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    The kale craze is still going strong with Whole Foods and Beyoncé videos alike serving as observable examples of the vegetable's societal take over. We put it in our salads, our smoothies, and even our social media -- so in celebration of National Kale Day, we sat down with kale publicist Oberon Sinclair, the woman responsible for it all and the representative of kale across the nation.

    Tell me about your past jobs. I know that you were a Chinese Soap Opera Star. What crazy things have you done?

    I played a young mother called Jessica an expat TV show and drove a polka-dot jeep around Hong Kong. I had a husband, who was my best friend in real life, and two TV children. My catchphrase was Ding Dong. I was often followed by paparazzi -- [and] our TV studio was next door to Jackie Chan's, which was surreal. He would park his car right outside in the lot with his name painted on the side of his physical car with 'go fast' stickers. Needless to say, I've been lucky to have also worked at Motown Records, MTV Europe and Island Records (NY) before starting my agency, My Young Auntie, in 1997.

    I don't think of you as a publicist, more of a connector. What do you feel about the Public Relations world? Don't you think that it is dated? 

    Thank you. I don't love titles and actually never really call myself a publicist, because I do so many different things. Yes I do connect people -- it's part common sense, part passion for people I work with, part trying to push the boundaries with creative direction. And also trying to enjoy every moment of my life. 

    You are the queen of kale. How did that come about?

    It was not planned -- it was a natural (excuse the pun!) progression. It just made sense to me, the nutritional benefits, the name -- the rest is history.

    What was the lightbulb that went off that made you say, "Yes, I can represent a vegetable"? 

    I have always believed in the nutritional benefits of kale and am happy to help promote that.

    Who is your actual client? The farmers? Is there a national Kale group? 

    I work with the American Kale Association.

    What do you think of the Kale craze? Do you think you are responsible?

    I think it's brilliant that a vegetable has become iconic. When Beyoncé sported a Kale [sweater] in her video, I knew this was no ordinary vegetable!

    What do you think about Jean Pigozzi? Do you know him?

    Jean Pigozzi's Instagram is hilarious. I've met him a a few times and laugh when I see his posts-he KALE'S ME! 

    What do you think about the "Kale" sweatshirts?

    I love seeing Kale sweatshirts. I often photograph people wearing them. I created a t-shirt and bag line with my friends company, Prinkshop. I came up with "Kale(ing) Me Softly," and we sell shirts and tote bags with a donation to the Edible School Yard.

    Tell us what makes it a superfood. 

    Superfoods are nutritionally dense, packed with vitamins, antioxidants and healthy fats. They also versatile, people can incorporate it in their everyday diets.

    What made Kale famous? Celebrities, Chefs, or Restaurants? 

    It is a combination of all the above. 

    Are you rich from Kale? 

    I am richer knowing that I have helped to promote a vegetable that is healthy for you.

    You have a new berry that you are hawking. What is that all about? 

    Açai is a berry that my good friends, brothers Ryan & Jeremy Black (founders of Sambazon) brought to the US from the Brazilian Amazon. It's unlike anything I have tasted and can be used in so many different ways. The açai bowls have revolutionized breakfasts and it's all over social media with all the wonderful creations. Açai bowls are blowing up the in the US and will soon become a staple in Europe. This is my prediction. I also work with Justin Guilbert & Douglas Riboud (Harmless Harvest) who created what I can only describe as the nectar of the gods -- the greatest coconut water on earth. These guys are all pioneers in natural food & beverages. They are supporting and helping the people in the countries where the goods are sourced. It's the way forward -- to provide the best organic food and treat people right.

    Did they come to you or are you always seeking out the new vegetable or fruit? 

    Everything I do happens organically. Most of my work comes from word-of-mouth introductions and referrals. I am very blessed. 

    Do you think that you can make any vegetable famous? Is there any food that you would not represent? 

    I feel very lucky and think that I have a strong intuition for knowing what is real and genuine, but I am not an egomaniac. I like to work with people and products that I believe in. It's that simple. So to answer your question -- it would depend on the vegetable. 

    Are you like an oracle of what is going to be popular? Do you think that it is your push or what is happening in the cultural currency? Or is it the perfect storm? 

    I think I am lucky to have worked in many different industries throughout my life -- music, fashion, design, food, art and literature -- so without sounding arrogant, I think I have an ear or an eye for what works and what resonates with people. I have learned to follow my gut and passion for what feels right.

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    Collier Schor

    The fourth edition of "Greater New York" opens on Sunday, October 11th, noon to 6 p.m., at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, LIC) and runs until March 7th. The gigantic, every-five-year show includes over 400 works by 157 artists, but rather than the usual focus on only emerging, local artists, they've decided to also include NYC artists from the 70s and 80s; and to look at "the tension between the desire for the new and nostalgia for that which it displaces." There are tons of accompanying films and performances including Robert Ashley, M. Lamar and Pharmakon on Sunday afternoon in the VW Dome and Jen Rosenblit's "Clap Hands" throughout the building.

    jim shaw.jpg

    Jim Shaw

    The big retrospective of works by LA-based artist Jim Shaw, "The End is Here," opens on October 7th at the New Museum (235 Bowery). This is his first American survey exhibition and it includes his incredible collection of thrift store paintings, some of which were shown in NYC back in 1991 and in his classic book published in 1990. The artist will be on-hand for a conversation with one of the show's curators, Massimiliano Gioni, on Saturday, October 10, 3 p.m.  On view until January 10.


    Bob Kane and Bill Finger

    "Superheroes in Gotham" -- a cool new exhibition that explores the history of comic book superheroes in New York City -- opens on October 9th at the New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West).  There's a special opening-weekend program starting 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday that's designed for the whole family, with superhero training sessions and wrist cuff decorating and the opportunity to take a selfie with the Batmobile from the 60s TV series.  On view until February 21st.


     Tricia Wright

    The inaugural show at the new Pen + Brush (29 East 22nd Street), "Domesticity Revisited," opens on October 8, 5:30 to 8:30, and runs through the end of December.  The exhibition was curated by Rick Kinsel and features four artists: Jee Hee Kang, Michela Martello, Tricia Wright and Yun Koung Shin -- all of whom explore "objects, ideas and sensations relating to the domestic scene." The new gallery plans to showcase the work of female artists, and aims to "create gender-equality within the marketplace." Check out THIS history of the "120-year-old" non-profit org.



    Another show with a "domesticity" theme, "Some Place Like It Home," opens on October 8th, 7 to 11 p.m., in a new gallery in the old Williamsburg Savings Bank building.  This inaugural show at the Rumney Guggenheim (834 Driggs Avenue) brings together a group of works by Olek in collaboration with Michelle P. Dodson, Swoon, Olivia Steele, Boxhead and Moral Turgeman. Up until November 11th. RSVP to

    gotesk newsstand.jpg


    NY-based artist Kimou Meyer, aka GROTESK, opens a pop-up newsstand in Times Square (between 44th and 45th Street) on Friday, October 9th, at noon. Guest clerks will be on-hand daily until 7 p.m. to sell you copies of publications including Juxtapoz, Victory Journal and more.  It's up until October 18th.  Converse is a sponsor.  Also in Times Square's pedestrian plaza near 44th Street, on October 12th, 2 to 4:30 p.m., look for Kyle Abraham and Blue Note recording artist Otis Brown lll hosting a workshop "in explorative conversation and movement investigation."


    Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn) hosts their monthly "Second Sundays" open house this week, October 11th, 4 to 10 p.m.  There's an exhibition called "It Was a Time That Was a Time" by the London-based artist Shezad Dawood -- his first solo show in the US -- along with open studios and live music by Zenen Zeferino, from Veracruz, Mexico; and Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat.  Plus there are several performances all weekend by 50 kinetic robots created by multimedia artist Chico MacMurtrie called "Robotic Church," taking place nearby at 111 Pioneer Street.  "Robot" tickets are HERE and admission to Pioneer Works is FREE, but there is a $10 suggested donation.


    On October 8, 6 to 9 p.m., PlayLab, Inc. launches "Walking Phoenix" at XXXI Gallery (411 East 9th Street) a unique look at the actor, Joaquin Phoenix, via several of his films and photographs, focusing on "selected sequences in which the actor is seen walking."  There will be special screenings of "The Master" on October 15, 7 p.m., and "Her" on October 22, 7 p.m.  And, Joaquin has been invited to walk past the gallery on Thursday, October 29th between 4 and 7 p.m., and you are invited to sit in the gallery and see if he actually shows up.  (If it were closer to April 1st, we'd be even more skeptical about this than we already are.)


    Dorothee Selz

    The French Cheese Board (26 West 39th Street) opens "Offerings" featuring edible creations by Dorothee Selz, one of the founding members of the "Eat Art" movement, on October 8, 5 to 9 p.m.  Up until November 15.

    Renzoni Irreconcilable Differences 2015 oil oncanvas 8x5.jpg

    Louis Renzoni

    Dorian Grey Gallery (437 East 9th Street) opens a show, "Ecliptic," by two painters, Paul Benney and Louis Renzoni, on October 8th, 6 to 9 p.m., and up until November 15th.  Both artists were part the 80s East Village art scene. 


    Taner Ceylan

    Paul Kasmin Gallery (297 10th Avenue) opens a new show by the Turkish artist Taner Ceylan called "We Now Must Say Goodbye" on October 8, 6 to 8 p.m.  The show features two new paintings and several drawings inspired by Ingres' portrait of Princess de Broglie.  It's up until the end of October.


    Micheal Pellew Jr

    Brooklyn's LAND Gallery -- "a non-profit studio and gallery for artists with developmental disabilities" --  celebrates their 10th anniversary with a group show and fundraiser called "10 Years in 1 Day" at the Christian Berst Art Brut Gallery (95 Rivington Street, Manhattan) on October 9th, 6 to 9 p.m.  Works by the artists -- including the incredible Michael Pellew Jr. -- have been exhibited around the world and are part of the private collections of Sufjan Stevens, Mos Def. NY Mag art critic Jerry Saltz and many more.


    Jen Ray

    Berlin-based artist Jen Ray presents a new show and performance called "Deep Cuts" on October 8th, 6 p.m., at Albertz Benda (515 West 26th Street). The works include large-scale paintings of "warrior women," plus the artist will lead a "procession of women" including the musician Honeychild Coleman.  The gallery's project space will feature a work called "a million x" by Annabel Daou that is constructed from paper, plastic bags and tape upon which the artist has scrawled "X" a million times.



    This weekend is your last chance to check out Maira Kalman's recreation of "Sara Berman's Closet" at Mmuseumm 2 (Cortlandt Alley between Chinatown and Tribeca).  Ms. Kalman will be there on Sunday, October 11th, from noon to 7 p.m., serving Sara Berman's "internationally acclaimed sesame cookies and sweeping the street."

    This month is the fifth annual celebration of architecture and design in NYC know as "ARCHTOBER." Many local museums, galleries and arts organizations are participating, so go HERE to see the full list and the calendar of events.  Every day in October has been set aside to honor a New York City "Building of the Day," with many offering private tours.  HERE's the sign-up info, but many are already at capacity.

    The current group show, "Between History and the Body," is still on view at The 8th Floor (17 West 17th Street) until October 16th, and there's also a special performance and workshop by Shaun Leonardo on Wednesday, October 7th, 6 to 8 p.m.  Responding to recent events, Leonardo will lead a workshop on "how to escape from a chokehold" as part of a performance called "I Can't Breathe."

    Taller Boricua Gallery (1680 Lexington Avenue) hosts an "artist conversation" with Paulo Fabre on the topic: "Contemporary Noir Photography" on Saturday, October 10, 3 to 5 p.m.  The NYC/Sao Paulo-based artist's current exhibition, "Off on the Right Foot," is on view at the gallery until November 21st.  The show's curator, Luis R. Cancel, moderates.

    The Storefront for Art & Architecture(97 Kenmare Street) hosts their annual membership dinner on Tuesday, October 13th.

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    Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 5.54.20 PM.pngDrew Barrymore in Scream

    If you're the good guy of a horror film, nobody cares what you're dressed like.

    Within the horror and/or slasher film bubble, victims, heroes, and red herrings are dressed like everybodies. They'll wear non-descript t-shirts, sweatshirts, denim, and shoes; we'll see a v-neck or a form of athleticwear. At some point, a weather-appropriate jacket will work its way into the mix -- but only to obscure the view of whoever's trying to escape, or to act as a narrative turning point.

    "That's So-And-So's™ jacket," a character will say at some point in a movie, likely near tears, and assuming So-And-So's™ dead. And we'll believe this character because they just told us, and certainly not because the jacket is nice, cool, or even something we own.

    The true fashion hero of horror? The villain. Because when we think of our favorite and/or most iconic horror films, we immediately recall the trademark pieces of the knife and/or axe and/or hook-wielding antagonist. We remember Freddie Krueger's striped shirt, Carrie's blood-soaked prom dress, and Ghostface's mask and dark cloak. We'll never forget how Jason Voorhies ruined hockey masks, or how gross Tegan's increasingly-stained nightgown became in The Exorcist. Raincoats, despite their usefulness, will always be tainted by the idea of the hook-brandishing psychopaths in I Know What You Did Last Summer. And if I ever see any of you in an apron, I'll assume you're Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and call the police immediately.

    In fact, the wardrobes of horror movie villains are as important as the villains themselves. They act as their own characters, warning the viewers of imminent danger by reminding us all of what the wearers of these pieces are usually capable of. The actors and characters may come and go (does anyone even remember who Ghostface was in Scream 3?), but the costume remains. Unlike horror movie victims, whose lack of style helps them blend into the story and helps us insert ourselves in their place, villains are defined by their specific pieces which keep them separate -- almost non-human. Our so-called heroes are just secondary characters.

    Scream-Queens-Emma-Roberts.jpgEmma Roberts as Chanel on Scream Queens

    I'd forgotten about this trend until Scream Queens, the brainchild of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, debuted two weeks back. A tribute to campy and B-movie horror typically reserved for sequels and straight-to-DVD endeavors, the series revolves around a dysfunctional sorority with a slew of secrets who find themselves being hunted by a murderous mad-person. (Enter: The Red Devil -- and his mask, cape, and red garb -- who's next in a long line of the genre's aesthetically-concerned fictional killers.) But while Ryan Murphy continued his habit of focusing as much on the hair, makeup, and wardrobes of his antagonists as on the story itself, Scream Queens even saw him branch out: while the Red Devil serves as the series' resident maniac, Emma Roberts as her sorority's queen bee (a sociopath named Chanel) earned even more style attention as she established herself as the type of villain most of us have come up against. Her signature pieces? A twin set by her namesake, pastel pumps, fingerless gloves, more than a few pastel furs, quilted tube tops, pearls, and the types of florals you'd expect to see on Lucille Bluth if she were in college.

    GraceGardnerScreamQueens.gifSkyler Samuels as Grace Gardner on Scream Queens

    And while she doesn't have a signature "costume" (yet), she's cultivated enough of distinctive look that she's immediately kept at arm's' length from the rest of us, the way all good villains are: we cannot morph into her, relate to her, or imagine ourselves as her. Which is an even more powerful message to send when the wardrobe of series' hero Grace Gardner (played by Skyler Samuels) changes with the scene around her, ultimately acting as the blank slate onto which we can project exactly what we need. When she's investigating her sorority, she dons newsboy hats. When trying to fit in amid murder and mayhem, she borrows from the book of Jamie Lee Curtis, paying tribute to '70s-era every-girls in bellbottoms, button-ups, and pullover sweaters. To survive (and to go unnoticed while uncovering mysteries), she has to blend in -- which is what her "normal girl" threads allow her to do. When we're busy paying attention to Chanel's sunglasses, our "hero" is breaking into basements unnoticed, following breadcrumbs to cold cases. (Even though in real life, everyone would notice somebody who keeps wearing questionable hats.)

    tumblr_inline_mz53t60gCn1qzeyud.gifLily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice McKee in American Horror Story: Asylum

    This is something Murphy actually does super-well. By drawing our attention to wardrobe-based details in each season of American Horror Story, he revives the formula of the horror tropes we grew up with. Kathy Bates' Victorian-era dress in Coven, Lily Rabe's habit in Asylum, and the leather onesie in House are arguably on-par with the Krueger stripes, Carrie dress, and Scream masks of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. And as in those movies, we don't remember most of what the victims dressed or even looked like. (Again, I think Connie Britton once wore a hat.)

    If we could remember, it'd mean we couldn't put ourselves in their places, or invest so much in their outcome. Brandless, statement-less clothing acts as a blank slate, allowing us to emotionally invest in characters' situations while aligning their personalities with our own. By not making a character stand out or seem special, we remind ourselves that what's happening to them could happen to us; that we could find ourselves in their metaphorical jeans and t-shirts, trying to outrun a killer. (Kind of like a terrible game of The Sims.) It's the opposite of what makes a show like The Walking Dead so scary: the zombies' clothes are non-descript, tattered, anythings -- which means we could also be one of them.

    1377214448542.jpgNeve Campbell as Sidney Prescott in Scream

    So does this mean that our affinity for Drew Barrymore's Scream sweater is a testament to how boring we are? No. (All of us are very interesting, and I'm proud to know you). But it is a testament to the power of nostalgia, considering how fashion un-forward most horror movies are. In Halloween, Jamie Lee Curtis is an era-appropriate every-girl -- but her pieces (a sweater, button-up, trousers) are more suburban chic than they are a symbol of the decade's lust for change. In Scream, Neve Campbell's black jeans and denim jacket could be found in anybody's closet (whether you were a middle schooler or mall-frequenting mum), while naughties franchises like Urban Legend decked its characters out in basic, solid-toned pieces that chronically seemed a few years behind. Whatever "I should buy that" feelings we have while watching these movies now are fueled only by what prompted some of us to download Rated Next: it reminds us of being kids again.

    Of course, there are exceptions. Movies like The Craft and The Sixth Sense are huge players in the wide world of horror. And while they are scary, unnerving, and emotionally scarring, they -- and their great wardrobes -- still don't constitute the type of horror we've been talking about. That's because the rule here is simple: if a plot expands to involve self-reflection through psychological, or even supernatural horror, secondary characters will become distinct, and we consume the story differently, seeing it from their perspectives. Classic and slasher horror works the way it does because we're supposed to envision ourselves as the victims and never identity with the cartoon-like villain.

    file_537168_12.jpgToni Collette as Lynn Sear in the Sixth Sense

    In films like The Craft, we, despite fearing Nancy, still understand her. In The Sixth Sense, the dead are stuck in their sad, outdated last outfits: a deceased housewife confronts Cole in her pink bathrobe, a little girl shows up in his hideout tent and vomits on her white nightgown, and Bruce Willis (spoiler alert) is stuck in his trousers, button up, and trench coat, styling them differently to keep us off his case. And while Cole's mother's wardrobe is one we can file under interesting and even eccentric, her green velvet top, orange turtleneck sweater, and feather collar still aren't "trademarks." They're just indicative of her open mind -- especially compared with the muted tones around her. This helps us understand her (and her position as a social outsider). None of us here understand Freddie Krueger. Or at least, I certainly hope not.

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    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 10.28.35 AM.pngIt seems like 2015 is becoming known as the "year we were promised albums that never dropped" (or haven't dropped yet). As the Internet goes into a frenzy over when Frank Ocean's Boys Don't Cry will come out or Kanye will unleash Swish on the world, we've thankfully gotten a little bit more news from Rihanna, who's been teasing her R8 recording all year. For starters, it appears that the album's not called R8 anymore and instead will be named Anti. RiRi also shared the Roy Nachum-designed cover art last night at a gallery event in LA and the image is a photo of the pop star as a kid holding a balloon with a crown over her eyes. And, according to Us Weekly, there's also braille poetry although no word yet on what it says. Although we still don't have a clue when Anti will come out (or whether any of Rihanna's early singles like "FourFiveSeconds" or "BBHMM" will be on it, there's one thing for sure: as this text (presumably from the gallery show) says, the singer likes to do the "antithesis of what the public expects." So...does this mean we'll be getting a country album from her? Opera? Nu-metal? We can only hope...

    #ANTi #backcoverart @roynachum

    A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

    [h/t Stereogum]

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    Welcome back to our ongoing coverage of the beautiful insanity of Empire's second season. Tonight was slightly lower-key than the last two episodes, focusing more on drawing the battle lines for the upcoming fight between Empire and Lyon Dynasty (as well as making Andre cry), but that doesn't mean there wasn't a lot of fun stuff going on. Check out the best moments below.

    5. "Random Hood Rat"
    Jamal is sort of sidelined for most of this episode, while Becky tries to get him to reconcile with Cookie so he can make fire music. But he takes that anger out on Freda Gatz, who he calls a "random hood rat" to his father in a way that starkly clarifies the kind of life Jamal has led (remember the loft he was living in in the first episode?) and the class-based assumptions he's bringing to his artistry. Oof.

    4. Cookie Pulls Out the Table Cloth
    There's an attempt at familial reconciliation when Lucious gets back from prison, but Cookie declares open war by going beyond spilling the tea -- she pulls an entire cloth out from under their dinner, wrecking what looks like an extremely expensive meal. Hopefully Taraji got to eat at least a little bit of that food after.
    3. Cookie Brings Back Real Hip-Hop
    When she gets on the phone with Sway (one of many appearances by Sway Calloway during the episode), Cookie assures him that she's bringing back "real hip-hop" by singing the hook to Boogie Down Productions'"The Bridge is Over." Does this mean that the next time we see Lyon Dynasty, the label will have signed J. Cole and put out fresh new editions of Native Tongues vinyls?

    pitbull empire.gif
    2. Pitbulllllllll
    Hakeem steals the scene here with his Lucious diss track (performed with Timbaland at his father's own coming home party), but the appearance of Pitbull (and his attendant scheming with Cookie) deserves its own place on the list. We may be in the season of the 'Keem, but there's a whole season for that. Pitbull needs recognition now.

    cookie sway.gif1. HOW, SWAY
    Lucious' final mic drop is to sign Valentina, stealing Becky G away from Hakeem, then bringing her exclusively onto Sway's radio show after acquiring control of the station (which totally seems like it should raise ethical/legal flags, right?). Good work Lucious. The problem is just that Cookie, understandably, gets pissed... because she didn't have all the facts. From Sway.

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    Inspired by New Balance's new NB1 customizable shoes, we've asked photographer and director Bon Duke to show off his own signature NB1 kicks and to share a day in his life. While shooting a portrait of his friend, Lucy, Duke describes his aesthetic both in his work and in his life. "I'm all about details," he says showing off his many rings adorning his fingers. "It goes back to my work because if you look at my work there are those pops of colors that I leave in there." And, just like in his photographs, his New Balance sneaks show a clean, black palette punctuated by bursts of pastel blue and pink. Watch his video, above, and head HERE to create your own pair of NB1 sneakers.

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    In her forthcoming cover story, Selena Gomez tells Billboard that she was diagnosed with lupus and subsequently had to undergo chemotherapy -- a struggle that was intensified by the widely-reported story that she was in rehab.

    "I could've had a stroke," Gomez said. "I wanted so badly to say, 'You guys have no idea. I'm in chemotherapy. You're assholes.'" Not only that, but earlier this year Gomez was also the target of Internet body-shamers who ripped into a beach photo of the star, which she said "was the first time I'd experienced body shaming like that. I believed some of the words they were saying. When somebody else has your self-esteem in their hands..."

    However, Gomez is channeling that frustration with becoming "a tabloid story" in a positive way, as she continued on to say "the hate motivated me" to put it all into her forthcoming album Revival. After all, at one point she deflects from talking about her former flame Justin Bieber in order to emphasize that, "This is my time. I've deserved this. I earned it. This is all me" -- and we couldn't agree more.

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    As another month of nonstop fashion shows comes to a close, another crop of stunning models seem to emerge out of nowhere. We previously featured ten breakout faces from NYFW and now we're adding ten more rising stars who have had big seasons in New York, London, Milan and Paris.

    Sarah Brannon

    [via; Carven Spring 2016]

    1. Sarah Brannon
    Sarah Brannon may have debuted at the SS15 shows, but it took a banged lob
    courtesy of Guido Palau to launch the Memphis-native's career to international runway stardom. Her tomboy good looks have garnered the young model big print campaigns for Sportmax, Carven, and Alexander Wang, but she's proven just as popular on the catwalk, walking for Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Maison Margiela and Marc Jacobs this season. With her messy bed head and piercing blue eyes, Brannon is the girl you wished lived next door.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.46.22 AM.png[via; Louis Vuitton Spring 2016]

    2. Fernanda Ly
    When Fernanda Ly debuted at the Louis Vuitton Fall 2015 show, the entire industry immediately took note. Thanks to her long, banged, pastel pink locks, the Australian model looks the picture of edgy cool, which has helped her land a slew of big name editorials with magazines like Love,i-D, British Vogue, and CR Fashion Book, as well as a Juergen Teller-lensed campaign for Louis Vuitton and an exclusive at the brand's recent Spring/Summer 2016 show. When it comes to her flourishing career, everything really is coming up roses for Ly.

    Peyton Knight
    [via; Alexander Wang Spring 2016]

    3. Peyton Knight
    Alexander Wang is known for discovering the hottest new models (hello, Anna Ewers), so when word spread that 17-year-old Peyton Knight would be semi-exclusive to the designer, walking in no shows before his, the industry definitely took notice. With her freshly-cropped bowl cut, the St. Louis teen has gone on to take Europe by storm, booking Prada, Balenciaga, Gucci, Acne, and Versace, to name a few. Though she's received some backlash from blogs for being too thin, those critiques haven't appeared to affect Knight's exponential success in the slightest.

    Kris Gottschalk
    [via; Versace Spring 2016]

    4. Kris Gottschalk
    Getting into a motorcycle accident and having to shave your head would be a career-ending event for most models, but Kris Gottschalk turned this trauma into professional gold and became one of the most promising gender-bending models in the business. After debuting as the only woman at the Public School SS16 mens presentation, Gottschalk has gone on to book coveted spots in this season's Givenchy and Versace shows.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.44.05 AM.png[via; Givenchy Spring 2016]

    5. Kailey Hsu
    With a half-Hungarian, half-Chinese background, Kailey Hsu already has a super distinctive look, one that was only heightened when she bleached her brows for her debut at this season's Givenchy show. The Next-signed model then went on to walk for a number of high profile brands, including Marchesa, Topshop Unique, and Chalayan. Hsu has yet to score any magazine editorials, however with a first season runway portfolio this impressive, campaigns and covers can't be too far behind.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.32.35 AM.png

    [via; Fausto Puglisi Spring 2016]

    6. Pyper America Smith
    Pyper America Smith may be a burgeoning editorial star in her own right, posing for W, Elle, Vogue and Love, but when your brother is the hottest, most ubiquitous male model in the industry (Lucky Blue), making your runway debut can be a little intimidating, to say the least. But despite the fact that this is her first fashion month ever, Pyper seems completely unphased, walking in shows for Armani, Moschino, and Fausto Puglisi, and even landing two campaigns for Moncler and Calvin Klein Jeans. Talk about a sibling rivalry.

    Aamito Lagum
    [via; Hermès Spring 2016]

    7. Aamito Lagum
    Aamito Lagum is one of those rare fashion success stories, leaving her native Uganda to win Africa's Next Top Model and score a contract with DNA. From that moment on, Lagum has been an unstoppable force on the runway, using the lankiness that got her teased as a child to book all the top shows each season, including Hermès, Gucci, Burberry, Dries Van Noten, and Marc Jacobs and editorials in the pages of Love, Another, and British Vogue.

    Ruth Bell
    [via; Anthony Vaccarello Spring 2016]

    8. Ruth Bell
    Almost every girl on this list is living proof that an amazing haircut can totally transform a model's career. Ruth Bell is just another case in point, scoring a promising future in high fashion after bleaching and buzzing her locks. Not only has The Society model walked in almost every big designer show this season, but she's already landed a role as the face of Saint Laurent's Cruise collection. Though she's still relatively new to editorials, starring in shoots for Vogue Paris, Love, and Dazed, Bell is poised to become the new face of fashion's androgynous future.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.45.24 AM.png[via; Proenza Schouler Spring 2016]

    9. Damaris Goddrie
    Damaris Goddrie has become known for her signature pout and messy mop of gamine hair, but the Dutch beauty was almost never a model at all. After being courted by multiple agencies, Goddrie finally decided to take fashion seriously, signing with DNA and winning coveted spots on international catwalks such as Balmain, Versace, and Proenza Schouler, as well as a smattering of editorials for magazines like W, Vogue Paris, and i-D. The model's vaguely boyish charms even helped her secure a Coach campaign this season, cementing Goddrie as more than just another fleeting pretty face.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 11.53.21 AM.png[via; Giles Spring 2016]

    10. Cierra Skye
    You couldn't ask for a much more auspicious start in modeling than to debut at Marc Jacobs' show and then star in that season's campaign. Such is the case for Cierra Skye whose Renaissance-esque beauty has quickly garnered her a cult following amongt fashion editors, landing her in the pages of fashion bibles such as Vogue Italia, CR Fashion Book, Dazed & Confused and Love. The Elite model only walked in a handful of shows this season, but with her elfin moon-faced aesthetic, it can't be long before the couture houses come calling.

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    Hack Into Broad City is a great idea -- it's short, bite-sized sketches that give us enough of Abbi and Ilana to tide us over until the new season of the show proper. (And the video chat format likely makes for very low/unintensive production values.) After cleansing from food during the Yom Kippur installment, this week finds the pair doing an at-home spa cleanse, with disastrous consequences for Ilana's butthole. Also, there's a lot of talk about Jessica Lange, sadly absent from this season of American Horror Story. Let's just wait for American Horror Story: Spa. [via NY Mag]

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    Everyone's most hated finance bro-cum-political ham Donald Trump has just been given the QT treatment via the brilliant Kawaii Trump Tumblr, which is doing everything from giving him cotton candy pink hair to slathering his photo ops with sparkly Blingee text. Perhaps this is Trump's way of reaching out to Internet millennials in light of those awful anti-Gemini memes? If so, it truly is some fine campaign strategy. Peep a few of our faves below.

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    For our October 'Nowstalgia' issue, on stands 10/20, we asked three rap icons to pay tribute to lost leaders of the game. Go here to read Kendrick Lamar's piece on Eazy-E and stay tuned for Swizz Beatz on the Notorious B.I.G.

    tupac-hip-hop-lost-leader.jpgThe first time I ever heard Tupac was his verse on "I Get Around" with Digital Underground. I was 18 or 19 years old and I remember thinking, "Who is this?" He stood out so much. Once I heard that, I got his first album, 2Pacalypse Now. I saw the video for "Brenda's Got a Baby" and I remember thinking, "Holy shit." By the time he got to Me Against the World, it was him at his pinnacle. He's off and running. He knows what he wants, and he's figured out how he wants to be and how he wants to sound -- everything. I would probably put that up against anything as far as a classic hip-hop album goes.

    He was taking things further than a lot of rappers at the time -- pushing it to the next level as far as giving feeling to his words and his music. A lot of people say, "You feel Pac," and it's absolutely true. The way he chose which words to say with which beat was genius; it's like he knew what part of the beat and what chord change was the right place to hit these certain words... to make them jump off the track and make you feel what he was saying. Like, listen to "If I Die 2Nite." Whatever he was rapping about, it was urgent. If it was a sad song, it'd make you cry. But there were a lot of different sides to him: fed-up, angry, militant, having a good time. His spirit spoke to me because it was like you knew everything that he was going through, especially when he made Me Against the World. You just felt every aspect of his pain, every emotion: when he was happy, when he was sad. His ability to touch people's lives like that was incredible.

    The school I come from growing up, we spent a lot of time studying rappers, everyone from N.W.A. to Public Enemy to Big Daddy Kane to Kool G Rap to Rakim to Special Ed, taking all these bits and pieces from each one. Tupac was the first one to really help me learn how to make songs that felt like something.

    He was so versatile -- if you weren't in the mood for what he was doing on this song here, he's got something for you over here. He covered such a broad perspective and there were so many different sides to him, but the best part about him overall was that he was a human being. He would let you see that. I used to be fascinated with his interviews like, "Yo, what he's saying is so true." He would also be able to trump people who were interviewing him when they would hit him with hard questions -- it was incredible. He was a superstar in every aspect of the word. You just wanted to know that guy. Like man, I wanna hang out with Pac.

    Eminem_316B_Jenny-RisherFINAL.jpgphoto by Jenny Risher.

    I don't know if he was talking to Arsenio [Hall] but I remember him saying something to the effect of "[it's like] people standing outside watching through the window at a bunch of motherfuckers throwing food around and having a party and everybody's hungry outside and they're seeing through the window and after a minute, you got people out here singing, 'We're hungry, we're hungry. Let us in, let us in.' And the next minute when no one's listening, it's like 'Alright, we're kicking the door down, coming through, picking the lock, blasting.'" When he was giving those analogies, they were incredible. It was almost like he was writing songs when he was doing interviews.

    When his mother, Afeni (Shakur), let me produce one of Tupac's albums -- the Loyal to the Game album -- I wrote her a letter thanking her for letting me do it. You wouldn't be able to tell the 18/19-year-old Marshall that he would ever be able to get his hands on some Tupac vocals and have that opportunity. It was such a significant piece of history for me and so much fun. I'm like a kid in a candy store; going nuts with the fact that I'm putting beats under his rhymes. Regardless of how good a rapper someone is, it's easy for things to eventually get dated. But when you make songs like Tupac did, songs that feel like something, that feeling never goes away. I can put "If I Die 2Nite" in and want to fight somebody the second it comes on. That's the kind of emotion he sparked. I could put "Dear Mama" in and damn near be in tears. He was just so good at evoking emotions through songs and I picked up so much from that. Biggie had that as well. It was that same kind of thing... he was so good at putting the right words and music together. I would have a hard time believing that they didn't know what they were doing when they were putting certain words on certain chords of the beat. I would have a hard time believing that it was all accidental. It was true genius.

    Portrait of Tupac Shakur by Chi Modu.


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    Photographer Jamel Shabazz is one of the most important figures documenting the early days of hip-hop -- his career is full of classic photos from the '80s and beyond, and has been featured in everything from the recent doc Fresh Dressed to the cover art for The Roots'Undun. Now, Oscilloscope is set to release its documentary about Shabazz himself, titled Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographerand directed by Wild Style's Charlie Ahearn, on VOD. (Thanks to Tribeca Film for pointing this out.) Check out the trailer below, download the movie here, and hop over to a gallery of some of Shabazz's photos.

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    "I have that throbbing energy, and I accept it, and I harness it when I need to,"FKA twigs said in our new cover story. The music star is quickly becoming the face of emotional, soulful British R&B, a genre that often gets overlooked in favor of its indie rock, electronic or pop counterparts but that has nevertheless produced stars like twigs, Sampha, Jai Paul and their massive predecessor, Craig David. While these artists may be some of the most recognizable names on the scene, there's a slew of rising young musicians with enormous talent on the verge of breaking out in the UK and beyond. Take a look at these ten UK R&B artists to watch, below.

    OllyBurn_1306_Sony_RR_2034_B&W.jpegRaleigh Ritchie

    If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, you may already be familiar with the diverse talents of Jacob Anderson aka Raleigh Ritchie. That's right, the leader of the Unsullied spends much of his spare time as an R&B vocalist. Since breaking onto the scene, the 25 year-old has gone on to release three EPs with a full-length album -- the name has yet to be revealed -- on its way very soon, following the release of the euphoric single "Bloodsport." He worked with The Internet's Matt Martians and Syd on his third EP Black and Blue 2.0, a remix EP of his own Black and Blue; the collaboration was a natural fit, as if Raleigh were destined to be an honorary member of the LA group. But before he heads to the West Coast just yet, Ritchie is adding a refreshing sound to the crop of UK singers on the scene -- he sings with a very obvious British accent that many of his countrymen and women often shed in order to appeal to audiences on the other side of the pond.


    Hailing from East London, Nao burst onto the UK's R&B scene with her debut So Good EP and her first single, the title track featuring A.K. Paul, Jai Paul's brother, became one of 2014's biggest gems. She followed that up with February 15, which saw the singer express a more vulnerable, sultry side to complement her first release's upbeat, funk-laden sound. Her ability to blend funk, neo-soul and '90s house has gotten music and culture outlets like i-D, Pitchfork and Pigeons and Planes singing her praises and the 26-year-old artist just announced she'll be playing a UK tour in December, leading many fans and bloggers alike to hope she's planning to release a new recording beforehand.

    Billie-Black-I-Dont-Need-Another-Lover.jpgBillie Black

    If you're familiar with Indeep's 1982 classic "Last Night a D.J. Saved My Life," then Billie Black's sounds may create a sense of nostalgia with her '80s house and electronica vibes heard on tracks like "I Don't Need Another Lover" and "This Simple Pleasure," taken from her latest project This Simple Pleasure EP, which came out earlier this summer. You can also find traces of jazz in the 20 year-old singer-songwriter's music; the young artist, who also runs her own label BBLK Records, took a jazz course at Guildhall University.


    A jack of all trades, and master of each, Emmavie writes, sings, produces and engineers. She evokes memories of both Marsha Ambrosius of Floetry and The Fugees, which you can especially hear on Epoch, the collaborative EP she made with fellow neo-soul producer, Alfa Mist which came out in early 2014. It's the kind of stuff that you expect to hear in LA's House of Blues or London's Jazz Cafe and if Emmavie continues, they may be venues she'll frequent in the future.

    SHENS-AWH-1599.jpgSamm Henshaw

    'Feel-good soul' might be the best way to describe Samm Henshaw's music. His first single "Only Wanna Be With You," is as infectious as it is uplifting. The young artist is a classic soul singer in every sense: his smooth voice is laced with a sprinkling of grit that melts into whispers. You can also hear his strong gospel, soul and jazz influences shine through and he says he'd like to play alongside buzzy singer James Bay. Well, his dream has just become reality as the young crooner is touring with the man himself this month. His debut EP, The Sound Experiment, came out late last month.


    Music runs through Espa's blood -- her grandfather was a session player for Frank Sinatra, and she cites classic jazz singers such as Billie Holiday as inspiration. Much of her work is produced by Brooklyn's Erick Arc Elliott of the Flatbush Zombies, creating a sound that's dark, brooding and raw. If the UK had an answer to The Weeknd, she may just be it. Her moody music is contrasted by vivid, colorful visuals, as seen on her EP, LG60, positioning the young singer to be a favorite of music blogs and fashion publications alike.

    banks.jpgJacob Banks

    London isn't the only creative hub within the UK -- industrial towns and cities such as Birmingham have churned out great talents throughout the years, including up-and-coming singer Jacob Banks. The Monologue, his debut EP which came out in 2013, contained strong elements of '60s-inspired soul, with a hint of Otis Redding's raspiness and Sam Cooke's silky vocals. Banks' latest EP, The Paradox, released back in July, saw the singer go one up on the previous tape with a minimalist -- yet no less emotional -- recording that came on the heels of his major label departure. Having previously supported Emeli Sandé on her UK tour along with being the first unsigned act to ever appear on the BBC's Radio 1 Live Lounge, it's only a matter of time before U.S. audiences will be as obsessed with the young artist as his fans in the UK.

    4bf5f0d4-fe94-4daf-b953-0ce84af1a31d-620x372.jpegDenai Moore

    Many may know Denai Moore for her feature on SBTRKT's sophomore album, Wonder Where We Land, but the soul singer has come into her own with the release of her debut album, Elsewhere, out in April this year. Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica, and raised in London, she cites Bon Iver and James Blake as inspirations, influences you can hear throughout Elsewhere. It's a record full of sparse, minimalist production, coupled with haunting vocals that leaves you hoping for more music from this promising young artist on the horizon.

    Ray-Blk-Talk-To-Me.jpgRay BLK

    Hailing from South London, Ray BLK (Building. Living. Knowing) has drawn comparisons to SZA for her artful storytelling, which you can hear on her EP, Havisham, released in March and taking inspiration from Charles Dickens'Great Expectations. The EP follows the story of a girl who has had her heart broken and the diverse range of sounds convey the mixed emotions the young protagonist experiences. You can't help but want to listen to the whole story from the very beginning to the end.

    vicktor-taiwo-paradise-island.jpgVicktor Taiwo

    In 2014 Vicktor Taiwo came on the scene with the hard hitting track, "Digital Kids," which centered on the lives of young children who had been caught up in violence before they were even old enough to have fully experienced life. It was an indication of Taiwo's willingness to address the grittiness of life, yet he does so with delicacy and extreme passion. He performed in New York earlier this year at The Standard East, a show that Billboard described as "an elongated, subtle rasp that likened itself to Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke." His debut EP, Juno, is out now and he just wrapped up a North American tour.

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    Bring on the Thursday weepies, because French pop artist Christine and the Queens has just collaborated on a track with Perfume Genius, and it's indescribable levels of beautiful. 

    Dubbed "Jonathan," Christine said she wrote the song "because my lover would ignore my existence outside of the closed, silent room I lived in; it became then imperious for me to sing, just to make sure I was still here." Inspired by queer culture's struggle against being hushed by societal shaming, she says the song is "all about being loud and fierce - shame is nothing but an insidious negation: you shrink, you whisper, you hide" -- a sentiment that needs to be heard by everyone in both English and French. Listen to gorgeous tune below.

    [h/t Pitchfork

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    On the Internet in 2015 it's tacitly understood that we can trace most memes back to black people, that every couple of minutes a black kid somewhere is probably coming up with a new viral dance, a hilarious slang term or a Vine trend that'll be endlessly riffed on and ripped off by white people. But what if a popular meme can't be traced back to anyone? What if a meme is so basic in its elements it might as well be a mystery? 

    Enter the meme simply known as "it me." On Twitter, "it me" often accompanies a selfie, a quoted headline or images from the web. Usually used as a punchline to a joke, the set-up to "it me" jokes are consistent: a mortifying, self-deprecating, factual or quirky image or statement. Or sometimes, though this is rare, a pun.

    The lack of verb in "it me" might make it African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) by default, but psychically it feels more random than that. The words "it" and "me" are so common you can't search to see who uses it most, or who used it first. A cursory glance at various #itme tags shows that while there's no proof suggesting a racial breakdown, there is a clear demarcation across gender lines, with more women than men participating in the production of the meme. 

    There is an argument to be made that "it me" is a resurgence of the meme "Me IRL," as both memes do virtually the same thing. But I haven't seen "Me IRL" used that much-- maybe because it's outmoded or because it occupied online spaces I don't frequent. But "it me" found me. I didn't have to Google it because I couldn't Google it.

    Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 3.58.24 PM.pngScreen Shot 2015-10-08 at 4.01.07 PM.png

    The first time I read the phrase was on Twitter, roughly six months ago. The first time I used it myself was April 22nd. Buzzfeed writer Hannah Giorgis tweeted a funny photo of a dog in a sleeping bag. I was cozied up in bed at 3:43 PM because sometimes I don't get out of bed, so I could relate to the comfortable-looking dog. I made the funny photo about myself, but it was permissible; it was me.

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    A week later, a very cool woman I follow, Folu, tweets "it me" in response to some tweets I made about Imposter Syndrome. Apparently, she could relate; 'twas her. 

    The second time I said "it me" was also on Twitter. I used it me to relay a psychological analysis I got from my friend Lauren. She told me, "You're very oriented toward figuring out who your friends and enemies are and being very loyal and supportive toward your friends." I shared her read of me on Twitter, and underneath it I declared "it me." 

    The "it me" meme enjoyed a nice run in the spring, but I barely saw it tweeted over the summer. I saw it posted less and less, while people couldn't get enough of talking about squads and describing situations as "lit." I guess this is partly due to the fact that "it me" is about the self, which means there is a limitation to how many times we can say it without being boring. 

    And even though I've observed "it me" used less recently, it's still popular among some people on Twitter. On Facebook, where I've barely observed it used, I've noticed it's mostly used by people who already have Twitter presences, like my friend Zack Schuster.  

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    My friend Sarah Hagi thinks "it me" is often used as a deflective tool, "For example, people don't really believe mercury's in retrograde, it's just another way to pin how you feel on something else." In that sense, "it me" functions as ironic humor. There's a deflective quality to ironic humor. It masks the truth, though not the whole truth, revealing only a sliver of reality. 

    The whole reason I took up making jokes on Twitter was to curb my tendency to talk about my own personal business. Now, if I feel some type of way, instead of subtweeting or over-sharing my life, I deflect. For instance, I recently tweeted"I'm not even looking for a man. I just want an emergency contact." I could have just as easily tweeted "I'm really lonely and long for true love," but I didn't. There's some truth to my tweet, though not the whole truth. That is what "it me" does, though in way less words. Sometimes not only in less words, but in other people's words -- and images-- creating distance and making us seem smaller.

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    That distance and smallness is ironic detachment, sure, but there are still actual displays of vulnerability. In fact, the "it me" tag on Tumblr exists as a sort of museum of vulnerabilities, rife with young women's selfies and textual sighs into the internet abyss. The selfie poses vary, but a lot of the times these women are staring directly into a webcam or rap-squatting in front of their full-length bedroom mirrors, coyly covering their faces with a few fingers. And sometimes they're in public restrooms with a full leg in a sink. 

    On Instagram, unlike on Tumblr, there is rarely a joke to be made or an anecdote about one's day to share. It's a purely selfie-driven tag filled with the most relatable content: blank faces, tired eyes, listless feminine energy. While squad signifies group identity, "it me" signifies the simple fact of oneself. Squad may forever be associated with "it" girls like Taylor Swift but "it me" has found more relatable fare: women on the Internet taking selfies and making jokes. I guess you could call them "it-me" girls. Then again, that would only defeat the spirit of the meme. 

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    Willow Smith and Chance the Rapper, are two of the most creative and forward-thinking minds in their generation -- so it's no surprise that when they sat down to interview each other for FADER's Vitaminwater #uncapped series, sparks flew. TBH though, the best moment comes from Chance when he asks if Will Smith would adopt him.

    Check out the full video below

    [via FADER]

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    suapth1.jpgBeloved indie dance group LCD Soundsystem definitively broke up in 2011 after three albums with a series of shows at Madison Square Garden chronicled in both the live album The Long Goodbye and the documentary Shut Up and Play the Hits, which focuses on the ending of the group and how that affects frontman James Murphy (spoiler alert: he gets really into public transit). Now, Consequence of Sound is reporting that, like nearly every other band anyone has ever liked with irrational fervor, LCD Soundsystem is getting back together for some festival shows.

    This wouldn't be that surprising -- this kind of thing happens all the time -- except that it's been denied pretty vehemently by the label (and also, Murphy has a ton of other stuff going on, what with his wine bar and his attempt to change the New York subway and whatever else). 

    But other outlets, like Billboard, are holding fast, claiming that denials are a mere fake-out from the label. A "well-placed source" apparently told Billboard that the band is "definitely reuniting," which, basically, means that someone is trolling, and, accordingly, that someone is being trolled in turn. One of those groups is us... and... the other... is... them. Over and over again. (Sorry.)

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    In what is perhaps the LOL-iest scam of all time, one Kyle Douglas M. is trying to raise $99 million dollars on GoFundMe in an attempt to "rescue Matt Damon from Mars" -- you know, seeing as how Damon's latest movie The Martian is about an astronaut who gets left behind on the Red Planet. And as expected, there is currently $0 raised, but as you also know, losing Matt Damon would be a "devistating" [sic] blow to American film, not to mention his best buddy, Ben Affleck, so you guys better get donating. #bringhomeMatt 

    [h/tDaily Dot]

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    Billboard reports that Bey's dad and former manager Matthew Knowles, who was fired from the team in 2011, is planning on teaching a workshop in Houston called "The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In?" Admittedly, Knowles does have the actual experience necessary to justify the assumption that he might have some knowledge to impart, through years of managing his daughter's super-successful career. And it's not like the workshop is explicitly pitched as him being able to take someone, talk to them for a few hours, and turn them into a star on par with his daughter. But he's clearly been slipping for a while now, and has been on the outs with someone it might be best not to have as an enemy, which might make the promise of "a Certificate of Completion and Knowles reference booklet of industry definitions, contacts and additional useful information" a bit... less enticing than we might have otherwise expected. (Also, tickets run from $99 to $299 for the VIP package, which somehow feels both like a lot and not that much all at the same time?) If you want, you can get tickets here.

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    jennyhval copy.jpg[Photo by Jenny Berger Myhre]

    By the end of her set Brooklyn's Rough Trade, Jenny Hval has fallen to the ground, beating her chest with the microphone. Forty minutes earlier, she had emerged onstage in a red wig and pajamas ("Annie in a mental asylum"), and announced her presence: "WHAT IS... SOFT. DICK. ROCK?" To her side were three similarly dressed women alternating between laughing and sobbing, one with a pool of (fake) blood on her torso.
    If this sounds like an experience, it's because it was. Both beautiful and jarring, the show was, for lack of a better word, hypnotizing. Hailing from Norway, Hval conjures music to a similar effect, making use of her wonderfully shrill voice to question everything from gender and sexuality to ideas of health and capitalism. It shouldn't come as a surprise that her live show was as startling as her incongruously-poppy intonation of lines like "I grab my cunt with my hand that isn't clean," but that it surpassed our expectations only illustrates further the power of her performance.
    Though it may be easy to focus on her more confrontational lyrics, behind that shock-value lies deft philosophical and political commentary, and behind every "dick" can be found a damning lyric. On "That Battle Is Over," for example, she croons that "statistics and newspapers tell me I am unhappy and dying, that I need man and child to fulfill me." On "Angels & Anaemia" she declares "self-doubt, it's what I do." We had the chance to sit down with Hval to learn more about her newest album, Apocalypse, girl, out now, her youth in Norway's "Bible Belt" and how karaoke has inspired her music.

    You've described your hometown of Tvedestrand as part of Norway's "bible belt." How did your upbringing there influence you artistically?

    I always thought it didn't, as if I was impenetrable to it. I'm actually from Oslo -- I only partly grew up in the south, which is the "bible belt." So I guess that's why I always felt like I'm from elsewhere -- "this is just a makeshift childhood. That's not anything I want to be influenced by."

    It's not something I thought about much until I was writing this new album. Maybe because of traveling it came back to me a little bit. I was very curious to take in elements that had missed out, because I think it influenced me to be near so much gospel music and religious communities.

    In the lyrics to your song, "Heaven," it seems like you were almost jealous of your peers' religious devotion. You've said there's a kind of sexual fervor to it.


    Have you found a similar outlet?

    I don't think you can find and compare that stuff, and that that's kind of good. I also think that my envy of those peers in "Heaven" kind of morphed into a very dark territory, where that sort of religious devotion is connected. Though I did not grow up in the "bible belt," I went to high school in that region. The south of Norway is a conservative area, and is not very wealthy. All that comes together -- the religious devotion, the drinking and taking of pharmaceuticals, and the people driving around aimlessly with no idea of what they're going to do with their lives. People drowning in the sea. People jumping in front of trains. People doing crazy weird sexual stuff because they feel peer pressure. All that kind of shit. It all comes together. Coming to America a lot, I kind of felt a connection, because this country's so extremely sexualized. Sex, religion, and taboo -- it's tragically hand-in-hand, like a tragic married couple.

    You've spoken previously about your interest in karaoke. Did karaoke play a role in the writing of this album?

    I'm intrigued by it, but my real interest was in this very conflicted video that I started watching over and over: a microphone demonstration made by a Berkeley student singing one of those really stadium-like Christian pop songs 18 times into 18 different mics. The reason why I loved it was because it was like hearing 18 different karaoke versions of the same song. But the fact that they're all recorded one after the other makes it weird; on the one hand, it's trying to compare something technical, so it's not about the song. But then again, it's a religious song, so it has this conviction in it: "I need to say something about Jesus now."

    You can never really leave yourself out in that context. It's like a selfie. A lot of that singing of religious music is selfie culture to the core. It's so self-conscious, because you're projecting your faith, and if you're not projecting it right then you're a traitor: you're... blasphemous. So there's all this confliction in this video. [The singer] gets more and more tired. Her hair gets kind of... not as nice as it was in the beginning. Her voice gets tired. Even Jesus gets really tired. There's this inability to keep up with the ideal of never failing devotion. I love it. I've watched it so much.

    On the opening track, "Kingsize", you pose the question "what is soft dick rock?" Would you say this is an attack on conventional masculinity?

    Am I attacking it? Or am I attacking a problem with it?

    Your music deals so much with physicality/the body and spirituality/the soul. What are your thoughts on where they meet?

    When you sing, you're projecting this thing that's not a body, but a voice. This thing that comes from the body and is very visceral, but at the same time is creating something that is outside the body. So at the same time you're singing, you're in a very fascinating in-between state.

    People talk about the body a lot, but for me it's actually important that I do place a lot of emphasis on the soul. It's an important part of the body and our existence. I don't care so much if [the body and soul] are one or two. The idea that we have of the body, in contemporary society, is that it's divided from the soul. It's like the body is the soul's enemy. Or the soul doesn't exist anymore, and it's just a body. You have an idea that you're alive and the body is resisting it, or failing you because it's growing older and dying.

    The idea that we have of health at the moment is scary and there are a lot of ideas and emotions surrounding that on my albums. I've been trying very hard to work through and find other ways of looking at the combination of body and mind, and finding the mind... not by way of the body. That's very old-fashioned to try and liberate and free your mind by sexual liberation or something. Expression, I guess, is at the center. It's not so much about the body as how the body can express something.

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