In the fray of Paris Fashion Week, we found a few spare minutes to chat with up-and-comer Izzy Spears. Coming off the heels of supporting Yves Tumor on their recent European tour dates — and having released his debut single “FIST” only a few weeks prior — Spears’s inertia was palpable.
Though presently based in Los Angeles, Spears lived in his hometown of Atlanta for much of his life. Through his teens and early twenties, Spears worked primarily in fashion, casting and on-set production, while occasionally making music under various names. During these early years, his moniker “Izzy” was coined, an allusion to the gawky-looking mascot for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The addition of “Spears” to his stage name came later, an homage to queen Britney.
Spears’s recent burst of momentum started in 2019 when he connected backstage at a fashion show with Shayne Oliver, the founder and creative director of both the fashion label Hood by Air and cross-disciplinary collective Anonymous Club. Later freestyling together in Oliver’s studio, the pair played off each other’s energy to produce the singles “Bleedinout” and “Hollywood Meltdown” (on these 2021 tracks Oliver is credited as LEECH). As these releases gained attention, Izzy prepared to launch his solo career.
SPIKED JOCKSTRAP BY TOI ANO.
In 2021, Spears began production on his debut EP Monstar. The largely autobiographical project, which KRO records put out in November, blends rap, punk, horrorcore, and grunge. The sound, lyrics, and accompanying visuals together build an image of Spears that’s raw and uncensored, expanding on the geist of the early singles Spears made with Oliver. …
Oliver Sim is best known as one third of the xx, a band he formed with schoolmates Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith when they were in their teens, living in Wandsworth, London. Their stripped back musical style and lovelorn lyrics complemented by Oliver and Romy’s distinctive vocals made them critical darlings. Their first album released in 2009 became a commercial hit, reaching number three on the U.K. album charts. Two more albums followed along with years of touring. While Romy and Oliver were both open about their sexuality, Oliver never used male pronouns in lyrics to suggest same-sex desire until his recent solo debut, Hideous Bastard (2022). In the album he ventures into even more revealing territory, declaring in the last line of the song “Hideous” that he has been living with H.I.V. since he was 17. This admission is one of many on the album, which draws inspiration from horror films, and while pondering deeper themes is still joyous and musically unbridled. Produced by bandmate Jamie xx, the album sets a high bar for all involved. We chatted with Oliver this May, right before he was about to leave for a scheduled U.S. tour that was unfortunately delayed because of a covid outbreak in his band. Oliver was open, friendly, and more than ready to kick off this new chapter of his life.
How are you doing? I’m good. I’ve just been in the countryside visiting my bandmate Romy.
Oh, nice. How was the shoot with Wolfgang [Tillmans who photographed Oliver for this story]? …
Charli XCX has always had a plan. It’s been that way ever since she started making music in her bedroom in Essex, England as a young teen. At 15 she convinced her parents to loan her money to record her songs in a professional studio. They also chaperoned her to illegal warehouse parties where she would perform her music to zonked out ravers, often not heading home until sunrise. When she was signed to a major record label at 16, one of the first things she did was pay back the money she’d borrowed from her parents.
Five albums later — her newest, titled Crash, is the last in her record deal — and she’s still calling all the shots. Charli XCX has deconstructed the female pop star and reconstructed her with only the parts she most likes. She’s gone through many iterations, her most recent is the sexed-up bombshell who knows she’s hot and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. After speaking with some of her fans, it’s clear that one of the most compelling things about Charli is her vulnerability. She’s long been vocal about the ups and downs of pop stardom. In 2020 she shared her struggles with anxiety in a documentary that chronicled her writing and recording an album in only five weeks during lockdown. In our conversation she credits that experience, and starting therapy, for her newfound confidence in embracing her body and sexual energy.
We photographed the 29-year-old pop star one early fall day at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Los Angeles’ Victor Heights neighborhood. …
With the recent release of his newest EP, Almost Blue, Brooklyn-based artist Tama Gucci leans into a new era of his already storied career. The last several years have seen the 24-year-old expand his repertoire of self-produced music, experiment with new processes of songwriting, and begin performing at clubs across the country. Almost Blue marries Tama’s roots in bedroom-pop with this recent growth, culminating in a project as experimental as it is polished.
Though since 2020 Tama has lived full-time in New York, he visits his hometown of Miami often. While he still feels fondly towards his birth city, Tama admits that his cultural upbringing took place as much in Miami’s physical communities as it did in online spaces like Myspace, Twitter, and Tumblr.
Growing up online, Tama found his footing amidst a frenetic exchange of ideas. Many of his early experiences read as canonical for an extremely-online teen in the 2010s. He was posting on MySpace at age nine — heavily filtered and throwing up middle fingers. In his later teens, working at an American Apparel in Miami’s South Beach, he would check the company’s Tumblr daily to see if they had featured his Instagram photos on their feed.
Though Tama has steadily gained exposure through sharing his self-produced tracks on Soundcloud, he’s had a handful of viral moments as well. One of the first came with the release of his Thotiana remix. The version softened the Blueface track with gentler vocals and a beat Tama originally had made for a James Blake cover. …
She is the pop star we’ve been waiting for. The Alaska-born 31-year-old has been making music since coming to New York and dropping out of fashion school, releasing her first LP, The Lake, in 2017. Somehow channeling Stevie Nicks, Britney Spears, and Skinny Puppy all at the same time, Macy live is something special. To talk about her latest project, Unbelievable Animals!, (also chakras and star fucking) she sat down to chat with phenom and friend Charlene Incarnate.
So Macy, everyone’s excited about Unbelievable Animals! It’s all anyone can talk about! [Laughs] Oh yeah all my fans!
If I had my own tagline for your album, it would be “a meditation on desire.” I love that!
That’s my tagline for your album because it is an expression of desire so thick that it almost sent you, Macy, into an ethereal state. Like it engaged all your chakras. [Emphatically] Yeah!
Were you having spiritual experiences that inspired the sound? I was! I mean I’ve talked a lot about the 20-songs-in-30-days process, but that felt very meditative, monk-like. Were you not smoking or drinking? No, I was doing both a lot! More of a New York transsexual monk vibe. But I wasn’t talking to anybody. I was locked up doing nothing but the album, and the experiences that led up to it were very dramatic lows that shook me in a way that didn’t make sense. So when I was over them, it was such a breath of fresh air. …
The biggest drag festival celebrates their 10th anniversary
A conversation between besties and musical collaborators
Miss Boogie: Hey sis. For those who don’t know, tell them who you are.
Trannilish: It’s Trannilish. You could call me Lish, AKA Ms. Titties Gigantic. My look is dramatic.
Miss Boogie: Miss Boogie over here, AKA Miss Boogie What’s Goodie also known as Ms. Douche Down. Sis, so what song are you starting your day with?
Trannilish: I’m going to start my day with a little bit of Kaytranada, Teedra Moses “Be Your Girl.” What about you?
Miss Boogie: So it’s this cute song. It’s like an older song, but it’s called “Hold It Down” by this collective 4hero. I really love the lyrics so you should check that out. I don’t know if I’ve sent it to you yet, but I will soon.
Trannilish: Yeah, definitely send that over.
Miss Boogie: Yes sis, okay. My memory is usually faded because I smoke too much, so what’s our link up story? How did we link up?
Trannilish: We linked up in summer 2009 when I was doing my little fashion thing, you know, body paint, makeup. And you hit me up because you were walking the Latex Ball and you wanted me to do your makeup. Myspace days.
Miss Boogie: Right, a decade ago. I remember like it was yesterday.
Trannilish: Over a decade ago, bitch.
Miss Boogie: So it was the Latex Ball and the category was Female Figure Runway and they said bring it like a magazine editorial. …
Michael Alden Hadreas has been writing, producing, and performing music under his nom de plume Perfume Genius since his debut album, Learning, was released in 2010. Since then he has released four more albums, with the most recent coming out mere days before the world shut down in February 2020. His newest album, titled Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, is a haunting creation filled with beautiful melodies and, in the words of Pitchfork writer Madison Bloom, “grimy, guttural dissonance” (the publication gave it a rare 9.0 score). Other reviews piled on similar praise.
I chatted with Hadreas from the Los Angeles home he shares with his boyfriend of 12 years, who’s also a frequent collaborator, Alan Wyffels. In 2020, not only were Hadreas’ tour plans derailed but he also fell prey to a “really bad Crohn’s flare up.” This thrust the musician into a dark place that he has since been working his way out of. I found Hadreas to be open, intelligent, and witty. It was a pleasure getting to know him.
Where are you now based and where were you last year during the pandemic? Me and my partner, Alan, we moved to Los Angeles from Seattle three years ago. It feels more recent than that, but I guess it was three years ago. So that’s where we were when the pandemic started and we moved in the middle of it, just because our house was cave-like and pretty dark. I liked our neighborhood, but we were not in the neighborhood, we were in our house. …
Isabella Lovestory is like the Kate Bush of reggaeton with the hip bones of “Slave 4 U”-era Britney Spears. A pop star of her own invention, Honduran-born Isabella’s artistic sensibility gives her hot-girl visuals and radio-ready bangers a twisted brilliance. In fact before she released her first EP Humo in 2019, she was showing up in all the cool kid group shows at New York galleries (even while living in Montreal). In the last few years, she’s been making music her focus, often collaborating with Chicken, the downtown New York producer behind the party Club Eat. She loves a super low rise jean and a kitten heel. in fact, she wrote an entire song about the latter.
So you wrote a kitten heel anthem. Who is she, the girl who prefers a kitten heel to say a stiletto or platform wedge? She’s someone who doesn’t need to be desperately loud (or desperately tall) to be the supermodel, the center of attention. She knows she has it all and everyone is obsessed with her. Subtle, iconic, lazy, gluttonous. The world waits for her. She can run faster and dance better than the rest because she’s got the comfiest shoes. The sexy underdog — I mean undercat. She’s definitely a part of me, although I contradict myself everyday. One leg wears a kitten heel and the other a platform stiletto.
You have a very romantic name. What’s your favorite love story, real-life or fictional? A Woman Under the Influence always makes me cry. …
Honey Dijon has been DJing since she was a kid at her parents’ house parties in Chicago. While she’s been a longtime mainstay of house music and queer party scenes since moving to New York in the 1990s, the last few years she’s really grown, doing everything from creating mixes for Kim Jones’s Louis Vuitton menswear shows to headlining dance festivals in Europe to launching her own clothing brand with Comme des Garçons, titled Honey Fucking Dijon (exactly!). Honey was refreshingly open and honest when we spoke, serving up plenty of pearls of wisdom — it was a pleasure to spend some time with her.
When you were a kid you used to DJ at your parent’s parties. I was curious if you remember which songs and artists you were playing? Like many African-American families, music was a huge part of our lives. My parents were middle-class/working-class, and every weekend they would have these massive parties. It was awesome because I would sit at the edge of the stairs and I would hear glasses clinking and people cursing each other out. I was just so attracted and drawn to that energy. I think the laughter and the joy was probably the thing that really attracted me because it just seemed like people were having such a good time. I grew up at a great time when there was a lot of conscious music — you know, music was one of the things that helped black people deal with oppression and racism and all of these things. …