Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When I write it's like I get a greater sense of who I am -Gift of Gab

I am a high stress, get things done, go go go, type A woman. I worry and dwell. I am an undiagnosed hypochondriac. My days are fairly consistent: work, then gym, then either meet up with friends, or entertain my creative endeavors. The daily grind fuels my stress, dwelling and worries, the gym is somewhat of a respite and time spent with friends serves as a much needed forum for venting, but rarely leads to any immediate epiphanies. There is one thing, though, that does not necessarily diminish the whirlwind of uncertainty and confusion, rather, makes it all seem okay.

BMX Sunday, as I continuously refer, is the one day of the week that I yearn for. A day that involves nothing more than stepping on the pedals of my little 20" BMX and rolling out through the neighborhood. The day serves a multitude of purposes. It is a day to wake up without an alarm, put on sneakers instead of four inch heels and drink a beer instead of a glass of wine.

I can spend hours on my bike riding all over Austin and not feel like any time has passed. My bike makes me work, but it pays back with euphoric mind easing endorphins. Everything that seems like a big deal during the week is suddenly okay, no conflict exists.

On BMX Sunday, the city exudes a solace that surrounds me. I view it from a different perspective, in particular, the quiet serenity offered by the East side. This is where most of my time is spent, riding alongside the rail road tracks and graffiti-written walls.

The luxuries that Austin offers vary for everyone. Mine happens to be a day of free therapy, minus the cost of a few tacos and a Stella Artois. I invite you to take a moment to experience BMX Sunday, and see this city from a perspective not smeared with residue of the daily grind.

Last Sunday, at the brunch at Paggi House, DJ Chicken George, El Jon Selector, and Brandon, a guest DJ from NY and creator of Properly Chilled, threw down some chilled out, low tempo, mind relaxing beats.

The pedestrian/ bike bridge next to Lamar Avenue is fascinating. Toward one direction, the growing city that keeps Austin on the go arises, but from the other direction, a peaceful serenity extends on and on, resulting in an intriguing dichotomy.

Just one block east of I35, a group of graf writers usually gather in this lot. They pull up a van, bump some hip hop and paint all afternoon. Last Sunday, all that appeared were these ghost walls. Sad, but the nature of this medium.

The farther east, the more serenity ensues. It is so quiet. Few cars pass down these streets on a Sunday afternoon.

This is the pinnacle of calm. Justine's Brasserie is pretty far down on the east side, just about as far as you want to go on a BMX, and a bittersweet location to reach. While arriving at this point offers an amazing relief, it marks the time to turn around, muscle up some daunting hills, and step back into reality.

The South 1st street bridge serves as a reminder of how this city can inspire, challenge, and relieve. For having the opportunity to experience this... I am a lucky girl...

Photos courtesy of Suburbane Style

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Music should and will always come first -DJ Chicken George

Image courtesy of Elle Magazine

A Nefferttiti-esque woman, Egyptian head dress replaced by a sculpted afro, in a Chanel tweed dress, stands in front of a late afternoon sun-kissed, fire escape adorned, brick wall. Then, she reclines along a cement ledge in a Fendi cashmere dress and sable vest with the Brooklyn bridge in the background. The sun sets on the city, and these images begin the editorial, "New York State of Mind" in Elle's September issue. This fashion spread ties in the sweetest elements of raw, urbanity with jazz and funk. I often find parallels between music and fashion and this editorial bears a striking resemblance to Jazztronica, DJ Chicken George's (CG) unique culmination of hip hop, jazz, soul and funk.

Jazztronica has been the soundtrack to my life these days (it is difficult to get tired of, perhaps due to the diverse genres of music that CG knows so well). So when I took a moment to relax and thumb through the 2010 September issue of Elle Magazine, and I came across "New York State of Mind," styled by Samira Nasr and photographed by Laurie Bartley, I felt a rush of excitement. The imagery created by Nasr and Bartley seemed so familiar... that feeling of deja vu.

I immediately began to cross reference each look to specific mixes created by CG, i.e. page 511, the Calvin Klein suit and Carine Gilson Lingerie Collection corset reminds me of the track "Give Me the Night (chill night mix)" by Randy Crawford on Radio Jazztronica #1 and on page 513, the model in a Chloe silk blouse and crepe pants perfectly illustrate Abstract Truth's "We Had a Thing (Jay's naked remix)", also on Radio Jazztronica #1.

I can go on about the similarities between CG's Jazztronica and this fashion editorial, instead, I urge to you click on one of these links and feel the vibes yourself. The mixes are housed on Properly Chilled- down tempo music and culture and can be accessed through DJ Chicken George's audio mixes on his website as well Radio Jazztronica. Sit back, relax and let the funk fill your soul.

All previous images courtesy of Elle Magazine

This post was supposed to be published in September, near the release of writer/ photographer Damon Daood's afro infused coffee table book entitled Afrodesiac. Still, it's never too late to expose a book that allows readers to delve into their chocolate covered fantasies... Damon was sweet enough to share some delicious insight on his creative endeavors.

What initially triggered your desire to shoot images of women in afros?

The initial seed was planted several years ago with a photographer friend–we armed our alternative egos with cameras for the day and began shooting for the hell of it. Well, I guess I was doing more shooting of her yummy sweet thangs (I do after all have quite the sweet-tooth.) She busted out an afro wig along the way and it was all chocolate from there. Shortly after our encounter, I began crafting a screenplay of a martial world where fu, fros, funk and ninjas were the norm. AFRODISIAC is somewhat an extension of that world–a distant cousin but the book idea wasn't conceived until much later in the spring of '09.

From what I had the opportunity to witness, this appeared to be an intense project. As you initially immersed yourself in it, did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into?

I really didn't quite grasp the magnitude until this past year. There was an extended period of time where I couldn't look at a woman without picturing her nappy (I'm sure that sounds naughty but it's the truth). If rolling around with 20 flavors of fro in yo’ trunk is full immersion, then yes I’m very guilty and throw the chocolate wrapper at me. I wanted an experience everyone could enjoy on some delicious level–from the ninja in the lens, the viewer thumbing the pages or even the spectator on the street witnessing the fro down – It's definitely the largest scale project I've singularly taken on.

You gave a handful of women, myself included, the opportunity to lead a super sexy alter ego while we were in front of your camera. How did it feel to be on the other side of the lens, capturing the images?

Although I was the one wielding the camera, there was a part of me that enjoyed being the proverbial "superbly" on the wall. It was a delicious spot to be and highly addictive. Women love to feel beautiful (and desired) and eye love dipping them in my chocolate soul sauce. I warned every woman who came onto the project that the experience would be unlike anything they’ve experienced and by the end of the shoot how difficult it would be returning to their 'regular' self. I witnessed this transformation dozens of times. The alternative egos served as an extension to their identities and the 'fros became the mojo to drive each. I'm a man who loves to play like a boy in a constructive way and it's always fun to invite others into my chocolate covered neurosis.

Your final product is gorgeous; something to be proud of. But I know that you have more up your sleeve. Is there anything that you are willing to share at this point?

Thank you. I’m delighted to hear you enjoyed it! I'd like to continue with future AFRODISIAC volumes touching on certain themes and expand on what I've started here but that's down the road. I have other avenues involving music & film but wherever I choose to go or do I won't stray too far from my nappy heady roots and the chocolate will certainly be melting on the tongues of the natives.

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

I was so flattered when Damon suggested that, due to my undeniable passion for hip hop culture, I "fro" down and really release that part of me. The shoot was exhausting, hot and dirty (we were literally sprawled across asphalt on one of Austin's hottest summer days) but it was so gratifying to participate in this project. I also need to make note that the book was edited by the one and only, Amy, who is also responsible for the editorial aspects of Suburbane Style.
Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

Photo courtesy of Damon Daood

Monday, November 1, 2010

Night Fever Part 2

If there is no music, there is not dance -Tito Puente

Last March I started my SXSW experience with a Tuesday night event hosted by Jeff Strange of StrangeTribe and Papa Chop of Soul of the Boot Entertainment, along with Bemba Entertainment. Featuring Chico Mann and Ocote Soul Sounds, among a long list of amazing artists, it was an eclectic fusion of talent. I attended the show solo. I sat on the rooftop patio at Momo's, sipped on a glass of wine and listened to the tango-infused sounds of the Austin Piazzolla Quintet. I was so content, so satisfied so ready to take advantage of the music-infused week.

Two nights later at Scoot Inn, Chico Mann warmed the air on a bone chilling night with his electronic Latin funk. His music was alive and melodic, undeniably uplifting. Unfortunately, SXSW sets are often cut short, due to time constraints. I was left wanting to hear more.

Eight months later, thanks to Jeff and Papa Chop, I had the opportunity to see Chico Mann perform again, at Night Fever. It was indeed a necessary follow up after his SXSW set. On a costume-clad Halloween night, Peligrosa, Austin's finest crew of Cumbia bumpin Latin style DJs, properly opened a set for Chico Mann. And again, as soon as his set took off, that funky Latin sound warmed the chilly October night.

So far, Night Fever has yet to disappoint. Jeff Strange and Papa Chop are onto something huge. Several months ago, when Amy and I interviewed them, we were left with an abundance of blogging material, plenty of information to share with our readers. This is our follow up to the original Night Fever blog post... The logistics...

Meg: The first Night Fever that you did was DJ Numark, that was your flagship event?

Jeff: That was the launch party that was their [Wax Poetics] hip-hop issue.

Meg: But the Night Fever that Rich Medina played, that was your genre selection?

Jeff: Right, that was the following month. That was our pick on wanting to do a soul party.

Papa Chop: That event also had Juneteenth which we felt that was an important time to do a very urban genre, you know, and soul music. We wanted to give a little back to that day. The marketing needs to come from multiple angles, because for some people, Rich Medina might not mean anything but if Rich Medina’s gonna play some music on Juneteenth, Juneteenth means a lot to some people so, you know the different angles we try to grab and incorporate, we try to make it appealing to more than just the people that follow us, the people that love us, the people that know what we do cause you want it to grow.

Meg: Do you see Night Fever as a concept that can be duplicated in other cities?

Papa Chop: I’m glad you axed that question.

Jeff: Yeah, that’s a really good question because that’s another seed that we want to plant and utilize the Romero family bus and convert it to the Night Fever train.

Papa Chop: And the other thing that is, if you think about it, the concept of Night Fever is that, we have a record store involved so we want to cater to people that love vinyl, that love music to that capacity, that they would actually go to record stores and shop. So we wanted to bring the record store to the venue in a small capacity so that they can gain exposure and have something different. I have studied many concepts of parties, I don’t know of any other event, or monthly event, themed event that has actual vinyl for sale in the event the night of and so for us that was… for me that was very important, but on that note, in every major city there are tons of record stores, so we could take the concept on the road, we can find a visual artist, we can find a VJ to do images, we can go into these cities and extend our concept and our business to their local communities.

Jeff: Get locals involved.

Papa Chop: It’s meant to be Austin based...

Jeff: And that being started from just simply doing just a Texas circuit, utilize [Austin] being just a few hours away from Houston and just a few hours away from Dallas and doing, you know, being able to do a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, you know three night in a row Texas tour with our artists that are going to be on the road. That will be the start of getting Night Fever in other cities and we’ll just grow from there...

Papa Chop: I mean, I think if you take the concept in and try not to bring the whole crew... You are coming in with open hands and a concept and saying, we want to work with you, we want to put you to work, we want to see what ya’ll have because they might bring something to the concept that we couldn't get. You just never know, you have to be open to different people’s creativity and their capacities but Austin will get the love and Austin will be heard very much.

Meg: Can you name three DJs that have most influenced you?

Jeff: Name three of my biggest DJ influences… Wow… Man that’s not really a fair question. That’s not fair because I’ll leave all my boys off that I’ve worked with many times you know what I mean? There’s always more to come. My music selection is pretty much in all and on shuffle constantly, so…

Meg: What was the last song that was on when you got out of your car?

Jeff: I’m on my motorcycle.

Amy: Well... what was the last album you bought?

Jeff: I bought a few things off of True Thoughts, a record label out of the UK they released a Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans, Sexual Healin, so that was the last 12” purchase I guess um… I mean, I guess, J Boogie is definitely one of my favorites of all time and that kind of goes back to him not being genre driven. He is all over the place he plays all types of music. Very eclectic, very funky, very worldly so I tend to follow people like that, you know, people that I’ve worked with in the past that I really love are the ESL family also spawns off to the Fort Knox family you know Thunderball, Rex Riddem, that’s all family that I really dug for many, many years, I own all of their material so that family for sure, I mean, Rich Medina is legendary.

Meg: He was entertaining to watch and listen to. That was my favorite Night Fever.

Jeff: Someone I left off that has been really influential to me in the ESL family would be Ursula 1000, he has played so many epic DJ sets for me and his material and his music is absolutely amazing Ursula 1000, he’s in the ESL tribe; their all in the same tribe. What about you Papa Chop?

Papa Chop: Me?

Jeff: You know, Papa Chop should probably say Rich Medina; can we back up and rewind?

Amy: Yeah, I was going to say, we can rearrange some things.

Papa Chop: The reason why Rich Medina is my favorite taste maker DJ is because Rich Medina was the first DJ that I actually booked in an event, like, large name that had never come to Austin. Which was me and Jeff’s second event at ACL last year, we brought Rich in and Rich had never been to Texas and Jeff has worked with a lot of artists, he’s booked a lot of people, but for me Rich was the first regional act that I was able to be a part of bringing in and it was like instant family. Other DJs…

Jeff: It’s hard, isn’t it?

Papa Chop: Yeah, it’s really hard… Ima go on a local tip right here and I’m gonna tell you who my favorite local DJ is even though I shouldn’t... and this has got a lot of things that go into it.

I’m gonna be honest with you, Orion Garcia. I have the utmost respect for him musically, business-wise, I think that he inspires me to do more with what I do because I see what he is able to do and he is always ready to get on the drawing board and take on an idea. He is always willing to be a part conceptually, so I mean, his music selection; he’s making his own music so he’s not just a DJ. He is producing, he is coming out with his own material, he’s remixing he’s putting out albums, I mean, I very much follow what Orion does on a regular basis. So that’s two… is that good, one more?

Meg: Two will suffice…

Jeff: Well I mean, coming from our place in music and being so broad, and so open to all types of music that you really, I mean for me, it’s really hard to have a favorite. I don’t have a favorite band, I don’t have a favorite DJ, I don’t have a favorite genre, I don’t even have a favorite restaurant. But to answer your question, we got there, but you know…

Meg: Do y’all have a favorite Night Fever?

Here you go with this favorite shit again.

Papa Chop: I can definitely answer that one… I think that, as far as the dance floor and the vibe on the dance floor, the most epic night so far was J Boogie, by far. Just because I think that Jeff has done a good job of bringing J Boogie here, J Boogie has a lot of roots in the Austin community and plus we had DJ Sun, who has a lot of fans here because he is in Houston. J Boogie’s selection was just on point; he covered all the bases and I think that, when I entered the dance floor with J Boogie, it was it was happening. It felt like there was a lot of love being passed and people were just really gettin it. So Jeff can answer his favorite, but outta the first four, that was my favorite.

Jeff: I would have to agree. I think that was, as far as the vibe and the outcome, you know I think that everybody was really feelin it. Not that at every other Night Fever everyone was not feelin it, but…

Papa Chop: I think that J Boogie, that the volume three show really helped us to start building a fan base. I think that was a turning point, you know. The first one was really awesome, you know, Numark and Mel just really murdered it and it was great but, it was our first party so it’s special to us but, we did not really start building as much momentum. By the time volume three came up, I think we had some momentum. I think that people came out for it. I think people were receptive and that people started talking about Night Fever; people started wanting to be involved, spreading the love on social networks and stuff so, you know.

Meg: Okay, I have one more question. What is your favorite event that you have done collaboratively?

Jeff: Ooh, well, its SXSW 2010, this year. Tuesday night before SXSW of this year we did an amazingly wicked party at Momo’s, stacked with crazy talent, you know, we took advantage all the people that were coming into town for SXSW, did a launch party for the weekend. That was pretty epic for me, but you know as I say that I start thinking about all these other events, but that’s cause I’m not good on the favorites.

Papa Chop: But that one was you know, we put it together with another promoter, Brandon Medina from Bemba Entertainment. So we had three promoters on one event and we put it all together and people started coming to be involved after that, it’s not like we waited to see if we were gonna have sponsors to get involved to make it happen, we put it together and made it happen, you know, with our skills and logistics and then it all came full circle.

Photos courtesy of Suburbane Style

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
-Stevie Wonder

Much like SXSW, the Austin City Limits music festival (ACL) brings a variety of musicians and music lovers to Austin. While I prefer to stay away from the actual festival, which brings a wide variety of performers, (I prefer smaller, more intimate venues) I am certainly not without live music during ACL weekend.

ACL weekend brings in non-festival shows as well, and Friday night at District Bar, I had the opportunity to see Luckyiam of the Living Legends. For the past ten years, his music has both appealed to me and inspired me… it’s sexy and melodic. He has the kind of voice that I want to sing me lullabies at night. The content of his rhymes is brutally honest, raw, but even against the heaviest beats, his music possesses an innate sensuality.

Through the wonderful social networking tool that is Twitter, I secured a long awaited interview with Luckyiam. I met him at District Bar but due to the noise level we made our way to Bess Bistro, where, over raw oysters and Jameson’s, I got a little insight into what inspires this man.

Luckyiam eats his first raw oyster...

and washes it down with a sip of Jameson's

What are some of the challenges of working on solo projects, rather than with other artists, or a larger group, like Living Legends?

Luckyiam: Being solo, the only challenge is that I have to write more and I have to worry about having a good chorus on my own. Basically, I have to take on the full direction of the whole project where if you’re in a smaller group like the group the Prime, (the album that you are going to pick up tonight), Legends, or a group like Journeymen, you can feed off the creativity of another person, it’s not just you.

In one interview, when asked about artists that you are influenced by, you named Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, Queen, Freestyle Fellowship, LL Cool J, and Outkast. In another interview, you mentioned Natasha Kahn, BBD, Bobby Brown and Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder is the constant here… what is it about him?

Luckyiam: I think that Stevie Wonder has the perfect singing voice. Mix that with the fact that he could play a lot of different instruments, and then mix that with the content of his songs like, the album that I recommend is Songs in the Key of Life. Oh yeah, he’s blind too and he can play all this stuff. To me he’s the ultimate artist. That’s why I keep mentioning him. I really like his music.

What about the wide variety of genres that you mention. Is there a particular genre that you are most influenced by?

Luckyiam: Not genre, I’m influenced by good music on a whole… good music from whatever genre, that could be country, that could be rock, that could be punk, hip hop, soul R & B, whatever. Just good music and good artists and people that stand for things like… on the way here we were listening to the new Neil Young album. Neil was saying some shit that needs to be said that people aren’t saying right now, like things that are going on with the war. I’m influenced by genuine people who make melodic points.

When did you start going by Luckyiam rather than PSC?

Luckyiam: PSC was just an acronym and I guess, once I got that other Luckyiam nickname, I liked the ring of that better. Then the clincher, I guess, was when T.I. came out with this crew that was called PSC for Pimp Squad Click and there was a bit of confusion because they were kind of getting a little bit popular for a while because T.I. was trying to promote them and I just dropped the acronym and kept Luckyiam.

What is PSC an acronym for?

Luckyiam: For Pushing Self Consciousness or Porn Star Creator or People Start Cheating… I don’t know… just, you can make up anything. But no… Pushing Self Consciousness.

As a social networking tool, why have you chosen Twitter over other options?

Luckyiam: A couple of years ago I went out with Atmosphere on the “Every Body Loves a Clown” tour and then URB Magazine approached me and they were like, “you know we want you to blog for URB for your tour" so at that time… it was a 50-60 city tour, I would blog about the happenings of the whole day, I got really used to writing out what we did or what was happening and everything… after we finished that tour, SXSW was happening and then Twitter was just coming out and they approached URB and they liked how I was blogging and they were like, do you think you can get him to try out this thing, Twitter, and they tried to get me on it and I didn’t understand it yet, but then when I got the hang of it, to me its kind of like blogging, to me its kind of like entertaining the people who follow me, giving them information, promoting and you know, it’s my 140 character or less blog… that’s all it is. URB Magazine got me hooked on blogging and it’s my blog… that’s what I do.

Photos courtesy of Suburbane Style

Back at District Bar, I sat with Luckyiam at his merch table while he chose two CDs for me to check out... One Uppers by The Prime, which is a collaborative project with Luckyiam and Sapient and All Over, by CMA, a collab with Luckyiam and the Grouch. I am certainly partial to the CMA album, largely because I have been listening to the Grouch longer than any of the Living Legends. His album Fuck the Dumb was the first hip hop album that I ever truly appreciated. In regards to the collaboration between Luckyiam and the Grouch, I think it is a genius combination of vocal styles; the Grouch's dry, staccato flows mixed with Luckyiam's smooth-as-silk rhymes results in a delicious blend of savory and sweet. All Over also features a variety of talent including Del, Slug and Reese One, which adds an element of diversity to each track.

One Uppers possesses a modern profoundness. The level of confidence exuded by Luckyiam and Sapient is suitable. They developed a creative, innovative product that makes you think. The honesty within the content is comendable, and while some points were difficult for me to listen to, Luckyiam and Sapient do appropriately refer to themselves as "truth sayers."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Night Fever Part 1

Communication through music is my passion -Papa Chop

Tucked away in a neighborhood on the East side of Austin lies a small, nondescript, rust-red shack with a few lights along the roof and a painted white sign that reads "Scoot Inn" in red stenciled letters. What used to be a hole in the wall Tejano bar currently houses one of the best "get aways" in Austin: Night Fever. A monthly event that demands you wear your dancing shoes and check your inhibitions at the door, Night Fever allows you to escape from the daily grind and groove the night away.

Jeff Strange of Strangetribe Productions and Papa Chop of Soul of the Boot Entertainment have an affinity for sharing their positive energy with others. Night Fever is their newest venture that brings the gamut of turn-tablism into an energy-fueled, five-hour frenzy on the last Saturday of each month.

In collaboration with Wax Poetics Magazine, Jeff Strange and Scott Romero (aka Papa Chop) brought this unique concept to fruition, with the help of local creatives such as painter, b.e. Strange, and Zappy Springs Photography, among others. Night Fever is not just another party with a DJ; it is a living, dancing entity with heart and soul. It’s a sexy night under the stars, a night to unwind. It’s an experience to look forward to month after month.

Amy and I met Jeff and Papa Chop at Cipolinna’s for lunch. We learned about their vision behind Night Fever, its conception, and a glimpse of what is coming up. This is a labor of love for these two hard working music promoters, which became evident within the first few minutes with them.

Papa Chop and Jeff

Meg: How did Strangetribe Productions and Soul of the Boot Entertainment originally collaborate?

Jeff: We came together because of sharing a similar taste in music and Chop was always reaching out to me, giving me love, sending me props on events. He was in school for music and I was doing music, it built really fast. We became friends and then we became partners.

Papa Chop: Yeah, I didn't really know anybody. I figured I had to get to know the one that was doin’ the freshest stuff and we could go from there.

Meg: What was the first event that you did together?

Jeff: Umm, my birthday party, August of 2009. It was at Social, the old Whisky Bar… Night Fever Volume IV (August 28) marked our one year anniversary.

Papa Chop: Peligrosa was on the bill… I was very green to the actual live event and the logistics that goes into putting together an event and lining everybody, getting the right people acquainted and then actually taking care of the business. You know, you take care of the pay outs, you need to take care of all that stuff, so I was broken in right off the bat...

Jeff: He's in charge of all the paper work.

Papa Chop: Because I'm good at it, and because I don’t mind doin’ it… We know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and we feel each other out so we kinda just acclimate into what duties we need to do… Jeff has a lot of years on me as far as negotiating and putting things together and there are certain things that he is really good at. He has a lot of ties to the artists, sponsors, venue owners and people here too.

Jeff: I'm glad you said that because I wasn't quite sure what my strength was.

Papa Chop: Well that's okay man, I mean that's why we partners, for lack of a better word.

Meg: Can you please explain the concept of Night Fever from its inception?

Jeff: We did not want Night Fever to be any specific repetitive night. We did not want it to be your normal hip-hop night or house music night or funk night. You know, we are music lovers. We did not want to go one directional so we came up with the concept of exploring all the genres of music… So that’s what made us come up with the idea of booking the talent and genres and then marketing each month as a different theme. And outside of that it's not even just about the music, you know, it's more like art and culture to us. So that is why we like to have all of these other things going on at the same time. We have the record fair and we have the live art, just to have different twist and different things going on within the night itself.

Papa Chop: Yeah, I mean, I see it like we both have two separate entities. Jeff has Strangetribe, which has been livin’ and breathin’ and I have Soul of the Boot. You know, we are both individual owners of these entities so we were running parallel but we also needed to meet somewhere where we have in common, something that we shared… I mean, a lot of people think that it was all driven by Wax Poetics, but it really wasn't. It was driven by our experience with Wax Poetics during SXSW in seeing that they had a lot of love for Austin and what was going on here.

So in essence, we proposed to Wax Poetics, if they wanted to be a part of it and if they would give us the inside track what the bimonthly issue content was going to be… You know, we’ve done three themed events and they give us the inside scoop. So every other month is driven by the issue release but the in-betweens we select the genres that we prefer to work…You know, we want it to be consistent; we are trying to reflect the rich publication that it is, because it really is. It is one of the finest publications for music lovers and for people who dig, like to see something that is not top 40, something that you will not hear on the radio.

Amy: We want to know about Halloween. Do ya’ll know what your costumes are going to be?

Jeff: I’m going as Papa Chop.

Papa Chop: And I’m going as Jeff Strange.

Jeff: (points to Papa Chop's hat) can I borrow this? I’m going to cut my beard the way you do. Ima borrow your jeans so I can wear ‘em extra tight.

Papa Chop: I was thinking about going as our headliner.

Jeff: Like a flat billed hat and big-rimmed glasses?

Papa Chop: Big Puma shoes, all black, and skinny jeans.

Jeff: Maybe like, a fedora sitting just on top of your head.

Papa Chop: And maybe a scarf, even though he’s still in Austin, a light weight scarf… big, big, black rimmed glasses, nice shadowed beard, of Puerto Rican descent.

Meg: Wait, Chico Mann? That sounds amazing.

Papa Chop: Their new album is going to be released by Wax Poetics. They have a record label so the record release is officially October 26 and we’re doing the Austin release party for Night Fever Volume VI.

Meg: I thought he played one of the best shows during SXSW.

Jeff: Yes, a lot of people would agree.

Papa Chop: That’s one of the reasons he’s coming back because he knows that he influenced some people. They really have a unique sound, amazing personalities and just wonderful creativity and I mean last time at SXSW during their Funk Aid, their set got cut to like 30 minutes.

Jeff: Everyone was booin’ and…

Papa Chop: They were totally murdering their set, so they’re going to get as much time as they possibly can. If they possibly, I mean, if they want two hours, they gonna get it this time, if they wanna play every song they got, whatever they wanna do, it’s gonna be their show case. So they comin’ back, for Halloween.

Jeff: The Saturday night before Halloween, the 30th

Papa Chop: So just picture some big piñatas hanging in the rafters and having like, a piñata contest, like, it’s gonna be really great. Of course, it would be hard not to be Latin themed with Peligrosa and Chico Mann because they are very much embedded in the new Latin sound, electronic Latin sound. It’s gonna be Latin themed.

Jeff: Latin freestyle Halloween.

Papa Chop: That’s what it should be.

Photos courtesy of Suburbane Style

Monday, August 2, 2010

1. excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain; conceit


This project represents a fascination that I have developed with vanity. At what point does pride become excessive? This collection of work began as a conceptual self portrait. As I worked through this project, I started to realize that this is not really a self portrait, rather, an illustration of vanity.

This body of work began with my illustration of the fable, The Fox and the Scorpion, as told by Scarub in the song, It's of My Nature... The premise of the song covers the gambit of this concept, this vanity... it's of my nature.

Several components bring these pieces together to illustrate vanity from my perspective. The use of spray paint in a graffiti-inspired form symbolizes the ill fame that was sought by the early New York graffiti writers. As explained by Eric Felisbret in Graffiti New York, "the objective was not to mark territory, but to dominate it, and, in turn, establish notoriety." Though I initially chose the tag mpulse due to the resemblance that the letters had to my initials: M Hulse, I was certainly satisfied by the way the word describes a facet of my personality. Additionally, the letter M takes the shape of the zodiac sign for Scorpio, which is my astrological sign, and why the story of the Fox and the Scorpion bears so much weight; it is something I can relate to.

I purposely used the tag in excess. This is my art from conception, but I wanted to emphasize this by obnoxiously incorporating my tag. My use of the heavy epoxy resin allows the viewers to see their own reflection in my art, which is my attempt to bring out their vanity.

The collage, The Narcissistic Mermaid, embodies the epitome of this concept. The mermaid admires her reflection in a mirror while the viewers are able to catch a glimpse of their own reflection from the epoxy resin, but my tag, mpulse, scribbled across the canvas creates somewhat of a hindrance. So even though the viewers can see and admire themselves, I was able to interfere. In a similar fashion, I wanted to continue this theme with my breast plate so that the viewers are forced to see their own reflection in a plaster cast from a fragment of my torso.

The imagery used in the collage offers insight into what drove me to work on this project in the first place: music, art, and fashion, mostly from the underground but mixed with a few main stream components... and by immersing the piece with a reflective medium and tagging mpulse, I was able to turn this self portrait into a study of vanity.

And in regard to my initial question, when does pride become excessive? I have not yet reached a conclusion, but I think that Jane Austen says this well; "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us."

The Fox and the Scorpion

Breast Plate

Breast Plate (detail)

(reflection on white canvas with heavy epoxy resin glaze)

(reflection on black canvas with heavy epoxy resin glaze)

The Narcissistic Mermaid

Portrait Collage (these images caught my attention...)