• Record Collector: Future You

    Best friends and collaborators Nada Alic and Andrea Nakhla have a knack for creativity. We invite them to customize one of our Crosley turntables and talk about their illustrated collection of short stories, Future You, which centers around Nada’s complicated characters and Andrea’s colorful depictions. 
    Photos by Samantha West

    First, tell us a little bit about yourselves. What were you like as kids? Do you remember some of your first projects?
    Nada: I grew up just outside of Toronto to Croatian immigrant parents so my early years were spent doing cool stuff like performing traditional folk dance numbers from the Motherland while wearing heavy rugs as skirts and leather vests bedazzled with mirrors, so like, normal stuff. I think when you’re a kid, you don’t realize the creative energy that is required to be an immigrant, like that ability to shapeshift to adapt to new environments and start a new life for yourself. I think I internalized a lot of that hustle which is probably why I’m a writer and why I live in LA now.

    Andrea: I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. My mom always had us painting or doing crafts so I've been making things pretty much since I could hold a brush

    Nada, what is the first piece of fiction you wrote that sticks out in your mind?
    N: Most of my writing to date has been freelance music journalism. I didn’t start writing fiction until a few years ago, but I think my first story was about this insane gym I used to go to. It was largely inspired by this guy at the front desk named Mikey, who wore a gold chain and was very Italian. Mikey would never let me cancel my membership no matter how hard I tried. He also had an identical twin, which gave me so much anxiety. I felt like I was trapped inside an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

    Andrea, how did you define your visual style?
    A: I spent a lot of time looking at museums worth of art on the internet before I really started creating my own work. It felt like I was wasting time then, but it really helped me define what I liked and didn't like. For this edition of Future You I wanted to use a style that tapped into the feminine and emotional feel of the stories so after trying a few different things I ended up on this marker style. 

    Where does your initial hit of inspiration come from?
    N: Romance or the absence of it.

    A: I was making the drawings based off of her stories so that was my main inspiration.

    How does Los Angeles play into the verbal and visual worlds you create?
    N: Los Angeles is such fertile ground for creating art because it’s a place of such extremes, and maybe that’s my own subjective experience with it, but I’ve never felt such states of euphoria, misery, hopefulness, anxiety etc in my life - there’s so much to work with there. There is nothing normal about living on the literal fringes of Hollywood, like suddenly you’ll find yourself in a hot tub at someone’s house overlooking the Hollywood Sign and you’ll think: how did I get here? Who are these people? Is God real? Should I call an uber now? Etc.

    A: Visually there is so much inspiration in LA as well, it’s been amazing to see the art scene really grow here over the past few years. I’ve been inspired by LA artists and by the city’s environment, the bright colors and iconography definitely pull from that.

    What about the music scene in L.A.?
    N: I would say that most of our friends are musicians, so we’re pretty steeped in that world. To me, the music scene is sort of the only scene, a lot of what we do is go to our friends’ shows or friends on tour will stay at my place or Andrea will play me songs in her bedroom. I can only really compare it with Toronto, but the general sense I get is that being a career musician is within reach for a lot of artists who pursue alternative streams of income like songwriting, scoring, publishing and producing. Everyone is pretty savvy about making a life of music work for them beyond the more traditional realm of making a record and touring it. 

    A: Yeah being in neighborhood of mostly musicians it was inspiring for me to see how people were creating amazing things just out of their apartments, it has become so much more accessible to do. Being around that kind of creativity is infectious I think, and played a big part in me making art more seriously and wanting to put more time into it. 

    Is there a pressure that comes with calling yourself an artist?
    N: I don’t call myself an artist, I don’t think a lot of writers do, do they? I think artist is a catch-all for a lot of different things and very few people can pull off saying “I’m an artist”. In a way, it’s lost it’s meaning now that the internet has democratized art, it doesn’t really serve a purpose anymore. Especially in LA when everyone’s an artist.
    A: Yeah I don't really think about it too much. Nada’s right saying the term has lost a lot of it’s meaning. 

    What is it about your friendship makes for a great partnership as well?
    N: We’ve been friends for almost a decade now so that alone is meaningful to me. There are so few relationships that last that long, and there’s something that can only be earned through the shared passing of time with someone that you cannot replicate with new friendships. Not to sound all Overheard LA about it but I think our energies work well together, in that we are total opposites in a lot of ways. Everything about the way she lives her life makes absolutely no sense to me, but I’m so enamoured by it. I would say she’s one of the most artful, curious, kind people I know so that makes her easy to be around. We’re also both pretty committed to learning about the world and sending each other links or books or music, and that makes me a better, more interesting and interested person.

    A: Aww thanks, Nada, ditto. See how she's so good at communicating? She is able to say what I'm thinking in a way that I can't. Nada if you can actually just finish answering these questions for me that would be great.

    What music do you listen to when you need to be inspired or when you’re working? Is music a catalyst? What are your favorite albums? What do they mean to you?
    N: I drive from the east side to the west side so my commute is insane, and I spend a lot of hours at a desk writing and editing so I listen to a lot of music to get through life. Lately I’ve been listening to the new Run the Jewels record, a lot of Lauryn Hill, this band called Exploded View, Whitney, Wet, Jenny Hval, Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, Dej Loaf, J. Cole, etc. Also if you want really good playlists, our friend Matt from Allah-Las has this site called Reverberation that has a ton of good playlists of mostly old music you’ve probably never heard of.

    A: Music is absolutely a huge part of my process it's playing every time I'm working. Lately I've been listening to a lot of  minimalist experimental music, Steve Reich, Larajji, I recently saw Terry Riley perform at MoCA and it was incredible. I'm feeling instrumental music right now, Vangelis, Lamont Young.

    Tell us about using this record player as a blank canvas. How does this project fit into your overall vision?
    N: Andrea is the more artistic one, obviously, so she laid out the vision for it and I tried to add my own flair but mostly ended up messing with her vibe and she just corrected over my work. But this is totally something we would do, sometimes I’ll just hang out at her studio and start drawing stuff but that stuff is very bad and is mostly for her eyes only. 

    A: I used a lot of the same visual elements that were in the drawings I did for Future You, since we agreed Nada would keep the record player I tried to come up with something she would like (a naked woman obviously)

    The content of your short stories centers on human relationships and desires. Do you think people are depriving themselves of that in their daily lives? Why do you think injecting elements of humanity into your work is so important currently?

    N: I’ve struggled with this particular medium (short fiction) as of late, in light of the magnitude of injustice facing so many people right now. It feels self-indulgent to invest so much creative energy into creating fantasy when I could probably be working on ways to participate in the larger social movements working to create change. I think a lot of creative people are feeling that way right now. But my aim has always been to be tender and light in my writing, and there is a general deficit of those qualities in the world. So however small, I think it still has a place. I think we should do whatever we can to remind ourselves of our own humanity, however fractured or wounded it may currently seem.

    The overall vibe of Future You seems to center around this intimate youthfulness and the idea of starting over or starting something. Tell us how this speaks to your own personalities and ideals.
    N: One of the first things I recognized when I moved to L.A. was that it was very cool to already be “over it”. The more aloof and unimpressed you were by everything, the cooler you were. I always hated that because what is the point of life if not to be so deeply affected by it. I wanted to create characters that felt deeply, whether or not those feelings were naive or misguided wasn’t really the point. The point was that they were uninhibited by feeling. If you can exist in that state of anticipation or awe or disappointment or longing, then you’re really doing it, you’re alive.

    A: The  story I most relate to is “Good Girl”. The main character is a girl who feels she has a lot of untapped potential, I relate to this with the feeling of starting a new project, feeling the weight of having something you want to say or are meant to do.

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