BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Captivating Video for the Wistful New Ryann Single ‘JFK’

 

 

When the Chainsmokers’ 2015 hit “New York City” was climbing up the charts in the fall of that year, many wondered who the mysterious, silky-voiced singer was, whose vocal performance instilled the song with such a sense of longing. It was, in fact, Victoria Ryann Zaro – who was signed to BMI for her songwriting skills before she’d even graduated from high school.

These days, she’s just Ryann, having moved from New York to Los Angeles, and dropped out of USC to make a go of a burgeoning music career. During that time, her enchanting voice also notably graced 3LAU’s “Hot Water” and Justin Caruso’s “Talk About Me.” But it is her latest single, the intriguingly titled “JFK” (for which BlackBook premieres the sweetly melancholy new video here) that is surely the most authentic harbinger of her potential.

 

 

A wistful but captivating tale of romantic resignation, she justifies/philosophizes,”I never cared much for caution / ‘Cos what’s the worst that can happen?” over a stark but visceral accompaniment. Her almost nonchalant acceptance of heartbreak is a mark of her surprising maturity.

“‘JFK’ is about the uncontrollable nature of love,” she explains, “and how you can’t always choose who you fall for. One of the saddest parts of a breakup is the highlight reel, filled with fragments of perfect memories, playing over and over in the back of your head. It’s always those memories that make me teary eyed, and that’s what Clyde Monroe and I wanted to portray in the video – little snippets of the sweet stuff.”

The song is taken from her upcoming debut EP – so expect to hear more from Ryann before 2019 is out.

 

Mika Announces ‘Tiny Love, Tiny Tour’ of North America + Mexico City This Fall

 

 

For awhile, all anybody could talk about regarding Mika was if he would be the one to play Freddie Mercury in what would eventually become the Oscar-winning biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The November 2016 announcement that the role would go to Rami Malek then shifted the conversation to why it wouldn’t be Mika.

Eight long months on from the film’s debut, Mika has decisively steered the Mika conversation back to, well…Mika.

Indeed, his new single and video “Ice Cream” was released May 31 to much enthusiasm. And though it sounds like he’s been listening to a lot of Prince and Scissor Sisters, one can’t help but notice it makes no shame of paying groovalicious homage to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.” The slinky, sultry synth-funk track finds him lasciviously rattling off clever couplets like, “The grass is turnin’ yellow /
Streets are slow and mellow” in a falsetto that would surely make Freddie proud.

 

 

It’s taken from his first new studio album in five years, My Name is Michael Holbrook (it is), out October 4.

“I didn’t know what to do when it came time to start the [recording] process and was honestly kind of at a loss,” MIKA recalls. “I felt a little disappointed by the commercial side of the industry. I didn’t want to make a record by numbers or by committee. I wanted to make an uncontaminated, homemade pop record.”

No surprise, he’s also just announced that he’ll be taking that new music out on the road this fall, for his Tiny Love, Tiny Tour of North America + Mexico City – before heading off on a not so tiny tour of Europe. If you’re planning to be in Zurich November 22, well…we’ll see you there.

 

Tiny Love, Tiny Tour

September 13                                          New York, NY                                          Brooklyn Steel
September 15                                           Montreal, QC                                                       Corona
September 16                                           Montreal, QC                                                       Corona
September 18                                      San Francisco, CA                                                  Fillmore
September 21                                         Los Angeles, CA                                                       ACE
September 24                                         Mexico City, MX                                       Plaza Condesa

Mika Live in Europe

November 10                                             London, UK                           Shepherd’s Bush Empire
November 12                                        Barcelona, Spain                                             Razzmatazz
November 13                                           Madrid, Spain                                                 La Riviera
November 15                                             Pau, France                                                          Zenith
November 16                                         Toulouse, France                                                     Zenith
November 18                                  Aix-en-Provence, France                     L’Arena du Pays d’Aix
November 19                                    Saint-Étienne, France                                                   Zenith
November 21                                     Geneva, Switzerland                              SEG Geneva Arena
November 22                                      Zurich, Switzerland                                        Komplex 457
November 24                                              Turin, Italy                                               Pala Alpitour
November 26                                           Ancona, Italy                                       Promenteo Palace
November 27                                           Roma, Italy                                             Palalottomatica
November 29                                          Bologna, Italy                                             Unipol Arena
November 30                                        Montichiari, Italy                                              Palageorge
December 2                                              Livorno, Italy                                     Modigliani Forum
December 03                                              Milan, Italy                                    Mediolanum Forum
December 14                                       Brussels, Belgium                                       Forest National
December 15                                            Lille, France                                                          Zenith
December 17                                           Dijon, France                                     Le Zenith de Dijon
December 19                                 Floirac, Bordeaux, France                                     Arkea Arena
December 20                                          Nantes, France                                                        Zenith
December 22                                             Paris, France                                    Accor Hotel Arena
January 24                                                 Caen, France                                                        Zenith
January 25                                                 Niort, France                                             L’Acclameur
January 29                                  Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg                                        Rockhal
January 30                                            Montbéliard, France                                              L’Axone
February 1                                                 Padova, Italy                                                       Kioene
February 2                                                Bolzano, Italy                                                   Palaonda
February 5                                                  Napoli, Italy                                            Palapartenope
February 7                                                   Bari, Italy                                                      Palaflorio
February 8                                         Reggio Calabria, Italy                                       Palacalafiore
February 13                                         Utrecht, Netherlands                 TivoliVredenburg – Ronda
February 14                                          Strasbourg, France                                                    Zenith

BLACKBOOK PREMIERE: Noir-ish Video for Phebe Starr’s Visceral New Single ‘Touch XXX’

 

 

It’s been six years since Phebe Starr‘s debut EP Alone With You. But the Aussie indie electronic pop darling has since released a series of excellent singles, while earning considerable praise from the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Nylon, the latter enthusing, “She packs the emotion that has helped propel artists to indie-icon status.”

We couldn’t agree more, and so were thrilled for the arrival of her newest single “Touch XXX.” Not at all as risqué as it sounds, it’s rather a heart-rending, contemplative ballad that actually recalls Elton in the ’70s, albeit with contemporary production. In it she piercingly laments, “I wanna touch you but you your heart’s so cold / I wanna feel you but your mind won’t let go,” and you can veritably feel the pathos cut right through you.

The accompanying video, which BlackBook premieres here, is a jittery work of melancholy noir, with not just a few seeming nods to David Lynch.

“I worked with Sydney based photographer and videographer Ash Lim,” Starr explains. “We never set out to make a video, it just happened organically. He brought this oddly shaped, hand-cranked, old school film camera which makes up most of the frames in the video. During the time of recording, I was going through a breakup and the loss of a friend. It was a rough time in my life. Ash was a constant, always having a cup of tea at the ready. We would capture those moments and constantly share ideas and create.”

Her new EP Ice Tea Liberace will be released this August 30.

 

BlackBook Interview: Chef Roy Choi on His Provocative New Show ‘Broken Bread’

 

 

Roy Choi is nervous. He’s about to launch his first ever television show, Broken Bread, on KCET and Tastemade…and he doesn’t know how it will be received.

“Are people going to get on that bandwagon of like, Who is he to cover these topics?,” Choi wonders aloud. “What’s his resume? Does he have the right to talk about these social issues? Or are people going to really care? I’m really curious to see.”

First off, if you’ve been hiding under a culinary rock, Mr. Choi‘s resume is definitely not the problem. It’s grown exponentially since he first drove onto the scene in 2008 as owner of Kogi, the L.A.-based Korean taco truck that, arguably, launched a whole new era of food truck culture. Since then, he’s opened several other immobile restaurants: A-Frame, Chego, Locol, and (the former) Pot Cafe and Commissary at the Line Hotel, all in Los Angeles. Just last month his new restaurant Best Friend opened to critical acclaim in the new Park MGM in Las Vegas, coinciding with Lady Gaga’s residence there (how’s that for catching the zeitgeist?).

 

 

Indeed, the stars are most certainly shining upon him, as well as beside him, as he has successfully taken his rightful place on the Strip’s glittering celeb chef row. Television, naturally, had to follow.

But, speaking to the other side of Choi’s CV – as an activist and regular volunteer for local non-profits – this will not be your average celeb-chef show. More Parts Unknown than Top Chef, there will be no hard-won competitions, no battles over how to ingeniously incorporate cilantro into a dish or masterfully serve a hungry crowd from a food truck (all of which Choi has done, by the way). Broken Bread is just Choi, chef, entrepreneur, activist, moving through the streets of his city, exploring issues that are meaningful to him, and putting a well-deserved spotlight on people making a real impact in their communities.  

“We don’t glorify people on the ground doing this really, really hard work,” says Choi, “I wanted to really explore that and what motivates them. How do they get up every day when there is no camera and nobody is paying attention except for the people they take care of? To put that on mainstream television and not have it sanitized, and be able to be myself and speak to the world about it –  I couldn’t turn that down.”

 

 

In Broken Bread’s premiere episode, Choi speaks to Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries, and Mar Diego who runs Dough Girl pizza shop in Van Nuys. Vega hires teens struggling to get off the streets and has spent her own resources to put up several of her young employees in an apartment, so they have a safe place to live.

“We really made a point to get the kids’ voices on there too,” says Choi of talking with Diego. “These kids are struggling, but they’re just kids. You’re letting them basically live on the streets and get addicted to these opioids. We wanted to show that if you do care about people, if you do care and love and want to be a part of it, that it can be done. Even with no resources and no backing and no media spotlight, Mar is out there every single day doing it.”

Choi is no stranger to this kind of advocacy. In fact, he’s been giving a voice – and jobs – to the voiceless for a long time. Despite rising to culinary fame, he keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground. It really started with Kogi.

“I wouldn’t be able to be the same person before Kogi that I am now,” he says. “I was thrown into that environment where I had to face thousands of people on the street every night, and this energy and this love that was being transferred definitely changed me. That’s how I live my life now. I never look at it like ‘I’m The One.’ I just try to contribute how I can. Maybe I can’t be a Mar, but I can be a guy with a TV show that can [shine a light on] Mar.”

 

 

When KCET and Tastemade approached Choi with a skeleton of an idea for Broken Bread – putting a spotlight on social issues through the lens of food – it felt like the right fit, Choi says. Not only because of his commitment to giving back, but because restaurants, and specifically the kitchen, seem to be a natural springboard for second chances. The food industry has long been a place for those without hope, or for the just plain rebellious, to find a home.

“It’s probably one of the purest places as far as not discriminating or judging people,” Choi explains of working in a kitchen. “It’s like a martial arts dojo. It’s based on what you put in. A lot of us are rebellious, and a lot of us are like ‘fuck you’ to the world; but cooking is cool because for the most hard-headed of us it gives us a goal to accomplish everyday. There are a hundred pounds of onions that have to be peeled, and you can’t run away from it, you can’t shortcut it. You have to face it head-on, and that becomes like a metaphor for coping with life in many ways. The kitchen is great therapy for that.”

In true Choi fashion, Broken Bread covers a wide spectrum of topics near and dear to him, from food deserts and rehabilitation to pot politics. In another episode, Choi talks to the connoisseur of weed himself, Cheech Marin, about the origins of L.A.’s marijuana culture and how, contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t just growing on trees back in the day.

He enthuses, “To hear it from Cheech about how it really was, and what they had to do to get high…you know, that was fun.”

Find out what else Broken Bread has in store on May 15, when it premieres on KCET and Tastemade, and will be available for streaming.

 

BlackBook Interview: ‘Russian Doll’ Star Charlie Barnett on Facing Down Demons, the Brilliance of Natasha Lyonne, and Having to Die Over and Over Again

 

Of all the binge-worthy shows coming out on Netflix these days, Russian Doll has risen quickly to the top of everyone’s list. Created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, the series takes us on a wild ride with Nadia (played by Lyonne), who finds herself stuck in some kind of tripped out universe glitch. She keeps dying and coming back to life in a (rather posh) bathroom at her 36th birthday party.

Though this premise has been explored a few times before, it’s evident very early on in Russian Dolls that this is an existential journey that’s entirely new. Nadia is a video game coder (for starters) with bombshell red hair, struggling with addiction, depression, and commitment. But it’s Alan – the inimitable Charlie Barnett (he will also be starring in Tales of the City with Ellen Page) – who throws a wrench into the entire story. He too is stuck in a death loop. Nadia first meets him during episode three in an elevator – in which of course they plummet to their death – but not before he tells her that he’s not worried: he dies all the time.

Amidst all the buzz, we managed to grab some time with Barnett – who is alive and well in Los Angeles – to chat about life after death, so to speak, as well as the bachelorette party that changed his life, judging his own work, procrastination, and how he brought a new dimension to an incredibly complex character.

 

 

You met Natasha Lyonne at a bachelorette party, right?

Yeah, it was actually for Samira Wiley, who plays Poussey Washington on Orange Is the New Black and Moira on The Handmaid’s Tale. She’s one of my best friends; we went to Juilliard together. She was getting married to Lauren Morelli, who was also a creator and writer for OITNB, and now is off doing her own thing. She wanted me to have her bachelorette party; and I’m not sure why she decided that, but it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

Are you good at throwing parties?

Maybe I am! Because at this point I’ve now thrown a couple of baby showers, as well as bachelorette parties. Like, I guess I got word around town in my friend group that I can do it up.
There were some fails on that vacation. We had a really incredible time, and I can’t go into the details of the strip club, because I know the ladies would be a little upset with me about that. But, um…I took them to an island at one point. I feel like I kind of Fyre Island-ed all the women of OITNB. I rented this island in Miami that was supposed to be a private, beautiful island, super secluded. It turned out this island was covered with trash. It started pouring when we got there.

This sounds a lot like Fyre Fest!

It is! These beautiful talented women were in linens, and beautiful boat hats. We had a couple other friends – one from Wyoming, who is a legitimate cowboy, and Brock Harris who’s from Oklahoma. They were mountain men kind of guys. They built a fort for the ladies, built a fire for them, and we had a campout until the rain passed; it was just beautiful and we had a great time.

And you bonded with Natasha…?

We had a really nice dinner the last day that we were there; and we got to talking about life and our journeys, and through it we really kind of connected. She’s such a fucking powerful and brilliant human being. A woman who’s endured addiction and battled all kinds of fucking shit from this industry and really has risen to find her own voice and put it out there. But to also find a different and new platform to do it in. That goes for Leslye [Headland] and Amy [Poehler] too.
I was so drawn into who Natasha is and the creative beast that she gifts us all with. I was committed from the day she called me. She didn’t talk about the project that much at the party. She called me a little bit later, and I was 100% on board from the get.

It’s an amazing show. When I first started watching it I thought this is a lot like Groundhog Day, but then it takes this magical turn that you’re not expecting. Like you were saying, Lyonne has this really distinct voice – as do the other writers on the show – and it’s not just a woman telling her story. She transcends genres and styles and builds this world, a sort of sci-fi mystical experience.

And even the technical side, to give credit to all the writers – all of them are women, and it’s great that they created this great thing that so many people are resonating with. But [maybe] it doesn’t make a difference that they’re women.
I think what I’m trying to say is technically, being a 28-minute [episode] and then it being a story that flips back and forth and starts in the middle, where a character doesn’t even get introduced until like four episodes in, and it’s still so impactful to the situation and the environment. All of that included is technically new, different, challenging, risky, and they achieved it a-hundred-fold.

 

 

You came in at episode three, and you filmed a lot of those repetitive scenes all at once; even though as viewers, we saw them throughout the entire show. How did you tackle that, or compartmentalize ‘what am I feeling at this point?’

It was really challenging of course, but for me, as much as I have to admit I’m a procrastinator, because anyone from my class will read this and be like, come on Charlie. But I really really, really love breaking down the work and just picking a piece apart and not just from a character’s standpoint, but from a world: the timing, the technical side, the emotional side and background side. I think the biggest thing was just about playing Alan. My world just started to relate and reflect in a certain way; it had some results that I can’t even understand yet. From watching it, there were things I was surprised by. We [as actors] didn’t even know what the surrounding scenes were going to be.
Also, having people like our script coordinator [Melissa Yap-Stewart], who also works on OITNB, she is like an unsung god of this project, because she’s the one who held those memories. This happens, and this beat goes there, and this has to be lost and the flowers are aged this much at this point. All that stuff was her brain, and she did an incredible job. It’s a lot of work and a lot of attention and a lot of people being passionate about the details.

Were they explaining it from a bigger picture, like here’s what’s going on with Alan right now; or were they like, Here’s the script for today and we’re just going to tackle it one bit at a time?

You know, it’s hard to say because my position as an actor and not as a creative is always going to be different. I only got the script when I went to film the first episode – meaning episode three. That elevator scene is like the first thing I filmed. So for me it was a lot more fly by the seat of your pants.
I think everyone’s fascinated by how they built this and I think the genius really comes from their ability to be malleable. That’s the takeaway. Here are these women who knew each other very well, and they’ve all worked together, which has definitely gotta be a point. They were willing to bring challenges and problems to the table, question them and adapt. And they adapted a lot.

What were some of Alan’s traits that you were drawn to when you read the script?

It’s almost like a double-edged sword. I related to so much about him, but I was also terrified of him. I was terrified of living in some of those things – and those are the things I probably related to most.
A lot of the emotional turmoil that he goes through, the interior emotional turmoil, is something I related to wholeheartedly; and that’s something that Natasha and I related off of in that first conversation at that bachelorette party. I’ve had struggles with depression and addiction and suicide and it’s not uncommon for artists – but I’ve also learned later in life that it’s not uncommon for anybody.
So when I started reading the piece, a lot of those things were what made me beam in excitement, in fear – it was a mix – in joy, in a sense of duty and respect. I really feel like, especially being African American too, and gay, I want people to be able to face their demons. I think we as a people can open that conversation more and maybe even save a couple people’s lives. That really drew me in from my own personal experience and the desire to change the conversation.

Doesn’t seem like Alan procrastinates that much.

No! That man is on his shit. I did take that away from him. I have a calendar now. This is how old school I am – I have a dry erase calendar that I put up once a month and write everything in and make it all color coordinated. 

So it’s really interesting what you were saying about facing your demons. Alan has to overcome so much to beat this loop he’s stuck in, he had to look at some of the parts of himself that he didn’t really want to see. I think any human being would relate: in order to progress you have to get introspective and really dig in. Do you feel like Alan overcame?

I think Alan had this belief in the end, it’s not necessarily about changing yourself, it’s about challenging yourself and through these challenges you can change. I hate to have to break it down like that, but I think words and the way you think about how you react or how you act can change the way you can do it.
I think he did, at the end of it, it’s so hard because the end leaves us all in this kind of ‘where are they?’ Do they go on? Are they still stuck? Does it really matter? I almost think the change comes more from a release, him realizing that he can’t control; and that even beyond not controlling, there’s enough people around him in this world that if he’s honest and open with, he can get the help to give him the ladders in life.

 

He doesn’t need to contain himself or hide himself.

Yeah. I was talking to my partner the other day, and we were getting really deep about this, and the idea of what you want to be, what you want to be reflected as, and what you are. I’m still learning in this life, and I don’t know if I’m right in this idea; but it made me realize we all have what we think we identify as, what we want to be. But we ultimately have no control over that! You’re always a reflection of the people around you and your actions, and how you portray yourself. What you wear even, as fickle as that. You’re not in control… you kind of create it and it is received and then reflected back on to you.
You have to at some point let go of those requirements and then you have the freedom to just be you. That’s kind of where Alan got to, where he’s like I don’t have to be this thing for my mother or for Beatrice or even for Nadia. I’m allowed to live and not question myself, my actions, my past, and still push myself…but allow it to evolve without those kind of opinions.

Stop judging yourself in a sense.

Yeah.

Have you watched the whole season?

I haven’t!
Is it hard to watch your own work?
No not at all. Well, I say that so flippantly. I guess I have to admit, it’s not that I have a problem watching myself or judging myself. It’s really that it’s like you experience it as one thing. It’s one story in your mind and then you watch it and it becomes something completely different. And you lose a part of that aspect, you lose a part of that story.
I like to watch things in my house, on my couch, alone. That is my one rule, I don’t like watching it with other people. Other people telling me shit. The first time I’m going to be judging it hardcore. The second time I might actually enjoy it. The third time I’m might get lost in the story. It takes a build.

Would you say you’re a harsh critic of yourself?

Oh, of myself? 150 billion per cent. I’ve only watched up to episode six and I’ve been hard on myself. I’m like come on, why you doing that? What the fuck is that shit? You should’ve followed through on that emotion! But there are so many parts where I get to sit back and I’m like really surprised by myself and really proud and happy. It was an emotional beast, and anyone in my family and any one of my friends will tell you: they’ve seen me that broken, they’ve seen me that crushed. They’ve seen me that sad, and it’s such a weird thing to be like I’m an actor, but I’m really utilizing my own life and my own experience and my own emotions to tap into those. So how much of that do I get to give myself credit for?

You have had the ultimate experience to be this person even if you’re not exactly like him. Do you feel like you were able to evolve the character and contribute ideas as far as where things should go?

I think, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I think I brought a lot to it, even in their eyes, that they didn’t see. It was just because of the work I put into it. After procrastinating for so long, when I do finally get to work, I work my fucking ass off.

What was some of the preparation that you did for it?

I’ve been to a lot of psych wards and I’ve done a lot of charity work too – but I’ve been in one myself, and taking a lot of the experience from that and taking a lot of the things I’ve written down over the years and going back into it was really really helpful. And a lot of stigmatizing that goes into it – not trying to fall into those cheap plays and also recognizing what is true and what does resonate.
But on top of that I went into hardcore research about OCD and how it can manifest, and I really wanted to respect that too, because I feel like it’s utilized as a character trait sometimes rather than just, ‘It’s fucking who I am.’

Now that this is all wrapped, what’s next for you?

There’s a lot that I’m really really excited about. I finished shooting Tales of the City with Lauren Morelli. It’s got a great cast: Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Ellen Page. It’s an Armistead Maupin novel; we filmed it in New York with a good week or two in San Francisco.
I also did a movie with Jamie Babbit – director on Russian Doll – and Drew Barrymore who’s producing and also starring, called The Stand-In. It’s going to be really funny.

 

 

Johari Noelle Releases Stunning Debut Single ‘Show Me’ – Is She the Next Great R&B Singer?

 

She could probably get a record deal just on the incontestable coolness of her name – which sounds like some sort of African-superhero-Christmas-goddess. But Johari Noelle actually first came to national attention in 2016 on the Kelly Rowland show Chasing Destiny. Since then, she has taken on a few small acting roles – as in the hit series’ Empire and Proven Innocent – while readying the launch of her music career in earnest.

This May 31 at long last sees the release of her debut EP, the sagely titled Things You Can’t Say Out Loud. And the first single, “Show Me,” has us predicting monumental things for the soulful, Chicago born songstress. Conveying a remarkable maturity – complex instrumentation, alluring arrangements, along with her sultry, intoxicating vocal performance – it leaves one with a thrilling sense of her possibilities.

 

 

“’Show Me’ is a sensual song that encourages working through the kinks in a relationship,” she explains, “In a world where people people just drop things quick when they get hard or lose understanding, it’s important to dig deep and understand your partner and yourself. This song is about the desire to learn your partner’s love language, and an exploration of that feeling.”

Indeed, even her wisdom is well beyond her years.

N.B. –  Johari will celebrate the release of the EP with a special performance at Chicago’s Promontory on June 5. Advance tickets can be purchased here.

 

 

Listen: New Mia Gladstone Single ‘Baby Don’t Worry’ Exhibits Her Effortless Cool

Image by Jordan Tempro

 

As we are by now well aware, at any age, cooler heads – while tending to prevail – are generally few in number.

Which is one reason why we’re so taken with the budding young NYC songstress Mia Gladstone – whose new single “Baby Don’t Worry” is not only an impressively self-possessed plea for calm, but is made all the more calming by her effortlessly cool delivery. Over a bit of psychedelic (synthesized) organ and a sultry R&B beat (along with some mellifluous flute playing by Brooklyn soulster Cautious Clay) she sagely and insouciantly intones, “Don’t live life too carefully / Miss opportunities / Protecting yourself from nothing.”

“The song is about unapologetically owning yourself,” Ms. Gladstone explains, “and being comfortable without the validation of others.”

Ne’er wiser words, we say.

 

Downtown Los Angeles Renaissance: Our Favorite Stops at the ROW DTLA

A+R

 

It’s without question that Downtown Los Angeles has been undergoing a rapid transformation in recent years, after about a dozen notable starts and stops. The LA Times wrote just last year that the construction boom was the biggest the area had seen since the 1920’s.

Like New York’s Meatpacking District or San Francisco’s SOMA, DTLA has gone from a cluster of industrial warehouses and artist studios to, essentially, a scenester’s paradise. All this change, and the shops, bars and restaurants fueling its new hype, have ultimately brought us to the latest fashionable megaplex: ROW DTLA.

 

 

Once known as the LA Terminal Market – where hundreds of fruit and vegetable vendors came to sell their goods back in the 1930’s – the sprawling property (30 acres of contained city blocks) is now a glistening reflection of the nearby revitalization. Outside of being a hub for the nation’s produce, ROW DTLA now has all the stuff we normally trek across town for: locally roasted coffee, interactive art exhibits, of-the-moment boutiques, and abstract furniture that’s yet somehow still comfortable.

We have Mark Rios and his team at Rios Clementi Hale Studios (and New York-based developer Jeffrey Goldberger) to thank for the architectural reboot. While we typically fret at the idea of big money swooping in to transform anything, they were careful to breathe new life into the ROW’s iconic framework, without stripping it of historical charm. It’s not just another outdoor shopping space (a la The Grove or Century City Mall), but rather a collection of independently owned businesses and culinary names we love.

Here we highlight BlackBook‘s particular fave reasons to get down to ROW DTLA as often as possible. Oh, and for the pragmatist in you – now you can also find a parking space/

 

The Manufactory

Debuting just last month, this is the newest concept from the James Beard Award-winning team of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine and Phoenix’s Pizzeria Bianco. Find whatever you’re craving under one roof: a market, a cafe, all-day restaurant Tartine Bianco, the Tartine Bakery…and, for those special occasion moments, private dining room Alameda Supper Club.

 

 

The Things We Do

Vanessa Lee’s “beauty concept bar” features a mix of Western (botox, fillers) and Eastern (cosmetic acupuncture, facial cupping) beauty practices. A photo of her mom and aunts on the beach in the Philippines in the ‘70s inspired the space’s design: lots of burnt gold, peach, and cream colors paired with wavy textural elements and hints of shimmer. Plus, the facials will leave you glowing for days.

 

 

Hawkins New York

Decorate the home of your dreams with Hawkins NY’s soft linens and artisanal-style ceramics and dishware – all available in of-the-moment color palettes. Lovely.

 

 

Myrtle

Curated by owner Whitney Bickers, who moved her shop from Silver Lake to ROW DTLA to be amongst like-minded retailers (and to escape skyrocketing SL rents), Myrtle has no shortage of the looks Angelenos love. Browse drape-y dresses, accessories, footwear, jewelry, bags, apothecary and fragrance – all made by independent female designers.

 

 

Paramount Coffee Project

Find Aussie import Paramount Coffee Project’s second L.A. location here. Expanding on the offerings of their original Fairfax Avenue cafe, the space is the place for strong coffee in the morning and afternoons, and a delicious selection of wines (obviously some from Australia) come evening. (As well as English pea tartines and and sausage hand pies).

 

 

Still Life Ceramics

Not really the knitting types, we’ve long been meaning to take up the fine art of pottery. Here’s the place to do it – or at least to purchase some from people who are already good at it. Shop an assortment of beautifully handmade things or sign up for a night on the wheel.

 

 

A+R

Why pick furniture for function when you can have a piece that’s functional and incites conversation. A+R houses some of the most innovative furniture designers, those with lots of umlauts in their names. From awe-inspiring lighting fixtures to futuristic sofas you can still sink into for a night of, well, sitting on the sofa – this is the place to make your home just that much more aesthetically imaginative. 

 

San Diego to LA, SF to Seattle to Vancouver: Where to Have a Most Fascinating West Coast Tipple

Above: Raised by Wolves

 

If you need legal advice, you go to a lawyer. Illness or injury? Ask a doctor. So it only makes sense that if you are seriously needing an urbane night on the tiles, best to turn to a real professional. Particularly one who’s spent a long and illustrious career mixing, serving, and of course, imbibing, from Sydney to Kenya and pretty much everywhere in between.

In Los Angeles, that would be one John Gakuru, the venerable director of sales and marketing at Sweet&Chilli, a specialist drinks agency that consults on all things beverage-related. Gakuru knows his way around the scene…and the world. After spending his early years bartending, he went on to manage Lab Bar, a renowned destination in London’s Soho. He was also the global brand ambassador for Sagatiba Cachaça, taking the spirit from a small, South-American production to a go-to drink on six continents.

He’s also, obviously, a great guy to grab a bevvy with. So we ordered a few rounds, and got him to spill on the most fascinating places up and down the West Coast for fab cocktails, jaw-dropping interiors, and generally interesting company. 

 

San Diego

Polite Provisions

It has almost no back bar (the shelves behind the bar that hold all the liquor). Instead, most cocktails come on tap. It ‘s an upmarket vibe – a great spot to let your guests know that you know… you know?! Suggested drink: Elizabeth Taylor

 

 

Raised by Wolves

As the name suggests, off the beaten path – actually in a strip mall. Highly unlikely anyone in your circle has ever heard of it, though it is owned by San Diego bar industry royalty (CH Projects co-founder Arsalun Tafazoli). In the middle of the carousel-esque bar is a marble fountain with sculpted representations of the bar’s namesake and, well…just go. Suggested Drink: Pelvic Sorcery

 

 

Jaynes Gastropub

Just across the road from Polite Provisions you’ll find a go-to for San Diego locals. On a warm, balmy evening, get a table in the garden out the back and enjoy some of the best service and hospitality in all of Southern California. They have a full dine-in menu as well as an extensive list of wine and bubbles. Suggested drink: Dirty Martini 

 

 

 

Los Angeles

Bibo Ergo Sum

One of those spots that you’d only know existed if someone brought you. In addition to the stunning art deco interiors, visitors can enjoy an expertly crafted cocktail menu designed by the Death & Co. legends. The entire service staff knows their stuff, so you’re guaranteed to find a tipple to knock your socks off. Suggested drink: L’Appel du Vide

 

 

Accomplice

Located in the heart of Mar Vista, Accomplice is one of those quintessential neighborhood bartenders’ bars. Lots of locals, insider banter, a beautiful craft cocktail list (try the Space Walk), and a bar menu loaded with tasty Taiwanese classics courtesy of Little Fatty’s. Suggested drink: Red Hook

 

 

Broken Shaker

It’s located on the rooftop of Freehand Hotel, in the historic Commercial Exchange building. Take in the views, the tiki cocktails, and the total lack of pretension. No venue sums up what’s great about Downtown better than this one. If you like pool parties, drinking outside, and spectacular vistas of DTLA, then you’re bound to love this place. Suggested drink: RuPaul’s Baby

 

 

San Francisco

Tommy’s Tequila Bar

If you happen to love all things agave then this is the place for you – their tequilas are made from 100% fermented blue agave sugars. We’re talking nectar of the Gods here, smooth, pure, and an absolute pleasure to drink. Also, the hospitality is second to none. Suggested drink: Herradura Añejo 2008

 

 

Smuggler’s Cove

Escapism perfected. Leave the rest of the modern world behind as you descend downstairs into a space that feels like you’re in a sunken pirate ship. And if the scene doesn’t get you there, the tiki-inspired cocktails absolutely will.  Suggested drink: The Dead Reckoning 

 

 

Trick Dog

The cocktail selection is a case study in how it should be done. This is a legitimate bartenders’ bar. They pay homage to the local scene, collaborating with tattoo parlor Idle Hand on a tricked out menu. And if you need further proof of their skill with a drink, in 2017 they took home the Spirited Award’s “World’s Best Cocktail Menu” – no small feat. Suggested drink: Rose of Death

 

 

The Buena Vista

Has been around since the dawn of time. Honestly, it’s a bit touristy, but for good reason. Go here for an Irish coffee and enjoy the bartending show. The number of boozy coffees they punch out will make your head spin. Kudos if you make it through more than two or three drinks. Suggested drink: Irish Coffee

 

 

Seattle

Rob Roy

Low-key yet sophisticated, a refreshing change of pace in the heavily craft brew dominated scene of Seattle. Also the owner Anu is the best of the best! She serves up killer cocktails and keeps you entertained while she does. Suggested drink: Saffron Sandalwood Sour

 

 

Canon

The walls are lined, floor-to-ceiling, with over 4,000 labels of spirits (If you’re into whiskey, Canon definitely has you sorted). Check out the Captain’s List for a bottomless inventory of any type of liquor you fancy: agave, juniper, rum, whiskey, vodka, absinthe – you name it. Suggested drink: La Femme Du Monde

 

 

Vancouver

Royal Dinette

An absolute gem, they make farm-to-table cool again (and not just in the restaurant). The bar commits to a minimal waste ethos, and of course, the drinks are excellent. Suggested drink: New Order

 

 

The Lobby Lounge @ Fairmont Pacific Rim

If you want to have a fancy night out, this is the place to do it. I’d argue that this is the best cocktail bar in all of Vancouver – and that’s saying a lot. Incredible drinks and exceptional service. While you’re splurging, I’d definitely reco getting into the sushi menu too. Suggested drink: Fig Tree Sour