Interviewing someone with your dream job

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Courtesy of Complex

Very few people ever get the opportunity to speak with someone who has their dream job, recently I had the privilege of becoming one of those people. For some time now, I’ve been dead set on becoming a journalist. This website is my primary effort. In the past year and a half I’ve written over 50 unique articles, but it’s not like I have any professional experience in the field.

Enter, Brendan Dunne. Dunne, 30, is a writer currently employed at Complex; a media outlet primarily focused on covering youth culture. His main responsibility involves running Complex’s Snapchat discover platform, and managing a lot of behind the scenes aspects of Sole Collector shows Full Size Run and Price the Hype. He is also featured prominently on both series as a mainstay co-host. Before this, Dunne studied linguistics at the University of Oregon and worked for Sneakernews on the side before being brought on fulltime in 2012. He found himself at Complex after Sole Collector editor in chief Gerald Flores brought him onto the team in 2014.

I don’t work on Sole Collector explicitly anymore but (I’m) still involved with a lot of projects, Full Size Run chief among them.

That’s a quote from Dunne himself. On Wednesday, Sept. 18 I had the privilege of speaking to Dunne personally over the phone amidst his busy work schedule and the ambient bustling noises of New York City. Dunne was the prime subject to interview about my dream job. He’s an experienced journalist and editor with a big hand in a media outlet I consume regularly and yes, he loves talking about sneakers the same as I do. Getting his contact information was not the simplest task but after a few days and sheer luck I got his personal email and we started talking almost immediately. Within a few days, we had a phone call scheduled.

When the day finally came I was nervous. How do you talk to someone you look up to? Someone who, in more ways than one, is your superior.  I was pretty shaky to start off but, Dunne’s congenial attitude and casual yet articulate manner of speaking put me at ease. The interview only lasted 15 minutes but what it lacked in runtime it made up for in substance.

I’m going to leave a transcript below of the last few questions of the interview. What follows is some of the best career advice I’ve ever received, from a gentleman who is well beyond his years in terms of heart.

What do you love about your job?

I love being able to be critical about sneakers because I feel like the scene as a whole is lacking that so I like having that opportunity to voice my opinion on those things and also I like the opportunity to talk to industry people or famous people who have sneaker histories that aren’t necessarily out there and kinda bring those stories out… I think there’s a lot of things, about like the Off-White stuff, for instance, that is valuable and that is good design but it’s so obvious. Those shoes I see every day so I’d rather just try and do something a little different or show people that I appreciate something a little different. 

What’s one misconception you think people have about your profession?

I think a lot of people think that when you’re in the sneaker world professionally whether you’re writing, blogging, making videos is that people are just going to send you free things… I guess the idea that it’s easy to just get whatever you want from these brands you know? People have to work really hard to make these connections and make these relationships or convince people in various positions of power across the industry that they are someone worth listening to or someone worth talking to, you know what I mean? It took a long time for us to be able to do something as bold as to make a show where we present the idea that our opinions matter. I had to do this for a long time before I could be that bold or before Welty could get on camera and have people trust his opinion. People don’t necessarily realize that it takes a lot of work to get to that point a lot of writing, he worked in retail for years, I wrote thousands of blog posts on this stuff. It wasn’t a short road.

If you were me right now, a college student, what would you be doing to get where you are right now?

I would be looking for stories that aren’t being told by sites like Complex because I think there are a lot of them. We’re at a time now where big media is realizing how important sneakers are to so many people or how even profitable the idea of covering them can be and I think that we’re only at the beginning when it comes to sneaker media. I think there’s a long ways to go and I think there’s a lot of stories that haven’t been told… I mean I wish I had time to tell ’em. Always new stones to turn over.

One last question here, have you ever resold sneakers?

Yes, I have. I have, I do, and I don’t have any qualms about it really anymore. Unless it’s like a shoe somebody gave to me, somebody close to me gifted me something, means something personally. Otherwise, I have and will continue to resell sneakers. Just don’t tell Welty.

Sorry, I had to ask that one.

Yeah of course. The most important question.

I look forward to what you continue to do in the future, I look forward to the new season of FSR. Which is coming out soon I believe?

Next week.

Next Week?

Yes, sir, that’s an exclusive. Put it out there.

Glad I got that one. Alright, thank you so much, Brendan, have a great day my friend.

You can follow Brendan Dunne on Instagram and soon enough Twitter. You can also see him on the Sole Collector channel as a co-host for Full Size Run and Price the Hype.

An interview with Moontower: everything you need to know about season 1

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Photo Courtesy of onestowatch.com

Moontower is a three-piece electronic-pop trio dedicated to giving their audiences synth-infused musical experiences capable of captivating even the most cynical of listeners. The band went public early 2018 and since then the three USC students who make up the band have built their own interesting version of reality within their singles. They’re currently readying up to release their first big project on April 25th titled “Season 1: The Ballad of William Hollywood.”

Being naturally curious, I contacted one of the members; Jacob Culver in hopes of revealing the most salient details necessary for understanding what exactly they’re doing with their new project. To my surprise, he and the rest of the band were incredibly congenial and equally as eager to spill a few choice details about their imminent project. So without further ado, here is everything you need to know about Season 1.

First and foremost, for anyone not familiar with who you are, who William is, or what you guys do, in your own words give us a brief rundown of who you guys really are and what you’re doing here.

Tom: We are an indie electronic band made up of Jacob Culver, Devan Welsh, and myself, Tom Carpenter and we’ve been playing together as Moontower for a little less than a year and a half. Although we started off by simply putting on shows in backyards and house parties without music released, we are so excited to now be touring across the country and are gearing up to share our debut project “Season 1: The Ballad of William Hollywood”

Jacob: Just for clarification… Season 1 includes everything Moontower is going to be doing for the near future. The live shows, the music, all our video content, and the branding are all under the “Season 1” umbrella. “The Ballad of William Hollywood” is a three-part video series inside of Season 1 that tells the origin story of William Hollywood. You’ve gotten to know the three of us pretty well, and now it’s time for you to get to know William.

You’ve been crafting an intricate story with your music for over a year, what’s this all building up to? How does it play into “The Ballad of William Hollywood?”

Jacob: We have been hinting for a year that all the music, all the imagery, the oranges, the single covers – all are a part of a bigger world. “The Ballad of William Hollywood” and Season 1 is that world, but we needed to take the first year to figure out our sound, and our brand as a group. We always knew that we wanted to tell multidimensional stories, but we didn’t want to put the cart before the horse. We needed to know what Moontower should sound, look, and feel like – and we could only learn that through trial and error. If we would have released Season 1 at the beginning, it would have been disingenuous, and not fully realized. That’s why we waited so long to put music out and then once we did, waited even longer so we could play live and meet as many of our fans as possible so that we knew how to tailor this world to the people who would be open to falling in love with it. I think you’ll find that, while The Ballad of William Hollywood is weird and surrealist, its message is universal. Everyone has at some point tried to be something they’re not. Love can make you lose sight of your own identity, but it also eventually is where we find peace.

What made you choose a season based structure rather than just releasing regular albums?

Devan: We love regular albums! Nothing against them. If the goal behind a Season is to create a multi-dimensional story-based world to fall into, then the music has to have depth in the narrative. In terms of albums, the three of us can trace some of our favorites back to concept albums, where there’s a bigger picture, instead of just a compilation of good songs. When I first met Tom in our Freshman year of college, his 20 favorite albums were up on his dorm room wall (most of them concept albums, no surprise there). One of them, “Modern Vampires of the City” (Vampire Weekend) is an album I’ve come to appreciate much more because of Tom’s love for its narrative (which I’m sure he’d love to elaborate on) – not only is the sound of the album very well done, but the story makes you fall in love with it that much more. One of my personal favorites is Coldplay’s “Mylo Xyloto”, an Orwellian society-type setting where a “love conquers all” type narrative takes place. Besides it being some of Coldplay’s best pop music, I fell in love with a story that helped me get through some of the harder times of growing up.

Tom: I’ll talk Modern Vampires for way too long but it’s just such a beautiful coming of age story. You definitely need to listen to it if you haven’t! It’s just so powerful and inspiring when the artists you look up to put the work in for there to be rabbit holes to fall down, extra little tidbits which make tracks hold hands on a project or sonic universes to get lost in.

Jacob: We’ve always tried to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. That’s why when we started Moontower, we built all our own staging, lighting, production, visuals, and basically toured a mini-festival set around college campuses. We didn’t know what we were doing at first, but the idea of learning something new every day got us out of bed and excited! When we thought about releasing our first project, we wanted to keep that same mentality. All of us have released music before and played live before – that just wasn’t going to be enough for us. We dove headfirst into creating the world that is Season 1 because we wanted to challenge ourselves to do more, to learn something, and we thought that our fans deserved more. We created Moontower to be a world you can live in. With most other bands, you’re just watching from the outside.

How is the pilot you guys released back in February 2018 going to differ from the real thing?

Devan: For all intents and purposes, the Pilot is the intro to William’s character and the backdrop for Season 1. It’s not necessarily supposed to answer any questions, but moreover, give an idea of the weirdness behind William’s proclamation of love. The only way I can explain the Pilot episode is this: you know how when you watch Planet Earth and see birds trying to impress other birds, and as a human, you have no idea what’s going on, but the birds do? Anyways – episodes of Season 1 will answer the questions we wanted people to be asking when Pilot was released.

Jacob: William also needed us to make the Pilot so he had something to show Fat Beep (the production company behind “The Ballad of William Hollywood” and a lot of Season 1). It was a proof of concept and a way to prove to ourselves that we could do this.

Speaking of William, we see a lot of him on your official Instagram and we hear a lot about him in your wonderful songs, but who is he?

Devan: William is our roommate, friend, and a talented film-maker! We met William during our Sophomore year, which was around when the ideation phase of this project began, and told him our idea for Season 1, which he heavily related to.

Jacob: William’s story, his upbringing is shockingly similar to ours. While it’s most natural for us to tell our story through music, he expresses himself visually, and so it made perfect sense for us to let him head the creation of his own ballad. What he created was perfect – you get our story told through the music behind the episodes and his story is told literally by him acting it out on screen.

What are a few things your fans can expect from this upcoming season? Are your enigmatic single covers finally going to make sense?

Tom: Our goal is to make music that you can enjoy on its own but becomes all the more potent when you have the whole thing. If you love a single on its own, that’s awesome! But if you want more, to lose yourself in the entire project, we really hope that you do.

Devan: The single covers are all plot points of Season 1, so yes, by the end of the episodic narrative, the singles we’ve released will make more sense.

Jacob: We just hope people find themselves in the videos and find a home in Moontower. One of the most beautiful things is to see all of our fans becoming friends and supporting each other. It seems like the further we go the more that happens, I hope that continues.

How long has this project been in the works for?

Devan: About a year and a half, which is about the length of time that we’ve been a band for. The plot was created around late-August of 2017 which is when our first show was.

What are you guys hoping to achieve with your first season?

Devan: One the surface, hopefully, some sense of nostalgia for the way you felt when you were younger. More specifically, we’re happy to finally share the story and its parts – the videos tell a beautiful narrative, and we stand behind every sound and lyric in the music.

Jacob: We hope people feel like they’re part of something new, part of a community, and part of something that’s only just beginning.

Tom: I hope that you see some of yourself inside of the music and videos and that, even if it’s not for you, you come to expect more from other projects.

How many seasons do you guys plan on doing? Is William going to be the main focus for everything? Is it going to be episodic or will each season be boiled down into one video?

Devan: We’re not necessarily sure! As long as we possibly can.

Jacob: “The Ballad of William Hollywood” is just one part of Season 1. There will most likely be other long-form video series within Season 1. As Dev said, we’re not sure how the other Seasons will play out, depends on the stories we want to tell, when it makes sense to, and how they develop day to day.

Tom: Our heads are all already in Season 2 and 3 though already… there are a lot of stories we want to tell!

Where can your fans connect with you in order to deepen their appreciation for your incredible sound?

Devan: Our live show means everything to us. See us live.

Jacob: Yeah, see us live. But also, come hang after the show, we love to tour because we love to meet people. We’re thankful that our fans always make us feel at home wherever we are.

Tom: Yes! Like Jacob said, come dance with us while we’re on stage and kick it with us when we’re not. Being able to meet new people is what Moontower is all about.

Our Instagram (@thisismoontower) houses all of the news and info.
Our YouTube (@FatBeep) will house all the episodic videos for Season 1 and other Seasons to come.
Our Spotify houses the music – Season 1 will be officially released May 9.

Season 1 premiers tomorrow on FatBeep then will follow a weekly schedule until May 9th, be sure to tune in!

Chatting with the creative mind behind Bummer Dreams

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Jett Little is a prolific artist known for his abstract album cover artwork he frequently posts on his Instagram. Jett is also the drummer of a budding alternative rock band known simply as Bummer Dreams. I’ve wanted to interview Jett for quite some time now and only recently has he had time in between shows to grace me with some of his inspiring words. First, allow me to set the scene.

It was a warm Sunday night when I decided to call Jett Little. Already I could tell he was in a chipper mood as he was gearing up for a gig he was supposed to play on March 22, 2019. I allowed him to collect himself before I asked any questions. Little did I know his responses would hold more substance that I could have ever hoped for. Jett possesses a character with so much charisma and sanguinity it was hard to keep myself from slipping into informality. However, I was able to keep my cool just long enough to get a few words out of this incredibly talented human being.

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How would you describe your art?

In a very broad term I would describe it as, okay like, have you ever been to a record store and you see all those weird harsh noise seven inches and they’re like really f***ing weird to look at but they’re so entrancing? I don’t know how to describe it. Basically, it’s just a lot of things that influence me and I just combine all of that s**t into like something completely new.

So what are your influences?

My main influences, since I’ve always grown up around music like my entire life, especially punk music, I’ve been mostly influenced by the posters and the advertisements that a lot of punk bands use. I’m always just grabbing stuff from like different art pieces and grabbing inspiration, but mostly it’s like screen printing, and definitely album covers.

Are you the kind of worker that likes making a lot of pieces at once? I notice you post very often.

I just have a constant drive. I wake up in the morning and I’m just like, “I gotta create something.” I just really gotta put my creative energy out there. Whether being music or art or anything like that. Even though I do work on a couple pieces simultaneously I mostly just do one or two pieces every single day just to get my constant addition to creating art fulfilled.

In other words, art is like your lifeblood?

It’s literally the thing that’s has taken over my entire life. It’s the only thing I really care about. I definitely prioritize art and music over everything so it just dictates my entire life. Its how I survive through my day without freaking out. I just think its really important to have an outlet to express your emotions. I consider myself a pretty emotional person. My therapy, the best sort of therapy, is just like just constantly playing music and doing art.

Do you have a creative endeavor that you’re most proud of?

I don’t know. I love all my pieces. There’s definitely a few I would much rather show a large audience but I don’t think I have one piece that’s just like, “that is the one.” I feel like I’m always evolving as an artist. It’s just very good to evolve as a person. So I can’t say one piece is like my magnum opus cuz I think I’m just gonna keep on making more pieces that I’m satisfied with in the future, hopefully.  An aesthetic I was really into a year ago is going to be completely different now. My vision always changes.

It keeps your artwork fresh.

Oh yeah, it does, it does a hundred percent. Nobody wants to fall into the hole where like they just constantly follow what’s trending and they never leave mediocrity. They don’t follow their own path they only follow everyone else’s. What really drives me is following my own path and doing my own stuff.

Who inspires you?

I’ve grown up around artists my entire life. There’s a lot of artists I’ve found on Instagram and stuff that just like every time I look at one of their pieces I just have to create something, I get so many ideas.

Is anyone in your family an artist?

Yeah! My entire family is artists. Both of my parents were both in bands in the 90s and my dad used to screen print. On both sides, everyone is an artist or a musician. 

Do you have a motto that epitomizes you as an artist?

Not a specific motto, but a couple ideologies. Keep on evolving. Never change what you do for something that isn’t worth it. Don’t be a sheep basically. Stand out from the others.

What has been a defining moment for you as an artist?

My first time displaying art at an actual art show. I met this chick named Victoria at another art show and she was a really good photographer and painter. We later discussed on Instagram, because she has shows I think once or twice a year called Color Theory Club. I was just really getting into art, like making pieces every day. I was just like, “Hey maybe I can get one or two pieces at your show?” And she actually said yes, I was freaking out. So getting my art displayed and getting compliments from real people I don’t know. That’s definitely been a super proud moment of mine.

Moving away from defining moments, what’s a big struggle you’ve had to overcome as an artist?

I never want to feel like a disappointment. Like people say, “you’re not being a f****in doctor? You’re just gonna sit on your ass all day and twiddle on Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator? You’re gonna try and get a job from this?” I constantly hear that. In order to be a mature person, you gotta not be bothered by naysayers. They just think art is like painting or some s**t.

Given your mindset, what do you want to continue improving on specifically?

I definitely want all my pieces to be more pleasing to the eye. Your job as a graphic designer is to make stuff that’s nice to look at. My constant drive is to make stuff that’s good to me. I want to learn how to express my ideas more and make more things where people can get the message. I feel like I make a lot of vague messages in my art. People always ask me, “what does that mean, are you suicidal or something like that?” Like they always get the wrong idea from my pieces.

It’s been great talking to you, where can people who are interested in your art find you online? 

They can find me on my main Instagram @himomletsgo and my bands Instagram because we’ve been playing a lot more shows lately, @bummer.dreams on Instagram.

And they can also find your band on Apple Music correct?

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Apple Music, Spotify, literally everything. 

Perfect, thank you very much. Your artwork is really amazing. Being able to watch an artist grow is almost a privilege in itself. I can’t wait to see what you put out next because I know it’s always going to be something different. 

Exactly, thank you for setting this up!