Unwrapping FOIL: A Platform for Anything Experimental

FOIL is a new community of musicians and artists in Richmond aiming to create a platform for experimentation by like-minded folks.

Words and Photos by Sam Mullany

“We wanted to give people a place—sometimes physical and sometimes digital—to try
new things and feel supported in doing so,” explains Liza Pittard, the co-creator of FOIL. Liza recently moved to Richmond from Charlottesville, where she and Matt Dowdy were a part of the
university radio scene at UVA. Both of the opinion that being involved in any kind of music
scene in a university setting can seem too formal at times, they wanted to break away and start
something that felt more organic. Liza and Matt formed a band, In Fosa, which is where things
started for FOIL. For the band, FOIL was a creative outlet, as well as a way of bringing people
together. “A big part of it comes down to creating a sense of community amongst artists and
having a platform where we can uplift our friends and peers whose work may not be
showcased in any other way.” Liza goes on, “We want people to be able to take risks with their
art/fashion/identities while being supported and having fun.” Although much of the creative
energy around FOIL exists online, this value of physical spaces where musicians, artists, and
audience members feel comfortable trying new things free of judgement is central.

FOIL had their first event in September, a debut basement show of ten plus musical
acts, with collaborative visual elements by Mitchell Craft, Meesh Kislyakov and Will Jones. Liza
and Matt encouraged performers and visual artists to collaborate to make the event (which
turned out to be a sort of one night festival) into a multimedia experience, that was both
unconventional, and fun. “I was really happy with how it went. We had a lot of people
performing for the first time and the audience was supportive and open, which I think made for
a perfect environment for people to put themselves out there in that way.” says Liza.

Matt and Liza see FOIL events as creative undertakings in their own right, so each new
event will be unique to the rest. FOIL functions as a music label, and has several left field
electronic music releases lined up for this fall, but Liza and Matt also have plans of showcasing
local creatives working in other mediums. Liza comes from a visual arts background, so the the
visual curation of each project is important to her. There are plans for a wide variety of content
curation and publication moving forward: limited edition VHS releases, music videos, and
online screening of time-based work, to name a few. “Visual art is very important to both of us
and a constant in creative conversations regarding FOIL. We want to be as open and
exploratory as possible with collaborations which hopefully could lead to working with artists
interested in dance, fashion, videography, photography, installation art, performance, and
theater.” says Matt. On the general spirit of FOIL, Liza adds, “Although it’s primarily a music
project, I think our ethos of experimentation and community extends far beyond sound. We’re
interested in the intersections.” It is easy to sense the excitement and possibility around FOIL’s
future, and the possibility for involvement with Richmond artists.

FOIL has a compilation album out this Friday (12.07.18) and their second show is this Saturday (12.08.18), featuring hankycheif, AUTODIVA, Net 12 fl OZ, and Anatha Flay

An Audition With Shy Lennox

Ink staff member Kaelan Brown sat down with Richmond’s soul child, Shy Lennox, and discussed the in’s and out’s of his new EP, “Audition”.

Under the fluorescent colored lights of Flora Cafe, Shy Lennox is a ribbon. He’s running between his friends and his band, tying the final pieces together for a night he’s been looking forward to for years. His sequin green shorts and the sparkling makeup on his face shine against the flash of photographers cameras. Family and friends looking to get a shot with him. I had worked with Shy for months in preparation of his newly released EP, Audition, his first official full release, aside from several singles that have given him his name and figure as a blossoming new artist in Richmond’s creative scene. Shy’s first release, Afterblunts, increased his traction in Richmond as well as in communities around the world; reaching over three hundred thousand plays on Spotify, as well as being falsely posted and credited as being written by a YouTuber in Japan, a mistake Shy made sure to clear up. Shy, as well as his music, has a calming presence, something that people recognize when they first hear or meet him. His impact is clear as the club begins to flood with the movement of local Richmonders and VCU students trying to get a front spot in the beautiful boiling melting pot of the crowd. I had talked to him earlier in the day about an interview we had planned, but to Shy, the day of his music release was also to be the day of stress release and self reflection. He explained that he was going to be spending the day entirely silent, giving himself some time to organize his mind and manage his thoughts before his performance. I run into Shy before the show and tell him how proud we all are for his release. He gives me a hug, dramatically poses for a picture to show off his curated concert outfit, and heads back to his band to finish organizing his set.

The year previous to his release show was a time of work ethic and execution for Shy. I remember talking to him during one of our various recording sessions for Audition, and him telling me how important each song was to him,  how this body of music he was working to create was going to be the frame to his portrait as a musician. The EP discusses feelings of lost love, self love, and desire, all things that knowing Shy personally, we’ve discussed as friends.

I laugh when I think of how Shy introduces himself to new people, and how someone who doesn’t know Shy may react to hearing his new EP. Shy may meet you in person and introduce himself as “Shy, like the feeling,” when Audition is far from shy in delivery, soul, and heart. The opening track to the EP, Signs, kicks things off in a particularly sensual mood. Shy confidently boasts over his feelings for his lover, and declares that he isn’t scared to engage in the way he’s feeling. As the EP progresses, Shy gets to know this love interest and flush out their relationship, revealing what each member wants from the other. The turning point in the EP is during the song Hennything, when Shy begins to question why the relationship has begun to fall out. Shy seems to want things to stay casual, explaining to his love interest that he just wants to “smoke, and drink, and fuck.” The song, Tuesday (Interlude), finally shows the breaking point in the relationship, explaining how Shy “fell in love on a Tuesday” and “got his heart broken on a Wednesday.” AA, the track Shy and I personally worked on most in the studio, discusses the sense of payment that Shy feels he is owed from being misused by his lover. Finally, the EP concludes with the song Better Man, which sums up Shy’s feelings of love loss, but also faith in the future to come.

The EP as a whole carefully walks the listener through a seemingly common encounter with a potential partner, that blossoms into something much larger and impactful on the narrator. Shy, crooning often through beautiful, multilayered, almost operatic choirs of somber vocals reveals his vulnerability to his audience, and completely opens himself to his emotions. Granting this sense of passage to his listeners is what I believe attracts people to Shy. Throughout his EP he expresses blunt honesty, longing, and absolute, pure love. This album is a quiet droplet of rain that crashes into my emotional barriers like a monsoon, sweeping me away into its oceans to still find myself calmly floating on the surface.

In Flora, as the show opener, Richmond’s Alfred, aka The Creature Alfred, aka Aaron Brown, begins their set, the sense of family that I feel around me stumbles into my heart, sitting there for the remainder of the evening. This gathering of the DIY Hip-Hop and R&B community provides a sense of inclusion for all people, something I’ve been so lucky to encounter and examine over the past couple of years. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this community, and I attribute my inclusion to several friends I have made during my time in Richmond, Shy Lennox being one of them.

 “The concept of auditioning, whether it is in a romantic sense, whether it’s with friends, whether its for a part or a role, I feel like you’re either gonna feel the regret or the hurt and the pain and just the discomfort that comes with not being able to fit that part or you’re gonna be like ‘Fuck that shit! I’m still a bomb ass person even if Im not what they’re looking for.’ Or you get the shit and go on to the next.”

– Shy Lennox

Shy, still only the age of twenty one, still has plenty of auditioning to do. As he works his way into the music industry as an up and coming artist, the process of auditioning will always be present, whether it be in front of label representatives or other musicians. I do think Shy has one advantage over others who may be “auditioning” for their roles in life: Shy understands himself, he’s not afraid to be exactly who he wants to be and say what he wants to say. Audition, shows Shy following through in expressing his truth, sorrow, and full self. He opens up to his audience in a way that I don’t think many Richmond artists have done before. As I watch Shy perform in front of the sardine packed crowd of Flora Cafe, I can see a shine in his eyes deep beyond the glitter on his face. A smile opens up wide and the band begins to play. I see Shy here in his happiest form, auditioning for his audience, for his friends, for his family. I think it’s safe to say that Shy will be getting a callback.

Words by Kaelan Brown
Photo by Kylie Newcomb

Flotsam + Jetsam

A fashion editorial shot on location at Caravati’s, Richmond’s oldest supplier of architectural salvage. Shot by Maya Jackson and Kadeem Morris for Ink Magazine. Video by Tj Rinoski and John Schengber of Skinny Dipper Magazine.

Creative Direction by Kristina Dickey
Film Photography by Maya Jackson
Digital Photography by Kadeem Morris
Styling by Katherine Manson and Kristina Dickey
Models by Concepción Blake and Diansakhu Banton-Perry
Makeup by Katie Williams
Assistance by Lordina Nyarko
Video by Skinny Dipper Magazine (Tj Rinoski and John Schengber)

FASHION CRUSH FRIDAY: Cowboy Boots

Yes, you can wear them in the city.

(via: Ganni, Veronika Heilbrunner)

Western style boots have gained popularity over the last few years, considered a surprise trend at 2017 fashion weeks (like this double facing boot from hood by air New York show, or more subtly peeking out from under ranchwear influenced collars and buttons in almost every one of Raf Simons Calvin Klein Collection looks).

(Via: IMAXTREE / Alessandro Lucioni)

Calvin Klein spring show featuring a myriad of color blocked double pocket shirts, trousers, and boots.

After recent AW18 fashion weeks, it’s clear these boots aren’t going anywhere. If you’ve been wanting to embody the cowboy hat emoji, now is a better time than ever. Cool for dressing up and down, transitioning between seasons, and protecting your toes from busy sidewalks, here’s some dreamy street style looks to finish convincing you that you need a pair.

Imani Randolph pairs simple but amazing white boots with a flowy dress and blazer to balance.

(via: Man Repeller, Louisiana Mei Gelpi.)

Aimee Song styles more colorful boots with an equally vibrant top and bag.

(via: Song of Style, Aimee Song)

Use as is or with a pop of color for easy prairie core.

(via: collage vintage)

(via ASOS)

Words by Cali Carter

Why the Utility/Workwear Trend Could Be Problematic

Following the acceptance of athleisure and normcore within the past couple of years, Utility/Workwear has had its own steady rise in the trend cycle since 2017 (and yes, it still lacks a catchy little name). Like the trends that preceded it, utility/workwear is only the latest to challenge conventional ideas of luxury. Athleisure has enabled biker shorts to become an acceptable pair with heels, and Normcore has allowed for the return of the Nike Monarch IV beyond caucasian dads.

Words by Nico Gavino

via @awende_official on Instagram

In 2017 traditional workwear brands like Dickies and Carhartt were picked up by streetwear brands like Opening Ceremony and Vetements for special collaborations. This popularization of classic American workwear in streetstyle didn’t happen overnight, Carhartt made its own crossover into streetwear when the brand founded it’s lifestyle division in 1994. The crossover of workwear brands into streetwear is not a story we haven’t heard before. Jeans, which have become a universal fashion staple were originally purposed for workwear. After being widely used among builders, railway workers, and farmers in 19th century, denim was adopted by youth subcultures in the 20th century and eventually made into the stores of designers like Gucci and Calvin Klein by the 70s and 80s.

The current utility/workwear trend has evolved into the adoption of what often resembles the high-vis garments you might see on a construction site. It seems as though Instagram streetstyle and Hypebeast culture have taken queues from construction site styles with the adoption of utility vests, carpenter pants, cargo pockets, decorative hardware, reflective panels, and neon color palettes. Calvin Klein’s FW18 collection included a full on fireman inspired look and this year’s SS19 runway shows showcased utility belts and cargo pockets from Fendi, and a number of utility/workwear inspired looks from Louis Vuitton including a neon orange utility vest.  

1: via MontrealGotStyle by Yannis Vlamos, 2: via Imaxtree, 3: via the Cut by Alessandro Lucioni

Virgil Abloh’s utility inspired pieces in Louis Vuitton’s SS19 show were not his first dip into the trend. Beginning in 2012, Abloh’s own luxury streetwear brand, Off-White produced pieces that took inspiration from industrial aesthetics. With his growing influence in the industry and beyond, it’s no doubt that his brand has played a role in the trend’s rise. What separates Abloh’s previous work from the utility inspired pieces we’ve seen this season is the subtlety of his inspiration. So far Off-White’s industrial inspiration has not gone much further than caution stripes and factory labelling. In more recent seasons we have seen pieces from across the runway that look more like elevated replications of utility/workwear than subtle inspiration.

via: Off-White

In recent history the upward flow theory which says that trends begin with younger low-income groups and are then adopted by high-income groups has become the most prevalent theory of fashion adoption. But as the utility/workwear trend follows this pattern, it’s hard not to notice the irony in it. The trend is arguably the antithesis of luxury high fashion. To put it frankly, high fashion’s adoption of workwear juxtaposes symbols of blue-collar livelihoods into leisure for the rich. It’s clear that none of these high fashion spins on workwear are actually meant for labor. The Carhartt x Vetements shirt jacket retails for just under $1,000. No one rocking a Fendi utility belt or a Louis Vuitton utility vest is here to fix the sink.

So is the trend simply a repetition of history? Or is this high fashion’s latest form of appropriation?

The word appropriation almost always implies appropriation of national or ethnic culture, and high fashion is no stranger to that. In 2016 we saw Marc Jacobs take heat for styling white models with dreadlocks, and we saw Moschino called out for its irresponsible use of Hindu iconography. But in this case, the adoption of the utility/workwear trend appropriates symbols of blue-collar livelihood. We’ve seen similar phenomenons with Kanye West’s early Yeezy collections which bluntly stated, resembled distressed Gildan sweats with an earthy color palette. Frankly, these styles could easily be read as an appropriation of working class life as well.

Why is this problematic? Though the meaning behind these styles doesn’t hold the same cultural significance as dreadlocks or the religious significance of Hindu icons, there are implications behind their use in high fashion. When high end brands capitalize on styles originally purposed for working class labor, it detracts from the often grueling work behind blue collar jobs and makes light of the large economic gap between the working class and high fashion consumers who are most commonly upper class.

But what about denim? Denim has followed a largely similar path to the utility/workwear trend. Both have made their way from laborers, to youth subcultures, and then to the runway. Nobody is saying we have to ditch denim in 2019, it’s just one of many styles that have loaded histories. It’s important to note that overtime many of these styles have lost their original purposes. Today, denim is more associated with casual wear than any kind of physical labor. That’s not said to be an excuse; in 2018 we have access to information like no other generations have. At the click of a button we can get a crash course on unethical manufacturing or cultural appropriation.

The paradoxical trend stands in a unique position among other ethical problems in fashion, as it interacts directly with the inaccessibility of high fashion to the working class. With the size of these brands it’s less than likely that they will be held accountable for these issues or even make note of them. As awareness of issues like this is becoming more accessible through the internet, it is ultimately our job to remain conscious of what we buy and what we wear. At the end of the day we, as consumers are responsible for which trends we participate in and give power to.

The Living Room

Ink staff member Cali Carter sat down with VCU alum Aaron Brown who, alongside Air Force Vet Jacob Fonseca, runs emerging community space “The Living Room” to talk music, art, plants, and demons.

 

What is The Living Room?

The living room is a plant boutique, so we curate different plants that we think are dope, they’re tropical in nature, and we put them out here for you guys to purchase. It’s also a co-working space, so come in here, do work, chill- and we have artists come in here so it’s a great opportunity to bring the community together, free of charge. We host different events in this space, like yoga classes, we’re about to start a poetry slam too, in December. We have clothing pop ups, art pop ups, we do a thrift boutique called ungrateful bastards- lots of dope stuff, a communal space. And we sell plants!

Where did the name come from?

Ok cool, so… my brother Jacob, he’s the co owner, came up with that. He was in the living room at home, trying to think of a name, then he just sat down on the couch, and as soon as he sits down, he’s like “The Living Room!” It’s like a double entendre.

What inspired you to open the space?

Jacob’s really into plants and nature, I wasn’t, to be honest, I was just a musician. He gave me a fiddle leaf fig tree and was like, “try to take care of this.” I said, “bro I’m gonna kill this for sure,” like, there was no way. That tree is over in the window now, he’s still living, super dank, people make me offers for him all the time. After that tree, it just kept going, my plants grew, a lot of those over there are mine. I got into it, I was looking to invest, and I was like “well bro… let’s do it!” It’s all God inspired, all God guided, we’re very spiritual people, we just follow.

 

 

How did art and music influence your vision for the space? Did any specific artists shape that scene here? Or just culture in general?

Yeah that’s everything, I’d say it’s the culture in general. Jacob and I are both musicians. I’m a rapper, producer, engineer, and he’s a DJ, producer, engineer, so our whole idea was to take the things we like, the things we do, our culture, and try to embody it into a space. This is the brainchild of our creative minds, at least one portion of it.

Where would you love The Living Room to be a year from today?

Ooohhh, that’s cool. I would like to see it as a space where when people come to Richmond, they’re coming to The Living Room. Whether it’s celebrities or other horticulture people, I just want it to be a spot where its like- yeah we gotta go to Living Room, gotta pick up a plant. That’s definitely my goal, and of course, I wanna see it help a lot of people too, for sure.

What’s your favorite thing about Richmond? Why open here?

We’re both born and raised here, it doesn’t make sense to start anywhere else. Maybe we’ll franchise out, that’s one of the dreams, but this is home. We can help the economy here, we can help the community here, if we can help the people, why not?

You mentioned growing, would you open in another city?

Yeah, definitely something we’d do. Hawaii’s a spot were interested in, and Puerto Rico. Miami would be cool, I’d love to open there, and New York for sure. We’ll show Cali some love too.

 

 

What has surprised you so far, since opening the space?

Oh yeah, all of it. We really were excited to put this space together, but of course you have dreams, like how this will be, how this will happen, even the space in general, we made all from scratch, started from nothing and just went head first. Then CBS-6 was interested, Richmond Experience hit us up, R Home, you guys, it’s just been a blessing, it’s really dope.

Did you have any expectations before opening?

I can’t speak for Jacob, a lot of this is his vision. He brought me on, I added a twist, another aesthetic to it, and I added the finances. I’m on the business side, and I was like, I don’t see many successful plant stores, but something on the inside was like- do it, do it, do it.

Favorite or most memorable couch convo here?

The craziest one that always sticks out to me, if you’ve read the CBS-6 article on our opening, we told the story of how I got the money to do this. My house burned down, there was some crazy spiritual entity in my house, we spoke to that whole situation in the article. After we’d been open for like two weeks, five or six kids came in, Jacob and I were both here, it was like a western showdown- they stood in a line and then we stood in a line, and they said tell us the story. I said “where do you want us to start?”, and they said “the demon,” so we all sit on the couch and we tell them the story, it was crazy, pretty cool. But everyday we get to talk to people who are creators, or are creators in their heart but haven’t embarked yet, on their journey. We tell them, hey, there’s a way in this world, a way to grow sustainably, what you want. You don’t have to follow the curve or conform, you can do what you love and still be successful.

Anyone particular you’d love to have a couch conversation with?

Oh Bodega Rose would be super dope. I would love for Sean Wotherspoon to come here too, I actually spoke to him before the grand opening, he wanted to try to make it, so that would be cool, and so would really any influential person who came through.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a business?

Honestly, I can just tell you what we did, we stayed true to the vision. There’ll be so many opportunities for you to cut corners, or to just quit, to say maybe this isn’t smart. There’s gonna be a million opportunities to do that, it happened to me. If you stay true to your vision, to what you believe in, and you put the energy out there, that energy will come back.

 

 

Words and Photos by Cali Carter

Fashion Crush Friday: Jeff Goldblum

The Hollywood star who’s giving us hope that it’s never too late to become a style icon.


Jeff Goldblum in a Prada shirt and trousers, paired with Balenciaga sneakers. (via: Sharp Magazine, Matt Barnes)

Over the last five decades Jeff Goldblum has earned his place as a Hollywood icon. The blockbuster actor, most recognizable for his roles in Jurassic Park, Annie Hall, The Fly, and Independence Day, has also launched a career in Jazz music and has recently gained attention for being one of Hollywood’s flyest dressers.

At 66, Goldblum has been included in Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed of 2018 list and even won British GQ’s Icon of the Year award. For all of this, we can thank Goldblum’s LA based stylist, Andrew T. Vottero, who only began working with him about two years ago. The collaboration between the two has created a distinct and original style for Goldblum, only enhancing the eccentric and multi-faceted persona he has built for himself.

Goldblum receiving the Icon of the Year award by British GQ in September, 2018. (Via: @jeffgoldblum on Instagram)

Aside from gracing our eyes with his captivating smile and infecting us with his youthful charisma, some of Goldblum’s best looks come straight from his instagram. His meme-inspired captions infused with internet lingo are the cherry on top of all of it.

The latest in a series of posts where Goldblum sports printed Prada button-ups is captioned  “…felt cute, might delete later.” followed by a trio of playful emojis. If that’s not the best thing you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what to tell you.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

…felt cute, might delete later. 🤷🏻‍♂️🤳🏽🤓

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Goodness, gracious… 🔥🔥🔥 @prada @atvottero

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

“Goodness, gracious…” is right! Goldblum in another Prada top, this time with split prints.

 

 

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SURVIVAL UTOPIA. 🖤🦖🖤

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

 

Goldblum’s love for zebra prints is made no secret as you scroll through his Instagram page. Rather than isolating the print to one piece, Goldblum goes all in, layering his animal print pieces into a bold cohesive look. Under his latest zebra inspired look the caption reads “Into the Wild!” followed by the hashtags “#zebradad #zebradaddy #zaddy #didthat”. If anybody deserves the title “Zebra Daddy” it’s Jeff Goldblum.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Into the Wild! @isabelmarant @atvottero #zebradad #zebradaddy #zaddy #didthat 🙏🏼🔑🦓⚡️🖤

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

 

 

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Today’s shoe and sock situation. What sound does a zebra make? 🦓🦓🦓 (👟🧦⚗️✨: @atvottero)

A post shared by Jeff Goldblum (@jeffgoldblum) on

Goldblum giving us double Zebra once more, this time on his feet.

Don’t be fooled by his taste for those flashy Prada button ups and his fondness for animal prints, Goldblum values comfort over all, and has some favorite pieces he rewears on a regular basis. Vottero shared with Vogue that you won’t find Goldblum participating in Hollywood’s “wear-once-and-dispose” habits. On a laid back kind of day Goldblum told GQ you could find him sporting his favorite Saint Laurent leather biker jacket paired with some black Acne jeans (which he prefers with some stretch).

Not only is his style journey refreshing and original, but it also sends an important message in a society that tells us that with age our wardrobes should become reserved and conservative. Goldblum says yes to wearing double zebra print, yes to wearing wacky double printed Prada shirts, and yes to wearing Balenciaga dad sneakers as an actual dad. Goldblum’s spirit breaks the mold for people his age and shows us that even in the later part of your life, we should  continue exploring our abilities and tastes to express ourselves to the fullest.

Words by Nico Gavino

Stolen Steps

An eyewitness look at the Washington, D.C., protests against Brett Kavanaugh’s  nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Shot and Directed by Fiona Penn

Three weeks ago Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court amid allegations of sexual assault and lying under oath. Numerous Americans, myself included, were frustrated with the way the Senate seemed to dismiss the compelling testimony of Christine Blasey Ford.

Protesters gathered outside of the Supreme Court as the Senate voted to confirm Kavanaugh. Some publicly shared their traumatic experiences while under the scrutiny of numerous Kavanaugh and Trump supporters. Others chanted for hours, passed out water and snacks, held those who were crying, or just stood in silent resolve.

By the end of the day, 164 people were arrested for protesting.

I joined the protests that day and documented the experience.

Fashion Crush Friday: Totes

Wow. Everyone loves a good TOTE. There is nothing more satisfying than having enough room to stuff your sweatshirt, laptop, AND a water bottle all in one bag. Who cares if it’s super heavy on one side of your body, everything is floating around, and it takes you 5 minutes to locate your wallet in line at the coffee shop. You’re doing great!

Words and illustration by Grace Hoffman
October 26th, 2018

Totes come in all shapes and sizes. Some totes make you a walking advertisement, some give you a 90s Mommy vibe, while others signal you are on your way over to purchase some fruit from Trader Joes. Below are some totes that I have noticed around Richmond that inspired my fashion crush.

(Top left: ink tote, top middle: BAGGU reusable bag in terracotta, top right: Blue Bones tote, bottom left: ink staff member Darby’s favorite tote that she got from her grandmother, bottom middle: reusable net shopping bag, bottom right: DON’T TEXT HIM tote from ConnieTroversial)

FYI: If you don’t like totes or dont have the means to buy one but would like to use reusable bags when you shop, check out Ellwood Thompson’s reusable bag share program

A Tribute to Mac Miller

It’s been a little over a month since Mac Miller passed away and people are still hurt and in shock. Mac Miller died of an apparent drug overdose on September 7th 2018 at the very young age of 26. He was a talented musician and loved by many. His peers and others described him, as a genuine kind person that was filled with love. As a fan of Mac Miller since the very beginning of his career I felt nothing but pain and complete shock of this news, and I didn’t want to accept the fact that someone that meant so much to me was no longer here. I first discovered Mac Miller in middle school. I listened to his mixtape “KIDS”, which launched his career into fame. His music defined me as a person at such a young age. I didn’t have real responsibilities and had nothing to worry about. I just wanted to enjoy my life to the fullest and live it up, which is exactly, what Mac Miller represented as a young artist. I idolized Mac Miller I wanted to be him, dress like him, even make music like him. I’m not the only one that felt this way, as he has touched many of his fans in this same exact way. What was so special about Mac Miller was his musical growth as an artist, and how he continued to make compelling relatable music. He was versatile and made a wide array of music for different types of people and moods. As time passed, he continued to get better with each album or project. For someone that was filled with so much energy and love it’s sad to know that he struggled with depression. His music also brought attention to the fact that so many people deal with depression and that everyone gets depressed. He made music that we can all feel. I miss Mac Miller and will always miss him. To all his fans, friends, and family as Mac suggested, let’s not just stay afloat, keep swimming.

 

Words by Jerrell Funtila
Artwork by Phil Gatti

Bill Hader and Alec Berg on their New HBO Series Barry

Credit: Jordin Althaus/HBO

Ink editor-in-chief Kristina Dickey talks to Bill Hader and Alec Berg about their new HBO series, Barry. Hader plays Barry Berkman, a former marine who works as a hitman in the Midwest. Barry is sent to Los Angeles to kill a target, but is quickly derailed when after joining a theater class, he finds his new calling as an aspiring actor. Hader and Berg discuss what it’s like collaborating on a new project, Hader’s anxiety on Saturday Night Live that inspired his character, and the experience of directing for cohesion.

Words by Kristina Dickey
Edited by Fadel Allassan
October 23, 2018

 

Bill, on the show, your character Barry wants to start a new life as an actor, but has never acted before. This makes for some hilarious scenes with Henry Winkler as your acting coach. Can you tell me about that experience playing a bad actor who is both painfully uncomfortable and hilarious to the audience?

Bill Hader: I watch a lot of true crime shows because the reenactments on those shows are pretty bad so that was helpful. But mostly, it’s just playing whatever the reality of that would be, and not thinking too much of the comedy. In a weird way, it kind of works. When you push the comedy it starts to feel like you’re reaching for something that might not be there.

To Barry, acting is when you’d go around the class in junior high and read out paragraphs of To Kill a Mockingbird. That was the last time he did any sort of real acting. Acting to him was just speech class.

 

Hollywood tends to depict excessive gun use in every genre – including comedy. Given that gun violence and mass shootings are pertinent and sensitive topics right now, did you feel that you had to portray guns carefully in this show?

Hader: Yeah. With this story, Barry is a guy who kills people. And we had seen those movies a lot where it’s the hitman who doesn’t like his life, and it always treats the violence in this glib manner. There’s this idea that the violence has to be funny because you have to keep the tone that way. But violence is prominent in the world right now, especially gun violence, and it’s a world that he doesn’t want to be in.

So portraying it just for what it is kind of helps story purposes but also kind of helps us portray a thing the way we feel about it which is: it’s a very sad thing. It’s very brutal and demoralizing, and so it was about this character who is a product of all this stuff, and he’s not wanting to be that anymore.The answer was just showing it for what it is. And making the guns sound real and when people die, making that look as real as what that looks like.

Alec Berg: Yeah, we had kind of talked about the way we would shoot a lot of the violence as almost like security camera footage where it just is, without slow motion, and close ups, and like making it look cool. It should seem kind of sad and horrifying and uncomfortable because that’s what it is, and so the idea of glamorizing it is – we wanted to go the opposite. If you look atthe pilot there’s a scene where Barry shoots some guys and that all happens in one wide shot.

Hader: Yeah, I think if it was an action movie … you would’ve seen those guys get shot, and it would’ve been this kind of rad thing of Barry shooting in slow motion. You would’ve seen the shells ejecting in slow motion. They’re just kind of fetishizing it. As I’ve gotten older, I find it weirdly inappropriate. Don’t get us wrong, we like action movies – I like Batman and Mad Max: Fury Road – but in this case, I think in comedies there’s this thing of like, “Hey we’ve got guns and let’s be irresponsible.” I just don’t think that really, in this day and age, that flies.

 

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

 

How did you guys manage to merge your individual – and at times, differing – ideas into a show with such a strong, cohesive vision?

Berg: It just was a lot of discussion. In writing it, it was just about getting on the same page about what the tone was, and fortunately, I think a lot of the same things make us laugh.There’s a line in the pilot that never makes anybody laugh. But one of our favorite lines is when NoHo Hank is talking about how he got the video of Goran’s wife in the hotel, he says, “I snuck a lipstick camera, similar to this one into the room.” And the idea that he’s brought the lipstick camera but it’s not the same one. But he brought it just as an example of [what] the camera he used looks like that always makes us laugh and nobody laughs at that.

Hader: If everyone’s goal is making a good show then it’s all [about] what goes best in the show, and not about having what you necessarily want the show to be – your’e kind of the purveyor of it.

Berg: It is just listening, in a weird way. It’s like two people listening to music together, you’d go “Oh, I like that. That sounds good.”

Hader: The amount of times we can’t describe why we like or dislike something… usually the editor is the decider on that one but, you know, it’s fun.

Berg: For the most part, I feel like we both kind of had the same idea in our heads. You know we have a room full of writers that we work with. Bill sits at one end of the table, I sit at the other, and they all kind of weigh in on stuff. But I think it was pretty easy from the beginning.

 

What drew you guys to work together?

Hader: Um… money. No, we had a mutual agent and the agent said oh you guys should work together and then Alec had a deal at HBO, and I had a development deal at HBO. When I had my meeting they said, “We want you to do a show with us, who do you want to work with?” I was like, well Alec Berg seems pretty cool.

Berg: And he was right.

Hader: And [the guy at the meeting] goes, “Well, Alec has another show called Silicon Valley, but I’m sure he’s free to come up with another show – and so that’s what happened.

 

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

 

You based your character partly off of the anxiety you felt working on SNL and performing live every week. How much of the show is inspired by your life and experiences, and how much is fictional, or at least not derived from personal experience?

Hader: I think it’s more of the emotion of it. I find that I’m good at doing impressions and doing voices and stuff, which is just an ability that I had growing up that I didn’t necessarily work on… and SNL’s the one place on the planet where you can get paid really well, well like okay, to do that. But the problem was that was on live television and I just didn’t have the mental power, and it just wasn’t good for me mentally or physically. I just got way too anxious doing that show. So it was more of that idea of Barry being good at killing, but it’s a thing that he’s kind of really great at but it’s destroying his soul because it’s awful.

In that first episode when he’s at the table with everybody – that, to me, felt very much like me when I first got on SNL where I so badly wanted to be in a community of people when I’m looking around and I’m seeing Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers and all these people that are on the cast when I started Will Forte, Rachel Dratch and just [thinking], “How do I stay here? because I know it’ll enrich my life somehow.” Those are the things I relate it to. But I’ve never killed anybody or anything like that.

Berg: But that’s the trick of writing a show, you try and find something that’s just a super true, relatable, real human emotion. As long as that human emotion is real and the situation is real, you can put that other stuff on top of it and people hopefully relate to it. Because the underlying story is true and real, it doesn’t matter if you’ve ever killed somebody it still feels true.

Hader: As an actor, I get sent a lot of scripts and that’s almost the number one problem you could find a script that’s perfectly structured, has great writing, but the acorn of the idea, at its finite place, it just doesn’t have anything relatable.

 

Are any of the other characters derived from any people in your lives or people you’ve worked with?

Berg: None of them are one-to-one. When we wrote Henry Winkler’s part, he was written as a much darker, angrier, meaner, more sadistic guy, and then when Henry Winkler came along and started performing that part, he’s so naturally warm and likeable that it became this totally different kind of interesting thing, where suddenly he was much more three-dimensional. Because he’s not just a sadist, you can tell there’s pain and there’s angst in him, as opposed to just being a monster.

 

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

 

Alec, you’ve worked on classic sitcoms like Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But a show like Silicon Valley had some drama and introduced long plot arcs – it worked really well. What sort of balance do you see between those two types of show as it relates to Barry?

Berg: Yeah, Silicon Valley’s much more serialized than– obviously you could watch Seinfeld episodes in any order and Curb was kind of the same way- but with Silicon Valley, you kind of have to watch them in order and Barry is the same thing. We kept looking at the whole thing as, this is one long, eight-episode story.

Hader: Yeah, and we also look at the new season that way we’re writing it now and it helps to have the whole season in front of you. You’re kind of looking at it as one thing.

Berg: Because we’re on HBO and the seasons are shorter  going back to Seinfeld, we were doing 24 episodes a year for that show. You can’t write all 24 before you shoot them so the network TV game was insane because you’re shooting episode 3 while you’re writing episodes 7, 8, and 9 and you’re editing shows 1 and 2. You’re working on about ten or twelve different episodes in the span of a day.

 

You’ve talked a bit before about the dichotomy between Barry’s job as a hitman and an aspiring actor, can you expand on that a bit?

Berg: Well one thing we always talked about when we started writing and sort of landed on, as far as Barry is concerned, in the crime world the stakes are very high, they are life and death, but Barry has almost no dramatic pretensions about crime. Like he doesn’t get twisted up, he doesn’t get freaked out by it shooting people is very boring.

Whereas, in the acting world, the stakes really couldn’t be lower, but he’s so much more nervous about whether he can perform in this acting class than whether he’s going to get shot to death or not, which we thought was an interesting twist.

Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

 

You guys said you’re starting on season two, so looking back on season one, what are some things you guys want to work on or re-emphasize when you’re making the next season? How do you see the show expanding?

Hader: Well we don’t want to give anything away, but you’ll see at the end of the season we really pinned ourselves into a corner.

Berg: Don’t tell anyone but Barry dies in episode seven.

Hader: Yeah we don’t want anyone to know this, but Barry’s a ghost.

Berg: It would be very hard, as you would imagine, to do a show called Barry without a character called Barry in it.

Hader: Yeah, I’m not in the second season, but Barry Sanders is and he’s not just in there so we can keep the title Barry, no matter what anyone says.

 

Bill, this is your directorial debut, what other directors have you turned to for advice or inspiration in this experience?

Hader: Alec’s been the bigger one because he’s on set and I’m like, “Does this make sense.”

Berg: I was already stuck here.

Hader: So yeah, he had to answer my questions.

But really, the director of photography was the bigger help, and the production designer, and the costume designer – all the heads of your departments.

Berg: Directing is a weird thing because when you’re on set as a director you’re not the best at anything you’re doing. The director of photography is better at lighting and lenses, the production designer is better at what color should that be or what the set should look like, and the AD is better at what order we should shoot in, and all the actors know the characters better than you do.

I think it’s about every single person who’s there has their own idea of what the show is, and your job as the director is to make sure that everybody thinks it’s the same thing.

Hader: Yeah you got to make sure everyone’s making the same show. Especially with a tone like this, it would be very easy for it to just go off the rails. It’s just you’re constantly going, “No, no, no. That’s not this show, it’s this.”

Berg: Yeah and, “This shirt is too silly.”

 

The Real Story Behind Your Favorite Social Justice Tee

From a casual Tweet, to a young Etsy business, to Frank Ocean’s wardrobe, and finally to a nation-wide trend.

Photo by Angela Weiss

Words by Nico Gavino

Walking through the VCU campus, I’ve observed people sporting the famous “Why be sexist, racist, homophobic or transphobic when you could be quiet?” t-shirt. The shirt was brought to my attention once again when my sister asked if she should wear hers to the VA Pride Festival. At this point I began to think about the ways young people wear their politics, as it seemed like the shirt was following me everywhere. After attending VA Pride, and seeing a handful of people sporting the slogan, I wanted to find out exactly where it came from.

On August 8, 2015, nineteen year-old Brandon Male tweeted, “why be sexist racist, racist homophobic, or transphobic when you could bE QUIET,” but never foresaw it to going viral, that soon Frank Ocean would be wearing it on stage, or that it would become a closet staple for the “woke” college student.

I was able to speak to Male about the phenomenon, and it turns out there are more layers to the shirt than I originally thought (no pun intended). At sixteen, Male tweeted the now famous quote out of frustration over the bigotry he saw towards marginalized groups. He described it as a, “snarky little f-you to bigots.”

“I never expected it to go viral; I was just hanging out at the New York State Fair looking at the butter sculpture when I realized it began to accumulate a ton of retweets. Shortly after it started to go viral on Tumblr as well, and then a couple years after, the whole shirt fiasco began.”

In January 2017, it came to Male’s attention that a tweet containing photos of a student wearing a t-shirt with his own quote on it had gone viral. Even today the photoset has gotten more attention than his original tweet. Male learned that the shirt was being sold by an Etsy store called the Green Box Shop. In July of 2017, photos of Frank Ocean wearing the shirt began to circulate following his set at Panorama Festival, in New York City. Messages of praise towards Ocean and questions about where fans could buy the t-shirt flooded the internet.

Male’s frustration grew after the owner of the Green Box Shop began to be credited for the idea by multiple media outlets, including Glamour and The Fader. He took it upon himself to confront the shop owner in hopes that he might be able to get some sort of credit for the quote on the shop’s site. “But after reaching out to them I was dismissed and got only cold responses, and eventually when a ton of my followers began to call them out on it, all they did was give me a measly $100 to shut me up. Which really just made me more fueled because I was like, ‘Do they really think I’m a dumb kid?’”

It was at this point that Male decided he wouldn’t step down, and began to organize a legal battle against the shop. Lawyers were called and publications like the New York Times and Vogue contacted Male to be interviewed on the issue. After a couple weeks of this, the shop owner reached out to Male and the two decided to settle the issue among themselves. Today the two aren’t enemies at all, and have worked out a deal. “As of right now me and the shop owner aren’t on bad terms, and we share the trademark for the quote. She does her thing and I do my thing and that’s how it should’ve been all along.”

Male says he’s learned a lot from the experience, especially regarding the power of influence in the age of social media, and how something so seemingly small could blow up into something so much bigger. In a lot of ways it still affects his life today, “Also the money I was making and still make from it helped a lot as I was just starting college that year.”

Today you can still buy the shirt from the Green Box Shop, but you can also buy it for a fraction of the price from dozens of sellers on Amazon and Redbubble. The story behind the shirt raises questions about intellectual property and fashion ethics in the age of social media. It prompts us to think of the ways people with little influence are taken advantage of by bigger companies. As consumers we have to take note of the ways companies monetize political opinions. If a brand is using quotes like this for the sake of sales does it take away from the values behind it? Or does the message outweigh the intention behind its creation?

Nevertheless the message behind the quote seems to have resonated with millions of young people around the world and is no doubt a reflection of the times. Though Brandon Male never intended on the quote’s widespread influence, it’s clear that it wouldn’t have ended up in so many young people’s closets if it wasn’t such a timely and powerful statement. After all, why would you be all of those nasty things if you could just be quiet?