The Pop Factory Next Door: Inside L.A.’s Home Studios

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

Live in Los Angeles? Home studios are everywhere in this city, and whether you listen to Top 40 or buy vinyl from Vacation, there’s a better than bad chance that some of the music you love was made in a residence near you. Maybe even next door. With the help of pop producer Ricky Reed, Grizzly Bear’s bassist/utilities man Chris Taylor, the irrepressible will.i.am, and a few folks behind the scenes, I give you this quick but kinda deep dive into the world of home-recording, which, as it turns out, happens to be the world that the rest of us live in… only, sometimes Kesha stops by.

Lil Uzi Vert Is a Real Rap Rock Star

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READ IT AT BILLBOARD (in print too)

Look, Lil Uzi Vert doesn’t love talking to press. Actually, it doesn’t seem like he hates the act so much as he doesn’t acknowledge it as a thing that exists within his purview (his own people warned me this would be like getting words out of a rock). So, after a million billion delays, I finally got the guy on the phone, and he somehow found ways to reduce even non-binary (I.E. yes or no) questions to single-word answers. I must’ve re-asked each one three different ways. Honestly, I’m impressed. But hey, he was nice enough and his whole thing is expressing himself in song without any filters, so what we wound up with is a little explainer on how “XO Tour Llif3” broke through, catapulting Luv Is Rage 2 to the No. 1 album in the country. Yah! Yah! Yah! Yah!

Mija Is a Self-Made One-Woman Art Factory

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READ IT AT NOISEY (also in Vice’s print music issue)

Do you know about Mija yet? If not, it’s time. Because sometime in the next year or so, you will find yourself either wearing clothes she designed, attending a festival she put together, watching a feature-length anime she conceived, thrashing to one of her infamous DJ sets, or, at the very least, enjoying one of her songs which run the gamut from happy hardcore filtered through an 8-bit circuit board (are circuit boards the keepers of bits? probably not, but humor me) to ambient ballads for piano and beat-machine. Anyway, the point is, I got to spend some time with Mija in L.A.’s Arts District, where she is right at home, and she was equal parts chill, driven, and strange.

The Secret Concert Series You Need to Know About

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READ IT AT LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE (in print too)

A selection of people you might see at a Sofar Sounds secret show: moms and dads on benches with wine, hipster youth on blankets with LA Croix, hirsute heshers on walls with beers, teens on top of Taco Bell wrappers eating Taco Bell, pretty people floating on air drinking air. One of the unique side effects of throwing shows with unknown lineups is the L.A.-rare intermingling of various types of music fans, and it’s a good good thing. In fact, there are many good good things about Sofar Sounds—perhaps goodest of all is that it puts the intimacy and discovery back into seeing live music. To say much of anything about how it works would be to give away, like, 90 percent of the article, so I’ll refrain. But I will say this: the piece was edited to read “Venice Blvd. event space” in the first sentence, but it should say “Venice Blvd. clothing boutique” because throwing shows in unusual places is a huge part of what makes Sofar—wait for it—so good.

Weezer Almost Went Mumble-Rap for Their New LP

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READ IT AT BILLBOARD (in print too)

After nearly 20 years of interviewing musicians, I was finally led by the journalism gods to the living rock nerd altar that is Rivers Cuomo. He was every bit as repressed and smart as I would’ve hoped. And also Brian Bell was there. He had long hair and wore a loose suit and rockstar-ed me the second I met him at a fancy Santa Monica coffee shop. I introduced myself and he said, “Great. Because I’m Brian Bell from Weezer and I need an espresso,” as he walked past me, took a seat, and waited for his espresso to materialize. But all worked out in the end: his publicist ordered him a drink and I asked these two Weezers a bunch of questions about their new album, Pacific Daydream. Also, Cuomo big-upped XXXtentacion, which was surprising on many levels.

Michael Cera Is (Still) Really Good at Music

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READ IT AT NOISEY

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.

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

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LISTEN AT BILLBOARD (in iTunes too)

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)_/¯.

Rita Ora Talks Fifty Shades Darker, Top Model

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READ IT AT MEN’S FITNESS (in print too)

Had a lil’ chat with the mighty Rita Ora about the incredibly lengthy list of things she’s doing including but not limited to: ramping up her Fifty Shades roll in Darker, stepping in for Tyra Banks as host of America’s Top Model,  running the fashion game in collaboration with Adidas, acting in an indie flick alongside the late great Carrie Fisher, and being a body-positive badass.