GALLANT BENDS TIME, SOUND AND STYLE

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Had a lovely chat with the man known as Gallant. Topics covered include: working with Max Martin, loving Cartoon Network, missing Comic-Con, reading about opiate addiction, doing voice acting, dressing like a couch, fantasizing about joining 112, and worshipping at the altar of Seal. Also, I talked to Seal. And Moby. Plus, Gallant appears in super fresh fashions. Peep it.

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BILLBOARD COVER: ZEDD IS EDM’S ANTI-BRO

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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.

PASTE COVER: GRIZZLY BEAR’S GOLDEN (STATE) REPUBLIC

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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.

BEST OF LOS ANGELES 2017: MEZCALERIAS AND MORE

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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.

PODCAST: GEEKIN’ ON WYCLEF FOR THE CARNIVAL’S 20TH

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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.

Complex Profile: Cash, the Man Behind the Weeknd

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Be calm: I know the Kiss Land creatures are (green) red pandas — some things are too tedious to explain mid-article. Others, like the fact that a man owns a full set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in 2017, the Wiki Age, are just tedious enough. There’s a lot of minutiae in the piece, so here are the broad strokes: Cash was born in Tehran during a very bad time; his family left for Canada; he was a young hustler with a heart of gold; he met the Weeknd; he drove cars (etc.) for the Weeknd; he now co-manages the Weeknd and their greater label/brand/lifestyle XO; he lives in a mansion (four blocks from my little L.A. apartment) with an entire wall of golden champagne bottles.