As part of a larger series, I’ve been collaborating with a great new website called Vaunte.com. I’ll be posting some of the work here from time to time, here is a great set of portraits from San Francisco.
SABRINA BUELL, Art Advisor
Sabrina Buell, a native San Franciscan, moved to New York after college to purse a glamorous and competitive career in the art word which she ended up working as the director of the Matthew Marks Gallery.
As part of a larger series, I’ve been collaborating with a great new website called Vaunte.com. I’ll be posting some of the work here from time to time, here is a great set of portraits of Vogue Editor Rickie De Sole in New York City.
RICKIE DE SOLE, Senior Accessories Editor At Vogue Magazine
For Vogue’s Senior Accessories Editor, Rickie De Sole’s impeccable style is hereditary. Her father, Domenico De Sole, is both the chairman of and a close personal friend to luxury designer Tom Ford; in fact he designed her wedding dress for her recent nuptials in Newport, RI. Following in her father’s artfully crafted footsteps, De Sole picked up a coveted position at Vanity Fair before joining Vogue as a Junior Accessories Editor. The connoisseur of bags and baubles and boots has been with the magazine ever since.
As part of a larger series, I’ve been collaborating with a great new website called Vaunte.com. I’ll be posting some of the work here from time to time, starting with this great set of portraits of Sally Drennon shot in Los Angeles.
SALLY DRENNON, New Renaissance Designer
Sally Drennon sees rooms the way some might view wardrobes. For the past 25 years, Drennon has been designing artful, thoughtful, and functional interiors for an ever-expanding roster of high-profile clients…
Cover and travel story in RePorter Magazine put out by Winkreative, UK. Shot by me.
Words by Pisha Warden (@macpisho)
Images by Michael Edwards
Two cherries were popped recently here at MIMP.
Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, also known as the band Jamestown Revival, recently became the first men to be photographed for MIMP. And while they weren’t peeling off layers of attire during the shoot, they certainly held nothing back when we chatted in their studio a few days later, at which point they became my first three-way…interview. For the record, they were absolute gentlemen and an absolute blast. (Besides, ladies, Jonathan is married. But Zach isn’t, and has one helluva mustache. Just saying.)
As a new music fiend in Los Angeles, I’d already heard good things long before we met about this band-on-the-rise, whose folksy, bluesy, harmony-driven and southern-infused songs are as honest as they are poetic.
You don’t have to take my word for it, either. We here at MIMP have your back, and you can watch Jamestown Revival perform the song “Fur Coat Blues,” from their upcoming full-length album, Utah. And as an extra special EXCLUSIVE to our MIMP readers, you can download a live version of ‘California (Iron Cast Soul)’ (This track is ONLY available through MIMP! Awesomesauce!)
Originally from Austin, Texas, Jamestown Revival came to Los Angeles in 2011 after being finalists in an independent artist competition for the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. While they ultimately didn’t win the cover, the momentum from that exposure carried them west in search of new challenges and adventures, some of which include: performing on The Carson Daly Show, having their music featured on TV (VH1’s Couples Therapy), and recording their first full-length album, Utah, due to be released later this year.
In their Culver City studio on a drizzly Tuesday morning, these easy-going Texans got the interview going long before I even realized what was happening. While finishing each other’s sentences like twins, they talked about the upcoming album, chronic wanderlust, and the adventure thus far.
Pisha: You know you were the first guys to shoot with Michael for Me In My Place?
Zach: We stole the man picture virginity?
P: Sure did! Are you familiar with our site?
Z: We’ve poked around.
Jonathan: I wouldn’t say very familiar, but we checked it out and got a feel for it, what it was.
Z: Lots of great scenery.
J: We hadn’t heard of it previously, but it was a delightful discovery.
Insert the sound of my nervous laughter here as I try to “officially” start the interview, while convincing myself that the hotness I feel spreading across my cheeks isn’t from blushing.
P: First off, how would you guys describe your sound or influences to people who don’t know you?
J: (to Zach) What did you say one time? “It sounds like losing your virginity in the back of your grandmother’s Oldsmobile—
Z: “—while watching Purple Rain.” It sounds like if Burt Reynolds mustache could play guitar and harmonize with itself. No, maybe that’s too generous.
J: It’s harmony-driven, it’s rooted in American songwriting, and we tell stories about stuff we know. Our influences are everybody from classic rock like Credence Clearwater and Led Zepplin to fuckin’ ZZ Top when we’re feeling weird, to John Prine and Guy Clarke—
Z: —Simon and Garfunkel.
J: it’s kind of classic rock with classic master songwriters. I’m not saying we are, but those guys are what we aspire to be.
Z: Maybe this is one of those things that you don’t appreciate until it’s gone, but Texas is rich with music history. The south is. So I look back at all the influences that maybe we picked up and didn’t even realize until we got to LA. We didn’t realize how much we were Texans, and hillbillies—
J: —we’re refined hillbillies, and you can quote me on that—
Z: —yeah, that was a big thing [musically], really understanding where we came from.
P: Where are you from?
J: We grew up in a small town called Magnolia, Texas.
Z: It’s on the outskirts of Houston.
J: The population sign still says eleven hundred people, but I think that’s a farce. But they move slow, everybody’s got a little bit slower pace down there. Zach moved from Lubbock, Texas when we were in ninth grade and we immediately became archenemies.
Z: (smiling) We did.
J: At that point our class had like three hundred people in it, that’s pretty small. A new kid moves in and it’s a big deal, so I was skeptical of this guy. But we became friends quickly.
Z: It was “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
P: Did your friendship develop because of music?
Z: It was an afterthought. I think it was a little bit later on that we were both like, “Oh, you play music? Oh, you sing a little bit? Me too.” Then there was common ground.
J: And at that point, music started becoming an ever-present theme between us. We wrote that first song when we were fifteen, we couldn’t even drive yet.
P: What was the song about?
Z: Girls! What else would it be about? I only had one thought on my brain at all times! But from there we finished high school and went off to the same college together, Texas State. We roomed together and were always doing the same stuff, but Jon was really into music and I was focusing on studies.
P: What kind of studies?
Z: I have a degree in marketing. It seemed like the practical thing to do. I’m an educated man, there’s a diploma somewhere in a closet!
J: I dropped out of school my second year, but I still lived in the college town. I am a feind for education. I love learning, I read a crazy amount of educational material, but I don’t like structured, formal education. It’s sort of a contradiction.
Z: I would argue that you could get a better education just by traveling and reading than from most universities, but it’s what you’re “supposed” to do. Jon’s a big do-it-yourself guy, he teaches himself things. He has a new hobby every week, but in a good way. (to Jonathan) You’re always bettering yourself and it’s respectable.
P: What sort of books do you read?
J: On my shelf right now, there’s a book about electricity and electrical theory, there’s a book on how to teach yourself PhotoShop, then there’s a book about why society will collapse by 2017.
Z: Towards the end of college I started to get back into music and found the desire to be doing it.
J: There was a switch that flipped with Zach. After that, he made his own solo record and that’s when we toured together, sort of each as solo artists—
Z: But then we’d end up playing all of our sets together.
P: It really happened that naturally?
Z: Yeah. Then we moved out here two years ago exactly this month. We had officially formed Jamestown Revival and we were doing some demo stuff—
J: (excitedly) No, Huntsville! That was a key part!
Z: Alright, you talk about Huntsville and I’ll pick it up from there.
J: So there’s this land that’s been in my family since the late ‘60s /early ‘70s, it’s a thousand acres in Texas and we’ve been going out there since we were fifteen.
P: Sounds like having your own private campground.
J: Exactly. Go take the guns, the four-wheeler, no tv. There’s a busted old trailer house that was hauled out there and has been there since the land came into my family’s possession, way back when.
Z: You gotta be careful where you walk on the floors, your foot’ll go through.
J: It is a piece of shit! But we love it. We’ve rebuilt the back porch three times cuz it keeps rotting through. We have a grill and a big fire pit and huge oak tress and it’s heaven. It’s paradise.
We had gotten back from the tour we’d both just done and I think we were both feeling like “What the fuck are we doing? This isn’t inspiring me.” We were at these crossroads, spiritually almost—loving being together and loving doing music together, but not necessarily loving being solo artists. And we went out to Huntsville for a while, like, “let’s just go write for a few weeks, bring the instruments.” We’d never done that before; whenever we went, we just brought toys. So it was just us, by ourselves, for two weeks and we wrote a couple of songs in this totally free-form manner, in a way that I’d never written before.
Z: It was also a revelation, a change of thought process. Our writing became more autobiographical, writing because it was what we wanted to say, not necessarily what we thought people wanted to hear. And I think that was big, we came into our own. We realized who we were as musicians.
J: We were writing about what we knew on an intimate level, which was the return to the wild, Mother Nature, the wilderness. The return to the simplicity and what makes us feel like we’re at home again.
We left Huntsville with two songs that ended up going on our first EP and knowing that we started something. We didn’t have a name for the band yet; it was the following week when we got back that we came up with the name and knew we were onto something, this felt better than anything.
P: How did you come up with “Jamestown Revival” for a name?
Z: Being a history buff, Jamestown was an ode to new beginnings and the idea of leaving behind the old, coming to a new world and setting forth. And the simplicity of it. It was a rebirth, essentially, I think that’s where it came from. It popped out and it felt good, so we ran with it.
But from Huntsville, we came back and started recording demos. And then this opportunity came up with Rolling Stone (the cover competition) and we ran with it.
J: We didn’t end up getting the cover, but it was a really good platform to officially launch Jamestown. And it did something for me mentally, committing to Jamestown. It was real and there was no looking back.
Z: While that was happening, we had been talking about coming out here—we love Austin, and that’s our home—but it was time for an adventure, it was time for a change. We wanted to be uncomfortable, especially with this new project and the idea of getting that adventure, getting dirt under our nails. So we packed up and moved and haven’t really looked back since. That’s how we ended up in LA. It was inspirational.
J: From start to finish, the new record (Utah) tells the story of the last twenty-four months.
P: So if I was curious about is what you miss about Texas the most or what you’ve discovered here in California—
J: You can learn all of that from listening to the record. What do we miss? That’s track four, “Heavy Heart.” What do we like? Check out “California.” I can reference exactly which songs tell you those exact things, it’s that specific.
P: And Utah? What’s the story there?
Z: We had access to this cabin in Utah and really liked the remoteness of it. The cabin was a decent size with this big great room, and we started tossing around the idea of recording out there. So we rented all this gear, we brought in some good friends to engineer it who work out here, got our band members together, we hauled out all this gear…It probably took us sixteen hours, that truck was just so slow—
J: —I drove the big-ass truck, it maxed out at 55, it was terrible—
Z: But we went out to the mountains for two weeks and recorded the record. And it’s all to tape, it’s all live recording, so it’s got some character and we’re excited about it.
J: We went as old school as we could with this album.
Z: We realized when we got out there that we might’ve bitten off more than we could chew, and so we were scrambling and learned a lot.
J: The way we did it led us to realness. Our whole goal was to really capture moments, capture energy. Sometimes when we play these songs, I can feel it, we get this smile on our faces, it’s like, there it is, there’s the energy. That’s really hard to force or fabricate. That was what brought us out there to record, and that was why we didn’t use headphones or a metronome. We just had our drummer, our bass player, me, and Zach.
We played so we could hear each other and the song was almost living and breathing in that moment, and there were mics everywhere to capture it. We would get so frustrated because a song wasn’t coming, and we would strip it all down and say, fuck it, let’s try something totally different. And that moment was captured and that’s on the record. So the results of this frustration and this realness, I feel like we captured it and that was the goal.
And the thing about the album is it’s not sonically pristine. As an artist, that’s scary. It’s not recorded with isolation, it doesn’t sound like a perfect, pretty black hole that perfect recordings are. You can hear the room; you can hear white noise from the tape machine. It sounds like it has character, and that is the thing that I hope people get. I hope people understand what this record is, and what this record isn’t. It’s a risk, but it’s a risk I think we had to take.
P: What were some of your favorite experiences there?
Z: There was a moose that would come by with her baby.
J: We’re sitting there drinking coffee and this moose and her baby come walking by the back porch, and it’s suckling from her teat, no kidding!
P: That’s some nature for ya!
Z: We had a lot of late nights because we had a limited amount of time and the very last night, everybody was pretty exhausted. We finished just about the time the sun was coming up. We were drinking whiskey, and there’s deer walking by, and the world is sort of coming to life again and it was such a profound moment and it was an awesome sense of accomplishment.
J: And cool trivia fact—as we were sitting down there, fucking exhausted, the sun was bright, coming up full strength. Our sound engineer had set a microphone outside on the porch and you could hear the birds going nuts, just singing and the leaves blowing, and the wind moving, and that is actually the start of one of the songs on the album, it was that exact moment recorded. (He pauses.) So that was the last day.
Z: Whenever I hear that, it takes me right there.
We all get quiet for a moment. The way Utah lights them up leaves me feeling like I was right there, too. And also leaves me with an insatiable thirst for good whiskey.
P: So what’s on the horizon for Jamestown Revival?
J: I want to get this entire record out, tour as frequently as possible and keep it consistent. Write the next chapter.
Z: Yeah, I’m ready for the next chapter. Long term, as long as we can keep our lights on, meet the people we get to meet, and have the experiences we get to have while doing this, then I have no complaints. I’m just excited to grow, I still feel like it’s pretty new and we still have a lot to learn. It’ll always be autobiographical, so wherever the world takes us is what we’ll be writing about. That’s what I’m excited for, to see the progression.
On that note, I’m gonna pour myself a stiff drink and listen to my copy ‘California (Cast Iron Soul)’ on the porch. It just feels like the right thing to do.
For the latest updates from Jamestown Revival, more music, and tour information, visit http://www.JamestownRevival.com.
If you live in LA, check em out this Saturday April 6th at Room 5, starting at 7:30pm!
Images by Michael Edwards
I was 14 when Andrew’s I Get Wet came out. I wasn’t sure why the infamous album cover of his face drenched in blood pouring from his nose got me wet, or why the video for “Party Hard,” featuring this wolf of a man headbanging in filthy ripped clothes, was such a turn on. Perhaps it was his party-positive message, or the raw male stench I was drawn to. Since I Get Wet came out I’ve had my eye on him, so when I heard Andrew had found himself a wifey, I had to meet this woman. It turns out Cherie Lily the Queen to the King of Party, is just as intriguing as he is. While @AndrewWK gets wet, @CherieLily gets dripping wet.
Me In My Place is pleased to premiere an “Exclusive Bedroom Web Cam” music video for Cherie Lily’s “Body” produced by Vjuan Allure. The video is from her recent “Dripping Wet” EP, and in collaboration with MIMP’s “Dance Off” section, and a recent afternoon spent with the couple where we discussed sex etiquette, Cherie and Andrew’s love story, and of course, partying.
MIMP founder Michael Edwards and I are sitting at Santos Party House, the downtown Manhattan club and music venue Andrew owns. The party power couple arrives slightly late, coming from a joint work out session. Cherie, the afternoon’s star, is dressed in colorful spandex complemented with dominatrix-esque thong one piece. Andrew is in his signature dirty white jeans and t-shirt, in all likelihood the same clothes he wore over a decade ago in the “Party Hard” video. I ask Cherie if she’s ever worn the leather dominatrix accessory on its own for Andrew in private.
“Not this one specifically, but other things like it, yes,” Cherie answers with a smile.
“Do you guys want something to drink, some water or orange juice?” Andrew asks. He proceeds to pour himself some vodka, topped off with what appears to be cranberry juice, although I can’t be sure. In his stained white t-shirt and eyes hidden by sunglasses, he hands us some samples of Playtex’s “Fresh + Sexy,” an intimate wipe he’s become the face of.
“It’s two packets connected, the idea is that there’s one for before and after an intimate experience. Especially if you’re traveling, if I haven’t been able to take a shower for a day, or a couple days, or weeks or months, this really does come in handy,” he says. “Playtex generally makes products for females but this is for men and women. For men you can even use it if you’re by yourself! Um and you don’t have a partner…there’s cleanup that’s involved there.”
Between their workout dates, concerts, and exceptionally active lifestyle, these two sweat a lot. With her eccentric personality and style (not to mention flexibility and that leather ensemble) I wouldn’t mind smelling Cherie’s party myself, so Andrew better appreciate Cherie’s or else I’ll step in and do it myself. It’s obvious that Andrew is not someone who showers everyday, so I get how intimate wipes could come in handy, but just to make sure he’s down with unwashed lady parts, I ask how he feels about body odor.
“Cherie and I have been very lucky in that we don’t really smell each other. Other people might think we smell terrible, but I think we’ve been together long enough we just don’t notice it. Cherie smells like home.”
He gazes at her lovingly. “You smell like cozy.”
I see how far I can push the envelope. “Where’s the weirdest place you guys have gotten it on recently?” I ask, while Michael snaps photos of them making out. “Things must get tricky while on tour.” I’m hoping for stories of backstage blowjobs or a quickie in the green room before they take the stage.
“We go to a hotel room, or a bus maybe,” says Andrew. “I always just thought [public sex] was inconsiderate to other people, you know in case a kid walked in on you in a public place. I guess I had a few things like that happen to me, or even seeing friends when you’re over at their house being really loud because it turns them on for you to be able to hear them. It’s just not good manners or something.”
Time to refocus on music. I ask Cherie if the title of her her “Dripping Wet” EP is a nod to Andrew’s I Get Wet.
Andrew looks at Cherie. “Huh, I never thought of that.”
“Oh yeah, people say that all the time,” Cherie responds. “It’s a nod that happened without us really thinking about it.”
“A subconscious nod,” Andrew agrees. They often finish each other’s sentences, and forget that we are in the room and break into their own private conversations. It’s sickeningly adorable, and the romantic buried inside my pervert mind is quite pleased that my teenage crush has found himself such a perfect partner.
Cherie grew up outside of Chicago to Iranian immigrant parents who came to America in the late 60’s, before the Shaw fell. Eventually making her way to New York, Cherie worked in the fashion industry before switching her focus to fitness and music, two loves she merged to create “houserobics,” a combindation of dance music and erobics. Along with continuing to teach fitness classes at Crunch, Cherie released “The Dripping Wet” EP on February 12th, 2013. The EP is Cherie’s follow up to her debut EP “WERK,” released on Andrew W.K.’s Steev Mike label. The video for “WERK” features her signature houserobics and some impressive moves by Andrew W.K., who says he pulled a few tendons while filming the video.
Andrew and Cherie met in 2005 through their shared vocal coach, Melissa Cross, who specializes in the art of screaming.
“I was in different hard core and rock bands at the time and I heard about this coach, so I went to go see her. I was in the waiting area and then this guy came out and it was Andrew,” says Cherie. “I was like ‘Oh my god, who is this guy? Andrew W.K., he’s so cute.’ ”
Melissa Cross’s role expanded from vocal coach to life coach as she helped set the two up.
“She knew right away! She knew Andrew really well, and then when she met me she knew we would be a good match. And she was right. Melissa told me that I couldn’t just ask him out, it had to be more organic. So she would make my lesson after his lesson so we would run into each other,” says Cherie.
I ask Andrew what he thought of Cherie the first time he saw her.
“I thought she was a little angel face,” says Andrew. “Also, I had been asking the singing teacher about a girl that could join my band, because from the very beginning, going back to like 98’, 99’, I’d always wanted this feeling of a team of people on the stage. I had a few friends who said ‘Oh use this girl, she’s great at keyboard.’ But I had met these girls, I mean they were very nice, and lovely and fine, but they would never be able to throw down, let alone withstand the atmosphere of doing what we do, not just on stage but traveling and the whole nature of it. Then when I met Cherie I asked Melissa initially ‘do you think she could do it?’ and she said yes, but I still had no idea the level of athleticism and stamina, and most of all the attitude that Cherie had.”
At the time, Cherie was working in the male model division at Wilhelmina Models. She invited Andrew in for a meeting with the celebrity division to secretly get closer to him, but it was Andrew who finally asked her out. The two married on October 4th, 2008, in a traditional ceremony held at Santos Party House, although they did head bang to “Party Hard” during the reception.
The more I get to know the pair, the more curious I am of Andrew’s definition of “party.” When one envisions of the word, especially coming out of a rock star’s mouth, a “fuck it” Jim Morrison mind set comes to mind. Yet his politeness, the traditional wedding, and deep consideration of others (particularly when it pertains to humping in public) leads me to wonder if the most the two men have in common are their unwashed pants. I ask Andrew how he defines the word “party.”
“Party is a very simple word that everyone understands in its essence, but it can also mean something unique to each person, which I think is the best aspect of that word. It’s something you can do on special occasions like the New Year, or your birthday, or Friday; when you are very thankful that a weekend is coming, or that it’s a new year, or you were even born at all,” says Andrew. “But if you’re thankful to be alive every day then you can party and have that celebratory mindset,” he continues. “Taking something that you are grateful for, fully acknowledging it, and then driving that energy towards that appreciation. That’s how I think of it. That’s how I justify doing it every day.”
I’m realizing that for Andrew and Cherie, “party” isn’t just sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, but rather a mind set, something deeper, even spiritual.
When the interview concludes we all leave Santos Party House at the same time, and I happen to be heading in the same direction as Andrew and Cherie. So I don’t look like a creepy stalker who has secretly been envisioning group sex throughout the interview, I keep my distance, but observe. Bundled up on the chilly evening, arms around one another, the pair doesn’t look like rock stars, but they do look in love.
“I’ve never met any other person, let alone a lady, that can throw down as hard as me and never complain about it. She has a much better attitude than me. I try to learn from her every day about being better at life, let alone head banging,” says Andrew.
To see Cherie in all her glory, catch her performing at Webster Hall’s Trash Party Friday, March 29th. She hits the stage at 2AM. Take a hit of whatever Andrew and Cherie are inhaling and stay up for it.
Images by Michael Edwards
Get ready for She’s Ryan bitches, because this chick wants it so bad she’s going to be the next fucking @Oprah. Except rather than Spanx and a cardigan she rocks a pink weave and leather tube tops.
It’s 9:45PM on a Monday night. I’m squished in the backseat of a Jeep next to Michael Edwards, founder and photographer for Me In My Place, and Slimmy Neutron, founder and recording artist for Hello HVLO, (pronounced Hello Halo) a music production company and independent record label. We’re darting around cars on our way from their studio on West 30th Street to Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg. There’s a plastic cup of margarita flavored Four Loko in my hand. In the front seat sits @ShesRYAN with her own can of Four Loko, peach, her favorite. Slimmy prefers watermelon. Ryan is much smaller than the two men accompanying me in the backseat, but the honor of shotgun goes to her without debate.
Ryan is supposed to take the stage at 9:50PM so we’re already running late, but she’s quite concerned about her boobs popping out of her leather tube top during her performance. “I need boobie tape, my tits are going to pop out!” Ryan screeches from the front seat. Her voice frequently rises from conversational tone to loud, uninhibited laughter. We stop at two different American Apparels under her orders, both closed. No boobie tape for Ryan. She knows they carry it, she used to manage an American Apparel store in Soho. “I’ve worked in retail everywhere,” Ryan told me back at the studio. “Banana Republic, American Apparel, Betsey Johnson, G-Star, Macy’s. I’ve worked everywhere. I was a different person then. I was smoking a pack of Newport’s a day. I was skinny though!”
With her long pink hair and tattoos, dressed in booty shorts, a leather top and platform combat boots, it’s hard to imagine Ryan in a Banana Republic. She buys her Brazilian human hair extensions in bundles from a 6’7” hair dealer who delivers the hair to your door out of a backpack. It’s baby pink now, although she’s thinking of switching to hot pick, “nasty pink.” It’s certainly attention grabbing, she’s even been stopped at airport security to have her weave checked to make sure she’s not smuggling drugs in it.
The first time I saw Ryan was at Tammany Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at Hello HVLO’s Christmas party. I was there to see my friend Skip Rage perform, another rapper signed with HVLO, and was enjoying a beer waiting for the show to start. Rap performances start notoriously late. In retrospect, we would have had plenty of time to stop at a CVS and and buy some boobie tape, but it didn’t matter, to the crowd’s disappointment Ryan changed her top to one with straps and her breasts stayed put throughout the performance.
Back at the holiday party, before I even knew she was there to perform, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was a combination of attraction and intimidation, only partially credited to her appearance.
“I wear shorts and a tube top every single day. Who cares? I’m not a ho, I’m not a prostitute. Who says I got to be a ho because I don’t got a turtle neck on? I walk down the street confident and bold and I don’t get harassed. I don’t like to wear pants so I wear shorts, and if you try anything I will fucking roundhouse you. Own it. Own your style and individuality”
Own it she does. Ryan admits her insistence on living in shorts presents a problem for attending weddings and funerals, but you get the feeling that even at such an event no one would give her a hard time.
An artist of many forms, it’s unclear if even she is certain what her main focus is, What is clear is that she craves success and has the determination and attitude to achieve it. Along with her music, Ryan frequently goes to open acting calls, and supports herself by freelance modeling. She’s also appeared in “basically in every tattoo magazine. Inked, Urban Ink, Skin & Ink, Rebel Ink. All the ones except fetish porn. The ones where you don’t have to shave your eyebrows off and can keep your clothes on. Or wear a latex mask.”
A believer in the law of attraction and the power of positive thinking, Ryan keeps a vision board. A vision board is a board filled with images or quotes meant to help you visualize and achieve your dreams, popular with performers. When asked about what was on her vision board, Ryan responded “Oprah. But Oprah may not be around because I feel like when I’m 56 I’m going to have my own Oprah show, I’m going to be Oprah.” Her vision also includes appearing in an Alexander Wang billboard on 42nd Street. “I swear to god I see my hair blowing and it’s not pink it’s like black and I look all morbid, you know how they look all skinny and shit.”
The black and white Alexander Wang billboards she’s referring to are so stylistically different than the colorful and exuberant girl I’m sitting across from that I briefly wonder if it’s simply fame rather than artistic expression she’s after. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, most successful female musicians comparable to Ryan are multiple threats dabbling in various forms of art, and if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us share the same hunger for success, even if we have to veer slightly off path to achieve it. Yet then as we near the end of the studio interview, and I step into the hall with Michael and Ryan as he takes photos of her, Ryan makes a comment seemingly unaware that I’m even paying attention that reassures me of her artistic realness:
“I’m doing it because I love it. I don’t want to be the trendy bitch. In 10, 20 years I still want to be doing it.”
Ryan was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn to two high school students.
“My mom and had me when she was in high school. She went to Brooklyn Tech with my dad, they had me their junior year of high school. And basically they were really young so I had to live with my Grandmother for probably six or seven years, in not a good part of Brooklyn at all.”
She then moved in with her mother, frequently relocating from small two bedroom apartments crowded with her three siblings and her stepfather. As a teenager she moved in with her father, a successful business man, where she had her own floor in his five-story Clinton Hill brownstone. “When I lived with my Dad it was like a different world. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum that’s why I don’t judge people. Because I know what it feels like to have both.”
She mentions the differences in her parents and their views on her career. Her father, the businessman, is often concerned about her ability to support herself financially while her mother applauds her artistic journey.
“I think he’s from a different time because he doesn’t even get it. He was friends back in the day with Doug E. Fresh, so he’s like ‘Yeah, my boy he got dropped from his label.’ I’m like how would you tell me I am going to get dropped from my label, why would you say that to me? Doug E. Fresh, you can’t compare me to Doug E. Fresh! And my mom she completely believes in me. She’s the hippie. She’s like, ‘I love to sing, you love to sing, keep singing!’ ”
From the love and camaraderie felt among the HVLO crowd, there’s no sense of danger of Ryan being dropped from her label. She was hesitant to join the group at first, having negative experiences with other producers, but Slimmy hooked her.
“Slimmy Neutron contacted me on Facebook. I used to put out little covers of myself singing and Slimmy ran across one, and was like, you have a great voice you should probably come to the studio and just check it out sometime. But at that time I was very scared because a lot of people would try to get me into the studio and it wouldn’t be productive. It would be me, sitting there, probably smoking, someone playing me a bunch of beats I really didn’t want to sing over, it wasn’t organic at all. And so it took Slimmy a while to get me here. When I finally got here he didn’t just play me a bunch of beats, he actually let me sing and let me write and constructed a beat around my voice. And that’s how “Bipolar” came about.”
If it’s her music that shoots Ryan to fame “Bipolar” will be the trigger. The jaw-dropping track alternates between Ryan beautifully crooning about her love for a man to fiercely screaming into the mic about how much she hates the same lover. It’s reminiscent of Kelis’s “Caught Out There”, an inspiration Ryan admits to, yet somehow (don’t hurt me Kelis) “Bipolar” captures the duality of emotions even more powerfully.
“I hate to say that I feel like the crazy one at most times, because if you listen to the lyrics it’s like ‘I love you but now I hate your guts.’ And I just know that sometimes that’s how women are. And it’s fine, the song is letting girls everywhere know that its okay to feel crazy girl, because we all have felt crazy at one point. You ever been so in love that you can lay in bed with this person at night but then see him do one thing wrong and you want to rip his head off his shoulders? So that’s what the song is saying, I love you but I hate you.”
HVLO isn’t quite ready to unleash the song on the world. In fact, Ryan doesn’t even have an album or video out for the track yet.
“It’s so epic and it’s put together so well that we don’t’ just want to throw it out and do a quick video for it. We need like time and money. So what we’re going to do is put out different songs and lead up to it and build the buzz more. So this way when “Bipolar” does finally release it’s going to be huge. Kelis probably will hear it, you know what I’m saying?”
It’s almost 11PM before Ryan appears on stage at Cameo Gallery. Ryan’s got the looks, the talent, and the attitude, yet somewhere buried in her must lie the seed of doubt: Will I make it? As an observer, I’m wondering myself as I look around the sparse crowd, in one of countless small music venues in New York. Ryan is an artist who doesn’t have an album out, yet alone a video, in a city teeming with artists trying to make it, some with better connections, more money, more exposure.
And then Ryan hits the stage. After a few songs to get the crowd amped, “Bipolar” begins. She opens the track by announcing it’s her favorite song and singing the chorus acapella, and then the track kicks on and she’s tearing off her jacket and writhing on the floor and her entire energy encompasses the room. Slimmy told me that after every one of Ryan’s performance, someone ends up booking her for another show. As a converted fan, I’ll take a page from Ryan’s book and use the power of positive thinking to hope that one day the right person is there to see her, as a vision board can only get you so far.
Before she goes on I ask her if she is nervous. “Hell to the no. I’m just going to go in there and rock the fuck out, probably with a Four Loko in my hand. I’m so fucking exhilarated, no nerves. That’s how I know I was meant to do this.”
Until HVLO is ready to release “Bipolar” you can listen to She’s Ryan’s “Painted Picture” here.
Six page story on MeInMyPlace out now in Esquire Netherlands. :-)
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My Winter Wonderland
Remember when people use to line up for an album? Or if your town’s local Cineplex wasn’t included in the theatre release (or as is the case in my shitey youth, you couldn’t afford it), made the anticipation for the video rental unbearably delicious? When I was 12 I was curating taped trailers, interviews and magazine pages (turned posters), for every movie du jour. Intricately cataloguing them to heighten my excitement, like Beavis in the grips of a coffee addled Cornholio rant.
One of these unnatural obsessions was comedy cult classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The dreamy and “intellectually challenged” duo, fell into my misshapen view (guided solely by American 80s movies) of the U.S. teen experience. Right up there with those pretty Weird Science nerds. I was convinced in ‘89 if these were what misfits looked like across the pond, I couldn’t wait to get there! Believe it or not, I also found the lives of Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan, somewhat glamorous back then. All that quotable So Cal vernacular, cartoon colored clothing and lovable misadventures. It was always sunny there, kids hung out in places called “malls” as opposed to grimy underpasses, instead of chain smoking they ate uncooked Japanese fish; and on weekends would go to a “water park.” To me California was the promised land! More than that though I simply adored the two leads, truthfully I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if it hadn’t been the very young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. Alex with his pre-Raphaelite curls and blood red, bee-stung lips, Keanu in all his ethnically ambiguous glory. Both with such enviable hair. I had never seen such exotic male creatures, wondering the cobble stoned pathways of Tamworth. Which for the record, means hog mouth.