Interview with Deletto

In a world where society has a stigma towards mental health, it is a beautiful thing to see advocation for it. Deletto does just that. He makes it his goal to spread awareness and discussion, and his newest music video/short film “All We Are” (warning: mild self-harm triggers) takes you into the very real world of those dealing with mental health issues. He explores how we cope and how the signs are all there if you look closely enough. With a message as strong as this – one that I also fully endorse and live by in my own life – let’s take a page out of Deletto’s book and open the discussion.

How did you come up with the visual concepts for your video “All We Are”?
Deletto: This was something that I was toying around with for a while. I always knew to hit the mental health aspect of it, and I wanted it to be as real as possible. It was after so many ideas, trying to come up with something that was MY story. I felt if I was gonna do this, I should do this true to myself so that other people could get the honesty of where I’m trying to come from. This isn’t something that I just saw or read online, it’s something I’ve been directly affected with. Anytime I make music or listen to it, I always visualize what I’m hearing. With this one, the ambiance and how I put the song together, it played on that emotion for me. So, I wanted to explore and touch upon that emotion of helplessness and put that to a music video where people can really fully relate to it.

Did you draw inspiration for your video through photos or videos?
Deletto: I listen to a lot of soundtrack music. Every time I hear or do something now, I play a scene out in my mind with whatever it is I’m doing. I like to write…obviously. As far as putting the pieces together, I pull inspiration from all the films I see. I’m a HUGE film nerd, advocate, love it. Anytime I watch a movie or music video, I’ve started to pick up on the way they edit and feel the emotion it tries to draw out of you, and I try to put that into what I’m doing. Just so we’re clear, I’ve never really done any directing or editing before my own music videos. It’s all instinct; it’s a feeling.

I’ve worked on major motion pictures, I’ve acted, and I’ve accidentally been in the film industry since I was 18. And I haven’t tried. I just keep showing back up, so I’ve used everything I piled up over the years to do it myself for my videos. I edited, casted, directed, wrote, and produced it. It is so independent – you can run down the list of things, and let me tell you, the word stress. It is so stressful because you’re taking on almost everybody’s role. For this particular music video, I had a three-person crew: myself, the director of photography who is the king, and the assistant camera operator. I got some help from my girlfriend who did the makeup/production assistant, and my sister did the special effects makeup.

Was the video shot locally?
Deletto: A fact that most people, even friends, don’t catch is on the performance shots – there’s very few. There’s a projected image playing behind me, and if you look closely, that’s me as a child in the same spot that we filmed the spot where the kids were skating. I really wanted to make that connection, for me, as real as possible. I coached the kids through each scene where I was pulling from my own memories.

How did you go about casting the actors for your music video?
Deletto: I would only hire actors moving forward because it is so difficult when using friends. My previous video, “Where the Wild Sleep,” was shot in freezing cold weather in an alleyway where I had friends that had to stay out in the cold for six hours. It’s so difficult, and the actors know what they’re getting themselves into, whereas my friends are like, “Hey man, you said you were gonna feed me, and it’s really cold out. What’s going on?”

The lead actor for “All We Are,” was one of the actors from my first music video, “Say Anything.” I thought he did such an excellent job, and I knew he had what I needed out of the lead character. There had to be a lot of emotions – he had to be able to play relaxed and cool while dealing with so much inside and hold that in, before eventually exploding and letting it all out. I needed to make sure I casted somebody that had a big range of talent.

And from there, using backstage.com, looking through pages and pages of people trying to find the right range of child actors. When you’re dealing with child actors, it’s a little difficult because they want to fool around, and they don’t really know the industry. In order to have this video play out as a narrative, I made sure they had to have a reel, talk about the role together, audition a little bit. Honestly, without those actors, I would not have a music video. I tell everybody that it is because of them that when you are watching that video, the emotion they pulled out was phenomenal. I would look at my DP like, “Did this just happen?” One of the scenes, I almost cried. It was so intense. We were all there sitting by the monitor watching it unfold and after the scene ended, there were a few seconds of silence, and then we all exploded like, “What did we just see?”

Besides the underlying messages you convey in your video, the music is fantastic as well. When did you start writing and playing music?
Deletto: I started when I was 13, when my dad randomly got me a guitar for Christmas. I asked him why he got me a guitar recently, and it was around that time I was listening to music, hearing it in a different way. I found Nirvana and I was like, “What is this?” You know when you’re 10 and you listen to pop. My dad used to listen to Springsteen, and I’m like, “That’s old man music!” Then somebody showed me Nirvana, and I remembered hearing some [of their music] as a kid, but not the way I started to listen to them when I got to the age where I was finally ready to hear. Not only how the music was but what he was saying and how he was saying it. From there, my dad got me a guitar, and I played my first chord. It was one of those things people say, “I did this, picked up this, and right away, I knew what I wanted to do!” That’s true. It’s so weird.

I’ll never forget – I was sitting on the edge of my bed, and my dad said, “Put your finger here, here, and here. Now strum.” It was terrible – sounded awful. But I was blown away, and so from that moment, I knew I really wanted to invest my time in this. So, you start playing, then you play with friends who got instruments, then you play in bands, but I was too all over the place – so much ADD which you’ll find soon from this interview that I go all over the place. I’ve always wanted to write music. I wrote poetry and stories, but no matter what, I couldn’t write a song. I just couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t until I got into college when I got a random phone call from one of my friends saying, “Hey, do you want to work with a hip hop artist?” I listened to grunge, I looked like I live in a dumpster, nobody showed me hip hop at all. “Alright, fine I’ll try.” Because I love film scoring so much and started to get into electronic music in college, I thought, “Maybe I can mesh this.” Then it was years of working with this hip hop artist. We started to work with artists like Machine Gun Kelly, Meek Mill, and the A$AP crew. One of my songs that I produced got on Hot97 late night with Peter Rosenberg.

Being able to do that, my songwriting all of a sudden began to take form. I was able to really take a step back. From the age of 13 to 29 is when I was able to write my first song. It took me that long to be able to piece everything together. It was a long journey, but I’ve always wanted to do it since I was 13 years old. Back then, I thought I had to write the next huge hit, and that’s what was slowing me down. I would always get tripped up comparing myself to people who wrote songs when they were younger and wondered if there was something wrong with me. I would always get in my own head.

How difficult is it to be a one-man band? How do you manage the songwriting of multiple instruments?
Deletto: HOW DO I MANAGE IT? I’ll tell you what – in bands, I would look to the person playing an instrument and be like, “Ehh that’s not good, I don’t wanna do that.” But now! I’m in this dungeon by myself. I would literally write something – I’d be in a chair, look to my left, look to my right, spin in a circle in my chair, and go, “Welp, I’m the only one here so I guess this is it.” It was [through] so many hours of going insane by myself that I was able to construct some sort of sound. I have me to blame if it’s successful. I have me to blame if it’s not.

Sounds like The Shining.
Deletto: YES. Absolutely – perfect. That’s exactly what it was. I don’t have the shining. I wish I had the shining. It would be easier but no, I am Jack Torrance.

I know mental health is a strong, if not your most important message you want to convey. Do you find your energetic, big personality helps in getting your message across to those you are trying to reach? Does it make it easier to talk to you and for people to open up to you?
Deletto: That is a good question! It’s interesting because my music is so serious. Then there’s me offstage where I’m this light, goofy kid. I think it’s that ability to understand the full spectrum of, “I know how to have fun, we’re gonna have fun together, you can trust me, but when we need to get serious, you know I’m here for you.” I’m all about that. The full spectrum. You’re not just gonna get one emotion or one side from me. I’m gonna be able to have fun and joke around, and I think at the end of the day, being able to have fun with that person, you can be able to open up just a little bit more. That can really help out because you have that trust built.

I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve had a lot of friends that have taken me under their wing. From that, it’s just a sense of appreciation that no matter what I do, whenever I do anything, I have that in the back of my mind. If you need to call someone because you need some support, I’m gonna be that guy. I strive to be that person. I work to be that person. What I talk to a lot of people about is, “Do you have that person?” Right now, whether it’s family or friends, you have that phone call that you could make if you’re in trouble. We can talk through it or talk to people about it. It brings an appreciation for that person, where you want to be like that too, and there’s that respect for each other. That is a big word for me.

How did you become so open about talking about mental health?
Deletto: I was actually very shy about it. I was creating this false persona for other people. It was such a dark time growing up; I had a lot just weighing on me, and I’ll never forget the moment someone turned around to me in Spanish class when I was a senior in high school and she goes, “Wow, you must literally have nothing wrong in your life. You are always so happy.” I  looked at her and smiled as big as I could and I said, “Absolutely, you’re right. I got nothing to worry about.” And that was a LIE. I think that was so dangerous, and I was building up so much.

It would have been awesome for me to say, “You know what? I’m going through so much that I’m able to understand where I can have my happy moments, and where I can have my happy moments, I’m gonna be the happiest. And where I’m not gonna have my happy moments, if I need to stay in that struggle by myself and don’t have help, I have to know how to be comfortable enough to push through.” Putting up that fight for so long, eventually you’re going to end up in a lot of trouble or you have to tear down that wall. And so, I finally had to tear down that wall. After a while, I was okay with it.

Right now, I live with my grandmother and she has dementia. It can get really difficult, and it doesn’t weigh on me as much as it should, but I think that’s because I go back to, “Well, at least it’s not this!” It’s such a different type of chaos, where it’s not something that she is doing on purpose. Being able to see different levels of chaos prepares you for what’s to come.

I love that you go to schools to talk to the youth about mental health. Tell me about it – is it challenging to talk to younger kids?
Deletto: That’s something I am currently in the middle of. I visited my first school to set the meeting. Schools are a lot more delicate, and I get that. I understand the situation and do not want to mess with that – I will do it exactly how they want. However, I’m coming in from a different perspective. I’m not a trained professional, and I want to let everybody know that I’m not a trained professional. I am somebody that has gone through certain experiences that I could talk about. With that in mind, I want to be able to connect with the students on a different level than a medical professional. It’s like, “Hey, I went through some pretty messed up stuff. I found music and I found friends and I found professional help through therapy.”  And I want to let everybody know that that stuff is amazing. Everybody needs some of that whether they think they are going through something or not. Of course I want to be able to help someone that is really going through it, but I also want to let those that aren’t check in with someone else every now and again. You’re going to build a foundation, and by doing that, you might figure out that they’re actually in need. It’s a push and pull. I want to help create that overall foundation, and if someone feels they need to take the next level for professional help, that’s where I want to get them to.

What age group are you speaking to?
Deletto: I’m going to high schools because emotionally, they’re more open to the content. This music video is pretty heavy with certain aspects. I want to challenge them, because that’s them – it’s literally their age group. I want to see what they see because I know how I see it. We have a different set of eyes, and we’re representing a whole different idea with this. You guys are still in that formation period, and where is your formation? There are certain aspects that I think they’re going to respect. The whole point is to be heard. I want to know what they think. So, that’s what is really important to me – that it’s gonna uncover where they are. It will also give me more of an understanding where the youth is with this stuff.

Do you think social media helps or harms people?
Deletto: Right now, we are in a position where it’s negatively affecting. I think it’s such a tight rope that we walk on. You can see something like my music video ,and you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into. But if I put another video out, where it’s just me slapping my bare belly with a spoon full of sauce, which one are you going to click on? Which one are you clicking on?

The one with instant gratification.
Deletto: And that’s it, and that’s exactly what it is – instant gratification. With social media right now, to be able to open yourself up like that – that’s so difficult. The thing is, the reason why it’s difficult is because the road we continuously walk down with it: double tap, move on, double tap, move on. That’s it. And it’s got to be something quick. You see someone falling over, doing something crazy, or someone with an insane amount of talent doing something nuts where you’re going to be like, “That’s cool” right away where you can share it.

Something that I think is really amazing that they’re doing is hiding the likes. Even if it affected me, even if it affected my money, I wouldn’t mind because that means somebody else is going to be happier because of this emotionally, mentally. That’s the direction we need to be pushing. What level of a human being are you at? How much of your comfort are you going to sacrifice for somebody else? I think within this world that I’m kind of touching upon, I’m about to find out. I think it has come to a point where it has to be extreme in order for us to do anything about it. That is prominent in almost anything that we’re doing, anything that we hear, anything news-based, anything we’re going to like, to follow. It’s gotta be extreme.

I think the strive is there. People are making an effort. You heard growing up, “Boys don’t cry.”
Deletto: Oh, I cry. Oh, I definitely cry. I go through weird little fits where every now and again I would ask – I don’t know why I do this – I’ll just ask people, “When’s the last time you cried?” But I’m not doing it in a malicious way or trying to be funny; I’m just genuinely interested. Then I try to think about the last time I cried. Like last time I…oh, boy, film. Don’t ever watch this movie. This will destroy you. This is the movie where my sister’s boyfriend sprained his ankle.

So, this made you cry, yet made another sprain their ankle?!
Deletto: Yes, the movie is called Tigers Are Not Afraid. I thought it was going to be a straight-up horror movie because it has horror elements, but oh my god, it ripped my heart out. He watched it at my place and when he was leaving, he was so distraught and caught up watching his phone, he missed a step and was on crutches for the next two weeks. I challenge you to watch that and not cry. If you watch that and not cry, you don’t have a soul. I guess you can say I’m in touch with my emotions. Nowadays, I find that more people are. I think what I’m doing is going to be a little bit easier because of the time that we’re in.

Suppressing doesn’t work anymore.
Deletto: No, and not to get on a crazy subject, but look at all the school shootings that continuously happen over and over and over. Not to go down that dark road, but we have to go down those dark roads. Because people don’t want to! They don’t want to hear it because it didn’t happen to them. Eventually, it catches up to everybody, and that’s where we need to come together because the ripple effect is happening. It happens in every state until one day it is at your front door, and you don’t need that. We can figure out a way to try to talk to people. And with these school shootings, mental health is huge, and we’re still having the wrong conversations about it.

The blame is put somewhere else.
Deletto: Exactly and the media does not help, because it’s so focused on the next negative thing. All that is being shown is a sickness – which is getting you interested – but never the cure. You’re never shown the cure. So, you have this sickness with no cure, and you want to know what else you can get sick from. Well, can we pause for a second and figure out what’s happening in this area first?

We have a lot of resources with mental health specifically, but it’s buried between everything else. We can start working a little bit harder in order to make the difference. We need to learn to stop being so selfish. I’ve got the microphone and stage, and that’s the whole point for me. It has been since I was a kid. There’s a platform. What are you doing with it? I’m going to have fun with it, be my crazy self and have people question why I did what I just did, but I want them to also know the message and meaning behind my music. I want them to be able to feed off that and take a step back to look at themselves that way. It’s going to take a lot of energy where I’m going to have to wear myself thin so somebody else feels a little bit more protected. I want to be able to instill that mentality to put a little bit of that work into somebody else. This way, they don’t get defeated by trying to do it all by himself. When it’s all said and done, it’s going to come back to something like this, so what are we going to do about it?

Deletto is an upcoming and coming rock artist out of Northern New Jersey. His sound is a unique blend of driving rock riffs, heavy thematic drums, and ethereal vocal samples on top of a cinematic song structure, with songwriting heavily inspired by his own personal struggles and experiences. Check out more of Deletto:

https://www.facebook.com/delettomusic
https://twitter.com/delettomusic
https://www.instagram.com/delettomusic/

Published interview on Stars & Scars Mag.

Calling All Captains at The Kinglsand

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Calling All Captains is a five-piece pop punk band hailing from Saint Albert, Canada. Consisting of Luc Gauthier on vocals, guitarists Brad Bremner and Connor Dawkins, bassist Nick Malychuk, and drummer Tim Wilson. Since forming in 2014, the band has been working rigorously to put out EPs, touring, and their debut full length album. They have a reputation for high-energy live shows, and this one at The Kingsland in Brooklyn lived up to that rep.

 

Your debut EP “Nothing Grows Here” has been recently released (February 2019). What can you tell us about the album?

Luc: We can tell you that it’s out now on Spotify and Apple Music and available for your listening pleasure. But more specifically, this album means a lot to us. For me, Luc, this is the first album that I’m singing on fully. We put a lot into this record and without the help of our producers, this album wouldn’t have sounded exactly the way we wanted it. Connor and I put the work in to writing, and it also is his first time singing on this record as well.

What’s your favorite song off the EP?

Connor: That’s a really tough question. They all mean something different, but I think my favorite would have to be my favorite to play which is “Out of My Head”, which has fast riffs and is really jumpy.

Luc: My favorite is definitely “Fools Gold”. That was one that meant a lot to me. We got back from our two week run across Eastern Canada. I wrote that in one day and I was going through a lot of things and was really happy with how things sounded. I stole Connor’s riff – sorry mate – he wrote something real nice and I just took it and made it into a song.

Nick: “Chasing Ghosts”. It was the first thing we did together with the lineup change and proved we still got it. So it was the evolutionary process and kind of cementing that we’re not done yet.

Luc: We back baby!

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How did you go about finding the artist or artwork for the LP cover?

Nick: So Kevin at Soft Surrogate and his wife does archive design, so we got in touch with them because they’ve worked with a ton of other Canadian artists. We wanted to keep as much of this album as we could in Canada because we are really proud of where we’re from. Although, for lack of a better pun, nothing does grow there. It is frozen nine months of the year, we’re very proud of it.

From the places you’ve toured so far, where was your favorite?

Nick: I’m gonna say Fullerton [California] because we got to hang out with our Equal Vision family and my girlfriend flew down and saw a couple shows. It was the gnarliest venue, dropping like a hundred bucks buying shirts and records inside the venue which was just incredible.

Luc: My favorite show was probably Odessa, Texas. It was so. Much. Fun. It was the best ever. It was the first time I’ve ever seen this: after the show everybody stayed at the venue. The soundman pumped on traditional Mexican tunes and the whole place was bumpin’. It was like a nightclub.

Nick: The venue was an abandoned retail store, too, it was cement walls, cement floor. It was gnarly.

Connor: I’m gonna say the shows we did in Florida were my favorite, and not only the shows, but I was looking for gators the whole time. I’m really into shit like that. Now here we are in Brooklyn, looking for rats.

Where are you excited to head next?

Nick: We got two weeks left and we are excited to get back home. We get home and immediately do our Western Canada tour. Our hometown crowd in the entire Western Canadian scene has been more than family to us than any of us could have ever expected. So to go back to them after this, and have the stories and memories I think is one of the coolest things we get to do.

Luc: We’ve never even played these songs for Canada yet.

Connor: I’m excited to go to Albany because we finally get to meet our manager, who we’ve known for a long time, but we’ve never actually met him. So I’m stoked about that. We’re gonna hang with some Equal Vision peeps, which is always fun. And the homies from Young Culture are coming out.

(Tim) What was it like getting rotator cuff tendonitis during tour? How did that affect the tour and the band?

Tim: Oh well, you know, it was a rough couple of weeks. The boys had to pick up literally all of the slack for me. For two weeks I was just a useless deadweight and they literally hulled around all my stuff – they wiped my ass! It sucked not being able to play, but I had a lot of positive support and the band really helped me out. Even the people back home and at the shows, people were really supportive. Luc ended up playing the drums and singing at the same time for two weeks.

Being from Saint Albert, Canada, what is the music scene like?

Connor: Edmonton, Canada is the best. Western Canada is awesome. We have some of the best shows of our lives just in the Western Canada scene. We haven’t done a ton out in the eastern and central parts of Canada, but when we do get some good crowds.

Luc: Hometown shows are the best, we have people flying off the stage. It’s actually dangerous.

Nick: We lost all three monitors in one song.

Luc: I had to listen for the stage volume. It was crazy.

Connor: We just have an ambulance outside now.

Nick: No, but we got very fortunate to be from such a loving and tight-knit community that goes from Edmonton to Vancouver to Calgary and everything in between. We’ve got people in every city willing to put us up and come out to these shows and sing along. We’ve made such a family between Western Canada it’s amazing.

Who are your musical idols?

Connor: We get asked this a lot and it’s weird because we are all over the place. I’m into all the old, classic rock stuff like Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan’s my boy.

Luc: I listen to weird shit, too. I listen to the heaviest music like Lotus Eater, Acacia Strain, but I also really mess with that trap stuff like Lil Pump. I love Lil Pump, he’s hilarious. But writing style, I’d have to say like Knuckle Puck, The Story So Far. I jam those dudes all the time.

Nick: I’m more or less the hardcore kid out of all of us. I appreciate the business mind as well as how Grayscale and State Champs write their music. For Grayscale to literally run their band as a clothing company that plays music to advertise is one of the smartest things you could ever do.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not doing music?

Connor: At home I worked at a furniture warehouse. I quit that to do this, but all I would do is move furniture and write music, go on tour, come back and move furniture and write music and go on tour.

Luc: Back home, I run my clothing company, Worthless streetwear. I’m also a traditional Métis dancer. Métis means half Native American and half French. It’s actually our own indigenous culture in Canada, there’s the Inuit, First Nations and the Métis. I’m part of the Métis and I’m very active within the community. I MC events and perform dancing all the time. I also quit my job to tour, and what I used to do was be an admin assistant/case worker for a company called Native Counseling Services of Alberta. We help with at-risk young adults aged 18-30 get back on their feet, try to get sober, basically making sure they have all the support that they need to move on to the next step of their life.

Nick: Well I got nothing that cool in my life, I play music, I’m a photographer and I’m a heavy beer connoisseur – there’s a brewery five minutes from my house that sponsors the band because we’re there so much.

Calling All Captains: You mean YOU’RE there so much!

Nick: But yeah, I’ve got a degree in graphic design, I’m dating a hairdresser who’s training to be a tattoo artist, so we’re creative all the time. We’ve got two hairless cats that I have to deal with, one just had surgery.

Connor: They lotion them and sunscreen them.

Nick: I love my cats, man!

Luc: They’re like little people.

Connor: ..All covered in lotion.

Nick: They get like super dry. We’re not human at all back home, everything is dry to begin with. And we found out that Edmonton is on par horizontally with Siberia. So we live where they exile people.

What’s your favorite home cooked meal?

Connor: Whatever’s cooked, man.

Luc: I would kill for some of my mom’s moose meat and mashed potatoes. We’re fortunate to know a lot of aboriginal hunters, so they go on hunting missions with the youth and it’s like a right of passage. In the culture, you share what you get, and they share the wealth. If anybody has a chance to try moose it’s good, definitely try it. You cook it up just as you would a steak.

Nick: I just miss my mom’s cooking. I don’t live at home like these two, so even when I’m home I don’t get homemade meals unless I’m making it. I do a ton of chicken and cauliflower based stuff. My girlfriend was vegetarian for a while, then I converted her back to meat, but we still eat a buttload of not meat.

When you’re touring, what essentials besides band gear are your must-haves?

Connor: Baby wipes and bananas. You gotta wipe down your whole body sometimes. I also just recently got into bananas. If you’re out there and you’re not sure about bananas, they’re fucking good. Give them a try.

Luc: Dry shampoo. Love that stuff. Spray all day. And probably 30 t-shirts. I just love having a different style all the time.

Nick: Beard oil and my phone. I’m tour managing this run so I’m organizing seven different bands and every show. I need so much information, I live on this goddamn thing. So it’s glued to my hip at all times.

Any music video ideas for your new songs?

Luc: Well it’s not gonna be in a house. All of our music videos are just in our houses: my house, Brad’s house, our old singer’s house, and my backyard.

Connor: If you guys have cool ideas, send them to us on Instagram or our email!

Make sure to catch Calling All Captains on tour here!

Check out the full article on Stars & Scars and for video content of Calling All Captains performing at The Kingsland!

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Interview: Rachel Lynn

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I interviewed NYC-based singer/songwriter Rachel Lynn. She is a classically trained vocalist and touring musician who creates original soulful pop music.

What 90’s pop and Motown music inspired you to do your own music?
Rachel Lynn: When I first started exploring music as a young person, I immediately realized that I could feel moved by many different genres of music; I didn’t have to pick just one kind of music to stake my fandom upon. So, the budding singer in me sang along to Amy Grant and Mariah Carey CDs, while I simultaneously found a deep emotional connection to Third Eye Blind and Jimmy Eat World. I had a love affair with The Offspring and Green Day, of course. I remember sitting on the floor of my bedroom listening to Dookie front to back, just in awe, feeling like those songs needed to be written. Then, I’d immediately follow that up with the greats, Celine and Whitney, completely mesmerized by what they could do with their instruments.

My love of old soul blossomed from listening to oldies in the car with my dad when I was growing up. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, The Four Tops, Diana Ross, and Sam & Dave are some of my favorites. There’s just indescribable magic in this music—watching old performances of Sam & Dave was (and still is) just mind-blowing to me, and that magic has always inspired me to perform. Artists like Allen Stone, Amy Winehouse, Marc Broussard, and Leon Bridges are great examples of musicians who have put their own contemporary spin on the magic of old soul, and they’ve proven to be incredibly inspirational for me as well.

My music is definitely pop music at its core, but I hope that with “Didn’t I” and the upcoming EP, listeners can feel the inspiration of these influences.

Are there any other influences that inspire your music writing?

Rachel Lynn: I’m always keeping an ear open to what new artists are doing, and I find that I draw inspiration from so many artists because there’s something extraordinary to take away from most musical experiences. Specifically, I’ve been very inspired by Donna Missal, Terra Naomi, and Nina Storey. They’re all badass women who have been pursuing their crafts for a long time, honing and writing and working and writing some more. Donna has an incredible ability to push and pull and build and go past where you think she (and you) can go; she’s been monumental in influencing my ability to grow a song to its most climactic point. Terra can vocally dance so lightly and effortlessly; it creates an incredibly emotional experience that I’ll forever attempt to capture in my own music. Nina Storey is a powerhouse of fun; her energy and positivity are unmatched, and I feel that listening to her sweet, soothing voice will always be a part of my self-care regimen.

What music are you releasing this year? Anything you can tell us about?

Rachel Lynn: This year I’ll be releasing an EP that features the single, “Didn’t I.” You’ll get a bit of R&B, a bit of 60’s pop, a bit of rock; I’m really hoping to showcase my influences more than I have in the past.

At what age did you start your classical training?

Rachel Lynn: I was participating in children’s choirs and voice lessons early on, but I started studying more seriously in high school as I prepared to go on and pursue my music education in college.

Tell me about donating all your proceeds from your song “Seeing Red” to animal rights organization Mercy For Animals.

Rachel Lynn: “Seeing Red” is a song that revolves around my relationship to veganism and the animal rights movement. It seemed only appropriate to give the song a real purpose by making it an avenue for the support of animal advocacy. That said, all proceeds from the single will be donated to Mercy For Animals on an on-going basis.

I love performing at events and fundraisers that support this cause, so I’ve been a part of a few events at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, and last year, I performed at the NYC Veggie Pride Parade and NYC’s first animal rights music festival, CanILive Music Festival. I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be back at both events this year!

Your song “Didn’t I” was released recently (3/1). How does this song compare to the rest of your music?

Rachel Lynn: I think it shows tremendous growth, which I feel is the goal for every artist as they release new music. I was able to better articulate my vision for this song, and right from the start, my amazing producer, Ali Culotta, and I were on the same page. She was really able to elevate the music to meet the vision we discussed, and I’m really proud of what we created.

What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC?

Rachel Lynn: My favorite thing about being a musical artist in NYC is the endless amount of inspiration. The hardship that inspires me probably doubles as my least favorite thing about being an artist in NYC. There is no shortage of struggle, no lack of hustle, and it takes a lot from you. I can’t imagine doing anything else though, so even though you’re sort of constantly giving from your well (and you’re expected to do so), it’s important to try to replenish yourself as much and as often as you can.

What are your hobbies when you’re not doing music?

Rachel Lynn: My new hobby is making insane amounts of sushi! If you’re making sushi at home, I don’t know how you can not make inappropriate amounts, but maybe there’s someone out there controlling themselves. I also love listening to podcasts (Radiolab, Savage Lovecast, Bearded Vegans, to name a few). I journal religiously, and I’ve recently gotten very campy about collaging in my journal with stickers and magazine cut-outs. It’s wildly fun and oh-so-therapeutic.

What are your upcoming goals?

Rachel Lynn: This month was so incredible; playing five shows in four cities, telling my story to new people, and sharing my music with new audiences. More of that, please.

Is there anything you do before going on stage to shake jitters or get yourself pumped up?

Rachel Lynn: Vocal warm-ups are a must; obviously, I feel more at ease when I’m vocally ready to go. I also really enjoy having a quiet moment with myself before going on stage. It’s nice to just collect my energy and connect with myself before becoming intensely vulnerable during a performance.

What’s your message to people who hear your music?

Rachel Lynn: Thank you for listening! I hope that it resonates with you and brings you some sense of joy or comfort.

Article on Stars & Scars magazine.

Interview: The Haunt

Hailing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, alt-rockers The Haunt just wrapped their European tour. Teenage siblings Anastasia Grace and Maxamillion Haunt merge together for an eclectic sound, combining alternative, indie, rock and roll, garage, and blues. As a victim of bullying, Anastasia had a vision for their music video “All Went Black” which went viral with over 100,000 views. The group partnered with the Stop Bullying Now Foundation to help contribute to putting an end to the epidemic of bullying among today’s youth, empowering them through counseling, life skills training, open communication, and creative outlets. Next up, The Haunt will release “Why Are You So Cold?,” a powerful song that summons the band’s notorious haunting eeriness that burrows into your soul. To learn more about this captivating group, read what I asked them below:

You recently toured Europe. What was your favorite destination and why?

The Haunt: I think collectively our favorite destination was Milan, Italy. We have Italian heritage, so we were already very interested in the country, but when we got there it exceeded our imaginations. It’s a truly beautiful place with lively, wonderful culture and warm-hearted people. Anyone who gets the chance to visit Italy should definitely take up the opportunity.

Where do you plan on touring next?

The Haunt: We’re open! Right now, we’re working on a bunch of different things, such as recording music and videos, writing, and all that jazz, but we’d love to tour anywhere that would have us. We’re dying to visit Asia – Japan specifically.

What’s it like being so young and touring other countries?

The Haunt: It’s not all that different from touring in the U.S., honestly. The biggest difference, aside from the slightly increased energy in some European crowds, is the fact that we lost weight on the European tour, whereas we gained weight in the U.S. LOL. I can’t tell you what the reason is for that, but it’s a thing.

What’s like being a young musician?

The Haunt: I’d say that people automatically want to look down on you just because you’re young. Some other bands think they know more about this business than we do just because we’re young, but the truth is we’ve been doing this for four years, which is much longer than most other bands can say for themselves. It’s really fun winning people over, proving to them that we’re genuine musicians and not some gimmick. I think over the recent years, the climate has changed on young musicians, and it seems like now is one of the most accepting times in the general public for younger acts, and we’re really excited to be coming up in this time period.

What’s it like working together with family?

The Haunt: Exactly as you’d expect it to be. Lots of arguing and fighting but just as much love. It’s not always easy working on something as personal as art with your sibling, but the process has led us to become best friends, which we definitely were not before the band started.

Do you guys play any instruments?

The Haunt: Anastasia plays piano, ukulele, and, of course, sings. I (Max) play piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, synth, and also sing. We’ve been taking music lessons since we were really young, about five years old.

Your self-titled EP was released last year and is spectacular! What can we expect from your upcoming music?

The Haunt: Thank you! The EP was a blast to make, and we were really excited at the response it got. We have a new album on the way. It’s currently titled AREA51, and we’re really excited to share the first single “Why Are You So Cold?” in the next few months. It’s something new and different, so look out for it! 🙂

What do you like to do when you’re not making music?

The Haunt: I (Max) draw a lot, and write short stories. It’s my second passion. Anastasia loves musical theater and has been in a few school musicals, including being Wednesday Addams last year.

Who are your favorite artists to listen to?

The Haunt: We have a really diverse music taste. I’ve always loved more modern rock stuff, like Catfish and the Bottlemen, Royal Blood, K. Flay, Arctic Monkeys. Anastasia’s always loved older classic voices, such as Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Amy Winehouse, and others. Our favorites mix in bands like The White Stripes, The Kills, Cage The Elephant, The Dead Weather. Bands that make modern versions of blues rock. We love that stuff.

What’s the music scene like in Fort Lauderdale?

The Haunt: The music scene in Fort Lauderdale is better than you’d expect. Collectively, the music community here was really good to us. There’s a lot of talent here; the sounds that come out of South Florida are very diverse, and that definitely helped us shape who we are as musicians.

The masks for your “All Went Black” video were terrifying and unique! Where did you get the inspiration for that?

The Haunt: Terrifying and unique is a good assessment. The masks are symbolic of an adolescent society that has been less than kind to each other through recent years, leaving young people feeling insecure, judged, ridiculed, and fearful to be themselves during a time where it’s most important for them to find their value. We wanted to shine a light on that aspect of adolescence and hope to do whatever we can to improve that reality.

To listen to more of The Haunt’s music, click here.

Article on Stars & Scars mag: Stars & Scars

Janaesound in Brooklyn

Powerhouse rock singer, JanaeSound was performing in Brooklyn this past weekend, so she and guitarist Andrew LaVogue stopped by Big Picture Media to chat with me while we snagged photos of them. Janay Woodruff, vocalist, grew up with an operatic background, allowing her to hone her own style musically. Janay shares her inspirations and aspirations with us.

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How was the music scene in St. Louis growing up?

I fell into music kind of accidentally, my choir teacher in grade school pulled me aside after class and started playing on the piano. Played higher and higher and was like, “Wow, you can do that?” He gave me this acapella opera cassette tape that I would try to practice, but my mom would try and hide it from me. One night she came home, thinking I fell asleep to it again but it was actually me in my room singing. She was like, “Oh I feel horrible!” Then, my choir teacher took me on what I thought was a field trip, but it was an audition for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. So my first professional show was at nine years old.

What are your musical inspirations?

Although opera is so beautiful, it is just not for me, so I immediately went into rock, I’ve always loved that. I fell into 80s rock; I love glam rock and the women who ruled that era are so strong, powerful and beautiful in ways that aren’t about physical looks. I was attracted to that strength and admired it so much. I love Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. Vocally, opera and rock are like sisters. You’ve got these long big notes that just grow!

Since the release of your latest singles, “Diamonds” and “Break Me Down” where do you see your music going?

I actually wrote and recorded a full EP, and I’ve just been dropping singles off that. I have a poppier song coming out in March called “Fear”. This year I really want to do more visual content. We’ve already done two video shoots, with another one coming up next week. I want people to learn more about me, and I think video is a good way to do that. All my songs are uplifting, moving, and hopefully encouraging to people that listen.

What was the concept behind your video for “Diamonds”?

The concept about “Diamonds” is about transforming so I wanted it to be relatable. The video was all white so you could put whatever you want in there. Basically, we’re back to back, signifying how hard things are.

Since you just wrapped shooting the video for “Break Me Down” what can you share with us about it?

Without revealing too much, there is a lot of movement. You have to take a look for yourself when it comes out!

Other than shooting videos, do you have any other things in the works coming up?

Our favorite part is performing, so we do well over 100 shows a year. After this Saturday’s show at the Bitter End, we have to rush back to Portland [Maine] at Merrill Auditorium for a show. We have this really cool project with a VR component: a screen will be behind me and I’ll be wearing trackers on my arms. Then we’re doing a BMI showcase in LA, hitting Nashville in the summer and a few fests.

Where does “Janaesound” come from?

Sometimes artists are treated like a product, and I wanted to disassociate from that. I am Janay Woodruff: I’m a person and that is something to be loved, not to be used or sold. But Janaesound, we’re gonna sell that! I want it everywhere, everything, so I dropped the “Y” and added the “E”.

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Crimson Apple

I sat with pop-alternative band, Crimson Apple on the first of November at Big Picture Media Studios. It was unseasonably warm, so we took advantage of the sunny day to take the interview on the rooftop. The four-piece band is comprised of four beautiful sisters, each with their own unique style. Their message is strong: to inspire and stay true to themselves. Originating from Hawaii, the Big Apple is a long ways away from home.

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What was the move like from Hawaii to Los Angeles?

Shelby: It was really hectic and it happened really fast. Hawaii is a very different lifestyle and a lot more laid back. Moving to LA, it’s a lot more fast-paced and more to do.

Colby: New York is surprisingly more faster-paced than Los Angeles. It definitely is an overload of the senses. It’s actually really cool and unique here. Lots of walking, which is really good for our health.

Since being signed with Amuse Group how have things changed?

Colby: Things have changed quite a bit. When we were doing things DIY, everything was very in-house. A lot of things we were doing stayed within our family, we were doing things on our own. When we signed with Amuse, we had so many more resources, more help, we were able to be connected with amazing producers and songwriters. We really feel like our sound has grown to the next level. Our vision that we couldn’t always complete on our own, we can finally acquire what we’ve envisioned our whole lives for our sound to be.

The music video for your new single, “Can’t Get Out Of Bed” recently released. How do you feel it turned out?

Colby: We are so proud of this music video. It’s kind of crazy because when we were writing the song, we were visualizing what the video would be like. We thought of the four of us all in red, which represents our blood and our family, and how we were trying to break out of this house, which symbolized our careers and going to the next level. When we gave our vision to our director, she totally understood it. We filmed in a day, with everything moving so smoothly and perfectly. The final product was better than we even envisioned.

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So you’re all sisters and you’re in a band together. You must like each other. How do you maintain professionalism and your personal lives?

Carthi: It’s really hard because we’re always working and sometimes when we want to have family time, we end up talking about our work. It’s just natural for us. So sometimes we have to say, “Okay no talking about any band business, we’re just gonna have a normal time and relax.” But it’s also kind of cool because we’re always on it, we’re always working. So it’s important to have that balance.

Colby: It’s a good and bad thing because it’s within our family, we are able to be so open with our ideas and it’s always flowing for us. At the same time we get tired out, say we’re sitting watching a movie and someone will say, “Hey you know what we should do for this song?” like no, we should really just watch the movie and hang out as sisters.

Faith and Carthi: You only had a few months to learn your instruments before your first live performance. How did you make that happen?

Faith: Lots of practice?

Carthi: The first few shows were rough. I couldn’t move on stage, I had stage fright pretty bad, but just practiced a lot.

Colby: I think because Shelby and I were already experienced, we were able to be with them as they learned their instruments. They say when you’re trying to learn something new you should be with someone who’s already experienced at it because it makes you learn and grow that much faster.

What would be your dream tour?

Faith: Personally for me I would want to go to Europe.

Shelby: Japan, and to see the rest of the U.S. This is our first year touring the U.S. and so far every state kind of has its own unique vibe. It’s been cool to experience our country!

Who would you tour with if you could choose?

Faith: Taylor Swift

Colby: Halsey, oo Twenty One Pilots! We just saw them at Madison Square Garden! They were amazing. Mind blown. It was our first time seeing them, we were so lucky we got tickets to see them.

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What do you miss most about Hawaii?

Crimson Apple: the food, the people.

Colby: We have a lot of friends and one thing I think is really unique about Hawaii is that there is this fusion of cultures and it’s really family oriented. You can meet a stranger, and the fact that you’re from Hawaii and be like “Hi aunty, hi uncle”.

Shelby: Meat jun. It’s basically really thin beef marinated in like a teriyaki sauce but it’s better than that, then you fry it in egg.

Colby: We found out it’s a fusion dish. It’s from a mixture cultures that created that michan. We also miss Hawaiian poke.

Shelby: We have friends in California that always go to the poke places and we try to explain to them, “This is good, but Hawaiian poke is better”.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Colby: I think one of our biggest inspirations as a group is that we’re doing it together as a family. We’re always pushing each other and relying on each other so we’re feeling that responsibility to do well for each other. We’re in it together. Our parents is one of our inspirations because they are so massively supportive of us, we are so blessed to have them. They put so much into us so it’s important for us to succeed for them.

Who do you make your music for?

Colby: People our age, we’re going through a lot of things our peers are going through. We write about our real life experiences, and we feel like there are a lot of people like us that are  going through the same things and that’s really who we’re writing for. The four of us all collaborate to write the music together.

What’s your favorite part about being a musician?

Crimson Apple: All of it!

Shelby: It’s so much fun. Me personally, I think I like performing live. I love being on stage and performing for people.

Colby: For me, I think I’ve always loved songwriting the most. I think it’s because I’m a really introverted person and I’m kind of reserved. From a young age, music was the only way I knew how to express how I was feeling. I like challenging myself to come up with a cool metaphor or create something that is relatable to people.

Carthi: I really do like all of it. It would be easier for me to say I don’t like the business side of it. Everything else is amazing.

Faith: I really like all of it too. Whatever I’m doing in the moment. Right now we’re on tour so I like playing live and meeting people. Inspiring people, because not a lot of people can do what we do.

How do you guys get pumped before going on stage?

Shelby: We have a strange ritual. It basically involves us crossing hands and holding hands with some yelling involved.

Faith: A lot of “LEHH”

Colby: It kind of originated in this moment where we were kind of going through something really rough during practice one day, feeling this weight on our shoulders, and all of a sudden Carthi just started yelling, and we were all like “that’s what we need to do right now”. So we all just let it out and that moment was special for us so we included it in our performance ritual.

You all have amazing style. Who are your style icons and where do you get your inspiration from?

Faith: Aw man! I love Korean fashion, I love Gigi Hadid, she is my fashion icon.

Colby: I love Dua Lipa. She is so fly all the time, I love her fashion sense.

Crimson Apple is finishing up their EP, and will be finishing up the remainder of their tour in Florida and Texas. Check them out here!selectcloseup

Interview with Handsomebeast

I sat with Handsomebeast before their show at Pianos in New York, the third stop of their September tour. The venue is homely, with a romantically lit bar area. With music blaring downstairs from band Tygersounds, Nick(singer) and Jacob(bass) decided to go to the lounge-like upstairs area to find somewhere we can actually hear each other.

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Nick and Jacob of Handsomebeast

What can you tell us about your new song, “Playboi”, the first released song in two years?

Nick: It was a conscious seat change for us to go from making stuff that was a hundred miles an hour, to something that was more minimal and direct to the mind and the booty.

Jacob: It’s definitely more on the sleek, stylish, music you could make love to.

What’s the difference between this song and your older work?

Nick: This is the first time we’ve had music where there’s outside inspiration besides, “let’s just get into the studio and make a song”. We were really into watching these heist movies at the time, so we wanted to see if we could distill that vibe into music. At the same time, we wanted to experiment with more minimalism, compared to what we used to do. We’d also use some beats from old Houston hip-hop from the early 2000s, late 90s to make something more sexy and soulful.

Stylistically, have you guys adapted to this mentality to reflect in your everyday lives?

Jacob: It definitely changed out stage presence and the way we present ourselves as a band. We want to make sure we stay in character. We’re all about trying to look sleek and fly, especially when we play. We want to create this dreamworld like a movie. Before it was kind of all over the place, we didn’t really have a direction, so everything is more compact.

Nick: To speak for Jacob, it’s not dreamlike. This is who we are, we commit a lot of crimes, so we needed some music to creep along to while we’re doing that! (Laughing) But yeah, we’re all into unique fashion, and this is the type of music people want to listen to. The hip-hop influence is mid-tempo, sexual backbeats to the song to add to the story we are telling.

Going forward, is this the direction your new music is headed?

Nick: Yes definitely. It’s not a linear story, but you will hear sonically a lot of things that would belong in the same evening, the same city, late night Houston, late night Miami Vice, if you will, maybe New Orleans, some debauchery like that. After releasing the video for “Playboi”, there’s going to be more visuals that kind of centers around the character of the Playboi and his Goons.

What’s your favorite part of being a musician: writing music, performing, or creating a music video?

Nick: The best moment of making music is when you have a song down, and write before you record the first demo that the song is gonna be dope and see the natural progression of what’s gonna happen next. To get the recording and live version right.

Jacob: It’s really fun to see friends, family, and fans react to the video that we spent all this time on. We kept it secret for a while, so when it came out people would come up to us and say, “That was really cool”, “That was really funny”, “What happens next?”. Nick came up with this beat and words, so we played with it, flushed it out, and it became this funky groovy thing. After recording it, we started talking about video ideas. Richard White, from New Orleans, filmed it and it became this whole Playboi and his Goons thing.

Nick: It became cohesive, where the songs meet the visuals. Musically, we became a lot more simple and it was challenging to not fill up every space and make it breathe.

Jacob: We really wanted to keep it raw and put in some of our favorite things about playing music. There’s a lot of groovy riffs, making it funky, and psychedelic nature.

What are you guys looking forward to after this tour?

Nick: There’s a lot more music in the chamber, but I don’t want to go too far and reveal, because you need, as you know, the element of surprise.

Jacob: Before we used to try to make stuff fit for an album and sometimes it was rushed. This time we wanna make sure everything we put out is catchy, fun, and cohesive.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Nick: Paraguay. Asunción, Paraguay. That’s where my mom is from.

Jacob: I think for ⅘ of the band it would probably be Austin City Limits. Because we grew up watching Austin City Limits.

Nick: Oh, ahh! Ahh! There’s only one place we wanna play: It’s on Hot Ones. The show with hot questions and even hotter wings! We just wanna be on that damn show. Sean Evans, get us on there, dude. We have what it takes, especially Peewee. He’s bred for Hot Ones.

Jacob: We love hot sauce.

Do you all live in Houston now?

Nick: Yes we all live there. Everyone grew up in Houston, except for me. And they all grew up playing music, they all taught each other how to play multiple instruments. Some of them are related, some of them might as well be related, we all might as well be related at this point. We’ve been friends for over ten years now. The band started in 2009 when we were going to school in New Orleans, but it didn’t start going consistently until I graduated in 2013.

Why Pianos?

Nick: Our good friends in Tygersounds, shout out to them are killing it right now. They are the 80s distilled into a syringe full of futuristic nostalgia. Isn’t that interesting? They helped us choose this venue.

What do you think about New York?

Nick: We adore New York, New York destroys us because we’re slow-moving Texans. And whenever we get into the city, traffic moves at a different rate than we’re used to. I’m from D.C. originally and I have a lot of friends and family that live in New York. It’s the best rock and roll band in the history of time and we love it!

Jacob: It does scare us Texans, though. Where’s all the yards and livestock? Haha, it’s beautiful, it’s just crazy how many people are jam packed over here. It’s a little overwhelming.

Nick: You would think there would be a moment where someone was like, “we’re good”, but they weren’t! They were like keep building! Do the highways need to make sense? No. Don’t worry about that.

Fall is approaching, what is your favorite and least favorite thing about the Fall?

Nick: Favorite thing is football starting. Fall is the shit. Fall is the best time of the year in Houston it’s super gorgeous.

Jacob: I love Halloween. Least favorite would be my allergies. We live in a swamp. And hurricanes! They always come, especially in Houston. And you think, “oh, it’s just gonna be some rain. Wait a minute, then the next day it’s a tropical storm and the next day it’s a Category 4.

What would your alter ego name be?

Nick: We have a LOT of alter egos. The characters that we help portray, who are based in reality, is the Playboi and the Goons. But if you wanna get more in depth, we have a lot of different characters if check out our Instagram @handsomebeasttx. There’s two super duos of the Eurotrash ElectroRAVE Supergroup: Nite Luvr called Teslo Delorean and Ferraro Maserati.

Jacob: If you follow our Instagram or Youtube we like to make funny commercials and skits. There’s a lot of alter egos.

Nick: We’re SO funny.

How do you guys get pumped before going on stage?

Nick: We do interviews with someone like you! You know what’s funny is 98% of the time when you’re touring is downtime and waiting. So you learn over the course of doing it to not let your energy get to high during the day. We have done calisthenics in the past and we have to start getting back into that.

Jacob: Jumping jacks help. Couple boys in the band like to have a drink or have a smoke, fog out a van.

Nick: Sometimes we will sit in front of a mirror, all five of us, side by side, just VOGUING for 30-40 minutes. You basically just ate a bunch of Zoolanders and it gets the job done!

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Nick and Jacob

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Peewee

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Jacob

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Published on Stars and Scars Magazine.