The DEPTH of Redikiraa

The power gained from pursuing something you were once scared to do is one of the most satisfying feelings we can experience. This is exactly what New York artist and producer Redikiraa has done. Once a person who posted the occasional singing video out of bravery she has now released her debut EP titled Depth. I hit her up to discuss the journey that led to the EP as well as the journey of of transforming into a full fledged artist.

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This interview has been edited for clarity. 

The name “Redikiraa” which is Japanese for “lady killer” is more than just something that sounds cool (it’s also her Instagram name) – it’s a direct connection to her life. “ I used it because I was indeed a woman killing it at everything I set my mind to & more importantly I was finally becoming sure of my sexuality , I’m bisexual so I wanted to celebrate me getting ze ladies hence “ladykiller” LMAO. Also because I’m heavily into anime so I wanted something Japanese.” This direct honesty comes through when it comes to her songwriting also: “When it’s my personal music I really just try to focus and think about whatever I’m feeling at the moment that I want to release,  any emotion that comes to mind , any conversation I wanted to have but didn’t that kinda thing, then find a beat then I’ll kinda like freestyle sing it out then patch words into the spaces that didn’t come to me automatically.” 

Like any great artist the title Depth is more than just something that looks cool on merch – it has multiple meanings for Redikiraa. “So the word Depth in general has multiple definitions. One is “the quality of being intense or extreme.”  I put raw emotions into these songs. Outside of music I’m more easygoing but I get to channel all the real feelings I have inside through this platform so I really did put my heart into it.  The second definition is “the distance from the top or surface to the bottom” my first single did pretty well. And that scared me a little like I was in competition with myself , ya know? I also did it all from home in my comfort spot then engineered with someone close to me so it was all really calm & comfortable. This time around I had to buy beats , I wanted to use better equipment so I went other places to record and it was definitely starting to feel like I wasn’t doing as well as I did when I was alone fucking around in my room just to express myself.  I felt like I was personally going from the high point back down and working my way back up. It’s one thing to have the talent it’s a completely different thing to be able to do everything so professionally and explain your vision correctly to others who are working with you and trying to assist you in creating that vision. It was a learning process for me.”

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The textless version of the Depth cover art.

In this current climate of genre bending, artists are more than comfortable with creating music based on things that influence them. This comes through most noticeably with the production which in some people’s eyes is the real draw when it comes to music these days. Redikiraa knows exactly what atmosphere she wants to have so at the beginning – she created it herself. “…my first single “Questions” was self produced. “Fun fact , I produced it and free-styled it in 20 mins. “ This track was released on September 6 2019 however, it is not on the EP. Being that Redikiraa is so community focused it’s only natural she had multiple collaborators on her debut. “None of the tracks on Depth are self produced. I wanted to branch out and work with others this time around. But I do have something coming up next that will be produced and performed entirely by me!”

Depth is a project that showcases how Redikiraa isn’t locked into a single lane of music. This is the first thing that separates her from other artists especially with her only being at it for literally a few months. “5 Birds” sounds like she’s singing with a live band while “Solution” is drenched in reverb and echoes. In regards to the former she says “I want to work with an actual live band so badly that sound is such a vibe man it’s really sonically pleasing to me. I’m definitely on a mission to make more.” The latter definitely has a unique creative flair to it in which she shares a story of how a space filler became a key part of the production: “…I heard the song on YouTube and the best way to explain it is I heard perfect openings for something in the pockets of the beat. So bullshitting around I was just saying yeah over and over until I could think of something to say. But the more I did that the more it just flowed with it so eventually I went to the mic I have in my house and said yeah probably like 30 times LMAO and was like OHH this shit is fire and kept that.” On “Bittersweet” her voice is at the forefront in the strongest way possible as it is only paired with a piano and a feature in the track’s second half. “I prefer it all to sound like live music or have my voice barely messed with. That’s another thing that made recording a rough transition for me. I like MY voice ya know? Lol I am used to singing acappella and in choirs with no beats no effects you just have to practice and hit them notes so bittersweet was the most comfortable song for me to sing alongside the intro 5 Birds. I could just flow naturally.”

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As an up and coming artist confidence is one of the most important qualities to develop. Some are naturally born with and take to an even higher level with their performances and creative decisions while for some it is more of an ever evolving process. For Redikiraa, gaining more of it is literally how she went from posting the occasional singing video on IG to dropping this EP. “I started singing covers on video with the alien  emoji covering my face back in 2011. I wanted to share my talent but the anxiety always got in the way so I did it with a little mask on sort of speak. The more I did it the more comfortable I got with myself , with a camera , & with my talent ; that’s how I gained the confidence to actually show my face. I had to completely redo that process to record because it sounded different on a track than it did acappella. Once I felt like I found my “ studio voice” it didn’t matter , I could just get into the zone so I guess it was mostly about inner confidence for me, I had to fully believe in myself before I could do anything.” She took this confidence to another level by performing live in February and again in March. The pressure is always higher for singers in live performances because people expect them to sound exactly like you do on the studio version of the song – or close enough. But with that pressure paired with nerves it can go one way or another. Redikiraa’s experience went both ways but it turned out for the better. “It was terrifying! Lmao I am just learning how to overcome my stage fright , and I tend to get anxious in social settings with large amounts of people. With that being said I went up there,  had on some really DARK sunglasses couldn’t see A THING ! I closed my eyes and tried my best. Half way through I got into it and started just having fun! The reactions I got after really overwhelmed me in the best way possible. I felt good about it I was confident. Then So many ppl supported me and complimented me it was surreal.” 

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Redikiraa at her debut performance.

Redikiraa says there will be music videos for some of the tracks which she is naturally very excited to release. We can’t wait to see them because with someone as creative as her there is no doubt that they’ll be anything less than fire. With her debut being this strong and only getting more and more love for it daily, we can’t wait to see what happens with her next!

Depth is out on SoundCloud now and will be on all streaming platforms soon. 

You can follow Redikiraa on Instagram (redikiraa.z) Twitter (RedikiraZ) and SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/kha0stv)

ABISHA: Authenticity is Key

This interview was originally conducted in November 2019. 

Here at Glosse we love artists from the UK just as much as the ones from the states. And because of that, it’s only right we put y’all on too. Enter UK artist: ABISHA.  I had the pleasure of talking to her about how she creates her music, how she defines herself and her plans for 2020.

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Image via Artist Representative

ABISHA’s music can in three words: Excellent, ethereal and genreless. With so many influences and blending happening it’s so much easier to just enjoy it instead of trying to put a label on it. She’s drawn to production with “Unusual and weird sounds, Distorted vocal sounds, [and] Pitched up or down [elements]” so you already know you’re getting into something as creative as it is fire. “All That” features some of these including a sound that I’d describe as something you’d hear during the opening logos of the Transformers movies – trust me you’ll know it when you hear it. “All That was one of the first songs I wrote and recorded. I was at the very beginning of starting to discover my sound so I didn’t really go into it with any idea how I wanted the production to sound. But my producer came up with this synth loop and we just started vibing with it and the lyrics I had just worked so well with it and it came together almost instantly. So it was sort of accidental I guess.” A happy accident for sure. 

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Image via Artist Representative

 In addition to being in it’s own lane the creation of her music is special in its own way too. While ABISHA’s music is atmospheric at times the lyrics still matter even if they have immersive effects added to them. Like all talented songwriters inspiration for lyrics can hit her at any time. “I have a note in my notes app on my phone of hundreds of lyrics which are just words and thoughts that I write down at random moments every day.” With ABISHA the song creation process goes back to a central theme in her life: an inner feeling.  “When I’m in the studio with a producer, I usually always have an idea of what I want to write about that day because it’s probably something that I’m feeling at that time or something that’s going on in my life. And then I think about the mood and the feel that I want that song to have and we lay down the chords and a beat and build it from there. Usually the melody comes to me quite quick and then I write the lyrics to fit with that. I love writing, it’s my favourite part.”

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Image via Artist Representative

Before you even press play on ABISHA’s music you might be drawn into her by her look. Her long braids extend down her back like the cables and cords used to make her music. This signature hair is complimented by her unique style which comprises jackets (oversized or regular sized) boots and various versions of cropped and halter tops. “My style is ever-evolving. It changes all the the time and I’m constantly pushing the boundaries of it” ABISHA has mastered something what we should all strive for in all aspects of our lives: Evolution. If we remain stagnant, the talent cannot grow and the power cannot increase.  Knowing what to wear may seem trivial for some but for ABISHA how you look and hope you feel go hand in hand. “Finding my style was a massive part of finding myself, it’s my main resource of expressing myself and I feel good when I like the clothes that I’m wearing and I feel ‘me’. The most important thing for me is that I’m comfortable, both physically and mentally in that I’m wearing.” This love for clothing has led ABISHA the chance to work with Puma as a partner/model which she hopes will lead to her being able to do a collection for them. But, it wouldn’t be a typical one in the slightest “I had this idea for a while ago to create a unisex range for a big brand because I dress quite androgynous and often by men’s clothes over women’s because I prefer the oversized fit, and I think that would be so cool to do something like that with Puma.” 

At this point you’ve likely noticed that each time I typed ABISHA’s name it was capitalized. This is a common trait amongst artists lately with album and song titles being in all caps – or sometimes all lowercase. It’s a minor stylistic choice that subtlety brings direct attention and makes sure it stands out from the other names/titles in your playlists. Originally her name was going to be “Shakti” which means power but her Mom decided to make this her middle name after concluding she “looked to gentle” for it. Despite this, she was still raised by her mother to be a strong woman.  ABISHA is her real first name and it actually is a Hebrew name meaning “God is my Father” – but her mother isn’t religious. “I think she just liked the name. I used to hate my name because it was so different but it definitely works as an artist name which is good, I don’t know what I would have come up with if I had to make one up!”

ABISHA’s name has a special meaning to it and the rest of her identity does too in which she says she is a “double minority”. Not only is she a woman of color but she is a gay woman of color too.This combination is not as common as you might think in the music industry and ABISHA understands this and thinks about it often. “Both being a woman of colour and being a gay woman have their own difficulties, there’s already pressure being a woman of colour in the music industry to prove yourself a bit more and prove that you deserve to be doing what you’re doing. Even just being a woman, but a woman of colour even more so. Being a gay woman in the music industry feels almost quite vulnerable. I feel like I have to ‘come out’ every time I meet someone new or that they might be surprised when they find out I’m gay, and having to experience their reaction to it.” Despite this ABISHA is still confident and proud of her sexuality. It’s not the only aspect of her life that defines her but it is a part of her image and a part that plays a large and direct role in her music. Music is a form of expression and she will continue to express herself through her music. ”I’ve been told in the past to not mention my sexuality and to hide it in fear that it might alienate listeners or potential fans or even put them off, but I’m extremely proud of being gay and I reflect that in my music now. My songs are all very open and honest, I want to encourage everyone including other LGBQT+ people to be themselves and that they’re perfect the way they are.”

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Image via Artist Representative (Photo taken by Sam Leviton)

ABISHA’s latest single “Real Life” differs greatly from her other music and is the last single to drop before her debut EP drops this year. It’s special to ABISHA for several reasons but also is special to listeners and supporters of her music too. “I think you can almost hear the breakthrough in my music style and it’s definitely evolved from my last release. Most of my new music is predominantly R&B but Real Life definitely has a bit of a pop element to it, which makes it catchy and quite fun. I think Real Life is the bridge between my older stuff that I’ve released and what’s to come, it represents my transformation as a writer, artist, and as a person.” 

ABISHA has built quite the following in the UK and plans to continue to build her fanbase in the US in 2020. “We’ve been focusing on building a foundation in the UK but I’ve had some amazing support from the US too and I’m definitely planning on making a few more trips out there towards 2020. It’s a really exciting time! I can’t wait to travel with my music and meet fans and perform around the world, that’s going to be the most amazing feeling! “ We’re excited too ABISHA.  

ABISHA’s debut EP SCORPIO is out on all streaming services now!

Lauren’s VIRTUE

When you’re a creative it’s always good to have multiple creative skills. This is exactly what the multi talented Lauren Thomas has done with her life. She’s an artist of multiple mediums, a model, and a photographer. Her most recent endeavour has been the creation of her own magazine – a concept that began as a project for one of her classes initially but blossomed into a whole thing. I hit her up to discuss the magazine, her other creative pursuits and how she balances it all.

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As I previously stated, Lauren is a renaissance woman in her own right. She’s got pieces in the worlds of photography, illustration, and painting but says “I’d honestly have to choose photography as my favorite. Photography for me has such a strong impact for me (personally), and it’s the way that I can fully express myself as an artist. It’s also my favorite way to express what I want through my work. The process is also EXTREMELY rewarding. After all the setting up, picking compositions and angles, editing, etc, I always feel so proud of what comes out and what I’ve done. I’m the happiest doing it.” This love for photography is perhaps the most important aspect of the magazine as it is a very visual based experience for the reader. Lauren stated that the photoshoot for the magazine has actually been her favorite so far as it was “huge”. “Being able to photograph so many Black people at a time in so many different fits they put together themselves was a really fun experience.” It’s always worth celebrating when someone can excel behind the camera as well as in front of it and then is exactly what Lauren does. 

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Denver Dukes – photographed by Lauren.

In the Cinematic Universe of Black Creatives you’re bound to come across a few magazines. These magazines no matter how they’re executed often carry at least one shared theme: Black Excellence. Lauren’s magazine VIRTUE is no different and the name has a purpose much larger than it sounding cool. First, “virtue is defined as “behavior showing high moral standards”. She chose to title the magazine this “because VIRTUE’s focus is on the black (American) community, I thought it would be fitting. We as Black people are always considered to be making the wrong decisions whether that be through what we do, or the things we decide to wear, just because it’s different. My goal is to show that our culture is not the bottom of the barrel, and that it is in fact extremely beautiful.” It’s always a win for us when we are able to grace the cover of these multi million magazine corporations. And it’s even better when the cover story is done by a black journalist too. But when we literally create the magazine ourselves and showcase ourselves there’s nor room for an L. The magazine itself originally was actually a project Lauren had to do for her Photography Final (Exam). She described the process as “Very very stressful. but the best kind of stressful.” The process involved the “designing and editing that has to go into it, along with making sure the copies come out correctly as well as selecting the “names and photo ideas to actually designing the cover, layouts, and getting it officially made.” Since it was so involved she has decided to continue creating future issues on a regular basis. Out of all her projects this has been her most involved so far and in her eyes her most rewarding too. 

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Our Blackness is the focus of VIRTUE.

Like most black creatives Lauren takes her creative expression into everything she does including her clothes. If you follow her on Instagram you’re going to see her Outfit of the Day on her Story pretty much everyday. And these outfits are never just house clothes. She says her style has gone from “sporty, to super colorful, to wearing whatever I want to, but now I feel like it’s a very specific style that I can’t really name. Simple, but also not? I’m super into New York fashion…” She also cites her main fashion inspirations as “@koleendz and @wuzg00d on Instagram, Virgil Abloh, and my boyfriend who’s grown up in New York and is also extremely into fashion.” However, she has other inspirations when it comes to her work specifically and while it may seem unconventional to some, in the world of art it is practically commonplace. “My inspiration can come from absolutely ANYTHING. I can look at a box of cereal long enough and come up with a huge project idea that may OR may not have anything to do with the cereal. The idea can just come from the color scheme of the box.” 

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Pages from VIRTUE.

Having multiple creative lanes means having multiple obligations.This also comes with having multiple clients and some understand the concept that they are not the only client much better than others. Plus – as an artist she has projects she just wants to do for her own personal enjoyment too and as a student she has assignments that have a due date too. But – she manages to handle it all! “A lot of the time, I manage to fit my ideas within the project assignments (make things happen no matter what) just so I still have fun and do what I want while also having time for commissions. Now that I have the magazine to manage though, my regular commissions are closed until I get a really good grasp on things” Despite all this she is still open to collaborations though! 

Lauren has a diverse music palette naturally and says “I never have just one set person or two, but the people I listen to at the moment are Ari Lennox, Lucky Daye, Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator, Summer Walker, Megan Thee Stallion, and DaBaby.” She also hopes to create a piece for Frank Ocean one day. With the type of talent she has it’s only a matter of time. 

Lauren says her number one goal as an artist is “…to be known for what I do. Not necessarily a celebrity, but just to be well known. I want to be a black female artist whose work shows up on huge banners and becomes an inspiration to the black community. I want to have the ability to create opportunities for other Black artists that don’t get the spotlight they deserve. I just want people to see that black girls got the juice too.”

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VIRTUEous Skies.

You can see all of Lauren’s art on her Instagram @yell.l0 and order your own copy of VIRTUE here right NOW! You can also follow the Instagram for the magazine: @virtuemagazinenow 

 

Coming HOME with Jamaal

 Jamaal is one of those people who when you follow them on social media you know where they’re from. Often using location stickers on his IG Stories you can find him in various restaurants and other spots throughout the 757 and the 804 – Virginia for those who don’t know. Not only have I been following and supporting Jamaal for quite some time now but some of you may have heard from him already on here and not realized it. He was part of one of the first pieces I ever did on this platform and you can read that here. However this time I wanted to talk to him about his brand: HOMETEAM. 

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Jamaal poses in front of Creme – Pusha T’s streetwear boutique in Norfolk, VA.

HOMETEAM was one of the first brands I discovered that was actually created by someone from my state of Virginia. Of course, I already knew about Play Cloths and Billionaire Boys Club but HOMETEAM was the first I’ve had the pleasure of watching from the origin days. And I was proud to see it. This is what Jamaal says is his reason for creating the brand, “The name HOMETEAM is inspired by the brand’s purpose which is to represent wherever you consider HOME to the fullest.” Some of you (hopefully all of you) are familiar with Pharrell’s Something In The Water Festival which premiered in 2019 Virginia Beach and will be returning there in 2020. Jamaal posted some t shirt mockups he created to celebrate the festival last year but they were not never converted into actual product, “…Well last year, I felt I had some really cool concepts but I didn’t want to rush it and put out something I wasn’t fully happy with.” However, he also wants to have some pieces out before the festival happens again in April and believes 2020 “will be a big year” for the brand. He’s already thinking about it ways to make that happen and planning always leads to success. 

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Jamaal has been accepted into The Asterisk Collective whose mission is to “to empower and enable individuals within specific communities to make a positive impact and leave a legacy through the lens of creativity.”

HOMETEAM is a young brand but it’s already gotten a signature look to it – logo flips. Logo flips have been used for decades for multiple reasons, whether it be for satire, fun or because the original logo fits the aesthetic of the brand. However one thing remains that when you understand what has been flipped you have that “aha” moment that usually pulls you in even more or pushes you away like the hundreds (if not thousands) of logo flips we’ve seen people use with Supreme’s box logo. (or “BoGo” as the cool kids say) Jamaal sees logo flips as more of an opportunity to test his own creative skills. “I’ve always been fascinated with what can be flipped but for future projects, I will focus or more original designs.” So far, all the logo flips have been flipped to say “Virginia” the birthplace of the brand – the HOME of HOMETEAM. The most iconic logo flip of the brand has been of the NASCAR logo flip which has essentially become the “face” of the brand. This is directly connected to the Richmond Raceway and continues the theme of Virginia being HOME. Even though it was a part of the first drop Jamaal regularly posts supporters still rocking it and has been able to re-release it since then too. “I love the fact that I was able to sell the same design for 3 seasons but the supporters tell me it’s their favorite design.”  

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The iconic NASCAR logo flip hoodie.

Right now, Jamaal ships the pieces right from the post office himself but hopes to expand to selling in local clothing stores and down the line other states – and countries. The packaging for the item is also hand addressed, a small detail that sticks out to me because it adds a personal touch in my eyes. Printing a label may be easier but it doesn’t have the same affect. People always like to talk about how they’re self made but things like this let you see that they are. 

My personal HOMETEAM shirt – a flip of the Patagonia logo.

 Starting something on your own is never easy but it doesn’t have to be hard either. Trusting your process and following through will bring you the desired results. With something like clothing, buying the items goes a long way and brings in more opportunities and chances to take the success to higher and higher levels. The goal is to always make it to the top – and beyond but like the saying goes, we can’t forget where we come from. We’re all destined to go somewhere but no matter where we go we will always be able to come HOME.

Follow Jamaal on Twitter: @gawdbawdy and Instagram: @mad3byj and check out his uniquely fire Music Mash Up Series titled Headphones Only here!

The Many Facets of Cipherella

In today’s world of rappers there are artists who seem like they are just copies of each other as well as those who are in their own creative lane. Cipherella is easily the latter. I hit her up to discuss her new EP S3V3N,  the sources behind her creativity and what separates her from the rest of the rappers out right now.

If there’s anything I learned from Cipherella it’s that everything she does has a purpose and meaning behind it. “Do nothing without intention” to the highest degree. This meaningfulness begins with her name which is a direct connection to one of the cores of hip – hop – the cypher. However, it also extends to the literal circle cyphers usually are in as well the connection of male and female – the two “L”s in her name. The title of her EP, S3V3N, is stylized the way it is to not only reflect the Holy Trinity but there are two threes – there are three consonants. And, the day it releases – the month and date will equal seven.

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Image via Artist Representative

With Cipherella the beat is just as important as the lyrics however it plays a role that is more important than you might realize. Like many up and coming or even chart topping rappers she finds some of her beats in a place all of us spend quite a bit of our time – YouTube. However, if she doesn’t feel something when she hears a beat it gets passed on. Like Joey (Bada$$) said “If it don’t hit my spirit then I don’t get near it”. Unfortunately, sometimes during these searches when she contacts the producer she gets no response – so she turns to her own producer who makes a beat that gives her the same feeling. His beats are made with a story behind them which is not unheard of but still very special. To have your producer on the same wavelength as you in terms of providing a true auditory experience for the listener is beneficial for both the listener and the creator.

This is a phrase we’ve all heard before it must be said once again – we live in the age of social media. And, in this social media age the mighty keyboard warriors have reached an entirely new power level. While some thrive on the reactions of those they troll others some are intentionally disrespectful to artists because they feel they have the right to be as a critic.  JPEGMAFIA had his own response to these people and Cipherella has one as equally as direct. In the first single for the EP titled “Petty” she talks of an exchange within the comments of one of her social media posts. Initially, because they were so negative she decided she would just delete them. But, then she decided that she would just be petty and respond to them directly. This shift in attitude is directly connected to the song itself also as it began as a blues track. As a blues track the atmosphere of the song was how the comments were getting to her but with the rework the confidence came back and she decided that she would give the person power by letting them get to her. 

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Image via Artist Representative

The concept of  S3V3N is just as creative and layered as the production that went into it. Spanning 7 tracks each one one is centered around one of the seven deadly sins with the lead single “Petty” representing the sin of envy. With someone like Cipherella a concept project like this is very on brand and means it can be enjoyed not only on the surface level but below that as well.

Like “Petty” the entire EP S3V3N is rooted in feeling something. Cipherella doesn’t want to dictate or specify what exactly these feelings should be though as she doesn’t feel she has the right to. She can only hope the songs resonate with people and cause them to truly get enveloped in the themes and lyrics. She does however want people to feel good as they listen to it and I have no doubt this will happen due to how the production and lyrics are treated with the same level of detail and importance. Cipherella has hinted at one track that’s produced by someone we know and love and when we hear it we’ll connect it to the hit they’re known for. In addition, there are only two producers on the whole EP. 

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Image via Artist Representative

This interview was done the day after World Mental Health Awareness Day so it was only right I asked Cipherella how she was doing mentally. But, even without this context we should do mental health checks with everyone we care about in our lives. She told me she genuinely feels her mind is clouded as she is a perfectionist and wants the project to be perfect. But, at the same time she is happy with the project as she knows it is something that is different and different in a good way. She feels she gets closer and closer to who she really is with each release and this one is a step in the right direction. She feels the term “release” has a layered meaning for her and all other artists. Because they work so hard on a project when it comes out it feels like a release of all the stress and work that went into the creation of the project. A weight feels lifted as the results of all the nights and days in the studio are finally shared within the world in a condensed format. 

Cipherella is a unique artist in all senses of the word. From the themes that go into this EP to creating the truly unique artwork for the cover all by herself this project is an expression of her – 100% of the way through. This is just another step in her evolution and the more she evolves the more powerful she becomes as an artist, as a woman and as a person.

“Petty” is available now on all streaming services. 

The 90s, Art and Nostalgia: An Interview With Christian Dior

I think we can all agree that our childhoods were the best part of our lives. And, for many of us one of the largest parts of our childhood were the cartoons we watched. These characters were ones we grew up with and when we see them now the nostalgia comes flooding back. Enter artist Christian Dior who takes these characters we all know and love and puts his own spin on them that is equally as recognizable as the character themselves.

Christian’s beginnings in art holds a special place in his heart as it has a direct connection to his family. “I believe that it was my father who first got me into art. When he was locked up, he use to sketch different superheroes and villains in a composition notebook that he kept. I guess that sparked my interest into the art world and then from then my father taught my brother how to draw then my brother taught me.” In addition to this, he’s also been an entrepreneur since middle school. Along with his brother, they had a business called Fresh 2 Death Customs in which they customized shoes and clothing. He also expanded this to the digital front long before it was commonplace, designing people’s MySpace profiles and profile pictures. Later after this Christian had a pretty big break that only motivated him even more. “My very first art sale was from Bryson Tiller. He had bought 21 paintings from me and 2 shirt designs that I made. I think that experience made me want to take art a little more serious because I was always told with perusing art, you’ll never make money, it’s a waste of time, etc. which isn’t true.”

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Christian depicts iconic girls (and Angelica’s Mom) from our childhood in the style of THE most iconic picture of Cam’ron.

Christian’s unique style is what makes his work stand out. Often set against a black or color coordinating background the characters have a black outline with colors that pop off the canvas. You’re likely to see his version of one of your favorite childhood characters in his work ranging from the classics to more underrated characters. But, chances are you’ll find them stylized in a way that’s equally familiar as it is unfamiliar. “For the longest I would love to paint popular 90’s cartoon characters in scenes from my favorite 90’s hood films like Juice, Menace II Society and Paid in Full. I just remember when I first started out that is what first made me go viral in the first place so I just decided that I was going to keep doing paintings like this and people just stared to recognize my artwork from this art style.”

“I think one of the main reasons why I paint characters from my childhood is because the 90’s were lit. I believe that the 90’s has some of the best cartoons out ever. The cartoons that are displayed on television now don’t even compare. I simply have them displayed in my artwork because they are something that I am familiar with and brings me back to a time where I was happy and didn’t really a care in the world. I also display them in my artwork because I want my work to have that sense of nostalgia. I want people to see my artwork have it bring them back to the time where cartoons were amazing.” Christian’s words sum up his art perfectly. On any given post on his Instagram you’ll find Penny Proud, Suzie Carmichael, The PowerPuff Girls and many more. However, for some of these you may find them wearing something you recognize from a completely different show or movie entirely. This is because Christian has drawn them in a mashup style which is “basically the artist taking one character and designing them to look like another. The way that I decide on which characters that I want to use in these types of paintings all comes down to which characters have similarities.” One of my favorites in which he does this is combining Riley Freeman and Killmonger. “With the Riley Freeman as Killmonger paintings, it was easy for me to come up with that Idea because Riley Freeman displays all the characteristics of Killmonger with his attitude, hairstyle and even just the way that he thinks.” 

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Christian depicts Huey and Riley Freeman as Black Panther and Killmonger

If you’ve gotten this far in the article you more than likely recognize Christian’s work. His pieces have gone viral more than once and someone you know has probably sent you one of his pieces and said something along the lines of “I thought you’d like this” Christian recalls the first time he went viral as an “exciting experience”. “I remember posting my artwork on Twitter, then the next day waking up to so many notifications and followers to the point that I had to turn my phone off because it was overheating. I always tell myself that the experience of me going viral for the first time couldn’t have happened at a better time. I am grateful that it happened, and it really made my business take off.” Y’all know when people say “Twitter do your thing” right? Sometimes Twitter does it all on its own. “Going viral with my artwork is a regular occurrence on my Twitter page. That’s why I would probably say out of all the social platforms that I have; I believe Twitter is the best just because your artwork can get around easier just by a simple retweet.” Christian is a direct example of how we are truly in a digital age. Social Media makes everything spread faster and in this case it’s bringing happiness to people and business to his passion. 

 Like most creative endeavours, art is something that takes time. Creating it takes time. Gaining a following with it takes time. Making money with it takes time.  But if it’s your passion you know all these things are part of the process. “I decided that I was going to just sell the artwork that I had already in my possession and hope for the best. I can admit that at first it was very stressful and there were times that I wanted to give up because it wasn’t as consistent as I wanted it to be, but every time I had got a new order it would always boost my confidence and just make me want to go harder.” 

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Christian combines different era Power Rangers with their color scheme counterparts from DragonBall Z and Super.

Christian has already put in years of work but he’s not stopping anytime soon. “I always told myself that I either wanted to create my own cartoon characters in hopes of one day having it get displayed on television or to create my own clothing line. I still want to do these two ideas, especially having my own cartoon characters because I would create more that are African American.” Representation of our people in a positive light, especially in animation is something we need more of. Spider-Verse was definitely a huge step forward but there is still progress to be made. When our children see these characters they should feel inspired and represented. “I guess my ultimate goal would be just to inspire up and coming artist to never give up and continue to keep putting artwork out in the world that you love without anyone criticism.”

Christian has words for the next generation too saying, “The advice I would give up and coming artist reading this would be to never give up on something that you are passionate about.” This takes on a different level for him personally as he not only changed his major in college from art to political science but quit art all together because of the opinion of his art professor – who failed him too. “…Never stop doing something that you love just because someone told you that they don’t like it. As long as you like your work, that’s all that really matters.” 

You can follow Christian on Twitter and Instagram and purchase his artwork here

 

Ye Ali Discusses Private Suite 2, TYuS Collaboration, & More.

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Courtesy of Donte Maurice

Music can hold a very special place in the hearts of many around the world. Sometimes I feel like what we hear in these songs can be a way to express an emotion we aren’t able to put into words or even understand ourselves. That’s the beautiful thing about it. No matter what you go through, it is always there to hold you down. This was the case for Ye Ali.

Ye Ali is a prominent person in the music industry and continues to prove why people should pay attention to what he’s doing. Though he has been behind the scenes working with many of our faves such as Chris Brown, Saweetie, Eric Bellinger and more, Ye has more to offer than just writing and producing. The Midwest native dabbles in creating his own music that reveals more of his softer side.

Over the years, Ye Ali has showcased a couple projects and singles that continue to prove that he is a force to be reckoned with.

Following up from the 2016 release of Private Suite, The Traphouse Jodeci has returned with Private Suite 2. I was able to talk to Ye Ali to get more insight on the project and more.

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Courtesy of Donte Maurice

It’s been a good 3 years since you released the first Private Suite project. Now that we have the follow up, tell me about the process was like putting it together.

The process of creating Private Suite 2 was simple. I just wanted to get back to having fun with music again.I wasn’t having fun with it so I just produced and wrote for other artists over that 3 year span. I made Private Suite 2 in about a month and a half from just feeling inspired again randomly.

What was the inspiration?

The inspiration behind the project was and always will be the fans. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t do this for me necessarily. I do this for them.

This time around, what elements did you take from Private Suite 1 for the Private Suite 2 project?

For Private Suite 1, the structure was….no structure. I wanted it to ride how a playlist or a mixed CD from a friend would. I took the rapping elements from the first project and incorporated it into the first two songs on Private Suite 2. Many of the fans missed the rapping so I had to handle that out the gate.

Let’s talk features. You have some guest features from Rainy Milo, Kirko Bangz, and more. How do you choose who you want on these tracks? Do you go off the feel you receive from hearing it or is it something that is planned ahead?

I usually just call into the studio and have them listen to it either word for word or allow them to write their own sections. Kirko [Bangz] sent me “Inside” in 2016 but that was when I took a break from releasing music. So that one sat for 3 years until now.

Even though this is considered an R&B project, you had some tracks where you were rapping as well. Throughout listening to your music, the track that stood out in particular was “Bigger the Dreams.” While writing the song, what was going through your head? What were you feeling?

I was just in a dark place and I wanted to tell people where I was. I’m not always happy and confident. I lose…and I have lost just like you. So it was more about being human rather than an artist during that moment.

Along with the release of Private Suite 2, you also dropped a collaborative project not too long ago with TYuS. How did that connection come about?

A mutual friend of ours connected us. We’ve only met once! We were able to put the project together through mostly email and Facetime.

How was the reception from both sides when it came to the fans?

The fans loved it. They were definitely surprised from both sides that we even worked together but overall, it was good. It was something I’ve always wanted to do. My goal is to create a collaborative project with every popping R&B artist that I like.

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Courtesy of Donte Maurice

You are no stranger to this industry because as well as being a musician, you have worked with many top artists and names in the game. Since you have been in this business for some years, if you could change anything about this industry, what would it be?

I would change the degree of transparency or lack thereof between writers and publishers/labels. We do all the work so should be compensated fairly and on time.

Even though you are a prominent person in music, you’re still human at the end of the day and everyone goes through something. If you could have one do over in your life, what would you do differently? (Whether music related or personal.)

I would have taken this record deal I was offered in 2016. They only wanted me to rap. I  should have signed the deal and then turned in my R&B music and told them to SMD. LOL 

Any upcoming work that you can share?

My project TraphouseJodeci 2 is on the way. Eric Bellinger album and Saweetie’s new album is on the way. I got work on all of them.

Make sure you stream Private Suite 2. Available on all streaming platforms!

Emani Childs: How She Makes Art Into Fashion And Plans To Shift The Industry

It’s been a known fact for years that fashion is art. To know art is to know fashion. To create is to feel. This is especially true for Emani Childs, a creative director out of the beautiful Harlem, NYC. “Sometimes it’s not me designing a piece. I’ll more so try to make art and make it into clothing“. You’ll often find Childs in her office putting together what is wearable art. When you view clothing as art, your view on fashion shifts from being something trendy to something that is personal to the creator’s heart that you now get to wear.

I’ll have to say, after taking a break from interviewing and focusing solely on my writing pieces, it was great to sit and chat with a fellow female creative. “I try to keep it as original as possible and I feel like designing is such a small word. It’s more than that. That’s what keeps me going. I like to make art pieces and it just so happens that I can fuck with it and make it clothing“. She’s right. We tend to put a box on things once we put a single title to it and after that, it HAS to fall under those guidelines. We’ve seen this recent change of wording in the music industry when rappers stopped calling themselves rappers and began going by artists. Photographers are now creative directors. Just like our art, we don’t want to be limited to one specific definition.

At a young age, Emani saw so much versatility from her mother who was a model. “I stepped into everything. I would make pillows when I was younger. Style my mom before she would go out. It started there, it really started with my mom. Now looking back, it really took off in middle school“. Growing up in NYC is a luxury for fashion kids. Seeing the different cultures and styles, being around the self expression and openness, and just being able to see the creative outlets at such a young age can have a positive impact on young creatives. “I had a lot of hands on work. We had sewing machines, a basement full of fabrics. We were located in Chelsea and you’re a few blocks away from thousands of fabric stores. You walk outside and see so many outfits. You see 13 different cultures and 13 different stores that represent a different place in the world. I get amused by it“.

Now one thing we did have in common was being excited to pick out our outfits for the next day. “That’s what makes me happy. Getting dressed in the morning“. Were you also one of those kids that was always doing something different with their look?Oh my goodness! I would go from bangs with blonde streaks to putting pink in my hair when I go tired of that. When I came back from China, I cut all my hair off. Full pixie mode. I’ve gone through every hairstyle you can think of. I went through goth, girly girl, bohemian. I tested all the waters“. Working in fashion is truly an art. You’re constantly evolving, constantly finding what you like, expressing yourself in different styles. It’s an art.

We started to chat about current fashion houses, designers, etc. We both came to the conclusion that Alexander Wang has been showing out with their designs since 2017. “If I could work with people back then, I’d work with John Galliano and Alexander Wang“. Seeing A.Wang transition into this all black clothes phase has been eye catching which we agreed on. “When you’re young, we’re not looking at all black clothes like ‘oh that’s it!’. We want everything that colorful and flashy. We want that brand name displayed right in the chest. When you grow up, less is more“.

I want people to step out for their comfort zone. When I make pieces, sometimes I look back at them like ‘woah, I would never wear this’. I frame it. I make some pieces that I wouldn’t personally wear just because it’s not for me. I want people to look at my clothes like ‘I wouldn’t have done that but I can do it or I can wear it. A lot of people make the same stuff over and over again. I want people to step out their comfort zone“, Childs said when asked about what she wants her presence in the industry to shift. I couldn’t agree more. We see a lot of repetition and it’s time we shift from that and go back to when designers were doing outside of the box pieces.

With her line quickly preparing to release, Emani is all set in the designing department for EMAHN. “We’re just going step by step creating samples for everything. Everyone wants the barbed wire bathing suits. I want to do a little show in September. You guys will see the samples that’s ready to be put out”. After we closed out the interview, we sat and chatted about women in fashion and even set some plans to visit one another. I know, the Pisces in me jumped out but the connection was definitely a lasting one which isn’t rare when I do my interviews.

We’re in full support of Emani and her upcoming line EMAHN. If you’d like to keep up with Emani and all she’s doing, follow her via Instagram at @ayisha.mia.

The Journey to Success with Bri Hall

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Courtesy of WMA/Louis Browne

In today’s age, the internet has made it possible for individuals to do many things. Social media and other platforms has changed the way in which the world is able to do things. Along with this being a digital age, it is much easier for many people who want to put themselves out there and showcase their talents, to chase their dreams and achieve their goals. However, the pressure that is put on an individual in this digital age can be hard for one to stay true to who they really are and may have them changing who they are just so they can feel accepted. In this case, Bri Hall was not one of them.

Bri Hall is a 25 year old artist that has received her recognition through YouTube. What started off as her just using the channel to share her love for the arts soon became something bigger that she never saw coming. As the attention she was starting to receive began to grow rapidly and people becoming curious to know more about her, she started posting herself and began creating videos that focused on beauty and fashion.

Over the years, she racked up a whopping number of over 700,000+ subscribers solely off of just staying true to herself. Even with her continued rising success, she is relatable and makes everyone feel like they too can reach their dreams.

As she continues on journey, Bri Hall went through a rebranding and is taking over the music world as La Hara. With this new chapter starting in her story, I was able to have a conversation with her about her humble beginnings to where she is heading to now.

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Courtesy of WMA/Louis Browne

Tell me about how you became a person that wanted to create art. What made you gravitate towards creating and doing it as a career?

I strongly believe that art is one of my biggest blessings. At birth, I feel like the man upstairs sprinkled something extra on my mind and hands. I started creating around age 2 and no one in my family could explain how I learned. I had a teacher in high school tell me when I was entering the STEM field, that she saw me for who I was. She said that creating wasn’t just a hobby it was part of me and no matter how far I ran from it I would always end up coming back. She was right.

You started off sharing your talents on YouTube through your artwork. Eventually, people were intrigued by you and wanted to know more based on your authenticity and 100% being you. Looking back at the beginning, how do you feel about the beginning of your YouTube journey to where you are now?

I would have laughed for 3 minutes and changed the subject if someone told me I would do all of this a few years ago! I was so excited when my art channel reached 200 subscribers, I mean, I remember that day. I was like wow 200 people connect with my art. I thought of it like a high school classroom, the average class had 30 kids, so in my mind, that was almost 7 classrooms!! I can barely conceptualize 700,000+ people! I’m so humbled by the process.

As a person that has been following your work for some years, music has never been a stranger to the content that you have been putting out. It has always been a major part of your life. What made you want to become a music artist? How did you get to that point?

First, thank you so much for your support! Music has been my safety, my escape, and my diary. I feel like it enhances everyday parts of life so much. Letting go of some fear of judgment. I had to get to the point where I could visualize people saying, “I hate this,” and not feeling bad about it. Letting that go gave me new courage that I didn’t know I had! I know that what’s meant for you will be for you, so my music will resonate with the right people. For example, if you’ve never been a second priority to anyone or ignored anyone important to you, then maybe Mindful isn’t the track for you. For the people that empathize that track may just mean everything to them ❤️

Along with the music you were creating, you made another change, your name. Why did you decide to go with the name La Hara? Can you explain the meaning behind it?

La Hara is an ode to one of my favorite paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I remember an old comment on one of my drawing videos that said, “Art creating Art.” What more appropriate of a stage name than one of my favorite pieces?

How did your audience take it when you made a switch on your name? Was the support the same or did it take a while for them to gravitate and embrace it?

I was thinking it would take at least a year, but wow people are really embracing the La Hara name! I love seeing Instagram comments that are uplifting where supporters use my stage name.

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In the beginning of the year, you released your debut single “Mindful.” What does that song mean to you? 

The song ‘Mindful’ by La Hara is a heavy track for me. It means being there for the people that mean the most to your world and knowing the impact your action or inaction can have on your loved ones.

Following up from the debut, you then released another track called “Unlawful.” Tell me about the process of putting the song together.

Unlawful is my BABY! I literally had so much fun recording this song! It came from the inspiration of watching a Netflix series where these two characters fought for their love. I originally wrote Unlawful as a poem.

You have always been a person that focuses on visual art/content. What was the inspiration behind the video for “Unlawful?”

The Inspiration behind unlawful was one of the opening scenes with Angela Bassett in Waiting to Exhale. Though I wrote the song with external factors being what a couple fought against, I thought it would be a nice spin to see a couple where what was being fought was within.


With keeping up with uploading on your channel and hitting the studio to put these songs together, it seems like it can be a lot. How do you balance out everything to the point you don’t overwork yourself/find time for yourself?

I started reading a lot of audiobooks and something that stuck with me was the importance of prioritizing playtime and rewards. I used to work and think that brakes were procrastinating. Now I divvy up my workload and the heart of the task, I think to myself, what is something that would really put you in a great mental health space? And I let that thing be my reward. Another thing that has helped is honesty. Sometimes being the perfectionist that I’ve been I thought telling people that I wasn’t feeling well or perhaps even saying no I can’t go to that meant weakness. I realized that people respect you more when you advocate for yourself and you’re transparent. Imagine showing up somewhere with a terrible migraine and a tummy ache, but not telling anyone. When you don’t speak to people in full transparency they may take it as you having an attitude or being low energy. In this country when you trust people with your truth they can work with you to come up with mutually beneficial solutions. But when you’re feeling good still go hard! It makes those pause moments so earned.

Something I can say about you is that you have a gift of uplifting and empowering others so that they can see the best in themselves. Just the way you carry yourself and allow people to see sides of you that can be hard can inspire others to do the same. With having a big platform and many looking up to you, why do you feel it is important for you to not be afraid to be yourself and help who you can with your messages?

I think this is important because frankly, most people can see right through you when you’re faking it. Being authentic can really help people feel like you’re not a robot and that you do a live a similar life with similar moods and struggles. Like, look y’all I stub my toe on the edge of the couch and jump up and down cursing too okay? But guess what? We bounce back after that too.

What is something you wished you knew before pursuing your music career?

I wished I knew how political it could be. Being an artist visually and hanging around a lot of photographers and engineers I am very laid-back. Music from stories I’m told can be like high school, the popular kids, the anime crew and all that! I never quite fit anywhere in high school so I’m prepping for that too in music.

Do you have any upcoming projects we can expect soon?

I’m working on an EP, but definitely taking my time with it because I want to make sure everything feels complete. I am also performing at the Bungalow Music Festival in D.C. which I’m so excited about because it’s my first performance. It’s on August 10 so make sure y’all get your tickets. I can’t wait!

Photography, Art, And The Future Generation With Ryder

Someone who has the power to capture time. Photography is forever..for generations.” This is how Ryder describes what a photographer is to her. Atlanta based photographer, Ryder, is a unique and fresh creator behind the lens. With her film photography and perfect concert photos, Ryder’s lens is one that Atlanta knows very well. 

Getting her start in 2014, Ryder picked up her own camera while she was a junior in high school. “That was the time I stated to do photography, I was inspired by Tumblr and just looking at other people’s photography but it was nothing serious. I didn’t start taking it seriously until I moved to Atlanta and that was in 2017.” As someone who loves movies, Ryder is most inspired by colors and emotions. “I would say colors inspire me, emotions inspire me and movies. I’m really big on movies. Especially 80s movies.”

Photos can evoke emotions too. People live on forever in photographs. If someone took a photograph of me right now and I died tomorrow, I would still live on forever”, Ryder when asked more about photography’s impact. From history about photography  she talked about how back in the day, it was difficult to film and photograph black people — especially in black and white. It was only when people wanted to photograph things like furniture and other objects that had color that lenses were created to capture darker shades/tones. 

Do you feel it’s something anyone can do? “Absolutely, everyone’s a photographer. Especially when it comes to smartphones nowadays, I feel like anyone can take a photo. I feel like what separates someone is their eye, their own vision. But, anyone can do it.” So what does the future hold for Ryder? What advice would she give the future generation? Her ultimate goal? “That one is to take photographs of our generation now so that future generations can see them and be inspired and see how lit we were. For the next generation, learn your camera and know your camera. Love yourself in advance and put the work in now. Do your research. It’s okay to be inspired by others but you shouldn’t copy them. You have to get your own.”

Ryder’s Andy Warhol recreation with @Buggsview

With her notable work with Cam Kirk Studios, Nike, and her Andy Warhol inspired project, Ryder is a force to be reckoned with. Her unique eye for art, how she studies her craft, and is able to capture her vision for us to see.