Young Success: SATU

Sinéad Westwood of  the blog, “Peppermint Whiskers”, is a 15-year-old feminist residing in the United Kingdom. Sinéad has been a member of the blogosphere for almost a year now, sharing both her exceptional works of art and musical talents under the pseudonym “SATU”.

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So what genre of music would you say your music falls under? And where do you find inspiration? Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?

I just call my music ‘alternative’, because I think it encompasses a really wide range of musical styles and I tend to flit between electronica, pop, folk, and I’ve even been known to rap. I’d say right now Grimes, Brooke Candy and other grrrls like that are my biggest inspiration. There are constants too, like Patrick Wolf, without whom I probably wouldn’t have started writing my own music!

That’s cool! Those are all great artists. How long have you been blogging and making music?

Well I started blogging with my friend Sophie, on flapjack-owls.blogspot.com, as a joint thing. That was last August, I think. We started it as a summer project and then I decided to create my own separate fashion blog, like an archive for my own ‘style creations’ haha. That’s on peppermint-whiskers.blogspot.com.
And I must have started getting interested in music around the ages of 11 and 12, when I started learning the violin and then got set tasks to write songs in music lessons.

Did you enjoy the structure of set tasks, or do you prefer to do things your own way?

I think with everything I try and keep to some sort of structure, on principal, but then find loopholes to make whatever it is truly my own. In some ways I’m very independent and even dislike other people’s input, but I must admit I think its important to have a basic outline there to support you in what you do because I have unfortunately often found myself just not knowing what to do!


What’s the first song you remember hearing, or rather, the first song you remember really enjoying or connecting to?

Well when I was really little, I used to listen to Radiohead (and worry my parents haha) and Bjork, and Kate Bush, stuff like that, because my parents played them. But I suppose the first songs I really felt a connection to were by Patrick Wolf when I was 12 and I was really taken aback by what he had created.

What is your plan, career-wise? Are you planning on pursuing music as a career, and how do you think you will achieve your goals as such a young person?

I definitely want to be a recording artist as a career, I can’t even imagine doing anything else. I have a feeling it’s going to be hard to be taken seriously right from the start, considering I want to produce as well as record, and I know the music industry can be very sexist. My plan is to try and get an internship at a record label or something in a couple of years, so that’s a head start kind of thing. But I can only hope someone will notice me!

As a woman, what do you think you can bring to the table that others can’t, and do you think you’ll really struggle due to the fact you are a woman? Right now do you have any connections in the music industry, or maybe a jump start on reaching your goals?

I think it’s still refreshing to see, say, a female rapper (I’m so glad people like Iggy Azalea have made it in an admittedly male-dominated genre) or producer managing to be successful. To be honest, I can’t even think of a female producer who is really well known in a mainstream context – which is terrible. I don’t think gender has anything to do with being a potentially brilliant producer! Well, I have a lot of friends and relatives who live in London, so I consider that an important asset already, because if I ever wanted to stay there for an internship or anything, I could stay with someone. Also, my cousin’s boyfriend has a record label so I guess that’s a good connection to have!

Now i know you said your genre of music falls under “alternative”, why is that?

Well I find it quite hard to describe in a more detailed way, and all I feel I can define it with is a genre title with a wider context. Someone once suggested I called it “ethericle-esoteric-chillwave” haha – I’ll just end up being one of those pretentious-sounding artists who describe themselves with words that sound made up.

Haha I actually like that! At least you know what you want to create with your music and your sound. What do you draw inspiration from when you make your music, for example your song “i harry styles” stems from your love for the One Direction member, correct?

Ohhh I am so glad you brought that up! I’m actually listening to One Direction right now, haha. Harry Styles is so cute! I love the boys. I generally (and boringly) get lyric ideas from crushes, *CRINGE* but recently i’ve been doing some experiments with dance music and getting really inspired by people like Calvin Harris’ music. What tends to happen is I want to emulate the style of a particular song, but it never works out right so I just end up with something totally different. Which is kind of good, in retrospect. But the lyrics are more often than not somehow related to boy drama.

I feel some of the most successful female recording artists get inspiration from boy drama, such as Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus (I’m not a fan of either, but they are successful). So finally, what’s next for SATU and your music?

Thats true, haha. Well at the moment I am studying music technology and music performance at college (I know that’s a different thing in the USA – I’m 16 [the American equivalent of a sophomore in High School]) so I’m just building up skills that I’ll need and general confidence in performing. It’s all so exciting! As soon as I finish, I want to try to get my foot in the metaphorical door of the music industry – I can hardly wait!

Have you performed yet, like maybe at dances or parties or in school?
I performed in 2012 at my school’s annual “alternative music night”, and again earlier this year before I left, and also I performed on the square in the town where I live for a thing called Youth Fest. That was also in 2012, when I was all ANGST and a baritone ukulele.
What’s your favorite part of performing? Do you get stage fright at all?
I SO get stage fright, I love it when I’m up there but i get this thing where one of my legs will start shaking really uncontrollably, and it’s so crazy and off-putting. But I really love it when people come up afterwards, and say they liked it; like after one of my performances a couple of people were like ” I really loved that,” or “I really paid attention to the lyrics,” which is so lovely. But I need to get over my stage fright; people seem to like what I do so it’s kind of irrational in a way!
I think the more you do it, the more performing will just come naturally and the fear will just melt away. Also, you’re an artist and I’ve seen a couple of your drawings. You’re really quite talented. I absolutely love your watercolors. What do you love most about drawing?
I’m really into drawing mermaids right now, I don’t know why. I like the blues and drawing hair, but I think visuals are also a really great way of expressing emotion and showing that something has inspired you, just like music is amazing for doing that. It’s a very personal and intimate thing; I think all art forms are. Music and drawing are my ways of communicating best, I guess!
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I agree – art is the best form of expression! Thank you so much for taking the time to let me interview you!

Thank you for interviewing me!
You can check out SATU on Soundcloud, and also check out her blog.

Young Success: Jarred Davidson

The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing my good friend and coworker, Jarred Davidson, who is a 21-year-old San Diego photographer. Shooting photography as “Decentexposure619″ for three years, Jarred continues to learn new things every day and believes that it allows him to show people how he views things through the lens of a camera. In his own words, “I see it as an art form, and a way of life. I constantly look at objects and scenes as a photograph, which has made me a better photographer. As I continue down this road I hope it brings me great experiences, relationships and a career to last a lifetime.”

 

First of all, when did you first start taking photos, and what drove you to pursue it as a career?

I started taking photos when I was nineteen.

Was it just for fun? what kind of gear were you using then?

When I started seeing major progress in my images, I started seeing it as an art form and a way to express myself. Therefore, I figured if I am good at it, and I enjoy it, why not make a career out of it and start my own company. It was for fun at first, my friends and I used to take out my gopro camera bodysurfing in La Jolla and take pictures and videos of each other, and from there it progressed into DSLR cameras and photo editing.

So how has your photography transformed over the past few years, from just for fun to a full fledged company?

I started learning new things such as long exposures and all the aspects of the camera which overall benefitted my photos; it changed them entirely. I got a lot of positive feedback on my photos, people loved them, so I figured I would take advantage of that.

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Now I know you go to the Ocean Beach Farmers Market every Wednesday night, do you sell your photos there, and how successful would you say your sales are? Is it rewarding to be doing something you’re passionate about that you also get paid to do?

I sell photos, ceramic tiles, magnets, posters, postcards and t-shirts at the farmers market. My sales vary every week, but in reality I look at the market as a way to get my name out there and expand. I give out over 100 business cards every market.

What other methods are you using to get your name out there?

It’s very rewarding, but it is difficult and hard to balance. At this point I am still learning how to run a business, so mainly everything I make, I put back into the business until I put together a solid business plan. Basically through interaction; I try to tell as many people as I can. I use Facebook and Instagram as well, which has been effective.

So what was your plan when you graduated high school, and how has that changed? Are your parents supportive/proud of what you do?

I originally wanted to be a fish and game warden, so I went to Butte College in Chico, California. That didn’t work out so I moved back home and decided to work and figure things out. My parents are very supportive, because they know I am smart and that I can do anything I put my mind to.

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Right now how successful would you say you are?

I’d say I’m more grateful than successful. You have to appreciate what you have and eventually better things will come.

That’s a great attitude to have! What do you gather inspiration from with your photography? What do you enjoy capturing on film most?

I’m working hard on it, and I can’t give up after all I have put into it. I just have to give it time; eventually I will be making very good money – it’s just a matter of time.

I have no doubt, you’re very talented!

Thank you, I love hearin’ that!

You can check out more of Jarred’s work at his:
Website
Instagram
Facebook
Youtube

Below are a few of my personal favorites of Jarred’s work.

Contributions I’ve Made To “Outsider”

So back in June I made a post about my recent involvement in an online zine for young women called “Outsider”, which features rad girls (and a few guys) from all over the world. I also said that I would make a monthly post that outlined a few of my contributions to the zine for that month. However, I have been quite busy – and you will find out why soon enough – so I have not had the opportunity to share with you any of my contributions until now. So here you go!

July:

The Lindsay Weir Effect

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Each month, “Outsider” chooses a monthly idol – someone famous who we want to embody in that month’s content; to create one sole theme based around that person. For the month of July, the staff at “Outsider” chose to use “Freaks and Geeks” character Lindsay Weir.

The post I made was about the effect that I believe most young girls go through in high school – a transition from one person into another as you grow up and mature. The character of Lindsay Weir goes through her own transition from straight-A mathlete to wierdo freak very early on in the television series, and I can relate. The article I wrote described my own experiences and I how I relate to Lindsay and her transition.

Outsider July Debate: Talkers VS. Listeners

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Each month, a handful of “Outsider” staff gather to discuss a topic of debate – whether it be serious (gender equality, racism, education systems, etc.) or non-serious (who is the best member of “One Direction”,  which brand of Nail Polish is the best, or who we think should win the Oscars this year, etc.) The debate for the month of July was centered around the concept of Talking versus Listening – in conversation there are those who like to hear the sounds of their own voice, and there are those who enjoy listening to the thoughts of others. Our debate centered around the following question: Are we (the human race) a society of talkers or listeners? And how does this affect our ability to solve problems in politics? How does this affect our ability to maintain and create personal relationships? The article describes the responses by the staff members at “Outsider”, and what we think about this interesting concept.

Coming Of Age Books: Our Picks

One of my fellow “Outsider” staff members, Rosie, put together a post containing book recommendations following the theme for July – teen angst, identity crises, self-reflection, growing up, rebranding, etc. I recommended my favorite book of all time, “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger, which tells the story of a young man named Holden Caulfield, who thinks you’re a phony. I don’t want to tell you too much, but it’s a great read! Other books that were included in the list were “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray, “The World of Christopher Robin” by A.A. Milne, and “The Pursuit of Love” by Nancy Mitford.

August:

“Outsider” took a brief hiatus for the month of August, so the rest of our content went into the month of September.

September:

Book Recommendations

Once again, Rosie put together a list of book recommendations that followed our September theme of overcoming challenges, as seen in our September Idol, Dorothy Counts. The two books that I recommended were “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore, and “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Other books mentioned were “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte, “A Gathering Light” by Jennifer Donnelly,  “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, and “Hons & Rebels” by Jessica Mitford.

I look forward to future contributions I’ll be making to “Outsider”, and I look forward to seeing what my amazing fellow staff members will contribute as well!

What do you think of “Outsider”?

Young Success: Figueroa

Recently I’ve had a very keen interest in young people who are living their lives with goals, dreams, and aspirations. I’ve decided to create an interview series in which I seek out young, interesting, successful people who are making their dreams come true, and who are showing the world that you’re never too young to make a difference. Here is my first installment in “Young Success”!

His simple stage name may give you the idea that he’s a simple musician, but he’s anything but. Figueroa has been creating innovative beats and sounds since his start back in late 2011, making a name for the local San Diego music scene. Figueroa and I go way back, as classmates together in high school, and I even had the honor of practicing with him during a “School of Rock” project in early 2011. I had the pleasure of interviewing him back in November of 2012, and since then he’s gone from hip-hop solo artist to innovative, open-minded musical artist.

Alright, last time I interviewed you, you had just released your Reckless EP with Fourth Sound, and created Reckless Gang. Where is Reckless Gang now?

Reckless Gang has slowly been pushed to the bottom of my priority list and into obscurity. The people I was working with were, well lack of a better term, assholes. I am 100% serious about my music and I couldn’t put my efforts into something that was going nowhere. So all my focus has gone into myself and Shoebox Collective.

Now what is Shoebox Collective exactly, and what is your role in it?

Shoebox is an art collective I am a part of. We just try to push the creation of art on the local and underground level. As far as what we make, we have artists making anything from paintings to folk to punk to the hip-hop that I bring to it.

How long have you been involved in Shoebox, and where do you hope to go with it?

I’ve been part of the collective since the beginning of this year. I actually go involved with it through my best friend, Tanner. His brother Dustin is the founder of the collective as a whole, and has actually been a big influence on the direction in which I’m taking my music.

And what direction is that?

I’ve been more focused on being innovative with my sound. I can spit a 16 any day of the week and people will know my skill. But after a while, it gets boring. I want to incorporate new shit into hip-hop, new hits into hip-hop, just change the game. Even on my last album I used Dustin for some screaming on a couple tracks which isn’t something you really hear on a rap album. I want to change it so much that people don’t call it a hip-hop album, they just call it a Figueroa album.

It sounds to me like innovation is the name of the game. I remember when we last spoke you were doing a lot of solo work. Have you done any recent collaborations, aside from Dustin and Shoebox?

I did some work with Josh McNeal from Super Groupie on my last album. We’ve done work together before, so he was the one to hit up first for a verse. He really came through for me. I also collaborated with former “Quel Bordel!” and “Plane Without a Pilot” drummer, Wes Carmichael for this same track, so it was a full effort. Away from that, I’ve been doing some with with LA DJ, Slow Graffiti and we have some great things planned. I just worked on an intro with him for his EP, Los Angeles, which is out on iTunes right now. I’m actually proud of that dude, he’s been doing things in the past few months and even had a track played on BBC Radio 1 a week ago. Other than that I’ve just been working with the Shoebox crew.

Sounds like some pretty rad stuff! You seem like you’re good about making connections in the music world. How do you think that will help you in the future?

Well the plan is to hopefully get to a point where I can make my living solely on music. And with these people I work with, I definitely think it will help, but i’m not doing it to get something in return. I work with these folks simply because I believe in the projects they are creating. But more importantly, my goal is to just have fun. I feel like the second this becomes a chore is the day I give up.

Seems like at this point it won’t really come to that. Now, last time we spoke you also mentioned now is that time in your life where you’re an adult who needs a job and no longer a kid with nothing to worry about. Where are you in your life and where do you hope to be in the next, say five years – both personally and professionally? 

Right now I’m at this fucked up transitional stage. It’s hopelessly led to nights of panic attacks and shaking anxiousness. It sucks, but I’m dealing with it through music. It’s actually been the focal point of what I’ve been writing lately. I’ve been working a lot more on spoken word along with my hip-hop, so I want to try and combine the two into one project. Hopefully it can be a guide to kids going through the same shit.

Why all the anxiousness, if you don’t mind my asking? I believe many kids will be able to relate – we all go through scary transitions in life.

The amount of pressure college has added to my life, trying to balance a million things at once, trying to hold on to people you know you can’t, and above all else, that growing mountain of debt I’m accumulating from college.

I think many young people can relate to that. So music is helping you cope, but do you think music will help you find a solution?

I think so. I find it as a method of self-reflection. I find it as a way to get all my problems out onto paper or into my phone, and from there I can see where I need to be. It helps to just get me to the next point in life.

That’s good. So where are you finding the most inspiration right now, and which artists/genres are you currently listening to?

I find the most inspiration as it pertains to what I write through life. How I write through has been solely through punk. About six months ago I just stopped listening to hip-hop. I still will catch up and listen to all the big releases – Wolf, MCHG, Yeezus, Doris, Born Sinner; but I’ve been mainly listening to punk and hardcore just so I can bring a new view to my music. I’ve been really listening to The Wonder Years a lot lately, which is actually where I got the title for the new project I’m working on.

I see. Have you been listening to any other genres at all? And what project is that?

Genre-wise it’s mainly been punk and hardcore. The current project I’m working on is actually called “Watching My Heroes Turn Human In Front Of Me”, and it’s sort of my take on the this whole part of my life I’m in. It’s a culmination of just where I find myself and how I’m dealing with things.

Tell me a bit about the project.

Well the project is gonna be my second independent LP, and it’s gonna be a follow up to Romans, which I released back in may. Romans was about finding happiness through life and I want this next album to be about real-life shit. Like, you’ve realized that there are alternatives to being sad all the time, but now you’re facing this Goliath of an obstacle called growing up and how are you gonna deal with it? Well, I don’t know, but I’m gonna track my journey over the next however many months through my music. With this I plan on using my poetry along with my music, I want real instruments along with the synths, I want more screaming, I want more anger, I want to let out this nervous energy I have, and I really feel like this can be an amazing and beautiful project.

That sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

Well this past Friday night we had our Shoebox Collective “End of Summer Trash Live Broadcast”, and since that was a success, we are currently planning a west coast tour for the winter, so be checking for us in a city near you. Also, tune in every Friday night at 7pm PST for Shoebox Radio over at radio.shoeboxcollective.com.

Thanks, I’ll stay posted! 

And thank you, Morgan!

You can can also find Figueroa on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FreeFigueroa

Bandcamp: http://figueroa.bandcamp.com/

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/figueroamusic

Tumblr: http://figueroamusic.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kanyefidence

And you can also check out his affiliations, mentioned in the interview:

Reckless Gang: http://www.recklessgang.com/

Shoebox Collective: http://www.shoeboxcollective.com/

If you’d like to be interviewed, leave a comment and tell me why you think you’d be a good fit for “Young Success”.

Oh, Internet, How I Love Thee: Volume Six

1. My current wallpaper.

Photo by Emmanuel Nataf on Picasa

I came across this photo on Picasa (through Google) and was instantly struck by the urge to save it and set it as my desktop wallpaper. The contrast between the cotton-candy-pink umbrellas and the baby blue sky just screams “summer” to me. I just couldn’t help myself.

2. A poem about June that spoke to me.

“Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly.” – Pablo Neruda

3. The Avant/Garde Diaries present “Unlocking the Truth”

The Avant/Garde Diaries recently presented this video featuring a heavy-metal band of two sixth-grade boys from Brooklyn called “Unlocking the Truth”. They rock just as hard as bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden, just check them out!

Unlocking The Truth – Malcolm Brickhouse & Jarad Dawkins from The Avant/Garde Diaries on Vimeo.

4. “Booty Swing” by Parov Stelar

This song seems like it should have made it’s way onto the new “Great Gatsby” soundtrack, but it somehow missed the deadline. I can’t help but dance a little bit in my seat. Almost all of Parov Stelar‘s music feels like a modernized 20’s dance party!

5. The 13-year-old blogger. 

One of my fellow OutsidersOphelia Horton, was interviewed by BBC about the fact that she is one of the youngest, most influential fashion bloggers in the world (alongside those like the infamous Tavi Gevinson).

Photo courtesy of who’s that girl?

6. Sisterhood & Silence by Ceedling

One of my favorite bloggers, Celia Edell aka Ceedling, recently wrote a piece on sisterhood among women and how women are perpetually in competition with one another. Check out her post here.

7. Micaela Hoo’s 60’s-inspired editorial

I absolutely fell in love with the work of 19-year-old student and photographer Micaela Hoo of Drifter and the Gypsy. Micaela shot a ’60s-inspired editorial for the latest issue of London-based indie mag, Ballad Of that was too dreamy not to share.

Photos courtesy of Story by Modcloth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. My personal summer mixtape. 

Below is a mix I made filled with music that I’ve been listening to on strolls I’ve taken through my neighborhood. The mix cover is a photo I took of a palm tree down the street from me, no joke!

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