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Harryson Thevenin/SR50: “Let’s See Where It Goes.”

How do you take pictures of someone who takes pictures? Harryson Thevenin has been bouncing around Orlando since 2011, shooting photos and video of anyone who will stand in front of his camera. He’s also worked heavily with local rap star TEDD.GIF and his record label, Retro Neon, to book and promote events that cross genres. Recently, Harryson combined his talents into SR50, an online magazine that covers all things Orlando through photo, video, and word.

After the initial idea of an interview, I ended up following him to three vastly different shows: An Ugly Orange rock show at local bike shop, Ace Metric Cycles, a rap show at art/party gallery Henao Contemporary Center and experimental noise duo Shania Pain’s EP Release at Uncle Lou’s. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

HARRYSON’S BIRTHDAY STAND-UP SHOW // APRIL 19 @ SANDWICH BAR

HARRYSON’S 26 BDAY PARTY // APRIL 19 @ SANDWICH BAR


The following is a night of culture, joints, & car talk.

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10:07 p.m.

matthew warhol: Tell me about what’s going on with SR50. What are you planning for it?

Harryson Thevenin: I have no idea yet. It’s random. Just kind of whatever I’m feeling at the time. I feel like the best approach to have with SR50 is to have like, almost no approach. Because if I get into to groove of things and have a formula, that could get old quick. If I have no expectations, I’m just like, “Yo, cool.” If it works, it works. If not, there’s another show tomorrow. It seems to be happening. There’s always a show. Mad different groups.

matthew warhol: You’re going to keep booking too?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, Sandwich Bar gave me Wednesdays so I can use that as a brain child, just for ideas for shows.

matthew warhol: How was Crock Pot at Henao?

Harryson Thevenin: Crock Pot was tight. It was our first big event. We had TEDD. We had The Left Field Theory.

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matthew warhol: There was a lot of people, right?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, Donny Blanks was the headliner. FIONA killed it outside. GRANT killed it outside.

matthew warhol: Do you think you’ll be booking more at the Henao?

Harryson Thevenin: Okay, I want to, but I worry that the Henao might get too oversaturated. Everyone that wanted to book a show that couldn’t for a while is booking Henao.

matthew warhol: What do you think… what’s the alternative though?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know.

matthew warhol: That’s why I’m really fascinated with a show happening at a bike shop.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, you gotta do something else. That’s why I loved Space Station. It’s like yeah, let’s go in this side room and set something up.

matthew warhol: So with SR50, is there absolutely no focus?

Harryson Thevenin: I guess just covering Orlando-based things, whatever.

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matthew warhol: You’re trying to do stuff other than music.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Trying to do restaurants reviews. Literally anything.

matthew warhol: Are you going to write?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Cool, I didn’t know you wrote too.

Harryson Thevenin: I can.

matthew warhol: Have you done it before?

Harryson Thevenin: No, but I could probably describe how something tastes. [laughs] I’m doing whatever. Whatever I can think of. There’s no motive. It’s just open format at this point. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it yet. I don’t want to have anything concrete because I don’t want to label it.

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11:59 p.m.

matthew warhol: Wait… Henao Center. Why are we going there?

Harryson Thevenin: There’s a rap show there. That’s the cool thing about this side of town, is you can skirt to everything. Yo, like the bike shop was tight.

matthew warhol: It was tight. Do you like, bounce around like this all the time? We’re going from the rock show to the rap show to a noise show.

Harryson Thevenin: Exactly.

matthew warhol: I appreciate that. I think that’s so cool.

Harryson Thevenin: I just fuck with them all. I can’t not go to one, you know what I mean?

matthew warhol: Something I’ve thought about in Orlando is that it’s too small to have separate scenes. That it needs one scene that’s all together and that’s how it’ll become a New York.

Harryson Thevenin: But I feel like in Orlando, people have the feeling that they have to separate from everyone, that they have to be “unique.” There’s so many micro-crews.

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matthew warhol: Do you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know. I think it’s like a do-what-you-want thing. It’s cool, but at the same time is that really helping? Is it cool if only 10 people show up to your show because you only know 10 people? I don’t know. I think it’s cool to fuck with everybody and for everybody to fuck with you back. But, at the same time, to each their own.

matthew warhol: Is that why you started taking photos in the first place?

Harryson Thevenin: I think I started to take photos because I wanted to take photos. I was going to all these shows because I fucked with all of these people. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be a photographer. I did it because I wanted to shoot photos and I was at the shows already.

matthew warhol: So you didn’t take photos before then?

Harryson Thevenin: Not really.

matthew warhol: You had never had a camera?

Harryson Thevenin: Never. Yeah, it’s really weird.

matthew warhol: So what do you want to do?

Harryson Thevenin: I have no motive.

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matthew warhol: No, but where do you fall into everything?

Harryson Thevenin: Maybe I don’t. I guess I fall into the rap thing, but I’ll do an indie show. I’ll do a folk show. I don’t have a motive. I don’t have a direction. I think that’s the only difference between me and most people. I’ll do anything. I don’t care. It’s not drawn out. It’s not planned. I don’t know how to explain that.

matthew warhol: But people like it.

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah, people are bored. It’s like, even if I’m going to throw a show for no reason, it’s going to be a good show. I still thought about the lineup.

matthew warhol: Can I bring something up regarding that?

Harryson Thevenin: Yeah.

matthew warhol: This is something I thought. I remember I was in Savannah. And the day I came back, I came back to go to the TEDD, Shania Pain, GRANT, RV show because to me that was an amazing lineup.

Harryson Thevenin: But at the same time, the show did very poorly.

matthew warhol: Yeah, but that’s the thing… What do you take out of that?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean yeah, it did poorly but at the same time, there were so many people that wanted to go to the show that couldn’t go because they weren’t 21. So I had to put them on the guest list to get them in. What am I going to do, turn them down? No. I don’t care. I’ll put you on the guest list. You know what I mean?

matthew warhol: If it’s a local show. They’re not going to keep other people out.

Harryson Thevenin: But they try to act like that. It’s like, I announced my birthday party and someone from The Geek Easy said I could do my party for 18+. It’s like, “Well, we’re having a midnight special and lighting like 15 joints. Is The Geek Easy going to be cool with that?”

matthew warhol: And Sandwich Bar is cool with that?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean, they’re not “cool with it.” But Uncle Lou’s wasn’t “cool with it” last year. The next three times I went there the bartender was like, “Those were the best sales I ever had.” Don’t talk. Get your money. I guess my rational is weird.

matthew warhol: No, it’s like, “You provide the space. I’ll do everything else.”

Harryson Thevenin: Exactly, what is the problem?

matthew warhol: Yo, I’ve never been to the Henao. It’s going to be lit.

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1:09 a.m.

matthew warhol: Another one. Yo, how do you feel about turning 26?

Harryson Thevenin: It sucks just like getting older, ya know? The ideas are getting younger, but I’m getting older. It’s fine. I’m turning 26, but I’m like doing the same shit as I was when I turned 22. Where does the progression happen?

matthew warhol: How has the last year been? Do you think you’ve grown?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean, the whole event thing hasn’t grown, you know? The whole event situation for underground Orlando music is kinda not cool right now.

matthew warhol: Was it cool?

Harryson Thevenin: When Spacebar and The Space were open at the same time, it was very cool. You had options. You take whatever you can get at this point. You know what I mean?

matthew warhol: I agree.

Harryson Thevenin: It hasn’t been as cool ever since. Now, everyone books at the same place. It’s the same thing over and over and over. What’s getting done?

matthew warhol: Something that that made me think of is what Harry said to me when I asked him something similar. I was like, “What do you think it’ll take to make Orlando successful?” And he said that someone with a lot of money needs to come in and support people and build stuff. I’m curious as to what you think.

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Harryson Thevenin: I’ll say that we need some money, not even a lot of money. And they need to open something nearby where something is happening.

matthew warhol: A venue?

Harryson Thevenin: A venue where you can charge cover and have a good sound system and have ideas that can sprout from there. That is the immediate solution that I can think of.

matthew warhol: Wouldn’t that become oversaturated at some point too?

Harryson Thevenin: Maybe, but at the same time you have one more place, you know? If you charge $5 cover it’s a lot to break even if you have to pay the venue $200. There’s no fun in that. You have to do so much to just break even. You’re just helping them out at that point. You’re not helping yourself.

matthew warhol: And is that why you wanted to start SR50, to help the little guy?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t mean to piggyback on the Harry interview but what he said in it is true, do it yourself. If no one is going to do it, I’m going to do it myself because that’s the only way I can see things done. I’ve done so many successful events and Orlando Weekly has never covered a single one. TEDD’s mixtape release was the littest event that happened the month it stopped doing events and there was no media coverage. I was like, “Where is the Orlando Weekly for something like this? I guess I’ll do it myself.”

matthew warhol: It needs to be covered. What is your goal?

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t have a goal.

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matthew warhol: But like, in your own life? Having nothing to do with what you’re doing now.

Harryson Thevenin: I don’t know if I have any goals. I think I’ll just do anything. Like cool, I can get a nice full-time job and not have to worry about money, but where’s the fun in that? I’m just working at that point, making sure I have security. I’d rather just be broke amongst my people, doing shitty events at small venues, making sure that people are accounted for because no one else is going to speak for them. That’s where SR50 steps in. We’ll cover it. It’s like what John Morgan said, we’re “For The People.” Because like, there’s no money in this. There’s no monetary gain. There’s no long-term goal because you’re not going to make any money long term. You’re just helping out the little man, which is fine.

matthew warhol: Do you want to stay here? If it launched you, would you want to stay here or leave?

Harryson Thevenin: I mean I guess I would want to stay here. At the same time, if I leave there’s going to be nothing else. There’s not going to be another person like me. There’s not going to be another person like Harry. If we both leave at the same time, the city is pretty much doomed — which happened before with the indie rock community. Remember Orange You Glad? Remember Total Bummer? Remember when everyone left?

matthew warhol: I don’t.

Harryson Thevenin: What’s left? Welzeins. Someday River. Everyone left. It’s like, we’re going to go to Shania Pain’s EP release at Uncle Lou’s… I don’t know, you do what you can with what you have.

matthew warhol: I don’t know why. I have hope for it. I see it fitting together and working.

Harryson Thevenin: I got hope, but at the same time, I’ve been in the scene since 2011. And I’ve seen the peak of it and I’ve seen the bottom. And we’re in-between, but how good is that? We’re super limited on venues and we’re going to oversaturate the one venue that we have that’s halfway across town. I’m down with it though. I’ll do whatever you guys want to do. I’ll ride the wave. I don’t know. I really don’t. For the time being, let’s get drunk. Let’s hang out. Let’s see where it goes.

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Swirlsss Interview Orlando music
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ART OR DIE: The Colorful World of Swirlsss

Swirlsss cares about Orlando more than most people. Even though she’s currently living in Kissimmee, she’s booking weekly events at Vinyl Arts Bar that feature local music, art, vendors, and more. Outside of that, she’s an incredibly talented painter whose swirls of color incorporate emotion and movement like those of the great expressionist painters. I wanted to meet up with this local person-about-town to talk all that shit and takes some pics of her and her art. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

Swirlsss hosts a night of music, art, vendors, and spoken word every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar.

Thursday, 4/6

Thursday, 4/20 (feat. Tiger Fawn)


matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music. Swirlsss: Not really. matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it. Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there. matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either? Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So it went literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs] matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: What were you going to school for? Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociolgy teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society. matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.” Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it. matthew warhol: This was the same teacher? Swirlsss: The same teacher. He was not havin’ it. He was like, “Okay well, I know that you feel that way but I’m going to let you retake the final.” And I’m like, “I do not want to retake your final. I didn’t take it in the first place.” [laughs] “I don’t know why I showed up here. It’s the last day.” If I didn’t show up, I would have failed the class entirely. He would have withdrawn me from the class. matthew warhol: Did you pass the class? Swirlsss: I bullshitted the whole thing and got a “D.” I didn’t fail though. I don’t know if that’s better than failing. [laughs] matthew warhol: It definitely is. So you were saying that you wanted to focus on art. What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do. Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career in the beginning wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art. matthew warhol: What were you making? Swirlsss: At that point I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to do events which is what I’m focusing on now, coordinating events. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s no where to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on. matthew warhol: But your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it? Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people, so I jus throw an event and ask them to come. So they don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places. matthew warhol: How I know of you is through Instagram. I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities. Personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already, but want to know more about them. And be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh … you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people. Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but… matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist. Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live there life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram, that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through. matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like painting was? Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always … different! [laughs] I was always the weird quite girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there’s so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck. matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool, like you said, you want to take risks. Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art. matthew warhol: Isn’t it. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for what we independently do and how it coincides together. Swirlsss: I feel like if everyone followed their passion, like bro, the world be so much fucking better. We would always be happy doing what we do and collaborating with people. matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now? Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events. matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar? Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night. matthew warhol: How has it been? Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistant people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people. matthew warhol: At your events you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these seperate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out. Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit. matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting? Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding. matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are these them ? Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished. matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting? Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground. matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it? Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did a random layers over the whole thing. These two go together. matthew warhol: Diptych? Is that what’s it called when two paintings go together? Swirlsss: Sounds really sexual. Sounds like “dick.” I feel like these three (see photo) I was experimenting with. These are all new. I don’t have my older pieces. matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot? Swirlsss: Yeah, I usually do the first layer on the ground. But I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer. matthew warhol: Because of all the white? Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like this one is different. I don’t want to finish the whole thing. I just want to have a main focus. matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting? Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.” matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions. Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like. matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful. Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into. matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums? Swirlsss: Yeah. matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel. Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see. matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work? Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there was some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did. matthew warhol: Who did you pull from? Swirlsss: I don’t know any names. I would just look up, “famous abstract artists.” matthew warhol: On Google? Swirlsss: On YouTube. And I would just how they would paint and watch interviews. matthew warhol: That’s poetic. Swirlsss: A lot of female artists too. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion. matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff? Swirlsss: I just don’t take pictures of them, and I don’t really showcase my work anywhere. I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music.

Swirlsss: Not really.

matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it.

Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there.

matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either?

Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So I literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs]

matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you going to school for?

Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociology teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society.

matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.”

Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it.

matthew warhol: What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do.

Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career, in the beginning, wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What were you making?

Swirlsss: At that point, I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to coordinate events which is what I’m focusing on now. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s nowhere to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on.

matthew warhol: Your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it?

Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people. They don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places.

matthew warhol: I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities, personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already but want to know more about them and be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh… you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people.

Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but…

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist.

Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live their life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram — that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through.

matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like the painting was?

Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always… different [laughs]. I was always the weird, quiet girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there are so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck.

matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool. Like you said, you want to take risks.

Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art.

matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now?

Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

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matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar?

Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night.

matthew warhol: How has it been?

Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistent people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people.

matthew warhol: At your events, you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these separate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out.

Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting?

Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding.

matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are those them?

Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished.

matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground.

matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it?

Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did random layers over the whole thing. These two go together.

matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot?

Swirlsss: I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This one, I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer.

Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting?

Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.”

matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like.

matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful.

Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into.

matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums?

Swirlsss: Yeah.

matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel.

Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see.

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work?

Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there were some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did.

matthew warhol: Who did you pull from?

Swirlsss: A lot of female artists. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion.

matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff?

Swirlsss: I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”

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Swirlsss Interview Orlando music

FIONA Interview Orlando musice
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Don’t Advertise Twice: FIONA’s Secrets to Flexin’

Harry Morall III (better known as FIONA) is an Orlando rapper, producer, DJ, Twitter lol factory, and one-half of weekly dance night Talk Yo Shit. Physically, he’s very intimidating at well over six feet tall, a mountain of a man. As a rapper, he fires confident lines over self-produced beats as depicted on his debut album, GOLDBABY. But those who know him through his online persona, know he’s actually funny as fuck and sweet as sugar. So of course, we met at the Central Florida State Fair to talk about his many successes and future plans. Enjoy.


FIONA Interview Orlando musice

matthew warhol: Well I’m glad we’re like, getting to talk. Because we haven’t really done that yet. It’s cool because I’ve been doing an interview every week for a while now and you’re one of the people I’ve really wanted to get because you do so much: you have the DJ stuff, you do your own music, you have events, a weekly event. So like… why? Why do you give to Orlando so much? What’s it mean to you?

FIONA: I mean… honestly, it was out of necessity. I was just bored and had to live here and there was nothing to do. I would go out, and there would be no good DJs. SO I was like “Fuck it, I’ll learn how to DJ.” And certain genres of music wouldn’t be coming through town, so I was like “Fuck it, I’ll start booking shows.” The lack of options forced me into it.

matthew warhol: When did you start?

FIONA: I started making music seriously around 2012 and then that kind of grew on its own with my rapper stuff. I wasn’t booking shows or producing, I was just rappin’ for fun — I used to make dumb shit — and people liked it. And then in 2014, Barbecue Bar closed. I used to go there all the time because I could get free alcohol, and obviously, I’m going to go to the free alcohol place. And so once the free alcohol place was closed, I wanted to do something still and everything downtown sucks. So, I started my own thing.

matthew warhol: Is that Talk Yo Shit?

FIONA: Yeah, that’s how Talk Yo Shit was born. Then I got with Jeremey (Grape La Flame) — he’s the other guy I started Talk Yo Shit with — and he works at The Beacham. The people that own The Beacham bought Barbecue Bar and turned it into Olde 64 or whatever. They really gave us the freedom to do, literally, whatever we wanted back there.

matthew warhol: How long has that been goin’ on now?

FIONA: Like two years.

matthew warhol: Of the every week thing?

FIONA: No. It started out as a monthly in The Social. Then it went from monthly to weekly, and I didn’t think the weekly would work. Because most weeklies around here don’t last. But it actually worked out because we were able to build a consistent following. People come to that thing [banging on the table] every, single, week. Most people who start weeklies are lucky to last a year, and we’re at two and we don’t even advertise. I’ve never made a flyer. I’ve never put up a poster. I’ve made Facebook events — that’s the extent.

matthew warhol: You don’t even do that anymore.

FIONA: Yeah, I stopped doing that because I didn’t need to. Because people kept showin’ up.

matthew warhol: Why?

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

FIONA: If you do something dope, word of mouth is going to always work — not just in music but in anything in life — if you have a good product you won’t have to advertise. People will advertise for you. If you go to a great restaurant and have a great dinner, the first thing you want to do is tell everyone about it. So if you’re putting on dope shit, people are like, “Yo, come check out Talk Yo Shit, blah, blah, blah.” And it was easy because we didn’t have any competition.

matthew warhol: I don’t think people want to book on Thursdays in a lot of places. People already know that half of their people aren’t going to be there because they’re going to be at Talk Yo Shit.

FIONA: We’re very fortunate to be in that situation.

matthew warhol: One thing that made me think about is an interview I did with Alexia, my girlfriend. And we were talking about her experience as a black woman and in the music scene, and a lot of time she’s the only black person there. And she feels alienated because of that. So I was asking her what events she would recommend to other people of color who often feel that, and the one she named right off the bat was Talk Yo Shit. And it really means a lot to her.

FIONA: We definitely did that on purpose. Making something diverse doesn’t mean white people can’t come or don’t come. It’s truly diverse. We have this idea in America that diversity is ten white people and a black guy, and that’s not real diversity. So we wanted to do something that everyone would enjoy. I don’t have to advertise that. It’s the style.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

matthew warhol: Is that why you think it’s been able to stick around? A lot of weekly events are too niche or the people there are elitist.

FIONA: There’s a whole lotta DJs, and it’s not just an Orlando thing, that have a certain attitude towards certain crowds or music. I’ll play anything and I think that being able to mix it all together is part of why you can have such a diverse crowd — if I’m going from Kodak Black to Fergie, from Boogie to Britney Spears, Sheryl Crowe to frickin’ Three Six Mafia. I try to cover all bases, but still, find a way to keep it funk. Because funk is a genre, but it’s also a feeling.

matthew warhol: I think that — going from Sheryl Crow to Three Six Mafia — is such a you thing. If a random DJ played that it wouldn’t work, but because it’s you people are like, “It’s Harry playing this!”

FIONA: I guess so. And I guess it’s cool.

matthew warhol: You have a brand. It’s like with your Twitter stuff too.

FIONA: It wasn’t even intentional. I just talk a lot of shit. And the thing about Twitter is that it is a battle to see who can say the most outrageous thing. You gotta have the hottest take of all the takes.

matthew warhol: Have there been any Twitter moments that stood out for you?

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

FIONA: There were two moments. One, I made this random joke one night about Syrian refugees. I was like, don’t worry about getting kicked out of the country, they’ve been trying to kick black people out of the country for years. But I said it in a real funny way. I went to sleep and when I woke up it was retweeted like 40,000 times. Which is fine, but then it started blowing up on Muslim Twitter. And I didn’t even know there was a Muslim Twitter. Then it got all the way to Syria, and I got messages from actual Syrians who were tweeting me from bombed out buildings and shit. And they were like, “Oh, I fucks with you.” Oh, and this was back when I first got Twitter, like 2009. And back then, I feel like celebrities were more active. One day, I was trolling Lily Allen and she was going on about how people who pirate her music are the scum of the earth. I took a screenshot of me bootlegging her album and sent it to her. And she went off on me. I was in troll mode. And then a week later, I read the news, “Lily Allen Retiring From the Music Industry,” because too many people are pirating her stuff. And that was my achievement of the century. That was pretty cool.

matthew warhol: Going into the music side of stuff, why did you decide to change your rap name from Mr. 3 to FIONA?

FIONA: I made a lot of music under the Mr. 3 name that doesn’t represent where I’m at in my life right now. It just really isn’t the aesthetic I’m going for now. I appreciate that — it’s where I learned how to make music — but I really wasn’t taking it seriously while I was doing that. And I almost feel bad because people still like that shit. But I made most of that stuff as a joke between me and my friends. Also, I was really jackin’ for beats at that time so all the shit I was rapping on isn’t necessarily cleared or approved. Now I produce for myself, but then I didn’t know how to.

matthew warhol: So now that you’re taking it more seriously, what does that mean? What’s the goal?

FIONA: I mean, I don’t even know if there’s a specific goal. One of the main things that I’m about is I want to do as much as I can by myself. I’ve had management before. I’ve been with a record label before. And I learned a lot, but what I really learned is that I can do it myself. There’s nothing that a manager can do for me that I can’t do for myself. I’m also a perfectionist, so I don’t want something to mess up and it be on somebody else. I’d rather it be on me. I have a law degree too. So there’s not a contract that I can’t read and not know what’s on it. Hell, I could write the contract, ya know? My point is that I want to be a one-man-band. That’s why I learned how to produce and engineer and DJ. I didn’t know how to do any of that two, three years ago.

matthew warhol: And GOLDBABY is a pretty decent chunk of time that it was made over, right?

FIONA: It took about a year to make. I didn’t just make it in one sitting.

matthew warhol: There was a lot of different sounds on that. Was that a conscious effort? Because to me when you said that this is the first time you were producing … I don’t want to say play, but you wanted to try everything?

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

FIONA: I guess so, but it’s also a reflection of my taste. I have a wide variety of taste. So there’s a lot of different sounds that I wanted to play with.

matthew warhol: Going forward, do you think you’ll music will always have a lot of different sounds?

FIONA: I can see myself doing an album where I have a theme or something like that, but I’ll always remain diverse, just because my influences are diverse. The more sounds you make, the more original your shit can sound, the more people you can appeal to. So I’m not trying to limit myself because, low-key, I’m trying to make a couple bucks, ya know? I’m not one of those people who are anti-popular. I want the mainstream to pay me, fuck yeah! Got me fucked up!

matthew warhol: So what does the future look like?

FIONA: I mean, this DJ thing is taking legs I didn’t expect. I was doing it as a side thing just to keep my name in the streets without having to rap. I don’t like doing a lot of rap shows because I put a lot of effort into them and it’s hard to get a band together.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

matthew warhol: So what’s been opening up?

FIONA: Not much that I want to divulge right now because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I have plans to make the step to the next level and start monetizing. I wanted to make sure I was good enough to monetize. I wanted to make sure that when I made that leap that I wasn’t just good enough to do this, that I was better than most of my peers. First, I wanted to make an album 100% by myself.

matthew warhol: What do you think of Orlando rap?

FIONA: I feel like the problem isn’t the talent, it’s the city, as far as how the city embraces and cultivates local music versus other cities. If you go to places like Atlanta, Miami, LA to a degree, Chicago, there are much more opportunities for local musicians to make a living off being a local musician.

matthew warhol: Is that just because it’s a bigger market?

FIONA: Not even. If you go to Chicago, there are local rappers that make a fuckload of money just on their side of town. You can get famous in your neighborhood and have enough to eat. There’s no local rapper making that on a local show.

matthew warhol: So how does that happen? I feel like a lot of people use Orlando as a platform city to then go somewhere bigger, but how do we become a city like that?

FIONA: There’s two ways. If all those people that left, stayed, this place would pop. But you’re asking those people to sacrifice their careers trying to build something from the ground up. What would also need to happen, is you need an investment into the arts from either the city or a philanthropist. You’ll need some rich people with some fuckin’ money to invest in the city and give local musicians a platform — not just at the Bahama Breeze. And once you create that culture and constantly have quality experiences, people will come. A lot of people find it hard to bring crowds out here and honestly, it’s not the people; it’s the product you’re putting out there. A lot of guys are lazy and don’t put effort into it and wonder why people don’t show up.

matthew warhol: So what is that effort then?

FIONA: The effort isn’t in the advertising. It’s in the music, the atmosphere, the performance, the little details, separating yourself from the rank and file. Making yourself your own, individual artist. As I said before, if your product is good you don’t have to advertise. So my goal, any artist or business person’s goal, is that you announce that you’re doing something and that’s it. You’re on some fucking Beyonce shit, dropping the album and selling a million copies in the first 22-minutes. If you advertise with your product, you won’t have to advertise twice.

FIONA Interview Orlando musice

RV video premiere orlando

RV Captures Old Nostalgia in “So Easy” Video (premiere)

RV is the perfect package. They’ve got a hot sound that you know but doesn’t overtly bite from the bands of the now. And along with a genuinely entertaining live show, they look tyght as hell doing it. When you see the four of them up on stage banging out jangly rock tunes, you can’t help but want to be a part of their vibe — and I’m not sayin’ this because we all consistently complement each other on how we dress. To put it bluntly, their one of Orlando’s best young bands with grander potential than just about anyone.

In their debut music videothe band perfectly captures what I believe is their aura, nostalgia for a day at the beach that happened before you were born. Does that make sense? See, when I listen to RV, I feel like I’m in the grainy pieced-together world that is this new video. The songs aren’t inherently sad, but something about the way Justin’s voice lulls over the sparkling guitars gives me a sense of longing, but one that doesn’t entirely feel my own. It’s like I’m in the early-’60s, a time when our country still had its blinded innocence — as can be seen by the very alive JFK in the video. Overall, “So Easy” is a great commercial for their forthcoming album Anywhere, out this spring.

Transcendental Telecom Orlando Music Midnite J Premiere

Transcendental Telecom Dive Into R&B On “Midnite J” (premiere)

Growth fosters new ideas, and that’s a good thing. In music, change can add dimension to how you look at a band as artists. Transcendental Telecom is not a band that’s afraid to go outside their box. Released last year, their debut album showcased that in its varied, crunchy and shoegaze-inspired, guitars mixed with Spencer Tricker’s airy voice. Etherise made them stand out from other indie rock bands, and “Midnite J” does the same but in a whole new way.

One part Blood Orange, one part Tame Impala, the latest single takes advantage of synth in a way they’ve never come close to before. Spencer crafts a synth line that flashes over the whole song like a disco ball over speckled teens at an 80s prom. He encourages them to dance too, “All the people on the left, all the people on the right, come on.” The guitars are much more subtle, adding minute details in the distance. You can definitely tell Transcendental is the same band, though. Their sounds hold the same fluidity but in a much more sultry way. “Midnite J” is their version of a slow jam.

Transcendental Telecom’s plan is to release a few more singles and then have them all included on an album this year.

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You Blew It interview Orlando music
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Grown-Up Dude: You Blew It’s Tanner Jones On His Development as an Artist/Person

I’m speaking with You Blew It frontman Tanner Jones in Greenwood Cemetery on a warm Tuesday morning in February. This isn’t the first time we’ve met or even the first time we’ve had a long conversation together. No, that day was almost five years ago in a Subway parking lot across the street from the University of Central Florida. We had been in two conjoining car accidents — I collided with the guy in front of me, and he was hit by the girl in front of him — and struck up a conversation about our shared advertising/public relations major, music, and his band, who had just released their debut album Grow Up, Dude via Massachusetts emo-revivalists, Topshelf Records.

Present day, the two of us — sitting on a small bench feet away from the grave of Orlando pioneer Joseph Bumby — are evolved forms of the people who met that day. Tanner and lot released their third full-length Abendrot this past November and have tremendously expanded their fanbase with continuous touring, both as headliners and support for rock icons like Taking Back Sunday and Coheed and Cambria. (And I’m interviewing him for Orlando Weekly. Our Advertising Copywriting professor Joan McCain would be proud.) Enjoy. 

Upcoming Appearances:

3/11 @ Will’s Pub w/ All Get Out & Free Throw

3/12 @ Will’s Pub w/ All Get Out & Free Throw


You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I wanted to start with talking about how we met because I think that’s pretty interesting. That was four, five years ago? I was a Sophmore in college so that was like four years ago.

Tanner Jones (You Blew It): Yeah, because it was right when I started dating the girl I’m still dating.

matthew warhol: And we were in a car accident together, two conjoining car accidents. I hit someone, and then there was a gap, and someone hit you, right?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, yeah.

matthew warhol: We were talking because we were both into music. I don’t know if I’d started the blog at that point.

Tanner Jones: I don’t think so. You definitely didn’t mention it.

matthew warhol: But we were talking about You Blew It. I hadn’t heard of you at the time. But that was right after Grow Up, Dude came out. A lot has changed since then.

Tanner Jones: I remember being really h-angry. I was so close to going to that Subway.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: I did get the Subway.

Tanner Jones: Did I too?

matthew warhol: I think we all did. It was almost like a movie where people are stranded on an island together, so they start to bond. No one was angry with each other.

Tanner Jones: Everyone was really nice.

matthew warhol: That was probably the best car accident I’ve ever been in.

[laughs]

matthew warhol: And we met so that was cool. Since then, You Blew It has gone to a completely different level. The second album came out. And personally, I thought the second album tightened everything from the first album. The production was better. The songwriting was better. But it was very much on the same path. Then going from there, a friend of mine had said something like, “I really like this new album, but I’m afraid that with the next one … if they don’t do something different, they’re going to disappear as a band.” Was that something that you were aware of?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, but it wasn’t so much a conscious conversation. You put out two records that sound mostly the same; then at that point, a certain boredom or type of anxiety starts to set in. We could have written that record four times, you know? And it would have been easy because it’s what we were used to. But at the time of writing Keep Doing What You’re Doing, it was hard and it was challenging. You want to keep challenging yourself. Naturally, to challenge yourself you want to go to new directions, through new creative processes. So yeah, that’s the long answer but in short, we knew we had to do something different.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: What do you mean by challenging yourself? How did you do that, specifically?

Tanner Jones: One crutch we have as a band is that we like to use alternate tunings and time signatures. So if a part isn’t there yet, instead of changing it around and maybe putting it through a different instrument, we’ll just put it in 7/4 and it’ll be fine. Instead of doing that — this record we just put out — it was more of a struggle to try to do new things and to try to solve problems in different ways we haven’t before. For example, putting a guitar part on a vibraphone. Or maybe even scrapping a song altogether because it wasn’t up to par.

matthew warhol: And when you say that, do you mean that you were sinking back to the older music? Were you consciously trying to make it new? Because to me, it sounds like to push forward, you were pulling back a little bit. You guys were restraining yourselves from doing these really heavy songs.

Tanner Jones: Yeah, yeah for sure. Previously we were very maximalists. It was always three guitars playing different parts all at once. So yeah, that’s another big hurtle we had to get over, trying to scale the mountain with less equipment — if that makes sense. And it just ended up being really fun. It’s kind of one of those things where you hate doing it until you grasp how to do it the right way. Then it becomes rewarding.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: On the new one … it’s weird because I was reading what you were saying in another interview. You were saying that was about a very difficult time in your life. Can you go into detail about that — as much as you want of course?

Tanner Jones: A lot of it was self-induced as I’m realizing now. Having the whole third record looming, it’s kind of like a big. There’s a lot of pressure … I guess that’s just an easy way to put it. So I kind of stopped taking care of myself, physically and mentally. I let things kind of bore into my skin and stay there. And then the door opened for a lot of mental issues and past problems that I had never solved. They all kind of came out at once. So the writing was both the therapy and the cause, you know? So yeah, I guess that’s pretty much the brunt of it. For example, the song “Greenwood,”  a lot of times to calm myself I’d come ride around here on my bike and take time to let everything sink in. As you know, it’s just quiet here. You can hear the birds chirping. There’s no one yelling, no on talking. It’s just a nice place to be alone. And that’s how that song came about, just coming hear and letting everything overtake. And those lyrics just came out.

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matthew warhol: So the songs are coming from the issues that you’re dealing with, but in this case, how you’re dealing with them. That’s interesting. Was there anything else inspired by the healing process?

Tanner Jones: Not necessarily in the same way “Greenwood” was written, but there’s a certain thing that a lot of the songs tap that’s dealing with mental issues and whether or not they’re self-induced. I’d say “Greenwood” is the unique one, in the way it was written. The other ones are just kind of … more confessional.

matthew warhol: You’re very much looking in on the entire record. Where like, the previous albums were definitely pushing out. When I listen to it, it just sounds like you’re getting older. Where things that bother you when you’re younger, you’re just pushing it onto other things and other people. Saying, “You’re the problem. You’re the problem. You’re the problem.”

Tanner Jones: Exactly. I’m sure you feel the same way where it’s like, you’re 18 to 22 and it’s like, “Aw, I hate my classes; it’s got to be because of my classmates. Look at these jocks and these weirdos! Fuck them!” But really it’s just, you’re looking at it from the wrong perspective. I guess getting older is gaining perspective.

matthew warhol: Was that a conscious thing in your writing?

Tanner Jones: It was one of those things where I realized it, but I wasn’t aware of it until after the record came out. After a record, I’ll listen to our stuff before it and see how it transitions into what we’re about to release. And I think that’s when I realized it. There’s definitely a perspective shift.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: Do you think you’re happier?

Tanner Jones: Yeah, for sure. It’s a weird solace knowing that you’re the problem, ya know? Because then you can fix it. Where as, othertimes, putting blame on other people for things is just so unhealthy and terrorizing for the mind.

matthew warhol: That’s deep. [laughs] That’s a real one. So … you guys have been very supportive of Orlando. You haven’t strayed away from being an “Orlando band,” and so thank you for doing that. Because I feel like there have been other bands that have gotten big and ditched Orlando for LA …

Tanner Jones: … for bigger ponds.

matthew warhol: Did you ever think about doing moving?

Tanner Jones: No, we kind of always expected to stay here just because I don’t think that the place that you’re from should have that kind of hold, or that kind of baring, on your art. I feel like a lot of people assume that if they go to New York or LA that there are more opportunities and therefore, there are more chances to get bigger. When really, the big opportunity is that you’re doing it. And Orlando is an incredible place for culture, for people, for art. So just being here and having this base to build on just seemed like the perfect spot.

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: Do you feel embraced by Orlando?

Tanner Jones: Sometimes it’s hot and cold. But I feel like that’s kind of a good thing. Sometimes we feel like outsiders, but I think that’s just a product of where we are now. New artists come in and new people come in so the focus is going to be on them. We can’t expect to have the spotlight on us the entire time.

matthew warhol: What do you mean by hot and cold, specifically?

Tanner Jones: The Orlando Weekly one is a really good one. We weren’t in the “Here are bands that represent Orlando of 2016” list. And it’s completely reasonable to not be in there, since we were there before. But in the moment, that’s one of those things that’s like, “Oh man, I didn’t win the popularity contest this time.”

matthew warhol: But you have to think you’ve outgrown it to an extent, don’t you? Because there is no band in that list that is on the same level as you guys — not that that’s a slight to anyone.

Tanner Jones: I always hate to say that we have outgrown Orlando because I never want to outgrow Orlando. But sometimes, I think feeling like outsiders is a good thing because we’ll always strive to be better. It can only be good for us. It can only be good for our art. And it can only be good for the city. Because as soon as we get comfortable, why put out a Pulse EP or why thank Orlando or why even live here?

You Blew It interview Orlando music

matthew warhol: So like, talking about the Pulse EP, was that an immediate thing where you just knew that you had to help in some way?

Tanner Jones: It was very immediate. It happened … and I’m sure you woke up to helicopters too. I live in Delaney Park. Not only was it a global thing, but it was something happening around the corner. So we felt like we were in a really unique position where we had these masters that weren’t owned by anyone. And I think that anyone in our position would have done the same thing — and others did — but we were fortunate enough to have a bigger platform for people to see it and donate.

matthew warhol: It’s strange. You see the city continuing honoring it; you see the memorials and the murals, and to think it’s been close to a year.

Tanner Jones: The number one interview question I get asked in cities outside of here is “How did things change after Orlando?” And my answer never gets printed because I feel like it’s not what they want to hear. My answer is like, “Nothing changed.” Because before, I feel like Orlando was already very uplifting for the LGBTQA+ community and minorities, and that happened and that feeling just came out. Everyone showed it a little bit more. I didn’t feel like there was more love or more acceptance because that was already there. It was just televised. and I think that’s an incredible thing. It’s just not a great answer for people trying to write a really good piece.

matthew warhol: That’s definitely something we’ll include [laughs] that was a good answer.

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You Blew It interview Orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music
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Thrift House – “Wake Up Little Suzie” (video premiere)

Thrift House is a band that pretty much anyone can enjoy. I’ve seen them just as comfortable in a room full of house-loving Body Talkers as they are at the classic blues rock room, Tanqueray’s. In my opinion, it’s the group’s young energy, — brought to music that your dad (maybe even your grandfather) would love — that gives them such a wide reach.

Case in point, the group’s cover of The Everly Brothers’ classic “Wake Up Little Susie.” Originally recorded in 1958, Thrift House modernizes the song by adding garage-style distortion a la The Black Keys. The vocals of Ian Cummings, Joseph Davoli, Robert John, and Kandace Marlon fuse into a smooth groove that pushes the huge chorus forward. To be honest, I thought Thrift House wrote this song; I’ve heard their demo and their originals stand up well. Let’s hope they see light soon. Peak their video below and check out some behind the scenes photos from that shoot. Enjoy.

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Thrift House video premiere orlando music

Forced into femininity interview orlando music
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Forced Into Femininity: Fighting Corruption with Crazy

It isn’t too often that a show really surprises me — having spent countless nights at music venues, sometimes I think I’ve seen it all. But last week, I was thrown in truly undisturbed waters when Chicago avant-garde musician Forced Into Feminity turned Spacebar upside down. The music itself, semi-dancey electronic bangs, wasn’t too out-of-the-ordinary; it was the performance that left everyone looking around like, “WTF is happening?!” The set began with a pre-taped warning that cautioned anyone who was uncomfortable being touched, yelled at, or hearing lyrics about discrimination against transgendered people and other potentially triggering topics.

Jill Flanagan, the energetic bomb behind FIF, bounced around the audience screaming in people’s faces, giving piggy-back rides, climbing on top of the bar, and (in one case) stuffing a patron’s red beard into her mouth. And that was only when things were going according to plan. At one point the music and mic cut off, but Jill didn’t even blink. She proceeded to go outside (we all followed), climb onto the roof of Spacebar and start lecturing from up there. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to get into the head of this person. Enjoy.

Photos by Harryson T Photography & matthew warhol.


Forced into femininity interview orlando music

(I start recording in the middle of a conversation about Andy Warhol.)

Forced Into Femininity: I have this book he wrote about parties.

matthew warhol: Which one?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s just called Parties.

matthew warhol: Parties?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, it’s just about parties. He interviewed all these different party promoters in the ‘80s. It’s a really interesting book.

matthew warhol: That’s aweseome. I’ve only read A to B and Back Again which is just his sprawlings.

Forced Into Femininity: Oh I love that.

matthew warhol: Really? You’ve read that one?

Forced Into Femininity: That’s his biography, right?

matthew warhol: Yeah, I would say it’s kind of like an autobiography.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. It’s hilarious.

matthew warhol: So, for me, that’s the kind of writing I like to do. I’m just very — especially with the interviews — I keep it really real. So I’m recording now. How’s tour been?

Forced Into Femininity: Great, yeah it’s been really long.

matthew warhol: You’re from Chicago right?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I’m from Chicago. I’ve lived their most of life. I lived in Oakland for a couple of years, but mostly in Chicago.

matthew warhol: How long have you been doing Forced Into Feminity?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s been like seven years … seven or eight years.

matthew warhol: And what was the initial idea behind it? Did you make similar music before?

Forced Into Femininity: Well, it was different. I mean, I was mostly in bands. This was the first thing I did that was digital — like on a laptop or editing sounds. I’ve been in bands since, but the band at the time … my band broke up and I was really trying like, to do music and stay motivated. And just make music out of a laptop, because I’d never done that. I hadn’t really made anything specifically about being trans, ya know? I had done stuff that had touched on that but like …

matthew warhol: You hadn’t done something that was fully about you?

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: No, fully me, but I felt like I wanted to focus more on being trans. because it’s a big part of my identity and I hadn’t really talked about it.

matthew warhol: Has it changed over the last seven years?

Forced Into Femininity: It changes a lot. I mean, musically, it’s changed a lot because I’ve learned how to make music on the computer. And what I’ve wanted to do is changing a lot — I don’t know. At one time it was more dance-based, but I still dance a lot when I’m performing. Yeah, it’s come through a lot of different iterations. It’s kind of like whatever I want to do, so I’ll just change it sometimes. Maybe just play keyboards and sing.

matthew warhol: That’s really interesting to me. I was just talking to one of my friends earlier tonight about how a lot people are leaving bands and doing it more by themselves. Because they can — the technology is there. And like, you’re more … like, not waiting on anyone else. Do you find that you’re more productive? Is it easier?

Forced Into Femininity: It’s not easier. I mean, it’s just different playing in bands. It’s like, you don’t really know a lot of times, when you do things, if it’s like, “Oh, is this good?” I don’t know. I don’t know until I play the songs for people, then I’m like, “Okay, this is good.” You don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or to cover your mistakes.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: And so like, how often, when you’re playing, does what happened tonight with [the sound going out] happen? Because at that point it’s really out of your hands to a certain extent. You can obviously adapt to it, which you did. But are you prepared for that?

Forced Into Femininity: I had this tour once where I played two shows where there was no P.A. or like all the power went out. So like, I learned from that. I like improvising and just talking, so I prepare like lectures and things I want to talk about.

matthew warhol: Does it change from night to night? Do you build on an idea? Like you have a topic and it evolves?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, a lot of times I’ll say things and they’ll get more developed and I’ll turn them into lyrics, or I’ll stop saying them. But I have a lot of material that I’ve built up and fall back on. When I don’t know what to do, I try doing something old again.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: And does it happen a lot, where something will come unplugged and you’ll have to react to it?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, if something goes wrong, instead of trying to fix it, I’m like, “fuck that, we’ll just roll with it.” And we’ll have silence, or I’ll do something else. Because it can be anything, if you’re too focused on it being one way, then it gets stifled.

matthew warhol: Does that keep it exciting for you?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, definitely. Sometimes I enjoy not doing the songs more. Because it’s fresh. Because I can do whatever I want. Where as, since it’s electronic, the music is always going to be the same music. It’s nice to have freedom.

matthew warhol: That made me think of the interview I recently did with J.A.S.O.N., who’s the singer from Shania Pain. I did a story on him, and he was telling me about the reason he improvises. It’s because he gets really bored. Would you feel that way too, if it were to be the same thing over and again?

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I have a short attention span.

matthew warhol: That’s exactly what he said.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, I have a short attention span so a lot of times I’m like … “yeah, yeah, okay I gotta …” This time I’ve been … well, I’ve been on tour for four and a half months so I try different techniques to keep it fresh. Trying different songs, or now I have two different sets I play.

matthew warhol: What’s like, one of the craziest reactions someone has had to your performance?

Forced Into Femininity: I don’t know. I’ve had a bunch of weird shows. I had a show in a coffee house in Alabama where everyone got really upset and I had to stop. Yeah, everyone got upset. They were mad because there were children there and they got scared. So that was going on and there were angry parents and it was in a coffee shop, so they were more uptight about me climbing on tables, licking people.

matthew warhol: I mean, you have the warning at the beginning.

Forced Into Femininity: I have a warning, yeah but people are going to get mad. That’s what I realized about the warning, like if people are going to be offended, they’re still going to be offended. Like this guy the last time I played in Orlando, he was really mad that I licked him. And he wanted to fight me. And he was all mad because I didn’t mention it in the statement. He was like, “I heard touching! I didn’t hear anything about licking people!” I should make everyone sign a waiver.

Forced into femininity interview orlando music

matthew warhol: So like, what was something that was sticking with you tonight? Was there something specific in your head?

Forced Into Femininity: Well, I wanted to talk about the drag show in Key West that was really problematic. Yeah, there’s always a lot of things to talk about but I usually draw a blank when I’m up there. But I wanted to toss in a lot of things about that. It made me think about getting a dollar bill from the audience. Because, symbolically, you’re getting money and that money buys approval. And the drag queens that are less passing or more heavy-set usually don’t get as many people watching them, or they get a pity dollar. It’s kind of like a system of capital approval.

matthew warhol: Thanks for sharing that.

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah sure.

matthew warhol:  It was really nice talking to you.

Forced Into Femininity: Yeah, nice talking to you.

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Forced into femininity interview orlando music

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog
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No Love Lost: Zoya Zafar

In a lot of circles, including my own, “singer-songwriter” is a dirty phrase. It reeks of cheap coffee and poorly-written songs, performed in 15-minute bursts and introduced by an unfunny guy in a tacky shirt. But in actuality, this descriptor should be reserved for only the finest solo artists. Ones who blend lyrics, melody, and instrument(s) in a way that makes bystanders stop whatever they’re doing and listen to the lone person, spilling their experiences out with only their voice and a guitar.

People like Zoya Zafar. The 22-year-old has made me look at solo musicians differently. Every time I’ve seen her perform, people are transfixed. I’ve never heard a more delicate voice get such attention. Her songs are hand strung melodies, personal and relatable. They work in dark bars or Sunday afternoons under a tree. I had to sit down with this incredible talent and see how she seemingly makes time stop. Enjoy.

Upcoming Appearances:

2/10 @ Will’s Pub w/ Sugarplum, RV, & Pathos, Pathos

2/18 @ The Dumpster in Gainsville w/ Tiger Fawn, DONKNG, & Theo Burrows (The Vinyl Warhol Presents)

2/26 @ Spacebar w/ TV Dinner (The Vinyl Warhol Presents)


Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Okay, so the first thing I wanted to talk about is what originally struck me about your music, which is your voice. You have this very delicate, personal voice. When did you discover it?

Zoya Zafar: Um, I guess when I was like 15. I was taking choir in school, so I think that helped with understanding how to breathe properly when you sing, what vowels sound good. I don’t think too much about it now when I sing because I’ve been doing it for so long. But yeah, I think it happened around then. And like, figuring out where I’m most comfortable singing, in range or whatever.

matthew warhol: When did you start to find your niche in music?

Zoya Zafar: I was always into folk music, even without realizing what it was. I remember, when I was really young, listening to late-‘80s, early-‘90s stuff — what my parents listened to.

matthew warhol: Like what?

Zoya Zafar: Wilson Phillips or Bonnie Raitt. I didn’t really like it that much, but I really didn’t have anything else to listen to. One day, my mom brought me a PJ Olsen CD. No one knows about him, but he’s like ‘90s alternative folk. He had long hair — I thought he was a girl at first. I listened to his record a lot, that’s all I listened to from like nine to thirteen. That’s when I realized I was more into acoustic music.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: What about when you started playing music?

Zoya Zafar: As I got more into finding new music on the internet, I started listening to music like Bright Eyes and Death Cab [For Cutie]. And that’s when I started having an interest in singing and playing guitar. At first, I took Guitar as a course in middle school. I was like okay, I’ll try it and see if I like it. And I hated it. I didn’t want to do guitar at all. But then the summer after, I was bored and decided to try it again. I was 14. Singing, I liked it, but I didn’t think I had a special voice. I didn’t really like the sound that came out of my mouth. It was just like whatever.

matthew warhol: So when did you start performing live?

Zoya Zafar: Around 16 or so, it was shortly after.

matthew warhol: What was the first time?

Zoya Zafar: I played was an open-mic at Natura. This was 2010. I’d been playing at home and for friends, never in front of strangers. It was cool. The guy who hosted it asked me to open for his band a couple months later. Definitely a good confidence booster.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Had you written your own songs up to that point?

Zoya Zafar: Yeah, I started writing as soon as I started playing guitar. I always liked writing. Before it was music, it was poetry or short stories. So it’s always been an interest of mine, and as I got older I had access to a guitar and started singing … it was more of a natural progression.

matthew warhol: I think a lot of your music up ’til this point has focused on the songwriting aspect. It’s your voice and the words first.

Zoya Zafar: Yeah, for sure. I don’t really think of myself as a talented guitar player. It’s just something I can sing with.

matthew warhol: Where do the songs come from? Because your music seems extra personal, like it’s coming from your own life. You’re being very specific with what you’re talking about.

Zoya Zafar: I feel like when I was younger, my songs were more abstract. My first EP is very whimsical, very full of ideas and memories. I feel like, as a whole, different experiences shape you into a new artist.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: What are most of the songs you write about?

Zoya Zafar: Definitely like, how I react to certain situations, my own personal feelings about something. That’s very vague, but it’s really about me. Everything that’s going to be on my new album is very personal.

matthew warhol: Could you give me an example?

Zoya Zafar: There’s this one called “Go Kiss Your Girl.”

matthew warhol: Yeah, tell me about that one. I know it’s a song people really gravitate towards.

Zoya Zafar: [laughs] That one’s really personal.

matthew warhol: Is it? … just as much as your comfortable talking about.

Zoya Zafar: I was upset over someone. It’s very sassy and angry in a weird way, but also very sad. There’s a line, “I’ve decided that we’ll never be, not even if we lived in the same city.” It was a long distance thing. And I think the hardest part of letting go of a long distance thing, is that you think the distance is why it’s not working out. And there’s always the hope that if we’re in the same city, that things will work out. But, I think thinking like that makes you never get over the person. So for my own closure, the song is saying, “This is never going to happen, ever. Not even if we lived in the city.”

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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matthew warhol: Wow, that’s really mature. I wouldn’t have thought of it that way. In reality, it’s always other things too.

Zoya Zafar: It definitely was a lot of other things. The chorus is “I know you never cared about me, so please just let me be. Go kiss your girl.” Because … there was another girl. [laughs]

matthew warhol: When you’re writing, are you working through the tough situation or do you think you’ve already got it figured out?

Zoya Zafar: It’s definitely a process. Now, looking back, I’ll write songs and know what they’re about, but I’ll listen to them months later and be like, “Oh shit, I knew what I was talking about.” With that same person who the song was about, we had done music together and a lot of the songs were really sad. And it was because I was sad about the whole situation, but hadn’t realized it. Songwriting is very natural for me. It just comes out. Sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it makes sense later on.

matthew warhol: So when you’re playing the heavier stuff live … I guess, my thing … the thought of doing that scares me.

Zoya Zafar: There’s a reason why I don’t do eye-contact. It’s so awkward for me. I feel like the more the songs become personal, the less I can really look at people. I’m in my own little world in a sense. I was really scared at first. I puked before every show. I would have intense anxiety attacks, it was an ongoing thing.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: So then why do it in the first place?

Zoya Zafar: I love performing live so much, the entire experience of it. Even though something makes me nervous, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I love playing live especially, as opposed to recording. It’s just another thing. And a lot of people connect with it. One of my friends once told me, “Your songs are really sad, but you’re really happy.” You wouldn’t assume I write sad music.

matthew warhol: When you are playing live, do you feel any of that old emotion?

Zoya Zafar: I think, because I’ve been playing them so much, it doesn’t really affect me. It’s like a friend that you had close feelings for but you don’t anymore. But you still have fondness for.

matthew warhol: And so…

Zoya Zafar: That was a really poor analogy. [laughs] Don’t put that in.

matthew warhol: I thought it was a pretty good analogy. I liked it. [laughs] You have to. I feel like if you kept feeling sad every time you played … that’s not really what music is. Music is therapeutic …. See, that was bad too. That was stupid as well. So were both saying dumb things.

[laughs]

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

matthew warhol: Going into what you’ve been working now, you’re hoping to have an album out later this year. At another time, you told me that you were working with DONKNG in Gainesville?

Zoya Zafar: That hasn’t happened yet. I definitely want to go up and jam with them, but I’m generally unsure what I want out of the album. I definitely want to do something different than my last EP.

matthew warhol: Is the sound going to change? Is there going to be more instrumentation?

Zoya Zafar: It’s not going to stray too far from my minimalistic stuff. Because I feel like some of my songs sound better with just me and a guitar. But It’ll be fun to see where it goes. I don’t really play acoustic guitar anymore, so I definitely want to have a moodier sound — dreamier guitars, reverb pedals. I want synths to add texture. It’d be nice to have percussions or something soft, like a drum machine. So I still want to have a lo-fi feel, but a bit more than a home recording.

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matthew warhol: What has happened between your first EP and now? How have things changed for you?

Zoya Zafar: When I did that EP, I already had songs written that will be on the album. The songs were written anywhere from 2014 to now.

matthew warhol: Can you tell the difference between the songs? Are some more mature?

Zoya Zafar: I’ve noticed that my writing style has definitely changed a bit. Before, I feel like I was more wordy and verbose. I think I’m better at saying something in a simpler way than I was before. I’ve noticed that a lot of songs I’ve been writing are like three verses or something, very simple, more minimalistic. But they still capture what I’m trying to say. Also, I think I want to focus more on the music behind the song. The words are important, but I want something that’s more interesting.

Zoya Zafar Interview Orlando music blog

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