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Meet the Designer: Helena Young-Meyer

This month, UK-born designer Helena Young-Meyer, the woman behind HYM Salvage, is showing off her one-of-a-kind home goods at Urban Outfitters' Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg, and also worked with Urban Renewal on a unique denim collaboration. We visited her Fishtown studio where she gave us a peek into her working life (hint: it's filled with vintage fabrics and pug puppies) and told us all her must-see vintage shops in the area.
Interview by Katie Gregory. Photos by Rachel Albright.

Hey Helena! How long have you been working on furniture specifically for Space Ninety 8?
About a month, I’d say? It’s hard to say, exactly. I’ve done an online range, and then another collection for Space 15 Twenty in L.A. on top of this collection for Space Ninety 8. And now I’m researching and looking for furniture for the Harold Square store. Right now I have no furniture because I’ve got rid of it all! I get the concept books so I get an idea of what they want it to look like and then I go from there sourcing the fabric and furniture.

Any awesome spots that you get your furniture from?
At this point it’s been varied. I’ll go to Adamstown or…well, I haven’t bought anything from Jinxed yet, but that’s a great place to look in Philadelphia. I also like to go to the Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse where I just got a bunch of stuff from. Whenever I’m out and about I’m always looking into vintage places. Some of the stuff I already have, like stuff I’ve collected over the years. I'm pretty cleaned out at the moment, though. I need to start collecting again.

And what about fabrics?
Sometimes it’s harder to find at the vintage spots. The best places we’ve found were in L.A. I went to the Rose Bowl and made contacts with a bunch of people and now I know where to get what from. I get a lot shipped over or I just pick up things whenever I’m there.

You've previously worked as a clothing designer for UO. How did you get into working on furniture full-time?
Well, I’m from England obviously [laughs], and in the U.K. I worked in fashion for like, ten years. In between that I did a diploma in traditional upholstery in Wales. I learned everything I needed to know about. After that, I started a side business alongside my fashion in the U.K. When the opportunity came for Urban, I just went head-first into the denim stuff because I didn’t have time for side projects. I did that for three years and it went really well, and then doing this just felt like the right thing at the right time. When I got my space here, everything all just seemed to fit. Urban has been a great company to work for because of how creative it is.

What music do you like to listen to while working?
I always like to listen to BBC Radio 6, which is a U.K. station. I always listen to that because it's familiar, and then that leads me on to other music. Generally it's just indie/folk type music. I used to be massively into music and now I like listening to it but I'm not as full-on with it [laughs].

What are your future plans with Hym Salvage?
Well, I just bought this house at the end of last year so I plan on staying here. I feel like there's a lot of opportunity here. Building the connections here for growing a business has been quite easy, and I think there's a lot of opportunity in Philadelphia as opposed to going somewhere like New York. We have a garden in the back and we plan on building a garage back there so we have a back delivery place as well and a place for bigger pieces. That's the short-term plan for now [laughs]!

Shop the HYM Salvage x Urban Renewal collection

Interview: Abbey Watkins for Morning Warrior

Tobacco & Leather's Abbey Watkins is an London-based illustrator and print designer with a penchant for skulls, women and a bit of warping. When Los Angeles clothing company Morning Warrior asked Abbey to work on a few summer tank tops for them, she conjured up the energetic warrior spirit of the brand and brought her earth-inspired designs to a whole new world. Here we talk to the 25-year-old beauty to get a glimpse inside her life, workspace and a sneak peek at the look book for the collection.
Interview by Ally Mullen

Introduce yourself!
I'm Abbey Watkins of Tobacco & Leather. I'm 25, living in London and working as an illustrator and print designer.

Where did you go to school?
I went to Manchester Metroplitan Universirty and studied textile design for fashion. I chose Manchester because it's a vibrant city, but it's not too overwhelming. At the time I struggled a lot with my confidence so this played a big part in my decision. 

I always wanted to study fashion in London, but this was the best I could do with the tools and finances I had. It worked out well in the end as I ended up with the best tutor, Alex Russell, and I got a career out of it which I'm very grateful for. I'm from a very small town in the middle of nowhere so university was my way out and my first experience of a real city.

How did you get involved with Morning Warrior and when and how did this collaboration come together?
I was already aware of Morning Warrior when they got in touch about working together; it was obvious we shared some interests and creative visions so we got together and created these three designs.

Tell us about the influences behind your art! 
There are many, many influences but it's really hard to name them! I'm influenced by mythology and ancient gods, strange creatures—especially the mixture of animal and human. I'm interested in things like the occult and witchcraft, shamanism, and hallucingenic visions. I have this deep-rooted love for tribes and people that live closely to the earth, treating nature like a language that can be interpreted and returned. I guess all of that mixed with some '60s pychedelia and old metal album covers is somehwere near my vision. I've still got a lot of work to do to bring it all together though.

What was the driving inspiration behind your collaboration?
There was a loose brief for the collaboration, but with themes like "Mystical", "Animal" and "Bad Girl Biker", Morning Warrior and I were already pretty much on the same page, so it flowed nicely.

How would you describe your style of art to someone who hasn't seen it yet?
I still can't find an answer that satisfies, but the basis of my work is set in pencil realism, with subjects of naked women, skulls, animals, mythic elements and hints of surrealism.

What is your favorite medium to use when creating your illustrations?
Pencil. It's the only one that comforts. If there's color, it's done digitally.

Of the shirts you designed, which is your personal favorite?

I haven't seen them in the flesh yet! But my favorite is the grey Eagles Tank Top. That was my favorite one because I remember learning from it. You are always learning every time you draw but sometimes you can feel it, and I enjoyed that time.

What are your favorite things to draw?
Naked women, skulls, anything where I can play with its form and mold it into something else. That's my new favorite thing to do!

Are you going to wear your own designs?
I never wear my own designs. I hope nobody takes that personally! I just feel weird wearing something that I drew. Like it's somehow saying, "Look what I did!” And that makes me uncomfortable.

What was the… 
Last song or album you listened to: "Desert Ceremony" by Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats 
Last movie you watched: Iron Monkey
Last purchase you made: A black, leather, bondage thigh-harness from Etsy that clips onto your belt loops and wraps around your thigh.
Best part about doing this collaboration: That I got to draw and create and was given artistic freedom. Morning Warrior were an absolute pleasure to work for. It's not always that way with commissions.

Look Book Information: 
Photography by Emman Montalvan
Hair and Makeup by Brittany Sullivan
Model: Courtney Money at PhotoGenics L.A.
Styling by Julie Swinford & Renee Garcia
Clothing by Morning Warrior: Twitter | Instagram

Meet the Designer: Jason Woodside

Spend a day with artist Jason Woodside and you'll leave grinning from ear to ear. From hanging out in his color-saturated studio, to getting a caffeine fix at his new coffee shop Happy Bones, to having a cheeky glass of wine with lunch at Buvette on a Monday afternoon, the Florida-born, New York-based painter oozes good vibes. This month, Woodside collaborates with adidas on a hyper-color pop-up shop at Urban Outfitters' new Space Ninety 8 concept store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

In addition to his collaboration with Space Ninety 8, Woodside also recently lent his talent to charity, designing and hand painting a new pair of adidas Stan Smith shoes (pictured below) that are now up for auction on eBay. The proceeds from the auction will go directly to Free Arts NYC, an organization that provides underserved children and families with "a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs that help them to foster the self-confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential." To read our full feature on Woodside, click here.

On The Road: Woman's Hour

Meeting up with one half of London-based Woman's Hour at the tail end of SXSW showed just how exhausting the whole experience can be, not only for the festival-goers, but for the bands in attendance as well. After a nonstop week of playing shows and shooting Instax pics for us at SXSW, singer Fiona and keyboardist Josh were totally wiped, but chatted amiably with us on their day off about the magic of breakfast tacos, their American debut and their killer Super 8 motel party. Katie

Choosing the quietest time of day to carry equipment through the streets was advisable.//Josh's birthday - his mum and his girlfriend both bought him comedy sunglasses. Obviously.

Do you guys have any rituals you like to do before going on stage?
F: I just like to be on my own. I try to find a quiet space, because I like to feel peaceful and calm, and I warm my voice up. But we all get together before we go on. Have a hug.
J: Nothing crazy. We might have a beer. Just one [laughs].

How many tacos do you guys plan to eat down here?
F: We've been having breakfast tacos! We're staying with someone who lives here, so he introduced us to breakfast tacos.
J: We don't have breakfast tacos in the U.K.
F: To me it was such a strange idea, but now I'm totally into it.
J: Our breakfast today was actually hamburgers. [Laughs] They were really, really good.

Our show for BBC Introducing at the British Music Embassy.//Catching some sun on Chad's back porch.

Is there something you made sure to bring?
J: Power adapters! Toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, passport…
F: Oh, dry shampoo. That’s an essential.
J: Many pairs of socks [laughs]. Nothing too specific.

What’s been your favorite part about being here so far?
F: For me personally, it’s been hanging out with our label [Secretly Canadian], because they’re American. We signed with them in October of last year, so it’s really cool to be in America and spend some time with them. It’s nice to meet a lot of our label mates, too. It’s felt really nice to have a kind of…
J: Family.
F: Yeah, we’ve spent a lot of time with those guys, just getting to know them. It’s been great. That’s what I’ve enjoyed the most.

A building site.//On sixth street before our show at Flamingo Cantina for Under the Radar.

What did you guys do last night?
J: Last night we went and partied in a motel which was so surreal. A proper motel with a pool in the carpark. We’ve seen that in films so many times, I kept being like, “Take a picture of me! I’ve got to show everyone at home!”

Was it a cool motel or was it something like a Super 8?
J: It was a Super 8. It was really cool [laughs].

Nick moving his hips.

What do you hope people take away from your shows?
F: I guess it's more about presence and giving people an idea of how good you can be if you're playing a headline show. I would just want people to connect with what we're about. I don't think anyone is here to judge on sound precisely, it's more a feeling. I'd like people to connect with the feeling that we create.

Hanging out with the Secretly Canadian team after our showcase.//Josh taking his dream car for a spin.

First Look: Teenage

The new documentary Teenage, which opened this weekend in New York City, takes a look at how different youth subcultures scattered across the world and throughout centuries have helped define teenage culture today. Through beautiful, super-8 archive footage paired with the recreations and narrations of four different teens, Teenage creates a vibrant "living collage" of history in a way that no documentary film has done before. (Check out some of our exclusive .gifs from the movie, posted below.) We talked to Matt Wolf, the director of the film, Jon Savage, who wrote Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, the book that served as the basis of the film, and Executive Producer Jason Schwartzman, about the movie, what they were like as teens, and why adults forget what it feels like to be a rebellious youth. Hazel

How did you all connect to make this movie?

Matt: I read Jon's book and I thought it was very compelling and that it could be a great film. He had just finished the Joy Division film and I had just finished this movie called Wild Combination about Arthur Russell, so we swapped DVDs and started talking. We thought we could work together so we started a sort of Skype relationship. Eventually I went to Wales with a hard-drive of footage and we started the process of etching out what the film could be. 

Jason: I saw Matt's film Wild Combination and I loved it; I remembered watching it many times over the course of a week after it came out. One person I was eager to show it to was this friend of mine, Humberto Leon, who has the store Opening Ceremony. Humberto said that he was friends with Matt Wolf and later [Opening Ceremony] wanted short films for their store opening in Japan, so he hooked Matt and I up and we made one together. It was during the shoot for that that he told me about how he was going to make a movie based on this book by Jon Savage and I was excited about it. 

In terms of how you, Matt and Jon, envisioned the film, did you have a clear idea of what the film would look and feel like? Did you two know from the beginning that you would want to use archival footage and take this in a more artistic direction?

Matt: We could have done a multi-part television series with expert historians and talking heads, but early on we knew we didn't want to do that. I had accumulated about 70 or 80 hours of archival footage at some point while we were piecing together the film. I had a residency at an artists' colony, and everyday I edited a compilation mix of archival footage to contemporary music. That was a really important part of the process for me. It made this "living collage" style we were going for.

Jon: Matt and I discussed early on that we didn't want the film to be from the point of view of adults, we wanted young people's own words. So Matt and I developed a narration where we took quotes from the book or wrote quotes that gave the teenage point of view—how it actually feels to be young. In general, the film is pretty much how we wanted it to be from the start.

Who is the audience for Teenage?

Matt: Teenage, to me, is an art film in a sense. The film is also an incredible music experience. I see the film almost like a record, and the narrations are like the lyrics to the record. You can just sort of sit and experience it without looking at it. I hope fans of music are a fan. And the film isn't really about your typical teenager, it's about the exceptional young people, people who think against the grain. I wish I had seen this film when I was a teenager.

Jon: Me too. Because then you realize you're not alone. 

Jason: I almost wish they would show this in schools because I think it's exciting. Also, I remember Matt came to my house with a rough compilation and narrated it for me in person, and even when he wasn't talking it was beautiful to watch. 

When you were going through all the footage and even watching the film now, was there a certain quote or piece of footage that really stood out to you?

Matt: The thing that was a big break-through for me was the color footage of German swing kids. The story of the German swing kids is the most moving to me because it was the story of how pop culture and politics collide. These young people were smuggling American music and culture as a way of expressing themselves but also as a subversive tactic to resist the Nazi regime. It's so punk. There's also this quote towards the end of the film, from a letter to the editor for Seventeen Magazine, that says, "I love being seventeen. I wish I could stay this age for awhile. Seventeen is that perfect spot between adolescence, which means you're going somewhere, and adulthood which means you're on the downgrade."

Jon: [laughs] I'm totally downgraded! I love the quote, "My world is speedy and they're old." That's from a book called Middletown, which is about this couple who went to a town in the midwest for a year in the 1920s and reported what they found. But, my favorite bit, is the footage of the Chicago swing jamboree in 1938 with 200,000 kids going mental. And it was an integrated audience, which is amazing, because black American music was incredibly important.

Jason: You know what's wild, and it just occurred to me, is that it blows my mind that you [Jon] wrote this book without seeing a lot of this stuff. The book and the movie, they're companion pieces in a way. Jon wrote this book without having seen a lot of it and Matt made that possible. 

Matt: We were really rigorous in making sure that everything in the film is based on historical truths and uncovered history. We based the narration on primary source quotes and based our characters off of real people. That rigor is really important to us as filmmakers and historians. 

Jason: Another great thing about the film is that it doesn't get into all the stuff you already know. These are the people and the stories that seeped through everything.

There was a line in the press release I was really interested in about activism and rebelliousness, and how you point out that adults today sort of forget what it feels like to be a teen. In your opinion, why do you think there's that separation?

Matt: At the core, I think it's that teenagers represent the future because they're going to live in the next era, and that creates a lot of hope and anxiety for adults. They project their fears onto young people and it leads to a desire to control them. But why do adults forget this need for freedom and self-expression and revert to this need to control? I think it's out of fear.

Jon: And also people get beaten down by life, they really do. People get into habits and raising a family. It also depends on temperament. I've always been a guy who's interested in the present and the future. A lot of my work is in the past but when I was a kid I was into stuff that was really cutting edge, which is why I'm excited about the film. You have the everyman histories, the history of the normal people, but when I was a kid I hated the normal people. I never wanted to be normal EVER. With the book and the film I was interested in the exceptional people who make the change. Because, if there's no change there's just entropy and then everything turns to shit. 

Matt: When I was a teen I was a gay activist, and I remember publishing this underground newspaper and dumping it in the middle of my quad and then going to the bathroom and just barfing. I didn't even think about it as brave, it was just this immediate need to express myself. As I get older I think about what people will think of me and I try not to think that way, but with teenagers, they just purely express in a very visceral way.

Jason: I do remember being an adolescent and feeling angry and sad and not knowing why. As you get older, adults need to find a reason for why you feel all these things. I have a daughter now and whenever I meet a parent of an older kid they go, "Just wait 'til she's 13!" And it's like, why the "just wait"?

Jon: It's part of that experience of separating from your parents and joining the world of your peers. 

Matt: When you're young, a lot of the time you're oppressed. I think with this film, it's really about a formative period in history in which young people were facing an unprecedented amount of oppression from their parents and the government. They were really just struggling for basic forms of recognition and to endure these struggles and define yourself under judgmental and high-pressure critique from adult society leads towards revolution.

UO Music: Ryan Hemsworth

Between touring Australia and heading out on the road in the USA (first stop, SXSW!) we caught up with DJ and producer Ryan Hemsworth in his home town of Toronto, where he gave us the lowdown on his transition from music blogger to music maker. Read the full feature here.

UO Music: Cherry Glazerr

Since forming in 2012, L.A. band Cherry Glazerr has attracted international attention thanks to their teen spirited lyrics and inimitable yet slightly puzzling genre (it's dream pop AND punk rock). This month, the trio (singer/guitarist Clementine Creevy, drummer Hannah Uribe, and bassist Sean Redman) head to Austin to play their first SXSW. We sat down with the band at Creevy's parents' house in Silverlake to talk about their creative process, balancing homework with sold-out shows, and their hard-to-pinpoint sound. Read the full feature here.

Person of Interest: Jesse Elliott

With SXSW officially starting up today (and us scrambling to pack our bags), we figured it'd be the perfect time to get a little inside scoop on the great city of Austin. We decided to hit up our good friend and Austinite, Jesse Elliott, to find out the best places to eat, drink and catch some free shows. Katie

Hey Jesse! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Yo. I program electronic music showcases for SXSW and FLOORED, a radio show on SXSWfm.

How long have you lived in Austin?
Off and on since 2006 or so with a few years in Berlin.

How many years have you been going to SXSW?
My friends and I first got our feet wet around 2006 while in college without any credentials, mostly hopping around free shows and late night house parties. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing.

Any tips for someone who is going for the first time?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Throw your plan out the window and go with the flow. You’re the raddest, not those kids at that place you’re not at. Enjoy da present.

Where is the best place to check out shows?
Cheer Up Charlies is primed with their fresh space on Red River, and I’m excited about my shows in Vulcan Gas Company on 6th – proper club vibes with a new Funktion-One sound system.

Is there any secret way to get into totally packed shows?
For day parties and stuff? Smile, say thank you, don’t get knocked out and maybe you’ll see the way in. For official nighttime showcases? It’s badge/wristband or bust because we roll future tense on punters – ain’t nobody here got time for that.

What have been some of your favorite shows over the years?
The first two shows coming to mind are Deerhunter at the old Club deVille (shit was emotional) and rolling ten deep to Cut Copy during their Bright Like Neon Love days.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this year?
Amsterdam Dance Event is a huge deal for me this year. Rush Hour x Rwina Records are knocking this one out at The Madison on 3/13. There's also the Soulection crew at the Okayplayer showcase at Vulcan on 3/14, and if time allows I’m gonna try and catch Isaiah Rashad, Paul Woolford, and my beautiful friend Rosie's band BALLET SCHOOL outta Berlin.

What are some of your favorite restaurants/places to eat in Austin?
My favorite trailers are Tony’s Jamaica, Thai Thani, Kebabalicious, Chi’Lantro, Tacos Veracruz, and 313 Detroit Pizza. Favorite sit-downs are Las Casuelas for cheap Mexican, La Condesa for sexy Mexican, Sway for Thai, Casino El Camino for burgers, and Daruma Ramen for ramen (or Ramen Tatsu-ya if you have a car).

Favorite place to get a drink?
YJSC, ze Grackle, and then Dry Creek (when empty) is as good as it gets.

Favorite place to hang when you’re out all night?
Probably wherever Kari Rosenfeld is going.

Are any of the super popular tourist spots actually worth hitting up?
The Blanton is cool, and Mount Bonnell is worth a trip. My suggestion though would be to rent a car and cruise out west of Austin for a day.

Any weird local legends you’d like to share?
There’s a one-eyed pug named Spanky who lives on the Eastside and lives off of Cold One’s popsicles (@coldonespops on Twitter).

Any great vintage or antique stores that you would recommend?
Sam Hill for dudes and Prototype Vintage on South Congress for dudes and you ladies out there.

Where do you like to go when you’re hanging outdoors?
Some friends get real with it and have a group called “State Park Sundays” and have since covered every spot within a three hour radius of Austin. I tag along every few weeks or hit the greenbelt nearby with my brother and his pup, Grizzly. Lots of secret gems out there as well, but I’d get shot listing them here.

UO Beauty: On-the-Road Hair

With her beaten-up cowgirl boots, artfully thrown-on tie-dye wrap skirt and perfectly disheveled hair, Diane Birch is the epitome of the smoldering singer-songwriter. She oozes equal parts elegance and earthiness; style and soul, and somehow manages to make ‘I’ve been touring for days and have barely slept, never mind washed my hair’ scenarios look seriously attractive. How, we wonder? And so, we grilled her about her on-the-road beauty tricks, musical influences and her new album Speak a Little LouderAnd, with the help of hair stylist Sera Sloane, we show you how to create her I’m-with-the-band textured hair in our exclusive UO Beauty Video
Photography by Mike Persico

Hi Diane! How long have you been a touring musician?
I guess I’ve been making music seriously for about six years…scary! [laughs]. And I’ve been touring on and off for the last five years.

What was your first touring experience like and how did you become comfortable with life on the road?
When my first record came out, I sort of got thrown into the whole thing. I hadn’t really toured with a whole band before and suddenly I was doing things like opening for Stevie Wonder and playing festivals. It was really exciting. I was a little freaked out at first because I wasn’t really prepared for it, but I think with anything you do, when you’re repetitive about it, you get into a flow and you learn your craft. So just doing it and practicing at it has made me a lot more comfortable. I love feeding off the crowd and the energy of the people.

Do you like being on tour?
I like being on the road a lot. It gets a little draining after a while and the novelty kind of wears off. I find myself dreaming about wanting to do laundry or get a coffee on my corner and wake up late, but it’s really fun, there’s a high energy to it. It’s fun to always be in new city and meeting new people and you never know what’s going to happen. I think to have a break in-between is definitely the best scenario.

What are some essentials for the road?
I definitely like to make it feel as homey as possible. I’m really into smells—I love incense, I love perfume. Every time I’m in a hotel room I’ll burn some incense or some sage and I’ll put my oils around. Sometimes I do yoga if there’s room in the hotel or else I just resort to eating multiple bags of chips during the day and scrap the whole health thing for a while! But I try to keep myself feeling good, because although it sounds really glamorous to go out to crazy parties every single night, it’s not really realistic when you’re working hard everyday—you also need to be healthy. I definitely like to take care of myself. Pampering as much as possible and finding people in different cities to give me a massage! 

How do you take care of your hair when you’re travelling?
Being on the road, you definitely have to be prepared to not be able to change in your hotel room or find even a bathroom with good lighting, so you have to be ready in the morning to have everything you need. I wear a lot of hats! If I feel like I hate my hair that day, I just throw a hat on. I use a lot of dry shampoo because sometimes you don’t have time to wash your hair, and that tends to be the perfect cure for grease or flatness. I use a lot of coconut oil—I use it all over my body and if my hair starts getting dry I put it on the ends, so that’s an all-purpose balm that I use. I do blow-dry my bangs pretty much every day, as much as I can find a hair dryer! If the rest of my hair is totally whack, but my bangs are still fine, I feel like I have some control. That’s the general routine.

Tell us about your new record…
I was excited to finally release my new album in October. And it’s great. I’d been working on it for such a long time and there had been a large gap of time between the release of my first record, so it was this big letting go of all of this energy and emotion tied to it. It was really fun to finally get out of the studio and get on the road and start seeing a different side of the music that I created. 

How would you describe your sound?
I don’t really know how to describe my sound; I’ve lost the plot even trying to understand what I do or make! I sort of embrace this emotional side of myself and I’m liberated by being able to express myself in all facets of emotion with my music. I have a definite pop sensibility—it doesn’t evoke the most modern pop but I’m inspired by classic pop: ’70s, ’80s, ’90s…. Even ’80s adult contemporary…I want to be like Phil Collins, basically. I love Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel, and I’m inspired by a lot of female artists on this record: Kate Bush, Annie Lennox, Tina Turner. Women who were really okay with being vulnerable and that, in a way, was being powerful.

What’s up next for you?
I’m going to be doing a lot of touring in the coming months. I’m going to Asia, Europe, England…so that will be a lot of fun. I’m working on some side projects and doing other things, musically, that I guess people wouldn’t associate me to do, so it’s great for me, because my whole goal as an artist is to not be pigeonholed in one area. I have a lot of friends in music and I’m really excited to do different side projects and put out EPs and things like that. A lot of that stuff is to come soon.

Get The Look!

Fine Print: Katie Heaney

Katie Heaney has a hilarious Twitter, a feature on The Hairpin, and she’s also a regular writer for BuzzFeed. To top it all off, Heaney’s first book, Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without A Date, was released earlier this year from Grand Central Publishing. In it, Heaney tells the tale of being the odd woman out; for some reason, even though she’s a total catch, she's just never been in a relationship. It’s not a book of woe, but a story of how it’s empowering to invest instead in your female friendships. I recently chatted to Katie about her book, her best friend Rylee, and her favorite Mr. Darcy.
Interview by Maitri Mehta. Photos c/o Katie Heaney.

First of all, congratulations on writing the book! Have guys from your past come out of the woodwork since you published it?
Thanks! Not really. Most of the feedback I’ve gotten has been really positive emails and tweets from women thanking me for writing the book. I’ve gotten a few messages from dudes, some creepy, some polite, but I usually just ignore them.

One of the main characters in your book is your real-life best friend, Rylee. How does she feel about being a part of it?
Rylee knew about the book from the beginning. Sometimes it was hard in college. I think that despite her having a different dating life she never thought it was weird that I wasn’t seeing anyone. It wasn’t something that came up a lot, even. It was more her struggling to understand why I didn’t WANT to be with anyone.

How long have you and Rylee been friends?
We’re coming on nine years! It’s been work at times, but part of the challenge of finding the right BFF is finding someone that also wants a very committed, loyal relationship they can devote time to, even if one or both people are also in romantic relationships. Finding the right best friend is just as tough and just as important as finding a significant other.

You wrote this book in "real-time." Was that weird?
At first, but by the end it was more like journaling mixed with being aware that I was writing a book. I was always hoping that it was going to be a good finished product, something that people would want to read. I still considered it a project to be finished that was very much separate from my actual life (even though it was my life I was writing about!). It’s good that I didn’t really have the chance to go back and change it.

How did you choose which dudes and experiences to write about?
I have to say I chose the crushes I had that were more substantial, more romantic, or just more interesting.

Who’s your favorite Darcy?
Obviously Colin Firth from the BBC miniseries.

Same! He’s the only choice, really. What do you think of the enormous statue of him in his long johns that was built in England?
I think it’s totally creepy and it doesn’t do him justice.

Who was your first kiss?
I can’t remember his name. Maybe Eric? It was at a frat party while I was visiting a friend during my freshman year of college at her school. I never saw him again!

Who’s your favorite Austen heroine?
You know, I always say Emma, but in a way I kind of hate her, too. She thinks she’s being helpful and great but then all these guys fall in love with her, and she’s just perfect, and oblivious, and annoying. I love the book but god, Emma kind of sucks. I’d be so jealous of her if we went to college together.

I hate to even ask (because it’s horrible to talk about out loud), but do you use Tinder?
I mean, I’ve been on OKCupid, and I have Tinder on my phone, but I’ve really only used it to test out a story or as a half-assed attempt to please my friends that think I should have it. I don’t like it at all!

What do you want people to take away from Never Have I Ever?
Young women shouldn’t feel bad about being single or wanting to be single and actively not wanting a relationship. It’s perfectly fine to prioritize other things in your life.

Better Together: Katie and John

Meet John and Katie, who defy the old adage that couples shouldn't work together. John is a men's stylist at Urban Outfitters, while his other half is a freelance photographer from New York, who shoots people and fashion with a beautifully authentic eye. Here they share their story as creative and romantic partners. Read the full feature here.

Better Together: Monica Ramos and Leah Goren

If you don’t know them by name, you probably know Monica Ramos and Leah Goren through their work or have purchased their items on Etsy. Monica and Leah, both Brooklyn-based, share a studio with lots of light, plants and snacks. Between illustrating for publications like The New York Times and designing book covers, they also work on sticker packs, make a Sad Girls Zine, and do impressively accurate drawings of what they wear to the studio. Here’s what they had to say about being better together, as friends and as artists.
Interview by Maitri Mehta

Totes by Leah and Monica

So the feature is called Better Together— how are you ladies better together?
Leah: That’s so cute! Before I moved in here I worked at home by myself, or I guess with my boyfriend, but he’s not an illustrator so I was basically alone. It’s amazing to have Monica around to talk to about my work.
Monica: She keeps me from being a total bum.
Leah: It’s good teamwork to get here at a good time and make coffee or tea and talk about what we’re working on—
Monica: And share frustrations.
Leah: It makes us feel like we’re part of a bigger picture of illustration work rather than just being cooped up alone. You can go crazy working alone.

How long have you been in this studio?
Leah: Almost a year!
Monica: I was working in my living room before. It was so depressing! I would be there every day and I wouldn’t go out.

Where are y’all from?
Monica: The Philippines.
Leah: San Diego. Both warmer climates.
Monica: People think I’m from California, I think because how I talk.
Leah: We were talking about moving to California some day, but we’d ALL have to go, because otherwise it’d be too lonely.

And you two met at Parsons?
Leah: Yes. We were trying to figure out what class it was but it’s all kind of a blur—
Monica: I think we met in a printmaking class because I remember Leah did all these block prints of girls’ faces—
Leah: We were making .gifs! I don’t even know anymore! We have a lot of friends from school but I don’t know when we all met. They just showed up at some point.

How did you decide to move into a studio together?
Leah: I started here with Rachel [Levit] and some other friends, and then we convinced Monica to move in.
Monica: I was actually really resistant because I was so comfortable in my living room. I was like, I’m just never gonna leave. But no, it’s been so good. I feel like a normal person here [laughs], with a place to do work.

Catdish by Leah

Alpacas by Monica

What are you working on right now, individually?
Monica: I have this one group show in Copenhagen, it’s about swimming. And a few months later I have another duo show also in Denmark, and I’m hoping to fly there.
Leah: I got an editorial thing this morning! So I worked on sketches today. It’s for an essay. I’m learning things about writing today. It’s a quick turnaround as usual, and then just answering emails, always.

I get bad email anxiety, do you?
Monica: If I answer an email at 1 AM, is that bad?
Leah: I don’t think it’s bad, I think it just means you’re on the clock all the time.
Monica: But not like, 4 AM, right? 4 AM is bad.

What are you working on together?
Monica: We’re working on a ceramics pop-up show, which is how we spend most of our time—
Leah: Yeah, I think it’s the most fun thing I do, because it doesn’t feel like work. Not that my work isn’t fun. We’ve been taking ceramics for maybe a year, or a little over. I started just making things with my mom who’s an art teacher and then taking actual classes in New York.
Monica: I took one class in high school, because my grandmother on my dad’s side used to have a ceramics studio, and then I started maybe half a year ago here in New York because Leah was taking classes and it seemed like a lot of fun. They had all this cool stuff! We just hang out at the ceramics studio, talking and making things. I mostly make a lot of alpacas.
Leah: She’s notorious at the studio for her alpacas.

Ceramics by Leah and Monica

Is it hard making art for business?
Monica: Yeah, it’s strange. Because you want to pursue something like illustration and then you’re like, "OMG I’m gonna love my career," and then it ends up giving you stress at the same time.
Leah: It puts an edge on it, yeah.

Do you guys talk to each other about your own personal projects?
Leah: Yeah, I would say since we’re still just starting out, two years out of school, there are a lot of questions we have to figure out and apply, like pricing and how to answer clients’ questions. Even more basic stuff like, “Is this sketch good?”
Monica: It’s reassuring, too. It helps just being in the same room as people who are doing things that are creative. I think it’s a pretty tough industry to get into and it’s nice to see other friends at the same point. We’re all trying to get to the same place. I don’t know what I would do if not for the studio at this point. I feel so at home here.
Leah: And we’re always so excited for each other when we get jobs! And we also get really mad at things together.
Monica: Also, Leah has been helping me get better at Instagram! She is amazing at it.
Leah: No, you’re really good at it, but you don’t post enough. I grade her Instagrams. "A minus."

Illustration by Monica

Illustration by Leah

What do y’all like to do together that’s not work?
Leah: Go to Vanessa’s Dumplings.
Monica: Yes, dumplings.
Leah: Go to the movies, buy plants… we love to go plant shopping.
Monica: We had a poker night before! We also love to go to ceramics together.

Tell me more about your pop-up shop.
Leah: It’s gonna be in Greenpoint!
Monica: Originally we were thinking of doing a gallery show but then as we were making things it just seemed like a lot of the things were functional so it would be better as a pop-up.
Leah: I think even though Monica does more group shows in a fine arts context, I think our ceramics are more commercial and it makes sense to sell them that way.
Monica: And we wanna be more in control of how our ceramics are sold.
Leah: I think having these nice little home objects that are decorative and affordable is relevant to our interests right now, and we have some other friends who are putting stuff in the show, like quilts and jewelry.
Monica: We’ve been talking about shelves. It’s a totally empty space so we get to put whatever we want in there. It’s gonna be so much fun.

The Fresh List: Movement

One up-and-coming band we're excited to see more from is Movement, the Sydney-based trio currently making waves on the internet, without having released an EP yet. We spoke to Jesse Ward, the band's bassist, to find out a little bit more about the men behind Movement.
Interview by Katie Gregory. Photography by Mat Baldwin.

How did Movement form?
Me and Sean [Walker, percussion] went to high school together and we started writing a few songs, but we weren't really taking it too seriously. Then we met Lewis [Wade, vocals] through a mutual friend when we left high school and he sang on one of the songs. After that we started working together because we liked his voice.

How would you describe your sound?
I don't know…. A lot of people are throwing around the term "minimal soul", so I suppose that. We're really influenced by R&B, but minimal is a good way to describe it.

What sets you guys apart from other bands?
If we had to find a point of difference, I suppose we're pretty concerned with representing what we do live, and because it's minimal we can do that. We don't need to, like, work heavily with tracks and stuff, we can just replicate what we write live, which is a good thing. And we work really hard [laughs]. That's one thing!

What was your first big break as a band?
I suppose [getting signed to] Modular was a turning point for us. I mean, we wrote a few tracks and then sent them to a local radio station here [in Sydney], and the owner of Modular heard the songs on the radio and reached out to us. We had no idea about who anyone was or what anything was. From there, we've just been strategizing about where to go with it all. Taking it one track at a time. Things are picking up. We supported Solange over here, and those were some good shows. Things are looking good for only having two songs out.

That's a cool way to get signed to a label. Kinda old school.
Yeah, it was pretty old school in that respect!

And so you only have a couple songs of out right now?
Yeah, one song we came out with early last year called "Feel Real" and then we put a second single called "Us" out, which did pretty well. We got, like, Best New Track on Pitchfork, which was a big thing for us. People started taking a bit more notice.

Do you guys have a timeline for putting out an album, or are you just seeing what happens?
There's gonna be new music out, probably in the next month, but as far as a record goes we're just taking it slow because we want it to be something we're proud of. We're all perfectionists.

You're also opening for Darkside this year. Opening for artists like them and Solange, is that nerve-wracking?
It is, yeah. We haven't really done that many shows either, so we rehearse, but I think we're still under 20 shows or something. To be playing for those rooms, it's been a nervous experience. But we played in Sydney at the Metro, and we saw heaps of shows there growing up, so that was a cool thing. The room was pretty full toward the end of our set, you know, as they're packing in for the main act, and everyone was really attentive. We got cheers and stuff which is a weird thing to come to terms with [laughs].

Have you played in the U.S. at all?
We haven't, but I think we're planning something for the middle of the year. Probably Europe first and then we're thinking the States straight off of that. Fingers crossed we'll be playing there soon.

And who are your ultimate influences? 
We're big fans of older classic artists. Stevie Wonder is a huge thing for us. And, like, Marvin Gaye. Musically, we love artists like that. For contemporary artists, we think Frank Ocean is doing amazing things, and we're excited for whatever he's going to put out next. The Weeknd is also pretty cool.

First Person: Karaoke

Karaoke isn't just standing in a room and singing a song
it's a performance, a live show, a party and, yes, it's even a form of art. Whether you're renting out a room at your local karaoke hotspot, singing in front of 35 strangers, or busting out your PlayStation at two in the morning for a round of SingStar, k
araoke is one of our top party pastimes. 

What's better than
 getting together with your friends to sing your favorite songs and failing miserably while trying to remember the choreography to "Single Ladies"? 
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

For those of you too shy to try, I promise you won't regret it. 
When it comes to karaoke, there are no regrets—only proof that you're way more fun than you thought you were. 

We asked some friends and karaoke aficionados for their favorite places to perform, their go-to songs and their ultimate karaoke moments. Trust us, you won't want to miss a thing. —Alex & Ally 

Who: Charli XCX / Musician / London
Karaoke Song: "Kiss" or "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Prince
Karaoke Spot: New York. It's always better there and people take it really seriously, which is always funny. I actually went 'round one of my fans house recently to have a karaoke party with them and all of their friends. It was kind of crazy... 
Charli XCX's new album SuperLove is out now. 

Who: Tyler Glenn / Singer in Neon Trees / Provo, Utah 
Karaoke Song: "White Wedding" by Billy Idol. Belting the "start again" part is a real treat. 
Karaoke Spot: I'm very picky, but mostly I like to do it at stuffy industry parties or creepy sports bars. 

Who: Olivia Bee / Photographer / Brooklyn
Karaoke SongSomething by Madonna! Or the "Ooh You Touched My Tralala" song.
Karaoke SpotA friend's basement.

Who: JC Coccoli / Comedian / Los Angeles
Karaoke SongSalt-N-Peppa's "Shoop"
Karaoke SpotKorea Town. (Or a rich person's house. Those are always pretty epic.)

Who: Katie McCurdy / Photographer / NYC 
Karaoke Song: Cheap Trick "I Want You to Want Me" 
Karaoke Spot: Sing Sing or 59 Canal, NYC. 
Recently at a karaoke bar in the Poconos, PA, I was reprimanded by a security guard because my "dance routine" was a "safety hazard." 

Who: Jeremy Burke / Founder of Loud Village / Los Angeles
Karaoke Song"When You Were Young" by The Killers and also "Time To Pretend" by MGMT when I'm with my buddy, Ryan.
Karaoke SpotYE RUSTIC INN! We go every Tuesday after my comedy show at Best Fish Taco (it's right down the street). That or some good ol' Korean Karaoke in KTown.

Who: Miles Garber / Musician & Model / L.A. & NYC
Karaoke Song: "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed
Karaoke Spot: Wherever my friends and I stumble upon.

Who: Bobby Whigham / Photographer / Philadelphia
Karaoke Song: Salt-N-Peppa and any '90s love ballad 
Karaoke SpotRed Lounge in South Philly. It's a semi-hidden gem that is just starting to get some exposure. The amount of space you have to perform and hold the audience in the palm of your hand here is epic.

Who: Jac Vanek / Boss Lady at JAC VANEK (Shop at UO) / Los Angeles
Karaoke Song: Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Karaoke SpotEither a shitty dive in Korea Town or for embarrassing novelty, Saddle Ranch.

Who: Joe Kusy / Guitarist and Vocalist for Far-Out Fangtooth / Philadelphia
Karaoke Song: "Give Me Just A Little More Time" by The Chairmen of the Board, although I really want to get wasted and do "That's Life" by Frank Sinatra.
Karaoke Spot: It's a tie between Ray's Happy Birthday Bar and the Adobe Cafe.

Best Albums of 2013: CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES put out one of the catchiest pop albums of the year, so obviously they made it into the top ten of our year-end countdown. In between shows, we were able to ask the band a little bit about their favorite moments of the year, and what albums they think everyone should listen to.
Interview by Katie Gregory

Tell us a little bit about your band.

CHVRCHES are an electronic three-piece from Scotland.

How would you describe your band’s sound?
Electronic and synthesizer-based alternative pop music.

What's one of the craziest things that you got to experience as a band this year?
Supporting Depeche Mode was incredible because we are all big fans of the band, and their live show is still amazing.

What does it feel like to know you made an album that resonated so well with fans?
This year has been amazing, and none of that would be possible without the people who have been supporting the band, coming to the show and, eventually, buying the record, so it’s great to know that the album lived up to their expectations.

What song of yours is usually the fan favorite?
"The Mother We Share."

What’s next for you guys?
We’re taking a bit of time off over Christmas but will be touring again more next year, and then hopefully finding some time to write new material.

What’s your favorite album?
Choosing one favorite is too hard! From this year, Factory Floor by Factory Floor, Cerulean Salt by Waxahatchee and Old by Danny Brown. Of all time, Hounds of Love by Kate Bush, Disintegration by The Cure and Violator by Depeche Mode.

Best Albums of 2013: Rhye

Rhye, the mysterious band best known for their make out-worthy tunes, is number three on our Best Albums of 2013 countdown. We spoke to singer Mike Milosh about the band's highlights of 2013, and what he and Robin Hannibal, the band's second member, have in store for next year.
Interview by Katie Gregory

Tell us a little bit about your band.
Rhye is an interesting thing as it’s a potentially oscillating, undefinable thing that we have been creating, and that given the opportunity can be bigger or smaller depending on the performance. We didn't want to give Rhye a face as we wanted it to just be an experience, wanted to let people have their own unbiased opinion of the band as much as possible and have their opinion of it be solely based on whether or not they liked the music. That being said, Rhye was Robin Hannibal and myself, Mike Milosh, writing songs together about things going on in our lives. It was recorded for the most part in a bedroom and not a studio.

Is there one moment from this year that sticks in your mind as your favorite or most surreal?
We played a show at a festival in Ireland (a place I dearly love), got about an hour of sleep and then had to get our sprinter to the ferry in the early morning. We disembarked in Wales and drove at ridiculously high speeds through the English countryside in order to get to the show on time. It was a lot of land to traverse in a short amount of time. But once we got there it was so calm. We put our gear into this tiny boat and were taken over in this barely afloat creaky, wooden creation. We could barely hear the festival, too. There was just the silence of the bow cutting through the perfectly still water. It was the most gentle little moment in the midst of an otherwise incredibly busy couple of weeks that just sat perfectly for me. I wouldn’t have been even the slightest bit surprised if a little elf was at the dock waiting to receive us.

Woman has been on multiple "Best Of" lists this year. How does it feel knowing that you were able to make an album that resonated so well with fans?
It feels really amazing. It’s a very beautiful thing, putting tons of time and energy into making a record and to have it received so well. We feel truly thankful that it’s resonating with people, because it’s a very nice place to be. It's very encouraging in an otherwise very tough business.

When you set out to make the album, did you know that you’d be making the perfect make out album?
Definitely wasn’t in our intention as I don’t think we really thought about what people would be doing to our songs; we were just focused on the writing of them. It’s a very nice thing, though...

What’s your favorite album of the year?
My favorite album is Jon Hopkins Immunity.

What’s next for you guys?
We have a lot of projects that both Robin and I are doing at the moment. I just released another record called Jetlag [under the name Milosh] so I'm busy shooting videos for that and putting together the live set. We will continue to play Rhye live, as long as people want to hear it in a live environment. Robin is currently working with Usher, Jessie Ware, Niia, Francesco, Little Dragon, Say Lou Lou, Purple Ferdinand, Laura Welsh, Jamie Woon, FKA Twigs, Yuna, Selah Sue, Sineah Harnett and Seal.

Best Albums of 2013: Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile ruled 2013 with his dreamy melodies, stoned guitars and #goodhair, nabbing him the number nine spot on our Best Albums of 2013 list. Here, he shares his influences and tips for maintaining that beautiful mane. 

Interview by Natalie Shukur

You have been pretty prolific with your musical output these past few years. Where do you feel you were at with Wakin on a Pretty Daze?
Every record is special to me because it's just the way that I express myself as a person in the moment, and where I'm at in my life at that time. I can look back at my recordings and remember everything that was going on, what I was listening to, where I had been touring or hanging around that had an effect me, what exactly inspired a lyric, etc. Just listen—that's where I was at!

What are your favorite albums that came out in 2013?
Steve Gunn - Time Off 
Nick Cave - Push the Sky Away
True Widow - Circumambulation

What are one or two of your favorite shows you performed in 2013?
I had lots of fun playing Pickathon Fest in Portland, Oregon and raging with old buddies in the woods all weekend. I played a venue in Berlin I can't remember the name of and, again, had big fun with friends. Steve Malkmus came and hung out too, so that was a memorable blast. 

Do you go out to see bands much yourself?
If there's a good show in Philly and I'm home I'll surely go: Union Transfer, Johnny Brenda's, Underground Arts. This year I saw a lot of music on the road, which was a nice perk.

Who were some of your favorites from the road?
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds put the whole Coachella Festival to shame—it was mind-blowing. 
2. Tinariwen at Desert Daze Festival (just outside of Coachella) and Warpaint were great as well. 
3. Dinosaur Jr. in Mexico City at Carona Fest might've been the best I've ever seen them—incredible!

The hashtag #goodhair has become increasingly attached to you on Instagram! Can you share your tips for long, lustrous locks? 
I have a "special" shampoo I guess, but it'd be dorky to let you know (haha), so I guess it's a secret… And naturally I have a house chemist who is a magician with hair, so that helps (sike!).

Wakin on a Pretty Daze is full of expansive, dreamy tracks. Would you describe yourself as a generally mellow person?
I'm not always mellow, I can definitely freak out (in both fun and not-so-fun ways depending on the day and what is going on in my life) but I do have a chill side. A lot of times I save that for home: Reading books, jamming records, not looking at the clock, hanging with the fam. Watching my daughters just being young and cracking us up with their brand of humor keeps one mellow and young at heart by general default.

What does 2014 hold for you?
I'll probably be on and off the road I'm sure. And I'm gonna woodshed in Philly a lot, working on the new songs and eventually the next record. I've got a lot of concepts and a lot of music already. Just gonna keep it going, but try and keep it mellow simultaneously (somehow!).

Best Albums of 2013: DARKSIDE

With his partner in cosmic vibes, Nicolas Jaar, Dave Harrington of DARKSIDE has created one of the most textured, enchanting records of the year, which we ranked at number four on our Best Albums of 2013 list. Here, Harrington talks us through how the record came to life.

Interview by Natalie Shukur

What brought you and Nicolas Jaar together on this project?
I had been playing in Nico's live band touring in support of [Jaar’s solo record] Space is Only Noise and on a free day towards the end of our first summer playing together, we decided to try and record a song. We were in a hotel room in Berlin and only had a computer and a guitar and some tiny travel speakers with us. We plugged in and jammed, and a couple hours later we had basically finished a song (what would become "A1" off our EP). At this point the speakers exploded because we were using the wrong voltage adaptor and the lights went out and the room filled with smoke and we turned to each other and said, "Darkside."

How would you describe the vibes of Psychic?
We try to make vibes that you can enter and walk around inside of. I like the idea that the record could be a kind of journey: You enter and you're not sure what's going to happen and then sounds and constellations and sparks begin to sweep you along…

Clearly you are masters of some very cosmic jams. Do you believe in psychics? Do you consult them? Dabble in the occult? Collect crystals?
Psychics are really a double-edged sword: On one hand you have to ask yourself, "Is it real?" But at the same time, once you enter that space and someone starts speaking to you about your past, present and future, it becomes a reality. John Zorn made a series of records with Mike Patton, Trevor Dunn, and Joey Baron—a band he called Moonchild Trio—inspired by Aleister Crowley, which were deeply influential for me.

What would you both nominate as the best record of 2013?
I'm really bad at picking favorites. That said, I truly loved the new Thundercat record, Apocalypse; everything he does is pretty amazing. I also really liked the CFCF record Outside and Pond's Hobo Rocket.

What does 2014 have on the cards for you? Will we see another DARKSIDE record?
We're really excited to take the record out on the road and tour. Playing live is one of our favorite things to do, and it's really the other half of what the record is and what it becomes. We're always working on new music but we won't know when it’s ready to share until we know.

Buy DARKSIDE's album Psychic!

Best Albums of 2013: Steve Gunn

Coming in at number ten on our list of the Best Albums of 2013 is Steve Gunn's album Time Off. Gunn is a critically acclaimed New York-based guitarist and songwriter whose work as both a solo artist and a member of his current band has gained him major recognition in the music sceneThat reputation helped him score a spot on tour with Kurt Vile as an "auxiliary Violator" in May of 2013, giving Steve the ultimate bragging rights of being the only artist in our top ten to have toured in two bands on our list! Impressive, right? Not to mention a LOT of work. So take a breather, get to know our number ten artist and get Gunn's tips on how to chill out on your own time off.
Interview by Ally Mullen

Hi Steve! Could you tell us about your upbringing?

I was born in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. I had a really great group of friends there who have gone on to some considerable accomplishments. We're proud of our little borough. Joan Jett is from our town. My friend Anthony Campuzano, a talented and accomplished artist, made the work that appears on the back cover of my album. Anthony’s dad is now the mayor of Lansdowne.

After finishing high school I ventured into Philadelphia, went to Temple University, and worked at a video store. I moved to NYC a year after finishing college and have been here ever since. I've held various jobs in the fine art business over the years, and I now sneak guitars on airplanes and try not to eat fast food. 

Let's talk about your album cover for Time Off. Where are all of those photos from? Are they your own?
I took most of the photos on the cover. My friend and bandmate, Justin Tripp, also took a few of them. I went to Justin’s studio with a box of photos, trying to figure out what to do for the cover. I tried to pick photos that had some relevance to the themes of the songs. Most of the photos are from my travels over the years and from around NYC. We threw the photos on a table, arranged them quickly, and took a photo of the pile. There is one picture of a small boy holding a puppy—that's me. I still really like dogs, and most animals.

If forced to choose, what's your favorite song on the album?
It varies, but right now my favorite song to play is "Water Wheel." I've been trying to play the songs differently, and I completely changed this song and it's now more comfortable and not as boring for me to play. I've played these songs a ton over the past six months, so I've been taking different risks with them. This one has always been the most difficult song to play, so I guess it makes it less tedious.

What's your favorite record of 2013?
One stand out record for me this year was made by my friend Jimmy Seitang, under the moniker, Stygian Stride. I've seen Jimmy play in various rock bands over the years, and this record took me by pleasant surprise. His composed synthesizer pieces harken back to a time when this kind of music was constructed with more care and wasn't made with merely a laptop. He's got all the old equipment, and he artfully recorded a fine album that could hold up to any German synth LP made in the '70s. A great listen for a dinner party—your friends will think you are cool if you play this. It's not easy to make a record that sounds like this

What is your favorite memory from the past year?
Taking the subway to Ed Sullivan Theater and playing on Late Show With David Letterman with Kurt Vile was pretty great. Playing shows in Russia was also a highlight.

When you have some quality time for yourself, what do you like to do?
Catch up on rest, catch up on vegetables, exercise, and put on some different clothes.

Can you give us five tips on how to make the best of your time off?
1. [Hold off on] texting, checking posts, and e-mailing—they can usually wait! (At least a little.)
2. Hold a real book in your hands and read it.
3. Go to a library, get some interesting cookbooks, and have a dinner party with your friends.
4. Drink wine and listen to Fado (maybe at the dinner party?).
5. Take a mindless stroll.

Buy Time Off here on iTunes!

Obsessions: Sara M. Lyons

Sara M. Lyons is one of our favorite illustrators on the 'net, and lucky for us she sells her "Creepy Cute" nail decals online right here at Urban Outfitters. We wanted to find out a little bit more about this self-proclaimed "professional weirdo," so we asked her about her illustrations, her favorite nail inspo, and whether or not she hates Tumblr.
Interview by Katie Gregory

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Sara M. Lyons and I'm an artist and illustrator from Southern California. I just moved back to Orange County after almost ten years in Long Beach, and I'm now enjoying living in the shadow of Disneyland. I make stuff inspired by punk rock, comics, cartoons, pop culture, and what I think of as my version of the American teen girl experience. I like to call myself a professional weirdo, because so much of what I create is informed by having been a weird kid.

What is your favorite thing you've ever drawn?
Oh man. I'm really proud of "Fast Cars, Cheap Thrills," the Lindsay Lohan piece I did for Von Zos, and I love my Creepy Cruisers flash. But more than my finished pieces, I think I tend to like the little doodles and things I do in my sketchbook, silly stuff that often turns into the motifs and designs I use for things like my nail decals and digital drawings.

Your "Whatever, Forever" hands have been reblogged all over the place. Overall, has Tumblr been a positive outlet for you, or is it frustrating due to the number of times you may not be credited?
I have a love-hate relationship with Tumblr, and I think any artist that uses the site would agree. I think it's a great tool for artists as far as getting your work out there, but I do think there can be a big disconnect for a lot of the site's users -- people just click reblog and feel that they now have some kind of ownership over what they're posting. Tumblr is an awesome resource for inspiration, but it's frustrating to see it being used as a stock images library. I think that people forget there's an artist on the other end of everything they're reblogging. I'd like to see the site be more proactive about educating its users about intellectual property, but at the end of the day, I'm just glad my work is reaching so many people.

Who are some illustrators that you're a fan of?
Dan DeCarlo is probably my biggest influence -- I grew up on Betty and Veronica, so there's a lot of DeCarlo in my work. I love Edward Gorey for the creepiness factor, as well as texture. I love his drawings of mysterious women in furs. Right now I'm also really into the cool, girly work of ladies like Jen Oaks, Mel Stringer and Tuesday Bassen, and I have to give shoutouts to my talented artist friends Jennie Cotterill and Nancy Chiu.

We're currently selling your "Creepy Cute" nail decals. Do you have plans to produce more sets?
I just came out with a new set of designs called "Sweet & Creepy" in my Etsy shop, which I like to think of as the sister to my "Cute & Sleazy" sets. They're just a mix of 60 different designs with no real theme. I think I'll always keep doing new sets with designs that have no rhyme or reason, but I also have some themed packs in mind for 2014 -- some fairy tale motifs and more alphabet sets are in the works. I also just started producing all-over nail prints of designs like pizza and UFOs, so I'll definitely be experimenting more with those.

When you're doing your own nails, what do you like to get done? Do you have any nail inspo you'd like to share?
I have acrylics that I keep filed pointy and I'm obsessed with them. I like my shit to be over the top -- I love loading on a bunch of 3D nail art, but all the charms and stones snag my sweaters during the colder months, so right now I'm really into holographic glitter. Some of my very favorite Instagram nail artists are @heynicenails, @thisisvenice, and @astrowifey. I make my artist boyfriend JOSHR do my nails for me sometimes too! (He likes it.) (Really.)

Do you have any secret nail tips you'd like to share with us? Any amazing under-the-radar Etsy nail shops?
I get almost all of my nail supplies from local swap meets and discount stores, but Pepper Lonely's "nail art deco" section on Etsy is the closest online approximation to the nail art booth at the Anaheim Indoor Swap Meet.

We love your style. What are you constantly on the lookout for when you're shopping?
I kind of dress like a cartoon -- I like bold prints and a limited color palette, so I gravitate towards stuff that's a little outrageous but easy to wear. I'm always looking for sweaters and tees with weird graphics or patterns, things that I can mix in with some basic staples and my motorcycle boots or Converse. I also have a weakness for quirky accessories -- novelty sunglasses, printed tights, patterned socks, silly jewelry... Oh god, just GIVE IT TO ME. I feel like the older I get the more I have a sense of humor about clothes.

Where can we find you online?
Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr!