Excerpts from some published interviews and essays.
James Franco for dazed
He answers my questions lying on his side, one hand making shapes in the sands of Venice Beach. He wishes he had a coffee; he's tired. Rarely does he make direct eye contact, instead, his Ray Bans point towards the crashing waves of the Pacific. Perhaps he's dreaming of a macchiato. He’s wearing a black t-shirt bearing the word “Fassbinder” in Spinal Tap lettering, an homage to the German director, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Merging the experimental with the ironic, the high brow with the playful, it really is the perfect shirt for James Franco to be wearing right now--or, as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel would say, “This is my exact inner structure, done in a tee shirt.”
Cover interview for DAZED mag, here
Yolandi Visser/Die Antwoord
They delivered the record, Ten$ion, to Interscope and waited to hear back. “It was like fucking school,” says Visser. “They said, ‘Well, it’s good, but it needs more rave.’ We were like, ‘How much more rave do you want?’” The label told them they needed to write three more songs, including a collaboration with a commercial artist. “We were like, ‘Fuck you! Why should we collaborate?’ We should only do that if we really dig someone, like when you’re hanging tough and it just works. There was this weird pressure. So we called our lawyer and said, ‘Can you make Interscope go away?’”
Their lawyer wasn’t sure how easy it would be. “It was like a fucking bible, the contract we had signed with them.” Luckily for the group, Interscope let Die Antwoord go without much of a fight. “I think they were scared of Ninja, to be honest. They had wired us $1 million, so we wired it back. We didn’t want the money. It was more important to us to make something we believed in. Everyone was saying, ‘They are a fucking joke band, they are fake.’ I was like, ‘No, we really wanna get better and prove that we didn’t just get lucky like Vanilla Ice.’ We wanted to prove that we are going to make music until we die.”
Cover interview in DAZED, read it here.
"In the ‘60s and ‘70s, music was really bringing cultures and races and religions together. It was so ripe and sweet and had all these flavors—incense and patchouli oil and sitar, Ravi Shankar and Buddhism and chanting and Tolstoy and Keats and Homer, R&B and Fillmore East and West, and so much stuff happening. I wish we had a time machine to take all of the young ones—Snoop Dogg and Alicia Keys and Nirvana and the White Stripes—take them back to that time of revolution and music. I can’t even come close to describing it. In 1975, I went home to Colorado, and I was skiing in Aspen with Jack Nicholson and Hunter S. Thompson and Ed Bradley, the late CBS correspondent who went up there and bought a home. At that time we were listening to “Hotel California,” Funkadelic, Philly soul and Motown. It was still acid and coke and weed and music and just a wonderful communion. And then the ‘80s came, with the business and the stock market, and that’s when it all changed."
Interview published in SWINDLE magazine.
To this day, every time she does an interview, the conversation inevitably returns to the work she did as a teenager. Did she secretly wish that Andie, her character in Pretty in Pink, had gotten with Duckie instead of Blane? (“I'm Team Spader all the way.”) Which was her favourite film of the three Hughes movies? ("Breakfast Club to watch; Sixteen Candles to make.") What were her style inspirations in the 80s? ("F. Scott Fitzgerald and the clothes his heroines would wear"). And the question she hears most often -- is she still friends with her co-stars? "Um, you know…no. People see the films all the time on television and assume we're just like, hanging out still. But we've moved on. We have different lives. Sometimes I feel like I'm disappointing people.” Her words echo the poster slogan for Sixteen Candles: “It’s the time of your life that may last a lifetime”.
3,000 word interview published in AnOther magazine
LA AFTER DARK
Los Angeles is a city defined by its sunshine; but what of the Los Angeles that exists in the aftermath of its famous sunsets? This is, after all, a city known for its noir literature, stories of strange crimes amid endless summers, seedy boarding houses, jazz and marginal thieves; double-dealing moguls and disenchanted starlets, detectives sifting through remnants of broken dreams, Bukowski's Henry Chinaski waking up to his millionth hangover in this fiercely ecstatic dystopia.
Full essay in NEW SIZE? magazine, print only, UK.
Her (platonic) prom date was Jaden Smith – she wore a septum ring and show-stopping grey braids, he wore a long skirt with sneakers, a look she fully approved of. “Guys aren’t allowed to express femininity; they have to always appear masculine and that’s bullshit,” she says. “I love it when guys can be feminine and express their emotions and creativity; it shows strength.” Stenberg met Jaden’s sister, Willow, after they began having dreams about each other. Willow messaged her, saying, “I feel like we are supposed to be friends,” so the two met up and talked for a good hour. “Then we did interpretive dance to Grimes,” says Stenberg, giggling.
Cover interview with actress/activist Amandla Stenberg for the September 2015 cover of Dazed mag. read it here.
In the early to mid-2000s, Knoop was the public face of the imaginary transgender male author JT LeRoy, a persona created by Laura Albert. It came to be known as the biggest literary con of a generation. Today, Knoop's art continues to push notions of propriety, convention, and identity. It wants to be held, to be worn, to be close, so it can test you. In the case of her large wooden “rocking tails,” it wants you to gently place your ass on the carved depressions fashioned after Knoop’s own ass and rock back and forth. Only then can you fully experience the art — and Knoop — in their fullness.
Full article in LA Weekly
Saoirse Ronan for FLAUNT
Like the majority of the Irish population, Ronan was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, with all its frankincense-laced transubstantiation, and until quite recently, social conservatism. Divorce was illegal in Ireland until 1996, homosexuality was outlawed until 1993, and abortion remains illegal unless the mother’s life is at risk. She went to church every Sunday with her parents, had a First Communion and Confirmation at age 16. “As a Catholic you grow up believing that there’s an answer for everything, and a reason for everything.”
Early on though, she started to question things.
When the time came for her to make her first confession in front of a priest, Ronan had doubts. “I was six years old, and I had nothing to confess. I remember all of us kids were like ‘what are we going to say? Do we make something up like, we cheated on our homework or in an exam?’ Even as a kid, I didn’t feel like it was right for us to make up something just for the sake of it. So I said to my mum and dad, ‘I’m not doing it.’ I said no. So I’ve never confessed.”
She’s one of those rare beings who seems entirely unafraid to maintain steady eye contact. At first it’s unsettling, until you realize it’s because she’s actually paying attention to what you’re saying. Ricci points out that she’s actually far more relaxed these days than she was in her teens and early twenties. “Back then, each day was like, ‘Oh, what fresh hell is this?’ And then you grow up.” Of course, there’s a part of her that’s nostalgic about her teenage angst. “The glitter and the combat boots and the tearing out sheets from Dante’s Inferno and pinning them on my wall? How amazing is that? I used to have this energy and anxiety, this need to constantly be making things happen or fighting for something. Now, even though I still have moments of being totally irrational and high-strung, I mainly just feel like I want to make the best of things."
Cover interview for BULLET magazine, here.
Inside, a suspension of smouldering herb vapour – aka stoner smog – hangs low in the air, swirling and translucent like dry ice in a hair-metal video. Gliding toward me is all six feet and four skinny inches of Snoop Dogg, West Coast G-funk superstar rapper and original gangster. He’s got a blunt in his right hand, prayer beads round his neck, and a knit cap on his head in the Rastafari colours of black, red, gold, and green – black is for Africa, red is for the blood of martyrs, gold is for treasure, and green is for...
“Do you smoke?” asks Snoop in his laid-back drawl, his “s”s cut smoother than glass. “I’m gonna roll us up a new one so we can have one fresh.” He stubs out the blunt between his fingers, and busts out some fresh blunt-wraps. “I would never disrespect you like that – such a lady.”
Cover interview in full here
Some of the most memorable hard-rock guitar riffs of the pre-grunge era emanated from Slash’s Gibson Les Paul, including those on “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” He claims the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” guitar melody came about from “just fucking around. I didn’t even like that song or the guitar part. I thought it was stupid. But Axl really liked it.” Despite their growing success, the band members were too dysfunctional to really take stock of what was happening. Even after Appetite for Destruction went Platinum, Slash never felt like a rock star off-stage. “We’d be on the road and we’d hear we sold a certain number of records. Then we went back to Hollywood and it’s the same shit: living in a cheap apartment and doing drugs all the time, except this time I didn’t want to go out because people would recognize me.”
We move on, and spot more Romans preparing to march in formation. I pull one of them aside. He says his name is Decimus Maxius Carigorious, and he is a probationary legionnaire in the Miles Legio Nano Hispania, stationed in Scotland during the building of Hadrian’s Wall in around 90 AD. He is wearing a pair of caligae sandals hobnailed for traction, over his udonis (socks), which were in high demand in freezing cold Britannia. His helmet was hammered from sheets of iron and bronze. He speaks a little Latin, and is trying to get better. "Being able to talk to people and look good is the thrill,” he says, looking out from prescription glasses beneath his helmet. “Sometimes I go to the grocery store in my getup, and people stare.” His modern day name is William Stephanson, but he likes to keep things authentic, often spelling his name Uilliam, using the Roman version of the letter “w.”
People like William—sorry, Uilliam—are clearly passionate about their hobby. But some take it even further. “A lot of these guys think they are reincarnated,” Owen remarks. “They say, ‘I feel like I was there.’” Shortly after hearing this, I feel strangely drawn towards an encampment of Polish nobles. I see a statuesque man wearing an enormous pair of feathered wings and carrying a saber. He looks like the angel Gabriel, but his name is Rik Fox, and he once played bass in the hair-metal band W.A.S.P. Now he is a Polish winged hussar by the name of Rotmistrz Pan Ryszard Sulima Suligowski, captain of a hussar unit serving under King Jan III Sobieski. Hussars were 17th-century Polish warriors and, for a while, it was the in thing for them to wear angel wings as they rode into battle.
His is one of the smaller groups at the event, apparently because representing the 17th century is deeply uncool in reenactment circles. “ When I first started walking about in this armor at renaissance festivals, people would make fun of me and say rude things,” says Rik, who wears a luxurious fur hat. “They would see the wings and ask, ‘Why would a hussar be in Elizabeth’s England?’ Basically, there’s jealousy and condescension towards what we are doing.”
Fox started attending renaissance festivals in the mid ‘90s after giving up metal. “ I came out of music and I realized I was still looking for another platform where I could act and portray something and be on stage,” he says. Then tears start rolling down his cheeks. “When I first saw real hussar armor, the hairs stood up on my whole body,” he says. “I said, ‘I’m home.’ That feeling has stayed with me ever since. I feel like I have found what my goal in life is supposed to be.”
Ashe wipes his cheeks, I realize Rik Fox, Polish winged hussar, has truly mastered time travel. Forget Einstein and wormholes; all Rik needs to bend time and space is a pair of feathered wings and the power of his own imagination. As I walk away, I almost envy him.
Published in SWINDLE magazine
Jennifer Jason Leigh
There’s something about Jennifer Jason Leigh, an arresting combination of haunted and feral, that has always attracted the greatest directors—Ron Howard, Robert Altman, the Coen brothers, Sam Mendes, Charlie Kaufman and most recently, Quentin Tarantino, who handpicked her to play the sole female lead in his upcoming post-Civil War western, The Hated Eight. She smiles, slightly incredulous, when talking about the film—the lead in a Tarantino movie, a career peak after nearly 35 years in the business? Who would have thought. “You almost can’t take it on board, it’s like too big, in a way,” she says. “It sounds so trite to say ‘dream come true’ but for an actor, it really is, and especially this time in my career.” The Hated Eight will introduce a new generation of filmgoers to Leigh’s unique ability to shape shift into the embodiment of pure ravaged emotion, conveying a mountain’s weight of darkness with one sideways glance. It’s a fact -- no one in Hollywood does ‘flawed’ quite like Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Cover interview published in AnOther magazine.
Once upon a time in America, the future seemed bright. Original ideas in art and architecture existed in abundance. Industrial innovation, superimposed upon the blank slate of a humbled post war world, provided a new blueprint for living. American cities were being re-imagined in steel, glass and light. Homes were to be functional but happy, uncluttered cradles within which the new generation would thrive. Amid the blooming ideals of modernism, a brighter and more harmonious future for humankind seemed guaranteed. Sixty years on, hope has devolved into uncertainty — but modern architect Ray Kappe, for one, has yet to lose his optimism.
3,000 word article published in TREATS magazine, print only.
the ice man cometh
Our fragile polar ice caps are exquisitely photogenic — but only a handful of photographers have the passion, patience and persistence to capture these frozen worlds on camera. Among them is Paul Nicklen, acclaimed National Geographic photo-journalist who puts his life on the line, enduring minus 40°F temperatures and hiking hundreds of miles of tundra, so he can bring us the most compelling polar photography ever seen. His images of polar bears swimming beneath the ice, of narwhals crossing tusks, and of penguins releasing micro bubbles as they ascend through the water have given the world a front row seat to the daily magic — and drama — of these inhospitable, majestic regions where, as Nicklen says, “ice is everything.”
Published in HUMANITY magazine, here.
“I was so, incredibly proud of my father, from an early age,” says Kate, on the phone from Baltimore. “I looked at him and thought there could be nothing in the world greater than to be an artist. The art world seemed the most idealistic, magical world, to me.”
The magic faded in 1970 when 66-year-old Rothko, troubled by illness, alcoholism and depression, committed suicide—a tragedy which exposed a then 19-year-old Kate to the shadow side of the “magical” art world.
Interview published in HUMANITY magazine, here.
SILVER LAKE lives
In the first half of the twentieth century, Los Angeles’ artists, leftists, screenwriters, painters, Mexicans, vaudevillians and homosexuals flocked to the hilly enclave of Silver Lake, where, away from police boots and the mainstream dogma, they gave birth to a unique cultural bohemia that continues to quietly shape and influence the very fabric of American society, providing a launching pad for abstract notions of self that trickle slowly into the popular consciousness. In case you have not visited Silver Lake — imagine a landscape filled with Spanish, Moorish, Italian, and modernist architecture, towers abutting terraces, sweet working class bungalows neighboring palatial constructions, nonsensical pairings hidden in plain view among dense bushes of aromatic jasmine and gardena and pink bougainvillea in an undulating topography whose twisted and bent inclines are dotted with stairways that lead to magnificent views across Los Angeles, all the way to the Pacific. They used to say that this part of LA, back when it was a secret sanctum for gay actors and their lovers, “gathered the scent of scandal” … this is where Jared Frank, an interior designer and former dancer, found his personal slice of bohemia and would eventually decide to share it.
Published in Openhouse magazine, Vol. 5, 2016
julia cumming, dazed
Cumming thinks that because she’s a girl, attractive, and musically-gifted, she receives extra attention. This annoys her. She wishes it didn't matter. “Being a woman playing rock music now is basically kind of a press story in itself, mainly because women are attractive and have parts that are really interesting to men...not necessarily because of the music,” she says. And she's all too aware of the specific challenges that a life on the road can bring for a woman, not to mention the gender-specific ageism that exists in rock ‘n roll. Iggy Pop and David Bowie and Mick Jagger faced very different realities heading into their 60 and 70s, compared with Marianne Faithfull or Yoko Ono. “I’m even nervous about turning 21,” says Cumming. “I haven’t seen the world to be a very forgiving place for women. At least if I can be the best musician that I can, and write the best songs and best bass lines, no one can take that away from me. Who cares if I’m a girl."
In a professional career spanning 58 years, Bailey has trained his eye on much more than fashion, his lens drawn to models, monks and murderers alike. “It’s not my place to make moral judgments,” he says. Two of his subjects, Reg and Ron Kray, for instance, were identical-twin gangsters once described as the most dangerous men in Britain. Bailey photographed them in the ’60s; one famous shot shows the brothers playing with their pet snakes. “The snakes were named after the policemen that were trying to arrest them,” says Bailey. The Krays had slashed Bailey’s father’s face with a razor some years prior—but he still wanted to take their photograph. “It wasn’t personal. My dad was a kind of jack the lad, anyway.”
Article for HUMANITY magazine, here
Tyler the Creator
"Hi, I'm Steve," says Tyler, Odd Future's lynchpin. He likes to lie about his name. He also likes to fall down, just for fun. Last week he went out of state for the first time, visiting New York City. He flung himself dramatically down onto the Manhattan sidewalk, and noted that no one seemed to pay much attention. "I prefer L.A.," says Tyler, who wears a pin on his cap that says, "Fuck Them."
Tyler says he really loves to masturbate, collects books and was, until very recently, studying film at a community college in West L.A. He dropped out, aware that Odd Future was turning into something that might require all of his time and attention.
Feature in LA Weekly, here.
Iggy Azalea for Dazed
She was down on life, down on LA and wondering if she would have to return home to Australia and take up cleaning hotel rooms again. “I was starting to go broke being out here in LA. Did I fuck my whole life?” Then an angel swooped down from the heavens – a very gay angel with a hugely popular blog called PerezHilton.com. Perez, maybe for the first time in his life, was in love with “Pu$$y”. “I woke up in the morning, and was like, ‘Oh, Perez put my video on the site.’ And that was like, nine o’clock and by 12 o’clock it had like 60,000 views and I was like, ‘Holy shit, that’s a lot of views,’ and by the end of the day it was on every other blog that existed.” All the attention eventually resulted in a deal with Interscope, which had been on the fence about Iggy for a while. The ink on the contracts was barely dry when we met for our interview – she had signed with the label just the week before.
It’s been a long, cold sextet of years since Tenacious D unleashed their last album—cult classic The Pick of Destiny—upon the world. Beloved by fans, the record and accompanying film inexplicably failed to make much money and therefore was, by industry standards, a failure.
It took them a while to get over the hurt, but now the D—comprised of curvy funny man Jack Black, and his white-socks-and-sandals wearing friend Kyle Gass—have written a comeback album unlike no other. Featuring seismic rock hits like “Low Hanging Fruit” and “They Fucked Us In the Ass”, Rize of the Fenix may be Tenacious D’s greatest masterwork yet. Possibly.
We find Black and Gass at their dark rehearsal space in a questionable corner of North Hollywood, nestled side-by-side on a threadbare sofa. A giant painted Virgin Mary watches from behind the drum riser as they talk about how this, their third studio album (with drums courtesy of Dave Grohl, and artwork resembling a large, veiny penis in the shape of a bird), may or may not be greatest comeback album in the history of rock.
Holy Grail’s songs have Dark Agey, testosterone-dipped names like “Fight to Kill,” “Immortal Man” and “Valhalla Calling.” Their thematic oeuvre spans “Chicks, Vikings, Ex-Chicks, Being Tough, Macho/Machismo, FEMA, Fabio, Conan, Rad Dinosaurs, UFOs and Bilderberg Group.” Imagine Wyld Stallyns...with chops.
Blond/brunette creative duo James J. LaRue and James Luna (known as “James Squared” to their friends) are the primary songwriters. From an “elite school of San Diego shredders,” LaRue is the romantic, arpeggio-obsessed blond. “Have you heard the steel foundries, have you seen the fucking factories?” he marvels, when I tell them I have been to Birmingham, England, birthplace of heavy metal. “Have you been to the Euphrates? Have you seen the Tigris?” continues LaRue (he rides a bicycle and shares a bedroom with drummer Tyler, and is clearly ready for Holy Grail’s world tour). Luna is the sweet-cheeked Warrior-Next-Door, replete with tousled fashionista mullet and the resonant lungs of a Stradivarius. He hails from Pasadena — birthplace of Van Halen — and he can’t step outside his door these days without someone telling him how they used to hang with the Halen. “Everyone in Pasadena has a Van Halen party story,” he says.
“We’re like deviled eggs,” suggests guitarist Eli Santana when we meet a few weeks later, at another metal barbecue. Gentle and perpetually smiling, he lives on his friend’s couch in Playa del Rey, and was recently fired from his job at Starbucks for insulting an early-morning customer. (“It’s a shame. I really took pride in my foam,” he sighs.)
So, Holy Grail is like deviled eggs?
“Yeah,” he says. “We took the core of what metal was and then we took the egg out and we put all this paprika in and we made it all fucking fancy and guess what? It’s deviled eggs.”
“Yeah. The egg is the metal. And the devil is us — something completely new that the egg didn’t even think it was going to become. We’re the devil within the egg.”