You can't really comprehend Los Angeles if you're never been here, or even if you've spent a couple days here on vacation. LA is complex. LA is like growing up not knowing exactly how you feel, or what anything is. Palm trees glisten in the sun like in the movies, but here you also lose people's souls in the quest for hype.
Its just so easy to get lost. In a place where we idolize mediocre content, sometimes we don't really know what we like. Do we really like that hoodie? Do we really like this rapper? Does any of this matter?
In order to survive LA you have to know yourself. Create something that you would be proud of in the center of Middle America. Put your heart into what you're doing because otherwise you might not get it back.
Because of this over the past two years I've been focusing on showcasing truly talented individuals who aren't here to sell out, and even though I haven't been exactly perfect at doing that regularly, I still love getting to share people that make me happy with you guys.
On that note, if you've been on my blog before you might recall I interviewed rapper Cliftun a while back (who's song Amy Pt. 2 I've been playing non stop), and I teamed up with him again to take a stroll through his Koreatown neighborhood to discuss life over a bowl of cereal and some Mario Kart, watch the video above and check out the photos below.
Even though a large quantity of our popular idols are girls and women, and gender equality is closer to becoming reality, there is still something amiss. Society portrays women as catty and competitive (for the most part), instead of as team players. Society also portrays women as vulnerable, needing outside validation to find personal confidence . This needs to change, and luckily there are more and more amazingly creative women breaking stereotypes, and pushing each other ahead, instead of behind. One of these talents is Vivian Laurence.
Who are you?
Wow what a question. Well hi, here I go! My name is Vivian. I like to call myself an artist, in the fullest sense of the word. Or a creator. I feel the most freedom in those job titles. I observe a lot and I feel a lot and I create a lot, and my art is the result.
First of all I want to say I love how empowering to women you are, not as many artists as I think we would all like do it to a really relevant level. How do you stay strong in a society where strong females are still somewhat looked upon as strange?
Thank you so much. That’s an incredible compliment. I have such deep-rooted identity in myself as a woman, and what that means to me. I think that’s something all women can relate to. I’m very honest in sharing my personal experiences and emotional lessons because I’m embracing my growing process to the fullest extent, and I find empowerment in that. It’s not my problem if someone finds my confidence strange, I can be confident and love myself regardless.
Photos by: http://revivethecool.tumblr.com
In addition to being confident, it’s sadly frowned upon in this day and age to truly express your feelings. Do you think we’ll be able to get rid of the stigma of being emotional as a bad thing and more of a human capability we should be proud of?
Yes, absolutely. Making that change is only a matter of choosing positive beliefs for yourself. From my perspective, any negative stigma about emotions is already erased. I think that emotional honesty is important as HECK. Being proud of our emotions allows us to grow together, instead of in isolation. We can support each other. Only positive things come from emotional honesty once we learn how to communicate compassionately. Feel your feelings, fam.
I also think a lot of girls have this notion that you can only be pretty, or you can only be smart. Pretty much that you can only be one thing. But really its important to show you can be anything, and everything. What would you tell someone who’s trying to break this idea in their head?
I’m really grateful that I was raised to believe in my intelligence. All little girls deserve that. Human beings are limitless and our brains have more power than we’ve even figured out how to harness yet. We’re moving forward, and women are stepping into their beauty and their brains. Let go of outdated societal ideals and learn your own power.
Photo by: http://www.exquisite-eye.com
But now on the topic of music, you mentioned a little while ago that you consider yourself an artist instead of a musician. What separates the two to you?
I am absolutely a musician, but I’m not only a musician. I sing, I play guitar, I write songs and poems. Sometimes I paint, or design clothing, or take pictures and create graphic art. So that’s why I’m an artist, because I want to give myself the freedom to try everything and keep learning.
Its also great how even in this giant metropolis of LA there are groups of people who support each other artistically instead of competing negatively (for example with 1234). Who are some of your favorite artists who you feel inspired by?
Since I moved to Los Angeles, I’ve met the most fearless people. All of my friends here are artists and they inspire me so much. We take care of each other, and support each other. 1234 Creations is the fam. Daniel D’artiste is my brother. Then there’s Marian Mereba, the soul folk goddess herself. I listen to a lot of D’Angelo, Rhye, Daughter, Norah Jones. Also Kevin Parker is #god.
How would you describe your own style of music?
My music is very raw, very honest, straight from my heart. I come from folk roots and I write everything on my acoustic guitar. My vocal melodies play a big part too. Singing makes my heart so happy. I’m also influenced by world music and I’m obsessed with drums. It all melts together in this whimsical experimental-indie mess of my feelings sonically personified. It’s therapy for me.
What are you hoping to accomplish in 2016?Maybe not so much even a physical task but even mentally or spiritually?
My motto for 2016 is “It’s not that serious” so mentally and spiritually, I’m going to chill the fuck out and trust the flow. I’m going to keep working really hard and having as much fun as I can with my process. This is what I love to do, and my only hope is to continue doing what I love with people around the world. Much love.
I have a love/hate relationship with album reviews. On one hand I enjoy reading them and consider it a much better waste of time than mindlessly scrolling though my Instagram feed, on the other hand I think album reviews are too opinionated to be held as valid forms of measurement for an albums quality. Because of this I don't think I'm going to necessarily make this a post about who I thought had the best albums of the year, or who totally flunked, however, I'm going to give my very biased opinion on what I believe the state of hip hop to be in 2015.
Even as the trap gods rose out of Atlanta with their fare ranging from Taylor Swift friendly, to hidden cries of help (Future anyone?), this wasn't what I held to be the most interesting sounds of the year. To be honest I find this style of music to be somewhat boring now. As much as I enjoy Thugger at high volume, the repetitiveness leaves me wanting more. Yes, the music itself sounds great to my ears, but I can't enjoy it as much as possible because it provides little in the content category. I 100% understand that many of the artists rapping about living the trap lifestyle are merely providing a window into that portion of America and what they know, however, sometimes I wonder if artists use this as a crutch to produce mediocre music that simply sells. Once you have housewives in middle America singing about baking soda you know you've made it.
What struck me as creative this year was those straying from the made up boundaries of hip hop. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Goldlink, and Raury, who weren't afraid to incorporate other genres into their music. This was fresh to me, a certain vibe which wasn't afraid to borrow from the past while sounding very new wave. A return to emotion almost. The popularity of a fairly new genre of music with R&B vocals, grimy lyrics, and pounding beats also reached a new level of success this year. From The Weeknd's love ballad to cocaine, to Bryson Tiller's bedroom tracks, this was almost enough to keep me satisfied without a new PARTYNEXTDOOR EP. Come to think of it, I enjoy these artist's work because its somewhat of a happy medium between top 40 pop fare and rap. Dark but seductive.
Overall, 2015 was a weird time for hip hop. With so many projects being produced in a short period of time it was hard to process each and every piece with enough time to truly hear it. But even with all the mediocrity and misses, the amount of talent was enough to call this year a success. 2016 should be interesting.
Los Angeles is great in its absurdity, but Seattle’s still
where I’m from, and also coincidentally the home of some of my favorite music.
A few weekends ago, while back in Washington for Thanksgiving, I saw Nyles
Davis open at The Crocodile for Dave B. A great performance and a set list of very
playable tracks led me to his Soundcloud profile, which ultimately led me to
become a big fan of this town rapper. After releasing a very solid music video
to Summer Jam/Real Talk Pt. 3 yesterday, I’m excited to see and
hear what else gets developed over the next year. Here’s a little insight:
First off, what inspired the visuals for Summer
Jam/Real Talk Pt. 3? And how was working with Lea Godoy and Jon Sal (who are
definitely some of my favorite creatives)?
The inspiration for the video really was all spur of the moment and impromptu back and forth brainstorming between Jon, Lea & I. Working with them was most definitely a pleasure. I was nervous because I was worried that we were rushing the product (plus I like to be prepared when working with Lea and it was new to me, working with Jon that is).
Even though I cant exactly describe it, I think there’s a sound that’s unique to the Pacific Northwest and its not like everything else
being released right now. So if you had to put it into words, how would you
describe your own sound?
Myown sound, I would describe it simply as a new wave or else. I say else because if you look it up it means different and in addition, and that's what exactly what I'm going for. I don't want to be different, I just am, in my opinion. I just want to add my perspective in the game and be heard.
Out of all your projects or songs that have been
released so far do you have a personal favorite?
My favorite song that I have made to date is "friend or foe", which is on the ep "supply & demand". The way I produced it, the emotion that inspired the song, and how it all came together is what I like about it so much.
Photo by: http://luisfromla.tumblr.com
Does subject matter make or break a song? I
don’t know if you heard Goldlink’s last album but something that struck me in
it was when he mentioned that hip hop will die if everyone keeps lying in their
raps, and what I like about your music is that it does sound truthful and
personal, not like a façade.
Subject matter is very important to me. I am not too familiar with his last album but I agree that music has taken a turn for the worse because of things as such. I rap to encourage myself a lot of the times in hopes that someone relates and is inspired as well.
Teams are of course important as well (even for
stage accompanying purposes) who are some of your people to work with/turn up
My favorite people to work with is my squad, FTB. I believe a lot of intentions aren't genuine but with my day one's I know it's purely based from a good space and positive energy which is a necessity for me. Shout out to my bros Teez, Hayes, Erm, Taxman, and the whole squad. I can't forget about my PG bros either (especially when it comes to turning up hahaha).
Photo by: https://www.instagram.com/reeseisevil/
Since it’s nearing the end of the year, what do
you think about the past year in terms of hip-hop and what would you like to
see happen in 2016?
I think hip-hop is in a interesting place. Honestly there isn't as many artists as I would like that inspire me currently, but I like being surprised by someones talent that was unexpected. I would like to see just as much fun in music in a different way. To me that means, less turn up music and more memorable music. Not much is classic anymore.
Can we expect a full-length project in 2016?
Yes, I hopefully will have a project ready to go and released by spring of 2016, with fly merchandise as well.
When I hear music that I personally love I feel the urge to share it, and by share I mean share with everyone. I'm that person at a party who asks "Whose your favorite artist? Because you should listen to ______." One of my most mentioned names in this scenario is Dave B. Hailing from my previous home of Seattle, Washington, this isn't anything like your Nacho Picasso's of the town music scene. This is soulful, smooth, but still relatable to a younger audience in terms of content. From pursuing passions in Leaves, to finessing for photos in Polaroid, nothing goes un-mentioned, yet the sound isn't contrived. New wave in the most classic sense.
Ps. If you're in Seattle at the end of November be sure to check out Dave's show at The Crocodile, and feel free to say hi if you see me there as well!
A few months back I went to a packed Vic Mensa show on Sunset expecting to stand through the usual mediocre openers. But to my surprise I was pleasantly impressed at the performance of a California native with iconic stage presence. Fast forward to a Sunday afternoon in October, and I sat down with rapper Wes Period to discuss Los Angeles life and the mind frame of a young creative in today's crazy world. Here's the transcript of our fire escape talk, and a video to accompany.
Describe yourself in one Tweet. Hashtags welcome.
#latebloomer, #photosynthesis, #rapgamedonnieosbourne Seeing as that we’re doing this interview in
downtown and I first met you at your studio in South Central, how well do you
know Los Angeles/how long have you lived here? I grew up in north orange county (like 30 minutes away). So as soon as I got out of the house, I started coming here as much as I possibly could. It took a second but yeah now I know the city pretty well. Do you think LA is a city conducive to
creativity or more just about business and image? I just think it depends on what circle you're in. Its super super extreme in both directions because you're in the epicenter of entertainment, so because of that I think you're going to get the full spectrum of people. I think half the people (or maybe less) here are super genuine and trying to accomplish something dope from a good place, and I think everyone else is on some bullshit.
But moving past just talking about the city, why
music? I really don't know why, I've just always loved music. My parents are big music fans, but they don't make it, theres no one in my family that does really. It just something that I attached myself to early.
Have you always been into rap music (for example
listening to it at home) or was it something you more grew to love?
My parents are older so they kind of missed the rap generation (which is rare for a lot of people my age), they were still on like Frankie Beverly and all this soul stuff. But yeah, I have two older brothers and my middle brother Jerome was super into East coast rap. We were listening to like Bad Boy, Diddy, Mase, The Lot; so that's where a lot of my hip hop taste came from.
What’s your ideal song writing habitat?
Its one of two, either a lit ass studio with 50 people going crazy or I gotta be by myself really zoned in.
Is there a general concept behind your latest
project Photosynthesisor is it more just
an EP of songs ?
Its a little bit of both. From a sound perspective its really just a collection of songs that aren't going to make the full length project (Late Bloomer), but conceptually I think the through line in it is about growth. I've been in this game a long time, growing up really close to LA and in LA. So now I feel like this is sort of my second approach; I've had a lot of time to grow and develop a story over time.
Would you say there’s more room for artistic
expression and creativity for today's youth (with the availability of the
I think over all there is more room to do whatever you want to do. But I think the thing that the internet also does is give everyone access to compare themselves all the time. And really that does the opposite, it stunts creative growth.
In your opinion isputting out quality music or “star quality”
more important for an artist? I think that the star quality probably is important because in this day and age branding is so key for music out there. And its not that I'm the type of person that puts branding over the music, its just that everyone has a good song because of technology and computers (in production) so you have to have something to separate yourself. Even though the internet is such a good way to get your music out, overall you can't substitute physically reaching out and making someone feel something. I think that's still the most important piece.
Since this is also a blog about personal style
and fashion, how would you describe your personal sense of style and would you
say it has an effect on how you feel?
Its so crazy! Its really just how I feel when I wake up in the morning. I'm inspired by everything; the freshest person I've seen today was this bum chick. She had on this long extendo tee with these dope striped pants, and this sick ass corduroy jacket! I'm super about the eclectic look and kind of throwing things together. I like to mix match patterns a lot. Honestly a lot of my biggest inspiration is transients. Its straight up Kurt, Andre 3000, just people who aren't really 'fashion' but more so style.
Finally, what should your fans look out for
next? Any exciting news?
We got a couple things coming. I have this song called Photo Booth that I've been playing for probably like a year and I'm finally putting that out. And I'm actually doing a video with PHHHOTO so that should be really dope. Then more content for Photosynthesis, and I might sneak in another project before Late Bloomer. But honestly just gonna be tons of video, music, all kinds of stuff!
Write that down in your note pad, or i-Phone 6, or as Graffiti while coasting on your hoverboard.
When I'm telling you Brockhampton is the most creative sonical boy band to emerge this year I mean this 110%. This is no One Direction, this is no 1975. This is a mish mosh of music that will leave you confused, albeit very satisfied. Brockhampton is fully aware of the crazy territory that is the internet, and their ability to stay true to themselves while catering to a crowd that eats up Fetty Wap's and Young Thug's trap melodies for breakfast is impressive. With the addition of an accompanying visual for their latest track Dirt (directed by Tyler Mitchell) released through V-Files, Brockhampton proves their ability to entertain. Even as the lyrics of Dirt mention the likes of the A$AP Mob, its clear that theres something maybe even more genuine about this group. Gold chains and thousand dollar sneakers are traded for GirlPower sweatshirts and windbreakers. If this isn't what music in 2015 should be I don't know.
The end of August always feels kind of dreary due to the wind down of summer (even with the non stop sunshine here in California), and for some, the beginning of school. Luckily to get rid of our blues Cold Water Theater just dropped a single entitled Yes I'm Free on this Tuesday afternoon, asmooth trackreiterating once again that some things are much better than money.
Peep it here: https://soundcloud.com/coldwatertheater/yes-im-free