Profiles

Pop’s Wild Horse

Bishop Briggs has made a name for herself as a moody, melancholic singer, but there’s more than one side to her.

SF Weekly

music1-1Sometimes, mixing business and family can be a terrible idea. Other times, it can be a boon for the whole clan. Fortunately, things worked out for indie-pop singer Bishop Briggs and her older sister Kate.

Kate is Bishop’s manager, handling the singer’s Instagram account and day-to-day activities, and sometimes even moonlighting as Briggs’ “part-time therapist.”

“It’s really nice working with my sister,” Bishop says. “There’s something about having a sibling that you know will always stick with you.”

As Bishop tells it, Kate has always stood up for her younger sister. The 24-year-old shares a story about a time in high school when Kate came to her defense after a guy Bishop was dating started making out in front of her with two girls at a party.

“He kept his eyes open when he was doing it,” Bishop recalls. “Like, who does that?”

Sobbing, she left the party and called Kate. And then Kate showed up.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Bishop says. “I’ve tried asking her, but she still hasn’t really told me exactly what happened.”

Whatever went down ended up working in her favor, and the boy became even more invested in Bishop than before. (Click here to read more)

Grooving With Rockin’ Jim

For more than four decades, the KPOO DJ has been spinning ’50s and ’60s tunes on nighttime radio.

SF Weekly

music2-1It’s a little before 8:30 p.m. on a Monday night, and Jim Rigsbee is sitting in the studio at public radio station KPOO, shuffling through a stack of CDs and 7-inch records. For more than 40 years, Rigsbee — better known to listeners as Rockin’ Jim — has been hosting Grinders Grooveyard, a late-night program consisting of pop and rock hits from the 1950s and ’60s.

Rigsbee inherited the show in 1976 from its original hosts, who created the program when KPOO was founded in 1971. A retired customer-service agent and “jack-of-all-trades” for the San Francisco Chronicle, the 69-year-old has long grown accustomed to the show’s nocturnal hours, which are currently 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Mondays, but in the past have continued as late as 2 a.m.

Rigsbee — wearing a crewneck sweatshirt, Manchester United sweatpants, and oval wire glasses nestled halfway down his nose — is an S.F. native who currently resides in the Outer Mission. He remembers listening to Elvis Presley on the radio at the age of 8 and can recall seeing shows at iconic (and now-defunct) turn-of-the-century concert venues, like the Fillmore West and Avalon Ballroom. (Click here to read more)

It’s a Shitty World But Someone’s Gotta Save It

Thao Nguyen can’t perform miracles, but she can try to instill change one song at a time.

SF Weekly

feature-thaonguyenGet her behind a microphone, and Thao Nguyen turns into a beast.

Her coos evolve into screams, and her murmurs amplify into shouts. She’ll whip her hair so fervently that her entire head will become a blur — and her guitar, you’d think it would break or at the very least pop a string given how aggressively she handles the instrument.

Not that Nguyen, the frontwoman for the Bay Area folk-rock quintet Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, has always been this way. Far from it.

“The stereotypical Asian cultural thing of a girl being raised to be very obedient, docile, and respectful — I was definitely raised that way,” says Nguyen, whose parents are refugees from Vietnam. “So I grew up not speaking that much.”

Learning how to express herself and be more bold took years to master, but discovering music in her late teens helped speed the process. Learning to accept her Asian-American heritage, however, was much harder.

“It took me a long time to purge all that internalized whatever,” she says. “I didn’t want that to be how people viewed me.”

For years, Nguyen shunned invitations to perform at Asian-American concerts or festivals and was rankled by the many articles that referenced the fact that she was Vietnamese. Instead of calling her music “folk-rock,” some publications dubbed it “Vietnamese bluegrass,” and she still recalls one album review that packed in mentions of foxholes, bamboo, and the Tet Offensive all in the first paragraph. (Click here to read more)

The Patron Saint of Sex

Carol Queen is battling cultural misnomers about sex, one lecture at a time.

SF Weekly

feature-carolqueenThe week of Valentine’s Day was busy for Carol Queen. Then again, so are most weeks for the sexologist who, in addition to being the oldest working staff member at Good Vibrations, is also a lecturer, author, educator, and founding director of the nonprofit Center for Sex & Culture.

In fact, in the span of four days, Queen achieved more than most people would in a week. On Monday, she gave a lecture about porn, media, and 50 Shades of Grey to a student group at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The next day, she did a presentation for the Young Presidents’ Organization, where she discussed cultural sex myths, like the belief that women can only orgasm through intercourse. (Not true.) On Wednesday, she hosted a class about reproductive justice rights for queer and trans-identified people at Good Vibrations. And by Thursday, she was at the Asian Art Museum, talking about antique vibrators and 2000-year-old dildos for the launch of a new exhibit called Tomb Treasures.

“There’s always a lot going on in my life at any single time,” says Queen, who is in her 50s. “There are people who need everyday to be the same, and then there are people who are completely allergic to it. I’m pretty sure I’m one of the latter.”

This summer, Queen will celebrate 27 years working at the sex shop Good Vibrations, where she not only gives classes and lectures, but also curates the store’s collection of vintage sex toys. In 1998, she starred in Bend Over Boyfriend, a series of sex education videos demonstrating the art of pegging (or having sex with a man using a strap-on dildo) that held the title of Good Vibrations’ best-selling video for years. And, as an author, Queen has penned multiple novels and essays, including erotica, that champion sexual freedom, promiscuity, LGBTQ rights, sex-workers’ rights, and better communication and transparency about sex, in general. (Click here to read more)

Two Semi-Charmed Hours With Stephan Jenkins

The Third Eye Blind frontman dishes on the band’s next album, trolling Republicans, and becoming ‘a whole person.’

SF Weekly

music1-2Interviewing Stephan Jenkins is like herding cats or trying to get my very untrained dog Mischa to do a trick. He evades questions, changes the subject, gets easily distracted, and takes minutes to finish sentences, often using as many as a dozen adjectives to describe one thing.

“This isn’t really an interview,” Jenkins tells me shortly after we meet up. “We’re just chit-chatting.”

It’s a little after 5 p.m. in the middle of the week, and we’re sitting on the patio at Zeitgeist, a metal bar in the Mission, because that’s where the Third Eye Blind frontman suggested we go.

For more than two hours we sit there, facing each other while seated on the same bench — because the din from the crowd and the live thrash band is so loud that our knees have to be touching for us to hear one another.

“I feel self-conscious,” Jenkins complains, after I ask him to hold my recorder closer to his mouth so that it picks up what he’s saying. “I feel like, ‘Is this really what my voice sounds like?’ Fuck!” (Click here to read more)

A Different Stream

Zoë Keating Wants to Disrupt The Music Industry — In Artists’ Favor

SF Weekly (Cover Story)feature-1-44cc1d7ed8801999

It was springtime 2015, and Zoë Keating was staring at rabbits.

Through the curved window of the Georgian house outside of London, Keating, a critically acclaimed independent cellist, and Imogen Heap, a Grammy-nominated singer, watched the animals on the lawn. The house belonged to Heap, who grew up there and later purchased it from her parents. Although it was surrounded by all the tropes of the English countryside — rolling hills, bluebells, and the wild rabbits — it was only a few miles outside of London in a government-protected swath of wilderness. If they looked closely enough, the women could see the city in the distance.

It was Keating’s second day as Heap’s guest. Or maybe it was her third. Ever since her husband’s death two months earlier, she had trouble keeping track of time. “It was all a blur,” she recalled months later. (Click here to read more)

After Years of Busking and Touring, Fantastic Negrito Prepares to Release His First Full-Length Album

SF Weekly

music1-1abcb54679b004d8

“It’s a bit far because we’ve got to go all the way to the basement,” says Xavier Dphrepaulezz, as he heads down a carpeted flight of stairs into a downtown Oakland gallery and recording studio. As the 48-year-old, better known as the black-roots musician Fantastic Negrito, turns a corner and leads me down a concrete hallway, he lists his most vital health tips.

“Exercise is good for you, so I’m always walking,” he says. “I don’t drink sodas or eat fast food, either. I’ve got to stay healthy. I’m only two years away from 50.”

We head down a second flight of stairs, and a wave of cool subterranean air washes over us. The dim basement, which smells faintly of dust, is cluttered with building materials, tools, and broken furniture. Not too many people come down here, Dphrepaulezz says, and I can understand why.

Suddenly, he stops in front of an old wooden freight elevator. “So, this is it,” he says. “This is where we were that fateful night.”

He’s referencing the evening over a year-and-a-half ago when he, three other musicians, and their instruments (a guitar, an upright bass, and percussion) squeezed inside of the almost-100-year-old elevator to record “Lost In A Crowd,” the Southern-inspired blues ballad that won NPR’s 2015 Tiny Desk Contest.

(Click here to read more)

Tokimonsta Mixes Hip-Hop and EDM For The EDC Masses

LA Weekly

tokimonsta_marcotorres_5It’s a little past 11 o’clock on Friday and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is pulsing with sound, lights and bodies. Polyester jellyfish and gigantic LED mushrooms hover above the crowd; the smell of funnel cakes and body odor wafts through the 100-degree air on this first night of EDC Las Vegas. Dust and dirt coalesce into one invisible mass, infiltrating the throats and nasal passages of thousands of ravers, their plastic beaded bracelets click-clacking as they record videos with their smartphones and chug Powerades and syrupy cocktails. A never-ending torrent of synths and molecule-rearranging bass tumble from myriad speakers throughout the 2.5-mile-long complex.

At each stage, a different gradation of EDM plays, as artists and DJs spin melodies, adjust volumes, and tweak tempos. The beat drops, building into an explosive climax at one stage, while a steady wave of trance hypnotizes the crowd at another. Elsewhere, a percussive house jam segues into a drum solo. And over there, to the north, a tinkle of bells unfurls into an Indian-laced flute melody and the crowd goes wild as they recognize the beat to Nas’s “Oochie Wally.”

This is not what they were expecting. This is hip-hop, not EDM. But wait. Don’t you hear the bass? The electro tinge? Isn’t what you’re doing with your feet called dancing? And isn’t that, by virtue of its various qualities, the very definition of electronic dance music?

You nod your head “yes” and wave your bangled arms in the air. This is EDM, you decide. And that blue-haired DJ on the stage knows what she’s doing, you realize. She’s blurring the lines between genres. She’s breaking the rules. She’s pioneering a new sound. (Click here to read more)

Oaklandish: Booming Business Rooted in Oakland Pride

San Francisco Chronicle

920x920 Running a business as large and varied as Oaklandish — ranked 33rd on Fortune’s list of the 100 fastest-growing inner-city companies in America last year — isn’t easy. On the eve of the brand’s recent yearly warehouse sale, with a website revamp under way and spring line about to roll out, owner and founder Angela Tsay sat down to talk about Oaklandish’s circuitious journey.

“I think sometimes people think we’ve had it really easy, but it has been hard,” she explained. “We’ve really done a lot of this ourselves.”

In the last nine years, Tsay has turned what started out as a T-shirt stand at a farmers’ market into an apparel empire, beloved and recognized by an entire city. The Oakland institution now has three store locations, a warehouse in Jack London Square and two offshoot brands, Oakland Supply Co. and NSEW. Instead of mere T-shirts and sweatshirts, it now makes everything from beanies and underwear to knee socks and coffee mugs. The brand, which once had trouble persuading San Francisco stores to sell its gear, is now sold in a dozen stores all over the Bay Area and has customers worldwide.

“Oaklandish has had great success,” Tsay said. “But we did not have some grand plan. It just kind of came together.” (Click here to read more)

Phillip Pessar Photographs Miami’s Rapidly Changing Landscape

Miami New Times

art1-1-1ae701456a3c8012

Phillip Pessar‘s Flickr stream reads like a love letter to Miami. In roughly 9,600 photos, it tells the story of South Florida’s ever-changing architectural landscape.

The photos are simple — many of them head-on shots of old department stores, abandoned burger joints, historic hotels, and bulldozed office buildings. There are no fancy editing tricks or filters, just straightforward photography. Every day, almost without fail, new pictures are added. And all consist of the same thing: images of Miami and South Florida architecture in various stages of decay, disarray, remodeling, or rebuilding.

His photos are regularly used in articles and on news blogs. They’re in the Huffington Post, Forbes, USA Today, and theMiami Herald, to name just a few. They’re also featured in cookbooks, travel guides, insurance advertisements, and real-estate blog posts. But in the ten years Pessar has been taking photos, he hasn’t seen a dime. His work is available under Flickr’s Creative Commons and can be used by anyone as long as they give him credit.

Though Pessar’s photographs might be unremarkable, he has found a niche cataloging the mundane and quotidian: a bankrupt Radio Shack location, a Wet Seal store going out of business, an Airstream trailer outfitted into a food truck. (Click here to read more)

The Breakfast Club’s Angela Yee Serves It Hot

Wesleyan Magazine

IMG_3588

“Don’t screw this up,” Jay-Z joked when he bumped into Angela Yee ’97 in the hallway. She laughed—she’d known Jay-Z for years and was used to his quips—but still, he was right. Oh man, she remembers thinking, the pressure is really on now.

It had been a little over two months since she started co-hosting a morning show at Sirius Satellite Radio and they still hadn’t hired her. Because she’d never worked in radio before, they put her on a trial period with no pay and no guarantee of getting the job. For the next few weeks, she worked diligently to prove herself by arriving early at the station and leaving late. She worked on slowing down her speech and making the inflection of her voice less monotone. She expunged words like “um” and “like” from her vocabulary. She watched popular television shows so that she could talk about them on the air and started a daily habit of reading gossip and news websites. She went to sleep early. She stopped socializing. “Every fiber of my being was dedicated to getting the job,” she recalls.

She told all of this to Jay-Z as they walked to the studio on that Wednesday morning in February of 2005. As luck would have it, the day was also a holiday: the Chinese New Year. That evening, Yee, who is half-Chinese, would be celebrating with her family over dinner, but first she had a show to do. (Click here to read more)

q&a with rapper, fat trel of maybach music group

Screen Shot 2014 04 04 at 4.52.59 PM 640x4251

Respect

SHORTLY BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON APRIL 1ST, DMV rapper Fat Trel dropped his newest mixtape, Gleesh. The eponymously-titled mixtape is Trel’s first release since signing to Maybach Music Grouplast November and a long-awaited one at that. It’s been almost eight months since the Slutty Boyz co-founder released his last mixtape, SDMG, and fans waited with bated breath to see what the Maybach rookie would come up with next. And Gleesh—thank the rap gods—does not disappoint. Trel still sounds like Trel, despite his upgrade from unsigned to signed artist. He still reps his hometown of D.C. and his love for the ladies hasn’t diminished in the least. LikeSDMGGleesh is chock-full of guest artists with features from fellow Maybach signees Wale,Rockie FreshTracy TStalley, and the man himself, Rick RossTrel’s iconic rough-around-the-edges, trunk rattling sound is still preserved in Gleesh, just with a little more polish and a little more pizzazz. Perhaps the The Washington City Paper put it best when they said, “Gleesh is like a new, upgraded model of the same vehicle.” RESPECT. talked with Fat Trel about the making of his latest mixtape and his relationships with fellow MMG artists. Read on below.

RESPECT.: Your newest mixtape, Gleesh, dropped yesterday. Have you gotten any feedback from fans or know how many times it’s been downloaded yet?

Fat Trel: I haven’t checked the stats recently. We dropped it at 11:35, so at about 12:35, we had 42,000. But other than that, I really ain’t too caught up on the stats, you know? I know my peoples was waiting. I know my fans was waiting. I know they wanted it, so I ain’t really caught up on the stats. We just gave the people what they wanted, you know?

(Click here to read more)

« Older Entries