HERE COME(S) THE G.I.R.L | 16th September, MMXVII

EMS started with absolutely no pre-conceived notion of editorial structure or journalistic discipline in mind, and to be fair if you’ve made it thus fair into its lifecycle I’m pretty much assuming you were able to realize this for yourself pretty quickly. Throughout about two years and a half the site has touched upon a wide variety of themes and topics, ranging from the more obvious and critically acclaimed “Alex Reviews Music”-column, to scattered and rather isolated notes and commentary on TV series, books, and even fashion brands. I guess the reason why I’m beginning this one with such a disclaimer is to try to legitimise my current inability to choose a single key topic to write about this time round, conflicting in conjunction with my lack of time and resources to split a list of different themes across multiple blogpost, as well as my very immediate need to bookmark what and why I want to say to this very specific timestamp. In fact, feel free to scratch the first excuse – as one can and ought to always find the time for the life domains he/she loves –, it’s really all about the necessity to make y’all aware of a couple things, so please be cautious that said awareness construction will materialise itself in form of a miscellaneous patchwork post.

Without too much further ado, in this writing I’d like to bring your esteemed attention to Los Angeles-based – yet universally addressing – independent lifestyle brand Gentlemen in Real Life, that has just recently released its second major run of products to the general public and boy, it’s simply wonderfully crafted. Brilliantly abbreviated in the catchy acronym GIRL to highlight its gender-neutral and boundary-less fashion approach, the alternative apparel and grooming brand was founded by former letlive. vocalist and principal gentleman Jason Butler back in early 2015, and likes to present itself to the world with the following:

“We believe the traditional definition of ‘gentleman’ is outdated. To us, it’s more than a refined look, or dapper presentation. It’s a lifestyle that transcends. Being a Gentleman is about taking the extra step to do what’s right. And we offer everyone a chance to be part of it.”

“We’re a small group of creatives and artists that make things we want to see made. And we’re committed to the fine details that we know they deserve.”

“The only way to truly endorse something is to create it yourself. That’s why we’ve made sure all of our products are designed, sourced, and manufactured in the USA.”

There’s really nothing else that should be added in my opinion to either spark or increase interest and concern for such valuable and especially honourable endeavour, which not only fully adopts and embodies the ethically/socially conscious values listed in the descriptions above, but also creates an organic and sustainable network of collaborations around their hometown of Los Angeles, CA, as documented on their extremely visually appealing Instagram page. Said manufacturing, productive, and marketing collaborators-ecosystem includes, for instance, the gorgeous graphic design brand Hate Street (H8ST) – which took care of the majority of the designs and visuals for GIRL’s latest drop – and the group of talented audiovisual producers that go by the name of Standard Issue Films, which enabled a series of promotional clips that were employed by Jason and GIRL when approaching their recent launch date on 1st September.

I hope it’s needless to say that I’m obviously not getting paid or in any shape or form compensated for writing this, for this enriching appreciation I feel for the brand truly stems from my complete alignment with both the mission and the cause of GIRL, besides clearly finding tons of delight and inspiration through the actual manufactured goods themselves. Thus, I’d simply suggest you all take even a quick look at what Jason and what he calls his family are doing with their company, as I fully believe it’s the minimum one could do when confronted with such praiseworthy and universally binding values as the ones brought forwards by GIRL.

As far as I’m concerned, at the time I got to learn about the overall GIRL project, it was an immediate no brainer for me to seek out means and ways to support what Jason and his crew were crafting, and for the record I have been doing so since the company launched their first online collection back in January last year. Furthermore, it should also be said that to me all things related to GIRL got significantly amplified by Jason’s artistic and especially musical undertakings that were going on at the same time (enter primarily letlive.), which I certainly strongly felt connected to and was able to rely on multiple levels on. Speaking of which, recent warmer months have brought back loads of excitement after letlive. tragically announced their break up earlier this April. Said excitement comes in form of The Fever 333, i.e. Jason’s brand new incendiary musical project kickstarted with the help of former The Chariot guitarist Stephen Harrison and impressive Night Verses drummer/digital percussionist Aric Improta.

The alternative-punk trio presented itself to the wider world via a memorable and unique unauthorised pop-up event in the parking lot of legendary drive-through landmark Randy’s Donuts on the last 4th July in Inglewood, Los Angeles. The band documented their incredible performance in a dedicated videoclip recalling the experience and explaining that the impromptu live performance was first and foremost:

“[…] an effort to demonstrate the power of assembly and protest. This particular event was in opposition to the displacement of citizens due to their race, choice of identity, or economic standing to remind ourselves that we are the largest piece of any community. Not politicians, not corporations, not the authorities, but US – the citizens. The people are what make communities successful. Before the release of any music we released specific pieces of information containing a location, a date, and then a message. In that message we called to those who wanted to see change and a reminder that it starts locally. On this day over 150 people showed up in a parking lot in Inglewood in support of an idea. That idea was to empower the people that serve as the heartbeat of their community.”

The Fever 333 has so far released two radically angry and raging standalone tracks (“We’re Coming In” and “The Hunting Season”), and have officially blossomed at their first “authorized” hometown live show that took place at The Roxy Theatre in Hollywood on 31st August, with prestigious guest appearance/endorsement of blink-182 drumming God Travis Barker as well as A-list punk producer John Feldmann, whom the band has so far worked with for the release of its first two songs. It’s still unclear what’s next for the politically-charged protest punk outfit, although judging by the way they hinted and released both information and actual material in the past, it all seems to be predominantly short-noticed and revolving around the 333-digits hook, presumably originating in their underlying credo “B3 FR33. STAND UP. RESIST.”. Watch their space as they don’t stop repeating it: There’s a fever coming…

Before pulling the curtains on this multi-dimensionally inspired, Interweb-hosted essay, yours truly would like to consume a little more of this digitised ink to address the recent release of mighty Foo Fighters‘ new LP Concrete and Gold, out just one day before this writing on 15th September. I’m fully aware that in a recent (and upcoming) sea of hugely highly-anticipated releases, with new records out (either now or fairly soon) by the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, The War on Drugs, The Killers, J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Stereophonics, and many more, there’s no way I could truly pay respect to any of those if not through a dedicated ARM-instalment (although nor am I promising this will actually materialise). Yet, very similarly to the aforementioned The Fever 333, I do like to break the rules and therefore allow myself the freedom of a couple paragraphs discussing the Foos’ recent massive album, trying to frame this discussing from a slightly different standpoint than regular ARMs so as to maintain a cautionary “apples-to-oranges” comparison basis.

The context surrounding the release of Foo Fighters’ ninth studio album contains in itself a number of fascinating insights, from the rather unconventional record producer’s choice (the bird and the bee‘s Greg Kurstin), passing through the addition of a sixth permanent group member in long-time touring keyboardist Rami Jaffee, to the juicy line-up of stellar fellow musicians who guest on the album, including Paul McCartney, Justin Timberlake, and Boyz II Men member Shawn Stockman. There is of course a fundamental, and arguably more important, musical layer to the whole aspect as well, with almost 50 minutes of brand new recorded running time spread across 11 different songs. Furthermore, one could also have noticed an hilarious and deeply informative radio interview touching upon a wide variety of topics with frontman Dave Grohl hosted by none other than Metallica’s iconic drummer Lars Ulrich on his Beats 1’s show It’s Electric!.

Yet, in spite (or precisely because of) all of the above highly intriguing and valid starting points for a genuine conversation on the Foos’ new album, what I’d like to stress out is an unbelievably fun, diverse, and effective promotional stunt utilized by the band. What I’m referring to is a promo video published in conjunction to the album release that tells the story of how Concrete and Gold was made in all its nuances, with more than worthy behind-the-scenes anecdotes and fun facts. By packaging a great amount of information relating to a process that lasted over multiple years in form of a 6-minute cartoonish, brilliantly animated clip, the Foo Fighters not only produced a promotional item that is quite unique and characteristic (especially for a mainstream act), but by processing the highest consumed format of digital consumption (video) they also managed to squeeze a great deal of valuable insights regarding the making-of the album that I’m sure would otherwise have been done through multiple separated elements that may even have not fit that well together. Hat’s off to the Foos thus, who to be fair have always flirted with the more comical and funny end of the spectrum when creating music videos for their songs. Pick any of theirs on YouTube to prove this point. Speaking of points, this was the last one for now, I promise. But remember to always B3 FR33.

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

AV

GIRL_Logo

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HI HIS NAME IS MARK | 18th March, MMXV

I’m sure you’re all more or less familiar with the popular Californian pop-punk band blink-182. I’m less sure on whether you’re aware of the fact that its bass player is called Mark Hoppus, is aged 43, and besides making seats vibrate he’s also a singer – sometimes producer – as well as a quite successful entrepreneur. Yes, because a part of his musical activity Mark is also the founder and owner of – surprise, surprise! – Hi My Name Is Mark (HMNIM), a company established in 2012 and self-described as: “a group of like-minded friends who are equally passionate about making great clothes, awesome art, cool objects, and unique pieces. We set out to make great things together and work with people and brands who share our aesthetic and sense of humor”.

While the label HMNIM itself was already buzzing around even before 2012 – for instance, I remember a series of iTunes podcasts with that name revolving around the music industry and various scenes hosted by Mark himself around 2006-2007 – it wasn’t until the last couple of years that the brand really established itself and definitely took off. In fact, something that’s really cool about the company is that they do not limit themselves to the selling of fine clothing pieces (some of which I’ve already purchased, they’re rad), but they’re also always coming up with great collaborations offering, amongst others, watches, visual prints, playing cards and thermos bottles. To have an idea of what it is exactly I’m referring to, just take a look at this.

The brand’s official logo, which I kindly reported for you below, is a weirdly comfortable and darky octopus kinda looking scarily at you, and since everyone – myself included – has been wondering from the beginning what it should be representing, Mark took the time to explain it on the website:

“What’s up with the octopus?  I’ve been using the octopus logo over the past few years, and throughout, people have asked, ‘What’s up with the octopus?’ It’s an easy answer. Music. Friends. Art. Travel. Adventure. Quotes from your favorite movies. The ocean. Punk rock clubs. Video games. Websites that make you laugh. Literature. Photos of good memories. London, Los Angeles, New York, and everywhere in between”.

Well, I personally think that not only this is a pretty clear explanation, but also that Mark is doing something quite unique and I gotta say I like and endorse it a lot. To have such a great amount of different artistic sources of inspiration reunited onto a single website is certainly something I haven’t find so often on the Interweb. Clearly, Mark’s been able to exploit his halfway celebrity-status to count on a decent fanbase from the beginning, but nonetheless you can really tell he believes in what he’s putting forward and this, after all, remains the main positive factor driving this project.

Probably my favourite part of the brand is its blog, which includes regular visual updates, audio files, and a re-launched HMNIM podcasts series, that so far has hosted guest appearances who go by the names of Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat of All Time Low and Tom DeLonge’s new replacement in blink-182 Matt Skiba (by the way, I suggest you take a listen to that specific episode if you need some calm after the storm of their recent line-up controversy). It’s precisely the podcasts that make me really happy, mainly because I think Mark is extremely brilliant at hosting guests from the art world in general (incidentally, he also had his own TV talk show on Fuse called “Hoppus on Music” from 2010 to 2012, just to show people he’s also good at doing it in front of a camera, certainly not to be taken for granted for a punk-rock bassist), but also because the topics handled during them are really interesting. And he’s got an irresistible laugh: everytime he laughs I just go along, I can’t avoid doing it, and it’s pretty fun, you should check it out.

Yet, HMNIM is not only Mark Hoppus, there are a number of additional great personalities involved in the project, of whom you can all find out more directly on each artist’s personal bio on their website. So, don’t get fooled or somehow deceived by the company’s name: his name is certainly Mark, but he’s just one brick in a wall of inspiring artistic content made available to everyone thanks to great dedication, exciting collaborations, and fine production amongst a group of friends. What more could we allow ourselves asking for?

I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.

AV

HMNIM