Are you a fan of the wonderful, witty Mr. Sedaris? Well, faster than you can dress your family in corduroy and denim, quicker than you can explore diabetes with owls check out ticket availability for his one-night only appearance at the Schnitzer! The fun begins at 7:30PM, this Friday, November 8th.
From the Portland’5 Press Release
NPR humorist and bestselling author of Calypso, Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris has become one of America’s pre-eminent humor writers, known for his sardonic wit and incisive social critiques. The great skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness proves that Sedaris is a master of satire and one of the most observant writers addressing the human condition today.
Calypso, his latest collection of essays, is a New York Times best-seller, and a Washington PostBest Book of the Year. The audiobook of Calypso was nominated for a 2019 Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album category.
David Sedaris is the author of Barrel Fever and Holidays on Ice, as well as collections of personal essays, Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, and Calypso, each of which became an immediate bestseller. The audio version of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls is a 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominee for Best Spoken Word Album. He is the author of the New York Times-bestselling collection of fables entitled Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (with illustrations by Ian Falconer). He was also the editor of Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules: An Anthology of Outstanding Stories.
“Sedaris ain’t the preeminent humorist of his generation by accident.”– Whitney Pastorek, Entertainment Weekly
Portland Opera Opens 55th Season with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly Japanese soprano Hiromi Omura makes her U.S. debut as Cio-Cio-San
Portland, OR (September 26, 2019) – Portland Opera will mark the start of the 2019/20 season with Giacomo Puccini’s powerful drama Madama Butterfly. This production will feature the U.S. debut of acclaimed soprano Hiromi Omura as the title character, a role she has sung with Opera Australia at the Sydney Opera House, the Latvian National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and The New National Theatre Tokyo. This piece tells the story of a young wife and mother named Cio-Cio-San, in Nagasaki, Japan, who waits for the return of her beloved B.F. Pinkerton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy. Written in 1903, and last seen on the Portland Opera stage in 2012, Puccini’s stunning and emotional work continues to be one of the most popular operas performed in the United States. Portland Opera will present four performances of Madama Butterfly on October 25, 27, 31, and November 2 at the Keller Auditorium in downtown Portland.
Portland Opera’s esteemed music director, George Manahan, will conduct Puccini’s intimate and heart-wrenching score, which features Cio-Cio-San’s famous aria “Un bel dì vedremo,” and the ethereal Humming Chorus. E. Loren Meeker, who was last seen at Portland Opera as the Assistant Director of Puccini’s La Bohème in 2009, returns to direct this production. Momo Suzuki and Kevin Suzuki make their Portland Opera debuts as Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors for the piece.
Tenor Luis Chapa will make his Portland Opera debut as Pinkerton, a role he sang at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2017/18 season. Suzuki will be sung by mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida, who also makes her company debut. She has previously sung the role at the Manitoba Opera, Atlanta Opera, and Utah Opera. Baritone Troy Cook joins the company for the first time. He will sing the role of Sharpless, a role he has previously sung with the Washington National Opera, Utah Opera, and Central City Opera. Baritone André Chiang, a former Portland Opera Resident Artist, returns to the company as Prince Yamadori and The Imperial Commissioner. Bass Peixin Chen makes his Portland Opera debut as the Bonze, after making his Metropolitan Opera debut last season as Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Washington native tenor Karl Marx Reyes will make his company debut as the marriage broker, Goro. Current Portland Opera Resident Artist mezzo-soprano Camille Sherman sings the role of Kate Pinkerton. Lighting is designed by Mark McCullough. Performances will also feature the talented local and regional musicians who make up Portland Opera’s orchestra and chorus.
“An idealistic, Japanese girl in the early 1900s falls for a brash, entitled American soldier whose actions turn her love into a story ending in exploitation, betrayal, and abandonment,” says stage director E. Loren Meeker. “Puccini’s masterpiece Madama Butterfly forces American audiences to consider our history, culture, and the unknown victims of our past foreign policy. Our goal within a traditional setting is to honor Japanese culture through insightful storytelling and modern characterization. This creates an environment where we can examine the harsh realities of our past in an effort to learn from our mistakes at global, national, and personal levels.”
As work begins onstage with this production of Madama Butterfly, Portland Opera seeks to enhance community dialogue and context surrounding this piece. On Sunday, October 13, audiences are invited to a free preview event at the Multnomah County Public Library, featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by Nicholas Fox, chorus master and assistant conductor. On Thursday, October 24, Portland Opera will welcome special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation titled “Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition.” Portland Opera will also present “East & West: A Special Evening of Song” on Tuesday, October 29. This recital, featuring members of the Madama Butterfly company, will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. More information on these events can be found on page 4.
Madama Butterfly was made possible by Barran Liebman, LLP and Et Fille Wines. Portland Opera is grateful for the ongoing support of the Meyer Memorial Trust, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Portland Opera is a member of OPERA America.
Madama Butterfly Tickets and Information
Performances take place at 7:30PM at the Keller Auditorium with the exception of the matinee on October 27 which begins at 2:00PM. One hour prior to each performance, audience members are invited to a pre-show lecture.
Madama Butterfly will be sung in Italian with projected English translations.
Student rush tickets are available for performances of Madama Butterfly. Call 503-241- 1802 Monday through Friday from 10AM–5PM for more information. Portland Opera is proud to also work with the Veteran Tickets Foundation (vettix.org) to share tickets to the performances on October 31 with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families. In addition, a limited number of free tickets are available through My Discovery Pass, a program created by Multnomah County Library that offers access to local museums and cultural institutions for library card holders.
A limited number of $5 tickets for Oregon Trail Card holders are available two weeks prior to each performance, subject to availability. These tickets must be purchased via phone by calling 503-241-1802.
The performance on October 27 at 2pm will include an audio description of the visual and physical events on stage for patrons who are blind or have low vision. For patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing, each performance is visually translated with English text projected above the stage.
Tickets for Madama Butterfly are now available, starting at $35. For more information, and to purchase tickets visit portlandopera.org or call Patron Services at 503-241-1802. For more information, patrons may also contact the Opera Concierge at email@example.com, Monday through Friday from 10PM–5PM.
Madama Butterfly Preview: Multnomah County Public Library Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 2pm Central Branch | 801 SW 10th Ave. Free admission.
A preview event featuring performances by Portland Opera artists and commentary by chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox.
Context & Conversation: Puccini, Madama Butterfly, and Honoring Tradition Thursday, October 24, 2019 | 7 PM Hampton Opera Center | 211 SE Caruthers St. Free admission. Reservations are recommended. 503.421.1802 | Concierge@portlandopera.org
Portland Opera welcomes special guest speakers Dr. Kunio Hara (Associate Professor of Music History at the University of South Carolina) and Dr. Laura Mueller (Portland Japanese Garden) for an evening of insights and conversation, in preparation for the opening of Madama Butterfly. The program will be an hour, followed by a question and discussion session.
East & West: A Special Evening of Song Tuesday, October 29, 2019 | 7 PM Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum | 1219 SW Park Ave. Free Admission. Reservations highly recommended. 503.421.1802 | Concierge@portlandopera.org
Portland Opera invites the community to a unique musical program, featuring guest artists and members of the Madama Butterfly company. The selections will explore influence and musical cross-pollination between the East and the West. The evening will include an aria from An American Dream (music by Jack Perla and libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo), a contemporary chamber opera that reflects on the experiences of WWII-era Japanese Americans who were persecuted and imprisoned by the United States government. The performance will feature chorus master & assistant conductor Nicholas Fox as pianist.
Madama Butterfly Cast & Creative Team
Cio-Cio-San Hiromi Omura Pinkerton Luis Chapa Suzuki Nina Yoshida Sharpless Troy Cook Goro Karl Marx Reyes Yamadori/Commissioner André Chiang Bonze Peixin Chen Kate Pinkerton Camille Sherman Cio-Cio-San’s Cousin Cristina Marino Cio-Cio-San’s Mother Aimee Chalfant Yakuside, Cio-Cio-San’s Uncle Jim Jeppesen Cio-Cio-San’s Aunt Kate Strohecker Official Registrar Bryan Ross Sorrow, Cio-Cio-San’s Child TBA
Conductor George Manahan Director E. Loren Meeker
Lighting Designer Mark McCullough Set and Costume Designer Lloyd Evans Japanese Movement & Cultural Advisors Momo Suzuki & Kevin Suzuki Chorus Master & Assistant Conductor Nicholas Fox Assistant Director Conor Hanratty
About Portland Opera
Portland Opera exists to inspire, challenge, and uplift our audiences by creating productions of high artistic quality that celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.
Since 1964, Portland Opera has contributed to the cultural, artistic, and economic landscape of the city and region that we love. We celebrate the beauty and breadth of the opera repertoire with performances that take place in the Keller Auditorium, Newmark Theatre, and the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre at the Hampton
Opera Center. The company is also a committed educational partner, touring fully staged operas to schools and community centers throughout Oregon and SW Washington region each year, in addition to a host of other efforts designed to make opera accessible for all.
As part of ProudTimes’ coverage of Women’s History Month, we are speaking to DJ’s who are serving up hot beats on the dance floor. They are all fierce queer women, who are changing the tracks through empowerment, and progressive change. Today, we bring you Portland residents, The Dust Bunnies.
ProudTimes: How long have you been DJing? When did you decide you were going to get out there and spin?
The Dust Bunnies: We, are “The Dust Bunnies” comprised of me, Dakota, and my fiance Gen. We have been DJ’ing for for about a year and a half. What started as what was supposed to just be a hobby quickly turned into being asked to DJ for small house parties, and more. Our passion for house music turned into a burning desire to spin for more people.
PT: Was this something you wanted to do, or have experimented with doing, from an early age?
DB: Gen is from New York, Dakota from the San Francisco Bay Area. We both did our fair share of clubbing in our respective cities, drawn to it by our mutual love of house music, dancing, and mostly the community and friends we would see on a regular basis. Neither of us had actually considered we would actually become DJs–but definitely respected the creativity, skills, and vibes that each DJ would bring to each event.
PT: Do you think the industry is difficult for women to break into? Is it something of a “boys club?”
DB: Honestly, if you have the drive and passion for anything, you can achieve anything. In the electronica scene, a lot of world-class techno DJ’s are women, Nina Kravitz, Deborah DeLuca, Amelie Lens, and more. There are a few other notables in each genre but yes, it’s a pretty male-dominated, that is for sure. Whether that’s because women in general aren’t drawn to the craft or other issues, we’re not sure. We have discovered a lot of support here in Portland from many people who want to see us succeed. The Rose City Underground has been a huge support for us. They are our local “family” which we are proud to be a part of.
PT: What kind of music do you spin–how would you describe your DJ style?
DB: We love to spin an interesting combination of OG house music combined with UK-style tech house. Because we are a DJ-duo we provide a unique blending of tracks we like individually and as a collective. Gen loves throwing down some soulful vocal mixes with some good beats and Dakota enjoys creative latitude in mixing songs that invoke that first time you ever went to a rave.
PT: Are there any venues, events, audiences, types of shows which you really prefer to make music at over others?
DB: We don’t really have a favorite venue, but our dream is to spin at beach party in Ibiza, or an outdoor festival or event. We love an audience that loves to dance, so whenever we see a sea of bodies moving and people screaming and shouting…lost in the moment, that is what it’s about. Spreading love through house music.
PT: I know there are less and less venues specifically catering to queer women. When you get the opportunity to perform for a primarily lesbian or female audience, does that add any excitement to your approach?
DB: Absolutely! We are proud to be part of Club Flock headed by promoter/DJ Jen Roberton. House music has never really been part of the lesbian club scene and it is sooooo refreshing to be able to be part of this groundbreaking group of female DJ’s alongside Jen Roberton, Missing Mei and Jules Juke. As resident DJs, we get the opportunity to spin monthly at Portland’s Local Lounge, and see more and more people literally flocking to this event. It really has been exhilarating seeing this party take off!
PT: Do you have any influences, whether from DJs or musicians, that inspire your sound or attitude when you’re playing?
PT: How do you best promote yourself, your events, or parties while still keeping your identity intact? Meaning: to get noticed, some artists scale back in the hopes of attracting more fans. Do you find yourself trying to appease any standards?
DB: To promote ourselves we go to a lot of events in support of other DJs and to see the DJ’s that inspire us! We find it easy to keep our identity intact by just being true to ourselves from our musical choices down to the way we dress! Just as in life and love, we want people to be drawn to us just because there’s a natural attraction coming from our vibe and music. Once in a while, we may do a gig where we don’t entirely play “our kind-of-music” to help support the community for special LGBT events.
PT: What are you working on right now–in terms of events, gigs, collaborations etc.?
DB: Right now we do spin a wide range of parties – like the monthly Flock at Local Lounge and are planning a Portland Pride Party working with our Flock crew that will literally knock the socks off of anything anyone has seen for our lesbian community. We also are very excited about opening up for Wolfgang Gartner this month at Whiskey Bar and our debut at Proper Sound to be held at the Tube on the first Thursday of April. We are collaborating with Val Verra, immersed Music to put on a day party with 7 DJs in the summer half of which will be women! There’s much more on our list as far as gigs. Stand by for more by following us on Instagram @thedustbunniesworldwide. What’s even more exciting is that we will have our first produced track coming up in June!
PT: Female DJs are getting more and more prominent in our cultural landscape–especially in the LGBTQ community–what would you tell younger DJs out there, especially young women, who are interested in getting into the industry?
DB: We would tell anyone who is interested in becoming a DJ to talk to any of us. There’s a lot we wished we knew before we went out and bought equipment, or started to learn how to use it. We are constantly learning and growing. We learn from everything from watching other DJs, to YouTube, to even making mistakes and taking risks. If you have the passion and desire to become a DJ, the sky’s the limit, go for it!
PT: We are celebrating Women’s History Month. What does this mean to you? What are you fighting for in 2019 and beyond?
DB: It’s nice to have a month where women are honored and recognized. We believe not only in women’s equality, but equality for all. We are all created equal and should be seen as humans beings regardless of gender, religion, sexual preference or anything else.
If you know any DJs, musicians, or artists who you think ProudTimes should celebrate email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do!
The new LP is underpinned by hit singles “Rockabye” ft. Anne-Marie and Sean Paul, “Symphony” feat. Zara Larsson, “I Miss You” ft. Julia Michaels, and “Solo” feat. Demi Lovato; which was recorded across the globe and has been produced by the trio’s long-standing producer, Mark Ralph (Years & Years), alongside Clean Bandit’s very own, 2 x Ivor Novello-winning, Jack Patterson, and Grace Chatto. ‘What Is Love?’ is the fruit of the past three years’ work and an exciting new chapter for Clean Bandit. The follow-up to the band’s two million-selling and UK Top 3 debut, ‘New Eyes’, released in 2014, ‘What Is Love?’ is a home to Clean Bandit’s inventive, eclectic multi-genre catalog – a collection of gigantic upbeat megabops married with emotive lyricism.
The band’s cellist, Grace, commented –“The album looks at many different kinds and stages of love. We’ve been making it over three years, during which time we’ve all experiences love in our lives in different ways and, some of us, heartbreak too. Somehow this is all expressed in the music: brotherly love; family love; romantic love; crazy all-consuming love; the pain of love turning into something different or dishonest; and, of course, in ‘Rockabye’, unconditional motherly love. It explores the sacrifices we all go through for love and for each other, even when it is difficult. It’s been such an honor to write and record with all of the amazing singers and musicians involved in the record. We made the songs all over the world, mainly in North London and LA – some lines were even recorded in a bathroom in Uganda! We really hope that everyone will find tracks on this album to identify with and we can’t wait to share it with you.”
Breaking through to the mainstream in 2014 with their mammoth 12 million-selling and GRAMMY-award winning single “Rather Be”, the pioneering 6 x BRIT-nominated trio have paved the way in the global pop scene with their matchless blend of classical, electronica, pop, dancehall and R&B, proving themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the charts across the globe. One of the most successful and in-demand collectives of the century, Clean Bandit have sold over 40 million singles worldwide and accumulated over 10 billion streams and 3.5 billion YouTube views to date! Not to mention their cutting-edge self-directed official music videos that have further propelled the band as an unparalleled creative force. In their native UK, “Solo” feat. Demi Lovato not only marked Clean Bandit’s fourth UK No.1, but their ninth UK Top 5 and seventh consecutive UK Top 5that saw them land the most consecutive Top 5 records, from any artist, since Girls Aloud in 2005 and the same amount of UK No.1’s as Justin Timberlake, One Direction and Lady Gaga. The trio’s 2016 UK Christmas No.1 “Rockabye” continues to hold the record as the longest-running UK No.1 in 24 years for a UK band, surpassing Wet Wet Wet’s “Love Is All Around”.
Clean Bandit’s forthcoming live set from Kyoto builds on their love affair with Japan, which started with the official video for their global breakout hit “Rather Be” being shot in Tokyo and continues through to the present day after an array of visits and performances in the country.
Clean Bandit is: Jack Patterson, Grace Chatto and Luke Patterson.
Robyn released the behind-the-scenes look for the new video, “Honey.” The video takes you through the various setups for the Max Vitali directed “Honey” video. In case you missed it, watch the original video for “Honey” HERE.
Following the release of “HONEY,” one of 2018’s most-beloved albums (and her first in eight years), Robyn is releasing the video for the album’s title track. The video was directed by Max Vitali who has previously helmed many iconic visuals for Robyn, including the video for ”Call Your Girlfriend.”
Robyn wanted the process of making the video to also embody her mantra of bringing people together and communicating in person. She issued an open casting call, posted to Twitter, where she asked for modern and liberated supporters to send in videos of themselves dancing. The music video was filmed in London and stars Robyn and these fans, coming to Clapton/London from the UK, the US, Sweden, France, Norway and Denmark. It is a testament to love, sensuality and the loose feeling during the after-hours of a great party, encapsulating the themes of Robyn’s universally acclaimed sixth album.
Says director Vitali: “As with any video, or anything in life at all in fact, it’s all about having great people around. We had amazing, beautiful people that brought amazing, beautiful energy, both in front of and behind the camera, and I hope that comes across.”
Robyn continues: “I was amazed by the warmth and open spirit of the cast. It was lovely to dance with them during the shoot, the energy was so cool. Max and I both wanted this video to feel loose and free and I was just so impressed of how everyone who came to be a part of the shoot just got it and gave it their all.”
Robyn and Max Vitali worked with longtime collaborators Maria Wahlberg aka Decida and Jefta Van Dinther and Thiago Granato for the choreography for the video. It is produced by Academy Films and shot by DOP Mathieu Plainfosse.
As previously announced, Robyn will be embarking on a full North American and European tour in support of Honey, her first full tour since 2013. Red Bull Music Festival Los Angeles announced its line-up including two Robyn shows on February 22nd and 23rd at the Palladium. You can listen to Robyn’s 2018 Red Bull Music Festival lecture here.
Across five studio albums and a career spanning twenty-three years, Robyn has accumulated four UK top ten singles, five Grammy nominations, hundreds of millions of streams, and created some of the most memorable songs of the past two decades, including “Dancing On My Own,”“Call Your Girlfriend,” “Hang With Me” and “With Every Heartbeat.”
Molly Adele Brown (back left) and Friends Prepare Batches of Homemade Cookies
Nashville, Tenn. (December 8, 2018) – Nashville-based singer/songwriter Molly Adele Brown always tries to find the best in a person. In a world filled with so much hate, Brown wanted to do something special to give back to her local community. For the past year, she decided to bake ‘Molly’s Kindness Cookies’ and deliver them to the Nashville Rescue Mission to help feed the increasing number of homeless people living in Music City. Brown will be preparing her next batch of cookies on December 19 and will deliver them to the Mission on December 20, just in time for the Christmas holiday!
“Kindness cookies evolved from years of baking cookies and handing them out to the homeless in New York City,” states Brown. “Growing up, my mom would take my youth group on midnight runs where we would go through the city at night and hand out food and clothes to the homeless. We would interact and get to know these people and learn about their stories. Every time was so inspiring, and I knew I wanted to continue to give back. Once I moved to Nashville, I started helping out with Nashville Rescue Mission and fell in love with their organization and what they provide. Since then I have been getting a group of friends together to bake cookies each month. Being able to share something I love to do (bake) to a community that needs some extra kindness really makes my heart sing.”
In 2019, Brown hopes to grow what they are doing here in Nashville and expand to other communities as well. She lives by the quote: In a world where you can be anything, be kind. “This may be one small act of kindness but if we work together, I believe it can grow into so much more.”
To date, Brown has prepared over 80 batches of cookies which helped feed approximately 1,000 homeless people around Nashville.
The electric front-man of the Scissor Sisters, which has been on hiatus since 2012, has not been idle. In February of 2018 he released his memoir Boys Keep Swinging, which I was lucky enough to review. On Monday, November 12th he takes his latest show to the Wonder Ballroom In Portland. He was raised partially in Washington State, and went to the Northwest School in Seattle. He tries to come back to the Pacific Northwest at least once a year, he told ProudTimes.
As a writer, especially as an interviewer, the first rule when approaching a subject is not to gush. For my recent interview with Jake Shears I have no shame in admitting I broke that rule. Repeatedly, I was total in fanboy mode.
That’s because there was a generation of young gay men who came of age in Manhattan. They frequented the once-gloriously queer Lower East Side. They went to hole-in-the-wall bars and danced, despite a ridiculous ban based on some ancient cabaret law. I came of age then, and so did Jake Spears.
Proud Times: So, first and foremost. How have the crowds been? Do you think they’re coming for the Scissor Sisters or are they coming to see Jake Shears?
Jake Shears: I think they’re coming to see me. They enjoy the Scissor Sister songs yeah, but the crowds have been amazing. These have been very special shows. People have, I don’t know how to put it into words, seems they missed this kind of music and performance. There’s an almost reverential feel at the concerts but it’s been loose and fun. I’ve worked hard on this show to give it an arc. It’s sort of like a piece unto itself. Storytelling, where the story goes, it’s really has a flow to it. The crowds have been so lovely, getting face to face with everyone again. Lots of gay men lot of women in the audience, and I’m very proud to be playing to be playing rock and roll to a lot of gay people. I don’t think queer people get rock and rool in that context.
PT:Your music is–well, so much sound, just so lush. How do you keep up with it when you’re doing your music live?
JS: I do have just absolutely killer musicians on this show, mostly from Louisville my sax player is such a great guy, he is the icing on the cake for this show. The strings are underneath but the show’s definitely got a full sound. I just have some great players with me. There’s so much horn on the record and the sax rounded the whole thing out. Always my dream to have a full time sax player.
PT: You said you didn’t want to turn your back on what you had written before. Did you think you had to veer away from your style to something newer to make it personal?
JS: I think there’s that tendency for me to “Oh what am i gonna do next, what is this gonna be.” I wanted to make music but what form it was gonna be? For instance this album, and the Scissor Sisters aesthetic is what I’m good at writing. You know emotionally semi-absurd theatrical rock and roll. When I realized I didn’t need to reinvent I wanted to continue that body of work. To me I look at all this music and it feels a little bit different, but it still feels like one body of work.
PT: So, was the album like a second coming of age, or even coming out again?
JS: Definitely finding myself & figuring myself out again. I just lost track of what I was supposed to be doing. At least for me every five or six years there is a sort of reassessment shedding of the skin.
PT: Ha, but don’t most gay men do that?
JS: I think so. Especially when your identity is so attached to what you do, what you create. If I don’t pay attention to it, I kinda feel like I am gonna undergo a small change soon. It’s been a massive year for me. I’ve gotten a lot done but at the moment I need to reassess who I am, what I wanna do next, and the best way to get there. Not just float along.
PT: In your memoir, Boys Keep Swinging, you wrote a stunning love letter to the late-90s to early 2000s in New York. You talked about being a gogo boy at I. C Guys, The Cock, and Wonderbar. It was pretty definitive for lots of people. Is there anything you especially miss about that New York?
JS: OH MY GOD! I miss everything about it. The only reason I spend time in NY now is friends, and you know, chosen family, and the theatre world. The stuff that happens downtown, club cumming, off-broadway. That’s why I go there. I hope young people found something similar to what we found. At the millenium it was downtown, that was the place to be. I don’t know where it is but I am sure some kids in NY are still doing it. But I miss the freedom of being that time & that age. You know just to hustle & the possibilities. I think very fondly of that time.
PT: Speaking of the memoir, how long did it take you to write?
JS: It was a two-year process but it was hand-in-hand with the album. They were good to work on together. I’d be in the studio for two weeks then writing for two weeks. I like to have a lot of projects going on at once. I think that keeps things exciting.
PT: What’s it like to be considered a gay icon? And–Big Bushy Mustache–is that talking about your celebrity?
JS: Icon has so many different connotations. I hope I’d made some kind of dent or change in the world with the stuff that I make and write. I’d like to think my creativity has made some kind of a difference for people. If that’s being an icon, that’s cool with me. I was in New Orleans when I wrote it.The core of it is: fags have more fun. That song to me about straight guys sort of standing on the other side of the road and looking at us and wishing they had as good of a time as we do.
PT: Yeah, I just read something that said most straight men settle down after having only 26 partners.
JS: Yeah, and so many of us say thank God I was born gay. There’s a reason for that.
PT: On that note: You said to Seth Myers, “Wow, I’ve slept with a lot of people.”We were pretty much the first generation to come of age when HIV was no longer a death sentence, and today we have Truvada, etc. Do you think it’s your celebrity or your generation that’s allowed you be a so-called whore? But we still have slut shamers. What do you think of that?
JS: It’s not my celebrity, and I’m making a wisecrack, I was having a lot of fun. I think gay guys have always been doing it. Sex was something very different than it is today. I think PrEP is amazing, I use it, I think all sexually active queer people should have access to PrEP. It’s a different world now. I am happy that I lived in a time without cell phones, no internet and I’m happy I came from that time. I feel like a got a good glimpse of what gay men went through to get where we are now.
PT: Continuing in that vein: When I hear a gay musician singing about sex or love or heartbreak I feel pretty empowered. Would you say you’re conscious of this, that it’s going to have intrinsic value to your gay fans when writing?
JS: I don’t think about it too much when I am writing. I do my best and hopefully, inherently, that gay and queer people coming from that perspective appreciate it. But I really try to make universal music. I want my music to have a universal feeling, to have anyone be able to listen to it, and access certain feelings, even coming from a certain perspective, or sexuality. I try to make it for everybody. I think about my mom when I make this music, I think about my mom’s friends. It’s just my personality. I think, for me it’s important that my music have a strong point of view yet be accessible.
PT: I guess a lot of people turn to your music because it’s always makes you feel pretty swell. Yet, Play a Sad Song Backwards is about turning your troubles inside out. Is it therapeutic? Or does it come naturally to craft songs that pretty much get you singing and smiling?
JS: I think the therapeutic part of it, for me, is when I’m on stage performing. When it’s good, bringing it to a stage. That’s why I make this music, to go into this part of my head. That’s where you know, it cleans the cobwebs out of my brain. I like that even the sad stuff has a life-affirming feel to it. I think that’s kind of a good word. Even the sad songs, they do have this life-affirmation. Not taking life for granted, not having a sinking feeling even when it gets to be the worst.
PT: Last and loaded: what’s happening next?
JS: I don’t really take breaks. When I am writing stuff–songs or making a book–I tend to need open space, like blank days. I am doing a book outline, and starting to write more songs again, I am constantly still working. My hustle is still on, trying to create and accomplish new fun things. I have to buckle down and start again. I am really excited to start a new musical. You plant your seeds, you tend your garden, and see how it grows. That’s how I do it.
When asked about a reunion, or project with the Scissor Sisters, Jake said he’d never rule it out. “But, he added, “I’m really enjoying this though. I’m really enjoying the freedom that I’ve got at the moment. For the moment I want to keep going like this. I am sure we’re gonna make another record. It has to be about something. It has to be inspired.
The album is called Jake Shears, and it’s the best thing about 2018. Check out tickets for the show at the Wonder Ballroom on Monday, Nov. 12th. He has upcoming shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco, and the El Rey in LA.
Proud Times has followed Kenyth Mogan’s musical career for the last few years and has with his new Song Holy Water stopped us in our tacks. This was a direction never expected by and artist who has mainly sang love songs. We dropped everything and set up this quick interview to find out where this song came from.
Holy Water is very different from your past songs, Why the change?
As a person and an artist I’m always growing. I feel like a lot of my songs followed this colorful and cartoonish path. I was called everything from “The geek pop-star,” to the “Wholesome Homo” and while those are parts of my personality, they are not who I am as a whole. As my wants and desires change, so should my music. The last thing I want to be is someone not authentic to myself.
So… who is the authentic Kenyth?
That’s a loaded question. I’m confident in who I am as a person, but as an artist, I’m still trying to figure it out. Right after I released “Real Me” in 2017 I lost someone very important to me. So, I took a step back to relax, regroup, and re-figure who I wanted to be. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of different facets to my personality, I’m very exited to explore this one. What kind of sound can listeners expect?
More mature for sure. There is still a huge pop influence, but a sense of alternativeness, adult contemporary, world, and even a touch of spook pop. Very different than what I’ve done before. So, are you ashamed of the music you’ve released in the past?
Absolutely not! I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. Ever! I’ve just spent a lot of time, especially in the beginning of my career, listening to what other people thought the sound of the music I should recorded be, the style of the clothes I should wear, and the type of videos I should produce. I do love “Unlock Your Heart,” and the sound of Fall Apart as a whole, and for a minute, I think that’s honestly who I was. That’s one of the main reasons why he Love EP was such a drastic change. I was told by someone that I couldn’t be anything more than someone who sang gay dance songs. I could never do the singer-songwriter thing. So I did. I co-wrote every song but one on that EP – then I put it out and said “Okay world, here ya go! Later!” I did absolutely nothing to promote it until I released the music video for “It Was Love” a year later. But, even with that, I was in such a hurry to show someone what I could do, on my own, that I didn’t ask anyone for help. It’s not horrible, but honestly, it could’ve been a lot better.
Did you collaborate with Tiffany Darwish and Tim Feehan on the writing of the song?
I did not. They wore it and I, as a fan of Tiffany’s discovered it. I don’t remember how or when I heard the song, but I know it was just a part of the chorus from Tiffany’s demo. I remember connecting to it immediately because I related to the lyrics. I grew up around people with addictive tendencies. I had a cousin struggling with an addiction to alcohol and cocaine and a boyfriend who struggled with a meth addiction until he ended up in prison and here I was, feeling helpless, because there was nothing I could but watch, and pray that their struggles didn’t lead them into an early grave. Holy Water is the type of song I think a lot of people can relate too – especially in the LGBT community.
In press release it say this: “The song is a step in a more mature musical direction for Kenyth, which is something he’s ready for after years of being referred to as the cute gay geek. “I wouldn’t change what I’ve done, but the time for rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers have passed,” he says. “I’m excited to introduce people my new sound.”
This kind of goes with the first question. I’m always trying to grow as an artist and as a person. Unlock Your Heart was a beautifully produced video because of all the incredibly talented people involved. It was cute, and comical and cartoonish – and I loved it. It Was Love was super mushy, as was “Perfect Love,” and even the lyric video for “Real Me.” Again, I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done, it’s just time for a change. It’s a good thing.
“Let No Holy Water Fall on you” is the key phrase and the main meaning of the song. Tells how you feel when singing this part of the song.
I thought about my cousin and my ex and how I would try to be the barrier that stood between them and their addictions. Sometimes it worked, sometimes they tore me down on the way to their fix. I tapped into that.
Singer-songwriter Kenyth releases a personal and thought-provoking acoustic song, Holy Water (Basement Acoustic Recording), which is written by Canadian singer/songwriter Tim Feehan and international chart-topping pop icon Tiffany.
Released today, Holy Water (Basement Acoustic Recording) continues on from the success of Kenyth’s 2015 LGBT Wizard of Oz themed music video Unlock Your Heart and Real Me, the 2017 single featured in the soundtrack of the Del Shores directed feature, A Very Sordid Wedding.
Known for her No. 1 mega-hit single I Think We’re Alone Now and international albums spanning four decades, Tiffany penned this raw and personal track with fellow singer-songwriter Tim Freehan. Performed by Kenyth, the track explores a more mature sound for his next release.
Kenyth said: “The song is about a loved one struggling with addiction. It’s something I feel a lot of people can relate to, especially those connected to the LGBT community, be it from their own personal experience or by witnessing a loved one who might be going through a dark time.
Tim and Tiffany’s song has allowed me to build on my own personal sound and hone my musical direction, something I am ready for after years of being referred to as the ‘cute gay geek’. In the current political climate, the time for rainbow kisses and unicorn stickers has passed and I’m really excited to introduce people to my new sound.”
With the music video in pre-production for an early 2019 release, this special acoustic release of Holy Water (Basement Acoustic Mix) is written by Tim Feehan and Tiffany, performed by Kenyth and features fellow LGBT artist Zee Machine on the track.
Holy Water (Basement Acoustic Mix)is available from November 30th 2018 on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and all online retailers.