Compton Youth Thrives Through Equestrianism in New Photo Series

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Photo by Melodie McDaniel

 

A slightly familiar group of celebs, influencers, and members of the art world recently converged on Space 15 Twenty in Los Angeles for a slightly less than familiar cultural experience – as photographer Melodie McDaniel unveiled her latest series, Daring to Claim the Sky.

Curated by Audrey Landreth, the exhibit of 36 black-and-white prints offers a compelling subject with strong emotional depth: it tells a familiar story of the black experience in America through a unique perspective, that of a youth equestrian program in the urban setting of Compton.

Founded by Mayisha Akbar in 1988, the Compton Jr. Posse operates with the mission of “keeping kids on horses and off the streets.” The community’s youth are not only taught how to ride, but how to care for their horses. It ultimately instills a sense of self esteem, responsibility, and discipline in its young members.

 

Photo by Melodie McDaniel

 

“We wanted to show the photos that really do evoke a feeling,” Landreth said of curating the exhibit. “And that feeling is one of empowerment and pride. It’s sort of this ethereal inspiration, and it kind of transcends any sort of specific time. It becomes a timeless feeling, which I love.”

The images seem to depict the kids developing a spiritual connection with their horses, with complementing black-and-white footage of the same kids and horses trotting through the streets of their neighborhood. Some photos depict the children flipping their braids with the same spirit and pride of their animals tossing their manes. One shows a kid grooming his horse, which further expresses that mutual pride.

The contrast in the series is staggeringly beautiful, depicting an intersectionality of racial experiences. In one photo, a young man is dressed in classic white equestrian uniform, standing with his horse. In the next, another dons an open denim jacket, accentuating his tattoos, while standing in a similar pose with his own horse.

Another particularly powerful image features a black girl on horseback at a competition, cutting her eyes at a white girl on the horse next to her. With one facial expression, it exemplifies a unique racial divide in a way that words really can’t.

“It shows an African American girl and a white girl competing together,” McDaniel said. “Which you don’t see. There’s something about this that moves me.”

 

Photo by Melodie McDaniel

 

McDaniel spent three years shadowing the children of the program, attending competitions and visiting them in the stables, as well as at home. She developed a unique bond with them, which comes across as a sense of innocent vulnerability in the photos.

“There’s a therapeutic connection,” McDaniel explained. “They all ride their one horse that they are connected to, and it’s amazing to watch the process of them nurturing them, cleaning them, grooming them. It’s a lot of work, and they respect that too. They learn a lot of skills by going through that process.”

McDaniel was introduced to the program by friend, Amelia Fleetwood. The latter also spent time with the children, compiling interviews to run with the photos in an upcoming book. They help tell the story so beautifully illustrated by McDaniel’s photos.

“Their overwhelming tie that they kind of all shared was that when they’re on a horse, all their troubles sort of melt away,” says Fleetwood. “And they feel a sense of freedom, they feel like they’re flying. Really, every single kid had a beautiful description of how they felt in their soul.”

At the essence of McDaniel’s culminating body of work is a depiction of black youth thriving in a typically whitewashed activity. It’s a beautifully documented piece of culture that contributes a unique perspective on our society’s ever-evolving racial narrative.

See more at Melodie McDaniel’s website.

BlackBook Interview: John Travolta and Kelly Preston on Their New Mob Drama ‘Gotti’

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Despite well-documented career ups and downs, John Travolta is indisputably considered to be one of the most iconic actors of his time, gracing the silver screen over the last five decades with performances that have defined a generation. From disco king, to postmodern gangster to kitschy Baltimore housewife in 2007’s Hairspray, his most memorable characters have distinct pride of place in the great celluloid pantheon.

At the 71st Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, Travolta was not only celebrating the 40th anniversary of Grease, but he also received the Variety Icon Award during the premiere of his latest film Gotti (due in theaters June 15) – for which he was both Executive Producer and star. In the riveting biopic about the notorious New York crime family, he also plays husband to his real life wife, Kelly Preston – who is Victoria Gotti to his John.

We sat down with the pair to discuss what it was like to portray one of the most famous mob couples in modern history, their secrets to a successful Hollywood marriage…and what it means to be recognized as a cultural icon.

 

 

 

 

What do you remember about meeting each other?

JT: It was a screen test, at a time when she was beginning to get popular – so I was familiar with her, but didn’t know her. We had an immediate chemistry, but she was married at the time. I remember asking her, ‘What’s it like to be married?’ I didn’t know – I was 37 and a late bloomer. She said, “Oh, I love it.” No one says they love being married, and so I thought, wouldn’t it be great to be married to someone who loves being married? That was the first connection, beyond the obvious admiration.
KP: It was a comedy we were doing called The Experts. I could see him coming across the hall with his two dogs and he stopped to say hi. A mutual friend was there and she told him that he was going to meet this girl, fall in love with her, and marry her. I found this out later, and the rest is history.

This must be an exciting year in Cannes for you, John, as far as getting the Variety Icon award and premiering Gotti, which you also produced.

JT: [The award] is a remarkable surprise. I had a secret instinct that the Cannes officials would like the movie, so I wanted to submit it awhile ago – but it wasn’t ready. In the end I was right, they liked it, and wanted to make it even more of a special event. That’s when they came up with the idea [for the Icon award].

Do you wake up every morning and think, ‘I’m an Icon’?

JT: The idea of being an icon is so simple, whether it’s Marilyn Monroe or James Dean or me. It’s not an egocentric thing, we are just famous for something people visually recognize us for. I can’t help that the white suit from Saturday Night Fever or the leather jacket in Grease made me famous – the same with Marilyn Monroe’s white dress. It’s just part of the illusion; I like to take the egocentric part of it out.

Have you ever had any doubts about your career?

JT: It’s an interesting question because I think I’ve achieved even more than I anticipated. There were always moments of doubt; what part of being an actor is ever certain?

 

 

Right, it’s a very insecure business.

JT: Part of the job is the mystery of what will happen next – but it’s also the excitement. So [you have to] embrace it rather than think you will find some envelope of security. Nobody has any absolute security, there’s nothing to really anchor you. So I am an eternal optimist, I always see the glass as half full. Although life tries to knock it out of you and make you cynical, I have never been part of that. Though I have played cynical characters, I am not personally capable of that cynicism.

Were there any roles that you regretted turning down?

JT: There are only a couple of roles that I think I could’ve taken that would have made my career transition smoother. Splash was written for me, as well as Days of HeavenAn Officer and a Gentleman, and Pretty Woman. I don’t know if I had done those if I would be where I am today – but overall I’m happy with what I have chosen. I like very much that I can choose my characters and roles; that’s more interesting to me than having a perfect arc to a career.

How did you two decide to do this film together?

KP: It was years ago John asked me about this script, and if I would be interested in doing it together; and I said I’d love to, Victoria Gotti is such a great character. Also John Gotti is such an iconic figure in American history, and the idea of having John play him was amazing…an icon playing an icon.

How did it come together?

JT:  Initially it was offered to me with a high budget and other expensive actors. But the financing dipped, and I think we did really well with what we had. As for the story, Gotti is the only modern criminal that is famous and an icon, there’s been no real ultra famous and beloved gangster since. He really was glamorous and he was a composite or a dichotomy of other people that was very intriguing, because he had a lot of style, was down to earth and could adjust to anyone he was talking to. He was thoughtful and considerate to everyone he talked to but he was also tough as nails. So all of that intrigued me.

John, you are originally from Englewood, NJ – and now you are playing a character from the same neighborhood. Does it seem like you are coming full circle?

JT: It does. Welcome Back Kotter, Saturday Night Fever, and even Get Shorty had New York characters that you coud do a take on. But I think the Gotti character was very different in his thinking, cadence, voice quality, behavior and physical movements. He was gruff but at the same time a genius. He instinctively knew business better than anyone and was the most powerful person in New York. So there had to be a smartness about him.

How did you go about becoming him?

JT: I build characters like a recipe. I love adding things: accents, walks, style, behavior, cadence of vocal quality.

What was it like to play a married couple on screen, and how different were the Gottis from you as a real life couple?

JT: Kelly always wanted to play a New Yorker – and when we chose this project we asked ourselves if we were really suited to play those characters. It gets criticized if it gets miscast, but if you give integrity to the casting, then it’s less attackable when there’s authenticity to the product. But the only thing that was similar between the Gottis and us was that we both really adore our families, to the level of an immeasurable value. But their style of living and their values were fun and interesting to play. They live in a neck of the woods where people are comfortable going at each other until their issue is solved. This couple fought it out and then solved it.
KP: It was amazing and really fun and different. John always completely immerses himself in each character, and the Gottis are such distinct people with distinct mannerisms. We got to really know Victoria because she is still alive and she’s an incredible woman. She’s smart as a whip, tough, and very straightforward. I did a lot of research and reading, and we had an email relationship where I could ask her anything from her personal life. She gave me her jewelry to wear, which was really special; she had some things that she had never taken off that I wore during the entire film. It was a wonderful journey to take.

 

 

Were you able to separate your real lives and the characters?

KP: John and I have been married for 27 years and that’s what we wanted to bring to it: the closeness, longevity, familiarity and comfort in knowing each other so well. We’re not volatile at all, though – we’re really easy going, and neither one of us likes to fight at all, and never have. It’s just a different dynamic.  How they were towards each other was very different than how we are together. But there was a passionate love and mutual respect between them.

Were there any ethical issues that arose in playing a mafia family?

KP: In our line of work you play every type of person from all walks of life. You just walk into the role and try not to judge. I felt that this was a story that was worth telling, and I’m not justifying or validating…just portraying.

Was it fun using that vernacular with your real life spouse?

JT: Yes, because I don’t think Kelly and I have ever cursed at each other – and they were pretty rough with each other verbally. But there’s also a great humor watching them, because they were funny people. There was an innate humor between them.

What was it like meeting the Gotti family?

JT: I loved them, they were hilarious and articulate – John Jr. was a revelation. He was lovely and smart as a whip, was really super aware and “there.” I was really impressed with him. He stood up to his father because he didn’t want that life and he wanted to protect his family. It took a lot of guts. In the film, John is in prison reflecting back on his lifetime and he’s really trying to talk his son into staying and running the mob; but his son is very persistent on why he doesn’t want this. He finally acquiesces and gives the blessing to his son.

The death scene was uncomfortable?

JT: John had stage 4 cancer and was in another state of mind; and I just became that, and only entertained what he was thinking. But my mother was an acting teacher, and she always believed that acting was being and pretending. So I’ve always been able to not suffer the pain that an actor is experiencing through his character. I know I’m just pretending.

 

 

Were you nervous about the reception of the film by the Gotti family?

KP: John Jr., who was on the set the whole time, said that Victoria was my biggest fan and was thrilled that I was playing her. I don’t know if she will be able to see the film, partly because she really misses John and the loss is still there; but mostly because they lost little Frankie (note: their 12-year-old son was struck by a car and killed in 1980). It was hard enough for us to do that scene – let alone having to watch it when it’s really your life.

What have been your favorite roles?

KP: This was one of my favorites to play. I also loved Jerry McGuire and For the Love of the Game.
JT: I don’t really have one, because I’ve done over 70 roles. It’s hard to pick one that I like the best. I just enjoy the adventure, I’m an existentialist in that way. The role I’m doing at the moment is the most important and interesting one; I don’t cross collateralize my roles.

Are there any roles that you would dream of doing?

JT: I’ve always had a good rapport with writers, because if they have defined a character well, I will help them portray that as well as I can. I would never have imagined playing half the roles that I did, it was always in the writer’s imagination. I loved adapting to their thoughts and if I can do it better than what they imagined, then I’ve done my job.

So, what is the secret to a long lasting relationship in Hollywood?

KP: I think it’s compatibility and figuring out before you marry someone if you are right together. Communication is huge – you have to keep creating it, it doesn’t create itself. A lot of people will let their marriage go; but you have to have fun and play, and have date nights to make it last.

 

Nicki Minaj’s Rap in This Cut-For-Time ‘SNL’ Sketch Deserves A Grammy

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In a cut-for-time SNL sketch from this past weekend, Nicki Minaj joins Tina Fey, Aidy Bryant, and Kate McKinnon to rap a verse on their parody Haim-style song.

“Friendship Song” sees the three comedy queens as singing sisters, crooning about the familial bonds that tie best friends together. Nicki joins in to rap about supporting her friends unconditionally, and it’s amazing. Take a look.

 

 

Haim actually responded to the video online, freaking out when they saw what SNL had created.

 

 

Nicki’s new album, *Queen, drops June 15 – it’s the follow-up to 2015’s The Pinkprint. 

Janet Jackson Becomes First Black Female to Receive Billboard’s Icon Award

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Janet Jackson made history last night as the first black female artist to receive the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards ceremony.

In a moving acceptance speech, Jackson called out her appreciation for the #MeToo movement, saying:

“I believe that for all the challenges, for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment in history. It’s a moment when at long last women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged by discrimination who support us in heart and mind.

“This is also a moment when our public discourse is loud and harsh,” she added. “My prayer is that, weary of such noise, we turn back to the source of all calmness. That source is God. Everything we lack, God has in abundance – compassion, sensitivity, patience and a boundless love.”

 

Jackson also performed her hits “Nasty,” “If,” and “Throb” on the BBMAs stage—see below:

BlackBook Interview: The B-52s’ Fred Schneider on 40 Years of Making ‘Surreal’ Music

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Photo by Pieter M. Van Hattem

 

When the B-52s self-titled debut album was released in 1979, it was at once one of the most inexplicable records to ever grace the pop canon, and also simply more unbridled fun than any collection of music really even has the right to be.

Indeed, with its monster-movie organs, twisted surf guitar riffs, herky jerky dance beats and Fred Schneider’s peculiar, stentorian vocal delivery, it perfectly epitomized the emerging “anything goes” new wave ethos. But there was also something of an artful anarchy to it all – tearing down basic song structures, and layering on provocative, surrealistic lyrical musings. Listening to it now, it sounds as if it all could have been recorded yesterday, as its sheer originality gives it a thoroughly unstoppable timelessness.

Four decades and 20+ million records sold later, the core of the band – Schneider, Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland – are remarkably still together and going strong (Ricky Wilson died from AIDS-related illnesses in 1985). And 2018 looks set to be their biggest party yet, as they celebrate the 40th anniversary of that first album. Launching in Cincinnati May 27, they will carry out a spectacular 46-date North American tour (co-headlining with Culture Club), which will take them all the way to San Antonio on October 3.

We grabbed frontman and all around inimitable personality Schneider for a chat before it all kicks off.

 

A lot of punk ideology was about youth rejecting the ideas and ideals of the previous generations. So does it feel a bit odd to be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the B-52s debut?

Yes, because we never really planned a career in music. We all had day jobs, but we were all creative. We found ourselves doing music for fun, then playing parties…and it all just took off from there.

What do you remember about recording the first album?

One day I was washing pots and pans at the vegetarian restaurant I worked at, and the next I was flying to the Bahamas to record an album. I will say, [producer and Island Records founder] Chris Blackwell was great to work with. And Robert Ash, who did quite a lot of the production, really understood us. Thankfully, they just wanted to capture us as we were.

Was it strange going from being complete outsiders to suddenly recording for a major label? Were you more nervous or excited?

I think we were more excited – we had all the songs ready to go. I mean, going from Georgia to the Bahamas…it was pretty amazing.

 

 

How much did that Athens, Georgia scene project you forward?

There actually was no scene, there was literally nothing going on in Athens at the time. We started the scene and left before it happened. It’s like Michael Stipe used to say: On a Friday night you could lay down in the middle of the main street and not get run over by a car.

Funny, because obviously so much of the mythology suggests otherwise.

It eventually became a magnet for creative people, all these clubs started opening up. But before that, you really had to make your own fun.

Despite a plethora of really memorable hooks, there was a kind of anarchy about the songs on the B-52s debut album. The feeling you get was that musically and lyrically, you just went totally out of bounds.

Yeah, we didn’t try to follow anything or copy anyone. If we had any influences, I don’t know if we brought them to the studio. With the lyrics that I wrote, I was more inspired by dada and surrealism than any other particular songwriters.

There was maybe something of a surreal campiness about it all…

Well, campiness suggests being ridiculous without realizing it. I have to say, we actually knew exactly what we were doing.

But there was a sense of humor.

Yeah, a particular sense of humor is a better way to put it. We found that people either got it or they didn’t.

“Rock Lobster” is actually one of the most surreal songs imaginable.

Thank you, I appreciate that. The inspiration for it was that I went to this club in Atlanta called Disco 2001, and instead of real lighting effects and such, they had this cheesy slide show – which for some reason included lobsters on a grill. So I wrote the lyrics based on that, and then the girls came up with their crazy fish noises.

That guitar riff is surely up there with the Stones’ “Satisfaction” as one of the most iconic in history.

Actually, Ricky at the time said that he thought he came up with the stupidest guitar riff ever.

 

You did what was to become a sort of legendary appearance on Saturday Night Live

Yeah, that really pushed us up the charts. The album went platinum that summer.

Did it feel like a groundbreaking moment?

We were so nervous, I don’t think we gave it that much thought. We had never done TV, and were just hoping we didn’t mess up. Apparently Kurt Cobain saw it and was really inspired by it.

What are some of the memorable highlights of that time for you?

Well, we were still playing dumpy clubs in America. But “Rock Lobster” was a big hit in Australia – so when we went there, it was incredible. All red carpets and limos and such.

Do you now feel hindered or bolstered by nostalgia?

I don’t even think about nostalgia – I feel the songs don’t really date.  I mean, we started out really punky, but we evolved into a formidable dance music band.

People sometimes forget that punk wasn’t about a sound, it was about freedom.

It was all about an attitude. We were serious about doing good songs, even though we didn’t take ourselves seriously. I might have eventually taken some voice lessons.

You’re launching a five-month tour later this month. Are you still just as excited to get up on stage now?

I mean, I really like the travel. I love the people I work with, Kate and Cindy – and we’ve become best friends with our touring band…

But is there still that buzz getting up in front of the fans and playing these songs?

In some ways, yes. But I’m also getting to be really over the thing of the audience watching us on their cell phones. That is definitely really irritating. And to be honest, it’s not really as much fun as it used to be. But I’m happy to play to the people who are not on their cell phones.

Describe the B-52s in the smallest number of words possible.

The world’s greatest party band.

 

Cardi B Attends A Wedding & Funeral in Her New ‘Be Careful’ Video

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Cardi B is a blushing bride and a grieving widow simultaneously in her new “Be Careful” video, out today.

The clip, which is set in a Southwestern-style desert church, seems to flip from joyful wedding to dramatic funeral as Cardi switches from a beautiful gown to a black visor dripping in jewels.

Jora Frantzis directed the video, the third off the album Invasion of Privacy  – following “Bodak Yellow” and “Bartier Cardi.” Cardi also revealed her pregnancy when she recently appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live.

Take a look at “Be Careful” below.

 

Listen: Goldfrapp’s Sexy New Version of ‘Ocean’ – Featuring Dave Gahan

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It seemed virtually inevitable, a collab between Goldfrapp and some or other member of Depeche Mode – having not only been longtime Mute labelmates (the latter are now signed to Columbia), but obviously also aesthetic/ideological kin. And so it is that this stunning new version of the former’s “Ocean” has just appeared, with Dave Gahan sharing vocal duties with Ms. Alison.

Surely one of the sexiest duets ever, over a majestic sweep of lavish but haunted synths, the pair mysteriously intone, “I buried bones, I borrowed skin / To save me from the hell I’m in / Your fantasy / And every time I think of you / I see the dark, I hear their hooves.”

The track is a teaser for Silver Eye: Deluxe Edition (out July 6 through Mute), a two-disc update of Goldrapp’s 2017 UK Top 10 album. It features new artwork, plus a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions of songs.

The enigmatic duo – Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory – have eight UK festival dates scheduled, including British Summer Time at Hyde Park London on July 7, with The Cure. Europhiles can catch them at the Cactusfestival in Bruges, Belgium, the weekend of July 13.

 

BlackBook Exclusive: Ethereal Songstress Linying’s Fave Spots in Singapore

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When one thinks of the so many reasons to love Singapore, pop music probably doesn’t come first to mind – especially as compared to, say, the scenes in Seoul or Tokyo.

But everything about artful songstress Linying seems to suggest she’s poised to even capture imaginations out here in the West – having already won praise from the likes of Billboard and NPR. She first caught attention as a featured vocalist on dance tracks by KRONO and Felix Jaehn; but now signed to Nettwerk, she has delivered a wistful but sultry new single, “Tall Order,” that we hope is a harbinger of more to come.

Indeed, with its gorgeously lush sonics, melancholy mood and Linying’s soulful, longing vocals, it distinctly recalls the likes of Pet Shop Boys and The Blue Nile. Lyrically, it’s a poignant meditation on self-doubt and motivation.

 

 

“‘Tall Order’ was me realizing that about myself,” she explains. “I wondered if I was struggling with the menial things, because it was all I’d been tasked with; that maybe if I was given a higher purpose, taller of an order, I’d be able to prove myself better. But of course, that’s just an excuse – I’m just throwing a tantrum.”

The accompanying video, which she co-directed with Tan Yan Long, was filmed at Singapore’s sexy Hotel Vagabond – and is shot full of poignant metaphor.

“With this video,” Linying says, “I tried to put into a visual language what it feels like to be deeply dissatisfied with yourself. All the nights out spent avoiding addressing the issue, obsessing over the plates at a party and throwing a fit just because one thing doesn’t go your way. At some point you just start seeing yourself acting like a child.”

As BlackBook is wont to do, we also asked her to take us around to her favorite spots in Singapore.

 

Linying’s Singapore Faves

 

The Projector

The Projector only started becoming a part of my life four years ago, but it’s already my favorite place to catch arthouse films that the big distributors don’t screen. It’s also been around since my parents’ time in the 70s, when it was called the Golden Theatre, and it was where they used to go on movie dates. They’ve obviously since renamed it and retained most of the interiors to exploit its rustic, hipster appeal, that goes hand-in-hand with its Instagram potential – but I’m a sucker for it, I think it’s cute. Plus they have a great selection of movies and pretty badass salted-egg fries.

 

 

Golden Mile Complex

Right next to The Projector is a building called Golden Mile Complex, which is also known as a sort of Thai enclave. I find it such an interesting spot because it’s an old mall that seems to have somehow escaped the wave of modernization that has hit everywhere outside of it. It’s a strange mix of Thai eateries, shops selling knick-knacks, and sleazy karaoke bars – where hostesses in fluffy occasion dresses hold their skirts up and stride down in monster heels, chatting wryly in a language I don’t understand, probably laughing at a desperate male clientele. It’s also where the best mookata (i.e. Thai barbecue) in the country can be found. No question.

 

 

Serangoon Gardens

I pretty much grew up in Serangoon Gardens. It’s largely residential and void of tall buildings, which is a rare sight in Singapore; and it’s full of little shops, ice cream parlors, and some of the best supper spots. RK Eating House is a popular, no-frills, 24-hour mamak – the term for an Indian Muslim eatery – and has some really great fried chicken and prata (kind of a savoury, doughy, crispy pancake eaten with curry. I don’t know how to explain it, just try it). Another place I love is La Petite Boutique, which is a French-owned charcuterie, boulangerie and fromagerie all in one. Every time I feel like I need a treat, I pop over and buy myself an indulgent wedge of truffle brie and some rosé. Also notable is Oblong ice cream.

 

 

City Music @ the Peace Centre

I know this is sounding a bit too much like a food guide, so I’m including Peace Centre as one of my favorite spots, because it’s where I bought my first midi keyboard and condenser mic – it’s got a special place in my heart. There’s a bunch of music gear and guitar shops scattered all over the first two floors, City Music is one of the best. There’s also a great Escape Room randomly situated in a corner.

 

 

Mustafa

There’s nowhere like Mustafa…ask any Singaporean. I don’t even really know how to begin to explain it, because it’s sort of a department store, but the departments tend to be rather fluid, to say the least; think, footwear section with shoes stuffed to the brim in shelves next to the toothpaste section, and counterfeit perfumes near electronics. Toys, jewelry, kitchen appliances, gardening tools can all be found here – Mustafa has everything.

 

 

Ann Siang Hill

The Ann Siang Hill area is a scenic shophouse stretch built around sloping, winding roads and is the best place to explore Singapore in a day. Great eateries: The Coconut Club for delicious nasi lemak, The Apiary for freshly-made artisanal ice cream in local, seasonal flavors, Tong Heng for the best egg tarts in town. Also fun bars:  Spiffy Dapper, my favorite rustic ‘20s-vibe cocktail bar, Parelum Wine Bistro, a cozy bar with a vending machine dispensing wine! And even great bookstores, like Littered with Books and Woods in the Books. I prefer being there at night to avoid the scorching sun (no air-conditioning).

 

 

The Esplanade

The Esplanade will always be a special place to me, because it’s where I did my very first gigs starting out. It’s one of Singapore’s biggest arts venues and has played an essential role in the careers of many Singaporean musicians who, before then, didn’t have many other places to play that had high quality light and sound systems. The stages are also of an international standard. They bring in a big variety of artists – everything from opera to shoegaze to Mongolian throat-singing. You name it.

 

 

 

Issa Rae is Seeking Unsigned Musicians for Season 3 of ‘Insecure’

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HBO’s Insecure, Issa Rae’s series about black women, friendship, and the awkward insecurities of everyday life, has steadily become one of our favorite shows on television. And now she wants to include the fans.

Rae recently released a video announcing a contest to find new music for season three. In partnership with Afropunk, all unsigned artists are welcomed to enter the #InsecureMusicContest, and until May 22 she’ll be taking submissions for artists to appear on the show…as well as its soundtrack.

With artists like SZA, Miguel, Jorja Smith already having music grace the show, the winner will definitely be in good company. And since first season’s soundtrack was curated by Solange, the competition is sure to be intense.

Check out the video announcement below.