Monday, May 25, 2015

Tamela D'Amico

Photographed By Johnny Buzzerio

CAN YOU GIVE IT UP FOR LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK?
I come from a huge and loving Italian family, most of which still reside in different parts of New York. We are like a small army when we get together for family reunions. My siblings were born in Brooklyn but I was born in Long Island, NY and raised there until I was 10. So, I sort of had this Brooklyn/Long Island hybrid of a NY accent growing up. I have fond memories of my childhood there with family parties where the entire neighborhood would join in, while I would be playing outside with kids of all ages who lived in the surrounding areas. I’m grateful that I had that as a foundation, as I think that sort of socializing in the neighborhood doesn’t exist as naturally as it once did for children today. It certainly set up my personality, as I am a “people” person. I adore being around many different types of personalities and people, learning what they’re about.

My family eventually moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida where I spent most of my days fantasizing about the dreams in my head (mainly how to return to NY). It was difficult to be in "The Sunshine State" with a "New Yawk" accent and fair skin. But I made friends quickly and traveled back to NY often. I am the youngest of five kids with a large age difference between my siblings and myself and due to us always traveling back and forth to NY to visit them, I consider myself a New Yorker first. Even today, I am bi-coastal between New York and Los Angeles. You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT JAZZ THAT MOVES YOU AND WHERE DID YOUR LOVE AND PASSION FOR MUSIC COME FROM?
Jazz is my heart. They say that you don’t choose to sing jazz, rather, it chooses you. I feel that to be true for myself. I have been hired to sing other styles of music and do. I love it all. However, for my career, Jazz is totally where it’s at. People with passion, in general, inspire me. I adore learning about other people's lives and how they made it through. I’m a big fan of biographies. We learn from each other’s wins and mistakes, all throughout history. When I meet someone new, I always ask, "What's your story?" I listen to them and then I tell it their story back to them like they are watching their own documentary. It’s always interesting, because they often learn something new about themselves that they didn't even realize. Jazz is a lot like that. An artist can be giving you a song that you may know, but it is the interpretation of it that lets you see it in a new light.

Jazz is filled with discovery.

WHO HAS INFLUENCED YOUR STYLE OF SINGING THE MOST?
I always credit Judy Garland as being the first huge musical inspiration for me, because as a young child I would watch New York's Nostalgia network which was like a PBS station that aired old episodes of “The Judy Garland Show” instead of programs like “Sesame Street”. Judy radiated passion and knew when to be still and when to be manic, and all with seemingly great ease because she existed from a center of truth. I took all this in at a tender age and knew that I wanted to be a part of the world that I saw on the screen past, present, and future. After Judy Garland, I of course found the music collection of my parents and older siblings that ranged from Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, all the way to Doo-Wop music of the 50’s and then the operas starring Pavarotti then Janis Joplin and funk/disco from the 70’s all the way to 80’s bands like Journey and Michael Jackson.

From the late 90’s till now, my “favorites” playlist changes often and I find that people are shocked that a jazz singer likes rap, as if all I must listen to is jazz and the American Songbook. I literally appreciate mostly all types of music and love to dance to anything, except maybe old school deep Country music and Death Metal Hard Rock. Because I always had a natural propensity for performing and working in all forms of media, I was often compared to Barbra Streisand in high school. So I researched her path and took notes. She did everything and did it well and I wanted to utilize all of my talents in the same way. Currently, I really enjoy what Florence and The Machine and Adele are doing. I’m the product of an environment in love with pop music. In short, there is no singular person who influenced my style, my style is my own.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS?
Funny! Maybe your question should be “Are you good at playing any other instruments well?" Besides singing, I can play a bit of piano, but it’s nothing that I share professionally with the public. So no, I don’t play any instruments that you will ever see or hear. At least, not now. Maybe as an old lady I'll learn classical piano the proper way when I have nothing left to do and become a perfectionist at doing it.

JAZZ IS A GENRE DESCRIBED AS PARTLY PLANNED AND PARTLY SPONTANEOUS. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT IMPROVISATION ELEMENT OF JAZZ?
Oh geez. I can hear the groans from Jazz musicians worldwide. First let me start by saying, I am no expert on Jazz. I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking anyone else this question myself, except maybe to one of the Marsalis brothers. They’re exceptionally well versed on how to describe this, much better than I am. Duke Ellington said that with jazz music “You've got to find some way of saying it without saying it.” I’m a singer with jazz chops. I have taken music theory. Can I sit down and write out the musical notes of how I want my song to go exactly for each of the instrumental parts? No. But I sure as hell can sing it for you and know exactly how it should go musically in my mind and perform it for you.

I believe there is a common misconception about jazz improvisation in that people think it's conceived on a whim; like we are playing a chart and suddenly someone decides to just take off in another direction without reason. Jazz improvisation is the progression of extemporaneously creating new melodies over the uninterrupted repeating sequence of chord changes of a tune. And, there is no exact correct way of doing it. Some choices may in fact be more interesting than others and may or may not be as pleasing to the ear, however. Many jazz musicians, whether they are vocal artists or instrumental players, do not necessarily read music when they perform either. Some can’t read music at all. You will find that in almost every genre of music. That is the great thing about music, in general. It’s a feeling just as much as it is a craft, isn’t it? That being said, there are exceptionally trained jazz musicians who can read any chart once and make it sound like they have been playing it their entire life and with their own unique style and then improvise on top of that. That’s talent! The trick to jazz improvisation is playing music with both creative spontaneity as well as deliberate confidence that doesn’t appear to be rehearsed or commonplace. Composed music and improvised music may seem to be like comparing apples to oranges, but somehow in jazz (and there are many subdivisions of jazz) they blend in a unique concoction.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AND RATE THE MUSIC SCENE OF THE CITY YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN?
Los Angeles is filled with every type of music you can possibly imagine, great and small, from huge acts to rising stars. You can see anything here. Each genre of music is a small nugget in a larger picture. Los Angeles is a vast place geographically speaking and no matter what type of music you are seeking, you have to make a distinct choice to make it an event, because you will be traveling to get there. It is not like NYC where you can just walk into a club randomly and catch an act that happens to be playing. There is more involvement in the planning here and a lot of work on the behalf of the artist to do their own marketing no matter how large the marquee value of your name may be.

WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST DIFFICULT CHALLENGE JAZZ MUSICIANS FACE TODAY AND DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS?
Jazz is pretty much the foundation of most of the music on the radio today, yet it is the most disrespected genre of music amongst the masses, as well as the popular award ventures of the music industry. Sometimes, I feel that the general public doesn’t even know what it is. For instance, I recently had someone call me “Opera Girl”. I’m like opera is not jazz! The biggest challenge is education. Jazz needs to be brought back to schools in a major way. My advice for aspiring artists is always the same. Do not become an artist unless you are willing to give all of yourself, come hell or high water. I got my hands on everything that interested me growing up and my parents nourished that. I have a “need to know” attitude and love learning. I’ve worked in almost every aspect of this business from being out front as a performer to being deep behind the scenes. This is a business, at the end of the day, and if you want longevity, you have to understand how it works. Lil’ bit o’ life Advice from me: Question everything presented to you. Don't simply accept the answers. Go on your own journeys. Listen to your gut first, then your heart. Step into worlds that you are frightened of and that you know little about, so you can broaden your horizon. I have been fortunate to have many a great mentor and I hold all of them in high regard. I am a genuine networker in a real sense. Everyone I have ever met since I have come to Los Angeles is in my contact book and I keep up with them, even if it is once a year. People are important to me. Every opportunity should be looked into. My wise grandmother Josephine Pravato, who passed away at 92, would say “If you're bashful, you lose. Don't ever be afraid to go and get what you want in this life.”

ACTRESS, FILMMAKER AND PRODUCTION COMPANY OWNER ARE ALSO SOME OF YOUR CREDENTIALS. HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME AND HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?
I believe that talent is innate and craft can be taught but only to a degree. There are many methods of knowing how to work in this business and I treat them as tools in my toolbox when a need arises. I demand the highest work from myself. As a performer, I am a huge fan of The Lee Strasberg Method, which is based on the great Stanislavski who first questioned “What is inspiration and how can we evoke the creative mood or spirit.” The basics of those methods and coming from a place of truth is what I try to bring into the foundation of all of my work as a storyteller, whether it be in singing, acting, writing or directing If I cannot fulfill a project by working from that center of truth, I walk away from it. I live for stories that champion the underdog. I’m a storyteller. I do really want to know “What’s your story?” The world is an educational playground and I always feel that I have so much to learn. Focus comes by taking on each project in a case by case scenario, what makes sense to handle what first. I am a superb multi-tasker and nowadays you have to be multi-talented to survive in this business where people are creating their own content. I also have a lot of help when it’s needed. It used to be looked down upon if you had many things you were good at doing. Now it is a pre-requisite to be a triple threat to be taken seriously. Yes, I have my own production company, La Strega Entertainment. I run everything I create or help create through there. My debut album “Got a Little Story” was the first thing my company produced before it was picked up for worldwide distribution.

HOW DO YOU PREPARE BEFORE A PERFOMANCE?
Whether it is singing, acting, or making movies, I prep by taking superb care of my health and body above and beyond the norm. Performing and being on set sometimes for 12 plus hours is very taxing to the body and spirit, so I need to gear up before, during, and after. I work out using the Cardio-Barre method , yoga, and hiking. Beyond that, I just do regular vocal warm ups while connecting to the lyrics/words knowing what they are about and tackling them like a student actress would. What is the meaning behind these words, not just the meaning of them. It’s always something deeper. I thrive on set or in a performance space. It’s where I am most happy. The energy floods me and raises me up. On stage I get nervous, five minutes before. My stomach feels like I have to desperately go to the bathroom and then as soon as my name or entrance is called and I hit that stage, it all melts away like awesome sauce.

HOW DOES ONE ACHIEVE THAT WHO-NEEDS-SWAG-WHEN-YOU’VE-GOT-SWING SULTRY LOOK?
It’s all perception and presentation. You look as good as you feel. And when you don’t feel good, believe that you do and let that spark fly out of your eyes. I look to ladies who came before all of us for inspiration. There are two Sophia Loren quotes, which I live by, “Sex appeal is 50 percent what you've got and 50 percent what people think you've got,” and “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Both are 100 percent true for me and in this business that we call “Show”. I adore every bit of it, even the bull shit. You have to be as soft as silk to enter it and as tough as nails to stay in it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Now All You Sucker DJ's Who Think You're Fly

Photographed By Zainab Hasnain

Allow me to re-introduce Zeemuffin, the dope DJ who's also happens to be an avid traveller (or traveler) and photographer. "I've realized that one of the most important things to me in life is seeing as much of the world as I can. Not only is it important, but it's necessary for a number of reasons. Traveling and immersing yourself into different cultures makes you a more open-minded and creative person. I love connecting with different people from all walks of life. I learn the most about life through connecting with different people. I think there's no better way to become a smarter and more empathetic person," she said.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bree Olson

Photo Courtesy Of Bree Olson

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE IN THE CITY OF ANGELS?
Life in Los Angeles is interesting to say the least. It's a bit of a different hustle than NYC - which I had always been more accustomed to and thought I fared better over there. Here it's a bit more cut throat, in a very fake way. People will say they like something and smile but not really mean it. I'd rather have the brutal honestly and aggression of the East Coast when it comes to those types of things. I also miss the awesome public transit in NYC. Driving everywhere here, especially for auditions each day can be such a drag. We of course win on the weather aspect, but I do miss my seasons very much. It never feels like Christmastime or fall has come here. Every day is pretty much the same. It feels like the Twilight Zone. I love the forward thinking here. I've really come to embrace the hippie vibe. And now I finally understand it and it makes me scared to ever leave to a land where people aren't as open and free with their thoughts. L.A., like anywhere, is a blessing and a curse.

WHEN DID YOU BECOME BREE OLSON?
I was almost 20 years old and had to create a name for the work I did in porn. They told me I had to choose a first name, I went with Bree because at the time there weren't any “Bree's” in the industry, and I had a fling with a superhot girl named Bree back in high school. Olson came later when they said I needed a last name. I went with the Olsen twins for that all American vibe from “Full House” and altered the spelling. There I had Bree Olson, an all American name to match my all American image.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU ENCOUNTER A HOLIER-THAN-THOU ATTITUDE FROM PEOPLE  REGARDING YOUR WORK?
I haven't done porn in four years now and the fact that people still treat me the same as when I was in porn, is a little discouraging. I didn't realize my image would be carried with me so strongly. Surprisingly people from the Midwest are much more accepting of who I am. I think the people here in L.A. are too concerned with their image and not just professionally. It's L.A., many people here feel like they're on stage all the time.

YOU STAR IN “THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE III” BY TOM SIX. WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE AND WERE YOU A FAN OF THE FRANCHISE AND HORROR GENRE?
I loved being on such a large professional set and they truly treated me like a princess. I flew over night to audition for the part because “The Human Centipede” one and two, are actually the only horror movies I have watched in my adult life. I was really drawn to them and excited that I was even considered for the role. I had about 30 days on set and it was an amazing experience, I still talk with much of the cast and crew to this day. I'm excited to see them at the premier on May18th, and for all of us to be united again.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE ACTORS?
My absolute most favorite actor at this time is Peter Dinklage best known for his incredible portrayal of Tyrion Lannister on “Game of Thrones”. But I was extremely drawn to him several years ago when he played a nanny on “Nip/Tuck”. I'm always so happy when I see an amazing actor finally hit it big - and in his case - jackpot, and deservingly so.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO IN YOUR LEISURE TIME?
My grandparents were immigrants and Holocaust survivors originally from the Ukraine. They brought a very strong work ethic to America and my grandmother instilled every bit of that into me. Work, work and work. Even though many may look down on my career of porn, I worked very hard at it. Very little time is spent on camera, although most. And the last four years with the exception of non-pornographic work is spent off camera. Events, hosting, photo shoots, social media, websites and fans, fans and fans. I love my fans and interact with them as much as I can. In fact, I have been working on a secret project and as an entrepreneur that has had things shine beyond success and fizzle into nothing. I can’t tell you how it will do. As always, the fans decide so we'll see how they feel. Either way, it will be a life changing experience yet again.

Oh! So my answer! As you can see, I don't really do the leisure time thing. I'm my happiest when I'm working and I envy my friends that are always out on the weekends. If I wanted to, I could be there, too. But this is my happy place, working. It's in my DNA to work until I can work no more.

WHAT’S THE ART OF SEDUCTION IN YOUR OPINION?
I’m a true sapiosexual. If one were to gather all of my ex's together they would see stark differences in personality, looks and interests. One thing they all have in common is their intellect. I am extremely drawn to people with abnormally high IQ's. Some were more in touch with their emotional IQ and some not at all. In the end, they were all so smart and talented in their own ways. The more someone knows than me, the more likely I am to love them.

WHERE DO YOU POSITION YOURSELF IN THE WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT MOVEMENT?
It's getting to a point where it sickens me that women's equality is still a topic. The millennium hasn't been about equality as commercials of an assortment of races and genders claim it to be. The millennium is better at masking gender and race discrimination. It’s without question, the higher you go in almost any company, it becomes predominantly white males. There are white women, black men and women, Hispanic men and women that are just as qualified. At most we just see them sprinkled about just enough for a company to not be able to be held accountable.

We’re still living from a place when physical strength was a means for survival and in most instances that was the male. Now we live in a time where the most important attributes to being successful are found just as commonly in females as males such as intelligence, perseverance and creativity just to name a few qualities.

I used to be “anti-feminism” because I didn't know what it meant. I thought it meant to hate men or to try and make them feel lesser than. That's just not the case at all. Being a feminist is just wanting the same equalities as a man. To be equal to. In my opinion, I think this benefits the man. Perhaps if we all did what made sense rather than what society has brainwashed us with, most men wouldn't buy dinner on every date, most men wouldn't feel defeated if their female spouse makes close to what they make or more. And most importantly if we were able to take down these very specific walls of gender that society has built, men could feel free to be themselves, to be more sensitive if they wanted to be. “Be a man.” What is this? Most commonly applied to little boys when telling them not to cry. Let them cry. Let them laugh. Let them cross their legs. We are all human beings and we should all have the same opportunities given our skill sets without bias and discrimination.

HOW DO YOU STAY FIT AND DO YOU HAVE A BEAUTY ROUTINE YOU SWEAR BY?
I’m a vegan. At one point I was overweight weighing 150 pounds at only 5'3. I went vegan and lost all 50 pounds in two months with no exercise. I feel more healthy and energetic than I have in my whole life. Who has time to miss food when you can wear anything you want and know you look great?

Everyone wishes they could change something about themselves physically and one thing that is free is to lose weight and that's probably the number one thing that people would want to change about their physical appearance. I'm sure there's a poll somewhere that could back me up on this. And if you're big and beautiful and proud, great. However, if you're not proud and you're overweight and really want to change, I’m here to tell you there's no easy way out. But I'm also here to tell you that the gym isn't as required as people think. The gym is there to sculpt and to keep weight off. If all you're doing is trying to lose weight, eat less, a lot less. Will you be hungry? Yes. Will people tell you it's not healthy especially your own mother? Yes. Are the chips, soda, juice, and eating out you're doing healthy? No? Okay. I'd rather be a little "unhealthy" and lose the weight. Now, don't go starve yourself to death. I'm just saying that most people can make it on a 1500 calorie diet, no problem. We see these stars and think they are so lucky and that they are born with it. No, it's their life. I walked to two different grocery stores to get fresh vegetables and fruits so that I have fresh food each day. “I don't have time for that”. Well, I didn't watch any TV today, did you? Did you spend any time on Facebook today?

Two things scare me about technology and that is not connecting with people enough in person and being stagnant. People sit and drive to work, they sit at work, and they sit as they drive home. They get home and they sit down in front of the computer or TV and on the weekends they sit in front of the TV and the computer. Don't even get me started with how much time we spend looking at our phones. And I get it! I love my Apple TV, Mac and iPhone just as much as the next person, except I make the effort each day to shut down everything for hours and just do things, even if it's just re-organizing the cupboards or walking to the post office instead of driving. We all really have to tell ourselves which hours of the day are going to be “no technology time”.

Also for the people wanting to lose weight, it's okay to be hungry. Every time you're hungry, that means you're losing weight. Now when you do decide to eat, make sure it's a salad and not a big greasy burger and I assure you, you'll lose all the weight you want. I'm scolding today. I'm everyone's mother I guess. I just have a few friends that fight with weight big time and what I've said here is basically what I've told them a hundred times. They don't listen and guess what? They're still fat. I love them to death though. Maybe I should start a boot camp? Bree's Boot Camp. I'm sure if I wore booty shorts and a sports bra I'd get a few clients for sure.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE AND DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
I know nothing, just like Jon Snow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

About Miss Daisy

Illustration By Daisy De Villeneuve

Daisy de Villeneuve’s latest illustrated book “I Should Have Said” is a witty reflection on 20/20 hindsight vision, and the times she should have spoken out par rapport à her friends and relationships but didn’t.

Born into an aesthetically pleasing family; her father a business man and once manager of 60's icon Twiggy, and her mother, a successful model of the same era, De Villeneuve and her sister, photographer and director Poppy, would spend their time crafting growing up. “I have been drawing in felt tip pens since the age of three. I think that my style of drawing has evolved over the years. At the start it was rawer, scratchy and now I feel it is more smooth and graphic,” says De Villeneuve.

Her faux-naïf approach has led to collaborations with Zac Posen, Topshop, Moët & Chandon to mention only a few. And when asked whether she’d contemplate adapting her books for the screen, she replied “Yes, this would be a fantastic idea! I'm also interested in animation, too.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Daisy De Villeneuve

Photographed By Alistair Guy

YOU WERE BORN IN LONDON WITH A FRENCH LAST NAME, THEN YOU STUDIED AT PARSONS IN BOTH NEW YORK AND PARIS,  CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THESE ANGLO-FRENCH RELATIONS?
I am in fact not French but half English and half American, and for the past three years I’ve been living in Paris up until a couple of weeks ago when I moved back to the UK.

WHY DID YOU BECOME AN AUTHOR?
I'd always wanted to do a book of the “He Said She Said” drawings that I had shown during my final project for my graduation show in 1999. I was commissioned to do over 100 drawings for it in December 2000. It was first published in August 2001; that's when I became an author.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOUR NEW BOOK AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM THE PREVIOUS ONES?
The new book “I Should Have Said” is similar in vain to the first book, in fact it's the sequel. But, it is different as it's an older version of me and my friends, the experiences are universal yet familiar.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO ILLUSTRATION?
After art school I was approached by the publishers, Pocko Editions, they commissioned me to do my first book. That led to other work, then when a journalist asked what I did I said, “illustration” as I didn't really feel like I was an artist as such, even though I have a degree in Fine Art, I thought I was more of an illustrator.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECT TO DRAW?
Faces as that's what I do best.

HOW DO YOUR PIECES COME TOGETHER?
I carry a notebook and jot down notes and ideas, then I sketch out the idea for the drawing. It will take me several attempts until I get the drawing right, I never work with pencil, always with pen first, I make lots of mistakes and keep tracing over the older versions of the sketch until I'm happy with it. Sometimes I like my mistakes and keep them.

WHO ARE THE ARTISTS YOU ADMIRE?
David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Sir Peter Blake and Robert Rauschenberg.

WHO ARE THE WRITERS YOU ADMIRE?
Brett Easton Ellis, Elizabeth Wurtzel, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU GET UP TO?
I travel a lot for work and to see my friends. Friends and work are important to me. I'm currently in Austin, Texas.

YOU’RE ALSO QUITE THE FASHIONISTA, IF YOU WERE TO DRAW AN ENTIRE COLLECTION FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL USE, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
A colourful eclectic mix of both vintage and designer clothes. Lots of shoes, bags and sunglasses. I'm a total hoarder.