Tag Archives: Photoshoot

Bridgit Mendler (Interview)

Bridgit Mendler is a young popster who recently pivoted her sound by releasing a new single, “Atlantis,” off her forthcoming EP, Nemesis, which drops November 4th. Photog Mallory Turner recently hung out with her to shoot some pics while FBV asked some questions.

Your new single, “Atlantis,” is a sonic departure from your debut album Hello My Name Is… What was the catalyst that inspired the direction of your new sound?

“I wanted to be fearless about making something different. There were things I’d been afraid to try before and for this EP I wanted to explore them. Some sonic influences were Nelly Furtado, J Dilla, and The Animals. But the most defining thing about this EP’s sound is the mind meld between Spencer, Book, and I. This project is just the intermingling of our ideas. And to me, the depth of the creative collaboration has been the most exciting part of the whole process.”


How did you recruit the song’s co-producers Book and Spencer Bastian?

“I met Spencer last summer through our managers. I was determined to do try something new in our first session and not go safe. We had great chats about music even though the sound we first made wasn’t anything like the music now. Book came on board a couple sessions later and then never left. He was the missing piece.”


How did you recruit Kaiydo to be featured on the track?

“[Through] my A&R at Black Box. Dylan [Bourne] knows his peeps and as we were thinking of features for “Atlantis” his name came up and was really exciting because I had already been following his music for a while. Kaiydo agreed, sent us a great verse, and ‘Atlantis’ was finally whole.”


What’s the story behind the title of your forthcoming EP Nemesis?

“For this project I have asked myself a lot of scary questions: ‘What do I honestly feel? What sounds do I honestly like if I’m not afraid of people disliking them? What does it feel like to work really hard on something without anything guiding my steps at all?’ Nemesis was at one point going to be my new artist name. But it felt right to have this EP represent the idea. Nemesis is about, as corny as it is, confronting fear. Even superheroes have a nemesis who won’t go away. It keeps popping up again and threatening to defeat you. Every time I perform these songs I want to remember that I was scared, but for some reason the music was worth fighting for.”


You said you wrote a lot of this EP at Silver Lake coffee shops and gas stations along the I-5. Which do you prefer?

“I don’t like spending time at home alone but I love being alone and amongst people at coffee shops and alone in the car. There is space to think and both have a constantly stimulating change of scenery. If I had to choose, I’d choose driving because I’m an L.A. girl like that. Nowhere else do people like spending that much time in their car.”

What can we expect from you next?

“Coming up next is the music video. Stay tuned!”

Mallory Turner: Website, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr

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Luna Shadows (Interview)

Luna Shadows is a dark popstress obsessed with The Golden State and its infinite inspirations.
Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently hung out with her at the Santa Monica Pier to ask some questions and shoot some pics.
What’s the story behind the title of your recently released debut EP Summertime?

“I went through a number of titles but Summertime was always the one that I came back to for a number of reasons. The project started in Summer 2014 and it was released in Summer 2016. The word ‘summertime’ appears as a lyric in a few different songs and the entire EP revolves around endless summer and Californian imagery. In a broader sense, Summertime represents nostalgia, longing, hopefulness, readiness, love, loss, youth, and freedom. Growing up in New York City, I would wait all year for the sun and the freedom that summer implied. It is both literally the season and also metaphorically what it represents: the arrival of something long anticipated. It is a simple word that means so much to me and so perfectly encapsulates how I felt during the writing of this record.”

Some of your lyrics mention life in Los Angeles and California. How has living here influenced your music?

“Speaking of summer, it was always a dream of mine to live in California from the time I was a small child. I moved out here as soon as I was old enough to come on my own. I knew no one at all when I got here and now I can’t imagine ever leaving. It was both lonely and liberating at the same time which has also been my lasting impression of L.A. I was drawn here for the same reasons as most: the palm trees, the weather, the beach, the blue skies. But I’ve come to love the small underappreciated details about L.A. too. Being here has heavily influenced my music. It feels like the summer I would always wait for except it’s all the time.”

How did you recruit Brad Hale to be your co-producer?

“I met Brad back in 2012 at one of his shows because I was a big fan of his band Now, Now. I approached him and his bandmates after the gig –we had lots of mutual friends– and offered them a place to stay next time they returned to L.A. Thinking they’d never take me up on it, I was wrong. Next time they came back they stayed with me. I baked them strawberry cupcakes before we all bonded over our love of cats and our collective social anxiety. We’ve been best friends ever since. At some point, I asked Brad if he would try working on a song with me. We sat down in Summer of 2014 and wrote most of ‘Waves’ in about fifteen minutes.”

How about Thom Powers?

“In the summer of 2014, Brad was staying with me in L.A. –he’s from Minneapolis– and working on his music. He invited me out to tacos with his friend Thom of the band The Naked and Famous –of whom I was also a big fan. I almost didn’t go because I was too tired but I pulled it together. The three of us sat and ate tacos and drank margaritas for hours. It was a right-place right-time situation. Thom had just returned home from a tour and was interested in producing a project outside of his band. So we started working together. Sometimes it would be all three of us [‘Cry Wolf’], sometimes just Brad and I [‘Waves’], and sometimes just Thom and I [‘Hallelujah California’]. We all checked in with each other and bounced ideas around regardless. The two of them are my dream team.”

Where all was the EP recorded?

“Every instrument on my EP is digital. The entire thing was created on a computer with the exception being guitar. We worked in Thom’s home studio in Echo Park for most of the demo process. I record and edit my own vocals either in my bedroom or in my friend’s closet in Mount Washington. This involves me standing in a soundproof closet in the heat of L.A. summer, with no AC or a fan –because it makes too much noise, for four to eight hours at a time. My computer would overheat and start making electrical noises so I would occasionally run into the kitchen and put it in the fridge to cool it down quickly. The things you do for love.”

What can you tell us about your collaborations with Kamtin Mohager of The Chain Gang of 1974?

“Kam was a co-writer on ‘Cherry.’ We have written a few songs together but so far this is the only one we finished. Thom is also producing Kam’s record which comes out very soon so the three of us thought it would be fun to try something together one day. The day we wrote this song I walked in and started dancing to a few trap songs that I brought in for reference. I suggested that we write something with a dark hip-hop or trap beat juxtaposed with a melancholy chord progression that would tug at the heart strings. I had written the word ‘cherry’ in my iPhone notes around that time and I didn’t yet know what I meant yet but it all came together as the melody fell into place. Kam improvised the initial idea for the verse melody. Then I reorganized that idea, wrote the chorus, added my lyrics and harmonies, structured it out, and ran home to demo vocals for what is now ‘Cherry’ –my favorite track on the EP.”

You just released a stunning music video for “Hallelujah California.” Where all was it shot?

“We shot all around L.A. but primarily in Silver Lake and Echo Park because that’s where I spend most of my time and where the EP was created. I also wanted to do something at the beach but present it in a darker fashion which most people don’t usually imagine when they think of L.A. So it was my idea to shoot a sequence at the beach where I wear all black and walk into the water at the very end.”

Who are the tattooed twins featured in the video?

“The twins are Adam and Keith Brierley. In real life, they are two amazing guys who run a thrift store and have the coolest Instagrams ever. Morgan Freed, the video’s director, found them on Facebook. We saw a picture of them and we refused to even consider anyone else. They were so perfect. In the video, their role is supposed to be left open to interpretation. I want fans to interpret for themselves who they are and what they represent. I may never tell!”

Why did you choose to shoot it in black and white? California is so sunny!

“For that exact reason. Everyone typically captures L.A.’s dreaminess and all its colors so I wanted to counter that classic image with something more modern and raw that exposed the darker parts. You can still tell it’s sunny and we’ve incorporated these prisms of paradise but then there’s this other element present where you can tell there’s something darker. It is the mission statement of my art as a whole to place dark and light things side by side.”

Anna Maria Lopez: Website, Facebook, Instagram

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Molly Marlette (Interview)

Molly Marlette is a former “show-biz kid” who is now a vibrant popster with a captivating new single: “Do Me A Favor.” Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently hung out with her to ask some questions and shoot some fun pics.

You’ve lived in Hollywood your whole life. How has the neighborhood changed over the years?

“I have a somewhat delusional view of Los Angeles so it’s hard for me to say. I pretend the sign on the hill still says ‘Hollywoodland.’ It’s like, to me L.A. is still the place where people go to dream. You know? Where stars are born. I’ll walk past the Chase Bank parking lot across from Chateau Marmont and picture the old Garden of Allah Hotel that used to be there with Charlie Chaplin and William Faulkner hanging out.”

You’ve been a trained tap dancer since childhood. Do you ever incorporate this into your live shows?

“I have actually! We put a mic in a box that I stood on and I looped some things. I also did for the intro of ‘Cause for Concern’ on my last album.”

You have a very fun aesthetic filled with color. Where does your inspiration for this come from?

“My inspiration comes from old MGM musicals, Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, and also David Bowie. I would love to work with someone who aspires to be the next Edith Head.”

Your pet Pomeranian, Theodore, is rather famous for his aqua blue fur. How did he end up this way?

“Theodore is groomed by the fabulous Jess Rona. I had seen her work before and told her to do whatever inspired her. He’s actually pink now! It’s completely organic, non-toxic, vegan, and pet-friendly.”

Your latest single, “Do Me A Favor,” is a synth-laden pop blast and a departure from your debut album The Robber and the Boy. What inspired your new sound?

“I’ve always wanted to do something like that and it felt right at the time. I grew up listening to [George] Gershwin and [Henry] Mancini and those are my biggest influences in terms of writing. But I remember when I was twelve getting a Happy Meal from McDonald’s that had a little MP3 player with ‘Stronger’ by Britney Spears. I think they were called HitClips. My twelve-year-old mind was blown. I remember being really confused because I wanted to do something like that but it didn’t fit in my Judy Garland box of goals. More recently I decided to mix them.”

Your music video for “Do Me A Favor” shot scenes at Vincent Lamouroux’s “Projection” installation, the “Bates Motel,” in Silver Lake. How did this come about?

“I was driving by on Sunset [Boulevard] and I saw this completely whitewashed motel –the palm trees and the sign and everything– and I knew that had to be the location. It was perfect. We got permission from the artist and the gallery but I still had to climb the fence in a white mini skirt to get in.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming album?

“I’m working on more music. It won’t be too long this time.”

Anna Maria Lopez: Website, Facebook, Instagram

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Madeline Spooner (Interview)

Madeline Spooner is a young songstress who just released her new EP, NAUTILUS, which conjures a swirl of ravishing mood pop within every track. Photog Anna Maria Lopez recently caught up with the singer to shoot some portraits and ask some questions.

You’re a native of the Midwest. How did you come to move to Los Angeles?

“I romanticized living on the West Coast all throughout my high school years. So many great bands that I was influenced by, like The Doors, came out of L.A. and I just knew this was where I needed to be. My parents insisted I go to college and with very little thought or research I set my sights on CalArts and got in. I came out in 2009 to study music and was shell-shocked when I realized The Valley was not the beach and 2009 was not 1969. There are so many redeeming qualities to the city but I do miss thunderstorms and that simple Midwestern lifestyle.”


How did you choose the title of your new EP NAUTILUS?

“The name chose itself. I saw a spiral shape in a bunched up blanket on my couch in a sort of subconscious flash. I knew it was the title of the EP at the moment I saw it. The nautilus and its divine proportions is the mathematical formula that makes up creation. NAUTILUS revolves around themes of life, death, rebirth and transformation. At the time I was writing it I was having dreams in which I was dying of a terminal illness and was also present with my friend and CalArts music mentor who was dying of cancer. And all of that influenced the music. I also finished the record with the song that I started with before meeting my producer, Ethan Allen, which is titled ‘Into The Womb.’ So it really came full circle, just like a spiral.”


Was there a catalyst which made you decide to incorporate electronic production into your acoustic songwriting?

“Yes. Absolutely, there was a catalyst. For most of my life I only listened to classic rock and then in my early teens I listened to various female folk-pop artists. When I discovered CocoRosie’s electronic freak folk album Grey Oceans, it turned my world upside down in a good way. I started hearing electronic music in my head before going to sleep at night. It was totally clairaudient because the sounds I was hearing were so visceral. It was as if I was an antenna picking up radio waves from some distant place or time. There is no way I could ever record or notate what I was hearing because it is far too complex. But from then on, I knew I wanted to incorporate more in my music.”


How did you come to work with your producer Ethan Allen?

“I was working at a coffee shop in Silver Lake called Mornings Nights and Ethan was a customer. A coworker told me he was someone very special that I should know. It turned out to be very true. At that time I was still self-producing and about a year later I sought Ethan’s help. After just one meeting I knew he was the guy to work. NAUTILUS was a true collaboration and co-production. When I brought the songs to him it was as if he had been there from the beginning of the original idea. That’s when you know you’ve got a true collaborator because it feels like you don’t need to verbalize much.”


What is the overall lyrical theme of this EP?

“There are a lot of deep, heady philosophical ideas but there is a fair amount of playfully facetious and provocative naïvete to the lyrics. Words like ‘let’s make a porn out in the corn’ and ‘I am the whore, lucky you are’ are covertly executed in the way they are sung and snuck into the rhythm of the melodies. They are lyrics that aren’t necessarily the focus of those songs but flavors of the human experience that can’t be ignored. I mean, you can’t have life or death without sex in the mix.”


You use projections in your live shows. How do you curate the images?

“I have been leaning towards a more modern look with clean lines and shapes where the function of the projections should serve to heighten the experience and enhance a trans-like state. The projections are there to support the experience. I want people to get a feeling like they are lifting off the ground.”

Have you gotten your nautilus tattoo yet?

“Who said I was getting a nautilus tattoo?”

Anna Maria Lopez: Website, Facebook, Instagram

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“Swoon” by L.A. Girlfriend

L.A. Girlfriend (aka Sydney Banta) returns by dropping her sophomore LP Neon Grey. The superb album is the blatant result of Banta giving a modern edge to her obsession of ’80s post-punk and synthpop –or as she describes, “a soundtrack for lonely lovers that want to dance out the darkness.” Here’s the Pixies-channeling track “Swoon.”

“I got a fever of dreams that changes all the time.”

We wanted to know more about L.A. Girlfriend so we asked Banta a few questions.

If you ever moved to another city, do you think you would have to change your moniker?

“Never! I like to think of L.A. Girlfriend as a state of mind instead of a reference to where I’m physically located. I’m a California girl at heart too, so if I ever left, I’d definitely be bringing home with me. Changing the name would be changing my whole identity.”

How did you come up with the title of your new album Neon Grey?

“I came up with the title based on reflection of my own life. I noticed the ups and downs that were affecting me in various ways and realized, despite there being a void of simplistic black-and-white choices and circumstances, I had to embrace the uncertainty of living in ‘the grey.’ No matter what happens in life, I always want to be optimistic and bright sort of speak. The title Neon Grey is my way of combining good and bad and making it into something totally new.”

Did you have help recording it?

“I wrote and produced the entire album myself, but I did have help in tracking guitars, bass, and vocals. Celso Estrada of Kingsize Soundlabs was my wizard of recording and engineering and my bassist Nathan came in to play a few parts. Other than that, I took on guitar duties and vocals. I like keeping the process tight knit.”

What’s the biggest difference between this release and your last EP, Varsity, and LP Viva?

Viva was more analog driven; live guitars, live bass, and live drum sounds. The Varsity EP leaned on the electronic side with synth-heavy sounds and drum machines. I really like elements from both sides and I think of Neon Grey as the marriage between the two. Since the subject matter of Neon Grey is more serious from a lyrical point than previous releases, sonically the album as a whole is heavier and darker –my electro analog thunderstorm of a dream come true.”

You admit that your sound is heavily influenced by ’80s counterculture. Do you wish you could travel back to that era or are you content with the present?

“Honestly, if I were to travel back, I’m not sure I would appreciate it as much as I do now. That’s why I have my cool parents to show me the best of the best. We usually watch ’80s music videos whenever I visit them, and for me, it’s an awesome way to relive the era through their eyes. I’d probably only go back to the ’80s for a day to watch my mom recommend albums to customers at the record shop where she worked and see my dad shred on a skateboard.”

The new album’s cover art features a rad, custom “LAGF” ring. Where did it come from?

“My good friend Bobby Allen started a custom jewelry business called The Circle Craft a while back and has since made some pretty amazing things out of bronze and other metals. He’s responsible for the ring and the eons of happiness I feel whenever I wear it. Definitely my go-to jewelry guy.”

What can we expect from you next?

“Coming up, I have a big Neon Grey party happening at Resident in Downtown L.A. on February 19th. After that, at least two more videos in support of the LP and a slew of shows that might take me to different states. It’d be sick to play FYF this year, but other than that, the plan is to keep going onward and upward.”

L.A. Girlfriend will perform on February 19th at Resident.


L.A. Girlfriend: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Soundcloud

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Phoebe Ryan at Bonnaroo (Interview)

phoebe6Phoebe Ryan recently performed at Bonnaroo.


So photographers Mallory Turner and Matt Benton shot some pics while Free Bike Valet asked some questions.


What did you think when you first found out you were performing at Bonnaroo this year?

“I was like, ‘No. There’s no way. That’s insane.’ You always hear about Bonnaroo being ‘The Festival.’ It’s so legit and here I am. I wouldn’t say I’m legit, but here I am.”


Is this your first time performing a music festival of this size?

“It is. Last year I sang at Electric Zoo [with Tritonal] for an EDM song I wrote, but this just felt way different having your own music to perform –totally different vibe. But yes, this was a very big crowd and really awesome.”


What did you want your audience to experience during your set today?

“I actually got to talk to some girls who were just walking by when they heard my first song. They were like ‘Oh, let’s stay and watch this.’ By the end of my set they fought through the crowd to come talk to me. They were like, ‘Who are you? Where did you come from?’ That’s the type of response I love the most.”


You’ve written songs for Bea Miller, Oh Honey, and Tritonal. At what point did you decide to start writing for yourself?

“My producer Kyle Shearer was the catalyst. When I first heard the music we worked on together I was like, ‘This is what I want. This is the sound I want for myself.’”


Kyle produced your debut EP Mine. How did you find him?

“I met Kyle through my manager Zack Gurka. He sent me to Nashville on a very casual writing trip just to meet some people he thought I would write with well. I ended up falling in love with Kyle. I was like, ‘I need this kid in my project. I need his sounds. I need his soul.’ I just knew.”


Has this past year been a breakthrough?

“A year ago I was in Nashville writing my EP and now I’m playing Bonnaroo. Everything has been an absolute whirlwind. I’m just trying to do the best I can everyday and take the next step. Keep climbing the stairs. I don’t know where they’re going but I’m climbing them.”


How does it feel to have your debut EP released?

“It’s amazing. I’ve been waiting so long to put out my own music. It’s just crazy. I don’t think it has hit me yet.


Just curious, is your hair always going to be green?

“Yes! Always.”


You often mention your pet parakeet Bert. Who takes care of him when you’re on tour?

“My ex-boyfriend got a parakeet while we were dating. I already had one and he decided to get one too. When we broke up, he moved out of the house but left his parakeet. So I called him and said, ‘You know this is still your bird. I have to be gone for a few months. Will you help?’ He’s been very sweet by taking good care of the birds. It’s just a messy divorce situation.”

Mallory Turner: Website, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr

Matt Benton: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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Beach Party booked for July residency at The Echo (Interview)


Garage surf rawkers Beach Party recently booked July’s Monday night residency at The Echo (RSVP via DoLA).


So Free Bike Valet and photographer Sheva Kafai (House After House) hung out with the band throughout Echo Park to shoot some 120mm pics and ask bassist Adam Arcos some questions.


What made you decide to do a residency?

“We just finished recording a new EP, Ripper, which we will be releasing at the end of this month. It’s been awhile since we’ve released any new material and we’ve held back on playing shows lately so the residency is a good chance for people to come out and see us and hear our new stuff.”


Why did you choose The Echo?

“I think The Echo is a milestone for any kid growing up in L.A. to want to play a show at. Everyone passing through L.A. on tour played on that stage at one point in their career. It’s the biggest small venue if that makes any sense.”


Who are your opening bands?

“Still ironing out some of this but right now our friends The Buttertones featuring Sean [Redman] from Cherry Glazerr, Wild Wing, The Pesos, and Cg Roxanne and the Nightmares which is Marlon [Rabenreither] from Gold Stars new band.”

What other Los Angeles-based bands do you admire?

Ty Segall is an insane machine putting out so much good music it blows my mind. Chad who plays with Ty in Fuzz is amazing as well as his main project Meatbodies. Also FIDLAR, Bleached, Tijuana Panthers –but I think they’re actually from Long Beach, Cherry Glazerr, Together Pangea, No Parents… there’s so much good music coming out of L.A. right now it’s hard to keep up. Oh and technically X are still active. So X.”

Do you have a pre-show ritual?

“Just finding one another before a show is difficult enough. I don’t think we’d ever have time for a ritual.”

What can we expect from your set every week? 

“It’s gonna be loud and it’s gonna be fun. We’re playing a bunch of new songs we haven’t played for anyone yet so we’re pretty excited about that.”

What do you hope to gain by doing a residency at The Echo?

“Just to have a good time.”

What are you looking forward to the most? 

“Playing with a bunch of rad bands and friends.”

Sheva Kafai: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

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