Friday, February 26, 2016

How to Spa on a Budget

I don't know about you ladies, but I like to be pampered every now and then. My type of pampering consists of shopping and food, but I'm talking about the complete spa package. The weekly/monthly routine where some ladies are fortunate enough to receive the entire sensation of getting a message, nails and toes treated, along with a therapeutic bath is currently out of my reach.

Good thing I like to ball on a budget. 

In the past couple of weeks, I've learned that you don't have to go a spa to receive these special treatments. I've turned it to a DIY type of thing. I've learned to use ingredients in the kitchen and everyday items my family keeps in our home to get myself rejuvenated for the following week.

Here's a list of things I like to get into on my at home spa day:

1. Paint my nails:

  • I'm the least girly of the ladies in my family, but I've managed to curate two hands full of simple, calm colors. 
  • Not good at painting your nails? Invite your girlfriend over to join your spa day. While you paint each others nails, put on your favorite jams or play a movie.
2. Draw a bath:
  • I like to use Epsom salt and apple cider vinegar in my baths. These ingredients are good for releasing toxins from your body, relieving stress and pain, and helping your muscles and nerves function properly.  
  • During this time I advise you to play your tunes or grab a book to keep you from drowning in your thoughts. Remember, you're there to relax. Do this for 30 minutes.
3. Create all natural facials (my favorite):

  • I like to do two. For the first one, it's just sugar -it doesn't matter if it's brown or white- and you can use either a lemon or lime. Since we never go a day without them I used a lime. I like to use these two to exfoliate my skin. It's always good to do this treatment 1-2 times a week. All you need to do is cut a slice of your preferred lemon or lime, dip it in the sugar, and scrub. This leaves you with a nice and clean, smooth feeling face.
  • The second one calls for one teaspoon of honey, 1/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and one egg. These ingredients are good for tightening your pores along with lightening and eventually removing dark spots if done consistently. Kandee Johnson shows you how here.
4. Put your cute puppy dog face on and cross your fingers that your significant other falls into a trance and gives you that awesome back rub until you fall asleep.

It's an awesome thing that most, if not all of these ingredients are at your local grocery store. But even more than that being awesome is that it's important to treat and take care yourself. You work hard and you deserve it. Stay beautiful! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

3 Catwalk Beauty Trends That Will Make You Forget Middle School Ever Happened

I spend way too much time thinking about middle school. I like to psychoanalyze myself back in the day in the hopes that it will bring me to some great revelation about my current issues ("maybe I really AM extroverted!" or "boys named Kyle have ALWAYS been awful to me!"). It's like I believe that middle school me possessed some fundamental quality of authenticity that has since been lost in my quest for higher education and professional success. Is it stupid? Probably. But I still do it.

So it's nothing new that I've been thinking about middle school. But recently, I've been kind of obsessed with dissecting the trends that were popular then. And it seems really unfair. Low rise jeans? Matte skin? Frosted lip gloss? Blue eyeshadow? Are you serious? Now, of course, I'm out of college and have enough life perspective to understand what trends are, but I really wish I had been in puberty in a time where dewy skin and high-waisted jeans were popular, because damn.

Now that you've listened to my rant about totally being born in the wrong generation, let's look at some of the incredible runway looks that the fall/winter 2016 runway shows have been serving up.

1. Alexander McQueen's Dreamy, Dewy Magic

Alexander McQueen has been seriously killing it lately. Sarah Burton, who took over creative directing the line in 2010, has been delving into magic, dreams, and fairytales to create her ultra-feminine collections. The 2016 McQueen girl is a creature of the night who drifts or sleepwalks between reality and her dreams. Shimmer, embroidered stars, crescent moons, butterflies, and good-luck charms were all over this show. In keeping with that theme, the makeup in this show is super dewy, rosy, and light.

Get the Look: Throw away your Kardashian Kontour! Toss out your bronzer! This look is all about the skin. Start out by drinking your eight cups of water a day, and make sure you take off your makeup every night before you go to sleep. This will give you a fresh, glowy face to start out with. Prime your face with a good moisturizing primer, then blend your favorite highlighter onto your cheekbones and the bridge of your nose. Go back in with some cream blush for a slight flush and to bring some dimension to your face. Prime your eyes, and use your fingers to apply a light, imprecise dusting of powder blush and brown eyeshadow over your lid, into your crease, and slightly on to your browbone, then line your eyes with your favorite pencil liner. (It's okay if it isn't perfect; remember this look is all about that light, je-ne-sais-quoi thing.) Now, here's my favorite part: get your jar of Vaseline or Aquaphor or whatever you have, and smear it all your eyelids for a DIY glossy eye. I'm obsessed with this look right now; it's so French and fresh and editorial without being unwearable. Plus, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than spending the $20 bucks for the Milk Eye Vinyl that basically does the same thing.

2. Alexander Wang's Slick, Dark Mall Goth

According to an article I read somewhere online, the look for this collection was a "wanted woman in a lawless land," and the style was inspired by goth teenagers smoking pot. So basically I'm sold! And yes, I realize this is sort of referencing middle school forays into Hot Topic, but it's still dope, because honestly, nothing says female empowerment like destroying the idea that we need to be conventionally attractive. It's beauty for you, not for the boys.

Get the Look: Um... don't conceal your undereye circles? This is all about looking like you're sick and tired of everyone's shit because WHY WOULDN'T YOU BE. Make sure you skip the black eyeliner to emphasize that this looks is modern, not middle school 2.0.  Take a taupe eyeshadow and use a brush to line all around your eyes, then go back in and smudge the line for a messy look. You can also go back in with a kind of faded out peach if you really want to go all-out pink eye for this. Then, pile on the mascara, and you're ready to go scowling out around town.

3. Crying Glitter with Rodarte

Maybe this is just proof exactly how obsessed I already am with glitter in general, but I think this look is super wearable, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy from Rodarte apparently agree with me. For a couple seasons now, they've been dabbling with sheer mauve tones, romance, and fairy dust (which makes for complementary tonality with their sheer, peasanty stuff of late, as well as for good contrast with their darker, more structured pieces). Somewhere a couple seasons ago, I read that the Rodarte makeup artists were really inspired by the sheen and glow that your skin right after you've cried. Great beauty tip for those of us that are overly emotional!

Get the Look: It depends on exactly how you want to bring this to life, but I think my favorite versions of glitter tears involves the heavy cat-eye. So in that case, you'll want to prime your eyes with a good eye primer before you apply your liquid eyeliner. I know I keep talking about this, but it's super important, and you really can't skip this step. An eye primer is tacky in texture and skin colored, which makes your eyeshadow colors pop and also stay on twice as long as they normally would. One time I partied all night and crashed on some stranger's couch, and when I woke up the next morning my eye makeup looked exactly the same as it did when I put it on the night before. If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. After eyeliner, use some roll-on glitter or my personal favorite, liquid glitter eyeliner from NYX (super cheap!) and apply liberally. Go forth and sparkle.

One of my favorite things about these three trends are how much they defy beauty norms. Kardashian beauty has been in for what feels like forever, and there's something that feels very modern to me about forgetting perfection and getting messy with your makeup: using your fingers to put it on, making use with what you have, and emphasizing your features with artistic creativity instead of trying to make your face look like everyone else's. Nothing says 2016 like drawing your inspiration from goth kids and crying your eyes out in bed at night. Turning your emotional turmoil and boy problems into A Look is really very feminist, if you think about it. I just wish I had spent less time in middle school trying to make my skin ultra-matte and more time embracing dewiness and glitter and not trying to force my hips into low-rise jeans....but that's another story for another time!

What are your favorite trends from the Pre-Fall 2016 runways? Let us know in the comments! 


Why Camel Should Be Your Go-To Clothing Color

Fall of 2015 brought us some of the best trends we've had in a long time. From matte lipsticks to the return of neutral colors, we finally had a season filled with unforgettable statement pieces, themes and trends to try on for good size. The one trend that stuck to me the most was the arrival of camel domination. It was subtle, effective, and it made me love flaunting my brown skin much more. Camel is now the color of my nails, my backpack, and my favorite faux glasses (I use to shield my over-active tearducts from intense Asheville winds). And as spring slides thru, I will hold on to my dear love for camel, keeping my looks warm and different while everyone is locked on florals.

So why should you love camel, you ask? It's a neutral color with flair, personality, and versatility. Anyone can rock black, whites before Labor Day and even your everyday gray (don't even get me started on my love affair with gray.) But camel looks like you actually tried. It'll pull the warm tones out of your skin and leave the reds behind, it'll fix your edges and fix your life. Not only does it warm, but it stays quiet. You can easily pair camel with another signature color. I typically pair my camel accents with my deep purples, burgundies, and forest greens. It looks professional, but not too crazy serious. Camel will make you feel like a fashion blogger. (because, you know, that's just the coolest thing ever.) Also, guys look great in camel. Exhibit A, and the only example you need: Empire stars rocking camel for GQ.

What should you buy in camel? The best look rocking this color that has hints of cinnamon and nutmeg would be with a classic camel-colored peacoat. It's sleek, looks great with all black, and it can be dressed up or dressed down with a few quick changes. But since the season of coats are coming to a close, try buying camel in your favorite accent piece. A camel shirt can be tucked in to achieve a duochrome outfit with jeans or a nice dark color, or a camel belt or suede camel boot can jazz up a casual outfit. If you like to go bold, try a pair of cute tan or camel pants. Pair them with an all white sneaker or a classy black boot to go hard or go cute.

A bad selfie of ya girl.

What do I rock in camel? My camel backpack is my ride-or-die, from Urban Outfitters along with my wide-frame glasses, speckled in black. My camel shirt, flowy and lined vertically, is a signature Forever 21 piece, perfect with some casual thick leggings and chelsea boots. I also have a great camel-colored crop top sweater from Forever 21, that I love to wear with high waisted jeans and combat boots. Camel has also inspired me to dabble in highlighting and bronzing makeup, accenting my golden tones a little more to stay on par with my outfit. It'll warm you up and keep you glowing.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Instagram Poets You Should Be Double Tapping

Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde, Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, Rumi, Nikki Giovanni and Warsan Shirethe are the popular favorites amongst my selections.
Poetry is a timeless form of expression and connection.

I’ve read a lot of articles and blogposts saying that poetry is dead. Now, this is just my opinion, but I don’t understand how poetry can be “dead” if there are weekly slam poetry nights hosted not only by local businesses, but by schools & universities almost everywhere; how an organization like Button Poetry could be flourishing, how powerhouses, Zariya Allen, Rhiannon McGavin, and Belissa Escobedo have brought their words across the country, etc. You can study the greats all day, but there is definitely greatness amongst us too.

We can see that clearly now because of social media. Social networks like Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter allow us to follow some of our favorite artists and receive their work almost daily. Because of these networks, poets have a bigger voice and can easily reach an audience in the most efficient way. They can also gather a large following and by doing so, are able to make a living off of their art.

Here is a list of some of my favorite poets on Instagram that you should check out:

Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_) is a Toronto-based poet whose work speaks on womanhood, being a woman of color, abuse, empowering yourself, empowering others, and love. She released her book Milk and Honey in late 2014.

Lang Leav (@langleav) is a New-Zealand based poet who speaks on a broad range of topics such as jealousy, reclusiveness, love, and friendship. Her books are Love and Misadventure, Lullabies, and Memories were best-sellers and are out now!

Cleo Wade (@cleowade) is a New York-based poet and artist. I found her account after my fave, Lauren Jauregui re-posted a poem of hers. Her words are almost exclusively about empowerment and spreading love.

Tony Ciampa is the face behind the creative account, emolabs. While his account resembles what the youth call “very tumblr”, his poetry itself speaks on living life to the fullest, travel, and love. Ah, yes. Very tumblr.

Robert Macias (@rmdrake) is a poet from Miami. He has over 1.4 million followers and has been re-posted by A-listers like Khloe Kardashian. My mom bought his bestselling book Beautiful Chaos for me last fall and I recommend it 10/10. It sits by my bed and is full of my doodles & reactions/responses to each poem.

Quarter Life Poetry (@quarterlifepoetry) is ran by Samantha Jayne, a 25-year old illustrator, writer, and actress who is documenting her “wild” life. Entertaining & honest, Jayne’s poems will have you scrolling down her account saying “truuuuue”.

Atticus Davis (@atticuspoetry) is a New York poet and fiction writer. A lot of his work is about love, adventure, and the longing to live an extraordinary life.


Favorite Apps: Phhhoto

Phhhoto, created by Champ Bennett, Omar Elsayed, and Russell Armand, launched in July 2014 and allows users to make moving photos (or gifs) that they can post on their other social media accounts. 

The app uses your camera to take 4 photos and strings them along to make a gif. The app features a “Wow” page where Phhhoto staff pick their favorite phhhotos and display them. Several times a week, a user is picked and gets to host the “Wow” page for a day and pick out their favorite phhhotos (which are tracked using #wow). Phhhoto also gives you the option of using a filter on your newly created gifs. It’s basically Instagram’s cooler, artsier younger sibling. Some celebrities that have the app are: Skrillex, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Joe Jonas, Cole Sprouse, and even Mark Zuckerberg.

Despite having over 200,000 users, the Phhhoto community is still relatively small so this could be the social break you’re looking for. Maybe this is just me & my introversion, but following friends on social networks is cool & all, but after a while, I start to feel a little suffocated & restricted. Not a lot of people are on Phhhoto, which means you can be as weird & unapologetic as possible.

Phhhoto is a way to document your life in a cool artsy way. It’s an app full of artists & creators, and is yet another great way to establish connections and collaborate with others. Plus it’s just a really cool fucking app.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

VLOG #1: Visting Hong Kong

Hi, guys!
It's Makena here! This video below is an introduction to the culture and atmosphere I've been getting to know so far about this awesome city, Hong Kong! This is just a brief overview of what I've learned during my first month studying abroad in China!

I hope you enjoy the video!

IG & Snap: 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Tuesday Snoozeday: Link Roundup

In honor of the Tuesday blues, we curate a weekly selection of the most interesting things on the web. Brew some coffee, curl up with your laptop, and get clicking!

ENTERTAINMENT: in case you missed the Grammys, here is a quick breakdown of the winners. Plus! Stephen Colbert on Kanye's absence.

READING LIST: 12 books to read if you want to work in fashion

UP-TO-THE-MINUTE ART: an incredible piece on what might be the first Instagram art piece

POLITICS, SORT OF: why Ted Cruz's face weirds you out

POLITICS, ACTUALLY: an all-caps essay on the Democratic backlash Hillary Clinton. Plus, does Hillary Clinton deserve the black vote? Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, says no.

MUSIC: Pink Eruption

COSMETICS: Wet and Wild released this $5 nude palette I definitely need to buy, and Maybelline announced that they are releasing a black lipstick (heavy breathing).

ART: 11 Pro-Tips for Art Plus Internet

TO SEND TO MOM: Why Teenage Girls Roll Their Eyes on the New York Times, thank you very much (I actually texted this to my mom)

KANYE WEST: what's newsworthy anymore?

ASHEVILLE: views of the city's black history

PHOTOGRAPHY: documenting the intricacies of teenage girls

HISTORY: a conversation with Dylan Klebold's mother, seventeen years after Columbine

WRITING: why the common advice to "write every day" might be worst thing you can tell a writer. 

PRODUCTIVITY: download this to beat that damn impulse to open a new tab when you should be focusing

INTERIOR DESIGN: kind of obsessed with this website for all the pretty pictures of what I want my dream house to look like

Monday, February 15, 2016

5 House Plants for the Supremely Neglectful

I'm still not sure whether it's an acquired skill or not, but I am endlessly jealous of people with green thumbs. I grew up around plants because my mother is an avid gardener, but I still have managed to kill more than one cactus plant in my life, and those are notoriously low maintenance. However, my desire to live in a veritable indoor jungle has not lessened one bit. 

Who doesn't want to be surrounded by overflowing vines and leafy pots in every window? 

Not to mention that some plants purify the air around you, thereby making you more radiant and successful in basically every way possible. So in the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I've decided that I will turn my thumb into a green one. As it turns out, you can't just buy a low-maintenance plant and then never do anything again. It seems obvious, but even low-maintenance plants need a few things every now and then. Once I realized that, I've been doing pretty well. I'm no expert yet, but I've learned a few things in the process. If you, like me, struggle with taking care of house plants, I've put together a list of a few of the easiest ones, and what you need to do to not kill them. Click through to find out what they are!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Last Minute Valentines Day Ideas in Asheville, NC

It happens every year the same way. A few days before Valentine's Day and .... nothing. No ideas come to mind, every fancy schmancy restaurant downtown Asheville is all booked up, and here you are, scrambling to tell your boo thing not to fear. This town has a way with the people I know, where we love to linger around with time until time is all up. Classmates file in with seconds to spare before the starting time, the hipsters in coffee shops talk slow and deep, and everyone's in sort of a time lapse with the mountain-scape's sunset. That's not a legit excuse when it comes to your love-friend, though. I'm sorry to tell ya. But alas, it is the city of romance. Here are some quick, lovely ideas for the latecomers to the love parade. It's okay, breathe, I got you covered.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reasons Why You Should Support Local Businesses

With all that's going on in the world today, it's a tough thing for people to understand the importance of supporting people in their own community. Local businesses and small businesses are an important key in everyone's community.  It always ends up that these businesses are the ones who do more for their community than the large corporate businesses do. People who own these small, intimate businesses know what it's like to be an everyday person struggling to meet the average everyday needs.

Why not trust in someone who knows exactly what you're going through?

It actually took me a couple of years to understand what it really means to support others. Although I have always done my best to verbally give local businesses a shoutout while interacting with others, it wasn't until I started to create and brand my image that I completely understood what it truly meant to support others. 

Saying something is definitely worth the action, but actually carrying out a verb by doing something is more beneficial. Go to their events, buy their products, experience their vibe, live in the moment you've created together. 

Here are a few links to support my reasoning:

Photo By Makeda Sandford

Snow in the City

Even as a born and bred Southerner I've seen my fair share of snow. Living in Italy during the worst snowstorm Europe had seen in 70 years and spending winter breaks in upstate New York has given me a good idea of how it goes when there's a lot of snow. Generally, thermal underwear and snow tires are key.

But until a few weeks ago I had no idea what it was like to experience snow in the big city. Or more specifically, a blizzard in NYC.

For better or for worse, my neighborhood missed the brunt of the storm with an accumulation of about 8 or 10 inches (as opposed to central parks impressive 30). But, because of the overall severity of the storm, the whole city shut down. I'm talking cigarette shops, pizza places, the stoplights were out, and even the subways stopped running.

And that's where the fun began.

Having luckily dodged a nasty hangover, I got to see the whole thing unfold starting at around 7am. Between then and when most of my cohorts woke up around 2pm, I smoked some cigarettes, had some heavy handed Irish coffees, and watched it come down. Keep in mind that it was not just snowing, it was literally a blizzard, with winds so high they were ripping down flyers and tearing off scarves. And it was beautiful.

Once more people were up and about, i gathered a crew and went out in search of food, liquor, or anything that might be open. We managed instead to get thoroughly frozen, start a couple of snowball fights, and to convince my friend from LA that perhaps snow isn't so bad after all.

Over the next few hours people came and went, and a few of us decided that if the snow wasn't stopping, we would have to get our hands on something to drink. This foolhardy quest for liquor ended in us trying to sprint seven blocks through the blizzard to a store that was closing in five minutes.

Don't worry, we made it.

The day may have been cold and at times treacherous, but it did remind me that no matter where you are, snow seems to bring out the children inside of us and bring us together.

Here's to finding beauty in the storm... And to trudging through slush for the next week.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sweater Weather: Guide to Winter in NYC

This is my first winter in New York and while I was bracing myself for glacial temperatures sometime soon after I moved here in November, it has proved to be perfectly balmy and unseasonably warm for the past few months.

But, it is starting to get seriously cold here and I’ve had to figure out how to stay warm through some trial and error. 


  • Layering is key. The subway will be the death of you if you can’t shed a few layers, or at least shed your hat, scarf and gloves. I usually have at least a sweater and a long sleeve shirt on under my coat, but sometimes you may need to bulk up even more.
  • Gloves: Get gloves. Get big gloves. Get gloves that you feel slightly silly wearing because maybe you’re going to have to spark a cigarette or check your phone. Do not be led astray by the smart phone gloves, do not opt for the cute knit gloves, go straight for the waterproof exterior - lined interior ones that have a cold rating (often the good ones will have a tag that shows the weather they’re meant for) of cold to icy. The cigarette can wait - you’ll thank me later.
  • Coats: I personally have an aversion to the “puffer jackets” that are ubiquitous here, but to be honest they’re probably your best bet. I have a friend who has an ankle length one and she just spent the weekend in Iowa where the high was -2 degrees fahrenheit and she was perfectly snuggly. If you don’t opt for the puffer (I didn’t), you still probably want to get a long coat, at least thigh-knee length. The reason? While you’re probably going to have a sweater or two under your coat, your legs are only going to have one layer of cloth between them and the freezing cold, and you want to protect them. A long coat will do this, and you will be grateful. Coats with hoods are also great. Basically the more of your body you can cover the better. (You can also go hard core and wear long johns under your jeans, I used to do this sometimes when I lived in Asheville, and I may have to break them out soon.)
  • Hats/Scarves: Even if you have a hood on your coat you’re probably going to want a hat. There are a lot of cute hats out there to be had, but at a certain point even the best of us have to abandon fashion for practicality, and thick knit hats and ear flaps and some things to look for. Big scarves are great, but make sure you can tuck them into your coat - the wind here gets so strong that it will fly away/whip up and totally cover your face. You do not want this to happen in the middle of an intersection.
  • Shoes: Get yourself some waterproof shoes, preferably with ankle coverage and excellent traction. Being the person to totally wipe out on the sidewalk is not ideal.

So remember: Cover up, layer up, and watch where you’re walking. You should be fine.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jams 002: Season Fa Lovin'

It's 2016 and we're already on the second month of the year! Our February playlist features songs by various artists that are more on the hopeful side when it comes to love for yourself and love for others. Hope you enjoy these picks!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tuesday Snoozeday: Link Roundup

In honor of the Tuesday blues, we curate a weekly selection of the most interesting things on the web. Brew some coffee, curl up with your laptop, and get clicking!

LISTEN: In a flurry of absolutely no publicity at all, Rihanna actually released ANTI. You can stream it on Tidal here.

TWITTER IRONY: If you or any of your friends lived in the local College Art House (you know, the kind where all your mugs were broken after week one and most of the bedrooms have bedsheets and tapestries hanging up instead of walls), you will be able to relate to Show House Problems.

POP CULTURE: A dissection of why we all feel weird about how hot and cool Taylor Swift's girlfriends are.

HISTORY: Learn more about Santa's horned, evil counterpart Krampus. It's more than just the movie. 

LITERATURE: Marilynne Robinson interviews President Obama aka a literature student’s wet dream.


A Star Down the Hall: In Conversation with Niya Wells

This afternoon I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend and artist, Niya Wells. She’s making a name for herself in the world of music with her unique R&B voice and international collaborations. Two years ago we lived on the same floor as freshmen at UNCG. She was known for always singing in the halls, but no one seemed to mind. We sat down at Coffeeology in Greensboro to catch up and talk about music.

Hit Play on some of Niya's tracks while reading!

IMANI: I’ve gotta ask. Have you heard Pillowtalk by Zayn?
NIYA: Pillowtalk by who?

Zayn? From One Direction?
Zayn? No no. I’m gonna have to look it up. Let me see. I screenshotted this picture of a guy I think his name was Zayn.
*shows me a photo on her phone*

Yeah that’s him! I think he has different hair though.
Yeah I heard this song, and I was like “Oh my god! Who is this guy?” It was a remix of You & I. I’ll have to send it to you.

Who is your dream collaboration?
Frank Ocean. Frank Ocean is my dream.

Oh my god. You’re gonna have to find him first.
Right? I love that he’s building the anticipation, though. He’s like steadying his audience.

What’s your favorite collab that you’ve done so far?
I have two. My favorite, because it was great and it’s the biggest, is one that I did with Jarreau Vandal with Selections & Brasstracks. I loved that collaboration because I was the underdog, and they’re pretty big people, and I don’t know how they found me. Another is with Ace Henderson. He’s a Raleigh-based rapper, and I collaborated with visuals & musical forms.

Did they just hit up your email inbox one day?
The guy (Jarreau Vandal)’s manager, his name is Em, he lives in London and he said “I’ve been stalking your SoundCloud for years.” He sent me some house tracks & I did some of those, and he said “Oh this is great. Let me see you on this other track.” And out of all the tracks that I did, he loved that one. He was like “This is gonna be big! I’m sitting with him now and we’re amped about this.” At first I was like “Uh. He’s probably selling wolf tickets”. I’ve never seen his face. We always talk on the phone.

That’s a catfish situation. You might have to call MTV. 
Right? Like I love having this Charlie’s Angels type guy.

Was that Pure Bliss?
No Pure Bliss with Ralphy London. I did that one in like high school.

I liked that one. Sorry, I was on your YouTube.
Yeah? Thanks! 

I loved that one line “I’m digging your vibe/ I’m giving you all my time”
Yes! You know the words! 

I was fangirling. I was like “I know her!” 
That makes me so happy. 

How would you describe your music?
My voice is R&B-ish, but I love all genres so I say alternative R&B. Heavy emphasis on “alternative”.

Who are your musical influences?
Kimbra, definitely, Kid Cudi, and Pharrell. Especially his N.E.R.D. days.

When did you realize that music was something you wanted to pursue?
When I turned 19. I feel like that was the transition year. I was like “this is the year to find out what I’m gonna do. If I’m gonna stick with school and be very blue-collared, I need to stick with that. Or if I’m gonna be artsy, or you know, pursue my music career, I need to start now. This is the age.” And then around like 19, that’s when my grandmother started to pass, and she was my musical influence. She pushed me. So 19 was when I really felt like it was what I needed to do.

Are you working on anything now?
Yes, I’m working on a project. I initially planned to name it Canvas, but I’m not sure I want to keep it that just because I chose that name a year & a half ago. But yeah, I’m working on that, and I’m just doing a lot of collaborations with other deejays internationally. Those should be coming in soon.

Are you working with anyone in Greensboro? Other than Leo?
Ace Henderson, I’m still working with him. There’s another guy, his name is Unique, and he’s a producer so he’s been sending me a couple of tracks. 

How does that process work?
They just email. Social media is very good for like marketing yourself, and they just find & email you and are like “Hey, like this beat?” and I’m like “Yes, I love it.” And I’ll record a rough draft and send them the idea, and if they like it, I’ll go further. 

So do you have equipment in your room?
I have a USB mic and I just purchased some more equipment. An amp, just a regular mic, and a program that I use to do reverbs. I use VoiceLive. It’s made by TC Helicon. It allows you to do looping and pedaling and stuff. 

What are your social media sites?
I have an Instagram, SoundCloud, Facebook, and Twitter. My site is being built right now. It’s in the process, but SoundCloud is the main one. All of it is @niyawells

When is your drop date, if you have one?
That is so hard. Okay so, I know the collaboration tracks, I have to send them in soon, like early February. Just because it’s for a deadline, they wanna start getting headlines out. My release date? I’m not completely sure because every time you add songs, you take away songs, I didn’t realize how much of a process it actually is, and I’m a perfectionist. I want to make sure it shows me completely. 

Don’t pull a Frank Ocean. We have to hear from you.
Hopefully by the end of the summer. Like I’ll at least have some kind of demo rough tape that I can send.

What’s your favorite track that you’ve done so far? That could be solo or collaborations.
Solo work, I can say is this one song called The One. I did it with a guy named Tom Buchanan and he literally produced the whole track. He got on the grand piano, guitar, and just constructed the whole track. And it’s my favorite track because I wrote from the heart. I was upset, I was listening to this guy talk about this girl he’s madly in love with. So I wrote about it, and I’ve never been that honest. In collaboration, I’d say it’s with Ace. It’s this song called Cali USA, and I’m excited for him to drop that. It’s a fun song.

What’s one place you’d want to hear your music? 
I was a B5 stan for awhile and they did this interview where they were asked what their ultimate goal was for their music. Bryan said to perform at an award show, which I found odd because usually everyone’s like “I wanna be top of the charts” “I wanna play MSG” but he’s content with just an award show and I dig that. 

At first I thought it was just, you know, get on a radio station, international. But that happened, and it’s still spinning on BBC1 Extra. So I think I really just want to be able to perform in front of a crowd that just knows the words to my songs, and they like actually support me so much that if I were to mess up, they’re there all the way. It doesn’t feel like a trial because right now I feel like it’s a trial & error period. I have to like show them that I’m worthy whereas when people support you, they just want to see you create.

Have you heard of Halsey?
Who? No. 

She built her fanbase on Tumblr. She got signed like last summer and her album got to #2.
It’s crazy! People do that. I wish I was introduced to Tumblr & stuff like that at a young age because I feel like that’s what I would’ve been drawn to. I felt like an outsider as a kid, but I didn’t have access to all that stuff until later on. I missed the wave and now I kind of have to catch up.

What’s your creative process?
I cannot be angry. Or really down. I can’t be at a low point. I just don’t feel very creative. I was going to say worthless, but that sounds really bad. I just don’t like being in low points, so I like lighting, colored light bulbs, rhythm, and just a bomb ass beat. And that kinda gets me going.

Do you find that that effects what you write about in your music?
Yes. I feel like the beat is the foundation of the song. It gives you the mood. It can be somber. I’m not really a theory-head, but theory plays a lot in how a song sounds. Like if it’s in A minor or something like that, it kind of gives a somber feel. And movies! I like to have movies on mute playing on the screen. 

What’s your favorite movie to watch?
Wild starring Reese Witherspoon.

How do you deal with writer’s block?
I don’t deal with it well. If I have writer’s block, I’m just like “I’m the worst person! I’m not supposed to have writer’s block. I’m not meant to be an artist. I’m gonna get a regular job.” I’ll feel so bad, then I’ll just stop for a minute. I watched this interview with Erykah Badu and she was basically saying “If you can’t write, it means it’s not time for it to come out yet”. You’ve just gotta let it keep brewing. It’s not done. That’s it, so don’t try to force it. So I took it as that. I mean, I’m not gonna sit down and come up with a new song every day. 

I follow Tavi Gevinson on Instagram, and I remember she had this one post that said to be patient with your work. Even if it blows up, take time off. You don’t have to constantly have these big blowouts. 

Yeah, exactly. And sometimes you have the pressure to come up with things every day because you see other people dropping things consistently, but that honestly only comes when they hold all their ideas together and then drop it at that one time.

How do you balance school and your music?
I try to keep them separate. I feel like music is my escape from school. School is so structured, every day is the same and it drives me insane. So I try to find my time where I can just breathe. Like today is the day that I can just lay back, watch a movie, and come up with ideas.

Do you play any instruments?
I don’t, unfortunately. 

How did you & Leo get together? That’s something I’ve been wondering for a while.
I try to like spot out all the musicians. I remember I saw him and I was like “He looks like he’s 12, but he has a tattoo which is cool”. I befriended his roommate, Jacob, and then he found out I sang and we just kind of played and that’s it. We really got close over summer 2015. That’s when we went to New York together, and we all just kind of stayed there and lived in the city.

What were you guys doing in New York?
Just seeing if we liked it. We tried to find some spots where we could perform, and just get a feel.

Did you like it there?
Yeah, I loved it. I feel like I would get tired of it but if you wanted to get some things done, every day there’s something to do. 

Well, it is the city that never sleeps. So what’s a city you’d move to?
I think I’d be more of a west coast person. Just because it’s just so laidback and they support you regardless of where you come from. As long as your good, that’s it. And they have a lot of deejays & producers. I love it.

What’s the coolest audience you’ve played for?
Honestly, I’d say NYP. It was fun. They knew the words to the songs I was singing. Like when I do urban songs, hip-hop- based crowds, they don’t really know about Lykke Li or Jesse Boykins III or Frank Ocean songs from before channel ORANGE. They don’t know too much about that. So NYP loved it. I was excited. I was like “This is nice”. 

What’s your favorite venue?
I haven’t really been doing many venues. I’ve just been trying to see which ones were good. I’ve been to Raleigh and I’d love to perform at Kings. In Greensboro, we don’t do too many shows, but I will be at The Blind Tiger on the 20th so we’ll see how that turns out. That might be one of my favorite venues. I’ve seen videos and the lighting is really nice.

Is that solo or with Leo?
It’s going to be a festival. Black2HipHop. 

Are you & Leo going to have an EP?
We’re working on it, yes! We had to take a little hiatus because I was working on stuff before we decided to do the EP, and I was investing in my project so I didn’t want to throw that to the side. 

What’s an artist, album, or track you’ve got on repeat right now?
Well Rihanna’s album just dropped. I didn’t listen to the whole album but I do listen to Consideration with SZA. I think it’s the first track, but it is great. I think SZA just made the track. I feel like they should just do a whole collaboration EP. Rihanna came in and enunciated, her tone, she just went up & down, her riffs. This song is great, so I’ve had it on repeat. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Kilo Kish. She doesn’t do much singing, she’s like talking. 

Cool, I’ll check her out. Thank you for the interview!

Photos by: Tristan Pelletier

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Just Twitter

As I've stated before, Twitter is my home. I love it and if you aren't here feeling the same, I'm going to try to sway your opinion.

Twitter is place where you can come to be yourself or not yourself at all. Make friends or enemies. Promote your work and consume it respectively. Many great and terrible things unfold. You can directly communicate with your favorite celebrities and find/make some dank ass memes. From starting as a simple picture with large white words on it to turning world leaders into people you can laugh at. Some make look at it as terrible but that's what I'm all about, terrible.

Probably the most famous meme is the world's greatest basketball player of all time Michael Jordan

The crying Jordan meme will probably will be the picture beside the word meme in the dictionary.

Other than that the micro-blogging site in itself one of the most reliable news sources available. Not being diluted by its own interests, many things have been brought to light. With raw video footage and pictures from tweeters who are in various situations ranging from mass shootings to political rallies and weather.

With the #BLACKLIVESMATTER campaign and really more of a way of life sparked over the August of 2014 when Mike Brown was slain by a police officer, leading to public civilian exploitation of police officers who act out, really inciting change. With Civil Rights leaders being born through retweets from Twitter to national TV, voices like Deray McKesson (@deray) have incited change in the world.

“Twitter is just Twitter” to most but for myself and many others it is a platform to promote their craft or network and build. A good amount of people have come to deserved success from Twitter such as Desus & Mero.

From “Just tweets” to being featured on MTV2 on a popular TV show. Twitter is your oyster use it how you see fit.

All in all I just want to highlight the importance of twitter and how it probably is the most powerful tool on the internet, which in itself runs the world. So the next time you say "Twitter is just Twitter" dont flinch when I pop up and smack the shit out of your mouth.

Just for you to why started and get out of local Twitter hell. Expand your horizons and use this tool that we have been given. Start here.
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