A spooky fall playlist by Kayla Gutierrez and Ivy Fox to get you in the Halloween mood…
A spooky fall playlist by Kayla Gutierrez and Ivy Fox to get you in the Halloween mood…
Playlist & edit by Jessica Petrylak
Interview by Jess Petrylak
SUCKER: Who is Lucent Dreams?
LUCENT DREAMS: Lucent Dreams is me, Caleb, and a few of my friends taking my songs and giving them life. It’s the latest incarnation of a lifelong pursuit of making songs that I would want to listen to in my car.
SUCKER: Is there an implied narrative within the song order on The Honest EP? How does this relate to the overarching theme of honesty?
LUCENT DREAMS: There is not really an implied narrative regarding the song ordering. I was mostly ordering them to reconcile the fact that none of the songs really sound like they should come from the same person or be on the same album. Thats the honest answer! Honesty, or the illusion thereof, is important in art but its different from telling the truth. You can manufacture honesty in music. The EP is honest in the sort of way a drunk phone call to an ex girlfriend is, its just kind of all on the table, vulnerable. I rarely checked myself or listened to the voice in the back of my head saying, “You can’t talk about sex and death on the same album!” or “You can’t just have drums on all the songs and then tap on your acoustic guitar for the intro, and why do you INSIST on ACOUSTIC GUITAR!!!!!?” I just kind of did things the way I did because all of these disparate styles, approaches, and sounds exist within me and I didn’t want to build this album based on what would make someone else comfortable.
SUCKER: What was your first experience with music? How has your process grown since?
LUCENT DREAMS: I used to learn a lot of songs on guitar, I took lessons, I got pretty good at finger picking. But I really wanted to sing, probably because I was so bad at it. I really liked writing. Anything. Stories, song lyrics, research papers, poetry, raps(lol), long winded AIM messages… I figured if I started putting guitar behind my lyrics eventually the singing would get better and I could share my passion for writing AND music. I started getting serious about writing music and performing when I was 17 or so. My process was very much: write the chords, write the words as they come, and then play it to people. You could argue that my process is the same now but now I understand it better. I still write the instrumental first and lyrics later, but I have a better understanding of what I want to say and how it will come across over the bed of music.
SUCKER: Is it difficult sharing the creative process on a project to personal to you?
LUCENT DREAMS: There’s two sides to that.
I write the songs by myself. Acoustic guitar, mechanical pencil, paper. Same way every time. Rarely on that end am I willing to compromise.
The other side is when I bring my songs to my band, I rarely give any direction and if I do its the feel I’m going for. The band writes their parts, and I pretty much never touch them.
SUCKER: What is your favorite aspect of songwriting?
LUCENT DREAMS: Writing lyrics. I tend to write in a fairly stream of consciousness way, and sometimes it takes me weeks to understand what the hell I just wrote and what it means. A lot of it is very metaphorical and it takes a lot of examining the context of when I wrote it to understand what my subconscious mind was trying to say. The feeling of finally understanding and being able to explain each line is always a sort of eureka moment where you realize like “Hey, there is a lot going on here.”
SUCKER: Because you were involved in all the creative and productive aspects of the project, is it difficult separating the two processes?
LUCENT DREAMS: Yes. Especially this album. I record while I write, often by the time the band hears my idea its already final takes of guitar and vocals. Like I said before the album is a hodgepodge of styles so when I look at it as a mixing engineer, my training says level it out. Make the mixes be the thing that ties it together. I found myself turning down the distortion on Planting Season because it was the only lo-fi song and it stuck out. Then I realized thats took away from the song. Each song is like a child, they want different things. You can’t just try to force your kids to all play baseball so they fit in when Ronnie wants to smoke pot and Jimbo wants to be a dancer.
SUCKER: FILL IN THE BLANK: If you like ________, you will like Lucent Dreams.
LUCENT DREAMS: Lyrics.
SUCKER: How should the audience feel when listening to this EP?
LUCENT DREAMS: Hopefully pretty cool and thoughtful.
For me, spaces and places play a pivotal role in the creative process. Does your process/artistic style vary between (rural?) Vermont and urban New York?
My sound changed a lot when I hit New York. In Vermont, theres really two big scenes. There’s jammy funk stoner stuff everywhere and bluegrass. I was making weird electronic indie stuff for a while and then weird folk music and it was all very private, people here don’t really like that. Then I got to Purchase and was like… wait people here are playing the music I like to listen to and other people like it too. I felt less pressured to be accepted and felt confident in my process and sounds because New Yorkers get a great cultural education. In Vermont, there is Vermont culture. Maple Creemees, craft IPA’s, Phish, Bernie, and weed. New Yorkers have been exposed to all sorts of art and there are tons of scenes and tons of people. I can’t even walk to anywhere from my childhood house in Vermont. The closest venue is a restaurant that has bluegrass some nights. I will always love Vermont, the people in it, and the nature. I will continue to speak with an accent and write about swimming holes, firewood, and gardening in my songs. That won’t ever change.
SUCKER: Can you speak on the visual choices used on The Honest EP?
LUCENT DREAMS: I said I was looking for some work on my Facebook which is full of amazing artists, because of Purchase, and I got a good response. I was going through peoples Instagram pages to see which style would best fit my music. I was going to commission something but then I saw a piece that I absolutely fell in love with by Casey McCarthy. I wanted it so bad. The muted colors, the dreaminess of it, the obfuscation. I contacted them and they generously said I could use it! As to the choices regarding the creation of it that’s best left to Casey. I’ll link their Insta at the end of this interview.
SUCKER: How has being exposed to all the different creative energies at SUNY Purchase College influenced your progression within your music?
LUCENT DREAMS: Purchase is so sick. Being surrounded by artists that are so motivated and do not compromise is extremely inspiring. It’s such a safe place to pursue art in your own way. It’s a daily dose of greatness. You’re surrounded. I imagine it would be intimidating for some people but when I got here I was like “this is my place, start writing NOW.” Plus you see people doing what they want and succeeding at it. I never felt that in any other music program at any other school.
SUCKER: Do you consider yourself more of a recording or a performing artist?
LUCENT DREAMS: I do a lot more recording these days although I’m planning on playing a lot more shows around the city when the album comes out.
SUCKER: If The Honest EP came with “exercises for listening”, what would that entail?
LUCENT DREAMS: What a great question. Treat each song as a vignette, a little story, without context. Listen like you were looking at a painting as someone who doesn’t know the first thing about painting and doesn’t need to extract meaning from the work. Then take a pass figuring out what it means to you. Then try to figure out what it means to the artist.
SUCKER: Who are you hoping to reach with your music?
LUCENT DREAMS: People who are into it. If it’s what you like, listen to it and support the artist! If you don’t like it that’s fine, I don’t dislike you for it. Like I’m pretty sure my mom won’t be listening to Planting Season in her car more than once. If my Gramma was still around she wouldn’t want to hear me swearing in my lyrics. I’m pretty sure none of the people I’ve ever dated listened to my music on their own time. You can’t force people to change their tastes. I want to reach people that like my music and gain some sort of pleasure from it, the way so many other artists have given me pleasure, courage, and stimulation.
SUCKER: Because your music is ultimately meant to be shared, does that influence your creative/songwriting process?
LUCENT DREAMS: Yes, I can’t help it. I want people to like my music and get something from it. I still write whatever the hell I feel like though. Its more of a subconscious effect on the songwriting end. It’s more measurable on the technical side, mixing and recording. You just can’t put out something that sounds like it was recorded over-saturated to tape and expect to gain much more than a small cult following. It still happens but people expect to hear the kick drum on a rock song.
SUCKER: What is your relationship with social media, and do you feel it is important as an artist in the 21st century to utilize it?
LUCENT DREAMS: I’m a social media fiend. I grew up on AIM and Myspace. I think it’s so important and beneficial to artists to utilize it if they want to reach people. I think that people who play obscure and don’t utilize it are expecting things to work out for them the way that lo-fi did for The Mountain Goats. John Darnielle has 1000s of songs. He got struck by lightning. You aren’t going to. If you desire exposure and reaching people you need to use all of the tools. Technology is evolving humanity and without it we just aren’t enough anymore. I believe that on a practical level, spiritually its problematic.
SUCKER: Where can we listen, buy and follow your music for future updates?
LUCENT DREAMS: The album will be available on Bandcamp and all the streaming services. Follow me on Facebook and Insta. You can add my personal page as well if you want. Also follow Casey McCarthy’s art page on Instagram! Thanks!
By Madison Killian
The first time I saw The Pretty Reckless in concert was when I was 16 at Warped Tour. The crowd was a small handful of eager people, most of which were whispering about her role as “Little J” on Gossip Girl. Fast forward a few years, I’m 22 now, and TPR have three full length albums under their belt and a solid following. So solid, in fact, that when I arrived at their show in Seattle, people were still lining up to go inside.
After wandering inside, I found myself standing to the right of the stage, as flying solo to a concert can sometimes be scary or isolating. The two opening acts had allowed all of the middle aged, leather vest clad Sons of Anarchy fans in the crowd the time to get a nice buzz going, and I was lucky enough to be standing next to the loudest and most drunk testosterone filled skin bags in the room. The pair’s derogatory attitudes towards the younger women in the crowd were just a portion of the inconvenience these two under-educated and over-aneibriated fellas were causing.
As if to redirect the crowd’s growing chaos, Taylor Momsen’s voice echoed throughout the room. A shockwave went throughout the crowd and jaws dropped while fast, heart racing music slapped us in the face.
The band played new songs and old, and when Momsen started into “Light Me Up” from their debut album, I found myself flooded with memories of being an angsty and “impossibly misunderstood” teenager. Looking around the large industrial space where the concert was being held, it was hard for me to imagine that these songs I had listened to when I was in high school, getting ready for my first date, my first party, had the same significance to the middle aged men in the crowd.
It’s abundantly clear to me now, that The Pretty Reckless have reached a large and diverse audience despite their culturally rarified ethos of “going to hell.” This spirit shows up in Momsen’s lyrics and videos, a rebel yell of sorts to galvanize women that don’t buy into the traditional and often misogynistic idea of women’s place in punk rock music.
The show ended almost as abruptly as it had begun, a captivating performance that felt like it had gone by in the blink of an eye. The show was a success and the band was brought out for an encore, their song “Fucked Up World,” broken up by a 4-5 minute long drum solo, a unique and incredibly satisfying way to end the lively show.
Playlist by Jess Petrylak
Inside Sucker Magazine’s Staff Rooms All Over The World + Personal Playlists
Words by Yvonne Villasenor
“You can make whatever you want when you’re alone in your room.” – Kathleen Hanna
…Although some would be surprised to discover I am introverted, it is no secret that I enjoy solitude and need a place to recharge after busy days that are often filled with a number of social interactions and anticipation to go home. That place is known as my room…
Madison Killian – Editor in Chief & Founder of Sucker Magazine
…This is where the magic happens.
And by magic, I mean scribbling down words until I hit writer’s block, watching Buzzfeed videos or science/philosophy/paranormal/conspiracy Youtube channels, adding clothes I can’t afford into my shopping cart, singing along to my favorite jams and of course, swooning over animals on the internet….
Jenn Endless – Sucker Staffer
Kayla Gutierrez – Sucker Staffer
…In a loud, chaotic world, I find peace within these four walls. Never “peace and quiet” though – there is not a moment in time when I’m in my room and not listening to music with the exception of sleeping. Even still, I have to use my noise machine in order to fall asleep…
Jess Petrylak – Art Editor
…In my room, I have different components that keep me relaxed: my laptop, music via Spotify or record player, books, candles, plants and flowers. I wish I could say my cats too, but most of time, they wake me up with their fighting or try to eat my plants. One thing I especially cherish is the very thing my cats are invading in the picture above. For someone who’s only 4’11, I constantly hog the bed and absolutely love being able to wake up sideways, diagonally, upside down…you name it. I also have a huge window to the right of my bed that allows me to get some fresh air and natural sunlight in my room, which is refreshing. To the left of my shelves, I have built in storage space that has pictures, stuffed animals, more books and candles, as well as miscellaneous items I should probably throw away but won’t…
Yvonne Villasenor – Sucker Staffer
Tracie Wilkerson – Sucker Staffer
Words and Photos by Kayla Gutierrez
Attending the AfroPunk Festival was beyond anything I could’ve dreamed. On my way to the venue, I befriended three women at the bus stop, who were also attending the festival. I tagged along with them, and they were very kind to me.
I felt right at home, it felt it was meant for me to come here. I said to myself, “These are my people.” I befriended, and socialized with a few people during the journey to AfroPunk, and during the festival.
Here are the photos I had the privilege of taking at AfroPunk Fest:
I wasn’t able to get everybody’s names, the names given to these photos were created names by me, names I created due to my interpretation, my social interactions, and observations of the people I snapped pictures of.
The festival was a blast, and unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to stay longer or go to the festival on the next day. The event was for two days, and I want to go back. I vow to go to AfroPunk annually till the day I die. I met new friends, had a blast, and got to see some great music. I thank, on behalf of Sucker Magazine, the people of Afropunk for this amazing experience and opportunity.
Interview by: Jess Petrylak
“Harsh Noise” is a musical style that is entirely characterized by static used in an expressive state, and often times challenges what is thought to be conventional in terms of musical practices. Sucker Magazine interviewed GRUTESK, a rising star in the genre of harsh noise who’s based in a quaint town in Upstate New York.
SUCKER: Who is GRUTESK?
GRUTESK: Grutesk is a harsh noise alias I use to let out some steam and just to create.
SUCKER: Not an entirely expanded upon genre, what sparked your interest in harsh noise?
GRUTESK: I honestly can’t pinpoint what exactly sparked my interest, but I’ve always been interested in more experimental music. I always wanted to be different with my music taste while growing up. When everyone was listening to pop music I was listening to more independent music. I could say that probably the band/group to get me into the genre would be a rap group by the name Clipping. If harsh noise interests you, you should check them out
SUCKER: What software do you use to create your music?
GRUTESK: Currently I’m using FL Studios to make this, but I want to expand my horizons and go with the traditional setup for noise music, which is with a mixer, and some guitar pedals.
SUCKER: Do you consider GRUTESK sort of an alter ego comparative to your natural self?
GRUTESK: I think I would, I would say I’m more calm and collective then Grutesk would be, I’d best say that Grutesk is more expressive of his emotions and does not take shit from anyone, a little on the chaotic side of things though.
SUCKER: How does the emotion of anger play its role within your music? Do any other emotions come out through this medium?
GRUTESK: I’d say if it hasn’t shown in the song titles of my latest EP “Violence”, it’d be my latest experimentation with vocals in some tracks and also the noise itself gives off an angry tone or feeling.
SUCKER: What are some responses you’ve gotten on your music? Good, bad?
GRUTESK: I’ve either have gotten “Oh that’s interesting” which usually means “This is terrible” or, (from people in the noise community) “This is some good stuff man keep it up.” I take anything as a compliment; I realize this genre isn’t for everyone it even took me a while before I was fully interested in it.
SUCKER: Do you believe truly anyone can be an artist (music, art, writing, etc)?
GRUTESK: I believe you if work hard at something you love, and you are putting in the effort then you can become an artist. If you go into anything either looking for money or trying to get famous thinking “oh this is so easy hahaha” you aren’t really going to get very far.
SUCKER: What would be on GRUTESK’s personal playlist?
GRUTESK: He would definitely have just a lot of variety of noise music, and extreme music.
SUCKER: You also craft your own album art, what are the benefits of being a completely independent artist that transcends many different creative mediums?
GRUTESK: I think that because I have somewhat of an idea with what looks good with art, it plays a big role into both noise and my digital art. I believe with each album cover it portrays the emotion within each album.
SUCKER: Does your creative process for visual art and music differ in any way?
GRUTESK: With my digital art I try to draw cute cartoon women and fandom related things as well, generally like a non impacting emotion with it. Grutesk is a way I can express myself when I get angry, upset, whatever. I mean, I have created something from emotions into my digital art, but for the most part I don’t, which I think needs to change.
SUCKER: Have you done any live shows, and if not would you consider?
GRUTESK: I haven’t yet, but I would love to! I have some crazy ideas of what to do for some live events which I would love to share with everyone.
SUCKER: What was the definitive moment that lead to you to create music?
GRUTESK: After I saw a performance at the Bundy Museum in Binghamton, I forgot the guy’s name or his groups name, but it was really interesting and it just went on from there.
SUCKER: In a genre that has a very specific sound, how do you separate yourself from the rest of the harsh noise scene?
GRUTESK: I think that with my vocals I add on tracks it definitely separates me from the others.
SUCKER: What influences your sound, other than other music/musical artists?
GRUTESK: Some of the current events or horror themed things really inspires me with Grutesk, I want to do something a little different someday where I incorporate spoken word, poetry, or whatever with harsh noise. I also would love to collab with anyone if they are interested, just write to me via email or on soundcloud or bandcamp.
SUCKER: What is some sound advice you have gotten as far as any creative endeavors?
GRUTESK: I have been just told to practice, experiment, and to keep trying new things.
SUCKER: Where can we follow you, listen/buy your music?
I would also like to shout out some really cool people in the noise scene I’d recommend anyone to check out : Writhe (Ruben), he has some intense tracks and he’s just an awesome friend, paper skin. (Taylor), he’s more power electronics but has awesome live shows and music, he’s who inspired me to add vocals to some of my own tracks.
By Lucy F.R.
My small town isn’t all that eventful, so when a friend of mine and I found out that there was some sort of music event happening we made our way over to the park to check it out. The entire lineup for the day consisted of local musicians- people I’ve heard about from all my friends, people I went to school with.
We made our way backstage to say hi to the people that we knew, and I quickly learned that being around talented people is a little unnerving (whether you know some of them or not) so, being the hermit that I am, I sat down on the floor and did some people watching in between reading pages of a book. Everyone was sitting in a circle in various kinds of chairs making small talk, telling jokes and laughing, eating the candy bars on the food table, smoking cigarettes. But among all of the activity, the one thing that really stuck out to me was that every member of One Dollar Check were sitting down, listening to what people were saying to them, or sitting completely by themselves in seemingly deep thought. They’re just a bunch of quiet guys.
Everybody that I had talked to that day said that they came for One Dollar Check. I already knew that music is incredibly important to everyone in the band, but it never really clicked with me just how important it was to them until this show. Elijah, bassist, was effortlessly strumming away with a smile on his face, lightly bouncing around the stage; front man Gared was grooving up and down the stage, occasionally gettin’ down with a band mate, and filling up the area with his beautiful, soft voice behind his sunglasses; Aaron and Carlton were playing their guitars with the simplicity and confidence akin to Bradley Nowell’s style, and Carlton would occasionally take over lead vocals with the same strength as Gared, only a little quieter; Charles kept everyone in check with his 100% solid drumming skills- no overwhelming drum fills or cockiness, which is a quality not every drummer is graced with. Tommy worked the stage the most. There wasn’t a single square inch of that stage that he didn’t walk on, he’d weave in and out of the changing lights, stood in the clouds made by the smoke machine, and even walked around the audience.
The whole time they were playing, you could feel the brotherhood between these guys. You could feel the respect and the love that they all have for each other, making their set one of the most comfortable, heart warming live music experiences you could possibly ever have. That’s what makes One Dollar Check so special. It’s a band consisting only of people who are the nicest guys in the world who all share a strong passion for music.
One Dollar Check released their 8-track debut album, entitled “Feels So Right”, a year ago on August 8th, 2015. The band is currently recording an album which should be released next year. Until then, keep up with One Dollar Check on… Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, and Instagram.
Written by Yvonne Villasenor
Three-piece rock band, Vundabar, started with the sole intent of playing for fun – four years later, they are playing shows where their fans can have fun too.
For those who don’t know, “vundabar” is a German word that translates to “wonderful” and if I could describe the L.A. show in one word it would be “vundabar” Ha-ha.
I had never been to Non Plus Ultra, but the venue was once a warehouse and in its current state, seems to be a great place for upcoming bands to play at. It was a really laid back environment, filled with more people than I expected and some sick projections to give it a psychedelic vibe. Even the famous singer-songwriter, Ryan Adams, was there to check out the new talent. I could not believe it – I had to Google “Ryan Adams” on my phone to ensure it was him…Needless to say, I am not used to the Los Angeles scene.
There was a homeless man who came to party at the show and as he was walking in, he enthusiastically yelled, “it’s just rock and roll!” I was unable to get his name, but he danced and smiled watching the bands play and was certainly a favorite among the crowd. He came up to me outside minutes before interviewing the guys and the information I was able to get from him was that he was a veteran who immigrated to the United States and loved it much more than where he grew up despite his current struggles.
Brandon Hagen, singer of Vundabar, humorously introduced the band.
“We’re Vundabar, we’re playing a sold out show at The Echoplex tonight…it’s gonna be a good time.”
SUCKER: Okay, so I’m sure you guys get this a lot, but is there any reason why you picked “vundabar” for your band name? Why a German word?
VUNDABAR: There’s no reason at all, we just kind of decided on it.
SUCKER: What’s your favorite part about touring?
VUNDABAR: “Seeing new faces, meeting new people, making new experiences…We saw Tom Cruise,” Hagen said.
Each of the guys told me about seeing Tom Cruise on Sunset Boulevard and how they had a joke about “Tome Cruises.”
SUCKER: What’s the worst part of touring?
VUNDABAR: Being tired. Showering isn’t the easiest task while on the road and we try to make sure we shower every other day.
Sucker wanted to know what bands the guys were anticipating on hearing albums from.
SUCKER: Which band’s upcoming album are you guys looking forward to?
VUNDABAR: “That’s a really good question…I’d have to say Protomartyr,” Hagen said.
Drummer, Drew McDonald, and bassist, Grayson Kirtland, responded with “Thee Oh Sees and Crag Mask.”
SUCKER: Where do you get ideas for your music videos? They’re so eccentric and entertaining to watch.
VUNDABAR: From movies, seeing people on the street and everyday things I find funny.
SUCKER: What place aside from your hometown feels like home?
VUNDABAR: That’s also a really good question… I’d have to say Richmond, Virginia and Philly.
SUCKER: Do you have designated time to write music or do you write music whenever?
VUNDABAR: It happens when it happens. We’ll just play in general. You might even say we’re currently working on something.
SUCKER: Where do you get your ideas for your songs?
VUNDABAR: Shit that happens, movies, personal experiences and a lot is observational.
SUCKER: What are your favorite songs to play live?
VUNDABAR: Worn / Wander, Voodoo and Ash in the Sun. They give me a lot of room to dance around and act dumb.
NOTE: I also discovered here that they aren’t really fond of their most popular tune, Holy Toledo.
“I don’t know why people like that song so much,” Hagen laughed. “We have better songs.”
SUCKER: Where are some places you really want to play a show?
VUNDABAR: The U.K., Portland and Brazil.
The boys concluded the interview by mentioning how they’d nominate a radio personality if they weren’t able to vote for Bernie Sanders this election and how they were excited to see more Tome Cruises and play their upcoming shows in San Francisco, California + Boulder, Colorado.
Minutes later, they were on stage headlining the show. They played a good amount of songs off each off their albums Gawk and Antics. It didn’t matter whether you had heard every single one of their songs or hadn’t heard a single one up until they played live – the crowd had a great time. After Vundabar played their final song, many fans yelled “Holy Toledo” in hopes that they would play it, and unfortunately for them, their wishes were not granted.
Be on the lookout for new music coming from these guys. You don’t want to miss out.