Articles on this Page
- 04/24/15--07:30: _When Blue Ivy Tells...
- 04/24/15--08:00: _New Royals: Meet Bu...
- 04/24/15--09:00: _Listen to Britney S...
- 04/24/15--10:00: _Trans Model and Act...
- 04/24/15--10:30: _Watch the Rejected ...
- 04/24/15--10:45: _The Best, Worst and...
- 04/26/15--05:00: _The Sunday Funnies
- 04/27/15--03:45: _Mazel Tov! Nicki Mi...
- 04/27/15--05:51: _Space Out With Jami...
- 04/27/15--06:12: _Is Leonardo DiCapri...
- 04/27/15--08:15: _Eddie Huang and Jee...
- 04/27/15--09:00: _R.I.P. Westway: The...
- 04/27/15--09:30: _Billy Corgan Is Now...
- 04/27/15--11:20: _Meet Amy Schumer's ...
- 04/23/15--03:59: _Beautiful People: M...
- 04/23/15--11:02: _Beautiful People 20...
- 04/24/15--06:00: _Beautiful People 20...
- 04/24/15--06:30: _Beautiful People 20...
- 04/24/15--07:00: _Beautiful People 20...
- 04/24/15--07:03: _Beautiful People 20...
- 04/24/15--07:30: When Blue Ivy Tells You to Marry Someone, You Do It
- 04/24/15--08:00: New Royals: Meet Budding Rock Star Grace McKagan AKA Grave
- 04/24/15--10:30: Watch the Rejected "Bob's Burgers" Pilot
- 04/24/15--10:45: The Best, Worst and Weirdest of the Week
- 04/26/15--05:00: The Sunday Funnies
- 04/27/15--03:45: Mazel Tov! Nicki Minaj Performed at a Bar Mitzvah
- 04/27/15--05:51: Space Out With Jamie xx In His New Video, "Gosh"
- 04/27/15--06:12: Is Leonardo DiCaprio Using Tinder as "Leonard"?
- 04/27/15--08:15: Eddie Huang and Jeezy On Racism, America and Bossing Up
- 04/27/15--09:00: R.I.P. Westway: The Club Will Close In July
- 04/27/15--09:30: Billy Corgan Is Now Working for a Pro Wrestling Network
- 04/27/15--11:20: Meet Amy Schumer's Delightful New Doll
- 04/23/15--03:59: Beautiful People: Media & Tech
- 04/23/15--11:02: Beautiful People 2015: Art
- 04/24/15--06:00: Beautiful People 2015: Shamir
- 04/24/15--06:30: Beautiful People 2015: Music
- 04/24/15--07:00: Beautiful People 2015: Gina Rodriguez
- 04/24/15--07:03: Beautiful People 2015: Ellar Coltrane
In a new interview with People, Tina Knowles, who married her boyfriend Richard Lawson earlier this month, says that H.R.H. Blue Ivy was the one who told her to tie the knot.
Knowles recounted being on a boat with the Carters and her granddaughter for Beyoncé's birthday back in September when her granddaughter issued her decree:
"When we came out one night dressed to go to dinner, Blue said, 'Oh, ya'll look beautiful. When are ya'll getting married?' Richard said, 'Oh, Blue, soon. Do you approve?' And she said yes. That's the first time we talked seriously about getting married."Essentially, when three-year-old Blue Ivy asks if you're getting married to the person you're dating in front of them, you don't nervously laugh and ask her to sing "Let It Go" again, you GET MARRIED.
You also listen when Blue tells you she wore Dior to the Grammys, as Rihanna, who attended dressed as a common peasant in Giambattista Valli, learned in February. (She'll never make that mistake again, your grace.)
Go quietly invest in something from Dior and check out these adorable photos of Blue and the Knowles/Carter gang from Tina's wedding that Beyonce shared on her site below.
Grave, the alter ego of Grace McKagan, is only 17-years-old but she's already making waves in the West Coast music scene. The daughter of rock legend, Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and model Susan Holmes, she's the frontwoman of synth-pop/punk band The Pink Slips who have played at some of L.A.'s most legendary venues like Whisky a Go Go and Boardner's. We had the chance to chat with the busy teen, who balances music with school and modeling (she recently signed to IMG), and hear her thoughts about writing songs and getting music and fashion advice from her famous folks.
Name: Grace McKagan aka GRAVE
Zodiac sign: Virgo
Hometown: Seattle, WA
School: Seattle University
Discovered: IMG management
First big break: In my mind I haven't really had one yet, but I have played some cool shows that I'm really thankful for like at the CBGB music festival and headlined the Whisky a Go Go a few times.
Favorite live show so far: When I played a show at Boardner's in Hollywood with my friend Jesse Jo Stark...we made cool shirts and the vibe was really cool and there was a good crowd.
Song you've written that best describes your personality: The song hasn't been released yet but it's my favorite one I have written so far with Isaac Carpenter. It's called "Killer Queen Bitch" and it's super synthy and badass and it's something I strive to be like on stage, just totally in your face and not really caring.
Best advice about music your dad has ever given you: My dad isn't really involved with my music. I try to stay away form being labeled as "Duff McKagan's" daughter, hence my stage name/alter ego "GRAVE" but the best advice he has given me is probably to be genuinely nice to everybody you work with and meet.
Best advice about style your mom has ever given you: To not show too much skin. For example if you wanna wear a low cut top then wear pants, or if you wanna show off your legs, then wear a top that isn't too revealing, less is always more.
Hair by Johnny Stuntz / Makeup by The Makeup Expert
Yaaassss, it's Giorgio and Britney, bitch!
Much to the delight of music bloggers and electro fans everywhere, a wonky take on Suzanne Vega's hypnotic 1987 hit "Tom's Diner," performed by the Princess of Pop herself, was leaked earlier today ahead of its June release on Giorgio Moroder's first album in 30 years, Déjà Vu. No longer a disaffected anthem of dazed people-watching, Moroder's version of "Tom's Diner" thrusts you right into the action with the heavy use of a vocoder and a steady four-on-the-floor sweep. Amplifying Britney's breathy, pseudo-robo swoon, Moroder has somehow made the classic doo-doo-doo-doo hook even more addictive -- a vision of modern pop that joins together audio technology's past, present and future and proves that the legendary Eurodisco producer hasn't lost his touch. (Not to mention the fact that America's Comeback Queen is also back in full force.)
Geena Rocero, a Filipina model and trans activist, made headlines last year when she came out as trans during a TED talk. Rocero, who is the founder of non-profit Gender Proud, which advocates for transgender justice and equality, believes acceptance remains the trans community's biggest hurdle, especially when being openly trans is still met with systemic oppression in so many parts of the world. "Imagine every time you go to take out your license or passport,
and it does not match your chosen gender -- the explanation, or worse --
the overt discrimination," Rocero says. "This is just one example; there's continued
structural violence perpetrated against trans individuals every day." In light of Bruce Jenner's expected coming out tonight during an interview with Diane Sawyer, we asked Rocero to discuss the ways trans stories (especially Jenner's) are treated in the media and where she thinks trans awareness may be in ten years.
As someone who received a lot of press when you came out as transgender last year, what have you thought of the media's treatment of Bruce's story?
So far, I think it's amazing how much visibility it's bringing, and will continue to bring. I think the media is getting better and better, every month, every year, at having a stronger and more empowered conversation about the transgender experience.
This seems like such a watershed moment for trans visibility. Where do you think trans awareness might be in 10 years?
My great hope is that globally, every country around the world recognizes a transgender person's right to self-determine. At present, there's still so many countries that do not recognize this fundamental human freedom.
After that, my hope for my country is that trans people are allowed to serve openly in the military, that no trans child feels shame or fear around living their truth, and that people are no longer discriminated in the workplace for being trans.
For me, transitioning was about living my truth, and it was about feeling safe in a community of people who understood me; at the time, I was surrounded by the LGBT community in the Philippines, and they taught me everything I needed to know. As long as you live your truth, you can never go wrong.
Fifteen years later, sharing my story at TED and coming out to the fashion industry was about letting go of fear, and giving back. For every trans person who boldly lives their truth, they're inspiring and emboldening a community of courageous individuals to do the same.
What would you say Bruce's friends and family should keep in mind while he's transitioning?
To love Bruce Jenner, to support Bruce Jenner. This is a brave decision, and it means everything to the country -- and the world -- because Bruce is willing to do it so publicly. For so long, the trans community has lived in the shadows. Because of Bruce's courage, lives will be saved. So be proud. And know how grateful the rest of us are.
Photo by BJ Pascual
The initial Bob's Burgers pilot, which was rejected by Fox back in the day, has surfaced online. Uploaded onto YouTube in 2012, this Flash-animated sample emphasizes the hallmarks of any Loren Bouchard-created show: sharp writing and amazing character dialogue.
And even though most of the writing stays intact in the actual pilot that aired, we like to think that this version was given the cut because everyone's favorite butt-loving, smart, strong, sensual woman, Tina, wasn't part of the original cast. Good move, Fox.
h/t Daily Dot
Inexplicably Enjoyable Clip of the Week: While I'll never understand why "Lip Sync Battle" is a thing, I can still recognize what comedic value it has. Case in point is the video above. -- Evan Siegel
Retail News of the Week: The announcement that Abercrombie & Fitch is ditching its shirtless models and 'sexualized marketing.' Great! Now people of all shapes and sizes are free to dress like assholes. -- E.S.
Most Futuristic Typewriter: This one that automatically makes ASCII art selfies, made by Russian artists ::vtol ::. It's a cool work, but personally, I don't think ASCII art can get any better than the infamous "))<>((" from Me and You and Everyone We Know. -- E.S.
App of the Week: MyIdol. Setting the Internet afire, the viral Chinese avatar app shows no signs of slowing down. Because in addition to creepy, baby-doll versions of your ex floating in your timeline, you can also see Leo DiCaprio dancing to "Gangnam Style," panda Rihanna walking the catwalk or Tween Dream Franco busting a move. Yeah, you're welcome. -- Sandra Song
Runner-Up App of the Week: Miranda July's newly-relaunched app, "Somebody." The app, which first launched last year, lets you send messages to your friends by way of nearby strangers. Everybody should download it so I can use you as my couriers. -- E.S.
[Image Via Mashable]
Worst Video Interview of the Week: Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans rightfully got some flack this week for calling Avengers character Black Widow a "whore" and "slut." And while Evans released an apology, Renner decided to tell Entertainment Weekly that it wasn't actually "meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour." You sure that that latex suit isn't just your human garbage bag costume? -- S.S.
Key & Peele's Keegan-Michael Key brought his "Obama anger translator" character to the White House Correspondents' Dinner last night and it was amazing. Something tells us there weren't many Key & Peele fans in the room last night, but all of the cut-aways to the audience's confused laughter and blank stares make it all the more better. LIGHTEN UP, JANE FONDA. At least Laverne Cox was into it.
Cecily Strong was the host of the White House Correspondents' Dinner and slayed. One of her many slam-dunk jokes: "[Mr.President] your hair is so white now, it can talk back to police"
Please just never leave your house again, Jason. [Mlkshk]
The only phone background you'll ever need. [TheClearlyDope]
Robbie is a triumph. [TheClearlyDope]
You mean a $15 liver fresh-pressed juice, right? [Mlkshk]
The struggle is real. [LaughterKey]
Watch a tubby baby seal flop itself on a tourist and give her kisses. Too cute, send help! [TastefullyOffensive]
Go for yours, Ms. Mop! [FYouNoFMe]
Good times with anxiety. [TastefullyOffensive]
While Justin Bieber was busy surprising teens at a California high school's prom, Nicki Minaj was entertaining their tween counterparts at some very lucky 13-year-old's bar mitzvah in Manhattan. With the girls out in full force in a black dress, Nicki performed "Superbass," offered some pearls of wisdom to the pre-teens ("Stay in school and don't be a slouch or a bum. And ladies, never let a man have to take care of you. Do you understand me? Be your own woman -- be your own person, do you understand me?") and got a cheeky response by the bar mitzvah boy -- sorry, man -- himself when she asked him his age. His response? "Old enough." Damn.
Jamie xx has a new album out June 2nd, In Colour, and today he released the new video for one of its tracks, "Gosh." The nearly 5-minute long clip is like an outer space segment from Planet Earth, lots of beautiful NASA shots of the great black void and what appears to be planet Mars. Give the soothing clip a watch and catch the artist at Terminal 5 in NYC on August 8th as part of his In Colour tour.
Get ready to take your last spin on the stripper pole because much-loved NYC strip club-turned-nightclub The Westway is going to be closing on July 1st, making way for the building to turn into luxury condos. "There'd been some rumors about the [building being purchased] in the press but honestly it was only over the last week or so that the deal was finalized," Matt Kliegman, who co-owns the club with his partner Carlos Quirarte, told us. The two signed a lease on the space in 2010 before officially opening the venue in 2011 -- eons ago in nightlife years. "We were open for four and a half years, which we're happy about," Kliegman said. "The reason why Carlos and I fell in love with it in the first place was that we really felt it was wired for people to let their hair down and dance and have fun. It's disappointing that it's closing."
"The idea of something ending that you like is sad," Lyz Olko, the Director of Nightlife at The Westway, Westway Presents, The Jane and The Jane rooftop, said. "But I think mostly my reaction when I heard this news was that I couldn't believe how much time had passed and how well-known and amazing the club had become in such a short span of time. It's like, 'whoa, I can't believe it's been almost five years already.'"
For his part, the co-owner is busy working on several other hospitality joints, including opening a second location of his Black Seed Bagels on First Ave. between 10th and 11th along with an Italian restaurant in Williamsburg with Missy Robbins (formerly of A Voce) on N. 10th and Union. Along with Quirarte, he's also teaming up with Max and Eli Sussman who are taking over the restaurant at Ruschmeyer's, which the guys have been in charge of the past couple of summers.
But for now the focus is on giving Westway a proper send-off by hosting a mix of as-yet-unannounced parties and performances. Although he couldn't offer many details, Kliegman assured us that there will be "some of the more recognizable names that have performed in the past will be coming back." At the same time, the owner teased us with the news that he and Quirarte are already thinking about their next nightlife project. "It'll probably be a little smaller," he said, adding that the vibe will be different from that of The Westway or their other space, The Jane.
Fingers crossed one of those greasy stripper poles will make a re-appearance -- if only for posterity's sake.
In this week's edition of Oh No, What Are You Doing Billy Corgan: The Smashing Pumpkins frontman and on-again/off-again F.O.C. (friend of Courtney) has announced he's going to join TNA Wrestling (that would stand for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) as a senior producer in their creative and talent development department. A longtime fan of pro wrestling, this isn't totally out of field for Corgan, but still: What?
According to a press release, Corgan will "develop characters and create story lines for TNA's flagship program Impact Wrestling." A quick spin through the TNA site shows Corgan could be writing arcs for wrestlers with names like Abyss, Gunner and HAVOK. In an interview with Variety, Corgan said he's less interested in sticking to comic book-esq villains-versus-heroes plots, and will instead explore race and transgender issues.
Corgan has been all over the place for years, ruining the Lower East Side, courting Jessica Simpson and Tila Tequila, posing on the cover of Paws Chicago with his two cats, and doing a music residency in a Chicago tea shop based off the writings of the Sufi mystic Rumi -- what's another detour down WTF Lane?
His new job, per the press release, is effective immediately.
"Cherub Rock" is still a really good song.
With her Comedy Central show starting its second season, red carpet moments with Kimye and an upcoming Judd Apatow movie, it was only matter of time until Amy Schumer got her own doll. Watch theInside Amy Schumer ad for "It's Amy!", Schumer's doll that comes with accessories including a purse filled with "birth control, Lexapro, dusty candy corn and a business card from a Tekserv employee that gave her a vibe." So excited this show has already been renewed for a fourth season. Watch above.
One of our country's most crucial conversations was reignited last June by journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates' 16,000-word article, "The Case for Reparations." In the piece, he reviews our country's systemic racism in regard to housing policy and proposes a national reckoning with the hard truths of our failings.
Raised in West Baltimore, Coates was a self-proclaimed "knucklehead" and college dropout before the late, great David Carr hired him as an intern at the Washington City Paper. "The long artistry of his life is what a lot of people want America to be," Coates says. These days, he is a national correspondent at the Atlantic, which ran his groundbreaking article; his second book, Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America, comes out this October.
For all of this country's faults, Coates still feels a deep love for the States, and in particular his current home. "People don't really think [New York City] is American, but I think it's the most American place," he says. "It's ultra America -- the incredible amount of diversity and crazy shit you can see walking down the street." [Emily Warman; read her extended interview with Ta-Nehisi here.]
Impeccably turned-out YouTube star Ruba Wilson has successfully moved into reality TV via the OWN docu-series Flex and Shanice. With his easy smile and lightning-quick charm, Wilson was made for prime time.
But Wilson hasn't foresaken the Internet. The 24-year-old was there in YouTube's early days with The Jahruba Show, a series made with friends and cousins. Soon enough, agents and publicists were contacting him with guests and Wilson was rocking red carpets. Today, he specializes in personal vlogs where he reacts to music videos, shows off his keen fashion sense -- e.g. the "ring party" on his fingers -- and offers DIY tips.
With the charisma and canny instincts for celebrity typical of his generation of social media stars, Wilson shows every sign of growing into a household name. It's fitting that his American Dream is so relatable: "doing what you love and being successful at it." [Liz Ohanesian]
Every once in a while, you get to see the hard meat of journalism -- rarer, though, is the chance you'll be moved by it. As the host of NPR's Serial podcast, journalist Sarah Koenig buried herself in the 1999 murder of a Baltimore teen to find out what really happened. Blowing the dust off old documents and prying open conflicting testimonies, Koenig carefully presented the facts in each episode as she herself sussed them out -- accruing more than 60 million downloads and one Peabody Award in what was her first foray into the format.
In the era of personal brands and hashtags, K-Hole crafts consumer-oriented trend reports that subvert the clichés of the form with the pro-design approach of a startup. "Trend Forecasting" might seem like Spinal Tap in 2015, but the team's self-awareness has resulted in endearingly campy ideas (they're the minds behind "normcore") -- from their "Brand Anxiety Matrix" to millennial analyses on consumerism that you'd actually want to read. [Molly Beauchemin]
Mamrie Hart's You Deserve A Drink series catapulted the comedian to Internet-fame for its crucial blend of pop-culture commentary, comedy and guerrilla mixology. Hart raps, dances spastically, admits she hates books -- all the while teaching you how to mix excellent drinks. Between her Amy Poehler waffle-flavored "Parks and Wrecked" and her Dunham-friendly recipe for "Not That Kind of Earl", she's got our drink order covered. We'll have what she's having. [MB]
By some crazy fate, I've found a way to have fun as my job. And I just had chilli and wine at an airport at 10 a.m., so if that's not an American dream, I don't know what is.
Model-turned-artist Alexandra Marzella cannot be censored. Already on her sixth Instagram account (@Artits6666), the fashion-meets-art-world anti-darling is not afraid to show nudity, blood, zits, sex, sweat, fat, bad food, hair or a little narcissism to make us cringe and question the limits of self-expression -- and somehow feel like we've brushed against beauty at the same time. [Kate Messinger]
Casey Jane Ellison
Whether it's her vocal-fried mock-fashion commentary on her super-arch What the F*shion YouTube series for VFiles, which puts the stereotype of the vapid fashion hipster on steroids, or her all-female online talk show Touching the Art for Ovation, performance artist and comedian Casey Jane Ellison confronts our relationships with art, fashion and the Internet with irreverence, wit and ultimate attitude. [KM]
Feeling secure about your life accomplishments so far? You won't once you hear 15-year-old rap prodigy -- and preternaturally gifted social media navigator -- Chris Miles. Discovered after his America's Got Talent audition tape went viral, and propelled along by some strategic tweets, the Long Island teen has already signed a fat contract with Warner and released three mixtapes. Worst part? He's actually really good. [KM]
We didn't need another reason to love the deeply hilarious Julieanne Smolinski (aka @BoobsRadley). Her sex writing and culture commentary for The Cut, GQ, and The Awl is always brash and hilariously honest. But now that the writer is bringing her talents to television, writing for the new Netflix series Grace and Frankie (starring -- hold your breath -- Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) we're all ears and eyes. [KM]
When the instant success of $900 million flash-sales retailer Fab.com bubbled over, co-founder Bradford Shellhammer swiftly changed directions, starting his own creative consultancy and in March launched Bezar, a purveyor of design-wise homeware, jewelry and art. The brand's virtual pop-up shops often feature vendors he's spotted on Instagram, all of them in line with his singular flair for colorful, elegant style. Reinvention seldom looks this good. [JM]
BACK TO OUR 2015 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
Mixed-media artist Chloe Wise cracked the art and fashion worlds last year with a perfectly executed troll: a Chanel-branded bread bag sculpture. The piece, titled "Bagel No. 5," was worn by model India Menuez at an event for Lagerfeld's fall 2014 season, attended by uncle Karl himself. Fashion folks assumed the bag was a part of his campaign, only to discover that it was an oven-fresh commentary on the fashion and consumer art worlds.
"Being able to make anything legitimized as a trend because it has a brand name attached to it completed my critique," Wise says. "Watching the fashion world unknowingly embrace a critique of itself was hilarious and awesome."
With her first solo show, at Division Gallery in Montreal, under her belt and another solo show in Switzerland later this year, this Canuck, who's logged a year and a half in NYC, is already breaking our cultural code. "The American Dream is me chugging Starbucks and Juice Press every morning and being able to live in a place where the stuff I want to make can be made."
A YouTube star through the the high-art lens, Petra Cortright creates videos, paintings, sculptures and performances that blend the analog with the digital. From webcam dances to emoji paintings to a video collaboration for Stella McCartney's AW14 collection, Cortright has made net art look great both online and IRL. [Kate Messinger]
Whether it's talking feminism inside the male-dominated online game World of Warcraft or publicly challenging the Internet's most famous misogynist (that would be BANG author Roosh V), new-media artist Angela Washko is all about bringing feminism into unexpected contexts. Using the Web as a sounding board, Washko asks hard questions with tactful wit, taking the conversation far beyond the courthouse. [KM]
Society won't shut up about how we're supposed to look, so Allie Pohl makes gender and beauty stereotypes too big to ignore. Taking the measurements of the "Ideal Woman" -- 36-24-36 seems to be the mainstream consensus -- the L.A.-based artist distorts Barbie-like forms. (More recently, she's turned her attention to assumptions of male beauty.) She shows these large plastic sculptures in many sizes, colors and iterations of faux-pubic hair to highlight the lack of human qualities and reroute our concept of physical ideals. [KM]
Throwing cheeseburgers at pedestrians; a photo project using white women as scarves; a voting website called "Light Skinned or Dark Skinned?" Nate Hill's performance art is anything but PC. But behind the shocking antics and controversial topics, Hill is not concerned with making people mad or uncomfortable; his work is about jumpstarting conversations on race, gender and class -- and allowing us all to laugh a little in the process. [KM]
Glowsticks, reclining lovers, ghosts... Sam McKinniss applies a classical religious style of painting to distinctly modern tableaux of longing and romanticism. Circling the "gay gaze" with soft precision, the Connecticut native details a mixture of social connection and narcissism half-naked men find on their phones, often in bed. And while there's a sexy sense of excitement and fun in his work, it's often shrouded in self-reflection and lurking questions of identify. His work depicts the immediate cultural moment with timeless execution. [EG]
Working as both an artist and model, half-Jamaican UK native Phoebe Collings-James brings activism into every form she takes on. Whether it's refusing to wear designers who won't cast models of different races or starting a feminist blog called Cunt Today, Collings-James is not afraid to cross lines or push buttons. Her paintings, sculptures and performances have a weighty sense of materiality and fanciful anthropomorphism -- fitting for the themes she frequently returns to around race, sexuality and feminism. [KM & EG]
Arvida Bystrom's photography may be candy-colored like her hair, but her work is far from sweet. Shooting for magazines like Wonderland, Rookie, i-D and more, Bystrom uses a glittery teen-girl aesthetic to highlight gender and sexuality stereotypes in pop culture and beyond. There Will Be Blood, her 2012 editorial for Vice -- a look at menstruation that managed to shrug off knee-jerk revulsion and fetishistic baggage -- might have brought her new levels of attention, but a look at her adored Tumblr suggests that she's poised to make deeper, bigger statements very soon. [KM]
BACK TO OUR 2015 BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
PAPER is proud to present a conversation with Shamir, breakout pop musician and member of the Beautiful People Class of 2015. Read on for his take on the American Dream (the theme of our April issue), and meet Shamir's classmateshere.
Let's talk a little bit about your background. How did you get started?
Yeah, pretty much. I play a right-handed guitar left-handed. But the weird thing is that I'm right-handed when it comes to writing. I don't even understand. I guess I'm half-ambidextrous. I think in my last life I was a left-handed musician, and that's still with me.
What kind of music were you into most as a kid?
My first guitar was acoustic, and I gravitated towards country and folk music to begin with. And that's also because I was super obsessed with Taylor Swift and Laura Marling at the time. I wanted to make music that was a hybrid between those two. When I was 16, I started a punk band called Anorexia; we were together up until I was 18. We took a small hiatus because we had just graduated from high school and were working and trying to get our lives together. We decided to so some side projects in our rooms because we weren't able to practice as much as we wanted. That was around the summer of 2013, and that's when I decided to do more electronic and pop music. And that's how Shamir came about.
What influenced you when you were getting into electronic stuff?
A lot of people think that I was into a lot of old-school house, like Frankie Knuckles and old disco music. Honestly, I probably never listened to disco music before this outside of the radio, if that even counts. I never really knew what house music was. Electronic music to me was just EDM, especially coming from Las Vegas where that's such a huge thing. In Vegas, EDM is Skrillex and Diplo. But I just wanted to do my own style of electronic music. It was definitely heavily influenced by pop stars, their different personalities, like Lana del Rey and Marina and the Diamonds and stuff like that, but also, oddly enough, I was trying to do a very synth-type sound like Zola Jesus or Austra. It ended up sounding like old-school house music and I never even realized it until a producer I worked with -- Nick Sylvester -- pointed it out when I played him my demos. I was like, "I don't even know what house music is!" No one around me listened to it or played it. I just never really listened to a lot of electronic music, especially coming from such a strong country, R&B and pop background. He played me some stuff and I realized that what I was going for was along those lines. It's just kind of a crazy feeling because I thought that I was doing something super new and fresh. Then again, because it's so uninfluenced, it still sounds fresh in a way -- like a spin on something that's already been done.
I did think more of Austra when I first heard your music.
Vocally, that's where I hear that influence. That was my early opening to pop music too, because of that and Victoria Justice. I really wanted to do pop music after watching a lot of [Nickelodeon series] VICTORiOUS. That's one of my favorite shows ever.
Because Vegas has these big night clubs, I wonder if any of that impacted you.
It's definitely more for the tourists, but a lot of locals go. Especially pool parties in the summer. But pretty much all of them are 21 and over, and I'm not even 21 now. Growing up, that definitely wasn't my scene -- and even if I wanted it to be my scene, it couldn't be. I'm not a partier, anyway. I think that's where a lot of the introverted elements of my music come in. There are not too many musical scenes in Vegas. Probably the most prominent one is hardcore metal music. A lot of my music comes from isolation and introvertedness and locking myself in my room with a guitar and a drum machine and a 4-track.
Seeing as how this is the "American Dream Issue," what does the American dream mean to you?
A lot of people think of the American dream as being comfortably rich, owning a nice house and maybe achieving fame or something. That's something that I never really bought into. To me, the American Dream is quietness -- being able to live in such a big country and having the choice to live in a really overly populated big city like New York or L.A. and, if you get tired of that, you can go live somewhere in the middle of Nevada or Montana or live in a little town with only a thousand people. That's what cool about America: we have those choices.
Where do you prefer to live?
I'm definitely a desert boy. A lot of people think that Vegas is a big city like L.A. or New York. Not too many people live in Vegas. It's mostly tourists that come through. You kind of have the choice of living this small town life or the city life. There's a weird dynamic of both. I'm from North Las Vegas, which is very small town-like. There are a lot of Mormons, a lot of churches. I grew up across the street from a pig farm. It's super desolate and very desert-like, but you can drive a half-hour south and you'll have all these big buildings and the Strip. That's what I love about Vegas: it's the best of both worlds.
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Photo by Albert Sanchez; Shamir wears a shirt by Jacob Davis, pants by Jenny Schwarz; Styling by Dana Goldenberg at Wilhelmina; Location: Apex Studios
Bailey grew up a half-hour outside of the city, across the street from a pig farm. While fans may suspect that his pumping sound is informed by years of listening to house jams, he was unfamiliar with the genre when he got started; Bailey's early solo tunes were attempts to make dark synth music à la Zola Jesus and Austra.
For Bailey, the American Dream is about the freedom to move between city chaos and country quiet. That's been the singer's life lately, as he darts from SXSW to the West Coast before jetting off to gigs in the U.K. and France. When pressed, though, Bailey's allegiance is clear: "I'm definitely a desert boy," he says. [Liz Ohanesian; read our extended interview with Shamir here.]
She's moved on from that incident, but it's a safe bet that the Oakland native will remain both outspoken and fashion-forward. "I believe in wearing whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident," she says. "I've never worried about what people thought based on what I wear."
Though she was recently spotted around New York Fashion Week, the young star's focus is on her work, which right now includes wrapping up the first season of K.C. Undercover (Zendaya is also a producer on the series) and recording her sophomore album. Whether she's acting, singing or speaking out, Zendaya continues to "share love and positivity through my art forms." [Abby Schreiber; read our extended interview with Zendaya here.]
This emotional ambiguity "comes from having been othered, and then finding solace in it," Kelela says. "Being the child of East African immigrants and not really being able to identify as African-American culturally, but also growing up in the United States and being black... Being on the outside is very comfortable for me."
That love of unknown frontiers is perhaps Kelela's most distinctly American trait. "I don't think I'll ever feel like I've truly arrived," she says. "I never want you to think I have it all figured out."
When Drake starts quoting your lyrics on his Instagram, you know it's about to get good. Such was the case for Detroit-born rapper and singer Dej Loaf, whose DDS-produced single "Try Me" blew up last year, attracting the attention of Drizzy as well as Wiz Khalifa and E-40, who both put out remixes.
Having signed a reported million-dollar deal with Columbia, Dej is working on her first full-length album and planning some time alongside Nicki Minaj on the Pinkprint Tour. When it comes to getting it done, Dej is "not big on excuses. I understand what it takes to move around and really be able to do whatever you want to do. And I don't feel sympathy for people who don't get up and follow their dreams." [Emily Warman]
The duo grew up listening to church music and getting into clubs underage, eventually finding their way into NYC's close-knit house scene. They played parties organized by their dad and the buzz grew; before they knew it, they'd nabbed a residency at Ibiza's DC10.
American Dream? For them it's about doing what they've always done. "Whatever it is you love to do, you just have to go out there and do it," says Chris. "You're going to be working every single day; it's got to be worth it to you. And if we can do what we want to do, anybody can." [EW]
Last year he floored us with his single "10,000 Emerald Pools" -- a California pop daydream whose chorus, a marriage of Washed Out and Sigur Rós, is one of the most thrilling in recent memory. Later this year, Interscope will release his first album, and the 23-year-old LA transplant (via Grand Haven, MI) shows every sign of bringing his limpid voice, preternatural charm and T. Rex-conjuring powers into the mainstream. [JR]
With a name like Downtown Boys, you don't really expect a thrashing feminist sax-punk collective, especially one whose music has no place for irony. Full Communism, out May 5, uses anthemic -- not to mention bilingual -- punk rock to address "the prison-industrial complex, racism, queerphobia, capitalism, fascism, boredom, and all things people use to try to close our minds, eyes and hearts." Emphatic yes to these Providence kids. Heavy shit never sounded so good. [Molly Beauchemin]
ATL native Jeffrey Williams, aka Young Thug, has risen above the industry noise with his instantly compelling warble. Getting shoutouts from the likes of Drake, Kanye and Nicki Minaj, the eccentric MC channels Weezy sensibilities in a style all his own. With breakout tracks like "Danny Glover" and "Stoner" and Black Portland, his acclaimed 2014 mixtape, the skinny-jeaned 22-year-old is finding a new space for rap and crawling right in. [Jacob Muselmann]
You'd think being the leading lady of the all-female experimental ensemble group Victoire would sap your time and creative juices, but Missy Mazzoli has a knack for surprise. After turning New York's Kitchen into a sold-out opera house with 2012's Songs from the Uproar, the Brooklyn composer and keyboardist played Carnegie Hall and the New York and L.A. Philharmonics. Her genre-smashing new solo album, Vespers for a New Dark Age, which features Wilco's Glenn Kotche among others, rides on vast soundscapes, haunting melodies and -- no surprise -- tons of critical acclaim. [JM]
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What's life been like since your Golden Globes win? Must be kind of a weird time right now.
The greatest gratification was seeing how many women were inspired by it. So many people were writing "I can and I will" on everything, putting it on their bathroom mirrors and sending me pictures... putting it on Post-its, and drawing it and painting it, their form of expressing themselves with my father's words that he gave me so long ago; that was remarkable.
In a million years, I did not expect that. Not to mention I didn't even write a speech. Girl, I swear someone else spoke for me! I was in the bleachers! I was in the nosebleed section. So many of the other nominees were so much closer. I was just enjoying the night; the nomination was the win. When they called my name all I heard white noise. I didn't even know what was going on. I started traveling and it felt like seven years until I got up on the stage, and then Oh my god there's Oprah! There's Meryl Streep, and there's a big clock counting down the 43 seconds I have left to talk. It is such a crazy feeling, so wild and cerebral. So that fact that words even came out... I was thankful I could even speak, and thank you God for speaking for me. It was incredible to see how many people attached themselves to that quote. The best moment was getting a text from my sister; she was with my parents at the house. My middle sister took pictures of my parents hugging and crying in each other's arms. I could cry right now.
To me, you write for human beings. You cast the best actor, you will succeed. Hands down. We're bored of seeing the same stories that aren't integrated with the diverse life we live. Literally, a night out with me and my friends is like a United Colors of Benetton ad. Friends was an amazing show, but it's like, "There are no brown people in New York City? You're out of your mind!" We don't buy it anymore. Back then was different, that was the culture we were living in in the '90s. It's 2015: no one is buying it.
Now the way the world changes, we also have to change our formulas. And we have to include people that are very vocal, that are the hardworking fabric of America. Not just Latinos, but the Asian community here in the states. I believe the Asian community has a very similar experience to the Latino community, because we say "Asian" and "Latino" but under those umbrellas there's Korean and Japanese and Chinese... there are so many under those umbrellas and they're trying to find their voice as well. I love Fresh Off the Boat -- such a good show, so funny. I see the change and it's inspiring, and on its way to do more and more. It's going to open doors for women and equal pay and beauty norms changing. We're going to start realizing that being inclusive is what we're driving towards. Being equals is what we all desire.
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PAPER is proud to present a conversation with Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood star, Wilhelmina model and member of the Beautiful People Class of 2015. Read on for his take on the American Dream (the theme of our April issue), and meet Ellar's classmates here.
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