KILO KISH by Olivia Seally

My name is Kish Robinson, I’m 24 and was born in Orlando, Florida. I make music (under the name Kilo Kish), make art and do some design stuff. Five years ago I was at Pratt and took a year off because my financial aid didn’t go through... I was such an academic kid, I never imagined my life without school in it so I was devastated. I never really worked for myself or had to provide, my financial aid paid for my dorm, so I was like what am I going to do?! I got a touch of freedom and couldn’t go back to Florida, I was dating J. Scott at the time and I moved into the extra room in his house in Ridgewood. The rent was $443 a month... it was so far from everything! I never really worked for myself, had to provide, didn't even have a resume! I walked into this salon in SoHo called Georgia and I went in likecan I work here? And they asked me if I wanted to be an intern and I said no (laughs). And they’re likeOK! You can work here, for $7.50 an hour. So I worked there for like 40 hours a week and I made the $443 a month to live in New York... that’s what I did for the whole year! 

I never went back to Pratt, I did an internship with this brand called Salvore and it sold to Barney’s, it was scarves and just patterns... cool screen-printing stuff and I was kind of into tactile arts, I wanted to see where that went, I knew I didn’t want to be a fashion designer but I am into patterns and working with my hands.

I didn't have any formal education in music; when I was little I played the violin for three years but I don’t remember anything. And I was in chorus in elementary school, I knew how to read music when I was a kid, but I forgot everything because I just didn’t care or keep up with it. So my music started around that same time when I was living in the house with J and Smash. Smash had a little home studio set up and we would just make weird stuff and Mel would make beats for us (laughs). Mel was so into it, it was just fun... typing out bars to people on AIM, I just saw it as a funny thing to do for a couple years. Then when I was 21 I started getting comfortable playing my music for people and taking it more serious, I played it for Ty and all those guys at Supreme, then they would play it in there.

The moment that everyone found out that I was making music was when I had that Village Voice cover and if

you were in New York it was everywhere and just so easy to see, so everyone was like wait when were you even doing this?That was great because I didn’t have to explain it or make it a thing.

FF- How do all of your interests relate to each other?

KR- When I was a kid I had every magazine sent to my house. Magazine subscriptions were my favorite thing when I was like 14, 15, I had all the Vogues on my wall. When I was in high school I started a fashion club and I won best dressed in my senior polls and stuff (laughs). But I liked thrift shopping then and cutting up clothes and sewing stuff. I had a shirt brand that I started when I was a kid, I sold them to nerds in my class. And I had a bracelet brand when I was sixteen... they were the shittiest! Phil (Annand)when he was in high school made an actual, legitimate brand that made money...

FF- Yeah he said the stuff he made was shitty back then too (laughs)
KR- He made a legitimate brand that was really good... mine was not that! 

I’ve always wanted to have a store,

to have a space that exists where all the different parts of my creativity can live.

I think that’s my actual dream creative project, this cool space where I can sell and keep all of the fun, different things that I make and collect. I love making music but I also love crafts and weird stuff like that, stupid little figurines, children’s books, audio books, clothing, games, things that I just make up.

I liked music for the same reason, when I first started and because you could just be complete; if I have an idea I can make a complete thing that’s finished by the end of the day. Whereas with drawing and painting was something I always had to go back to, spend so much time and fixing. It takes a lot of precision, where as with music you can be freer.

Now, of course, it just became every other art outlet for me where I have to dissect it and painting and drawing is a little more freeing. The relationship among them is that

they switch back and forth between the one that’s the main focus and the one that’s the hobby. When all of your outlets are commodified, when do you make your personal art? And where does that fit?

If you’re doing a Capsule collection and your design aesthetic is being commodified, if you’re doing music and your sound is being commodified, if all of these things are consumed, then where does the art for you come in? They shift and you just find that balance... that’s how they’re related.

FF- Three people that are in a similar lane that you can recommend FF to chat to? KR- Brandee Brown, Laura Harrier and young Kitty Cash!
FF- Do you feel like you are a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

KR- Sophomore... I feel like you kind of have to kick around and go through certain things to get a handle on what you’re doing and now I’m definitely in a different head space about it. I was a freshman was up until maybe last year, because I didn’t really take it that seriously and I feel like I hadn’t done anything yet. But I wish I would have trusted myself a little bit more, in my own capabilities. I wish I was able to see what other people saw in me, earlier on. But now that

I see music as an outlet for my art, just like I can make painting my art, just like I can make a collection my art. That gave it a different level of seriousness for me.

So that’s where I am now, it’s also just getting older... you have a little more pride in the things you do and they’re more calculated and you’re less aloof with your work method. So I just want to make the best things that I can make and try to learn and get better at what I do. I just want to make stuff until I’m old. Hopefully, by the time I’m sixty I’ll just be able to chill, money-wise and be able to paint and draw and make books and eat fruit in the morning and just be old, you know? 

JESSE BOYKINS III by Olivia Seally

My name is Jesse Boykins III, I’m 29 years old and I was born in Chicago, Illinois and my childhood was spent in Jamaica, then Miami and New York. Now I’m here, in Los Angeles. I went to New School University for Jazz and I taught myself how to produce there as well. Five years ago I was in Bed Stuy, in a duplex brownstone, working on the album with Steve Wyreman and doing all the visual stuff with Dr Woo. When I was 21 I was working on an album called ‘My Notebook and I’.

All I did was make songs about this girl who broke up with me on Christmas.

I really was trying to write mean songs and I couldn’t; they all came out happy or apologetic. But that was my first release and people really responded. I was doing some shows in Brooklyn with it but I just didn’t want to perform those songs because I didn’t want to think about that heartbreak all the time. So I started a new album so people can forget about the first one (laughs). And that’s why I moved from Jersey back to Brooklyn. At the time, Machine Drum lived like four blocks from me, Theophilus lived like three blocks from me and Melo was always over at the house. It was a good crew and we would always make music together. So when I was in Jersey I really missed that community and had to get back to it.

I believe firmly in collaboration. I feel like that’s what the art of music is; being able to have a band and have different energies combining to make this one entity. I don’t have a problem producing my own stuff; I just never want my voice to be the only thing that’s expressed. I have a lot to say for sure but not only do I learn in the experience of collaborating with someone, but we definitely bring things out of each other. So although I have been collaborating with some people since 2007, I still love to bring in new talent. There are two songs off my new album, “Love Apparatus”, that are from producers who are just starting to have artists on the music they’re making. So it’s a beautiful thing, it’s empowering that I believed in them enough to make this song and to shoot the video for it, I like that feeling. If someone saw the potential in me and put me on even if I wasn’t necessarily ready yet, that’s an opportunity!

I did all right early on; I was an independent artist, shooting all my own things but would have videos on TV and was getting awards for things I didn’t even know I was nominated for.

The main thing I wish I knew earlier on in my career is the art of collaboration with brands,

like I did last year. It started by just taking a lot of pictures and conceptualizing ideas and then they’d meet me and I’d have more to talk about besides the music. Sometimes I would pitch ideas and sometimes get requests; brands ask me if I have anything on the table or any thoughts. For example, I’m doing a shoe collaboration with this Australian company who simply wanted to give me shoes because they were fans of my music. I’m like that’s cool and thank you! But I also have this book full of little shoe design sketches, can we try one of them?! So we actually started working on a shoe and he was really surprised because I had all the images, references, the year and the type of cloth etc. I really do the research, I’m always trying to show people mood boards (laughs) and people are pleasantly surprised that they can relate to you not only through the music but with something they’re just as passionate about too. 

FF- Do you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

JB- I would probably say a sophomore. Because I’ve accomplished a lot in my career and definitely on an independent level it’s been interesting the opportunities that come about and the respect I have from people in the industry and from fans. But I’ve never had access to my full potential. To sit in a studio and actually make a record and be able to say I want so and so on this song, or I want this live choir... you know, I haven’t yet been able to experiment whole heartedly with what I envision in my mind, as far as the music that I can really produce.

I definitely have a long way to go as far as people being able to hear what i hear in my head; my full potential.

I don’t want someone to just give me files and that’s it, I want the process to be organic from beginning to end and to have no limitations as far as what we can bring in. That’s pretty much all I need for the next project.

FF- In order to have that kind of access you kind of have to loose control. So what’ s been the battle for you

between being independent and everything that comes with being signed?

JB- Well I’m more of an artist that you would consider a risk when you think of business, because my business model isn’t scaled off anything that’s out. Just like‘Love Apparatus’sounds nothing like ‘the Beauty Created’. Some people that love ‘Beauty Created’ feel I should’ve just made another ‘Beauty Created’. But that’s not the kind of artist that I am. I’d like to definitely evolve. So when you get into labels and they’re like ok this sound is what’s hot right now, these are the people putting it out, so let’s get you on tracks and you’re gonna sell! But that’s not a guarantee and I’m the one that has to live with it, it’s my name that’s attached to it. So I always find myself having to dumb what I do down a little bit. But I’ve learned how to do it in a way that I want, so that’s fine. I think of myself as an intellectual, I like to express how I feel exactly how I feel it but I love having to find that balance too. And that’s the strangest thing about music; that relationship between what people expect of you and then what you give them. The fans expecting another ‘Beauty Created’ may have been partial to ‘Love Apparatus’ because it’s different and they haven’t been evolving with me. 

So I put myself in this position where I have to be a lot more patient. I had to push ‘Love Apparatus’ for two years before it got to where it is. But I don’t really have an issue with it because at the end of the day, it’s me! I’m pushing what I like.

FF- So I want to hear about the female project you’re doing and how random projects like this are related to your music. How and why did you decide to, instead of putting in the music, give women a direct voice with that project?

JB- I always go back to my childhood and think about how certain situations were handled. I felt like most men didn’t necessarily take the time out to understand women. So I thought that was how you’re supposed to be as a man. And then growing older and having to deal with my ego within relationships, I realized that’s not how you should be as a man (laughs). Often when a man and woman have a conversation it feels like a show because of the concept of attraction. So with the women’s project I interviewed women ages 17-65 and asked questions that I felt they were probably never asked before. The questions were: ‘What do you love about being a woman?’ ‘Long term lust or short term love?’ ‘Tell me the first time you experienced love and the feelings that come with it?’ ‘Beauty or danger?’ ‘Climax or balance?’ ‘Chaos or structure?’ ‘All the things you hate about a man?’ ‘All the things you love about a man?’ ‘What’s on your list of a paper perfect man?’ ‘When I sayLove Apparatuswhat’s the first thing that comes to your mind?’ And ‘do you like smiling?’ 

FF- Choose one of your questions that you ask on the woman project to answer yourself.

JB- Short term love or long term lust?Long term lust all the way!

Short-term love isn’t real, it’s your perception of what you desired from someone else but it’s not necessarily a development of something, it’s a fantasy,

like... you’re my boyfriend now so I love you! This is how I love you, I do this, this and this for you. Instead of being like cool we’re friends, we like hanging out, oh you did something thoughtful for me! Cool! Oh I’m thinking about you... that’ s cool too!I love that natural evolution of what love is. Definitely long term lust, because that is love; it’s one of the stages of it. It doesn’t have to be a sexual thing; you can lust after someone’s walk or how someone holds you and get that same fiery feeling from those simple things.

I started doing the interviews half way through making ‘Love Apparatus’and then came back to it and finished four more songs, so you can actually hear some of things I’ve learned in the process.

That album is now actually the process of what a

relationship is, even down to the track listing...

The first song (Greyscale) is about acknowledgement and saying that you’re open to things, the second song (B4 the Night is Thru) is about bravery, seeing someone that you’re interested in talking to and the third song (Created Beauty) is about fantasy, the fourth song (I Wish) is about actually becoming that person’s friend. The fifth song (Tell Me) is like ok now we’re friends but we’re lovers as well so it’s harder to communicate, and then the song after that is Show Me Who You Are; which is like let’s see how far we can take this passion. The song after that is Living Me, like ok now we’ve evolved in all these ways let’s find a way to coexist etc. I even used some of the audio from the documentary in the album because I really have learned from it. I can sit up here and say I read a thousand books, but no I have a lot of conversations and I catch references and am inspired and I enjoy the concept of sharing; I feel that’s more of a feminine thing, because it comes with nurturing; development and growth.

FF- What do you think are the qualities of a life well lived?

JB- An honest life is a well-lived life. And I don’t feel like a lot of people are honest with each other, or even with themselves. Challenge; it’s good to challenge yourself, especially in a time where everything is so convenient. And creative freedom! Because it’s therapy, happiness, bravery, courage and it could be in anything... creative freedom is like going for a walk and taking pictures of leaves if you want, if it makes you

feel good that’s what it is. I want to earn those privileges. 

you can check out Jesse's music here, and follow him on instagram. as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally

TYRONE EDWARDS by Olivia Seally

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My name is Tyrone Edwards AKA TRexXx, I'm a blogger, TV personality and Dad. Five years ago I was unemployed, I had no children, I had never been on TV and I was a blogger.

Promoting parties came first... And then in 2007 I created 1LoveTO for the mayor at the time, mayor Miller. He was participating in the 40th anniversary of Caribana and I found out about it the night before and so I wanted to come up with an idea that would speak to the mayor's role in the city and a message that he would be able to stand behind and also a concept that I thought was cool enough to lend my face to. And so the idea is celebrating the diversity of the city, the people that make it up, the idea that we're the world in one city, the idea of really encouraging an exchange versus just tolerating people.

The city needs pride in itself. Civic pride, identity, self worth.

We always used to say that we need exposure, but we have exposure. We don't even really need it as much as we need to understand the contents of this city; like how cool and talented the people are, how much of a benefit it is to grow up in a city like this that is so culturally diverse. I feel like Toronto really needs to expose themselves to each other. And then connect and build.

FF- Who are five people in Toronto to look out for?

TE- Bryan Espiritu from the Legends League is already very accomplished but I just know that there’s so much more that he’s going to do. There’s this young girl named Killa, she’s a DJ but I just know this... she’ll do well in that, some people just have that it factor. She'll be great. Also, I love Shannon Boodram, we have great conversations, she's the shit. Oh! the modelWinnie Harlowof course! And then one more...PReign, because he’s a great rapper but overall, he’s a leader. And even though he’s a gangster he’s one of the reason why a lot of people are united and not fighting within Toronto. He’s an influencer, he’s super smart, he’s cocky as shit; he just has all the right ingredients to do amazing things. 

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FF- Would you say 1LoveTO was the vision that kind of broke you out of the freshmen field?

TE- Yeah, it was one of the first things that I was noticed and recognized and praised for something that came from my mind.. and from my heart. At the time when I did that pitch to Mayor Miller he told me right away you need to trademark this. And I didn't know anything about intellectual property lawyers but, you know, I sourced the information and figured it out and got it done. To be honest, that platform that I created is, I think, the reason why I even got hired on TV. Because there was people at Much following my blog and then when there was an opportunity that they thought I was suitable for they thought of that guy from 1LoveTO.

I didn't go to college with the intent or the idea that I was gonna do any of this but what I did take in college helped out. I mean, first I started out as a kinesiologist, but then when I became a student athlete I actually appreciated learning and the opportunity of going to school for free, on a scholarship for basketball. I really challenged myself and asked myself what it was that I liked... I became an English major, I took some business courses, then a lot of speech courses so I ended up declaring as a speech major, because the courses were more interesting. 

The school that I was going to at the time was a private school in Michigan and they had alum that were working for NBC, and there's people that worked on Capitol Hill and DC so I thought some sort of public speaking role might be a good route for me. So yeah, they all kinda just came together in the end.

But what I learned from that was I just needed to do what I felt like doing, like what I was actually passionate about, what I couldn't really go two weeks without doing, without feeling that itch. And

once I started to follow that energy is when, I believe, everything started coming together.

Because it ultimately is who I am and what I've always been interested in. So I planted those seeds and now I'm just trying my best to nurture them.

FF- Do you feel like a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

TE- I think I'm a sophomore. I started off in music television with Much Music, where I felt like I was in my junior year, like I was about to graduate. And then I changed my program and went into movies with E!, so a lot like my education, I made the switch before I could graduate. So last year was my first year going to the Golden Globes and the MTV movie awards and really participating in that whole award show season and so I was a freshman, again. And now I'm kind of a sophomore, because there's still a couple things I need to do here... A part of the reason I haven't left Toronto yet is because I understand and feel the pulse of this city. And

there is no Puff Daddy of Toronto,

there is no... well, we'll just leave it at that. There's a lot to be done here.

FF- Do you consider yourself an artist?

TE- In a sense, there’s an art to what I do. And some of my closest friends want me to be a little more strategic and figure out exactly those intricate details of the art of what I do. But I just do. I just make it. I gotta do what feels right. It’s just constantly being humble and being open and wanting more. Wanting more and doing more, you know? My boys and I created this basketball camp years ago called Concrete Hoops and we started off small here in Toronto and then we went to Africa and Brazil but the idea was that we would always be teaching the older guys how to coach as well as play. So they plan and direct and facilitate and create a real infrastructure. Something that can live long after... So that’s what I wanna do with all the other seeds I’ve planted. It’s like.. I have this tattoo on my ribs and LIFE is the prominent thing that you see in big letters. And then around it, it says create... love... live... so I can keep on adding different words. I hate unfinished tattoos but that’s the one tattoo that will always be unfinished because I will constantly be adding to it. And that’s a metaphor for my life, that's what I want to end...

FF- So when it’s all done where do you see yourself?You’re 85, where and what are you doing?


TE- I wanna be in love with one woman, I wanna be in love with my children, I wanna be in love with my legacy, I wanna be able to see my work, I want to create opportunities for other people to do their work. 

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you can check out Tyrone's blog here and follow him on twitter and instagram.

as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Karim Ash

PAOLO ROLDAN by Olivia Seally

With razor-sharp cheekbones and a smolder that could melt just about anything, it’s easy to see why supermodel Paolo Roldan is a favourite in the fashion world.

The Philippines-born, Toronto-bred model, fashion buyer, and budding stylist has appeared in the pages of GQ, Numéro China and i-D while walking the runways for the likes of Michael Bastian, 3.1 Phillip Lim (he counts designer Phillip Lim as a friend) and Givenchy, where he is often a regular. In fact, Roldan made his runway debut for the French fashion house in 2009 after a last minute casting call with creative director Riccardo Tisci. Roldan is now widely regarded as Tisci’s muse.

Betting that his good taste in fashion and company transcends into music, The Rhapsody e-mailed the supermodel to ask him a couple of questions about his musical journey. Roldan did not disappoint.

TR: Hey Paolo, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

PR: I was born in Quezon City, Pilippines. My family moved to Canada when I was 11 years old. I’m currently residing in Toronto, Canada and anywhere else my job takes me. I work as a full-time model and trying my hand at styling. 

TR: How did you first encounter music?

PR: My parents have always been into music. My dad was in a band in his younger days and my mother was a self-proclaimed professional dancer. Both had a ton of Beatles always on rotation. They took us to watch musicals and a lot of parties. Music is an essential part of Filipino culture. I’d say 2 out of 3 people can belt out a tune at any given moment and almost everyone can cut a mean rug.

TR: Who gave you your first album?
PR: My parents got me my first album on cassette tape. It was Bad by The legendary Michael Jackson.

TR: How does music tie in to your career, friendships, etc, and vice versa?

PR: Music gives me inspiration in every aspect of my life. It drives me to work harder, keep me chill, dance and let loose with my friends, reminisce about the past and look forward to the future. It also helps unite people... music is usually a starting point in starting a friendship/relationship with someone. It helps people to gauge another person’s spirit and personality. It’s like food...for the soul.

for the full article head to the Rhapsody.

Words: Portia Baladad / Photos: Olivia Seally

DJ KILLA KELS by Olivia Seally

Kelsey Williams, a.k.a Killa Kels, might be the new kid on the block but don’t let that fool you. The Toronto- based DJ’s determination has driven her to learn everything she possibly can about music and the industry. She’s been working with Toronto mainstays DJ Agile and DJ Grouch to hone her craft and will soon be sharpening her business skills at the Recording Arts Academy’s Business Academy.

It looks like her efforts have been paying off; a little over a year since she began spinning professionally, Williams has been working steadily and making her way to becoming one of Toronto’s top DJs.

The Rhapsody checked in with the up-and-comer and got the scoop on her musical journey.

 

TR: Hey Kels, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

KK: My name is Kelsey, I am a female DJ from west-end Toronto. My DJ name is Killa Kels. I’ve been DJing professionally for a little over a year now. Aside from DJing, I work two jobs in retail, and keep busy with my 5 year old son. I love being around my friends, good music, and good food! 

TR: How did you first encounter music?

KK: I don’t exactly remember when my first encounter with music was, however I do have a baby book that my parents have filled out and kept over the years, and it says I really enjoyed music that was current to that time. It says I loved dancing to Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and New Kids On The Block.

TR: Who gave you your first album?

KK: Far before I received my own album, I remember sneaking into my older brother’s room and stealing his CDs and having to remember to put it back in the exact same order I had found them. I would listen to the likes of Foxxy Brown, TLC, SWV, Method Man, Wu-Tang Clan, and more. As their music played, I would flip through the little booklet that came with CDs back then. I’d read about what inspired their albums and followed along singing the lyrics to each song. My first album of my own, however, was Mariah Carey’s #1s in cassette format when I was about 8. I don’t even remember who bought it for me, but that person definitely impacted my life greatly with that little cassette tape. I would listen to both sides on repeat every morning as I got ready for school, and every afternoon once I got home. To this day, every Mariah Carey ad lib and high-pitched run is ingrained in my memory to perfection.

for the full article head to the Rhapsody.

Words: Portia Baladad / Photos: Olivia Seally

KARLA 'HUSTLEGRL' MOY by Olivia Seally

My name is Karla, I am 23 years old and my birthplace is the Congo. I've lived in Toronto for about seventeen years.

FF - What were you doing five years ago?

KM - I was fresh out of high school and I took a year off to tour with Drake. It just started with me being a fan and him not having enough online presence so I took it upon myself to start a fan site. So he asked me to come on tour and I already wanted to take a year off because I didn't want to go straight into University, so I took a year off and just hustled hard that year. It was fun! Going from city to city, it's the same show every night but a different crowd and I was eighteen years old and ready to explore the world and it was a really great experience.

FF - What do you do now?

KM - Now I still design, I still do photography on the side, I work on the Remix Project - I am the Creative Arts Programmer here at Remix, and I also DJ. 

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FF - Tell us about the Remix Project...

KM - the Remix Project is an amazing arts program funded by the government, there’s three streams: the art of business, creative arts and recording arts, so obviously music, visual art and business. So it’s a 9 month program for at risk youth age 16-23. We only accept 15 students in each stream every year, it starts in February and ends in November. We help them accomplish their goals, get internships and jobs and stuff like that. When you’re here you’re surrounded by likeminded people, it’s not often that you’ll get to meet another creative person that has similar values and morals, so it’s really cool to be in a creative space like that.

 

FF - How did DJing start for you?

KM - I've always loved music and always tried to think of different platforms to share the music that I love, so I was like hey why not start DJing?! I was surrounded by performing artists and DJs and so I reached out to a friend of mine, DJ Romeo, and working at the Remix Project, we have access to DJ equipment (laughs) so I'd stay after work and learn how to use turntables and the mixer and DJ Romeo put me on to the DJ game. I'm still learning, I need to polish my scratching skills but to get a hang of it it took a month and a half just to know how everything works, but for me to be able to perform and be comfortable with that it took me like three or four months. 

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FF - What's your goal?

KM - My end goal is to have a creative agency, I would love to be able to have my own creative space and staff to provide marketing and branding services. I want that team to design what we need to do for a client, or come up with a marketing campaign, so I want to have my own Hustlegrl universal empire... Right now Hustlegrl lives on the web and Hustlegrl lives on the streets too, but Hustlegrl needs a home! So I would love to have my own creative space.

FF - If your life was a movie, what would be on its soundtrack?

Destiny's Child - Independent Woman Rick Ross - Hustlin'
Eve - Who's that Girl! 

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you can follow Hustlegrl here.
As told to: Olivia Seally / Photos + Video:
Olivia Seally

JENNIFER CEE by Olivia Seally

JC - My name is Jennifer, I’m 25 years old and I was born in Vancouver but live in Toronto now. I went to an art and design school in Vancouver called Emily Carr, for Communication Design. I graduated about three years ago and like a lot of people leaving school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so at the time I was open to doing a lot of different things.

Graphic design was never going to be the end career for me because I was also into in photography, art direction, and just anything related to creating visuals. Right now I'm working with a company called Free Agency - a creative content studio. I produce video content, shoot photos, and do some art direction for them. 

We’re now working on The Creator Class which documents, shares, and follows people in creative fields. It’s been very inspiring to hear about and meet people in certain fields and see what they do – that's something I don’t think I would’ve done on my own, especially moving to a new city.

FF - Would you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

JC - Oh definitely a freshman! And I don’t think that’s going to change in the next eighty years - if I live that long (laughs). I feel like I’m constantly learning, but very content to be. If I ever took a photo or video and considered it 'perfect' or 'my favourite' then that's when I would consider myself a senior in my field, but I honestly don’t ever see that happening. For me,

the process of making things goes hand-in- hand with trying to figure out why I need to make anything at all.

So in a sense, I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time, just continuing this long process of personal documentation and documentation of shifts in perspective. 

I'm hoping in fifty years, if I look back at my body of work it'll finally become clear to me what sort of impression I have of my current state of mind; while I’m here in the moment it’s kind of hard to pinpoint that feeling. 

FF - You have 197,000 followers on Instagram right now! How?

JC - I think it was just consistently putting stuff out, but for my own enjoyment/judgement only. I didn’t start using Instagram until I moved to Toronto and before that I wasn’t doing much photography, or much of anything to be honest (laughs). The idea of having to hold myself accountable for one task every single day was kind of alluring, because that was something I never committed to before. To be honest, it's kind of funny, awkward, and embarrassing because I’m very private (aka the least marketable girl you’d know).

FF - Three people to recommend looking into? Othello Grey
Ian Lanterman
Rosanna Peng

FF - What are the qualities of a life well lived for you?
JC - Never settling. That is really important to me. Enjoyment in what you do and, I don’t know, a lot of pizza? (laughs) 

you can follow Jen here.

As told to: Olivia Seally / Photos: Olivia Seally

JUNGLEPUSSY by Olivia Seally

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My name is Shayna AKA Junglepussy. I'm 22 years old. Five years ago I was just one year out of high school so I was 17. I graduated high school at 16 and I went to FIT right after high school for two years and I hated it. It was so fake and I could not commit. So I had to quit. My junior high school was a public school for the gifted and talented, Philippa Schuyler, and I played an instrument, I played the clarinet. I have yet to apply that to my music so that's about as far as my education within the field goes. I don't have any formal training... no piano lessons, no vocal coaches, none of that. I don’t know if I taught myself. It just came very naturally. So I’m lucky. One person I'd attribute a large amount of my success to is myself! I’m so proud of myself for really committing to something for over a year, usually every six months I gotta really switch up my whole shit. So I’m proud of myself for really sticking out with this JP stuff, producing music and visuals and really just handling everything, for the most part, on my own, independently. It’s a lot staying positive and doing this, like the stuff that I promote, actually living it. It’s a full time job, and it’s not a job, because I enjoy it, but the option to do bad things is there and it's just as easy. But to really make the choice to be good and be consistent with it and just want to be better every day it’s really like... some days I really don’t wanna do it. But I work for myself because I don't want to be signed... that's not even the goal for me. I wanna be able to just survive, I wanna be able to help out people that I love when I can and support myself and my loved ones and be able to support my craft and my art, that’s really what I need. And I feel like, I’m not gonna say that I can do everything on my own, I definitely know that I need people that are gonna be there to help and stuff like that. But as far as getting signed... I don’t know. I’m signed to God and He got it on lock. He really plans everything out for me, as long as I’m staying true to myself every day and just being aware of my surroundings and the things that I’m going through He really sets it up so beautifully and I’m just so grateful for that. My mother always gave speeches in church when I was younger so I always saw that and she just taught me and my sister to be very outspoken women. And for some reason when the music came along it just worked out! That’s why I have to keep on being good because if I fuck up I’m gonna give the wrong message and I’m gonna produce shit. So as long as I keep my mind where it needs to be, it’s gonna be great! 

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FF- So what is the message that you want to be spreading to the world?
JP- The message is.. it’s our culture and everybody, forever has tried to take it from us and put their name on it. And that’s one thing I do not want to do,

I don’t want people to ever think that this is not for them... my people of color.

It’s all for them, everything I do, it’s forever gonna be for them, the decisions I make is gonna have them in mind and myself in mind because it’s benefiting myself and then you know by me eating healthy and living better... people really do it, people tweet me like Oh my Gosh! I’m in McDonalds, don’t hate me! And I’m like I don’t hate you! And I won’t tell you don’t do it. These people are really listening... so once I realized that, I definitely had to make sure that I maintain it and keep on showing the world that a young, black girl from Brooklyn can be natural and not have a fake body and I just feel like I’m really being myself! Because that’s all I have and that’s all I wanna share with people, because they need to see that’s all they need themselves, is themselves.

I’m so bad at scheming and plotting. And a lot of people are great at that, like a lot of people know how to just come and just pow boom! They get their shit and they just be moving up mad quick. And I was like woah, should I be doing that! Is that what I need to be doing? What? It’s really not me and I never wanna go outside myself to get something like that. But I definitely have to keep myself in check... there’s a few things that I’m working on. I don’t wanna take anything personally, a lot of the times people take things very personally, even small things. Not everybody is thinking about you all the time! And sometimes I think that everybody is thinking about me (laughs). And that’s one thing I really need to work on because

once I take myself out of the center of everything, I see it. I wake up and have to kill my ego every day. 

I came up with this new fall schedule... summer was a little weird, I put out the project in June and things got poppin'... I was traveling a lot. It was my time to have fun! But I’m used to the school format because I was in school up until this past spring so, you know, after labor day it’s time to buckle down, settle down... school work! So I came up with this new schedule it’s a four hour block - one hour of reading, one hour of writing, one hour of exercise and one hour of meditation. And it’s so good! It’s only four hours... four hours goes by so fast! It goes by and you get things done and when you go back into the world you know you’ve had that moment to really do the necessary things that your body and mind needs.

I just need that discipline because I battle my darkness a lot. And... I’m a scorpio! My birthday is halloween! So

this is a big thing for me, just making right decisions. I could be really dark about life and I really have to push myself to be better because I feel this is my higher calling, to serve this purpose, and just spread this message on earth and I can only do it if I’m trained. And I don’t have a mentor, I don’t have nothing so I had to be really hard on myself. Not too hard! I don’t wanna beat up on myself but I do wanna get shit done.

FF- What is your dream creative project?

JP- All live instrumentals in the studio! And just a big orchestra and then it’s gonna be Erykah, Jill Scott, me, Oprah... doing ad libs! I’m working on the rest of the vision.
FF-
What’ s stopping you from that!?
JP- I feel like I have my own clock in my body and it’s not time yet.. and it’s coming but I know I’m not gonna force it. That’s one thing I don’t do. I’ll know when it’s ready. But it’s cooking up though,

I’m pregnant with success

and its like over nine months, of course it’s longer than that... But it’s a super baby!

FF- Would you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?
JP- I’m a junior because I’m almost there and I would’ve been a junior in college if I was in it right now. For such a small amount of time that I’ve been creating music and putting it out there the response that’s come with it has been so shocking to me and so great and amazing. I’m so grateful for it and people really love it and I’m like ok this is really like a first run just doing it and seeing what's up. So I’m about to graduate! I’m pregnant with success still, so once the baby comes thats when the graduation happens you know! And it’s gonna be so great but I’m not in a rush to get there I’m really learning how to enjoy the journey because I know that these times are not gonna be here forever so it’s cool to just have nothing to do or you know just stare at the sky, and just taking those times in because then when everything get’s so fast I never wanna get lost, I never wanna get overwhelmed and forget what I’m doing.

FF- If your life was a movie what songs would be on its soundtrack?
JP- Woah. It hasn’t even been written yet. But I would have to say mad Brandy songs, like probably her whole discography. And a lot of Drew Hill. And... who else? who else would be there singing for me? Fefe Dobson! I love her. That’s my cousin, in my head. Kiss Me Fool or Bye Bye Boyfriend but then I love Rainbow because it’s mad soft.

FF- People I should chat to?
JP- You should talk to... Salomon Faye he makes good music, I went to his show last week it was really good. It’s like hip hoppy but he sings a little, his voice is really powerful and his visual is very artsy and he performs with live bands and I love that shit. His thought process seems very good too and I don’t really know it but thats why I want you to talk to him cos I want to know it. Alright I’ll tell you people whose minds I wanna know... Gito, Salomon, DylanQIANA... those eyes! What do they tell?! 

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you can hear Junglepussy's music on her soundcloud, watch her on her youtube and follow her on her instagram and her twitter.

as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally

LING THRAXXX by Olivia Seally

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I’m Ling, I was born in Washington DC and I’m 21 years old. I creative direct, style, model, do graphic design, videos – just anything creative that I can get my hands on. But what I really love doing is helping people, I like to bring the artist out in everyone else. I learned from being around creatives. I have no formal education, but that’s how I wanted to go about it. I have moments where I feel I should go back to school, but any questions I have I self teach; ask people, go on Youtube... I attend Youtube University (laughs). Something I learned going into portfolio reviews when I was in High School, trying to go to college, is it wasn’t ever about the final piece, but how you got to that piece and why you made it. I go through that actual process... that’s how I learned most things I know today – by assisting, interning and being hands on. If you got “it”,

if you got that drive, you’ll go out there and get what you want.

People call where I come from (DC) ‘a bucket full of crabs’... everybody’s just pulling each other down to try and get up and get out the bucket. Because it was so street out there, I was really prepared for my move to NY and people being cut throat within the industry. When I moved here I was making art, people started fucking with my style so I was getting into modeling and styling. But I didn’t quite know how to be a professional... New York is teaching me that, for sure. I didn’t know how to pitch something, or hit someone up for a casting, make a tech pack, etc. A lot of my friends in New York really showed me how to be a better artist, how to be a better creative.

So the goal for me is this artist collective I’ve started called THRAXXX;

“TH”: the, “R”: real, “A”: artist and the XXX is just the style – raw, edgy, raunchy, blunt.

So it’s an agency of likeminded artists, who have the same believes; who are humble and just want to be artists and come together. A real artist, to me, is someone making art off the love of creation. Obviously they’d like money... everyone’s gotta eat. So I just want that platform for these real artists to promote other likeminded artists, for example you could be a model and another member of THRAXXX could be a rapper and he’s promoting you and you’re promoting him. So it’s just all these artists... whatever field you’re in. 

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I’ve known plenty of people who start companies with friends and stuff happens down the line and you eventually will be doing something that you want to call your own. But THRAXXX is some thing for every body... that honestly is one of my life goals. I looked it up, what I have on my hands is a start up culture. And it’s someone like me who wants to start a company to give jobs to all my friends and peers. And I want to give everybody a chance... people who can do accounting, or technical stuff, not just artists. That’s another aspect about THRAXXX, we are generally all from that type of area where we know so many good people, who are from the hood, but they’re smart, they’re talented... where’s their chance?! Then society looks at them like they’re doing all these horrible things... they didn’t choose that shit, that shit was given to them and they have to deal with it. That shouldn’t mean they don’t get a chance, just like everybody else.

I’m really just trying to create a platform that will go on hundreds of years after me. Like, all the old rap heads had it, because they were the first of their generation. It wasn’t a big deal back then, Wu Tang for example... no one at the time really looked at it, in the grand scheme of things, but they were the best group ever, to me. They were just so diverse and it was just something about them. 

When rappers come out now, it’s as a group... not just one. Or when artists come out they have a collective. That’s actually a beautiful thing, because it’s people fucking with each other. There are definitely still people throwing shade, but that’s what we are trying to abolish... that’s the new generation’s fight; this fucked up industry. That’s the sad thing about it though... is you need money to really be heard or seen, when it’s just a middle-man.

Let’s say, you are a groundbreaking, pioneer of an artist, the next big thing... they’re not going to try and put you on, they’re going to try to take from you and make it their own.

They’re going to leave you out here to be a real, starving artist.

It seems like there’s a lot more people who are trying to be businessmen and there are fewer people trying to be artists, within the art community. For me, I would love to find a businessman who I can trust but that’s hard as shit. I don’t want to be thinking about these things, but the way the world is the artists have to, so that they don’t get fucked over by the businessmen. That’s how it is... businessmen and artists.

But that’s kind of interesting because in the beginning (of anything really) it is those people who are hungry, starving artists, who are really passionate about it and it’s just them. And then obviously as other people, who are totally irrelevant, catch hold of how much money is to be made, then it’s kind of all over. So that’s happening now but

we’re in a new culture! There’s new art movements coming out, new rap movements, new fashion... Everyone is a freshman in this shit and now is the time for a new generation!

But people are still trying to hold on to the old. And the white man, or whatever, is in here making money off of people like us. But it’s going to start fresh with all of us. All these new rappers, artists, creatives, it’s going to start again. And we’re going to be the ones controlling it.

FF- Can you list a few people that are either a part of this movement or an inspiration to it?

LT- Robot Moonjuice – my friend from Harlem, he’s an amazing person... he just does it all. He actually hooked me up with my first ever casting, which got me into WAD Magazine and that was great for me. I kinda co-styled it with Kevin Amato, he shot it. I’m in Kevin Amato’s new book; he’s another person who just put me on. A third person would be Tyler White; he’s been really influential, taught me a lot of things. Jorge (Gito) Wright has taught me a lot of things too... Jorge is probably the most influential person who has put me on.

FF- If you could only wear clothes from one designer, for the rest of your life, who would it be?

LT- I don’t need designer shit, that’s luxury! Fashion is a luxury. So I say Dickies! They make good clothes, the shit lasts, they make work wear and then on top of that, they have a designer line, so it’s like designer work wear. And it’s going to be around forever, nobody can do what Dickies is doing, at their level. 

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as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally

COREY WASHINGTON by Olivia Seally

My name is Corey Washington, I'm 21 years old and I'm from Baltimore, Maryland.

FF - Five years ago what were you doing?

CW- I definitely saw myself modeling... my high school was kind of like college, we had majors and mine was culinary. So I was cooking, cleaning, learning how to do catering events, actually going to other schools and serving what we cooked for thanksgiving. But that's low key something I want to do, I want to be involved in that and have something with my recipes, maybe even a food truck, something I can just come back to. That came from high school, but when I was in high school I didn't really want to cook actually, I just loved to eat (laughs). I really just wanted to model, like even my chef knew what I wanted to do. So as soon as I turned 18 I started going to New York. 

FF - Was there one specific opportunity you feel broke you out or was it just coming to New York?

CW - It was just coming to New York honestly because opportunities happened one after the other. I wouldn't say that there was one specific thing that put me on the map. But there have been a lot of great opportunities that I wouldn't have got had I not moved up here, definitely.

FF - What's your favorite project or shoot you've worked on so far?

CW - That would be my art exhibit two years ago, it was my first time showing my artwork ever. People didn't even know that I paint because I've never shown any work on Instagram or Twitter or anything. I just released the flyer and it was a really great turn out! I was so nervous, I didn't really know what I was doing (laughs). It was cool.

FF - And what do you do now?

CW - So now modelling isn't something I really want to do full time but it's something that has been happening more frequently. But I really love to paint, and create and make art, draw, sketch every day. I like to paint on furniture too!

FF - And tell me about your site

CW - My site,Innovative Aesthetics... so me and my business partner Michelle, she's an interior designer, she's actually studying architecture as well. And she came to me with the idea, she had the layout and everything. She just wanted me to be a part of the art and design and contribute that. So I contribute posts every week, we both update the site together. But we want to evolve into a brand, like we had a release party for it. It was a cool mixer, people came through. It was a really good experience for the brand. I love interior design, I love architecture, all of that is a part of art. I think the reason I paint on so much furniture is because I like the structure of it. Something that sticks out and is actually functional.

FF - Did you grow up in a creative household?

CW - Both of my parents are painters. My mom is more of a perfectionist and always teaches me how to erase and go back and fix stuff. And my Dad is more of an abstract painter, so both of them I got that from when I was young. 

And photography... my brother used to shoot videos and do photography, so I learned that from him. And then cooking came from high school, I spent four years doing that. So all of these things I have years of knowledge in but I'm still learning it. So I don't really like to think of myself as someone who's a pro at it, but I know my shit.

FF - So would you consider yourself more of a sophomore / junior?

CW - Yeah I'm like sophomore / junior, you know. Still learning, even though I'm not in college doesn't mean I'm not reading books every day or I'm not like watching documentaries or reading articles online. I look that stuff all the time.

FF - What is the goal?

CW - The goal is just to learn more so I can be able to expand. I just want to evolve, that's really the goal. There's pin points and things I want to do but I don't like to put like deadlines because I can say I want to do something and plan it out key by key but it's not going to go that way. I'm not in a rush, I just want everything to happen naturally. And I'm already making a lot of work now that people don't know about so we'll see...

FF - Do you have a specific dream creative project?

CW - Yeah, to build and design my own house. I want it really rustic, really like this actually (looks around room), like minimal but big plants. My mom always had big plants in the house and she always has a garden around the entire house, she still does. Tomatoes on the side, I want to grow my own vegetables...

FF - What's stopping you from that?

CW - Um, to get there... I just need my money to work for me. FF - Who are your personal inspirations?

CW - One person that definitely inspires me isMichelle Pattersonbecause she just moved to Los Angeles, got a job in the field that she's studying, in a different state. And then she gets to come back and get treated like a queen in her hometown. And that's a really great feeling, to come back to where you started and where you were raised but be at this level and be like wow, I've worked so hard and it's paid off whereas I can relax for a month and not have to stay with a friend or family. That's not a bad thing, of course you'll see family. But you know, it feels good to be upgraded at home. You don't really expect that to happen so soon. Another person that inspires me... definitelyMelo-X, not even just because that's my boo (laughs) even when we were just friends, like when I first met him, he's always been doing something positive, just always working and always busy. And that's a great thing because what else are you supposed to be doing if you want something bad enough? I see the rewards that come from hard work, from him.

FF - What are the qualities of a life well lived for you?

CW - If you've traveled, found happiness and if you've found love and if you've found a home. Those are the four things... travel, happy, love, home. I pretty much have all four right now... yeah, I have a home, I have love, I have happiness and I've traveled. I can travel a lot more, there's always room for improvement. I think it's important to find those things as soon as you can. 

you can follow Corey here.
as told to: Olivia Seally // photos:
Olivia Seally

ASHLEY OUTRAGEOUS by Olivia Seally

My name is Ashley Outrageous, I’m 24 years old and I was born in South Florida. Five years ago I was fresh out of high school and that’s when I decided to go to the Art Institute of Graphic Design and I was just starting this thing called blogging. Which, at the time, I definitely didn’t know much about it, I was just learning about it from a friend who had one. So I was just doing personal stuff, covering what me and my friends were doing, or covering what music I liked and then going to school. Before I started mine I would look at blogs

likeNahRight and the blogDCtoBC and how Modi would put a lot of personal touch into his content and it was really something I always enjoyed reading. It wasn’t fast facts, it was still personalized. So that was the first blog that made me want to write more about why I like this music video or why I like that song. And that’s when I was still on blogspot and then one day I just woke up and wanted to take it more serious. So I took it down for a month and I did a full redesign. And then from there I went to South By South West a month later, after I re- launched and I went to wordpress, who Modi from DCtoBCactually told me to do.

After that specific trip to South By in 2010, that’s when I knew that I wanted to take it seriously.

After South By, I came back to school and decided I didn’t want to be there so I didn’t finish. But I still apply everything I learned in that time to now with my own website and brand.

I started blogging in Miami and there wasn’t that many bloggers at the time so it was a bit easier for me to get content, rather than say if I started out here (in New York) where there’s so many people, every one’s trying to dish for that interview and get in front of each other. So back in Miami it was easier for me because there was maybe only me and two other bloggers, and when artists came in to town or even when I brought them myself, doing my own events, I felt that that gave me a little more credibility and I was able to get more original content. Plus I wanted to keep all my interviews fun. Like I interviewed Dom Kennedy from a pool before. And then I interviewed Erick from the Zombies in his home studio... Just a bunch of different things where I feel I took people somewhere else, instead of just the standard interview. So I definitely feel it was the strong content that got me out there.

And up keeping that personality is so important, like... people want to know what I like to listen to so I want to create a Spotify play list and show people exactly what I listen to, which is anything from Gucci Mane to Michael Jackson.

FF- Speaking of... If your life was a movie what would be on its soundtrack?

AO- Oooh! Coldplay ‘Green Eyes’ would be my mellow one, for when I’m reflecting. Then I’m gonna go with Young Jeezy, the trap star song... because I like to call myself a digital trap star. And that’s my entrance song. And then Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’, I feel that is totally my personality right there (laughs).

And I really want people to see more of my personality and back when I first started, my personality was hip hop.

I’ve loved it since I was little, my Dad threw my Juvenile mixtape out the window once. Out of my two sisters, I was the one that didn’t really know what I wanted to, always jumping around. They both went to private school and I went to public so I was the loud one at the pep rally, always talking to every one. I learned a lot from my sisters; the oldest one was a singer, she doesn’t do it anymore but growing up she wanted to pursue a singing career, so my parents would do everything for her – I would be dragged along to the studio sessions and dance practices. And my other sister is a model and I’d always have to go along to her photo shoots and back then I hated it. It’s so funny because now I’m combining all those things in my career. 

FF- Who are three people we should chat to that inspire you?

AO- My new Brand Manager, Meko... he’s really motivating, very smart; he manages an artist named Deniro Ferarr, he used to manage Mystikal, which is crazy! So yeah definitely Meko. I’d also recommend Eric from the Zombies; another super creative. And I’m going to say... Vinny, from Madbury Club. Three guys (laughs)! They’re all very talented.

FF- Is there a specific post that significantly impacted your following?

AO- Hmm... I know I definitely have had a few of those moments... There was an interview I did with AbSoul, where I got real answers out of him because I know him, so I was able to ask him personal things... about the loss of his girlfriend and he spoke to me about that. And definitely one of my Big Sean interviews.

He was talking about a possible Good Music tour so that was the big thing, people were like who is this girl and why is Big Sean tellingherthat exclusive?!

And he’s actually one of my really good friends now. He shared the story, lots of people shared it off that, I sent

it out and a lot of websites picked it up, so Big Sean definitely got traffic. 

I actually met him through my friend Hustle Simmons in Chicago. He knew his road manager at the time and he was like Hey! Big Sean is coming to Miami, do you want to interview him? And of course I said yes! Please! Do the intro! Give me the stamp of approval. So yeah that’s usually what I do.

FF- So what’ s your advice for people who don’ t have that time to get comfortable and aren’ t the best at networking?

AO- I mean, you have to be. If you’re not going to network how are people going to know who you are? Say you’re out during CMJ and you’re at SOBs and it’s packed full of people...

if you’re not saying anything to anybody, how are they going to know who you are? I never wanted to be just the girl behind the computer screen.

So even though... that first year in 2010 was like my burst! I’m telling you, I went to South By and I was like OK this is it! So then I went to Chicago for just one day, then went to NY, then to LA, then Atlanta for A3C. That whole year I went to all five of those places because I wanted to go meet these people that I was talking to on twitter, back then... that was all we had! Instagram didn’t exist yet. I was really using Twitter and I feel that was my big networking thing but I didn’t just stay online. Like I was on Twitter talking to people from NY, LA and ATL... then was in their city and be like let’s link up! So I would go to all these events, then if I saw some one that I knew off Twitter I wouldn’t... you know how people get weird, they’re like staring at you... and it’s like OK who’s going to say hi?! So I would just go up to people and introduce myself. You have to interact with people, if you’re not then... what are you doing?! You better get that 9 to 5 in the office where you don’t talk to anyone and you’re sitting in a cubicle. To be in this work, you have to. If you’re scared then you’re in the wrong lane.

FF- So what’ s the goal with all of this? What would you like to add to the world?

AO- I feel that’s what I’m figuring out right now. I’m going through a phase, especially since I moved to New York... this is my first time moving away from home ever. You know, I did college twenty minutes away from my house. I didn’t need a dorm, nothing, I’m used to seeing my parents every single day. And you know, I’m away from my comfort zone, I don’t have my car, now I’m in a city! At home it’s like trees growing, grass everywhere. So I feel the first six months here have been a very personal growth experience and even finding things out about myself.

And the whole point OF COMING here was to challenge myself. I was getting very comfortable back home. I felt if I stayed there I was going to be on cruise control,

unless I wanted to say, get into the party scene, there was really nothing else there for me. That’s home and I’m always going to go back as much as I can, I always want to bring stuff back to Miami because that’s what got me to where I am now. And I’m going through this whole reformatting and rebranding phase because I want to go back to my original roots, where I started... that passion that I had back in 2010. I felt that I lost it last year and I’ve told some people this before... I felt blogging became a fast food chain or something, where every site has the same thing and every thing is just very quickly posted because people only care about hits. Which I admit I fell into that hole one time, but that steered me away from what separated me from every one else. When people ask what separates your blog from everything, I say my content! I’m giving my original point of view. And that’s what I want to do, I want to make everything more original. And all these artists that I personally know, that are friends of mine, when we have conversations about their music and other random things that journalists wouldn’t really be able to get. I don’t really call myself a journalist, I didn’t go to school for it. I like to say I’m a creative,

I like to do a lot of creative things and I like to be both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

So now the goal is to become more of that personality, and creative and a curator and really show people who I am and it’s still always going to go back to music but I do want to expand into fashion or gadgets or food. I always have to clear my head and ask myself Where am I? Where do I want to go? What am I doing? How am I going to get it done? And at the end of the day, I tell myself this... no one is stopping me from anything but myself, if I don’t get this done today that’s my fault. I’m the only one responsible. 

you can check out Ashley's blog here and follow her on twitter and instagram.

as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally & courtesy of Ashley Outrageous

WESLEY O'MEARA by Olivia Seally

My name is Wesley O’Meara, I’m 35 and I’m a Hair Stylist. I was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, but I’ve been in New York for around 16 years. Five years ago I was at a different (talent representation) agency and everything I did there was really consistent. I was just doing the work that was sent to me, and don’t get me wrong I was really happy, but I think on a personal level, maybe I got complacent. So fast-forward to now and I’m still with the same agent I’ve had for 8 years, but we’re just with a different agency.

Lately I’ve gotten to do some interesting things and I’ve been able to pursue outside opportunities. I still do the same thing. I do hair! I do a lot of Editorial also some red carpet stuff, and now I tend to do a lot more advertising, which I’m not mad about. But in my job you don’t really hop to another level, you’re just consistent and then you get something really good and you ride on that high for a little while. 

That’s the life of any freelancer. You do something really high caliber or that you’d actually pay money out of your own pocket to do, and then you ride off of that high of getting those images. And then something comes along and just shits on that, or there’s no work for a while, and you panic like “Fuck this, I’m going to College. I’m going to go be a Para-legal someplace or something” (laughing). But it’s almost like a drug, you keep coming back and I feel like that’ s just what freelance life is like. It’ s a rollercoaster. It’ s insane.

FF: Do you have formal training or education in your field?

Um... it’s kind of unconventional. When I went to Hair School, it really didn’t work for me. This school was very... well like girls would get stabbed! I’m not even kidding, a girl got stabbed. Not that that stuff would go on all the time, but it wasn’t a good environment for learning. And it was expensive so I knew I was being shot in the foot. I got to a point where I was like, ‘I’m going to have to pay for this whether I stay or not. I don’t want to get my license because I don’t want to work in a salon’. So I left school. I had finished maybe half of it.

I had lived in New York for 7 years at that point, so I knew a lot of people that worked in the industry. I got in touch with a friend of mine, Gray Scott, a Hair and Make-up Artist who had started taking pictures and we just started working together. He had been doing hair and make-up for so long before photography that he showed me how to do a lot of stuff on-set. We worked together for like a year before I signed to an agency. So I definitely didn’t go the conventional route, but I kind of like that. I approach things a little differently because I’ve had less structured training and I’ve been allowed to be more creative, which sometimes ends up being better and I can save time on set.

FF: Do you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore or senior in your field?

Sophomore! I wouldn’t consider myself a senior because I’m only 35 and you’re supposed to retire at 65. I make this joke all the time... a lot of my job is working on set for clients that can be like 25 years old, so I’m already 35 and I’m totally okay if they’re giving me direction and telling me what to do, but I can’t imagine being 60 and having some 25-year-old telling me what to do. I’ll be 50 in 15 years and I can’t imagine still doing some of the stuff that I do now. I mean my hair’s already falling out! If I have to hustle like this for the next 15 years, I’ll be fucking bald (laughs). When I’m a senior I’m going to have like a product line or other business opportunities that would enable me to be more selective with the on- set work. So now I’m working on trying to set that up so I’m not still doing ponytails when I’m 65. 

FF: What was the project or opportunity that broke you out of entry level?

There were two! There was the photographer I talked about (Gray Scott) who took me under his wing. So he was the first. He taught me so much about how to behave on set and from that I was able to get some images really quickly. And from those images I was able to work with other Photographers and reach out to Stylists and get word-of-mouth going.

The other one I would say is my agent, Bianca Balconis. I originally met with her about assisting other people. It was just a speculative meeting, but we just really hit it off! So she would try to send me on jobs here and there, but I was starting to get busy on my own at the same time.

She called me about 2 months after we had started talking and was like “I want to sign you” and I was stunned! I mean this agency was one of the top ones in the country, if not one of the best in the world. So when she said I want to sign you without a portfolio. I mean that’s unheard of! It was huge.

I just skipped years of struggle. So it’s very important to keep in contact with people, without harassing them... just in an organic way. But we just hit it off and we still work very well together going on 8 years now. She’s so great. I hear people complain about their agents a lot, but you have to remember that your agent isn’t there to do things for you; they’re there to manage. And when you start saying ‘why aren’t you doing anything for me?’ you’ve lost the whole purpose of what we’re doing. You need to be putting yourself out there - it’s 80/20. An agent is there to look out for your best interests, to keep my schedule and do my billing. They still get you work, but after 8 years of doing this, I should already be getting my own.

You have to hustle yourself. It’s New York-fucking-City, if you’re not going to do it yourself, then your agent will have 10 other people on their books and someone that’s hustling harder is going to come in and eat your dinner! 

FF: What is your dream creative project?

I don’t know if it’s so much a creative project. I guess I would like to work in a parallel field. I would like to work in product development. It doesn’t even have to be my product line because I don’t think I have that status where I could have a namesake product line. Let’s be real, those people have been doing this a long time. But just to work on like a small boutique product line and see if it grows. That’s ultimately where I want to end up.

FF: What's stopping you from it?

I’m very self-aware so I know exactly what’s stopping me. I wouldn’t have to jump right to product development. I could start small with a website or something and then hopefully it grows exponentially. To get that started would be very cheap, it’s only going to require help from a couple of other people, but then it’s going to have to be on-going. That’s the hard part! Once I get started on that path I have to be willing to dedicate myself. Like, there goes lying on the couch watching Netflix all day! Part of me is a little scared to give up that part of my life - or maybe not scared, but just procrastinating. I think I’m at that weird age where I’m done going out and partying, but I’m not ready to get fat and pregnant or settle down. I’m getting close to wanting that, but it’s New York City so we’re all kind of perma-25. 

FF: Who are three people whose thought process you'd like to learn more about?

I don’t even know how to answer that! In terms of artistry, I would say Pat McGrath. I don’t know where she gets these concepts from, not so much her editorial stuff, but her runway work. It always makes total sense and it’s always so on-point for the collection and I can see exactly what she means. I know she carries around suitcases full of books for reference, but I just don’t understand what exactly made her think of that. I mean, I know the creative process and have to come up with things myself, but it’s also difficult to garner the level of trust from the people you work with the way she does. Like, this is a bad example, but if I were to say ‘I want to do blue eyelashes’, then someone else on set would say ‘no I don’t think blue eyelashes work’. Even if I just know it’s going to work, nobody will say yes. But she’s gained that much respect that she could say ‘it’s blue eyelashes’ and people just trust her because she’s just on that level. To be in her brain, not the story of how she worked from the 90s to where she is today, that’s pretty self- explanatory, she clearly worked her as off, but just how she links that ideas process. Other than that I don’t know. I can’t name 3 because

I always think of that quote, “Good Artists copy, great Artists steal” but I never really want to be like that, so I try not to reference too much current stuff.

It’s really annoying when I look through a magazine and you can see the trends, so the trend in hair is still wet hair, it’s not even wet it’s like greasy. It’s like did I just drag all my stuff here to just squirt water in her hair and she's in a fur coat? I’m over it. It was great the first time someone did it, but I’m not going to do it for the millionth time. I try to argue for something new. There’s too much referencing what’s happening now and it slows everything down.

FF: Why do you think that is?

I think there was more freedom before the recession because advertisers didn’t dictate everything as much as they do now. So there’s the trickle down-effect. Editorial lives off advertising (financially) so it’s like, it worked, it’s safe, so they’re going to ask for it again and again. So now with the shows that have just been, the trend is very 70s, and that’s already referential and who knows how long we’ll get stuck there. Maybe I’m just being kind of cranky because I’m not as bright eyed and bushy tailed and new to the industry. But in some ways that cranky side, or the fact that I feel like I’ve already seen it all can be helpful, because then I can be like ‘I don’t want to do that anymore’. And usually when you voice that and say for example, I don’t want to do wet hair anymore, it clicks with people that it’s already done.

FF: If there were a retrospective of your work, what would be your favorites to include?

My favorite work is always my next job. But I think what would be interesting and hilarious would be to do a show of everybody’s first work, their test shots. So all the great hair and make-up artists working today, you could see where they started. Because in the beginning we all do the same thing where we’re just so excited to be working that you pull out all the stops and it’s just a shit-show. The images are terrible. It’s like so much hair, so much make-up and then the poor stylist could only get like American Apparel leggings or something. All the stuff that was unpublished because then you get to see the then versus now.

you can follow Wesley's work on instagram.
as told to: Kylie Johnston // photos by:
Nick Blumenthal

THEOPHILUS MARTINS by Olivia Seally

My name is Theophilus Martins, I am 29 and I was born in Providence, Rhode Island.

FF - What were you doing five years ago?

TM - I was just starting to bubble off making music and I was connecting with a lot of the kids in New York, I really wanted to be a part of that scene. And so Myspace was my way of connecting... I remember I hit up Mickey Factz; he was like the first person to show me so much love. I was just trying to be a part of all that. And I ended up being the tour manager for this group from LA called U+I. They actually contacted me online... I put out something with okayplayer and they liked my shit and asked if I wanted to come on the road as their DJ. 

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So we ended up going on tour with Warren G. I connected with Curtains and Kidz in the Hall, they were so popular... they were like one of the bands in LA who were doing shit that was progressive and innovative and they were cool with a bunch of New York cats. So they were like my introduction, I’ve always been the kid on the outside of the group trying to get in, so I just tried to find whatever relationships I could (laughs). We did a song called Beautiful Day, it was me, Evidence, Aloe Blacc was on that fucking song! and Mickey Factz was on it, so that was my way of getting into that. 

FF - What do you do now?

TM - I’ve always been into entertainment. As a kid I did some child acting, I did performance... I didn’t like it because I was super shy, so I started DJing, which was my way of being a performer in music without being the face of it. And then I got more comfortable and wanted to start to make my own music. I lived in London for a good part of last year, I took some time off and I felt I had an understanding of what I want to do, as opposed to

trying to be this great rapper, or an amazing DJ. I was just like why don’t I build the world that I want to live in? So I just do cool shit now; I DJ, I perform, I creative direct. I think that it’s more appropriate for me to just do what I want and plant those seeds now and let that grow and let people see it.

Being a part of art and a part of so many things that you like... I used to look at it as a burden, but then I realized well, for one...

I don’t like putting out music regularly, I want to build it and look over every detail because I care about it. If you get one from me and I don’t feel like putting another one out for a few months, then you’ll just have to accept that. But I also realize in those moments the art never dies, the passion never dies. It can be applied to so many things and I feel like I was trying to channel that energy into one lane, but I don’t want anything I have to force, nothing. So I’m just going to do what comes natural. And for me, that took trust, like do what comes natural?! No! College! Bills! but I was just like I’m gonna be good regardless and things changed from that point.

FF - Tell us about your company ‘Good Posture’

TM - Good Posture... it’s a little bit like I birthed the baby, like I spent last year figuring out who I was and what I’m doing and how to launch it and in January I premiered a collaboration I did with this company called Flexfit. I partnered with them to design this product and then designed this experience, so I had these big 15 foot walls that I designed at Agenda and it introduced my company and what inspired it. Colors drove the idea for the music, which translated to the hats... yellow and blue are primary colors and yellow is this color, like how I felt when I was making this music, it was very much lively, it was cool, it was fun. And that canary blue was like a lot of the music I was making while I was in London, it was very melodic, it was sad, it was emotional. And so I designed a yellow corduroy hat and a blue hat so just attributing those colors into a physical manifestation, so now I’ve designed some clothes that will accompany those hats too. Just making it a full experience, so like I’ve given birth to the baby by premiering it at Agenda, where it got great press and people fucked with it. 

FF - Do you consider yourself a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior now?

TM - OK, well in music... I had my debut LA show two days ago! That show was like a graduating step, I was watching myself while performing, like wow this is what I’ve always envisioned! I performed in a way that I’ve always wanted to and delivered it the way I wanted to and it was a very joyous experience. I felt like ok! I’ve graduated one level, I’m a freshman entering a new stage of being an artist and being fearless. It feels very new, it’s like first day of graduation, you have family dinner and walk around like yeah! (laughs) it’s that kind of feeling, where I feel accomplished. I know who I am now, God damn! It took twenty five years (laughs) but I’m thankful, it took a lot to get here but it was worth it.

you can listen to Theophilus Martins here.
As told to: Olivia Seally / Video:
Olivia Seally / Photos: courtesy of Theophilus Martins 

PHILLIP T. ANNAND by Olivia Seally

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My name is Phillip Toussaint Annand, age 24 and I was born in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I’m the founder of Madbury Club; a creative house that shoots, directs, consults and creates. Within Madbury I am the “Director of Near Death Experiences”... we just try to not have titles, but Director would be the short version.

I went to a private middle school after going to a public elementary school and everyone there was really smart but had only experienced one sliver of life, in Princeton, New Jersey. So I got into all the best private high schools in the nation but once my parents got the bill, even with the scholarship, it was just crazy... it’s like paying for college twice, just to go to high school. So I left and went to public school but they pushed me so hard in private school that when I got back I was just bored... I was like a year and a half ahead of everyone else. Nothing really grabbed my attention, so I started doing graffiti because I was bored and always drawing and in suburban Jersey no one else was tagging, so it was just me, running around and fucking shit up. My first tag was OREO8...

I tagged this 40 foot piece on the back of my high school and everyone knew it was me.

I just got dumb and was having too much fun (laughs) so I realized I should maybe do something a little more positive with my art. So I’d draw on tees and sneakers and we were always in SoHo, buying Bape and Stussy. And then I knew the Hypebeast guys, from being featured on the site. So once I started putting things out there, that got attention.

My first real break-through was a street wear line called Award Tour.

It started so innocently... like I look back on the stuff I did and I don’t know why kids liked it so much. I just made like a hundred shirts, that were terrible,

and sold them in my high school for ten bucks a piece at lunch and made a killing. That was really the

foundation that everything started on. It was just what I was doing in New Jersey, like hanging out with Flatbush Zombies before they were Flatbush Zombies, and just bull shitting and drawing. I was probably seventeen or eighteen when it was at it’s biggest... Award Tour was sold in fifteen international stores at one point, so it was pretty crazy. It got multiple people interested in buying it or wanting to run it and tandem with me, which was cool I just never really knew the people approaching me and they were taking it way more seriously than I did (laughs). Like I just give these shits to my friends... but I definitely see people, like my friend Micah who does ONLY NY, and I see where they’ve taken the brand to and how big it’s grown. So sometimes I wish I kept at it, but it wasn’t fun anymore, it wasn’t what I wanted. Everyone had a street wear line, everyone was making tee shirts. It just reached a super saturation point. And it wasn’t even about what other people were doing, it was just that I’d look at shirts and have no interest in figuring out what to put on them any longer.

Five years ago, in 2009, I was a freshman in college going to school for graphic design, for one semester and then I got the fuck out of there. The classes were just painfully slow; they started from a very basic point, foundational art classes. And I already knew how to make money off it from my clothing line, Award Tour, and I wasn’t super big on the fine art aspect so I left. Then I just started taking random classes at Rutgers... first class I took was about hippies and counter culture movements of the ‘60s. So I was never working towards a major, I was taking all these classes that I was actually stoked on. That’s why I was killing it with a 4.0, because I would sit there and actually listen everyday. That was around the time that I was getting bored with Award Tour and Madbury Club was just beginning. 

It’s crazy to see how far Madbury has come, from that first very first shoot. I can barely even credit the first couple of years of Madbury to having anything to do with what we’re doing now.

And I don’t know what we’ll be doing in another two years, which is kind of the beauty of it. So I definitely feel like we’re sophomores in our field.

At this point, we’re established but it hasn’t even come close to being fully realized. We do a lot of work, but it hasn’t even turned that corner to what it can be.

It’s a funny process I see happen all the time though; you do something, you work really hard at it and you get known for what you do.

Once you get notoriety people start coming to you and the more and more work you do for others, the further you get from those things that drew people to your work in the first place.

Well... this is what we put in work for right? To get paid to make art, you can’t really say no or shy away from it. But then sometimes it takes a couple of years to realize that your work is no longer your work, it’s your clients. So, for example, I had this mental thing where I had to make Nike a client, I worked really hard to get us to that point. When we got there it was fucking awesome! We were shooting these things, had all these opportunities... and I just had to realize, this is work. I transitioned from feeling like our Nike work was going to be the beginning of our legacy, to realizing that it's just work to get done, in order to open up lanes and opportunities to do our ownstuff, the stuff we really want to be doing.

Now we have eight people full time off Madbury, that’s fucking great.

But you have to come full circle and step back and see what it is we’re really doing.

With Madbury, we’ve never had a physical manifestation... we had a funny office in Hoboken at one point, but what do you make in an office? Fucking office work. We never used it because we were restricting ourselves by having that space. The biggest priority for me now is to have a physical manifestation of what Madbury is, and allow it to grow. I see it like Willy Wonka’s factory, I want that... you come through and do whatever you want; every resource, everything you need is at your fingertips. 

I want to make a kung-fu movie (laughs) with every new New York rapper as a character in the movie, which would be hilarious. Like Bodega Bamz as the villain, Action Bronson! Meech and Juice as spiritual gurus! So I’ve been writing that script... film stuff is fun. We just stumbled into that... doing the music videos for the Zombies; that just happened because they needed videos so we just got it done. But yeah, we just create shit.

Would I consider myself an artist? Yes, but I don’t think I’ve made any art in like five years...

there are little experiments I do that’s fun, like I made that bench *points outside. Or if I make my kung-fu movie, it’s not going to be an art movie... I just like kung-fu movies, I have funny looking friends and I think it would be cool to put them all together. We just experiment and create.

FF- A lot of your success has come from the fact that your team is so close, are there any cons in working with your friends?

PA- I spend all day constantly thinking about how to optimize Madbury, like how the pieces fit together. I look at it as a sports team so that’s how I approach it... I have to coach. So I’m like Phil Jackson, the Lakers... then you have Kobe, you got Shaq, you got Derek Fisher, you got Ron Artest... you got all these fucking personalities. Especially because we have four photographers within Madbury! It’s a lot of egos, but everyone has to have that common goal. For example, Ellington just shot Lebron James the other day... everyone on the team would’ve loved to do that.

But you just got to believe that everyone’s turn is going to come, if we’re all in this together then your good is work is my good work, you shine, I shine... and that’s a hard thing to buy into sometimes.

Also, those guys are all my best friends, since before Madbury’s existence, so I know their weaknesses, what pisses them off, what they’re good at etc. So in traditional work environment you get performance reviews, we don’t have that at Madbury. I don’t sit down with my guys, like “come into my office” (laughs), that’d be weird as fuck. There have definitely been moments where I felt it would’ve been easier if I just did stuff myself, but I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. Everyone always says don’t work with your friends, I’m like what could possibly be better than working with your friends!? If you could find how to make it work, that’s so noble. And there couldn’t be anything more fun than making money with your friends... dude, we take pictures of basketballs and sneakers... that’s what we’d be doing regularly!

Everything we do; running around, traveling, creating, I’d pretty much do it for free. So I wouldn’t want it any other way. The capabilities of Madbury are greater than just the capabilities of me, myself.

FF- Suggest a few people who inspire you.

PA- Hyun Kim is a good one, he’s like the producer at Madbury, he used to write for Vibe and a bunch of hip hop magazines, he did a bunch of shit... he’s a little older. But he has this writer’s brain, where it’s almost as if he can’t hold a normal conversation because he’s interrogating people all the time. But he has a very good way of stepping into a situation and is naturally interested in everyone’s story. There’s always a follow up. So it’s fun

to see him interacting. And I’d say

(Kilo) Kish is another good one. Just from seeing her theory and approach with her work, I don’t think she gets enough credit. She has a conceptual art approach to the music she’s making and the way she puts her projects out.

The last show she did was for a project about collaboration; every song was with someone else. So she had every piece of correspondence with everyone she collaborated with on a huge gallery wall; every note, every email, printed out - everything about the project. It was manifested there in front of you and the only thing people really say is like Kilo Kish H&M ad... but it was just really great seeing it first hand. I also have to say my father would be number one... my dad is the coolest guy I know. He doesn’t make any mistakes, I’ve only seen him fuck up a couple times in my life. I just mean little shit, like I’d hammer a nail and hit my finger, I’ve never seen him do anything like that... once you hit 45 you just start moving slower and it’s like I’m not gonna knock this glass off the table! You just see things and fix them (laughs). It’s just his thought process, when someone speaks to him he listens and thinks about it and then responds articulately. He really taught me the beauty of language. Whereas with me, everything’s always just breaking and being thrown around! At one point I know I’m going to slow down, and it’s gonna be fire.

FF- So when you do slow down, where do you see yourself? What, to you, are the qualities of a life well lived?

PA- Family is the biggest for me. If you had to bust your ass for your family all your life, and you worked in a coal mine or something... I don’t know if you would stand up proud at the end of it and think you lived your life the way you wanted to. But if you can give your family opportunities based off the work that you did, that’s a life well lived. That’s how I approach Madbury as well as my own family, I’d do anything for those guys. 

you can check out Madbury Club here, and follow Phil's instagram.

as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally