Articles on this Page
- 03/20/15--12:30: _The Top Ten It-Bags...
- 03/20/15--13:29: _Listen to Le1f's Re...
- 03/20/15--14:55: _Watch the New Modes...
- 03/20/15--15:40: _The Best, Worst and...
- 03/22/15--10:01: _The Sunday Funnies
- 03/23/15--07:16: _Kindle Cover Disast...
- 03/23/15--07:43: _Watch Singer-Songwr...
- 03/23/15--09:00: _"He Is An Extremely...
- 03/23/15--09:00: _Mr. Mickey's #MCM: ...
- 03/23/15--10:30: _Stream Earl Sweatsh...
- 03/23/15--11:12: _Patti Smith, Andy W...
- 03/23/15--11:20: _Watch Baby Kanye We...
- 03/23/15--11:35: _A Pregnant FKA Twig...
- 03/23/15--12:00: _Listen to a Kendric...
- 03/23/15--12:30: _Here's Shamir Morph...
- 03/23/15--12:55: _How Brands Like Con...
- 03/23/15--14:16: _Watch Charli XCX's ...
- 03/23/15--15:21: _ICYMI: Kerry Washin...
- 03/23/15--15:30: _Watch Florence and ...
- 03/23/15--16:00: _Major Lazer, DJ Sna...
- 03/20/15--12:30: The Top Ten It-Bags of All Time
- 03/20/15--14:55: Watch the New Modest Mouse Video, aka the Indie Rock "We Can't Stop"
- 03/20/15--15:40: The Best, Worst and Weirdest of the Week
- 03/22/15--10:01: The Sunday Funnies
- 03/23/15--07:16: Kindle Cover Disasters = Your New Favorite Tumblr
- 03/23/15--07:43: Watch Singer-Songwriter Lail Arad's New Video, "Milo"
- 03/23/15--09:00: Mr. Mickey's #MCM: Contractor/Fitness Model Scott Cullens
- 03/23/15--10:30: Stream Earl Sweatshirt's New Album
- 03/23/15--11:12: Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and PAPER Show Off Their Chucks
- 03/23/15--11:20: Watch Baby Kanye West Explain His Arm Tattoo in 2002
- 03/23/15--12:00: Listen to a Kendrick Lamar / Seinfeld Theme Song Mashup
- 03/23/15--12:30: Here's Shamir Morphing Into a Puppet In His New Video, "Call It Off"
- 03/23/15--12:55: How Brands Like Converse Get SXSW Right
- 03/23/15--15:30: Watch Florence and the Machine's Cinematic New "St Jude" Video
- 03/23/15--16:00: Major Lazer, DJ Snake and MØ Head to India In "Lean On"
While straight dudes are obsessed with which high-performance automobile to purchase, fashion guys and gals spend the same amount of time and sometimes the same amount of money (i.e. the $432,000 Hermès Himalayan Crocodile Birkin) obsessing over which handbag to carry. Your bag says everything about who you are and who you wish to be. With that in mind, we asked PAPER's Aaron Ealy to school us in the 10 top It-Bags of modern times.
Proenza Schouler PS1
The PS1 stands out from the rest of the list because Proenza was a very young label when they debuted their soon to be It-Bag. After receiving a bit of capital, Jack and Lazaro, the boys behind the brand, were able to finance the creation of the PS1 whose commercial success launched them into the wider public eye and made them a household name.
Prada Nylon Backpack
Miuccia Prada was an alchemist in that she took a material like nylon and made it into the most lust-worthy material of the moment in the '90s. Miuccia took the industrial material and cut it into anything you can think of, but the most noteworthy is definitely the black nylon mini-backpack. These backpacks were a very late '90s/early 2000s moment that had everyone throwing their crocodile bags to the back of their closets in favor of Prada's minimalist accessories.
The Birkin may be the most coveted bag in the whole world. Stars like Victoria Beckham own dozens in every color and material imaginable although its namesake -- Jane Birkin -- is said to have owned just one Birkin at a time (having had a total of 4 so far), which she covers with stickers and beads. The It-Bag was conceived when Birkin was seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the chairman of Hermès from 1978 until 2006, and told him about her troubles finding a great leather weekend bag. A few years later, Dumas sent Birkin what was soon to be the iconic It-Bag and the rest is history.
Dior Saddle Bag
The Dior Saddle Bag, which came in many a variation depending on the themes of the Dior shows at the time, is the perfect distillation of John Galliano's late '90s/early 2000s high-low couture style (cue the Nick Knight-photographed Dior ad campaign of Gisele with her thumb in the D-charm of a Saddle Bag) and of his penchant for equestrian detailing.
Louis Vuitton X Murakami Speedy
Marc Jacobs was one of the first designers to collaborate with fine artists and his incredibly successful collaboration with Takashi Murakami is still among the gold standards today. Murakami's multicolored playful prints were emblazoned on every LV accessory one could think of but the most popular was probably the white Speedy in the all over multicolor print. These bags really had a moment and for a time, you couldn't walk a block without seeing one of the LV x Murakami printed bags hanging off a woman's arm.
The Muse was a real hit around 2006-2010 after being launched by Stefano Pilati when he took over as Creative Director of YSL. At the time, big bags were all the rage and women were really craving a bag that they could throw anything and everything into, making the YSL Muse a commercial hit. The Y-stitching and little metal charm make the bag recognizable but not ostentatiously so.
Two things come to mind when I think of the Fendi Baguette: its namesake bread, which was said to have inspired the bag because of the way it sits snugly under your arm just like the way the French carry a baguette home from their local boulangerie, and Sex and the City. When I think of Carrie Bradshaw's early 2000s style I immediately picture her heading to meet the girls for cocktails wearing John Galliano Dior, Manolo Blahniks, Dolce & Gabbana and, of course, a Fendi Baguette.
The Lariat may be the most recognizable bag on this list with its buckles, whipstitch handles and thimble-like embellishments. This It-Bag was an immediate hit with the public leading Balenciaga to sell thousands and thousands of these bags over the years. The popularity of the Lariat really gave Balenciaga the capital to allow Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of the house from 1997 until 2012, to create his architectural, innovative and highly conceptual ready to wear collections for the house.
Céline Luggage Tote
Arguably the most in-demand bag of the moment, this It-Bag has been on the arms of everyone from Carey Mulligan to Reese Witherspoon and countless fashion insiders and celebrities in-between since its debut in 2010. Created under the direction of Phoebe Philo when she took over as creative director of Céline, the bag has had international success.
Givenchy Nightingale Bag
Launched in late 2006, it's one of the go-to hobo bags, full of little details that catch the eye like Givenchy stamps on the handle, the prominent stitching and the wide shoulder strap. This bag has reached It-Bag status because it reflects Ricardo Tisci's dark and romantic aesthetic that he has created for Givenchy ever since his appointment as Creative Director in 2005.
2013 Paper beautiful person Le1f is vying with other rappers for the 10th spot on XXL's coveted Freshmen list -- an annual roster of up-and-comers featured on the magazine's cover -- and just released this excellent remix of Nicki Minaj's "Truffle Butter" as part of his campaign. If Le1f wins, he'll be the first openly gay rapper to be featured on the cover of XXL (though self-identified pansexual Angel Haze was featured in 2013). You have until March 22nd to vote here. Watch his pitch video below.
16 Hours...Flight attendants can tell I'm off the shits. They's a whisperin in the corridors. No I don't want a magazine but I will have a hot lemon scented towel. Thank you kindly. Guy next to me is pajammy'd down head to toe we haven't even been on here for 4minutes. That boy clearly excited about the comfy lux sleep wear. I'm going to try and discover something about me on this flight. Thoughts brought to you by the shaky warrior 💊
Best Insane-Drake-Instagram-Post In a While: This one. Godspeed, Shaky Warrior. --Elizabeth Thompson
LL Cool J's Biggest Fan of the Week: This girl. Just wait until she finds out he's on NCIS. -- Evan Siegel
Most Hardcore and/or Most Insane College Basketball Fans: The men who elect to get vasectomies in March to have an excuse to sit on the couch for a month. Yes, this is actually a thing. -- E.S.
Best Excuse to Listen to Every Song Robert Pollard Has Ever Recorded: The announcement that Sony will be rolling out a new kind of cassette tape that can hold over 64 million songs. You'll even have enough room leftover to upload a significant portion of Thee Oh Sees catalog. --James Rickman
Most Bittersweet Moment of the Week: The season finale of Empire. Now we have nothing to watch on Wednesday nights. Come back, Cookie! -- Tené Young
Most Inevitable Lawsuit: The one just filed by Justin Bieber's egging victim. Sorry artificially-reborn-likable-Justin, you're not out of the woods yet! -- E.S.
Best Sad-Bastard Superheroes
Most Delayed Event: Lou Reed's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The godfather of punk doesn't need any institutionalized recognition, but hey, it's always nice. -- E.S.
Most Exciting/Confusing News: Mitt Romney is going to box Evander Holyfield. What? I'm still wondering if this is satire. -- E.S.
Most Brilliant Prank Call: This guy's call on C-SPAN in which he recited lyrics from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song instead of talking about the segment's topic: Congress' involvement in negotiations with Iran. God Bless this Man! -- T.Y.
Best Review of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly Album: Taylor Swift's. The pop star loves her some Kendrick Lamar tunes so it's not surprising that she tweeted her review of his latest project, which dropped a week early. For the record: we feel the same way about the album, Taylor! -- T.Y.
Best Entrance: Bill Murray's on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, complete with an all-girl mariachi band and a horse. Such gorgeous gams, too. --E.T.
Cookie Monster and Grumpy Cat try to #BreaktheInternet. Wish we had thought of your method, Cookie!
Watch Ariana Grande do an insanely good impression of Celine Dion on The Tonight Show. [TheTonightShow]
What the internet sees when it closes its eyes at night. [LaughterKey]
Will Ferrell dressed as Little Debbie = screams on screams on screams. This whole segment is a beautiful nightmare. [TheTonightShow]
Goat's up! [Mlkshk]
Watch this baby freak out when "Turn Down For What" comes on. It's probably so drunk. [TastefullyOffensive]
Aw, thank you. [AfternoonSnoozeButton]
Bill Murray slayed his cowgirl look on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night. Who knew he had such gorgeous gams, too?
Illzoomanati, son! [LaughterKey]
On sale, too! [AfternoonSnoozeButton]
Jimmy Kimmel got SXSW attendees to rave about bands that don't exist. DJ Gluten gets every party started.
Cute potato alert! Have a great Sunday! [LaughterKey]
New Tumblr Kindle Cover Disasters highlights the spectacularly endless ways a book cover can go wrong in the world of self-published e-books, and it makes that dinosaur erotica that was making the rounds online a couple of years ago seem so quaint. When ultra niche topics and slash fiction are combined with the laxest of graphic design standards, magic is born. Some highlights from the anonymously-run blog below.
London-based singer-songwriter Lail Arad (who came by PAPER HQ to perform in our kitchen not too long ago), is gearing up for the release of her second album, The Onion, and we're excited to be premiering the video for the record's first single, "Milo." The sultry jam feautres shadowy shots of the singer in front of the song's lyrics alternating with shots of her fiddling around with a bicycle (one of the track's themes). The single's official release date is March 30th and the album drops sometime this summer. In the meantime, watch "Milo," above.
Being a rabid royal historian I'm fascinated/horrified by E!'s new deliciously trashy scripted show The Royals, a sensational tabloid style drama about a fictional royal family of England. I decided to speak to my fellow followers of all things tiara-related, The Fug Girls, Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, to hear their thoughts and critiques of the new show.
As monarchists, does it bother you when the show has major inaccuracies?
Jessica: I don't know if I can actually technically call myself a "monarchist," as an American, but I am DEFINITELY a big fan of all things royals and royal-related. There needs to be a word for that! As far as The Royals -- or any fictionalized take on a royal family -- goes, I think that you have to be able to extend a fair amount of artistic license, or your face will catch on fire. (And by "yours," I mean mine; I am secretly really nerdy about these things, but I am trying to unclench.) E!, at least, is not pretending to be presenting us with a meticulously-researched take on what it's really like to be a royal. (In fact, I recently read an interview where Alexandra Park said that they didn't have any briefings on accuracy, even.)
Heather: I basically had nine aneurysms during the first two episodes -- one for each time anyone loudly said "King of England" or "Queen of England," because although that's colloquial, it's also basically wiping Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland out of the equation, much less the rest of the Commonwealth countries of which they'd be sovereign. Unless in this world Canada is independent and reigned over by King Bieber and Queen Avril Lavigne. But apart from all the other absurd aspects -- I'm SO SURE the paparazzi got up to the front door of the freaking palace -- I think it's completely possible to love both the real and the REAL FAKE royals, because this show is just pure soap. It exists in its own galaxy. It has populated the planet Crackfest. It's almost pointless to note all the things about it that make no sense, like the heir to the throne crowd-surfing at a public appearance to distract from how his sister is walking around smoking a joint. It can be maddening sometimes, but then again, look at a show like Nashville. That has all the elements of a soap but nobody lets it go there. Or Downton Abbey. We all WANT it to be a soap, but Julian Fellowes refuses to acknowledge that's what it is, so he leaves all this potential for real drama on the table. In that sense, it's a relief that The Royals is so unabashedly trying to be your dirtiest, guiltiest pleasure. It wants to be Gossip Girl but about people who happen to be royal, and as such, its hands are in the air like it just don't care.
What do you think of the two princesses who are obviously cruel parodies of Eugenie n and Bea, the York princesses?
Heather: Acting-wise, I think they're the only two people other than Elizabeth Hurley and Evil Uncle Cyrus who quite realize what show they're on -- kind of like how nobody in Showgirls except maybe Gina Gershon seemed to understand what that movie was really going to be. The actresses are COMMITTED. The writing for them is so broad and bawdy and tacky, though, that it does make me feel sorry for Eug and Bea. I don't know anyone who thinks they are quite as fatuous as the fictional ladies, although they DO seem to have in common a sense of being tangential to the action. I really took issue with a joke in Sunday night's episode, though. The two of them came upon a famous swimmer whom the princess's security guard knocked out, and once they established he was not dead, they dragged away his fully unconscious body while saying things like, "I always wondered how I'd lose my virginity," and, "Tonight's the night." That is basically a rape joke. It's gross and totally crosses the line from camp into crassness and well beyond. It's not edgy; it's embarrassing. And idiotic. Same with the princess being blackmailed into sex. To put it super maturely, it's icky.
Jessica: Yes, I thought that was totally unnecessary. Setting that aside, I do find the genesis of those characters to be quite mean. But I agree that Hatty Preston and Lydia Rose Bewley have good comic timing and really liven up the joint -- they're funny, the're costumed amusingly...basically: I think it's both really unkind, and they also might be my favorite part of the show.
Are there any members of the royal family you wish were the inspiration for characters?
Jessica: I am not sure if they have room in the cast for another character. I will say, though, that as I understand it, the original source material for this show was a YA re-telling of Hamlet, so I am just waiting for someone's ghost to show up and start monologuing.
Heather: I would say the Queen Mum, but then again, I wouldn't want her memory to be dragged into this.
What do you think of William Moseley as the prince?
Heather: He is an extremely limp stalk of celery. The wettest of wet blankets. He has the charisma of that tree in your front yard you want to get rid of because only a third of its branches bother to do anything and the roots are tickling your sewage line. If you need me to be less cryptic: I'm not a fan. He's insufficiently dreamy to me, and they keep styling his hair to look vaguely like '90s David Spade (although I'm not sure there is any OTHER era of David Spade). It's all just weird.
Jessica: I think he's cute enough -- he's got that Eau d'William they're clearly going for -- but I do find him to be a bit of a blank slate. Is he (as you'd guess from the crowd-surfing) an impetuous party boy who never had to take his royal duties seriously because he's the spare? Or is he sensitive and shy (which sort of seems to be how they're playing it)? I can't quite get a handle on him. I don't think he's bringing as much to the table as Alexandra Park is, certainly.
Your upcoming novel The Royal We is also inspired by the royal family. How much of their story did you borrow from?
Heather: Quite a lot of it. You don't have to LIKE the royal family to enjoy it, but we drew up its underlying themes after a conversation we were having about Kate Middleton, and how challenging her position must be. However she got around to meeting William at university, the fact is she did, and they've ended up together, and if you stop and think about it she really gave up a LOT of things in order to have that life. If she had married some dude named Steve from North Carolina, she might have an entirely different life and wardrobe, with no boring beige patent round-toe pumps and skirts at a Queen-approved length. She might have more friends. She'd be able to take her kids anywhere she wants, whenever she wants. She might wear yoga pants to the store and openly be able to buy condoms, or pregnancy tests, or six bags of Ruffles. She can't do that now. The life she picked could be surprisingly lonely, for all its advantages, so we built a story based on the theme of how much of yourself you give up just from falling in love. So, we got plenty of inspiration from the real thing.
Jessica: Having said that, it was really important to us to make Bex and Nick, our protagonists -- and all the people in their orbit, royal or not -- their own characters. While they are in Wills and Kate's positions, they are not Wills and Kate, and the story we tell, although absolutely inspired by that real life courtship, is otherwise highly fictional. There's plenty in there that royals watchers will recognize and hopefully enjoy, but you can come into the book knowing absolutely nothing about the royal family quite easily.
Who are your favorite members of the royal family?
Heather: Well, apart from all the super fascinating dead ones (Edward II reportedly died via a hot poker rammed someplace private), I will always love William and Harry. But I have to confess: I have a weird fondness for Princess Anne. Maybe it's not weird at all, actually. But she's kind of The Forgotten Windsor, given that she passed on titles for her children and she stays out of the limelight. And the Queen gave her the title "Princess Royal" as an honorarium, because of all her philanthropic work, AND she's an accomplished equestrian who birthed an Olympian. Anne just puts her head down and gets it done. We also have a running joke on Go Fug Yourself that Anne -- who specializes in highly suspicious and/or skeptical expressions -- actually spends her time ferreting out wrongdoers and solving high-society crimes. That's what really sold me.
Jessica: I, too, obviously love William and Harry. Part of the reason I think they, and Kate, are popular with Americans is that we've born witness to so much of their lives. The British royal family is like an incredibly long-running soap opera for us Americans, in many ways -- they aren't politicized here, the way they naturally are in the UK; we've even been briefed on all the juicy bits we missed over the last thousand years in school. And having seen the tragic way their mother's life unfolded, I think it's natural to have a fondness for them and want happiness for them. I think one of the reasons that Americans were so into William and Kate's wedding, for instance, was because in many ways it felt like a happy ending to a story that had, until recently, had so much sadness in it. And it felt very apt that someone whose parents were strong-armed in many ways into a marriage that was ill-suited to both of them, for the sake of propriety and appropriateness and tradition, got to marry the person that he chose for himself. Even just as a story, that's satisfying. To see it play out in real life, even more so.
Who are you favorite characters on The Royals?
Heather: I enjoy Queen Helena because Elizabeth Hurley -- and her character itself, actually -- is the only one who seems to be having any fun. King Simon seems like a nice guy, but misplaced on an E! show, and in fact the actor almost plays him like he is hoping the show is on PBS. Sorry, good sir. No important-sounding consonants in the name of THIS network.
Jessica: I agree. Obviously, we're all just marking time until Joan Collins shows up --- although they've made her the "Grand Duchess of Oxford," which is MADDENING; Great Britain doesn't have any Grand Duchesses. Is Oxford a whole other country in this universe? See what I said about how I'm trying to unclench? I am bad at it -- but until then, Hurley is sincerely a hoot. I didn't realize I'd missed her until we got her back.
Between building houses (his main profession) and doing shoots as a
fitness model, 49-year-old Scott Cullens has a better body than most
bodybuilders half his age and he's not afraid to show it off. We talked
to him about getting naked for the camera and his biggest assets.
So I had no idea until I was researching you that you're 49! Do you feel like you're in the best shape of your life?
I looked better at 30 than 20. I was in better shape at 40 than 30. I am presenting my best ever at 50. It's all about focus, determination and simple happiness. Happy people look better.
What do you think is your sexiest asset?
Is that with or without clothes? With clothes, it's my smirk. Behind it is some horny little thought I guarantee it.
How much work was it to get a muscle butt like yours? Or were you born with it?
I was voted "Best Body" in high school so I definitely have a genetic predisposition. But that shouldn't diminish my daily dedication at the gym. My obsession is squats!
Have you done full frontal nudity? If not what would it take for you to show it all? Also have you ever considered porn?
I've done a lot of nude photo shoots but never for what I guess would be considered porn. I am in several coffee table books filled with male erotic photography. I am not shy and I enjoy shooting nude. No hang ups about being naked in front of the camera. I've never done porn but have been asked several times. No judgements about porn, especially since I watch it myself, but I already like my career so I'll stick with building houses.
Who's your celebrity crush?
I have celebrity crushes on Idris Elba, Jussie Smollett and Trai Byers. It changes from time to time but I always like the swirl!
After Earl Sweatshirt's surprise album I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside was posted to iTunes last week for pre-order (the result of an allegedly bungled attempt at a Beyoncé-style secret drop), it's now finally available for purchase and streaming on Spotify. The 10-song record, a follow-up to 2013's Doris, features rapper Vince Staples and pro-skater (and Sweatshirt friend/new collaborator) Na' kel and clocks in at only thirty minutes long. Sweatshirt, already anticipating the haters reaction to the short length, posted this delightful little tweet:
WHEN YOU GET DONE LISTENING TO IT, LISTEN TO IT AGAIN, THATS WHY ITS 30 MINUTES NUMBNUTS http://t.co/aSQkDxtMM5-- EARL (@earlxsweat) March 23, 2015
PAPER's Elizabeth Thompson, Abby Schreiber and Michelle Lindsay got in on the action, submitting their own pairs that have accompanied them everywhere from the launch of our Kim Kardashian #BreakTheInternet story (Elizabeth) to the hospital delivery room (Michelle).
Take a cue from Patti Smith and the PAPER crew and share your own pair of chucks on social media using #Converse and #MadeByYou.
Another baby Yeezy video has sprung up online, this time featuring 2002 Kanye explaining his left forearm tattoo. The tattoo, a permanent reminder to Ye whence he came, lists the career-shaping songs he produced in his early days -- particularly Jay Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Heart of the City" -- as well as songs by Beanie Sigel and his own music. North is going to have to keep the tattoo she secretly gets with Penelope Disick on a ditch day from Harvard-Westlake under wraps because Kanye won't approve. Instead, as West predicts in a prophetic moment from the clip, "When my family is in a million dollar home, and they look back, they say, 'Dad, why I can't get no tattoos? Why you got that tattoo?' I'll be like, 'Look, this tattoo is the reason why we here. Why we right here, now." Watch above.
Known for arresting visuals, FKA Twigs doesn't disappoint with the video for "Glass & Patron," one of the songs featured in her Google Glass short film. In the new video, Twigs starts out pregnant, literally gives birth to dance, watches over a proceeding voguing battle on a runway in the woods, and then ends the evening with a handstand split. Impressive doesn't even begin cover it. Watch the video for "Glass & Patron," which will appear on her upcoming EP, above.
It's hard to believe when a brand is doing a genuinely good thing. It was just two weeks ago that the band Ex Cops shed a harsh light on McDonald's efforts to put together a SXSW showcase. The band alleged that McDonald's had asked the indie-pop outfit to play the show for free, in exchange for a nebulous promise of "exposure." In a Facebook open letter, the Ex Cops blasted McDonalds and the billion dollar corporate entities that are trying to partner with bands in a bid for relevancy, but at the same time can't manage to budget an artist's fee. "It is a horrifying and gross reality when one sees the true nature of
corporations and their pathetic attempts to achieve relevance with
millennials," wrote Ex Cops. Attempts like these, I suppose.
In the end, McDonald's responded to Ex Cops' open letter with the decision to compensate all artists who agreed to play the showcase. The fast food chain told Billboard, "SXSW started as a conference and festival for the music industry, related press and up-and-coming musicians bringing the community together to showcase their talents... To further support these artists, all bands performing at our showcase will be compensated."
After McDonald's issued that statement, Ex Cops came out as thrilled for the artists that ended up participating in the showcase and all seemed well. But down in Austin, Texas, passing by McDonald's tent -- somehow already faded -- and its weird, greasy smell, their attempt at "cool" seemed to fall flat. Brand presences are everywhere at SXSW, but McDonald's bastion still managed to look out of place, like a ghost town. A similar feeling: walking from the hotel to The Fader Fort presented by Converse, I overheard someone say, "They should do something in this courtyard," as they walked by a business park that was shockingly devoid of SXSW fare. "A Merrill Lynch showcase," they joked, passing the financial firm.
If you traveled further, just past the dilapidated, french fry enclosure that was the McDonald's tent, across the train tracks, you'd find yourself in a thoroughly different atmosphere -- the Converse Fader Fort. Here, performers like Chance the Rapper, Shamir, Bleachers and even Miley Cyrus would take the stage throughout the week. Converse's presence stretched beyond The Fader Fort to Thrasher's Death Match Showcase and to a quiet, partly residential side street, where Converse brought their pop-up recording studio for the fourth year in a row. Offering free studio time to bands that apply and are accepted to the program, the Converse Rubber Tracks initiative started back in July 2011 with a permanent, 5,200 sq. ft. studio in Brooklyn. To date, over 1,000 bands have come through the Williamsburg outpost.
The pop-up version at SXSW provides the same opportunities to local Austin bands, making its temporary home at Big Orange. At first glance, this seems great. At second glance, it seems suspicious. Is there really such a thing as a "no strings attached" deal between a band and a corporate brand? With Converse Rubber Tracks, the answer, surprisingly, could be yes. "Converse owes a lot to music. We are who we are today because of music, and we're very lucky and thankful for that. We wanted to give something back. The music community, especially emerging artists, they could use our help," Jed Lewis, Converse's Global Music Marketing Director, explains. While some brands might trade off the caché that partnering with the right band can bring, Converse frames the ask differently. It's not what you can do for Converse. It's what Converse can do for you. Preternaturally on the feet of your favorite bands, Converse is, ostensibly, already cool.
Acknowledging that "there's lots of ways that you can record an album in your basement or bedroom" Converse still sees the value in legit studio time and linking up emerging artists with professional producers. Not only do the artists get to record for free, but they also retain the sole rights to what they record. A local Austin band called Mother Merey and The Black Dirt is a blues-y, stomp band that first started recording with Converse Rubber Tracks three years ago. They're by no means huge, but they're working artists, playing shows down in Austin and getting ready to go on tour. Before signing on to Rubber Tracks, the three-piece outfit started out on the fringes of SXSW, playing an unaffiliated show at a snow cone shack. They were payed in snow cones. For the band, going from snow cones to being a part of Converse's pop-up studio was "night and day." In addition to working in the CRT studio for their own music, Mother Merey was invited back by Converse this year to record some sounds for Converse's sample library. Comprised of over 1,000 royalty-free samples made by everyone from Converse Rubber Tracks bands to The Roots, the sample library is another off-shoot of the shoe brand's music initiatives.
Another Austin band, The Ghost Wolves, applied for Converse Rubber Tracks through a friend's recommendation. Having recorded a full EP at the studio last year, The Ghost Wolves are enjoying a second year back at the Austin pop-up. In their retelling of working and recording with Converse, words like "awesome" and "fun" kept popping up. If there's one thing to be said about the Rubber Tracks program, it's that everyone involved seems to genuinely love it, no matter how hard you prod for a cynical answer. "I don't really buy into brands," one of the members of Mother Merey offered up. "But the thing is, I have such a loyalty to Converse at this point. It's the community and passion that everyone has here that brings me back." For Converse, surprisingly or not, it really is about music and musicians. The good PR just follows.
One half of the surrealist comedy duo Tim & Eric, Eric Wareheim directed a bonkers video for Charli XCX's "Famous." Like most of Tim & Eric's humor, the music video is dark and skewering as it explores web culture taken to the extreme. The visuals for "Famous" feature a 90s-nostalgia-clad Charli fan; at the outset of the video, the super fan is in her room, dancing with carefree abandon as she watches Charli XCX on her iPhone screen. Naturally, things gradually take a dark turn when both her iPhone and her iPad lose their charge. We all know how harrowing a quest for an outlet can get. Watch the video, above.
Read More: Tim & Eric Do High Fashion Drag
Our foremost gladiator Kerry Washington was presented with the Vanguard Award at GLAAD's 26th Annual Media Awards over the weekend. In her acceptance speech she spoke on diversity in television, what it means to be an LGBTQ ally, and, what people most often forget, intersectionality: "You'd think we'd band together and fight the good fight, but history tells us that no, often we don't. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other, and made to feel like there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of 'other'."
But perhaps the best and most sobering moment from the speech happened when Washington roused the crowd by breaking down the notion of "diversity." (As the ruler of Shondaland herself, Shonda Rhimes, put it: "As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word: normalizing. I'm normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks.") "I don't decide to play the characters I play as a political choice," said Washington. "Yet the characters I play do become political statements because having your story told -- as a woman, as a person of color, as any member of any disenfranchised community -- is sadly often still a radical idea... That is why the work of GLAAD is so important."
Watch Kerry Washington's full speech, above.
A continuation of Florence and the Machine's video for "What Kind of Man," which we could only describe as "intense," St. Jude is just as heavy. Though director Vincent Haycock says the video and song are obviously about relationships, he notes in a press release, "it's also about Florence traveling through our version of the Divine Comedy." Does that make "What Kind of Man" the Inferno and "St. Jude" purgatory? If so, that means we've still got paradise to tackle with Flo -- maybe things are about to brighten up.
It's been a banner day for new music videos: Charli XCX enlisted Eric Wareheim to create a surrealist world filled with '90s-obssed teens and streetwear-clad retirees, FKA twigs "gave birth to dance," Florence Welch created her own "Divine Comedy" and Shamir morphed into a puppet. But the most visually stunning video from the last 24 hours is probably "Lean On" by Major Lazer and DJ Snake featuring MØ. In the clip, the trio travel to India where they dance (and soak in a bath) amidst gorgeous temples and dusty streets and we even get to see Diplo shirtless. Speaking about the video, the producer says, "Major Lazer has always been a culture mashup and to us, India feels like some kind of special creature with one foot in history and one firmly in the future." The track will appear on the group's forthcoming album, Peace Is the Mission, out June 1st via Mad Decent, and will supposedly be "the first of several Major Lazer albums over the next year," according to a press release. Give the clip a watch, above.