ECLECTIC ARTS

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The ANISA Interview! 5/19/2020

(Tony Anderson Photography)


Greetings,

The beauty and athletic artistry that is ballet is something I am eternally curious about.  I thoroughly enjoy learning more about this high art form whenever I get the chance.  Fortunately for me, Anisa was more than open to speaking about her journey from student to professional ballet dancer.  

Best,
Mark
EA

***


Eclectic Arts: Hi Anisa! Are you back home in Colorado right now? How are things there during the pandemic? I heard on the radio that some of Colorado is opening back up which is causing some controversy (is too soon, etc).

Anisa S.: First off, I just want to thank you for having me for this interview! Since coming to WA this past winter I was introduced to Eclectic Arts through Olympic Ballet Theatre and have been a fan since! So, I was really excited when you reached out.

I’m not in Colorado currently, when the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to have been in Seattle with my younger sister Maia (she goes to UW) and I have been here ever since! In the beginning I debated on going to my parents’ home in Florida, but with so much uncertainty and a high-risk brother, I made the decision to stay here. My sister and I have been sharing her studio apartment and abiding by Governor Inslee’s ‘Safer at Home’ order. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s been like to spend so much time with someone in such a confined space! We are lucky to be where we are, and I really am grateful to have this opportunity to get to know her better. She’s the baby after all!

EA:  Thank you so much for the kind words.  I'm glad we got a chance to chat today.



EA: Tell me about your background please. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? What you were like growing up, how did you get involved with dance, what you enjoy about dance, etc.

AS: I was born in Mesa, Arizona but actually grew up in a small town called Parker, CO. My family moved to CO when I was 3 so I don’t have many memories of Arizona and it tends to feel like a random marker in my life rather than a cornerstone. I am one of five kids, four girls and one boy! I have an older half-sister Krisi (39), then me (27), Kasidy (25), Maia (22) and then Austin (20). I’m actually terrible with ages and I definitely had to double check this. I know we are getting older but for some reason they remain at a fixed age in my mind, like Peter Pan or something!

Anyway, my brother Austin was born with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome. This syndrome causes a person to never feel full which means they are always hungry as well as developmental delays, physically & cognitively. He’s also been diagnosed with OCD, Bipolar disorder, Autism and extreme anxiety. So growing up with him has its challenges because he can go from his worst, having countless violent meltdowns, running away and him searching for food to his best self, being excited that he was able to draw dotted lines, waiting for the garbage truck to honk his horn and still believing in Santa! I believe that having a family member with disabilities is a life changing experience and growing up with him gave me a completely different perspective on life. A perspective that has opened my heart to countless possibilities that I otherwise, would never have known were there.

I’m naturally a very out-going, empathetic person, and as a kid I loved making my family happy. I was always the one trying to make sure everyone was ok! It made me happy and gave me a sense of purpose. However, I definitely wanted to be the “star of the show” and ballet was the perfect outlet. Granted, being the star of the show came much later and I spent my fair share of being cast in roles not very star like (Nutcracker’s party boy number 7, I’m looking at you).

Growing up I was always the tallest girl in class and ballet was no different. I was very tall & gangly and a few studios in CO told me that I would never be a dancer because I was too tall! Luckily, my mom hates being told “never” (or no for that matter) and ignored their advice. Eventually, we found a studio near us called International Ballet School where I started ballet training at 12 years old. I was very far behind my peers and naturally, I was placed in a lower level with kids who were 9 and up. I was not only older, I was so much taller, already 5’8”! I hated being behind (call it my competitive nature) so I worked as hard as I could to catch up. 



(Beau Pearson Photography)



EA: What have you had to sacrifice in order to move forward with your dance career aspirations?

AS: For me falling in love with ballet was a slow, natural progression. Because of my height, I didn’t realize it was a career option until my ballet teacher sat me down and told me that if I worked really hard, I could make it, height and all. It was right then that I decided I would become a professional ballerina and completely devoted myself to the craft.

By the time I was a Sophomore in high school I was dancing 8 hours a day (multiple classes and private lessons). Traveling the world for ballet competitions and being a full-time student was incredibly difficult. I struggled with balancing the two and ultimately my family and I decided the best option for me was to pursue an alternative education and focus on my training. I gave up everything I could. From high school dances and football games, dates, late nights (early rehearsal in the morning), concerts and even friendships. I had made my decision to give it my all, so I did. Sacrifices were made and it was/is incredibly difficult. I’ve struggled and spent many late nights (and days if we’re being honest) wondering what was lost or could have been. Ultimately, the positive results outweighed the negative and I’ve been able to truly grow as an artist. Of course, there are things I wish I could have done differently, but overall; I am proud of the steps I’ve taken to achieve my goals.



EA: When and how did you first become involved with the Olympic Ballet Theater? Do you also teach with the Olympic Ballet School? Are you a hired professional dancer with OBT? Do you fly back between Colorado and Washington? Please walk me through that timeline.

AS: Ok so for this timeline to be as accurate as possible, I think I need to back it up a little further. Starting at the age of 12, I began competing in a ballet competition called, Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP). It’s a competition where ballet companies from all over the world watch dancers compete and offer training programs or company contracts. It’s a great place for dancers to be seen, especially for a dancer who was unusually tall.

After several years, I realized there are very few companies who seek out a 6-foot female dancer. But, when I was 18, I competed in NYC at YAGP and I received my first professional offer. I accepted a contract to become an apprentice with the Semperoper Ballett, in Dresden, Germany. I spent two wonderful years training & dancing with them and around Europe. When my contract ended, I moved back to the states, trained for a year in Colorado and decided to compete in an International Ballet Competition (IBC) in Jackson, MI. I received and accepted a contract from Ballet West 2, which is Ballet West’s 2nd company. I moved to Salt Lake City, danced with BW2 for a year and then in 2014 I joined Ballet West’s main company. In 2019, I ended up losing my job and was in a very difficult relationship with ballet as a whole. I no longer knew whether I wanted to continue pursuing ballet as a career or start down a new path.

Luckily, my mom found Olympic Ballet Theatre and it checked off a lot of boxes, which I felt I needed, to continue dancing. One of the hugest appeals was the location! Not only is Washington beautiful, but my older sister Krisi and her fiancée as well as our youngest sister (quarantine buddy Maia) all live in Washington. It was an ideal situation; I could dance at a great smaller company while also being close to family.

I guess technically, I am a hired professional with OBT and have officially joined them for next season (or whenever Covid-19 allows). I love working with Oleg and Mara and I found Olympic Ballet Theatre at a time when I was ready to give up my entire career. Their kindness, training and overall ambiance of the school/company saved a piece of me I had nearly forgotten. I owe a lot to them. 






EA: What were/are your goals as a professional dancer?

AS: When I was younger, I wanted to be famous and dance every principle role in front of the biggest audience I could; but as I’ve grown in my career, I’ve definitely refined those goals. Fame isn’t something that has the appeal it once did. Instead, my happiness and mental well-being have become a priority.

As a professional ballerina my dream role would be to dance Nikiya in La Bayadere. It has been my favorite ballet since first seeing it, the music, storyline, costumes- it’s just stunning. I was lucky enough to dance in Aaron S. Watkins version of La Bayadere when I was an apprentice with the Dresden Semperoper Ballett, and going onstage during the “Kingdom of Shades” is one of the highlights of my career. There was just something so magical about the process. From the grueling hours and hours of Corp De Ballet rehearsal to being onstage, standing in my white tutu, hearing the music swelling, and everyone truly breathing as one – and for a split-second, time really did stand still.

As of right now, my only goal is to dance professionally again. I miss the studio; I miss the structure of class (I’m currently taking virtual classes and using a bookshelf as a barre). I even miss my pointe shoes (that will probably last all of one week once we get back)! But since the pandemic hit, the arts community is at a complete standstill with an unknown future. Many dancers are mourning the loss of their season and unsure of what/when or even IF they will be able to dance again. The financial devastation to companies and studios around the world will result in many dancers, professionally and aspiring, to lose their jobs.



EA: What are your plans for post ballet life, career wise?

AS: Deciding to be a professional ballerina at such a young age, knowing my career and having my path laid out, allowed me to never question the big “What’s Next?” I was incredibly lucky. Now, within that same vein, Ballet (or any career really) creates this space of feeling secure, ideally if you work hard, you will rise through the ranks and live happily-ever-after. Unfortunately, life rarely goes as planned and sometimes a life shift hits so hard that everything comes into question at a blinding speed. And that is exactly what happened to me.

Before I get into it, to anyone who is/or has been a victim of assault, you may find this part triggering and would feel more comfortable taking space. I would like to mention that I have found my own triggers to be unexpected and if the reader is feeling something similar, please skip to the next question.

In 2018 I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew, and within the incident my sense of self and identity was completely shattered. I found myself unable to get out of bed most mornings and was struggling to work 8 hr days, 40 hr work weeks required. In the end, I was unable to fight for myself and lost my job, where I had spent 5 years, with Ballet West.

Through trial and error, long sleepless nights and a lot of tears- I survived. Eventually I left SLC and got the help I needed. While going through the healing process I started to see a “gap” within myself, that I had not realized was there. Although mental health care has made great strides, much more is needed to help heal others in similar situations; to be able to mend their own internal gaps and become whole again. My healing continues and I am forever grateful for the support from my boyfriend and my family.

I frequently find myself thinking about individuals who do not have the tools to navigate through their mental health issues and are suffering. It’s a thought I haven’t been able to shake and ultimately that thought is turning into a path for that big “What’s Next?”

So that brings us to today, where I am currently in the process of applying to colleges to become a Sports Psychologist. I believe it can be a perfect marriage of the past and future. I’ll be able to draw on my own experiences in training, being critiqued, not being good enough, being told no, falling, getting up, body image, size, being assaulted, being stalked and even being successful. The world of a professional athlete is a high-pressure job & you have to be on all the time. I can utilize my own experiences as a professional ballerina, and I hope I can make a difference in someone’s life. However, it is nerve wracking applying to colleges! I feel a bit out of place and uncomfortable because it’s been 10 years since I was last in school. 

EA:  That is just horrific.  I am sincerely sorry that happened to you.  I appreciate your candor and willingness to share your account with my readers.



(Tony Anderson Photography)



EA: What are your current summer dance plans (subject to change of course due to the pandemic)?

AS: Hopefully get into an actual studio! I miss dancing in the open space. If not, I’ll continue trying to stay in shape and take more virtual classes. I honestly need to be better about those & take more.



EA: When you're not dancing, what do you like to do? What are your other interests?

AS: I love to spend time with my loved ones. I miss them so much and the pandemic has heightened that longing exponentially!

I love to cook different types of food, bake bread, decorate cakes & cupcakes. The process is soothing and peaceful for me and in general I enjoy the art of slow living. I appreciate the beauty and time it takes to make the perfect meal and share it over some wine with the people who matter most. Also, looooove to play video games. My favorite is Overwatch (Mercy/healer main).



(First Competition - 11 Years Old)



EA: What advice would you give to a beginning ballet student?

AS: You can do anything you want.. Paths may open and close, adversity may make it seem impossible- but you are capable of everything & anything. Be the person you imagine yourself being. Trust in your magic!

OH and don’t forget to work on transitions! Clean footwork may seem tedious, but it makes all the difference (something I’m still working on!)



EA: Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview.  I'm looking forward to when OBT gets the green light to roll out ballet productions again.

AS: Even though life may feel completely upside down, just remember we are all in this together!





Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



Monday, May 18, 2020

"ARKANSAS" Film Review 5/18/2020



“Arkansas”
Available Now
3 / 5 Stars
Lionsgate






The new film, “Arkansas”, that was released by Lionsgate on May 5th, is the directorial debut of Clark Duke, who also co-stars, and co-wrote the screenplay. Based on the novel by John Brandon, “Arkansas” is a slow burn thriller that tells its story in distinctive chapters. The film also stars well known Hollywood actors Liam Hemsworth, John Malkovich, Vivica A. Fox, and Vince Vaughn.



The premise revolves around Duke and Hemsworth’s characters Swin and Kyle as drug runners for the then unseen drug dealer only known as Frog played by Vaughn. The story travels throughout the south and other characters appear along the way. There are flashback sections and the film definitely has its scenes of violence, too, mixed in among the dramatic scenes.




(L-R) Clark Duke as Swin, Liam Hemsworth as Kyle and John Malkovich as Bright in the thriller / dark-comedy,“ARKANSAS,” a Lionsgate release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate



The narrative of the film tries to showcase different subplots and then loops back around at the finale to tie all of them together.



“Arkansas” has its moments where it really starts to develop into something interesting only to have it fall apart just as fast. The story is reminiscent of Tarantino at times but without the powerful execution of his direction.



Vince Vaughn stands out in his role as the Arkansas based drug lord Frog. When Vaughn is on screen the quality of the film goes up a notch. Clark Duke and Liam Hemsworth play their respective characters with dark humor and decisiveness. Duke especially appeared wrapped up in his role. 




  Vince Vaughn as Frog in the thriller / dark-comedy,“ARKANSAS,” a Lionsgate release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate




The film starts off slow but then picks up the pace as the film continues on to the dramatic conclusion.



There’s a lot to work with here - from the casting to the screenplay that Duke co-wrote - but either Duke needed more time to develop the final film he wanted or perhaps just more time as a director. You can feel the potential throughout the film that with perhaps more directing under his belt, the end product would have been more satisfying.




(L-R) Eden Brolin as Johanna and Clark Duke as Swin in the thriller / dark-comedy,“ARKANSAS,” a Lionsgate release. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.



“Arkansas” is available on VOD platforms now.

LIONSGATE "ARKANSAS" OFFICIAL SITE



Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



"Arkansas" Movie Trailer

Sunday, May 17, 2020

AL1CE - The Interview! 5/17/2020


Greetings,

The pandemic has affected the lives of everyone, everywhere.  As a media outlet, I was looking for ways to continue Eclectic Arts during this trying time.  As you've read by now, EA has released several BRAND NEW interviews which I am eternally grateful for.  

Now, the interview below is with one of my favorite bands AL1CE!  I reached out to vocalist Tash Cox about doing this interview a few weeks ago.  During the course of completing the interview, she surprised me by inviting me to join their upcoming INSIDE/OUT virtual tour which I was honored but also a little hesitant about.  I tend to overthink things and I wanted to make sure I could handle the workload.  But, after that feeling went away, I jumped at the chance.  So, yes, you will be seeing Eclectic Arts LIVE (via stream) starting on May 22nd - all courtesy of the amazing folks in AL1CE!   

Please enjoy reading the interview below.  It is thorough and in depth.  It really speaks to the amazing qualities of the band and why I am so excited to be a part of their virtual tour.  :)

Best,
Mark
EA

***




Eclectic Arts: Greetings Tash! How are you and everyone in the AL1CE camp? What are you doing to keep yourself busy/sane during this unprecedented time?

Tash Cox: Hi, Mark! It’s wonderful to reconnect with you! :) We’re all doing ok, figuring things out day by day. Music has always had a wonderful way of keeping us sane and busy. ;) We’re getting ready to launch a virtual tour, in tandem with 2 new music videos and 2 song releases that are slated to be released on May 15, June 1st, and June 15th. Needless to say, all these endeavors are keeping us extremely busy…in a good way!

EA: (laughs) I am never surprised by the amount of projects AL1CE is always working on. It is inspiring. I remember you and Sasha telling me that you’re all “do-ers” and that is certainly the case!



EA: I know that the band has new material recorded - a double album I believe? Please tell me more about the composing and recording process of the new material.

TC: Yes, we decided after the 3 years of touring on The Thirteenth Hour album (our last released album) that we wanted to really unplug from playing live and go back to our roots in Joshua Tree. We originally conceived of the concept of AL1CE while on a camping trip in Joshua Tree and decided we wanted to return to the beautiful desert terrain for inspiration and stillness. We were there for a week and came up with 17 songs that dealt with themes of so much of what we had been going through collectively for the past several years. We have all experienced loss in some ways, so we delved into themes about loss, the tree of life, the breaking of chains, and ultimately finding freedom; we decided that we’d make these songs into a double album called “As Above, So Below.” We came back to LA to really dive into the recording and set ourselves up between Steve’s, Gordon’s, and Scott’s studios. We each have our own idea of sound and aesthetic, so having the 3 studios gave us all a chance to create sounds that we all loved before merging them into the big picture of each song. The mixing/mastering was done mostly by Scott and Gordon, but we all had a hand in shaping the collective sound and vibe. In the AL1CE universe, we like to function as a fully collaborative unit, making sure everyone’s ideas are heard.



EA: So with the double album being all new material, what happened to the cover album idea? I remember seeing something about that online.

TC: So I like to take the approach of flow in all my creative endeavors. When I write a new song, sometimes I think it’ll be about one thing, but by the end of it, it’ll be about something else. I find that if I try too hard to fix the concept in a box that I can get really stuck in trying to finish it. With the cover album idea, we originally thought we were going to make this album into a mixed one with covers and originals. However, when we got to Joshua Tree, we ended up creating much more original material than we planned for (I guess we had a lot to say ;) ). So we decided to shift gears, use a few covers in this release, but also create a home for this album as its own entity, as the songs all fit together in a very specific way. I’m sure we’ll return back to the cover album concept once we finish the current one we’re on…we’ll see where the flow takes us. ;)



EA: With live events on hold, what are your plans to promote the new album(s)?

TC: We unfortunately had to cancel our Southwest tour in April, which would’ve included our first date in Mexico. We had another Southeast/Midwest tour on deck for May/June and decided that rather than cancel it, we would convert it into a fully virtual tour. So we’ve been working with the other bands we would’ve played with, added more onto the bills (since we’re not limited by geography now! ;) ), and enlisted the venues and promoters to take part. As much as the live event community has been hurting, we hope to help raise funds for not just the artists but also for the venues and promoters behind the scene who enable our community and make live events possible. We have plans to host a livestream broadcast to various platforms between May 22 - June 15 and are very excited to explore a totally new platform for us!




EA: With the virtual tour, are you going to be changing the set-list every night then as I’ve seen other bands do on their virtual tours? Ditto outfits - or at least different outfits on back to back performance nights?

TC: Well, musically we’re definitely going to be changing things up every night. Also, it’s a real treat for me to be able to play an actual piano on this one…very excited about that! We have the ability to do some fun acoustic things and really get creative with how we put our sets together. We have a lot of material to draw from, so it’s great to have the chance to be able to share out more of the old and new songs in this format. Also, in terms of outfits, we have some fun ideas on deck, so we’ll be playing with different looks on our virtual tour. One of our friends, Damaris Valverde ( @itsdam_stylist ), is the amazing stylist behind the “Breathe” music video, and we worked with her to help piece together our looks for the 1NSIDE/OUT tour. I was also thrilled to be able to work with Ritual Fashion ( https://ritual.fashion/ ) to create masks for me and Sash that we’ll be wearing and singing in for these sets. ;)



EA: AL1CE became the focus band right when I got into AL1CE (2017). Those reading this may not understand what I mean. For those that don't know, can you take a minute to tell everyone about the other bands that feature AL1CE members?

TC: Well, AL1CE is part of something that we call The Alice Project, which is a collective of musicians and artists that we collaborate with. The 4 bands that encompass the musical side of The Alice Project include AL1CE, Bashrock (3-piece punk with Gordon, Scott, and Steve), Alice Underground (swing with the 5 of us plus Alex Mathias on sax), and Mankind is Obsolete (Gordon, Scott, myself, and Jon Siren on drums). We originally started this collective as a way to bring all our creative and musical pieces together, as we’ve been inspired to create in a lot of different styles and mediums.



EA: I’m sure this is like picking your favorite child, but is there one project that you enjoy even a teeny, weeny bit more than the others?

TC: You know, Sash and I have this fun game we play in rehearsal called. “No, THIS one’s my favorite!!” We truly love every song that we sing and play in the present moment that we perform it. I find that when learning repertoire from other composers and artists that to find the magic in it, I have to truly be in love with it. Each project that I’m involved with brings me joy in different ways. When I sing for Mankind is Obsolete, I feel this incredible sense of catharsis, as it’s been a place to hold a lot of heavier and darker emotions. When I sing in Alice Underground, I feel playful and light with tinges of bluesy longing. And when I sing for AL1CE, I feel like I’m transported to another universe. I think that each project has served so many of my different sides, and I feel that way as well about other artists that I get to collaborate with. :)



EA: One thing that I hold dear about you and your band mates is that all of you maintain a positive approach to everything you do. Of course there's times when things aren't so great - that's only being realistic. How do you and everyone else in AL1CE keep your spirits up when the chips are down?

TC: I find that allowing myself the freedom of emotions and expression is ultimately what brightens my spirit. In certain times, I may be dealing with a lot of darkness, but I find that if I allow myself the space to cry, to feel, to just be with my emotions and to really allow them to be heard in my writing and my music, that I invariably always feel better. Art and music are some of the most healing tools that I personally know of, and just taking the time to play my piano for 15 minutes on any given day is always a game changer for me.

I also have a deep appreciation for my band family and my community as well. We have been there for each other in innumerable ways, and I find that no matter how down I’m feeling, remembering to be grateful for the incredible people I’m surrounded with is a big part of what keeps me going.




EA: Without going into too much detail (unless you don't mind) - you've mentioned more than once that you were bullied in your formative years - horribly so. What was life like back then for a young Tash Cox? How did the bullying affect your adult life? (I was bullied so I do know something about this).

TC: Well, I didn’t have a lot of friends in my early life. I spent a great deal of time playing imagination games by myself, reading books, building unicorn nests in the backyard (unicorns lay eggs, you know ;) ), and playing my piano a LOT. I grew up in the classical world, so a lot of my time was spent preparing for competitions or recitals. I also was highly academic, so I also studied…a lot. The few friends I had meant the world to me, especially the ones who just accepted me as I was. I think in my adult life, it took some time to not be afraid of being seen. I didn’t want to be a singer at first, because I wanted to hide behind a keyboard. Being onstage without something to hide behind was initially terrifying for me. But the first time I tried it in Mankind is Obsolete as a singer, something came through me, and I felt fearless for the first time in my life. It was like I just became a part of a greater whole, with the music just flowing through me. And all the songs that I had written about things that meant something to me had a place to go.

I’m sorry to hear that you experienced bullying yourself. I feel like the bullying made me very sensitive and empathetic toward others as well. I always feel very uncomfortable to be in a room when there’s any kind of intentional meanness going on…it hurts my heart, because I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that. I like to live by the rule of kindness…being kind to others, kind to myself (not always easy, but I try! :) ), and to try to surround myself with people whom I consider to also be kind. The bullying I experienced in my early life made me truly grateful to encounter so many kind-hearted and really amazing people since then and also feel a soft spot for those who don’t quite fit in. I like to think of our tribe as a collection of misfits who somehow fit together.

EA: Thank you for sharing that. I think that others that have been bullied can empathize for sure. I know I can. Even though it happened years ago for me, I’ll never forget that feeling. And it directly impacted my teenage years and beyond.



EA: AL1CE members have their hands in many different creative projects outside of the bands. What are some of the skills and interests of the band (such as acting, writing children's books ;) , etc etc)?

TC: Well, I’m a big believer in the fact that you can find artistry, expression, and creativity in any field you endeavor in. We all come from a variety of fields and skill sets, and I find it interesting what we each are able to bring to the table from the fields that we draw from. Steve, as you know, is also an ER doctor…and probably one of the most level-headed and positive people I’m privileged to know. But aside from being the amazing drummer that he is, he also is an incredible song arranger and light programmer who can think of killer vocal harmonies (and has a killer voice himself, though I can’t seem to get him to wear a headset ;) ). Scott is also a brilliant composer, producer/engineer, and computer programmer. He’s written an app for me that I’ve used to book our tours called Tourouter. Any kind of programming on the back end or setting up of technical things comes from a collaboration between Scott and Gordon. Gordon is not only a gifted bassist, singer, and songwriter/composer, he also has been the musical director and bandleader for big bands, musicals, tv shows, and a whole slew of other musical projects that he’s involved with. Sasha is the mastermind behind our videos and visual aesthetic. She had her own dance company and has used her incredible prowess as director and visionary to make our music come alive through dance and the video medium. She also is an amazing actress and voice actress…I got to see her star in The Last Five Years and was blown away by the incredible passion and presence she brought to the stage. I myself am currently working on my next children’s book in the series I started, a novel in the works, and a screenplay, on top of the music. I’ve been finding myself veering heavily into the writing world, though I have it in me to enjoy theater, opera, and classical singing still. My classical work has been on hold with everything going on in the world, but I still love to sing that style on my own (thankfully my neighbors are very patient ;) ).



EA: So I’ve heard you talk about your classical upbringing and your background in the classical world. I can’t help but be intrigued by this. Can you in a nutshell go over that part of your musical background please? Like I can see you performing piano recitals and such. But what about voice? Were you singing classically and/or operatically too?

TC: When I was 9 months old, my parents heard me singing in tune in church. I grew up in a church that had no instruments, only a cappella singing. So I think I grew up with an innate sense of harmony from my upbringing. I was very fortunate to have parents who encouraged and cultivated the musical talent that they saw in me, and they started me on piano lessons when I was 2. Originally they thought about violin but couldn’t find a teacher who was willing to teach someone that young. No complaints from me though, I love the piano! So I took up classical singing more seriously after I started singing for Mankind is Obsolete. I was passionate about learning how to be the best singer I could possibly be in my own way, so I delved into as many styles as I could, studied from a variety of teachers, and got a hold of as many books as I could to help train my voice. I can geek out for hours about the voice! In any case, I joined a small opera company, singing chorus for The Magic Flute, and from there, dove more into the classical world. It brought together so much of what I love about art…live performance, theater, ensemble work, and an orchestra….what more can a girl ask for! So I managed to join various choral groups and opera companies for different projects and have had the great privilege of performing in what I consider to be dream concerts at Disney Hall, getting to sing with incredible musicians and singers and performing some of my favorite classical works. One particular choral group which is near and dear to my heart is the Donald Brinegar singers, conducted by my mentor, Donald Brinegar. The group is incredible, and I’ve learned so much about music and singing from him…I’ve definitely applied what I’ve learned about choral singing and intonation to my singing in AL1CE. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to reside in different musical worlds and appreciate what each one has taught me.



EA: AL1CE has always been a DIY band. Where does the drive come from to handle everything the band does on your own? Do you ever see a time where you sign with companies to handle particular aspects of your career?

TC: You know, Mark. One thing that living in LA has taught me is that you can’t wait around for other people to make your career. We’re very bombarded in this city by promises of opportunities that, to be quite frank, are often quite empty. When I first started singing in Mankind is Obsolete, Jon, our drummer, came from the DIY punk/metal community in Ohio and brought a lot of that ethos into the band. One of the first things we did as a band was record an EP, print some shirts, get a van, and hit the road. We really haven’t stopped doing that since then, though we’re definitely very upgraded from the first van we had, which couldn’t make right turns (not kidding on this one….we had to figure out how to make circles on streets to get where we were going. One-ways were always an adventure! ;) ) The idea and mentality of being DIY to me is that you have the power to create the art you want and make it however you want on your own terms. Granted, there are many advantages to having backing as a band, but why wait to try to be good enough or valid enough to share the art you’re passionate about? Touring and creating music is possible for any band. If we ever brought in other people to be a part of the AL1CE universe, it would have to feel just like that….like they were a part of the family in some way. I like to work with people who are equally driven and passionate in their respective fields, which is why I love the collaborations we’ve taken part in. I think that any business people we collaborate with are people I’d also consider to be artists in their own ways. All that being said, none of what we do would be possible without the incredible support from our community, and I’ve seen great acts of generosity from our supporters who have helped literally fuel and feed us as we continue on this journey.

EA: Is there video of this van? I can’t even imagine how you guys drove that thing around on tour (laughs).




EA: I was watching a music documentary and one of the band members said, "I don't want to play with any other guys - this is it". Do you feel the same way about the members of AL1CE? What if a member decided to leave the band - would you replace them or would that be it for the band?

TC: Whew. Difficult question. Well, to me AL1CE is what it is because of the hearts, minds, and spirits of all the members involved. It could never be what it is without all of us. That being said, who can really know what will happen even tomorrow, especially these days? I find as a human of 2020 that every day is a forever changing chapter. Every time I sit at my piano, a different tune comes out. Every time I open my mouth to sing or speak words, something different comes out, because I’m a different person from whom I was yesterday. So if any one of us were to not be a part of AL1CE, it wouldn’t be the same. But it’s something we all love so much and believe in so much that I think the group as a whole would continue to create together, no matter what. And that brings my heart great comfort, knowing that.



EA: When the show is over for AL1CE, as we know it, how do you want to be remembered as a band?

TC: Oh man. This question really draws at my heartstrings, because I can’t ever imagine a time without AL1CE. The thought of ending chapters are thoughts that make you really look at mortality. Over the years, I’ve approached my songwriting from a really deeply introspective and emotional place, but when I share out my art, it’s rare that I fully elaborate on what each song was about. I think I like the idea that every individual gets to have their own experience of the music and art as they choose to, in their own ways. It’s very meaningful to me when individuals tell me how our music has affected them positively, helped them in some way, or inspired their own lives. Making music with AL1CE has had that effect on me personally, and it makes me so happy to know that it could do the same for others. So I guess I hope that we’re remembered as something that has had a positive or inspirational impact in some way, even if it’s just a small ripple. ;)



EA: Tash - thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I still remember how I was sick in September 2018 when the band was here over Labor Day weekend (again). And the one that reeeeeeaaally got me bummed was the show in February of 2019 when I was all set to go to the Highline Bar only to be reminded I was scheduled for a different show the very same night (that had been rescheduled from the fall that I forgot about). I wrestled with that one for a long while.

In any event, I’m looking forward to the new videos, music, and virtual tour from AL1CE!

TC: We were super bummed to not get to hang out with you as well but totally understood! :) We’re so grateful for all the interactions we have with you in whatever form, Mark! We consider you to be a fellow kindred spirit and truly appreciate all that you offer as an insightful journalist and fellow artist. Thank you so much for your time and energy that you put into your work and for your beautifully thoughtful questions!

https://www.facebook.com/ilikealice/


Connect With Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com








Saturday, May 16, 2020

"SAMURAI MARATHON" Film Review 5/16/2020



“Samurai Marathon”
Available Now
4.5 / 5 Stars
WELL GO USA OFFICIAL SITE






The year is 1855 in feudal Japan. An American merchant captain (played by Danny Huston - of “Yellowstone” fame) brings various goods, including pistols, to show to the Samurai lords. The Annaka clan hold a race with the winner being granted a wish of the master.



Based on a 2014 novel by Akihiro Dobashi and directed by Bernard Rose, “Samurai Marathon” squeezes a lot of story into the first fifteen minutes where it’s actually difficult to keep the storyline straight. Once the subplots are unveiled, then the movie becomes much more engrossing.



Nana Komatsu as the princess stands out in her scenes both as nobility and as a concealed entrant into the race. Takeru Satoh as the young ninja also stood out in his role.



The movie has much of the feel of a Japanese film - the long shots that last for fifteen seconds to allow the actors to act are peppered throughout the film. The dramatic play-like scenes are something of a staple in classic Samurai films and this one is no different. The pacing is engaging during the quiet moments and exhilarating during the race itself.



The film is not nearly as epic as some of the Japanese films from the past, and the historical accuracy leaves something to be desired, but “Samurai Marathon” is still an engaging and entertaining film.  The Philip Glass score is effective when needed and also minimalist which the conductor is known for.



The fact that the race is still held in Japan is a testament to the history of a country that continues to be a dichotomy of the old and the new.



Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



Official "Samurai Marathon" Trailer



Friday, May 15, 2020

"ABE" Film Review 5/15/2020



"ABE”
Available Now
4 / 5 Stars
Breaking Glass Pictures




(All photos courtesy Breaking Glass Pictures (c))



I’ve always been a sucker for food scenes in films. Even if it’s just for a minute of screen time, watching a character shave garlic for a sauce or a character preparing a full course meal has always made me hungry. Now, the film, “ABE” is much more than just a food film. The film stars Noah Schnapp (of "Stranger Things" fame) as a young aspiring chef Abe who learns the ways of the kitchen from a street chef named Chico (played by Seu Jorge). Abe’s family is half-Israeli, half-Palestinian which creates the dramatic tension in the film for young Abe.






The film is an interesting mix of young and old. The style of the film incorporates narration from Abe and utilizes a point of view approach of a modern teenager. Instagram posts, other social media jargon, etc. While at the core of the story, we have a traditional family with very distinct beliefs that clash as they have for hundreds of years.






Brazillian director Fernando Grostein Andrade creates an atmosphere of light hearted comedy with the food scenes. They are fun to watch and Noah Schnapp portrays Abe in a way that makes you want to see what happens with his character. This is pushed up against the drama of the family divide. Young Abe makes a meal in hopes of bringing his family together. In some ways I would have preferred the film focus on the food story line and minimize the dramatic family saga. At times it ventured into melodrama akin to a television drama from overseas.






Having said that, the film, “ABE” was still an enjoyable coming of age story told through the unique lens of food and family. Now I need to go find something to eat.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



"ABE" Official Trailer




Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OVID AND THE ART OF LOVE Film Review 5/13/2020



"Ovid and the Art of Love"
Available May 19th on all VOD platforms
4 / 5 Stars
Level 33 Entertainment




(All photos courtesy Level 33 Entertainment (c))



I’ve been a fan of cinema since I was a boy. From animated two-d classics to modern day blockbusters and everything in between, I have seen a wide range of films over the years. Now as I review films, I wasn’t expecting to see anything that made me wonder, “where did this idea come from”? But that happened with, “Ovid and the Art of Love”.



Directed by Esme’ von Hoffman, the film is a refreshing interpretation of historical Rome and modern day Detroit. A young man is reading about Ovid for his class and starts to imagine the stories taking place in his home of Detroit.



Ovid (played by Corbin Bleu of “High School Musical” fame) follows his path of doing what he feels is right - giving up a secure position to instead immerse himself in the world of poetry. His nemesis Augustus (played by John Savage) creates problems for Ovid as do other figures from Roman history like Julia the Elder (played by Tara Summers) and Julia the Younger (played by Tamara Feldman).








The film is filled with dichotomy and intrigue. It took me awhile to understand just what was going on but once I did, the film worked nicely and was a creative way to bring history into the modern world.



Corbin Bleu was perfectly cast as the young poet Ovid. His journey becomes one of hope intertwined with the politics of Rome. There is no singing for you, “High School Musical” fans but Corbin’s acting more than makes up for it.







I was very intrigued by Tamara Feldman’s character. Her performance really had to run the gamut of pompous political aristocrat to eventual woman of shame. Her performance was a stand out to these eyes.



The mix of modern urban music with poetry slams also created this highly unusual juxtaposition between Ovid’s poetry written for the past that also still worked in the present day. 




 



As both writer and director Esme’ von Hoffman really came up with a unique spin on classic material. I would go as far as to say this film could be used for educational purposes - at the collegiate level and perhaps at a more forward thinking high school level, too.



One aspect I didn’t care for wasn’t used much - thankfully - and that was the breakdown of the fourth wall fairly early on in the film. I didn’t feel the need to have Ovid speak to the camera. It was actually distracting to me and I wish that part had been left out.



Other than that, “Ovid and the Art of Love” was an intriguing film that kept my interest and I bet it’ll keep your interest, too.



Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com




Monday, May 11, 2020

BULLETGUYZ Interview! Get Ready To Rock! 5/11/2020



(all photos courtesy of Bulletguyz)

Greetings,

There are a few bands on YouTube that I watch and re-watch their videos.  Bulletguyz from Thailand is one such band.  If you grew up in the 80's or if you just like 80's metal, you'll like Bulletguyz.

They are a blast from the past.  They can play their instruments and their debut album, "We Wanna Rock You" came out last year.  Check out the interview below with vocalist Oilz and guitarist TommyZ.

Due to the language barrier, I did my best to retain the flavor of their answers while adjusting the readability where needed.

Cheers!
Mark
EA

*

Eclectic Arts: Hi guys! How are things over in Thailand during this pandemic? I first heard your music on YouTube. You were doing an in studio cover of X-Japan's, "Say Anything". Toshi has a very unique voice and vocal range yet you managed to sing the tune beautifully. What can you tell me about making that video and recording that song?

Oilz (vocalist) and Tommyz (guitarist) of BGZ: We were crazy fans of X Japan when we were teenagers and absolutely loved, “Say Anything”, a favorite song of ours. So we thought about starting a cover song project and, “Say Anything” was the first song that we recorded at our house. We recorded the music video clip at Glaipunthaing Studio and that video clip was our first cover for Bulletguyz on YouTube before we started our original album project.




EA: How did Bulletguyz come to be? Tell me about the early days of getting the band together please.

BGZ: Before we became Bulletguyz, we came from different bands, we joined to do this project because we wanted to produce 80’s hair band heavy metal, at this time Thailand doesn’t have this style of band. We didn’t want the hair band music to disappear so we did the album, “We Wanna Rock You”.


EA: Bulletguyz are heavily influenced by 80's hard rock and metal bands (which is what I grew up with during the 80's) - why are those bands so important to you?

BGZ: Bulletguyz is Glam Metal in the year 2020. Our background is inspired from the 80’s music trend and dressing as Skid Row, X Japan, Motley Crue, GnR , Cinderella, etc.

The main reason is we listened to those bands when we were young. We grew up with high voice vocalists, fast guitarists on fire, etc. You had to be a good player and the show back then was quite important. 


 

EA: What is the writing and recording process like for Bulletguyz? Do you work on music together or do you work on things individually and then come together to complete songs?

BGZ: Most of the song patterns Tom and I will arrange. We then jam so I can come up with melodies and lyrics.


EA: There are several videos of cover songs - both recorded and live - from a club in Thailand with just yourself Tom. What can you tell me about those acoustic performances at that club?

BGZ: Most of Thai musicians play in pubs or local live concerts. We haven’t played live abroad yet other than Japan. The pub where we play is called “Parking Toys”. Tommyz (guitarist) and I (vocals) - we play together every Friday night either in the form of acoustic or Bulletguyz acoustic sets. We play our own songs such as “You’re My Memory” and “Starlight in the Darkest Night”. Those are two ballads from our debut album, “We Wanna Rock You” and we also play cover songs from the 80’s-90’s for our fans.


EA: What is the music scene like in Thailand? Are there a lot of bands similar to Bulletguyz?

BGZ: Bulletguyz style is not in favor in Thailand. Genres that are popular are like Hiphop or Nu Metal. Not like in Japan where there is massive interest in our band and style of music. We signed a contract with Fabtone Record in Japan to produce the CD and distribute. Earlier this year, we played a concert at Shinjuku, Tokyo in FNV Livehouse, which is our first concert in Japan.




EA: Many here in the US don't even know who X-Japan is. How impactful was X-Japan on your music education and career?

BGZ: X-Japan is Japanese band which might not be favored in the USA that is different from Europe. For me, X-Japan was quite influential to me. I learned many techniques as a singer, lyric detail arrangements, how to dress stylish and make up. So, I love and respect this band.


EA: If you had to describe the other members of the band, what would you say about each of them?

BGZ: Ha ha ha ha (LOL) what would I say? Ok, Bulletguyz is a lucky band that we are a combination of all professional musicians. We strive for a good performance in all aspects, including how we look and sound. I’m very appreciative.


EA: Where do you see Bulletguyz in, say, five years from now?

BGZ: In the next 5 years, (laughs) I’ll be 43 years old! I hope that we might have 5 albums under our belts and we could have a big two-hour concert. Perhaps be on a USA tour, hit the LA Sunset Strip, etc. 


 

EA: What future projects can the fans expect from Bulletguyz?

BGZ: Now, we’re doing a second album that's gonna be finished around the end of this year. One song from this album we played on the Japan tour. Please check it out here:


"You Can't Kill Heavy Metal" LIVE in Japan - Bulletguyz


EA: Thank you guys for taking the time to do the interview.

BGZ: Thank you Mark for selecting Bulletguyz to do an interview. We hope to see you soon in concert. We appreciate and thank you very much!


Connect with Eclectic Arts Here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com




"Supersonic Love" Music Video


"Say Anything" X-Japan Acoustic Cover Video


"Starlight In The Darkest Night" from the debut album!


Thursday, May 7, 2020

"TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG" Film Review 5/7/2020



"True History Of The Kelly Gang"
Available Now
4 / 5 Stars
IFC Films 




"True History Of The Kelly Gang" explores the well-known exploits of Australian Ned Kelly and his gang during the 1870's. With families of varying backgrounds moved, or in some cases sent, to Australia, there is conflict from an ethnic perspective, which the average person tends to forget.


The overly simple characterizations from established examples such as Crocodile Dundee (Paul Hogan) and even the late Steve Irwin have tainted the history for those that do not call themselves Australian. Irish, Scottish, British, and the like all planted seeds in the early years of Australia.


As directed by Justin Kurzel (Assassin's Creed, Macbeth, The Turning), the film depicts the life of Ned Kelly (played by George MacKay), from his life as a boy to that of a young man. The film is never hopeful. It is sparse and desolate, much like the surroundings of where the Kelly family live in rural Australia. They are poor only selling booze to earn any money to survive on. They look up to poverty.


Ned is sold to Harry Power (played by Russell Crowe), an outlaw in his own right, to teach young Ned how to handle his business. This is short lived and Ned fends for himself and also returns to visit his mother, father, and siblings. Nothing is ever easy for the Kelly family. If anything, it is a downright brutal way to live.


As Ned grows into a man, his resentment of the British grows, as does what they've done to his family. He enlists the help of his family and friends to revolt against the British establishment with undesirable results.


George MacKay (1917) is intense as the adult Ned Kelly. His next to zero body fat is on display as he fights for money, takes on a young bride with a child, and ultimately fights for what he believes in. His performance is nothing short of brilliant in the role.


Not to be outdone, Essie Davis as mother Ellen Kelly is equally disarming in her portrayal of the matriarch of the family. Ellen does whatever it takes for her family to survive, to the point where she is locked away to rot in a jail cell for her deeds.


"True History Of The Kelly Gang" is one of a handful of film interpretations of the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly. This version has a distinct weight to it that is hard to ignore. The story may be bleak at times but the outcome is worthy of multiple viewings.


Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com


WATCH "TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG" :




Watch The Trailer Here!


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

LEAH INGRAM LEAV/E/ARTH Interview! 5/6/2020



(Photo credit: Justin Hustle)


Greetings,

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the positives of social media sites such as YouTube is that it allows talented artists a chance to be seen/heard. I was looking at cover songs one night when I stumbled upon Leah Ingram singing, “Music Of The Night”. I was floored by her rendition and I needed to know more.

It was not surprising to find out that Leah had been singing with a band called LEAV/E/ARTH for a number of years. Below is my interview with the talented Leah Ingram!

Cheers,
Mark
EA


***

(Photo credit: Mike James)



Eclectic Arts: Greetings Leah! How are things going in Cleveland (correct me if I have the wrong location) during this pandemic?

Leah Ingram: Hi Mark! I live in the Columbus area now, but I’d say location doesn’t matter much at the moment since we’re all stuck inside! Where I live, people are definitely seeming to take precautions pretty seriously, I’ve seen a lot of masks and gloves.


EA: One of the best aspects of sites like YouTube is that it can expose people from around the world to talent anywhere and everywhere. Case in point - I went down the rabbit hole one night watching/listening to singers singing cover songs. Somehow I ended up seeing your cover of, “Music Of The Night" from the Phantom Of The Opera musical. I then listened to a few other songs on your channel and was impressed. Then I couldn’t find anything else. But I was intrigued to reach out to you to see if you would be interested in doing an interview so I could learn more. And here we are!

Let's start at the beginning please. Where are you from? What were you like growing up, how did you get into music, do you come from a musical family, etc?

LI: I grew up in a city called Mentor, Ohio. It’s right up next to the lake, I could ride my bike to the beach when it was nice outside. I have two older sisters, so I had to fight for the spotlight a lot of the time. (I think that’s where my love for being the center of attention started!) My dad was in bands his whole life, I was actually named after the song “Ah, Leah!” by Donnie Iris. He was a big reason why I got into music the way that I did, I watched him and my “uncles” and their comradery, and I thought, I want that for myself some day.


EA: When did you start singing? Did you take formal lessons (I'm guessing yes based on what I've heard)? Do you play any instruments?

LI: I started singing fairly young. I think the same way everybody does. Singing songs from the radio, songs that I heard my family listening to, songs from church, etc. My mom and dad always tried to encourage me to sing more, but I think I was shy as a kid and didn’t actually know I was any good. I started piano lessons when I was probably 5 or 6, but it was short-lived because my hands were too little. I started up again, only playing by ear when I was maybe 13. The first song I learned was “Imagine” by John Lennon. I’ve been playing by ear since then, I know my chords and all that, but my fingers are definitely not in the “proper” places. But hey, I’ve gotta make due, I have small hands! (laughs). I joined choir in the 8th grade, and when my confidence started to build and it was something that I realized I was actually pretty good at, I started formal voice lessons the next year. They were a kind of on and off thing for me until college, I had two different teachers for short periods of time. I continued to sing in the school choir and in any and every singing related extracurricular activity. I did show choir, chamber ensembles, Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, theater, all of it. I went on to major in vocal performance with all of my eggs in the basket of a very expensive college program in Pittsburgh that I was unable to afford, even with my talent and academic scholarships. I ended up choosing to attend Cleveland State University at the last minute, where I spent 3 semesters, and then left because I was very underwhelmed with my experience.


EA: Who are some of your favorite artists?

LI: Christina Aguilera is my biggest influence vocally, as far as my favorites, I have a lot! I grew up loving classic rock. The Beatles are definitely the big one, along with Pink Floyd, The Who, AC/DC, and plenty of others. I think growing up and starting to discover stuff on my own as a pre-teen, I loved gaining influence from a lot of female voices like Avril Lavigne, The Veronicas, early Paramore, Faith Hill, Kelly Clarkson, JoJo, Alicia Keys. What I listen to now I think is pretty vastly different, I've been discovering more and more every day. Currently I'd say my most played artists are Bishop Briggs, Julien Baker, HalfNoise, Fountains of Wayne, and The Midnight, I'm sure I've forgotten plenty though!

EA: I’ll have to look into those latest ones. Haven’t heard of any of them - but that’s not surprising - I don’t know what’s current (laughs).


EA: What were your first band(s) like? What style of music were they? What worked/didn't work about them?

LI: My first and only band was LEAV/E/ARTH, although we did start out with a totally different name and sound before evolving into what we were in our prime. We actually started off a lot heavier and had a larger lineup. Plenty of things didn’t work, but that's just the music industry in general. We were just like any other group I would say, disagreeing about stupid little things like song titles and merch design colors, we didn’t always have the same ideas or opinions all the time, but that stupid stuff always seemed like such a big deal in that moment. What worked well though was that we always put each other first. We always said that first and foremost, we were best friends. That was that. I’ll never forget a time we were on tour once in Illinois somewhere and I’d gotten the news that my grandmother had fallen after a heart attack, and my band mates drove me 4 hours to the Chicago airport to get me on a plane at like 5am so that I could go be with her. They even offered to help pay for my ticket. We had to cancel the last date of the tour and we had to rearrange a lot to make it happen, but they didn’t think twice. I’ll always be thankful for that. 



(Photo Credit: Lily McLaughlin) 



EA: You spent several years fronting the band LEAV/E/ARTH. How did you become involved in that band? The music and videos I checked out were professionally done and it looked like a lot of investment was put into the band. Why did things not work out with LEAV/E/ARTH?

LI: I met my drummer, Jared, on Facebook in 2011 and he showed my YouTube channel to our guitarist, David. I knew right away that they were all the things I’d been looking for all along. When I met them, they were in a hardcore band called Visionaries. Their vocalist was leaving and lots of things were changing, and so I stepped in with another guy and we became a melodic hardcore band, with me singing and him screaming. We continued as Visionaries for probably 2 or 3 years, and when my fellow vocalist was diagnosed with MS, he and our bassist (they’d been in bands together for many years) decided to step down at the same time. Jared, David, Benji and I were left and went on to become LEAV/E/ARTH, with a few members that came and went in between. We invested everything we had into the band. One of the guys went into debt after leaving his good “adult” job to accommodate tours, some of us moved in together to save money, we’d all lost significant others and missed numerous family events, birthdays, weddings, etc. We gave it everything. Every penny we saved went into recording, making videos, or marketing in some way. And while you’d think that giving something your all - your total and complete attention, all of your time, your money, your effort - would make you successful, it actually burnt us out in some ways. We actually became so obsessed with being successful, with reaching the right audiences and pleasing the right people and connecting to the right industry professionals, that it stopped being fun. We were let down by a lot of people that we trusted and we put our faith in the wrong people more than once. We lost sight of why we were doing it in the first place, and I think that really soiled it, whether we wanted to continue or not. One of the guys said he never wanted to tour or play shows anymore, that he was just not mentally capable anymore because of the stress it was putting on him. Another member works for a family company, and said that he is needed there in a way that he can no longer leave for weeks at a time to tour. We sold our van a few months ago, it’s been two years since we’ve played a show, and over a year since we’ve released any new material. We never officially broke up, but I’ve broken my own heart on more than a few occasions being hopeful that things will ever go back to how they were.


EA: Did LEAV/E/ARTH go on tours in the US? If so - what are your memories of being on the road (good, bad, or otherwise)?

LI: We went on a few tours over the years, some great and some not so good. I remember playing in this random guy’s living room once in Missouri and it was super weird because being a band that was signed to a label, we usually were playing at somewhat decent venues to at least a small crowd, and it was vastly different because we found ourselves at this random guy’s house, he and one other guy were the only ones there, and I remember thinking How the hell did we end up here? Fast forward to last summer, and we actually found out that guy went to jail for running the illegal concert venue out of his home and was fined. I remember driving away from that place and parking in a Walmart that night, and waking up to a tornado warning and really bad storms. We hauled ass to get inside the Walmart, where all the customers and employees were huddled in the back area in case the tornado got close enough to hit the building. Still though, being on a shitty tour was better than not being on tour. Some of my favorite memories are being on the road with my best friends, playing music, meeting people, and waking up not knowing which state we were in.

(Here is a link to the article about that man/venue: READ HERE! )


EA: Did you write or co-write any of the songs in LEAVE/E/ARTH? Do you consider yourself a songwriter?

LI: Each member wrote their respective parts for every single song. I wrote the melodies and lyrics of the vocal parts, the guys wrote their own instrumental parts, and when we all came together in the studio, we picked everything apart, polished it, and put it back together. I consider myself a songwriter not only because of LEAV/E/ARTH, but also because I’ve written my own music separately.


EA: What are you currently working on, musically?

LI: As of right now I have a solo project, “Pray Tell”. I have my personal YouTube channel that I use for things like covers, but I needed an outlet for original material that was not related to L/E. I’ve only released one song so far (I had to take a break from everything to concentrate on school), but I have a lot of things written that I need to record, or have already recorded but need to finish producing. It’s not really something that I thought about as far as having its own sound or genre, it’s really just me writing and releasing whatever I feel like creating in that moment. My very first single, “Saved” is something I wrote when I could feel the band falling away and having nowhere to put my feelings. The most recent song I’m working on now is much more light-hearted and almost completely different from that first song. I never really planned on starting a new project, so labeling it in any way feels wrong. I’m just creating freely because I need to, I’m not really worried about how it’s classified or if anybody even hears it.



(Photo credit: Keith Bryce)



EA: Do you have an interest in musicals? How did you choose “Music Of The Night” and the cover from “Little Mermaid” on your YouTube channel?

LI: I grew up absolutely loving musicals, even some of which I’ve never had the pleasure to see. My favorites are "Les Miserables" and "Phantom of the Opera", but I also enjoy light-hearted stuff like Disney and "Wicked". Growing up, that kind of music was always playing in my house. Michael Crawford is one of the very first voices I remember hearing musically. His rendition of “Music Of The Night” will always be unmatched in my eyes. (... ears?) “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid was actually a song I’ve gotten a lot of requests to perform, probably because I’m obviously always singing, I used to have long red hair, and I’ve always loved Disney. Funny enough though, my favorite Disney Princess is "Pocahontas"; I’ve always loved Judy Kuhn’s voice in the movie as well as her performance as Cosette in "Les Miserables" in the 10th anniversary concert. Another Disney voice I’ve always loved that crossed into that musical is Lea Salonga, who voiced the singing voices for both Jasmine in "Aladdin” as well as Fa Mulan in "Mulan". She was one of my favorite performances of both Eponine in "Les Miserables" as well as Fantine later on.


EA: Working as many shows as I have now, I know that for many young bands, the music is the passion but when they’re off the road, they are doing day jobs to pay the bills. If I may ask - what do you do for a living nowadays?

LI: When I was in the band and touring I had a number of jobs. Retail, childcare, working at bars, you name it. Once it became apparent that touring was not going to be part of my schedule anymore, I decided that it was time to start paving a path for myself to nestle into a real, tangible career that would always leave me with options, no matter where I am or what I’m doing in my life. I started Cosmetology school in late November of 2018, and I just graduated on February 28th this year. I have a job at a salon here in Columbus that I was very excited to start, but unfortunately with the timing of Covid-19, I only got a chance to work for one day before the shut down! Once things are settled, I will be happy to get back to the salon, and finally get my license (a worker’s permit isn’t as exciting as the real thing!).


EA: I can relate as I started a new day job before getting sick right when the pandemic was breaking in Washington State (the first state to deal with all of this crap). I now have to re-think my day job plans for the future as IMO we’re heading for a recession that will be worse than the one in 2008.

LI: It’s definitely not a great time to be new to something! I have family and friends that have lost their jobs as well as a good handful that live paycheck to paycheck and are struggling now to make ends meet. This is a rough time for the music industry, especially! So many friends are unable to tour or play shows or do anything besides internet-based interactions. I’ve seen a ton of “concert streaming”, so to speak. It’s good to see that people are still finding ways to make it happen.



(Photo credit: Ross Theisen)


EA: For a homebody like myself - who has never been near Columbus or Cleveland - how would you describe your city?

LI: Cleveland will always be my city, even though I don’t live there anymore. Really it’s just like any city, it has good parts and not so good parts. The music community in Cleveland, however, is unlike any other. I miss my friends every single day. It ranges further than just the people performing, I have wonderful relationships with promoters, venue staff, photographers/other media creatives, and people that come to shows just to watch or hang out. I can’t even tell you how badly I’d love to be playing a show at the Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood, eating their amazing food, hanging out with my friends and band mates right now. That’s my happy place!


EA: If you were to start a new project - what would you want to do? Sing songs from movies? Rock? Dabble in some musical theatre, perhaps? 
 
LI: The hardest part about LEAV/E/ARTH being inactive is the fact that no matter how long it’s been, I’ve still never felt ready to move on to something else. As of right now, I don’t want to do music - not for real, anyway - unless it’s with the guys. That may never happen, and I’m sure someday maybe things will be different and that I’ll be open to the idea of something fresh and new, but I guess until I’m past it all, I don’t know. I would love to think that someday I will get together with new people to create alternative/rock music, but as of right now, it just doesn’t feel right. Singing covers for YouTube and creating original music as Pray Tell will have to do, at least for now.


EA: Leah thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview.  I'm looking forward to hearing more music, covers or otherwise, from you.  Your voice needs to be heard!

LI: Thank you so much for reaching out and wanting insight on my life and my music. I hope you are staying safe and healthy during all of this mess, and that we can all leave our houses and see some shows again very soon!

Best,
Mark Sugiyama
Eclectic Arts

Connect with Eclectic Arts here:
Eclecticartszine AT gmail DOT com



Connect with Leah Ingram, Pray Tell, and LEAV/E/ARTH here:










LEAV/E/ARTH "The Other Side (re-imagined)"



LEAH - "Music Of The Night (cover)"