Michael Cera Is (Still) Really Good at Music



If you don’t know, Michael Cera makes music—he just keeps a low profile. Back in 2014, he dropped a great lil’ web-only album of bedroom pop and folk. I bought it on Bandcamp and, on a whim, emailed the account asking for an interview. Cera replied, and we talked for SPIN. Now he’s back with a nifty synthy track called “Best I Can” featuring Sharon Van Etten, written for Sundance-slaying documentary Dina. This time he emailed me, and Noisey ran the words.




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Want a true testament to the delightfulness of my subject this time around? Here’s the list of folks who went on the record to say nice things about Zedd: Kesha, Jared Leto, Liam Payne of One Direction, Hailee Steinfeld, Dillon Francis, Interscope CEO John Janick, songwriter/artist Julia Michaels, and DJ-producer Porter Robinson. As for the story, this one takes me into the Hollywood Hills home of the dance/pop genius not only for poker night (excerpted: his brother took me for $40), but for a hang sesh in which he plays piano, reveals his plans for Jeff Buckley’s legacy, and shows off a $13,000 side table that fills his living room with rainbows on sunny days. Also, as the headline suggests, there are the myriad ways in which he is not a basic bro.



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Did you know that Grizzly Bear moved to California, signed to a major label, and maybe kinda sorta unofficially broke up between their last album, 2012’s Shields, and their latest Painted Ruins, due in August? I didn’t either until I sat down with these indie rock titans for one-on-one convos at the various hip coffeehouses of Los Angeles’ east side. A lot of other stuff happened too: Chris Taylor staged at Noma, Ed Droste stumped for Bernie Sanders, Chris Bear got back to jazz, and Daniel Rossen disappeared way way Upstate. This is the story of how breaking up with Brooklyn, and each other, lured one of the millennium’s best bands out of hibernation. Not for nothing, we met up mid-April, making these their first interviews as a band since the Shields era.


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Ready your appetite, your liver, and your sense of adventure — it’s that time of year again: Los Angeles Magazine’s BEST OF LOS ANGELES. I had a huge haul this year, play-testing (for your benefit, not mine, nope, didn’t enjoy this at all, haha riiiiiight) three finalists in each of 13 categories, which for convenience’s sake I’ll split here into two super-categories. In the WHAT TO EAT zone (page one of the long list on the mag site), I crowned winners in the domains of: Fancy Grilled Cheese (No. 4), Coffee Concoction (No. 5), Mezcaleria (No. 6), Barcade (No. 13), Cemita (No. 18), Rare Liquor Retailer (No. 19), and Cheese Appreciation Class (No. 26). In the WHAT TO DO space (page two), you’ll find: True Crime Tours (No. 40), L.A. River Kayak Tour (No. 48), Laser Tag for Adults (No. 50), Picnic on Mars (No. 54), Hip Bowling Alley (No. 55), and Distillery Tour (No. 57). Whew. And the latter should include a quick Q&A in print. Now go plan your entire summer.

Billboard Cover: When Fifth Harmony Become Four


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Barely a year after the Billboard cover feature in which Fifth Harmony broke down in tears over their brutal working conditions (for which we sought the salve of froyo), I reconvene with the girl group’s four remaining members to bake cookies and hash out the gory details behind their new better-than-ever status, which involves a lot of real talk about fixing their terrible contracts and moving forward in the wake of original member Camila Cabello’s exit. This is a special one not only because it’s our second cover together, but because I also profiled Cabello at the start of her solo career, plus wrote the mag’s first non-cover feature on 5H. So … they’re my beat now. Cameos from hitmakers Poo Bear and Dreamlab, fiery lawyer Dina LaPolt, Ginger Spice herself (hence the Spice Girls “2 Become 1” gag above), and, yes, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Fun fact: In addition to now finally owning the “Fifth Harmony” copyright (what this means is explained in the article), the ladies also own copyrights for Fourth Harmony and H4RMONY.




I dug mantle-deep into Wyclef Jean’s The Carnival on Billboard’s Pop Shop podcast. This was easy because The Carnival is kinda sorta definitely very much one of my favorite albums of all time. The occasion for the chat was, of course, the LP’s 20th birthday (I’m sure you had it marked on your calendar), and the episode was part of Andrew Unterberger’s “Coming Around Again” series. He tags me in around 25:10. Sound quality leaves a lil’ bit to be desired ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Billboard Cover: DJ Khaled Is the One!


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Another one! This time it’s a story on the uplifting oddity of DJ Khaled, in which I interview him in his mansion, we go on a snack run in a golf cart, and he signs for an Escalade while talking to me, without breaking eye contact. It wouldn’t be a DJ Khaled production without features galore, so you’ll find supporting quotes from Tony Robbins, Justin Bieber, Arianna Huffington, and Rick Ross, among others. I’d write more, but I gotta go double my home pillow inventory.

Billboard Cover: Niall Horan Goes Desperado


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Niall Horan is, well, normal. He likes golf, stays friends with his exes, and takes advice from his elders. Of course, for someone with his profile, that means he caddies for Rory McIlroy, kicks it with Selena Gomez on the regular, and calls Don Henley “dad” during their bimonthly chats about life and music. Still, normal. I met him several times over the past six months and every time found him to be exactly the type of dude you want to share a pint with. He even invited me into his house for a home-cooked meal. Anyhow, if you’re a One Direction fan who’s always wanted to know more about the cute Irish kid in the crew, or if you never cared about 1D but are looking for a worthy new man crush in your life, I’ve got you covered. With cameos from Sean Mendes, Don Was, Justin-Bieber-by-proxy, and, yes, the Eagles mastermind Don Henley.

Further reading: My 2016 profile of Horan’s ex-bandmate Zayn Malik.
Fun fact: They both talk about pooping.