Nightlife

Living Hour: Winnipeg Dreamers with Ethereal Vibe

Touring the US and Canada in the confines of a 2003 Toyota Sienna doesn’t paint a very glamourous picture, but Winnipeg band Living Hour makes it work, and delivers astounding music along the way. The five-man ensemble brings with them dreamy soundscapes, full of evocative lyrics, superior musical talent, and a lot of future promise. With a strong vocal backbone from Sam Sarty (vocals, trombone, keyboard), musicians Gil Carroll (guitar), Adam Soloway (guitar, vocals), Alex Chochinou (drums), and Mischa Decter (bass) are able to shine. Just a few months after releasing their self-titled album, the group has hit the road for a six-week tour.

Across the board, Living Hour’s songs instill a sense of nostalgia, of hazy summer sunsets and picturesque days. “There’s some powerful moments, and it’s very emotional,” Sarty said. “We try to make it ethereal and atmospheric and there’s a pop undertone that some people call shoegaze.” While Living Hour has some definite shoegaze qualities, they’re hesitant to identify fully with the genre. Guitarist Gil Carroll noted that upon its inception, Living Hour was more straight forward indie-rock, but the addition of Sarty’s vocals transformed it into a dreamier, more “pretty” sound. “I still consider us a really young band, so our sound is changing all the time and continues to develop,” he said.

Despite the profoundly airy quality of their music, Sarty said that, for her, the band’s name derives from the feeling of being more alive than ever while doing what she loves. “I like to think that sometimes people are a little turned off and not living in the now or being present,” she said. “I find that when you perform, it’s one of the most present moments that you can be in. You’re living in the hour.”

Kicking off a live set at Elastic Arts in Chicago, the song “Nude” set the stage for a solid performance. Underlying bass tones give the feeling of waking up slowly and starting out the day, with pops of drum to liven things up. Slowly, Sarty’s vocals merge in and the result is a layered, strolling song that leaves the listener wondering how nine and a half minutes have gone by in such a wistful blur.

Later, “Miss Emerald Green” showed the full range of Sarty’s vocals, as well as the skill of guitarists Carroll and Soloway. Starting with the inviting warmth of a lounge singer, Sarty belts out lyrics like, “You’ve grown so tired of the same scene/ You’ve been living in.” The singer says that she pulls from many different places for the feeling she puts into the song. “One day I’ll relate that to growing up in a small town like Winnipeg, or the next day I’ll think about ‘Person X’ and feeling isolated.” With Decter’s bass lines throughout, there is a strong feeling of longing, but right before it gets too heavy, a pop of horn keeps things upbeat. It’s a fun song that conjures the memory of a high school dance coming to a close.

With all of the feelings that their songs evoke, the creative process for Living Hour can take some time. Carroll said, “We’ll start with one singular idea but then everyone will just do their own thing and eventually it comes together.” He went on to say that long tour schedules can slow down the process, but also help hone new material. “We have several new songs that we’re playing [on tour] that aren’t on our new album. We’re trying them out and seeing what can be better and what we like.”

One as-yet untitled song highlighted a beachy, surf vibe and would have anyone listening wishing that they were watching the sun set over a rolling ocean. With a huge rise at the end, the song called to memory that one last perfect summer evening, the one that’ll go down in memory for years to come. Living Hour’s ability to create such vivid imagery with music is hard to come by and sure to be one of their strongest assets as they gain more recognition.

Pulling from many genres for influence and texture, the band creates music that speaks to a wealth of talent and knowledge. Sarty began singing in choirs at a young age, while the instrumental side of the group met in school and bonded over a love of music. According to Sarty, Carroll and Chochinou started off like so many other musicians- jamming in a basement- before they added more members to the mix. Together, the laid-back group has enjoyed some international success, touring in the UK and Europe earlier in 2016 and appearing at the Le Bateau Festival in Champagne-Ardenne, France. While that show was Sarty’s favorite to date, Carroll enjoyed playing to their largest audience yet. “We played at Rough Trade in New York and it was one of the biggest shows we’ve played in terms of people,” he said. “There was a lineup of people to get in. We played really well, and it sounded great.”

Playing live has garnered Living Hour new fans, to be sure, but online streaming has also helped get their music out. “We’ve taken the [approach of] the more exposure, the better, even if we don’t see a lot of monetary gains,” Sarty said. “You’re still getting that exposure, which is a different kind of currency at this point.” Songs “Seagull” and “Steady Glazed Eyes” have a combined 54.4K listens on SoundCloud alone. Additionally, social media has helped Living Hour find other bands to tour the country with. “The best part [about touring is] seeing and meeting like-minded people, some of the most creative people I can even fathom,” Sarty said.

Looking ahead, Carroll hinted that the band has already amassed some new material for their next album. After the Fall 2016 tour comes to an end in Berlin, Living Hour will take some time off to relax, before setting out again in January to escape the Winnipeg winter. Location aside, the band is just happy to be making music. “We’re pretty stoked to be doing what we’re doing so we’re all smiles,” Carrol said.

Hillary Susz Brings the Romance with Striking New Album

With her new album, “The Heart Will Jump (With Nowhere to Fall),” Hillary Susz gives listeners a collection of love songs three years in the making. Through her mix of operatic rock and poetic songwriting, Susz has turned her attention to a genre rarely seen or heard in the music industry: lesbian love songs. “There aren’t a lot of love songs in the world about lesbian love, so just by nature of them existing is somewhat political,” Susz said. “It’s creating a space that hasn’t traditionally been there.” Tracks on the new album include “Pollution,” with a melodic and haunting opening that builds to highlight Susz’s vocals, as well as “Make Me Make You,” which the Boulder, Colorado based musician describes as “romantic” and “poetic.” Additionally, “Dead Stars” gives a feeling of celestical lightness, which is then broken by rock-inspired guitar riffs.

Drawing on her own six-year relationship, Susz is able to cover a range of emotions and experiences in this album. “We’ve been together since we were nineteen years old and just have grown up together,” she said. “So, it’s largely about two people growing up together and learning how to live together.” Susz collected the songs on her new album over the course of three years, while she was balancing an office job with her musical career.

Introducing lesbian love songs to the world has been a double-edged sword for Susz. While her voice helps to add dialogue to the discussion of queerness in modern music, she said it still makes some uncomfortable. Occasionally, people have walked out of shows, or yelled rude remarks, which she said is all too common for female performers. Susz admitted that the music industry is very tough and requires “a lot of self-perseverance, a lot of strength,” she said. However, artists like Susz are providing an increase in information and perspectives and, as she said, “More options are available to you. You aren’t just getting straight people’s love songs or one particular kind of voice in music.”

The depths to which Susz reaches on “The Heart Will Jump (With Nowhere to Fall)” highlight a writing process that takes time and a lot of insight. “I’m very patient with my songs, I have drafts and I try to play them many times and see how they can organically develop,” she said, explaining that everything from time and practice, to performing a song live can change how it will eventually be recorded for an album. She also said that she makes it a habit to return to old work and reimagine it. “I’m a big believer in recycling work, and these themes and motifs don’t really go away, you acquire new language or new music to express them.” Susz’s listeners benefit from this recycling, and are introduced to metaphor-rich lyrics, guitar samples with just enough grunge, and a wholly new voice in the folk-rock realm.

Susz’s ability to create deeply emotional verses stems from years of songwriting, and is also strengthened by her development as a fiction writer. “I’ve been writing songs longer than I’ve been delving into fiction and poetry, that’s a little bit newer for me,” she said. In between touring, writing songs, and putting out a new album, Susz is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Colorado in Boulder, while also teaching writing classes. For Susz, each setting calls for different focuses in her writing: “With music, its more immediate emotion, and with fiction its more cognitive and character-driven,” she said. With so much going on, Susz makes use of her breaks from school to tour, and will be out on the road with her new songs this fall and winter.

While in her classroom, Susz says she is able to give students advice from her own experience, and her students often discuss insecurities in their work. “I always just tell them to keep producing work; it doesn’t do an artist any favors to not have work. There’s no one in history that’s famous that has one painting or one book, one album,” she said. “Always just keep making things.” For Susz, it has always been important to keep creating unique work. While she said that she’s never made it a point to learn to replicate other artists’ work, she does follow other female singers and songwriters such as Angel Olson and Neko Case.

As Susz continues to grow and develop her unique genre, fans can expect to hear familiar themes in her music. “At the core – content-wise – part of me just thinks that it is the same record over and over again and you’re trying to make it more true,” Susz said. “Maybe I’m writing the same album over and over again, just trying to make it better.”

“THE HEART WILL JUMP (WITH NOWHERE TO FALL)” THIS FALL.

Prince Fox on his way to new music royalty

Just two years ago, Sam Lassner, aka Prince Fox, was a junior at NYU learning to create and produce music. Fast-forward to today and you’ll find him touring the festival scene and collaborating with the likes of Hailee Steinfeld (Ender’s Game, Pitch Perfect 2). Their first track together, “Fragile,” has over 800,000 Spotify plays in less than one month since it dropped. Having never worked together before, the two struck gold, with Steinfeld’s deeply layered vocals and Lassner’s instrumental-electronic hybrid sound.

“Initially it came about through Twitter between my friend Lil Aaron and I,” Lassner said. “He had the idea for the song so we brought it to the label and they really liked it and asked who I wanted on it.” After sending the song to Steinfeld’s camp, things moved quickly, with Lassner flying to LA to get work started. “It was amazing; she is an incredible vocalist. She was able to layer octaves over the track. The texture of her vocals is due to her really being proficient and being able to layer herself really well.”

Having many friends in the industry, Lassner has had the chance to work with several talented artists. “Fragile,” however, holds special importance. “I feel like all collaborations are unique and special in their own right but as far as my favorite track I’ve put out that’s probably it.” But hopefully, there are many more partnerships in the future. “I would love to write a song with BloodPop; I would love to work with John Mayer, Chance the Rapper, and A$AP Rocky.”

In the meantime, Lassner already has some interesting collaborations in the works; as he continues to travel around festivals for the summer, he’s making new friends along the way, including Australian DJ Allison Wonderland. “I’m supposed to be in the studio with her in less than a week, so I’m pretty excited for that.”

While his future collaborations are sure to be hits, Prince Fox has already started making waves in the music industry. In late 2015, Prince Fox released “I Don’t Wanna Love You,” an energetic, upbeat track featuring Melody Noel, which has garnered over 2 million listens on Spotify and another 1.56 million plays on Soundcloud.

Prince Fox’s music has a definite foothold in the realm of Internet radio and streaming services. “I’ve had more consistent success in the streaming world because it’s a lower barrier to upload it and be on that platform, whereas someone has to decide to put your stuff on the radio.”

With his tracks blowing up on the Internet, it’s no surprise that Prince Fox has hit the road and taken over the festival scene, as well. This summer alone, Prince Fox is headed to the Hangout Festival, Corona Electric Beach and Electric Forest, to name a few. With so much travel, though, it’s important to stay grounded. “Sometimes it gets overwhelming, sometimes it gets lonely when you’re in the middle of nowhere in a hotel room by yourself for eight hours,” Lassner said. “But I’m in it because I love to make music and I love to express myself, so any time I’m down or upset I have to remind myself that I get to do what I love. Through the ups and the downs that’s nothing to take for granted.”

Making music has been Lassner’s means to express himself for a long time. “I started playing guitar when I was in eighth grade,” he said. Through high school and into college, he taught himself how to produce his own songs, eventually studying music technology at NYU. “You look back two years later and you see how much you’ve grown,” he said. Between a natural talent for music and classic training Lassner is somewhat a self-taught musician and producer. “I’m a pretty obsessive person so I knew what I wanted and I didn’t stop until I was as proficient as I felt I needed to be.”

While Prince Fox’s blend of instrumental and electronic is uniquely crafted, Lassner keeps up on trends and integrates his own style. “I try to keep it very song-orientated,” he said. “It’s kind of a challenge to constantly upgrade every song but it’s a good challenge and it’s a fun puzzle when you’re finishing a track.” From start to finish, a new track can take him anywhere from a few hours to weeks to complete. “It’s just a matter of how much inspiration I have going into a given session.”

The personalization and effort that Lassner puts into each of his tracks for Prince Fox is apparent, and fans get to enjoy not only a great sound, but an overall experience. “You can go home and listen to any artist but what makes going to a show unique is getting involved and participating: singing along and interacting with the artist.” The artist also enjoys meeting fans face to face and seeing how his work effects them. “When you’re home on your computer and see streaming numbers or your followers, it’s cool and great to see numbers go up, but when you put a face to it, these people in this room are part of it.”

Of all the shows that he’s played, Lassner cites Audio San Francisco as his favorite, thanks to the fans. “It was insane, way over capacity two hours before I got on,” he said. “Wall to wall, everyone was into it; it was really amazing.” Months later when Lassner’s Austin show was cancelled due to weather, he had an unexpected opportunity to hit the stage, this time with many other artists. “It ended up that Kill the Noise invited me, A-Trak, Gorgon City, Amtrak, and Yung Wall Street to go back-to-back with him at his show. I met all these DJs that I either wanted to meet or looked up to or had been listening to for a while, all because I had a series of cancelled shows.”

There seems to be no stopping this up and coming artist. Moving forward from his previous collaborations and fateful live shows, Prince Fox has a lot for fans to look forward to.

Los Angeles fans can see Prince Fox at Skybar at Mondrian this Sunday, RSVP at findyourelectricbeach.com

DJ Dainjazone: LMFAO’s black sheep

By Dana Getz

Rocking a mismatched, neon attire worthy of a Richard Simmons workout video, DJ Dainjazone looks at home among the clutter of half-empty glasses littering a corner table in Chicago’s El Hefe nightclub. The scene has become standard for the baseball-player-turned-DJ, who spent the last year or so on LMFAO’s “Party Rock” tour—but don’t let his leopard print harem pants fool you. A self-described “black sheep” of the group, Dainjazone doesn’t drink and prefers to spend his time researching music in his hotel room than partying until the crack of dawn. He’s a partier of a different variety, getting hyped on creativity and ingenuity, and he’s been high for a while now. Since the indefinite split of LMFAO last fall, Dainjazone has been doing solo shows and touring with Redfoo’s La Freak Crew. He most recently teamed up with Grammy winners Play-N-Skillz to produce trap house mixtape “Trap Hard Texas,” featuring artists such as Paul Wall, Juicy J, YG, Redfoo and Lil Jon, due out in the next few weeks. We met up with Dainjazone before his July 15 show to discuss tour life, staying hot and stereotyping DJs.

You started out on the fast track to a major league baseball career. What has been the best and worst thing about the changeover?

I feel like everything in life is relational. When I ended my baseball career I had promised myself that my approach to baseball wasn’t gonna be the same with DJing. With baseball there was this end result, there was this end goal, and I didn’t really think of much in between. It was college to pro. No steps in between. And I think mentally I was a bit immature to jump to get to that end goal. With Djing it started out as a hobby, and I told myself I’m just going to take it day by day—whatever happens, happens. So I started out in my bedroom in my dorm just messing around with music, then did house parties, then a local bar in New Mexico, and then house parties in L.A. when I got home. The transition was tough at first because my life was based around baseball. I couldn’t pick up a baseball for a year after I stopped playing because it’s like leaving your girlfriend that you’ve known your whole life. Other than the mental toughness and the challenge, it’s been a great transition because I’ve managed to keep that mindset on taking things day by day, and not look too deep. When you have expectations of looking too deep into something and they don’t happen as quick as you want them to, then it can piss you off and upset you and you can become an emotional wreck. So I just continue to take things day by day.

You describe yourself as a leader of the new school.

You know what’s funny about the phrase? I came up with that three years ago and that was my campaign, and I wanted to represent the newer generation of DJs. And I felt I had accomplished a lot at that time, for only DJing four years. I wanted to be a good example and be at the forefront for the new generation, so that’s how I came up with it and wanted to roll with it. But the funny thing is, if you listen to like Drake and Kendrick Lamar, a couple of their newer songs, they say they’re the leader of the new school and I’m just like ‘man, I was saying that three years ago.’ But you know, what I’m doing now compared to three years ago just blows everything else out of the water that I’ve accomplished, ‘cause I never thought I’d be the touring DJ for Redfoo or LMFAO or visit the world in less than a year. I still think that statement stands and I’d like to continue to be that example and inspire DJs to be a leader in their own right.

How do you stay on top of the newest innovations in DJing?

It’s a culture thing. It’s a combination of music, fashion, sports—obviously music being the key element because you have to have the stuff that nobody has to stand out and be unique, so that when DJs come out and see you or they hear your mix, they’re like ‘man, that guy he has something I’ve never heard.’ Everyone’s about what’s hot now, and it changes every day, especially in music. A remix two weeks ago can be considered old. If you’re doing what A$AP Rocky’s doing or Kanye, you know those guys are ahead of the curve, so if you’re on the same page as them in terms of style you’re looked at as someone that’s on top of his game.

In what ways do you try to set an example for up-and-coming DJs?

Managing myself with integrity, handling business appropriately—just being clean. Being honest about everything as much as possible. That’s the best way. You can blame it on competition and you can blame it on a lot of things as to why it’s tough, but at the end of the day it comes down to how hard you’re willing to hussle and how bad you want something. I came from nothing in this DJ business, you know? House parties, then rolled with a crew that was by no means popular. We were talented, but we didn’t have a reputation and we weren’t affiliated or attached to anything big. And then you catch a break, like I caught the LMFAO break because I went to high school with a friend that used to date their manager, but if I would’ve sucked I wouldn’t be in this position. He would have been like ‘It was nice meeting you, let’s hang out, but you’re not good enough to be our DJ.’ So you catch those breaks as you go, you just gotta continue to push hard and eventually something will happen.

What artists or DJs have most influenced your career? What aspects of their music did you connect with?

I’ll narrow it down to club DJs because there’s a lot of different DJs out there. I can go out any day of the week and listen to DJ Spryte, Five from Vegas, Scene from Vegas, Mellow-D, DJ Brie, DJ Presto. These guys, they’re just incredibly talented. Some are just incredibly skilled, like turntablist wise or scratching and being able to get tracks in and out at a fast speed and tell a story. I’m amazed by it every time. And then there’s some that their music selection and programming is just off the wall, and some of the stuff they play I’ve never heard of in my life. DJ Fog and Brie—their music selection always amazes me. They have mixes where I can just pop in and listen to over and over, and it’s far from commercial. I think guys like Spryte and Presto just kill it in the club—their scratching, their ideas. I love creativity. Same thing with artists—Kanye’s incredibly creative, A$AP Rocky’s creative. Jay-Z as a businessman is a genius. When I grew up I was never a big Jay-Z album-buying fan. I respected him, I thought he was talented, but I’m more of a business fan of him. So these are guys that are all creative and I’m a fan of that element.

You scored a spot on LMFAO’s Party Rock tour. What was that like for you?

It was overwhelming at first. The first two days felt like two weeks of touring because you live by a schedule. To hell with what you wanna do, you will wake up at this time and be out at this time and eat at this time. It was mentally exhausting because I don’t want to make a mistake. The first show in Sweden, I’m in the moment and it’s fun, but I don’t want to make a mistake. It took me two and a half weeks in Europe to finally get comfortable with the show’s set, so when we finally got back to America for the arena tour I was confident, I was like ‘All right, I got this, I’m ready to go.’

Where Redfoo and SkyBlu like what you expected them to be?

Yeah. I saw a business side of them actually. I never saw the business side of them—not that I doubted they had one because obviously they’re doing something right business wise—but I knew how much of party animals they were and how witty they were and creative and funny, but then I got to see the serious side of them outside of the show. It was refreshing to see that because it showed a balance.

What role would you say you play in the party rock crew?

[laughs] I’m like the black sheep. Everyone drinks and parties hard and just does the most, they act like full on rockstars, but I don’t drink. When the gig’s over I go back to my room. I don’t really after party. I’m not up all night. I fit in, I do what I have to do in terms of the show, but everything else I’m just the exact opposite.

What was the craziest show you guys played?

Staples Center. It wasn’t our best show, but because it was in our backyard we had hundreds of people. [There were] people that I knew [that] I didn’t even know were there. You know, all of us grew up performing in the Hollywood clubs. [Redfoo and SkyBlu] were DJs before they were entertainers. So to start from there and then be damn near selling out an arena is Los Angeles, it was quite an accomplishment. Like I said, it wasn’t our best show, but it felt rewarding and pretty emotional.

In our last interview you were pretty outspoken about your distaste for Hollywood politics, do you still feel the same way?

Yeah, I still don’t spin much at all in Hollywood. I feel like what I’m doing on the road is not necessarily “good enough, “ ‘cause you always wanna continue to do better, but I’m happy with what’s going on on the road. To be honest with you I’d rather have a broader fan base so I’m not just locked into one city, and I’d rather make $1500-$2000 in another city than make $750 in Hollywood. Hollywood will always be what it is. There’s a time and place for everyone to have their moment in Hollywood, and I’ve watched how Hollywood goes through different DJs. I feel like it’s just not my time and place. When I’m ready, and when Hollywood’s ready for me, I think they’ll be willing to play by my rules and do what I wanna do, instead of me doing what Hollywood wants. If I have to be that Hollywood DJ, then I don’t want to DJ in Hollywood. That’s not fun. Then I don’t get to be Dainjazone, I have to be “Hollywood DJ.” My time will come. People will eventually become aware of what I’m doing and see that I deserve to be doing big clubs.

You also said figuring out your niche is the biggest thing for a DJ. How would you describe your sound and style?

I don’t like to crystallize myself into one category of music, but right now it’s house. I like to mix it up, so thank god for trap house, because it’s the elements of both house and hip-hop, and it’s cool, it’s fun to play. But I like to play everything. I stress creativity to the most ‘cause I want to be able to play everything, so you have to be able to make it blend smooth without sectioning off within the mix. It’s almost to the point where people are like ‘oh, all of a sudden we’re in hip-hop and I didn’t even realize it.’ So I like to play everything: older stuff, new stuff, trap house, stuff that that they’ve never heard before. If I think it’s funky and it’s cool, it’s up for grabs.

What have you been listening to as of late?

I’ve been listening to a lot of albums: J. Cole, Jay-Z, Kanye, mixed tapes, Wale. I’m a big Wale fan, he’s so underrated. Migos’ mixtape is refreshingly ignorant. I listen to a lot of things: I listen to the stuff I’m gonna use in my set and then I listen to stuff I will never use in my set. I like indie, electro—I like the chill stuff.

What do you think is the largest misconception about DJs?

That we’re all alcoholics. I don’t know though because I feel like a lot of the stereotypes are true. Let’s break them down: we’re said to be divas, we’re said to be spoiled and we’re said to be alcoholics. I think people think we can be lazy, and that all we do is show up and play music, which isn’t false because you can literally throw your DJ career in cruise control and be good. I don’t like that stereotype for myself because I’m always on my laptop trying to think of new ways to present music, to present sets. I’m always digging, looking for new music—I do a lot of research. There are DJs out there who put a lot of effort into what they do that you don’t see, and then there are a lot of DJs that travel every day and who’d rather sleep and eat than look up music. And that’s understandable, because I know that feeling. When we toured Europe for seven weeks I hardly slept, and it was like, eat, sleep or look up music. I was like, ‘I’m going to sleep for an hour because that’s like gold to me right now.’ So there’s that misconception, but I think the others are fairly true.

If you could headline any club or event what would it be?

I think I’ve done the biggest clubs in America, so I’d have to think of something bigger. I don’t have a hungry interest in doing a festival like headlining EDC or Tomorrowland, but that’d be kinda cool because I would be myself more than anything. There wouldn’t be a promoter over my shoulder. I would show up, set up shop and be myself, and I would give the people something out of the regular.

You’ve also talked about venturing into modeling and acting. Have you taken any major strides into those fields?

Nope, haven’t taken any big strides, I’ve just been going to auditions. There’s a networking side that I’m still working on so I have to continue to beat that over the head. For now I think what I need to do is continue to make my DJ name a solid brand, make sure it grows, and I think eventually that will happen. It’s just something that will happen over time, it’s not something I want to force.

Are there any specific designers or actors you’d like to work with?

There’s some clothing brands I would love to be down with and represent. Off the top of my head, I would love to model for Y-3, Yohji Yamamoto, Skingraft. I don’t really care for the obvious, go-to brands like Louis, Gucci, etc., but there’s a lot of incredible brands that I would love to represent. I don’t really know too much about the acting world yet, so if I get the opportunity to work with some cool people, it’s gonna be all about learning.

Audrey Napoleon: Goth-Glam Goddess

By Dana Getz

Audrey Napoleon knows how to make a statement. With heavy black cat eyeliner, pale skin, crimson lips and precision-cut hair the color of a raven, the 26-year-old DJ/producer looks like she belongs deep within the pages of an Edgar Allen Poe novel. Though her story isn’t quite “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the goth glam goddess found refuge in Los Angeles clubland after moving from city to city with her musician father. Her life has since exploded into a chaotic flurry of fashion shows, Heineken campaigns and live performances, including the 18-city Identity Festival in 2012 as well as her first-ever self-headlined tour, which kicks off July 10 at Studio Paris in Chicago.

Napoleon first fell madly in love with the EDM scene while working as a waitress at Hollywood’s Geisha House. A friend invited her to UK-based DJ/producer James Zabiela’s show at Avalon where she “caught the bug of electronic music.” After recruiting a friend to teach her how to DJ, she dubbed herself Audrey Napoleon and began producing music, swiping the stage name from a poem written for her by an ex-boyfriend.

“I feel like growing up I was always stuck in this sort of mold I couldn’t break from, like a girl in a cage trying to fight my way out of it to be free and create the way I wanted to and express myself freely,” Napoleon said. “When he gave me this gift of my name, I guess in some way it freed me, and now I can live outside my creative bubble.”

Armed with such newfound freedom, Napoleon forced her way into the industry, hiring photographers and playing any and every show she could find.

“There wasn’t really a plan, I just threw myself into it,” she said.

She eventually booked her first big gig at Geisha House, but was promptly fired for refusing to play anything except house. Napoleon quickly quit serving as well, opting to focus on her budding career.

“I think that’s the most important thing, to stay true to yourself, to your art. Never stray from it,” Napoleon said. “As long as you’re true to yourself then nobody can ever fuck you off for it, because it’s always been the plan. From the beginning I’ve always wanted to make what I love.”

Her dedication soon paid off when Avalon offered her a residency in 2010, where she played her first show alongside Zabiela. Napoleon has since made her mark on the EDM world with her unique style of “underground pop,” a conglomeration of sounds and influences that appeal to her personal tastes.

“I’m pretty indifferent about genres just because they’re constantly in flux…so I just decided to call it underground pop,” she said. “I just wanted to put my own spin on the music I play. It’s neither here nor there, it’s just music that I really love and love to dance to.”

Since her Hollywood debut Napoleon has produced six singles alongside her EP, Ornamental Egos, as well as several short films inspired by the songs. Her most recent release, Dope a la Mode, is a controversial short featuring Napoleon as a scandalous gothic newly wed ravaging her husband in a topless S&M sex scene, only to later murder him in a ruthless bloodbath.

“Clearly people think that some of the stuff I’m doing is a little off, but that’s just what’s coming out of my head creatively,” Napoleon said of the video. “My parents called me and said ‘this is a beautiful piece of art.’ That’s what it is. It’s art. If that was not something that was really true to myself, there would so much backlash from it. My friends would call me and be like ‘what are you doing?’”

The single also incorporates Napoleon’s own vocals for the first time, something she plans to continue in her upcoming work.

“[Singing] scares the shit out of me, but that’s why I like it,” she said.

Napoleon plans to release two more singles by the end of the summer, though the ideas are “still incubating.” In the meantime, she’s been non-stop listening to P.J. Harvey and Placebo albums for inspiration and brainstorming ideas to keep her fans happy.

“I die for my fans. My fans are the most special thing to me and without them I would be in my room making music alone,” she said. “They’re the reason that I get out of bed. They’re the reason that I’m even singing now, because they push me every single day to be free for them in my art. I started off as making music for me but it’s grown into something so much bigger, and now I have a responsibility to make my music for them.”

Dirty Franks: Mixing Art & Liquid Culture

By Terri Marshall

There is no sign outside.  There is no way to know what the place is about.  There is no way to know about its colorful history or the colorful characters inside.  But if you find it, you will love it.  Opening just after Prohibition ended, Dirty Franks has been a Philadelphia staple for over 79 years.

I happened upon this coolest of dive bars while strolling through Philadelphia on the Philadelphia Mural Arts self-guided tour of 17 of Center City’s most iconic murals.   Following the guide map along vibrant city streets and through quaint neighborhoods to the corner of 13th and Pine Streets, I dialed the phone number provided in the tour guide to get the scoop on mural number 11.  The mural wraps around the corner building and features an assortment of famous Frank’s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, Frankenstein, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Frank Zappa, Franklin D. Roosevelt and, of course, a frankfurter.

Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program was started as an anti-graffiti campaign and now provides giant art in the form of murals on the walls of buildings throughout city.  Each mural tells a story associated with the building where it is painted.  Mural number 11 tells the story of Dirty Franks – or at least part of the story.

Years ago some of the members of the community wanted the bar closed down but loyal patrons and other residents fought to keep it open.  The result was a compromise – the bar could stay but the sign had to come down.    In 2001 portrait artist David McShane gave Dirty Franks something better than a sign – a wall filled with Franks.   It was suggested he paint Frank Rizzo, a former Philadelphia Mayor in the 1970’s who was known for turning a blind eye to helping African American residents.  McShane declined.  Plenty of other Franks seemed to be more deserving.

Dirty Franks’ art doesn’t stop on the walls outside.  Inside, the walls of the bar serve as a functioning art gallery displaying the works of local artists with collections rotating every six weeks.  From the $2 Wall of Shame displaying shamefully cheap alcohol to a memorial wall dedicated to those patrons who have gone to that great happy hour in the sky, checking out the memorabilia around the bar could keep you busy all afternoon.

Dirty Franks is a community within a community hosting events like Frankenfest where patrons come dressed as their favorite Frank, a chili cook-off and an annual picnic, which is the only day the bar closes.  And perhaps best of all, each year the bartenders choose Dirty Franks’ Customer of the Year…a coveted honor for any overachieving drinker.   If you win, you earn a tribute on the wall of the bar.

As with any bar the bartenders help make the experience.  The bartender on duty while I visited was the “new guy” having only been with Dirty Franks a couple of years, yet he had plenty of stories to share.  Others have been around for decades bearing witness to…well, just about everything.

All kinds of people frequent Dirty Franks .In fact, Bob Dylan was even thrown out of the place once a long time ago.  But if you behave better than Dylan, you will soon find yourself immersed in the unique culture that is Dirty Franks and you will understand what keeps people coming back to this place – many of them everyday.  In the words of one of the long time patrons, “No matter who you are, what you are or what you’ve done, Dirty Franks makes you happier!”

In New York: Skip the pubs and clubs and head to the Trailer Park

By Terri Marshall

Looking for drinks in New York City?  Skip the pubs and clubs and head straight to the Trailer Park!  Yes, I said the Trailer Park.  Advertised on its website as “The Place to Meet your Next Ex”, the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill located in historic Chelsea at  271 West 23rd Street brings all things tacky to the big city.  It’s not hard to find, just look for the toilet out front – the one doubling as a planter and ashtray of course.  Head inside through the screened door  (slamming it as you enter) and you will find yourself right smack dab in the middle of  trailer park culture.

This kitschiest of establishments is filled with decor that (I have to admit) reminds me of my childhood in the South.  There are metal porch chairs, an old black and white console television, bowling alley lockers and pink flamingos.   Tunes are played from 8-track tapes and there is even a trailer inside the bar.  Like most redneck communities, the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill keeps its Christmas decorations up all year long so you can expect to see a blow-up Santa and snowman along with strings of flashing multi-colored lights.  There are arcade machines like the “Love Tester” and even a display case full of Cheese Whiz.   Of course no trailer park is complete without a collection of velvet Elvis paintings and the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill does not disappoint.  Basically, if you can find it at a flea market or for sale by the road at a gas station in some out of the way little town, you will find it at the Trailer Park Lounge.  Every trailer park has its heroes or heroines and this one is no exception so be sure to look for the tributes to Tonya Harding and Tammy Faye Baker.

I caught up with Andy – one of the owners of this most unusual New York establishment – to try to understand how in the world he came up with this idea.  First I was told a story about an Elvis impersonator making an appearance to Andy and business partner, Tom, while they were in a donut shop in Florida and telling them to go back up to New York City and open up a grill filled with fried foods and velvet Elvis paintings.  But, after some discussion, I learned that Elvis never appeared so they really cannot blame him for creating this place, although I am sure he would have loved it!

The truth is Andy and Tom had been in the bar business for many years in various capacities when they started brainstorming about starting their own business.  Their basic concept was to make it different or don’t make it at all.  “In a city that issues over 30,000 new liquor licenses each year it is important to have a unique idea to stand out from all the other bars,”  says Andy.  I think they found one.

The Trailer Park Lounge & Grill has been operating for ten years.  The biggest challenge was finding enough kitschy furnishings to really portray the essence of trailer park life.  It took ten years, but Andy combed through flea markets, thrift shops and  roadside stands to collect…well…everything!   The centerpiece of the bar is half of an actual trailer mounted to the wall.  I asked him how he managed to get the trailer through the screen door.  Turns out the trailer had been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler in California where one-half sustained damage.   No one really wanted half a trailer as a residence so Andy took advantage of the opportunity.  He asked the owner to cut it into four equal sections and ship it from California to New York.  Andy’s carpenters reassembled the trailer inside the bar and it remains there today.

The Trailer Park Lounge & Grill is all about fun, but one thing Andy and Tom take very seriously is the quality of the food and service.  The menu is straight from your Mama’s kitchen – well, if your mama is from the trailer park!   You will find Sloppy Joes with Tater Tots, Mac & Cheese, Double-wide burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, BLT’s and Sweet Potato Fries.   If your sweet tooth is acting up you can have yourself a Moon Pie for dessert.

There is a full bar available but if you want to keep your drinking in line with the culture try  “Jim Bob’s IQ” – a blue concoction guaranteed to erase any sign of intelligence you may have had before you arrived. There are happy hour specials each night including deals like $3.00 Pabst Blue Ribbon beers (if you dare) and $6.00 pitchers of margaritas.  If your taste runs towards champagne just order yourself a can or two of the bubbly and sip it through your Dixie straw.

Andy actually lived in a trailer park at one time and means no disrespect to the trailer park culture or anyone else.  He says the Trailer Park Lounge & Grill is simply “a good natured parody of questionable taste!”   Ya’ll should check this place out!

For more information, check out Trailerparklounge.com.

Tay Stevens On Having A Sexy Halloween

By Robert Luce

In the past decade or two, thanks to the continued desensitization of American culture, we now have nights where you can go out and witness the barely dressed without paying for it at Scores. Halloween is not just for trick or treating kids anymore, it’s about candy of the adult kind for men and women of all ages and backgrounds. And no bully is going to take away my sexy Snow White. That sexy Snow White happens to be in the form of adult model and webcam sensation Taylor Stevens. To prepare us for a night of devilish drink specials and scary soirees, Stevens sits down with us to discuss the perfect last minute costume for girls, the benefits of dressing sexy on Halloween and her brush with Leatherface’s twin.

You gained a lot of new fans, and garnered a lot of national media attention, from your appearance behind coach Peter DeBoer during the Devils and Kings game last June. Do you still find yourself being recognized from that appearance?

I was a twitter/webcam sensation far before that crazy time at the Stanley Cup Finals. I had over 50,000 followers before that game. I’ve been in magazines and won numerous awards for my webcam and modeling. I have been a bit of an internet webcam adult star for a while now. That did add a lot of exposure and it allowed me to dispel a lot of myths that people had about the big boobie blonde behind the bench. I am still getting attention for that appearance. It was a crazy fun time and I just had fun with it. Peter Deboer was a great sport. I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to go to jersey in November.

Tell us what makes you different from other porn stars?

Well, I guess the difference is how you define porn star. I only do solo porn meaning me, my boobies and my toys. I’ve never done any hardcore porn, it’s always been just me and my webcam, and me making and producing my own DVDs. So, solo porn star I guess that’s what is different. A lot of my friends are pornstars and they work extremely hard and put a lot into their work. They deserve that title much more then I do. Also, webcamming is my main world, it’s where I started and I live for it every day. I absolutely LOVE what I do. Some porn stars LOVE their work some don’t. I LOVE what I do, it’s not work to me.

Is webcamming the way of the future?

That’s such a hard question to answer because I’ve been webcamming for over 10 years. And I’ve been the number one webcam girl for over 10 years so to me it’s always been the way. I do see a lot more people getting into webcamming now. I think that its definitely something worth doing but only if you can really put your heart into it. I think that porn and webcamming can go hand in hand if you just have that love for it like I do.

What makes webcamming different from being with a company like Vivid Entertainment? What are the pros and cons?

Well being with Vivid is an awesome thing to have. I would have to say it’s different because I’m not under contract, I work for myself.  I’m my own boss and I’ve built everything with my own hands all by myself. I pick my schedule and I pick the content of my shows. I’m my own producer, director and actor. I mean being with a company like Vivid, Adam and Eve or any of the main porn production companies out there is always something to be proud of. It definitely sets you apart, but I also started with and remain loyal to a company that has been amazing to me. With me I made my own place and now when it comes to webcamming in general I’m the girl most people think of, which is really cool because I just get to be my goofy silly fun self. I have the most amazing fans in the world that make me smile and wanna keep doing what I do best—which is being that super busty bouncy nerdy girl next door.

What advice do you have for ladies when picking out a sexy Halloween costume?

Cleavage. No, in all honesty LOVE your outfit and wear it like it’s going out of style. I love to dress up so I’m super detailed in all my outfits. It’s the one day of the year when you can be silly, crazy, scary and sexy all at once. But then I’m kinda like that every day actually. But it’s super fun.

My advice would be to dress as a character that suits you, and that maybe resonates with your character. Also, if you have a hot body, there is NO reason to not show it off. T&A all the way! You can still be sexy and classy. Just give your costume your best and you will shine.

Is it important for a woman to focus on her assets when picking out the right costume?

I suppose it depends where they are going. I think the best focus shoud be on the woman’s personality because that is what will really make the outfit.  If a woman feels sexy in it then it works! For me personally there have been times when I’ve not focused so much on the cleavage and rather the creativity in the costume. But in all honesty if it’s cute and I can make it awesome, and show cleavage, that’s a win win. But I have big boobs, some girls have a great butt or really sexy legs, so it just has to fit their personality. Sometimes I can’t find anything that fits my boobs.

What are some of your favorite sexy costumes and why?

I guess I’m biased since I have to pick the ones I’ve dressed up in as sexy. I love the Girl Scout look—there’s something sexy about innocence. I like the sexy football look because there is nothing hotter than a girl and sports. I also did the scary Freddy Krueger and it’s pretty hot to see a big boobed blonde in a ripped Freddy shirt.

Any costumes that you think are over?

That’s hard to say because some Halloween costumes are timeless. Dressing as Elvira, Dracula or a Pirate will always be great. I was told I looked like Lady Gaga at one point, so I dressed like her for Halloween. So I think that the Lady Gaga costume is over.

What are the perks of dressing sexy for Halloween?

Extra candy in my cleavage? Again, it depends on the kind of attention you’re looking for. I think dressing sexy has helped me win quite a few Halloween contests, but sometimes I see some amazing costumes that aren’t necessarily sexy but super creative—and I think they should have won.

I would definitely say dressing sexy will always grab attention and Halloween really allows you to do that without everyone making a fuss. It might help you get into a club quicker. Plus when I show my cleavage I always have a place to store my candy and just shake my bra out later.

What’s a good last minute costume for girls that waited until the day or two before Halloween?

I would say the school girl look. It’s simple pigtails, a tight top and a plaid skirt!

What are your favorite places/clubs to party in the world for Halloween?

I travel all over the place so I love seeing how different cities celebrate Halloween. I think Toronto is awesome because it’s my hometown and because we really love to put everything into Halloween. We have haunted hayrides and tons of fun things to do that scare the crap out of you.

Las Vegas would be my other choice since it’s my second home and there are a TON of scary events to go to. There are crazy parties going on there on a regular basis so imagine Halloween. They have real haunted houses to go to and I LOVE IT! Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I love being scared.

What was your craziest Halloween experience?

It was definitely here in Toronto. There is this farm up north that hosts a haunted experience where you are pretty much in the middle of nowhere. They have all these barns and houses with people chasing you. It’s so much fun and you really feel like it’s haunted cause you’re pretty much in a deserted area. I was on the haunted hayride through this forest when all of a sudden some guy put a chainsaw through the roof. I jumped off freaking out and started running. And he chased me through the forest! It was definitely a shock.

What’s Your Favorite Halloween Candy?

That’s so hard to choose. I don’t really eat candy on a regular basis so when it’s Halloween and you get all kinds of candy it’s hard to choose. Some of my favorites include Reese’s Pieces, Kit Kat, Three Musketeers and Pop Rocks! You know what you can do with Pop Rocks, right? I definitely love those square caramels. Now I’m hungry.

What’s Your Favorite Halloween Cocktail?

I think on Halloween you can add food coloring and dress up the glass to make it super scary. Bacardi and Diet Coke is my cocktail any time of the year, but you can get super creative with the names of them this time of year. I’d say a Bloody Mary! I also like Bloody Rum Punch which tastes like Sangria! And now I’m thirsty.

EFFEN Vodka’s Art of Design at Studio Paris Chicago

On Wednesday, July 18th, premier local mixologists, designers, and over 500 cocktail enthusiasts flocked to Studio Paris in Chicago for EFFEN Vodka’s annual Art of Design. Throughout the evening, mixologists competed to design the ultimate EFFEN Vodka Cocktail. While media judges and guests sampled freshly designed cocktails and voted for their favorites, they also enjoyed the EFFEN-inspired works by Fashion Designer, Anna Hovet, Painter, Patrick Skoff, and Photographer, Jonathan Mathias. Photos by Barry Brecheisen.