case, but they won’t attach to the music.

TrunkSpace: There is a rich history of music-making in Two Bird Stone and you have all created with other musicians prior to this project. What made this one so special and when did you know it was?
Bailey: Judd Fuller was always a part of the early visions I had for this band, but I knew it was special when Chad Kelly joined us on accordion. Things came into focus very quickly after that. Another old friend and deep musical collaborator, Rohin Khemani from Red Baraat, joined very shortly after. He subbed on drums and world percussion for a run of shows in New England and we asked him to join on the ferry ride home from Martha’s Vineyard. We’ve all known each other for over 20 years.

TrunkSpace: What has been the most rewarding aspect of creating together thus far?
Bailey: Developing the material in our live performances has far and away been the most rewarding and revealing aspect of our work together. That’s where I’ve been getting a tremendous sense of what this is becoming. It’s a shame our formative efforts were cut short as a result of the outbreak, but I’m not worried. Two Bird Stone is here now, and we aren’t going away.

TrunkSpace: What has this project done for you personally that you felt was a missing component from those you participated in previously?
Bailey: I’ve always played with great musicians, but hyper-musicianship is different. That’s what each of these boys bring to Two Bird Stone. Though they each have staggering levels of experience and talent, what they bring to this project is something that no amount of practice or performance can manifest. It is a shared sense of how we see the universe and how music fits into it. They are the finest musicians I know as a result of the fresh musical choices they make.

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?
Bailey: I’m experienced enough to know that whatever the future holds is stranger than I could imagine and the journey will be plenty surprising without time travel. I have somehow developed a very non-dual sensibility and time isn’t exempt from the “one-ness” in my view. When you can see everything with a “300-year view,” 10 years is the blink of an eye. If you go a little further, then all time is happening at once. I know I sound like a nut when I articulate non-dual concepts, but I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Hands And Knees arrives tomorrow via Soundly Music.

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Listen Up

Calico Cooper

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Photo By: Bjoern Kommerell

By nature, people are curious creatures. We love to hear about famous parents, but in reality, WHO someone is ends up being less important than HOW that someone tackled the role of mom or dad. For Calico Cooper, lead singer of the band Beasto Blanco, her father – rock icon Alice Cooper – nurtured the “little weirdo” inside of her and in the process, unleashed a creative Machine Girl who acts, directs, produces and choreographs.

I didn’t have parents telling me to get my head out of the clouds, so they never came out,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Cooper to discuss her band, finding her balance in a sea storm, and… crocheting?

TrunkSpace: You have had the unique experience of growing up with a rock icon and legend, Alice Cooper, as your father. What was that like and how has that played into your own personal creative endeavors?
Cooper: I am so blessed to have him creatively to look up to, but also he is a wonderful father. He has always championed that I saw things differently, even as a kid. I was a little weirdo. Now as an adult performer, I can see how that helped me become so uninhibited. I didn’t have parents telling me to get my head out of the clouds, so they never came out. The part about him being a legend is something I’m proud of, but never something I feel I have to compete with. We are different animals.

TrunkSpace: At the young age of 18, you began working as a creative professional, choreographing the Brutal Planet tour for your father. What was that experience like, and what would you say was the biggest lesson you took away from the experience?
Cooper: I learned there are grown men that CAN take direction from an 18-year-old girl and grown men that cannot. (Laughter) No, but I learned how to work on the biggest scale you can work on very early on. How stage combat worked, how magic tricks worked. How lights and sound and costumes can pull an audience into a world of fantasy that they don’t want to leave. Alice has always been able to create that, and I paid attention and learned how.

TrunkSpace: Acting, directing, singing and more. You’ve worn many creative hats in the industry of entertainment. Do you have a favorite one? If so, why?
Cooper: As cheesy as it sounds I kind of get off on being a “triple threat”, if people even use that word anymore. The fact that I can act and have decades of strict ballet training allows me to do things on stage with my band that makes the show unique. With acting, when I audition, there are ways I can use my voice because of the music training. I feel like everything informs everything. A big ol’ artsy symbiosis. The skill I have now that I wish I had earlier was being able to direct and produce. Now that I can do that, I can just make what I want when I want. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes its a miss – but at least I can.

TrunkSpace: You have inhabited a variety of characters for tours, TV and film. Which would you say is your favorite and why?
Cooper: I have been all over the place. I have played serial killers and soccer moms. I am currently loving playing Machine Girl in my band Beasto Blanco because she keeps changing… evolving. I keep getting to play with her. I notice some tours she’s meaner, some sexier, some downright ridiculous. I’d say her because I’m never done testing her boundaries. Haven’t found any yet.

TrunkSpace: The character of Machine Girl you have created is powerful and enigmatic! What do you hope fans, especially of the female variety, take away from your character?
Cooper: There is power in the damaged. When I first created her I covered her in bangs and bruises. Sort of an outer badge of courage. I always thought there was something so alluring and sexy and powerful about female warriors. I added a dash of a sense of humor and The Machine Girl was born.

TrunkSpace: Beasto Blanco has to be one of the best names for a rock band that we have ever heard! Can you tell us a bit about how the name and band formed?
Cooper: It’s meant to be that beast that explodes out of you at the darkest bottom of a pit. When you make that choice to get up and walk back toward the light instead of lay down you become the beast. It can’t be touched, it can’t be stopped. It’s a force of nature. It’s crazy how people resonate with it. It crosses age groups and race groups, boys, girls… one thing we can all understand is being stepped on and finally saying, “no more”.

TrunkSpace: You have toured around the globe with Beasto Blanco – by land and by sea. What is it like to perform on a cruise ship? Are there any specific challenges while rocking out on the ocean?
Cooper: Have you ever worn 7-inch heels and stood on a folding chair in a sea storm? Because now I can say I have. I love touring in any capacity. I’ve been living on a tour bus since I was 18. The rock cruises are such a unique experience. You play your shows, but the rest of the time you are WITH the fans – eating together, chilling on the beach. You get to know the people who love your music, which is not always easy to do on tour with our schedule. I’ve met some of the greatest people on those cruises.

TrunkSpace: What are the challenges and differences between choreographing for an Alice Cooper show and performing with Beasto Blanco? They must be two similar yet completely different beasts to tackle.
Cooper: The major difference is spontaneity. The Alice show is this massive production with a million moving parts. Most of which can kill you. (Laughter) So as organic as it seems it’s very staged for safety and music’s sake. So when you direct or choreograph it, it has to be something that can be done that way every night – arena or theater. With Beasto, it’s so raw. I know where to be when, but you will never see the same show twice. I don’t know what I’m gonna do at any given moment, and that has a sense of danger to it. It’s fun for me because ANYTHING can happen. I think the audience gets off on that danger.

TrunkSpace: Given your background in entertainment, is there a creative element for Beasto Blanco you would like to branch out into, say, comic books or film, or maybe even a specific type of tour?
Cooper: We are MADE for comics. We look like living, breathing cartoon characters. We have a Beasto “Origins” film in the works and it’s grimy and dystopian and full of hope. I’m excited.

TrunkSpace: Is there any aspect of the creative field that you have yet to dabble in that you would like to try your hand at?
Cooper: The only thing I don’t do on or off stage is crochet, so maybe that.

TrunkSpace: Pumpkin spiced everything is hitting the shelves and we’re eyeing bags of candy corn in the stores. Fall is nigh! We imagine that has to be a special time of year for Machine Girl and Beasto Blanco. Any special plans for this October fans can look forward to?
Cooper: If someone offers me candy corn I consider it a threat. But cool news, Beasto is going to do an October ONE NIGHT ONLY live event in conjunction with MONSTERS OF ROCK, so as we speak, I am trying to make a costume that partially melts. I’ll let you know that works out for me.

But keep up to date with our upcoming performances at www.beastoblanco.com and on Facebook/Insta/ and all major music streaming robots!

 

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Trunk Bubbles

Essential Comics: The All-New, All-Different X-Men Era

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ESSENTIAL COMICS:
THE ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT X-MEN ERA

Mutants. Children of the Atom. Feared and hated by the world they have sworn to protect. They are The X-Men!

Originally created almost 60 years ago by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the strangest superheroes of all have had a long and expanding career not only in comic books, but also in movies, TV and video games. Their popularity has been a roller coaster ride, going from zeroes to heroes, ebbing and flowing over time, on the brink of cancellation one day and expanding to multiple titles the next. The X-Men saga is so vast, full of fascinating characters and stories, that it might be impossible to build a single timeline for all of them. However, in today’s Trunk Bubbles feature, we will recommend an essential X-Men storyline you can find collected in a hefty volume under the title “Uncanny X-Men Volume 1”, or available online in the Marvel or Comixology apps

Although the story of the X-Men formally started in 1963 with the release of X-Men #1, you can ask any mutant’s aficionado and every single one of them will tell you the same thing: The Claremont- Byrne era is exactly what you need, if you´re looking for the essence of the X-Men.

After a few years of reprinting stories in the original X-Men tittle -while some characters’ stories developed somewhere else in the Marvel Universe- Len Wein and Dave Cockrum took one more shot at the concept of the X-Men in the oversized “Giant Size X-Men #1, revamping the title with a radically different and diverse cast, which included a Canadian super weapon (Wolverine), a Russian farm boy (Colossus), an African woman revered as a goddess (Storm), a circus freak that looked like a demon (Nightcrawler), a powerful native American (Thunderbird), an arrogant Japanese super hero (Sunfire), and a cocky Irish man (Banshee). The only familiar characters were field leader Cyclops and the X-Men founder, Professor Charles Xavier, who drafted these new characters for a mission: to find the original missing X-Men. And then, the world would never be the same again.

With the success of Giant Size X-men #1, Marvel resumed publication of the X-Men book, keeping the original numbering, but this time Chris Claremont was the man in charge of telling the stories of this new -and huge- iteration of the X-Men, first with artist Dave Cockrum, and later with John Byrne. During the first 40+ issues of this legendary run, we would witness the death of a newcomer to the team, the love triangle of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Wolverine, the troubles the new members faced while getting used to living in a new country, their battles with classic villains like Magneto and brand-new foes like Protheus, and the cosmic saga that introduced us to the Shi’ar Empire, the Starjammers and the new identity of X-Men founder Jean Grey as Phoenix.

Now, there are some things you should keep in mind when you read this long epic in one sitting: Comic books were very different 50 years ago. These stories are the foundation of what the X-Men became years later, thus, you might find some issues that doesn´t necessarily match with the rest of the bunch, due to the pressure of delivering 22 bimonthly- and then, monthly- pages of story. Although Claremont planned storylines months in advance, it was clear that some issues were more “stand alone” than others, filling the gap with a break from the ever-expanding action.

Additionally, these issues are loaded with text in the bubbles and captions. There was always an omniscient narrator providing information on two fronts: some text allowed the reader to pick into the mind and feelings of the characters, while other captions basically described the action you could already see in the page. This narrative style is frankly outdated for today’s standards, but again, you must be aware of the times and context in which those stories where crafted. The plus side of this narration tool is that you could have a lot of things happening in 22 pages, unlike modern narrative styles, in which, typically, stories are meant to be developed in a 5 or 6 issues arc, in order to be collected soon in a single volume. Yes, back in those days, collected reprints were very rare, and the idea was for the reader to pick up the next chapter each month.

As for the art, Cockrum left the book in issue #107, and John Byrne took over artist duties from #108 to #143. Cockrum and Byrne set the visual style of the X-Men for years to come, disregarding a single uniform for the whole team, and creating a unique identity for those characters, color coding them to be easily recognizable in each shot.

Have you ever read these stories? Or do you want to enjoy them for the first time? Drop us a line in any of our social media outlets and let your voice be heard.

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The Featured Presentation

Jun Yu

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Photo By: Brett Erickson

In a summer that has pretty much been film-free, the first true blockbuster is busting more than our block. Movies have always been an escape, but with the release of Mulan on Disney+ this past Friday, it is a reminder of what was and of what what will be again… normalcy.

For star Jun Yu, who plays Cricket in the film, Mulan is an experience that goes well beyond the official run time.

I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone,” he said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

We recently sat down with Yu to discuss who he is most excited to have see the film, his love for music, and why he has taken up ceramics.

TrunkSpace: As far as debuts go, you’re coming out firing on all cylinders! What does it feel like to be kicking your film career off with such a big, anticipated project?
Yu: I’m truly honored to be a part of such an important and special film. I am really excited to share all the work we’ve done with the world, but mostly I cannot wait for my mother to see what her love and support has created.

TrunkSpace: As mentioned, Mulan is your first project, but in addition to that, it was also your first audition. With so many firsts on one job, what is the biggest lesson/takeaway from your experience shooting the film that you’ll keep with you throughout your career moving forward?
Yu: I’d probably say that you can never be afraid to fail and to enjoy the journey.

TrunkSpace: In the film you place Cricket. Without giving away any spoilers, what do you think audiences are going to love most of all about the character when they sit down to watch the film?
Yu: I hope they enjoy the innocence Cricket helps bring to the world of Mulan. Cricket is shy and naive, but with a little luck, he finds a family.

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 Mulan that you’ll carry with you through the course of your life?
Yu: Mulan will forever be the starting pistol that kicked off my career. I learned so much and gained so many beautiful memories with everyone. I will always carry the love everyone on the project shared with me.

TrunkSpace: You’re also a musician and rapper. What does music offer you creatively that acting alone can’t achieve?
Yu: I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m a musician and rapper, but music is something I love to do. Music gives me just as much as acting does but just a little differently. Music gives me confidence in my voice as an artist. I need both in my life and sometimes lessons from one helps me reach higher levels in the other.

TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an actor/artist and how do you overcome those insecurities when they make an appearance?
Yu: I’m a pretty big perfectionist, who tends to fixate on minute details. I’m trying to overcome the fear of failure. Because of this, I’ve actually taken up ceramics!

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?
Yu: No, I would not. To me, the fun part about life is the adventure off into the unknown. I’m going to want to enjoy this ride.

Mulan is available now on Disney+.

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Listen Up

Cf Watkins

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Photo By: Griffin Hart Davis

For singer-songwriter Cf Watkins, the songs that make up her latest album, Babygirl, aren’t just about who she is as an artist, but where her art was influenced. The places that we identify with are sometimes just as important as the people we make connections to, and as those places leave us, we call on them in non-physical ways.

Often the only way for me to visit these places, especially as they change and disappear over time, is to write songs that bring me to them,” she said in an exclusive interview with TrunkSpace.

Her latest single, “The Tell”, is available now.

We recently sat down with Watkins to discuss self-soothing through song, her first songwriting experience, and how major life changes have impacted her art.

TrunkSpace: You are from North Carolina but have lived in Brooklyn for the last nine years. How does WHERE an artist is from influence WHO that artist becomes? Where do you most hear your roots in your music?
Watkins: I definitely believe all of the places I’ve lived or explored have played a role in who I am and the art I create. Whether it is longing for that place, or feeling fed up with it – places, for me, have offered relationships just as intimate and complicated as people have. You hear that a lot in this record – there are a few songs about homesickness, one about the memory of my Granddad’s backyard, another that visits the park in my hometown where I hung out as a teenager… all of these places are strongholds of identity and comfort for me. Often the only way for me to visit these places, especially as they change and disappear over time, is to write songs that bring me to them.

TrunkSpace: Who is Cf Watkins the artist, and, would the you who first picked up a guitar and started playing be surprised by the answer you’re giving today?
Watkins: Wow. Who is Cf Watkins the artist… hmm. When I am creating art, I am usually in my own little universe. I have always used art as a way of self-soothing. When I visualize who that person is, it does actually feel pretty unchanged by time. The little 7-year-old tomboy, wandering through the woods behind her house, looking for crawdads in the creek, singing songs and telling stories to her dog – is, I think, very much the same person I am when I am writing or sharing now. I hope my art feels like an invitation into my inner world and heart.

TrunkSpace: Your latest album, Babygirl, is due to drop on October 16. Between the pandemic and the social unrest, it has been a very difficult year for many people. Do you hope that by releasing Babygirl in the midst of all of this that maybe your music will be the temporary escape people need – that it will allow them to “check out” for a bit?
Watkins: This year has been incredibly eye-opening. It has been emotionally and, in many cases physically, exhausting for so many people. I guess I wouldn’t describe my hope for this album to be an escape or an invitation to check out… but more to be a friend on the journey. There is so much going on right now that is very important for us to stay alert to, despite the challenge and despite the pain. Especially as November draws nearer. However, I do realize that regardless of everything going on in our outer world, we all have inner worlds as well, we are all still experiencing the daily moments of small joys, dramas, pains, and connection. I hope that Babygirl will connect with the people that need it in those moments.

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 album changed? How do you get the word out when people can’t get out themselves?
Watkins: Yes, I am just trying to creatively roll with the punches. I have been doing some shows virtually, and am planning to do a conversational series on Instagram with other artists. A lot of promotional efforts have turned to social media, which I am trying to get better at but it doesn’t come naturally. But I also think this is just another way to learn how to find community and connection even amid a pandemic.

TrunkSpace: What could someone learn about you as both an artist and as a person in sitting down to listen to Babygirl front to back?
Watkins: I guess that I’m a romantic.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with the album?
Watkins: There is a lot of incredible talent featured on this album – Max Hart, who produced the record and is a featured instrumentalist throughout, is such an inspiration to me and it was so amazing to collaborate with him on this record. All of the musicians that are featured – every single one of them – is amazing and I am so filled with gratitude and disbelief when I think of getting to create something with such talented angels and artists.

TrunkSpace: While you are no doubt focused on the album and promoting this particular collection of songs, have you found yourself to be creatively-inspired during the pandemic? Has isolation led to increased songwriting?
Watkins: It’s hard to say – I’ve gone through a lot of changes during the past five months. I’ve moved out of New York, I’ve lived in my parents’ basement, a six-year-long relationship has ended, I’ve adopted a dog, and I’m moving to Nashville. All of these changes have definitely been fodder for a lot of songs, albeit who knows if anything will ever come of them. I think many people are going through similar experiences – where the pandemic has had a hand in turning their lives inside out swiftly and unsympathetically. For many, it has obviously led to much darkness and challenges, and I suppose for others it has likely led to revelations and movement. For me, change inspires creativity and stagnancy seems to deter it – and this pandemic has created both.

TrunkSpace: Is it possible to overthink a song? Can a songwriter tinker so much that the breath of the song is exhaled?
Watkins: The minute I start trying to figure out the song, the song vanishes. I would guess nearly all of my completed songs have shown up without warning, the ones I try to wrangle out or morph never get finished. Every songwriter’s process is very different though, and I also hope that my own process changes as I do.

TrunkSpace: What is the first song you ever wrote and do you, A.) still perform it, and B.) what does that song say about who you were then?
Watkins: The first song I ever wrote on a guitar was in 8th or 9th grade… my dad had gotten me a guitar for Christmas and I would spend hours fiddling around on it while I sang. I don’t remember the song at all, but I have a vivid memory of going over to my childhood best friend’s house and asking him and his parents to listen to me sing it. I sat down and I think the whole song was maybe two chords over and over and when I finished I looked up and his dad was crying. It was very sweet and it made such an impact on me. His dad was clearly a very sensitive and loving man, but knowing a song I created made him feel something – that was very inspiring and encouraging to me.

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?
Watkins: Hmm, probably not? I feel like we’ve learned enough from the Back to The Future franchise that time travel is not worth the trouble.

Watkins latest single, “The Tell”, is available now.

Babygirl is due October 16.

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