Posts filed under Jams

Editorial: Sounds of the House

A Few of my Dad's Favorite Things

A little over a month ago, my life's axis tilted in one of those slow motion, paradigm-shifting ways, like in the movies when you see the realization of sudden news unfold in the face of a character you know and are rooting for. My mom called on an unusually gray afternoon and shared the news, in measured pauses, that my dad had passed away. Since that day, it has been a mix of emotions and mental mazes with each day bringing some aspect of this new reality to bear. As the news took root and I spent the subsequent weeks at home making arrangements and spending time with family, one of the realizations that hit me was that my dad filled our home with sound. He had a love of music, timepieces and play. Some of my dad's favorites were the Lettermen, Beatles, Beach Boys, Bee Gees and ABBA. I have fond memories of these records playing on a weekend morning filling the apartment with these melodies. Now that he is gone, the sounds of my childhood home will be forever different but not forgotten. This first post since Fashion & Philosophers' hiatus is dedicated to my dad.

Edgar Yenesa Magallanes was born in 1953 in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. He had two brothers and two sisters. While earning a degree in economics and studying engineering, he had a dream to move to the United States. After college, he befriended and won the affection of a pretty lady named Eva, who had just moved to the Manila area. Their friendship grew and they were married in 1976. The following year, they welcomed their first child, a son named Gary Michael, to the family. In 1981, my dad was recruited by an IT company, which required him to move to Los Angeles. A risky and faithful move, my dad went to LA to work and eventually landed a job in New York City in the World Trade Center. Shortly after, he was able to send for my mom and brother and they were reunited at Christmastime in 1982. Three years later, a spirited baby girl came along. ;)

As we were preparing for my dad's memorial service, one of the surprises of the whole process was discovering a photo album that I have never lain eyes on in my 28 years. It was a brown leather album with "Family Heritage" in gold script lettering on the cover. Inside were pictures of my dad from childhood to the early years of marriage. My dad has always been very sensitive about his past due to an estrangement from his family ever since I could remember. My mom kept these photos hidden for years and unearthed the album after a vigorous search. As I looked at the photos, this whole other side of my dad's life was finally revealed and I spent hours poring over the photos imagining the stories behind the pictures.

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One of the best discoveries from this album was finding photos of my parents in the early years of their marriage. In my recent memory, they have definitely had their share of difficulties. It was nice to see them so happy and in love. In another photo album, the first third of photo sleeves was filled with 3x5 photos with handwritten notes on the back of each photo. We learned that when my dad first traveled to LA for work, he took pictures and wrote little captions and notes on the back of each photo and then mailed them to my mom. These were their postcards.

Processing the last weeks with a few close friends, I asked them about their most poignant memory of my dad. After some thought, they shared remembering my dad's love to dance during parties and celebrations. I was so pleased to find these photos of my mom and dad boogieing in the 70's and putting it side by side with this more recent photo. Still got it.

After a decade of battling various health issues and heart ailments, my dad is now free. I feel a duality of relief and love for my father but also grief and confusion because as much as we know the facts about life and death, loss stings. It just does. Even as his health declined, Edgar's mind and spirit remained strong until his passing. His visiting nurse remarked that "Edgar has a fighting spirit." I could not agree more. With each day, I have been increasingly comforted and loved on by the people in our lives, increasingly aware that life is a gift and compelled to live our limited days fully, and increasingly thankful that God's grace, character and love abound in ways that I continue to explore and appreciate. Though he is no longer with us, his memory and his legacy will live on. The sounds of my childhood home will be different now but fortunately, I have a few of his old records, timepieces, games, and dance moves to remind me of his ways. We love you and miss you dad. Happy Father's Day.

Editorial: Gladwell & Johnnyswim Cognitions

Johnnyswim @ Gypsy Sally's Up Close & Personal

Malcolm GladwellThis week, I attended a healthcare interoperability conference in which Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote address. A reader of his books and admirer of his meticulous research methods, I left the conference with several takeaways. Also this week, I went to Gypsy Sally's, a freshly minted Americana live music venue in Georgetown, to see Johnnyswim perform. What does this have to do with each other? Stick with me for a couple minutes. Reframing the Question

On the daily, the factors of the day determining one's choice of dress very well could be "Is it clean?" "Does it fit?" "Is it comfortable?" "Does it go?" All these are reasonable criteria. I make decisions based on these factors. In matters of dress, the desire is not to have you dress for someone else or dress according to someone else's rules (the fashion industry's do's and don'ts can be fleeting and cyclical). Rather than letting the question be one where the void is filled by a competing number of media and ads, I would encourage the question to revise to "what is your style? what do you want it to be?" Is it funky? edgy? boho? tailored and sleek? classic? comfortable? casual chic? eclectic? color-centric? avant garde?

The global fashion industry is valued at an estimated $1.7 trillion and employs approximately 75 million people. With a valuation that large and an employ worldwide, fashion intersects with each of our lives at some level. Everyday, we put on garments. The daily question of "what am I going to wear today?" lies central to the existence of fashion publications and brands that vie for influence in the choices you make of which garments to purchase and wear. It's worth it to reframe the question to know for yourself what kind of style you like and feel most yourself in before anyone else persuades you otherwise.

Sampler of Fashion MagazinesMaybe you are searching and do not want to commit to one style. That is fine. More than fine actually! Fashion like art allows us to feel, escape, and dream. Fashion and functionality allow us to fulfill daily demands and get things done. However, if you can determine your anchor by answering the fundamental question "what is your style? And what do you want it to be?," the rest of fashion is open to you for play. That is the beauty of style, there are numerous ways you can engage or reinvent your style. Sometimes, all it takes is a few accessories, a tailored coat, or a great shoe. Maybe you want to challenge yourself and see how many ways you can style a dress or pair colored jeans. Maybe you like to layer accessories and mix family heirlooms with modern costume jewelry. Perhaps your anchor is classic black or the little black dress affectionately referred to as the LBD. Maybe button downs and slacks are your uniform but ties and your beard are your playground (for the guys reading this). Awesome. It doesn't have to be rocket science. It doesn't have to be a consumerist nightmare. It can be fun, freeing, and doable. So I encourage you to make like Gladwell and reframe the question.

Suck It (Naysayers), You Can Do It

One of the purposes (porpoise) of the blog is to encourage and empower readers to take care in their dress, courage in their choices, and savvy in their purchasing power...of course with some whim to boot. There are photos of established designer collections or referrals to stores that feature ideas and labels. For us, the message is less about the price point or about the must-have thing. It's more about showcasing authentic and ordinary style awesomeness and discovering the inspiration that a designer employs in their creations. Sometimes the inspiration is historical, deeply personal, an amalgam of different influences, or it's simply fun. While this blog is not about more, it is about finding the freedom and joie de vivre in fashion that best expresses and brings out what's already inside you.

Johnnyswim Up Close & PersonalDuring the live show at Gypsy Sally's, Johnnyswim performed a newer song called "Diamonds." Prefacing the song, Abner, lead guitarist and singer, explained the genesis of the song. When leaving his native Cuba, a friend made pretty dismissive statements regarding his dream to become a professional musician in the US. A couple years later, a marriage, and a lot of hard work, Johnnyswim performed on the Tonight Show. Following the performance, the same friend called Abner and rather than offer congratulations, he asked who they had to pay off to get that performance spot. This interaction inspired Abner to write this song as a statement to the naysayers "to essentially suck it" and as Amanda eloquently added to the song's message, it's also about the positive affirmation of "hey, you can do it!" As NY Fashion Week blazes on and new trends, style guides, and campaigns ensue, I encourage you to reframe the question.

This weekend, Fashion & Philosophers is giving away a signed copy of Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, David & Goliath. To enter the giveaway, refer this blog to a friend and let us know by commenting below or tagging @fashionphilos on twitter or @fashionphilosophers on instagram. The pool will close Sunday at 11:59pm EST and one winner will be announced Monday morning. 

Maven Style: Lupita Nyong'o

Rising star and emergent actress Lupita Nyong'o has captured all of our attention with her work in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. With quite the cultural background, Lupita was born in Mexico City, raised in Kenya and now based in Brooklyn. Not only is Lupita getting acclaim for her performances but she is also receiving recognition for her sartorial taste. We couldn't agree more. 

LN Miu Miu Campaign

Lupita also appears as part of the quartet of rising talent for Miu Miu's spring 2014 campaign. As many are out of the office today for the holiday, I can't help but think what an amazing time it is to be alive. For all the struggle and the hard work and the dreams dreamt that those like Martin Luther King Jr. fought for, so as to bring about a culture in this country that cherishes and seeks freedom, equality, love, and compassion - I am so glad to be alive in this generation. There's so much to do and to continue to fight for but there's so much hope. Thank you MLK for all that you gave. May we be people whose dreams have the conviction and love for others that you gave so abundantly. [soundcloud url = "https://soundcloud.com/paulmccartney/blackbird-woa" /]

Jams: She Speaks I Write about You Sing I Write

Write

Jams: She Speaks I Write about You Sing I Write Today, the popular music blog You Sing I Write (YSIW) turns this many...(hold up a high five + other thumb)! If you are still playing with your hands, the go-to music source that provides exclusive, behind the scenes features on some of today's most talented musicians turns 6 years! By today's millennial standards, that's mid-career stuff! Kudos!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Kidding aside, YSIW is a great music blog that puts hours and hours of research into its features going the extra mile (literally) so readers don't have to. Articles and interviews share a close glimpse into the life changes and thought processes behind an emerging or established artist's lyrics and stories.

Fashion & Philosophers thought it would be fun to turn the tables on YSIW's founder and writer, Annie Reuter, and have her share her journey with us on building her career and blog in music journalism. We spent the day in Brooklyn's picturesque Prospect Park sitting underneath a tree sharing stories, listening to a reggae-soul festival across the pond, and watching photography students belly-down take meticulous pictures of blades of grass. It was as awesome as it sounds.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset On Humble Beginnings I started my blog in 2007 thinking my dad and a few friends would read it. My dad is my biggest fan. He follows me on twitter and when he responds to tweets, he texts me instead. It's great. The blog started as a creative outlet and became very personal. It shares a positive outlook toward life and music. I only write things and people I am passionate about and hope that people can see my love for music through the writing.

Writings on the Wall I interned for Jane Magazine and then MTV News. My articles have been featured in Marie Claire, The Boot, LemonDrop, Hoboken Patch, Billboard, Rolling Stone. Currently, I work for CBS Radio.com interviewing pop and country bands and covering shows for all of CBS' music sites. I also freelance for Billboard and Rolling Stone on occasion.

On Robin Thicke I interviewed him the week before "Blurred Lines" went to #1 and he was very personable. He wore sunglasses the whole time so that threw me off because you want an interview to flow organically and it's hard to make it feel like a conversation when you can't see someone's eyes. He shared that he and T.I. were in the studio and wanted to make a follow up inspired by one of Marvin Gaye's songs, "We had the chorus and we had our old man BBQ dance. We were just dancing around. Then Pharell came up with the hook "hey. hey. hey." And that was that." That was one of the interviews we used almost everything. We mostly discussed relationships and he talked about his wife, Paula Patton. They have been together since they were teenagers and he had a lot of good things to say about commitment and making it work. Basically, choose one person that you're willing to lower walls and allow them to hurt you because it will happen. But you choose each other and you give them everything. Nothing held back.

Interview Methodology I really research for interviews including diving into the lyrics of albums. I look for the stories behind the songs and really try to ask them different questions. These artists are interviewed over and over and I would like them to know that I care about who they are and why they've shared what they have with the world.

YSIW Cover PageFavorite Interviews 1) Switchfoot - They were my first interview for the blog. It was a huge highlight to be able to sit down with one of my favorite songwriters and ask questions about certain lyrics and how songs came together. 2) Lady Antebellum - I only had 10 minutes with them so I spent the entire weekend researching them and trying to find a question they haven't been asked before. I ended up asking them "Is there a song that means more to them now than when they first wrote it?" I had them stumped for 30 seconds. It was a YESSS moment because you know they haven't been asked this before. 3) Pat Benatar - We talked on the phone for 20 minutes during her book promotion for Between a Heart and a Rock Place. She was humble, modest and so personable. It was such a pinnacle moment.

Show that Blew Your Mind Gaslight Anthem. Partly because I worked with the drummer, Benny Horowitz, at our college newspaper. I went to see his show and that show was only the second time I crowd surfed. Seeing him succeed and follow his dream was very personal because I knew him. Gaslight Anthem went on to open for Bruce Springsteen and do other great things. Everytime they come through, I will go see them. I feel like a proud mother.

Favorite music venue.  Rockwood Music Hall on the corner of Allen and East Houston. They host a great mix of rock bands, singer songwriters and curate who plays their stages. I haven't been to one show there that I haven't liked.

Artist to Watch Matthew Mayfield. He was signed to Columbia and Epic Records at 19 but for some reason was dropped off the label. I saw him at a show in New York and the moment he opened his voice, it was so beautiful, I ask myself why isn't he the same status as John Mayer. His songs are emotional, guitar playing aggressive wafting into softer ballads, his voice gritty. When I went to LA, I met with him and dove into his lyrics. Artists like him write their own stuff and you know it comes from a certain place.

Measuring Success I am a girl that loves and is passionate about music. After posting an interview, bands have reached out to me and thanked me for writing a thoughtful feature. I don't really pay attention to analytics. I am a music lover that wants to share with you why you should listen to this band and go to a show. I like promoting the underdog. When I started, I didn't have access to the A-list of artists. I went to little clubs and covered shows and now that I do have access to the A-list, my outlook remains the same.

WriteOn Being the Underdog Writing is all I have ever wanted to do. A lot of people had their doubts. I would tell people, YES, I want to work for Rolling Stone one day. I think I am the type of person that thrives on criticism and people doubting so I can prove them wrong and show them that I can get to that place. If you want something bad enough, you are going to work for it.

On Hard Work During my internship with MTV News, my colleagues told me to start a blog and write everyday to work on my writing skills. That October (2007), I started YSIW. That same year, MTV News also began a concert blog composed of user-generated content. I began posting my reviews on this site and since my colleagues were familiar with my writing, they posted my pieces on the homepage. Through this opportunity, I reached out to artists like Steven Jenkins from Third Eye Blind. Ending up pitching this story to a few colleagues and through their contacts, Marie Claire liked the pitch and I began writing for them in 2009.

While I worked on contract for WebMD to pay the bills, many of my workdays would end at 10pm. That was just how it went. At the same time, I knew that Billboard was looking for writers to cover country so I reached out to a journalist friend and she gave me her editor's contact. I emailed pitches and story ideas for a year. It took ONE YEAR to get a break and she ended up assigning me a different show than I originally pitched so I knew it was more out of necessity. I did the review and sent it in a timely manner. She assigned me to another show. Then another. That was how I began writing for Billboard. Persistence showed her that I was serious.

I didn't have a backup plan. Many of the bands that I interview agree that there was no backup plan for them. I had this goal, dove into it, and didn't really see walls. Many people told me to get another job but I just couldn't. In 2010, I moved to Brooklyn while freelancing. I had money saved but living as a freelancer, paying rent, bills, etc., your bank account can dwindle. I was at the point where I literally had one more month's worth of rent to my name. At 26 years old, I was questioning my life. There would be moments where things would align for a little while - an interview at Billboard, an assignment to cover a show, etc. In between those, I actually applied at a local florist and a diner just so I could make ends meet while freelancing after my contract with WebMD ended.

Eventually, I reached out to a friend who worked for CBS. Interestingly, they just started their music department in their NYC local office. My friend forwarded my resume and writing clips to the Director of Music. He reached out to me and I interviewed one Friday. The next Friday, they offered me a choice - either freelance or full-time work. This was it! I graduated in 2007 and spent five years working on my passion trying to figure it out. This was the right place at the right time. When you're going through it, it is daunting. In retrospect, it all makes sense now. Five years after graduation, I was hired at CBS with full-time pay, benefits, and vacation as an Associate Producer for Top 40. This was a dream come true!

Brooklyn MuralOn Persistence It took 6 years to get to this place and it was not easy. I was determined but people were telling me that this wouldn't happen. You question, "Why am I taking my third unpaid internship?" If you really want something, you will find a way to make it work. One of my favorite quotes is by American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, "Follow your bliss and windows will open where there were only walls." For me this is true. I want a job that I wake up and love to go to everyday. You do need to get paid. But it's special that I do love going to work everyday. The short stint where I took a paying job and wasn't writing was miserable. If there is something you want to do, then you will look at obstacles as small challenges to leap over.

On Faith I feel more in tune with my faith when I am at a concert than traditional church, which probably sounds strange and a little sacrilegious. I had faith that this would work out. Someone up there is guiding you even if it doesn't make sense. We are all going towards something. There is a reason.

On Women in Music Journalism  Music journalism is a very male dominated industry. There was a time at a press conference, I was taking notes and a guy came up to me and asked if I was a groupie. I was shocked. Sometimes they assume a female in the room has only one purpose. But I want to show them differently. 

Jancee Dunn has a music memoir sharing stories from interviews with the likes of Dolly Parton and Bono. How she started out is she met a contact at a party and in a ballsy move forwarded her resume and was hired at Rolling Stone. She became a red carpet MTV VJ and is a New York Times bestselling author. My high school English teacher told me about her best friend's daughter making it as a music writer and I never made the connection that Jancee was her until a few years ago. Seeing her make it inspires me to work hard too.

Prospect Park BridgeNan Kelley is a very personable TV personality on CMT and GAC. At work, I have been doing more camera wrap up clips for CBS. Each day I do one, I wake up in the morning and feel like throwing up. Seeing Nan talk with artists like good friends gives me motivation to push myself out of my comfort zone and get better.

My first time at the CMA Festival in Nashville, I was at a press panel with rotating door of A list country artists. During Darius Rucker's interview, I kept my hand raised the whole time while journalists shouted the artist's name and their question. His publicist ended the session after several minutes and as they were trying to usher Rucker offstage, he stopped them, pointed to me, and said "You've been so patient this entire time. What's your question?" I have been fortunate to interview him two more times since then. One thing I learned, keep raising your hand.  Photo Credits: Fashion & Philosophers

Travels: Sweet Southern Hospitality #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 2

Nashville Photoshoot

Travels: Sweet Southern Hospitality #Downsouthtour Recap Pt. 2 If you missed Part 1 of the summer #downsouthtour, you can read it here. Onward and westward with a sunny day ahead of us, Tiffany and I headed from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Meeting up with our friends Victoria and TJ, we perused a few shops on Frazier Avenue, stopped for a quick bite at Mojo Burrito, and viewed the revitalization happening on Main Street.

Tiffany's show that night was at Highland Park in a large, unfinished garage on an open lot. Hosted by a group of artists called "Flock With Me," the show was packed with young, punk, artistic people. Tiffany performed an upbeat set on guitar and keys alongside another musician, poetry and spoken word. Sincere and searching, the Flock With Me group is earnest in their desire to freely create and have fun while doing it.

The next day, we drove to our final city - the musical town of Nashville. Arriving in the early afternoon, we stopped at a few shops on Woodland Street (will post more on this later in the week) before heading to the Listening Room Cafe. The Listening Room is a great venue on 2nd avenue that prolifically showcases artists - from blues, country, pop, acoustic folk, etc.

Tiffany performed that night in a writer's round with Jenn Bostic, Phil Barton, and Emily Shackleton. Each artist performed an alternating song list featuring their unique styles and where appropriate provided harmonies on each other's songs. Jenn even had a musician and friend of hers come out to accompany each artist on the cahone. It was a fun night that engaged a crowd of over 50 strong. Feedback, sweet meetings and reunions, and CD sales flowed thereafter. Dinner, drinks, good conversation, and a restful stay at Jenn's place in the Gulge area was the perfect way to cap the tour.

Farewell at the Airport

A full day ahead of us, Tiffany and I toured around Nashville driving through the main strip and Music Row. We visited a vintage shop set to reopen this week (will post more on this later), did a photo shoot in the afternoon, and then grabbed lunch before my flight back to DC. The #downsouthtour took us through four cities in five days, 1800 miles of pavement, and amazing memories. The sweetness of the trip is in part to the depth and thoughtfulness that our hosts showed in welcoming us to their homes. Traveling long distances, it meant a great deal to receive such enormous hospitality. It taught me a lot about what it is to share hospitality and how beautiful it is when it is genuinely shared together. Pineapples aside, it was an incredible trip for both of us. Tiffany and I deepened our friendship, gained courage for next steps in both of our lives, and are excited to plan the next tour by the end of the year. Stay tuned for a post later this week on a few great spots in Nashville for vintage and contemporary fashion!