Guest Mix 003: Namesake.

With his eclectic and charming style, Namesake. is one of the most exciting names in the current wave of electronic music. The Kansas City producer draws inspiration from the likes of Timbaland and Monte Booker, weaving together a wide array of sounds to craft his “happy bop” music. A truly infectious and refreshing energy permeates throughout tracks like “Vroom Vroom” with pinkcaravan! and Sam Stan, as well as “show goes on” with patches.

While he adds the finishing touches to his new EP, I had the chance to chat with Namesake. about his musical roots, touring with Xavier Omär, and his plans for the future. Press play on the guest mix and read our conversation below.

For those that may or may not be familiar, who is Namesake.?

I’m a producer from Kansas City, Missouri who wants to share his perspective on music with as many people as possible.

What’s the story behind your name?

I came up with Namesake. as homage to my father, who I’m named after, and his influence on convincing me to give production a try when I was a teenager. He would refer to me as “his namesake” from time to time growing up, but I never adopted that moniker until just over a year ago.

How did you get into music? Is it something that runs in your family?

I was really into beats opposed to the lyrics as a kid. I think my dad noticed that. My family isn’t really that musically inclined, but my father DJ’d for a couple years in college. I became interested in these old records he kept from that time in his life. My siblings and I all were in school band at one point, too.

Was there a moment when you realized music was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

Music production was a career I always wanted to pursue. I didn’t think was very practical, so I just kept it as a sometimes money making hobby for a really long time. Going on tour with pinkcaravan! and opening for Xavier Omär gave me the opportunity to give it a real shot.

In three words, how would you describe your sound?

The sound that has been breaking through for me is this happy bop sound right now. Really that came about by experimenting with synths and trying to do something unique with hip-hop production.

From her a very sad birthday EP a while back to your debut single “Vroom Vroom” (one of my favorite tracks by the way!!) you’ve done a lot of work with pinkcaravan!—when did you two link up?

pinkcaravan! and I linked up in early 2017. She was looking for a producer to work on a very sad happy birthday. She already had the title and concept down. I sent her a rough draft of something I thought would fit the same night. We finished the project in a month and developed a strong working relationship from there.

You both had the opportunity to tour Xavier Omär. Can you talk about how that came together? What was the experience like and do you have a favorite memory from the tour?

The internet is cool cause you can have friends you’ve never met but will look out for you. Xavier and I connected like 6 years ago after I remixed one of his songs for fun. We loosely stayed in touch over that time and he became a fan of my work with pinkcaravan!. That led to the opportunity for us to open for him on tour. It was great to perform with pinkcaravan! consistently for the first time and learn to interact with the crowd as a DJ during my own sets. My favorite tour memory is actually our day off in San Diego. It’s simply a beautiful place and I just fell in love with the scenery.

What do you want fans to take away from your music?

I want fans to enjoy the music above all, but also appreciate what makes the music I produce unique from something else they might also enjoy.

Any dream collaborations?

I want to work with every artist I think is dope and could be a star one day. My EP I’m working on is the start of that process. I really enjoying cultivating a sound with an artist, so I’m looking for more opportunities to do that soon.

What advice do you have for the aspiring artists out there?

Your dreams are worth a shot. Even if it’s not practical at one point. Your path might not be laid out for you as if you were pursuing something else, but if you’re intentional about your goals you’ll see progress.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been working hard on pinkcaravan!’s project and my own project, both coming soon. Outside of that I’ve produced for a couple other artists’ albums coming this summer. I want to DJ more as well. I’m falling in love with that side of the craft more and more.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would show a friend of mine a lot of dope remixes on SoundCloud of popular songs I enjoyed and he would say “Why don’t you make the original sound as cool as the remix?” I try to approach my production with that unique perspective in mind now. This mix highlights a ton of cool edits and remixes that inspire my original productions.

Keep up with Namesake. on SoundCloud, Twitter, and Instagram.


Event Recap: Sloan Evans Sets The Mood At The Che Café

[Words and photos by Reina Chen]

Emerging solo R&B artist Sloan Evans embarked on his very first tour as a special guest on Yeek’s Black Heart Tour this past June. With his first appearance in San Francisco before the ultimate completion of the West Coast leg in San Diego, Sloan runs through songs from his 2017 album mia and various fan favorites including “Apologies,” which is approaching 300,000 streams on Spotify. In addition to older tracks, Sloan gave fans a sneak peek of new music that we can expect in the near future.

Check out photos from the San Diego date and stream his latest single “get u right” below.


Guest Mix 002: Dexter Offer

Dexter Offer is all about the community. The recent college graduate founded PLNT Magazine last year as his “field guide to culture through nature,” spotlighting creatives in the local scene and around the world. His newly-launched PLNT Journal also provides fans with more nature-centric content to enjoy between issues of the magazine, including event recaps and more recommendations for new and avid plant fans alike.

In celebration of the 2018 World Cup, Dexter has also collaborated with Park Owls FC to create a special PLNT jersey and zine. The Nature of Football installation runs through July 15 at Coffee & Tea Collective in North Park, with limited quantities of both available for purchase.

I chopped it up with Dexter on the origins of PLNT Mag, growing up in the digital age, and his plans for the future. Check out the Dexter’s guest mix and interview below!

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Dexter Offer. I’m a London-born, San Diego-based creative. I run PLNT Magazine. It’s a publication about people framed around nature. It’s about giving my friends a platform to share their beautiful projects and crazy ideas.

How did we meet?

We met at Clean Slate. You were chilling with Esther [Wang] and she came by and then I went over there to check out her booth. You guys were super cool and we were printing shit on your jacket [laughs]. We were having a good time. That was a fun Sunday. I met a lot of good friends that day.

I get hella compliments about that jacket [laughs]. You talked a little bit about PLNT Magazine. Can you talk about how you got so attracted to plants and what drew you to them?

I find plants really interesting for inspiration. There’s a branch of engineering that focuses on using biology to engineer human solutions. I started looking into how nature and people are interconnected. That was kind of how using ideas and nature to explore humans came about, but I don’t know, I just feel like plants were kind of on-trend when I started it and it just felt appropriate and I fuck with plants. It was one of those things where people were really into plants and I felt like I had a lot that I could share through that world.

Do you have any favorite spots for people who want to visit more plants or any sort of greenery?

There’s this one spot I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I’m gonna do a blog post on it because I think more people need to know about it. It’s the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens in Encinitas. In the back, they have these mediations gardens, koi ponds, and all these tropical plants. Recently, if you keep walking down, they added a desert garden area. It’s literally a bunch of giant cacti right on the cliff face and the ocean is right there, it’s a crazy photo. That spot’s cool because it’s free. I’d recommend heading over there, especially if you’re in San Diego.

That sounds sick. I’ve been trying to find more spots honestly. It’s kinda hard.

There’s another good one called Old Cactus Garden in Balboa Park. It’s behind a building in Balboa Park—it’s been there for like 50 years—there’s like a giant cactus garden that they built and they just kind of leave them there to grow, there’s tons of them. There’s a little trail that you walk around and that one’s free as well.

Catch me peeping behind every building [laughs]. I’ll definitely check it out. How did the whole magazine come together? Who’s working on it with you and all that kind of stuff.

Me and my girlfriend have been together for a while and we both got into cacti together at the same time. Cacti are crazy because even when they die, they’re still living, they’re still thriving—a dead cactus is a thriving cactus and every time it dies, something new grows on top of it. They’re just a crazy plant and we always used to take photos of them. I had this joke with her like, “I could probably make you Instagram famous through all these cactus photos I have of you.” She didn’t believe me, so one day I made this account on the sly called The Cacti Girl and I started posting shit on it. Literally a week in it already had 1000 followers and 100 likes on every photo—at that point on I knew I was onto something. It’s super funny to hear her talk about it because I guess I fucked up and accidentally linked my Facebook to The Cacti Girl and all her friends are getting notifications like, “Dexter Offer is on Instagram as @thecactigirl” and she said she’s getting screenshots of it like, “Is Dex okay? Is he good?” [laughs].

That blew up and now it’s almost at 20,000 followers. Through that account, I’ve always wanted to launch some kind of a product and I just thought that it would be cool to create something that was telling other people’s stories, not just my story. I didn’t want to be selling t-shirts. I wanted to be doing something that was more than just selling clothing, so that’s how the magazine came about. In terms of who’s working on it, I do all the design, interviews, and writing unless it says so—unless it’s like a photo essay or a piece by someone else—and my girlfriend does all the copy editing. She basically makes sure she catches any of my mistakes because I fuck up a lot. It’s just the two of us. I get it printed here in San Diego and keep it all small runs, everything’s pretty limited.

You’ve had two volumes so far, is that right? Can you talk about what your process is behind creating each volume and what kind of growth you’ve seen between volumes?

Volume One was 40 pages, 6 by 9, it was small, almost like a pamphlet style. Volume Two was 80 pages, 11 by 8 1/2, it was like a real magazine size. In that sense, it was a real step up in terms of what we were delivering. When I released the first volume, no really knew about it. We probably had like 10 people show up to the release party. Of those 10 people, they were 10 cool ass motherfuckers—I’ll give them that—but it was super lowkey. I don’t know, I guess it’s just Instagram is a crazy tool. If you can keep consistently sharing good content on Instagram, you’re gonna have people’s ears. By the time Volume Two rolled around, we got a pretty healthy following. Our release party, we probably had like 50 to 60 people come through, we sold a lot of the gear—we had some shirts and stuff for sale.

I guess my process is kind of—there’s like a pattern that I established indirectly: I get all the content together, I start designing the layout of the magazine, and if I let myself, I’ll go through 40 different designs and just never release anything, so what I started doing is I’ll put the magazine up for pre-sale and set a hard deadline. People start buying it before I finish it, so that’s my commitment to getting it done. It puts that fire under me to actually finish the project. My customers hold me accountable, I guess.

With Volume 1 I had sold like 20 before I had even finished it. Volume 2 was meant to come out six months after Volume 1 but I kept redesigning it and I wasn’t happy with the content that I had—I felt like it was very shallow. I eventually put it up for sale and I sold maybe like 50 and that was kind of the inspiration for me to finish the project. I know it’s unconventional, but that’s kind of how I work [haha].

I feel it. You need that little push, some pressure, y’know? [laughs].

Yeah I feel like school makes me need that pressure to get anything done. It’s fucked me up, dude [laughs].

That’s hella cool man. How’d you get into graphic design and all that kind of stuff?

I’ll just say YouTube’s a crazy thing [laughs].

I think we’re in a spot were you can pretty much learn how to do anything.

Yup. You’re probably in the same spot as me where you were a child who learned how to learn from the Internet. Once you develop that tool, then you can learn anything else in the future. I feel like when we were talking about coding before this, I feel like my friends who had struggled with coding are the people who never learned to learn from the Internet. They never were out there on YouTube or out there on the Internet trying to figure out a new computer program when they were younger. That was almost like a tool that some of us developed in our generation as kids, so that makes it easier for us to learn new things now as we get older. YouTube’s awesome.

Shoutout to YouTube.

YouTube taught me Ableton, InDesign, Illustrator, how to use a camera, Lightroom, some Photoshop shit—I feel like I’m missing stuff—I used to fuck around with Serato a little bit. YouTube’s got it all. It’s just got everything.

That shit’s crazy and it’s free.

Yeah and you can make money off of it. That’s the future right there.

You mentioned Ableton and photography. You make music, too? Or not so much anymore?

I used to, yeah. For this mix, I’ll probably slip like one or two beats with something over it or something, who knows. For at least one story in the magazine, I like to put in my own photos. For both editions, I used my own photos for the covers, but that’s just because it was easiest to design with my own photos. I was mainly doing photography and freelancing, and then I stopped freelancing and I was mainly focused on school. When the PLNT Mag opportunity arose, I reworked my personal website to be the PLNT Mag website. I was already spending that money on a personal website, so it was a pretty easy tact to turn it into a business, essentially.

How long has PLNT been around for?

Since February 2017. A year and some change.

You just graduated from USD, yeah? Do you have any advice for people trying to balance projects on the side while also going to school and maybe having a job? How do you balance everything?

I definitely sympathize with you guys on the quarter system—I think it’s a lot harder on the quarter system to balance everything. For us semester folk, we have these lulls where there’s nothing really going on and I feel like I can do my personal stuff. In general, I would just say the biggest thing is we all have ideas and when you produce a final product and you give someone something they can look up or something they can physically hold, it changes the whole dynamic of what you’re doing. Just focus on production—just focus on putting something out there—and the rest will kind of follow. Don’t over commit yourself, don’t spend a bunch of money thinking your first idea is gonna be the hit. If you’re making t-shirts, only make 25. Keep it all small and experiment in a controlled space so you’re not losing all your money and you don’t get super stressed out about it. That’s kind of how I work.

Sounds good man. This business shit is hard.

Yeah. I’d say just spend as little money as possible at first.

What do you want people to take away from PLNT Mag? What is your goal?

I just want people to become hungry to learn about local artists—not even just local artists, but smaller name artists who are doing big things. We all have those household names that we all know and fuck with, but there’s people in your community who are crazy talented individuals. In the global world it becomes really easy to forget about those people, so I’d like to give them a platform and hope that our readers can support those individuals that we feature in the magazine.

Speaking of local artists, I was checking out your Instagram and I noticed you guys do collab with a lot of local people. One thing I saw was Aloha Beach Club—can you talk about them a little bit?

Those are the homies. Billy [Wickens] and Kahana [Kalama], who run Aloha, they were at Volume 1 Release, they were chilling there. It’s a big thing to me because I really look up to those guys—they don’t really know that—we’re very cordial, but we don’t really know each other amazingly, y’know? I really admire what they’re doing. They’re big support for a lot of local people around here. They’re awesome. That’s goals, y’know? They have a studio in the back of their shop and they let a lot of artists come in there. I know some artists that have a studio back there so I’m always working late nights in Aloha. They’re all about it and supporting these individuals.

You got to do the Coachella pop-up with them?

Yeah so essentially I threw them a bunch of magazines to take out to Coachella last year. I guess it’s one of those things where I could be really good homies with them, but because of school it became really hard for me to go do the bonding events that would happen. Last year’s Coachella, they invited me to work it, but I had finals right at that same time. This year, they had this vacation thing they do, but I had finals at the same time. It’s like, “Eventually I’ll get out there, but I can’t right now.” I think Kahana literally just posted, “San Diego artists, do any of you guys want us to take your products to Coachella?” I just hit him on his personal Instagram and just dropped off some PLNT mags at his shop.

There’s also another side of it to push to anyone trying to start their own thing: once you get it out there, you want the content of it. I had my friend who’s a photographer that works really closely with Aloha Beach Club—he shoots film, so I paid him for all the film that he shot and he shot a whole bunch of Coachella and wrote a little story and I put it up there on the blog. That also means we have content for Instagram and stuff, too. You gotta feed another artist to get your shit somewhere else.

How’d you link up with the guys at Coffee & Tea?

I’m really good friends with the people at Field Guide, which is a creative firm in North Park, San Diego. They curate the vibe of the North Park Coffee & Tea, they handle who’s coming in and all that stuff. It had been empty in there for a while and Stephen [Freese], the owner, had been talking about getting a bunch of plants. Through Field Guide, they gave me the connection to Stephen and we just started talking about what a potential release would look like. He was stoked about getting art up on the walls and some plants in there. It all just kinda came together. Stephen at C&T is super cool. Me and him became really good friends because we had some late nights setting up and going crazy in there. I think the night before the release, me and him were in C&T until 4 in the morning setting shit up. When you’re doing any kind of installation or anything, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Always start a day ahead of time and know that you’re not gonna have everything together.

What’s next in store for PLNT Mag?

Volume 3 will be coming towards the end of the summer and then just consistently gonna be putting out stories on the blog, just tryna keep content that’s in-between each issue, keep giving people more stories and sharing more plant locations.

Is there anything else you want to add?

Follow your dreams. Keep working hard and put stuff out there. Creation is key, production is key.

Guest Mix 001: Sasha Marie

I first witnessed Sasha Marie grace the stage back in 2016 when she performed with the likes of Snoh AalegraIAMNOBODI, and ESTA. Since then, the San Diego selector and Soulection representative continues to reign as one of my personal favorites especially with “Current Mood” and “Rose Is A Rose” staying in heavy rotation. Sasha channels pure emotion with her delicately-crafted mixes for fans to indulge in, creating a truly unique experience.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Sasha about her creative process, Amy Winehouse, and what she has planned in the near future. Dive into her guest mix and our full conversation below.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Sasha Marie. I am from San Diego, born and raised. I DJ for a collective in Los Angeles called Soulection. I love music, I love film, I love art.

How did you get into the creative scene? Was it music first?

I was always inspired by my dad’s record collection. He was a lover of music of all kinds, but mostly oldies. We would just sit and talk about certain artists. I wanted to start exploring the different sounds. I loved old music and new music and I just started from there. When I was in high school, I saved up for my first laptop and I started playing with GarageBand. I started making these really terrible beats, me trying to sing with my terrible voice over them. After that, I asked my dad if I could have turntables and he got me them—I think it’s called a Battle Pak. There just super cheap, plastic-y turntables and a super cheap mixer. That’s when I started learning how to DJ.

Are you still interested in music production? How’s that going?

It’s going [laughs]. I actually just bought a new laptop because the laptop that I had I just used strictly for DJing. I also just purchased Ableton—I’ve been messing around with that. I really just need to keep going with it and be consistent.

What do you love about DJing and why is it something that’s stuck with you?

More than DJing, I’ve had a love for putting together mixes. I love creating soundtracks to people’s lives. I get to express myself a lot more with my mixes than I’m able to DJing, but I love DJing because I love being able to control the energy in a room and get people excited, happy, and dancing. With DJing, I’ve traveled all over and I’ve really had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and other artists.

Is there a favorite moment or memory that you’ve had that’s come from either DJing or people showing love for your mixes? You’ve got hella mixes [laughs]. That’s the soundtrack to my studying for sure.

Not so much a favorite moment, but the amount of love and messages I get from people who tell me how much my mixes resonate with them or have helped them either with studying, or maybe they’re going through a break-up, or they recently lost someone, or they’re just going through a hard time, or they’re happy and having fun. The messages I’ve received from people have been amazing like as if they know exactly what I’m going through and I know exactly what they’re going through. We can communicate through the music.

What’s your creative process like when you’re making these mixes?

It’s usually a reflection on what’s going on in my life. I’ve always resorted to music to being my outlet whenever I’m going through something. It’s really an embodiment of how I’m feeling at the moment.

In my research, I discovered that you’re also a very big Amy Winehouse fan. Can you tell us a little bit about what she means to you?

She was an artist that me and my dad really loved together. I remember showing her to him and he was just so ecstatic and just loved her voice so much. We really shared that connection. Amy is a talent, a voice, and a story that we’ll never get again. She’s one of a kind. I could listen to Frank over and over again. Her story’s so sad, honestly. She’s an amazing talent that was lost too soon. Being able to connect with my dad was something that really hit me in my heart.

I feel like it was one of those things that we started realizing too late unfortunately. The importance of mental health in general—we saw it happen live but no one did anything.

Totally. It’s so crazy watching that documentary, too, how you get a little bit more insight. It’s like, “How long did we get a healthy version of Amy Winehouse? How many more pictures are there of her looking skinny and rundown versus her being healthy?” It’s crazy. Mental health is so important. I feel like especially in the entertainment industry, people need to stop expecting so much from these entertainers. I remember my dad noticed her getting really thin and all these things. He went onto her website—my dad was a lot older so he wasn’t very knowledgeable about computers—and he found something where you could send them an email. I remember he wrote them an email like, “Amy, you need to slow down. Don’t let the drugs take you down.” I remember him doing that and being like, “Oh my god, dad, she’s probably never going to read that, but that’s really sweet of you.”

That’s wild. Being on the road and being an overall busy person in general, how do you manage everything and take care of yourself when you’re balancing life?

I don’t think I’ve found balance yet in my life to be honest. Over the past couple of years, I have gotten a lot busier with music and traveling. I try to meditate as much as I can, although I haven’t been very consistent with it lately. That’s something I’d really like to get back into. I journal a lot in the mornings—that helps. Also seeing my best friends, spending time with my dog and my girlfriend—my girlfriend really holds me down. I really do struggle with balance. Sometimes I’ll be out and come home totally drained and exhausted. I’m trying to find a happy medium, y’know? We all have to figure out our own routines that make us feel better that we have to stick by day by day. Speaking about the mental health thing, I inherently deal with a lot of anxiety as it is, so I’m really in a space where I’m trying to find something that is going to help me when I’m on the road. It’s a lifelong journey. I don’t know if anyone ever finds balance. I think it’s just keeping yourself in check.

I think it’s all something we strive towards, but whether or not we actually get there, we’re still working towards it.

Yeah. I guess that’s the point right? You’re always trying to do something better for yourself or you’re learning. I’m definitely a lot better on the road now than I used to be a couple years ago, so I guess that’s the progress right there.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sevdaliza? You got to open for her, too?

She’s this incredible, not-from-this-world artist. Her music is like a combination between Portishead and Massive Attack and this industrial sound with hints of R&B and electronic. I love the way that she presents herself in-person and on social media. She always has some deep stuff to say. The way that she carries herself is really inspiring as an artist. I’ve read a couple interviews on her and her background and one of the things that really stuck out to me is that she also deals with anxiety and the things that she does for it as an artist. It just really made me feel connected to her. There’s a power that she has that I want to inherit myself—a confidence more than a power.

She’s toured for a while and that’s when I opened for her in San Diego and Los Angeles this year and she killed it—she did the damn thing. She hasn’t been singing for that long of a time, but it’s like she knew that it was in her all along. She has an amazing voice and presence to her.

One thing I realized is that I’m not afraid to fanboy or fangirl anymore. I just let all that shit out because people love that.

There are so many artists in the world, but there’s only a handful of them that make me feel like “wow.” Seeing Sevdaliza live hit every sense, every emotion, it was so beautiful. It was dark, light, a lot of different things in one. I love when artists can transport you to a different space in yourself.

Moving on to more things that start with S, can you speak about the Soulection family and how you linked up?

I love them so much. Andre [Power] was the first person I ever met in Soulection. I met him here in San Diego because he used to live here. I remember I was “DJing”—I wasn’t even that good—at my friend’s shop in North Park and Andre was like, “Let me hop on.” This was before ‘Dre even started DJing. He was going through my library and he was like, “Yo, you have good music taste.” We started hanging out more and he introduced me to Soulection. I was going to his events like Art in the Park—he let me spin at a couple of those—and it just happened. That was the end of 2012 or beginning of 2013. Soulection has been and will always be a huge importance to me. Being a part of this collective has seriously changed my life in more ways than one.

It’s been really crazy to see Soulection grow from a record label to this empire in a sense. It used to be just like, “Oh, we’re putting out stuff on Bandcamp” and now it’s like “Oh, we’re putting out stuff everywhere.”

It’s amazing. Joe [Kay] and Andre and the rest of the team have worked so hard to get it to where it’s at now. It’s beautiful.

How has San Diego influenced your career?

SD, 619! [laughs]. I grew up in Chula Vista. I used to feel like there was not a lot going on in San Diego. I felt very—not alone, but that I didn’t find a lot of people that were listening to the music that I was listening to until I met Andre and other people that he was friends with. We shared this love for the same sound. That’s when the sound that you hear for Soulection and other things started growing here. I felt less like I was the only person in San Diego that liked this scene and I feel like it’s been growing ever since.

I used to have a huge chip on my shoulder about San Diego because I felt like we weren’t doing anything that was new, but I really feel like we’re in a space right now where we’re pushing for community and different types of spaces where we can express ourselves and whatnot. I’ve always loved San Diego—I love living here—it’s just that for a while it felt really hard to find my niche.

As a creative, what are your thoughts on social media? Is it more of a pro or a con?

I think it’s a pro and a con at the same time. It obviously helps me stay connected with people who don’t live it San Diego. It helps me promote myself more and what I’m trying to do—my shows and my mixes and whatnot—but the con part about it is how sucked into it I get sometimes. I’ll just be scrolling endlessly and being distracted instead of working on things I need to work on. I think we’re all guilty of this, but sometimes I find myself comparing my success to other people as well. Comparison is the thief of joy, and I don’t want that. I want to try to stay off of social media as much as I can, but I also can’t at the same time. Even the way the algorithm works—if I’m not posting, then nothing is going to be seen. It’s kind of this purgatory, I guess, and trying to find balance with it. We’re all zombies now anyways, right? [laughs].

What’s next for you?

I’m trying to work with more people in San Diego and elsewhere, creating more events. I’m really tryna explore my love for film, so I’ve been trying to shoot more videos and whatnot. If I have any friends out there that want to make a video or any people that I don’t know that have the resources, please hit me up! Just exploring all my creative avenues, traveling more for DJing, and everything.

What is one lesson that you want to share?

Tell the people you love how much you love them, honestly. That might sound kinda cheesy, but it’s so real. I think we take for granted how blessed we are—to just be waking up, you know what I mean? To have wonderful people around us. If there’s anybody wonderful in your life, you should tell them how wonderful they are.

Be sure to keep up with Sasha on SoundCloud, Twitter, and Instagram.

Event Recap: Marc E. Bassy & Rexx Life Raj Take Over San Diego

At the end of 2017, Marc E. Bassy unveiled his latest album titled Gossip Columns. With several features from contemporaries and frequent collaborators G-EazyKehlani, and KYLE, the San Francisco-based singer-songwriter channels a blend of R&B pop.

On the heels of touring with Ty Dolla $ign, Marc kept the ball rolling with a series of headline dates in support of his most recent project. Setting the stage each night was W&V favorite and fellow Bay Area rep Rexx Life Raj, who has been garnering his own success with Father Figure 2: Fluorish from last November. Rexx opened the night with tracks from both installments of Father Figure, winning over the crowd with his mellow and introspective raps.

Marc closed the night with a series of tracks from Gossip Columns and Groovy People, alongside some unreleased tracks. With the crowd singing along to every word, Marc and Rexx truly brought the heart of the Bay to SoCal. Check out a few photos and their recent releases below.


Il Trap Italiano | Charlie Charles

Paving the way for producers in the Italian trap scene is the Milan-born Paolo Monachetti, known as Charlie Charles. Having grown up in Seguro, Charlie stepped into the rap scene at only 14 years old. At 21 years of age, he released XDVR alongside Sfera Ebbasta, a record that placed him in the front of the Italian hip-hop scene and caught the attention of Roccia Music and Marracash, an independent Italian hip-hop label. Especially after the release of Rockstar with Sfera Ebbasta, Charlie sits at the top of international charts.

A few standout songs I recommend checking out are “Bimbi”, “RAP”, and “Tran Tran”. Each has a unique style featuring rap talent from across Italy. The tracks stand as a mix of modern American trap, combined with elements of reggae and old school hip-hop, with a dark, mysterious tone. From unique loops to nontraditional synthesizers, Charlie is often accredited with bringing new futuristic sounds to Italian hip-hop, breaking the norm and introducing new sounds in the emerging genre.   

Despite the immense amount of respect he’s gained while making moves for Italian trap, when it comes to the crazy life of a rap star, Charlie dejects it. Charlie claims to have “fired himself” from future live sets, and continues to produce music in the comfort of his home rather than traveling around.

“Non voglio passare per spocchioso, ma quello che sto facendo in Italia è distintivo… Sento, nel mio piccolo, di aver dato qualcosa alla trap senza scadere nel banale.”

In other words, Charlie isn’t interested in the luxurious, wild lifestyle that is assumed for such a big artist. Having rejected big labels, including Universal and Warner, it’s clear that Charlie wants the best for his art without the industry getting in the way. Rather, Charlie is set on molding the growing trap genre, bringing something new and distinct with the music he releases.

Il Trap Italiano | Sfera Ebbasta

While alternative rock dominates the Italian music market, new genres are beginning to emerge amongst growing communities across the country. Various forms of hip-hop, from trap to R&B (with an Italian twist), are becoming increasingly widespread. Il Trap Italiano is my attempt to touch on the key figures, international influence, and business foundational to genres avant-garde to Italy’s dynamic music scene.

With over 8 million plays in the world within 24 hours of the release of his latest album, it can be said that one of the leading figures in Italian Trap is the bold and compelling Gionata Boschetti, more commonly known by his stage name Sfera Ebbasta. With the help of the talented producer Charlie Charles, he has received both Gold and Platinum records certification for his music, released his own brand with Charlies called BHMG, and plays a huge role in the emerging Italian Trap scene.

Rockstar is Ebbasta’s second album curated by Charles and Daves the Kid under Def Jam Recordings and Universal Music Italia. There are two versions of the album for the international market, allowing Ebbasta to catch the attention of listeners worldwide. With features from big names, including American artists Quavo and Rich the Kid, his name is spreading rapidly across Italy.

With massive sub beats, heavy hip-hop synthesizers, and skilled use of autotuning, Ebbasta’s music is undoubtedly classified as trap with the influence of reggae, Latin, and electronic styles strongly prominent throughout Italy.

What’s next for the artist? “Ho girato l’Italia e l’Europa, ho fatto featuring internazionali, mi sono evoluto molto. E non ho intenzione di fermarmi qui.” In other words, Ebbasta is confident in his international presence, stating “I’m not going to stop here.”

Don’t Sleep Spotlight | Dae Zhen

Earlier this year, we introduced our first official Spotify playlist titled Don’t Sleep. Named after our efforts to put you on to our favorite upcoming talent, the W&V crew will also be digging deeper into their backgrounds, recent accolades, and plans for the future in our latest spotlight series.

Our first Don’t Sleep spotlight features Dae Zhen. The Los Angeles resident introduced fans to his lyrical prowess with YouTube freestyles, which segued into his Polaroids EP with KATO and the Mike Derenzo-produced “Dipset.” The catchy tune has feel-good vibes throughout as Dae weaves between punchy verses and a sweet hook.

Following the release of his Women & Wordplay project, Dae stayed pretty lowkey aside from a few covers and features. He returned from his hiatus with “Friday,” which also appeared on NPR. The track essentially picks up where “Dipset” leaves off, serving as another weekend anthem fit for any celebration.

2018 marks the true return of Dae. As the next peak at his forthcoming album, “Hotline” shows Dae at his finest. Self-produced alongside Derenzo, his latest offering rides smoothly with a gentle piano riff and an explosive chorus. Dae’s warm return leaves us excited to see what he has in store in the near future.

Get familiar with Dae Zhen and check out the complete Don’t Sleep playlist below.

Event Recap: Tropicália Fest 2017

With a little something for everyone, Tropicália Fest united a wide range of audiences at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA on November 11. From headliners like Chicano BatmanJhené Aiko, and Kali Uchis to rising stars including Yellow DaysSmino, and Jorja Smith, the festival’s sold-out debut gave fans a truly unforgettable experience.

In addition to all the lovely music that filled the air, attendees were also given access to a taco buffet featuring a wide range of vendors from along the West Coast. Fan favorites like Carnitas El Mono and Burritos Del Palma served up their classics among many others.

Tropicália gave light to many Latino artists and beyond. Being able to catch artists like King Krule and Smino in the same day showcased their ability to bridge multiple audiences and genres. While we await more information on the next one, check out a few photos from Tropicália below.

Artist Interview: MIKNNA On Their Breakout Year

Coming to the end of their first headlining tour, Mike B. and Ken Nana are still full of energy and ideas. The duo, united under the neon-lit name MIKNNA, has had a landmark year since dropping their debut album 50/50 (Side A) back in 2016. Since the release, Mike and Ken have embarked on a tour sprawling from their hometown of Los Angeles all the way to Stockholm and Berlin.

In between international flights, the two have carved out enough studio time to cook up “Mona Lisa,” “Cues,” and “MPH,” all of which received major attention following their release as singles. Industrious and dedicated, Mike and Ken haven’t looked back since their chance encounter on the street brought them together in the studio. From the outside, MIKNNA comes off streamlined and natural. However, the duo faced a massive uphill challenge growing MIKNNA from the ground up. At its core, Mike, Ken, and their group of friends and family behind the curtain have grafted since coming together to define what MIKNNA means to them and what it should mean to listeners.

I caught up with Mike and Ken before their show in Berkeley to chat about what the path leading up to their solo headlining tour, what they’ve learned since hitting the road, and where their group is headed:

“We linked up two years ago. I came out of work for a break and Ken was just skating down the street. The chances were so random, and at the moment we were like ‘we need to get into the studio and do some work ASAP.'”

Ken and Mike found an instant chemistry after hitting the studio together. Ken found in Mike the type of complimentary and consistent vocalist he had long been looking for. In Ken, Mike was able to link up with a versatile and experienced producer whose musical style just as capable as solo work as it used underneath Mike’s vocals.  The difference, however, between linking up for a few songs and committing to each other as a duo is huge. Mike and Ken had their work cut out for them cultivating the chemistry and balance that MIKNNA boasted on its debut album. Ken emphasizes the importance they put on cementing this chemistry before anything else.

“Before we started making music we sat down and had a long conversation about our styles, our backgrounds, and what pushes us to make music. We really took that time to get to know each other and feel it out to find that balance.”

The time and work put into crafting MIKNNA shows through. As a group, they have an incredibly salient conceptual drive. From the music to videos to press photos, MIKNNA is a shadowy, neon-lit fusion of classic R&B and neo/electro-soul aesthetics. Outside of the group, Mike and Ken work with their team to create their collective Nana Lifestyle, another conceptually driven creative brand born out of the coming together of minds from different backgrounds and influences. As Ken describes, “the whole package” is evidently important to the entire team. Mike places a similar importance on connecting the minutiae of their work to the broader elements.

“A lot of it comes down to our taste level and what we want to do aesthetically and sonically—it all needs to be complimentary or it doesn’t work.”

The balance between Mike and Ken has racked them up millions of listens on leading singles such as “Trinity Ave” and “302,” as well as over half a million streams on their most recent release, “MPH.”  With the numbers to back them, Mike and Ken took the next step in translating their studio chops to the stage on their tour.

“You really have to be on your game all the time. There’s no lower gear you can be in when you’re performing, but it’s a challenge that helps to motivate. Really we just try to take it one day at a time. Work as a team trying to think about how we can just elevate and move forward. That’s the fun part! Figuring it out.”

On the stage in Berkeley, MIKNNA look as comfortable as anyone. Ken, vibing and stationary at his drum pad and mixer cuts a distinct silhouette opposite Mike, who bounces around the stage with verve and enthusiasm. Playing through 50/50 (Side A), MIKNNA boast the same intimacy live that their studio work benefits from. The duo make it a point to engage the audience, creating an atmosphere that buoyed and was buoyed by the performance. Mike and Ken are up on stage to enjoy themselves and their music over anything else. At one point even taking and audience request to play “Mona Lisa,” they both came off relaxed and positive, relishing the moment and how far they had come. With shows on November 29 and 30 in LA and San Diego respectively, MIKNNA look to finish off 2017 and their tour strongly.

“What’s next? Just working to finish up the next project and a lot of new music. Think of it like an evolution of everything that we’ve gone through over the last year, building and working out the kinks. And hopefully we can keep up with our consistency. We’ve been grinding, but consistency keeps us all on the same page so everything can keep moving. We’re excited.”

Coyly describing the upcoming project, Mike and Ken can’t seem to stay away from the word “fun.” Mike characterizes their work as a “sonic vacation.” At their most simple, the musicians behind MIKNNA are music fans. Their technique and style helped them cultivate a unique and eye-catching sound, but it’s also an entertaining endeavor for two super musicians. Evolution, coalescence, fusion—however you characterize MIKNNA, what is undeniable is the pure enjoyment that drives the group. From top to bottom, the MIKNNA team’s appreciation for and ability in their trade is evident on stage or over headphones.

2018 looks set to be a big year for MIKNNA. Before then, catch MIKNNA’s closing shows in Los Angeles and San Diego here, and revisit 50/50 (Side A) below.