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. …
In their “American Flag Bikini” music video, Michael Love Michael sings holy as Jesus.
Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman are the musical duo MAN ON MAN. The two started dating 14 months ago and during quarantine this past spring, they began working on an album together, due out early 2021, they have already released two singles, “Daddy” and “Baby You’re My Everything.” Both songs are gorgeous odes to man-on-man love and lust.
“Daddy” is a thumping, melodic rock song made for moving your body, while “Baby You’re My Everything” is slower in tempo and golden-toned — it’s made for smoking weed and cuddling with a lover. The music video for “Baby You’re My Everything” features Roddy and Joey in khakis and casual button-down shirts, meditatively wandering hand-in-hand in the desert. They eventually make it to a river where Roddy baptizes Joey by spitting in his mouth and then dipping him under the water.
Roddy has been creating music for decades. During the ’90s he was the keyboardist for the massively popular rock group Faith No More. Joey has been playing music for some time, but is newer to the industry. MAN ON MAN was born out of necessity. Both men had recently lost a parent, and their answer to the grief that was all around them was to get busy. The restrictions OF quarantine only fueled their creativity: “As queer people, we work well with parameters. The history of our culture is judgement and homophobia that we’ve had to work around for our whole lives.”
How did you two meet? …
This autumn, Shamir released his seventh full-length release, Shamir. Our favorite countertenor has been taking his time to nurture his craft, game, and it-ness in Philly’s DIY scene. Since Hope and Revelations (both released in 2017), Shamir has released the full-length statement records Resolution (2018), Be the Yee, Here Comes the Haw (2019), and Cataclysm (2020). These document Shamir’s artistic growth from cutie caterpillar eco-nerd toward the winged pop star we encounter, cocoon-less, on Shamir. We love to see it. I spoke with the artist in the late summer about pop stardom and visibility, the butterfly, mental health, Scorpio, Capricorn, the Oracle Twins, and two pairs of twin moms. Peep our star-crossing conversation below.
I noticed you began to use the butterfly image during Revelations, and by now it’s really flourished and multiplied. What does the butterfly help you symbolize? It was always a natural thing. It’s weird, one of my closest friends lives in Ottawa, and there’s a moth outburst there. At first, we thought it was butterflies, but he actually did some research and talked to his neighbors, and it’s a moth outburst. They’re blind; they run into you and hit you, and that shit hurts, you know? Anyway, I told him, “moths are cousins of butterflies,” and then I sensed this tingle — this was literally yesterday — and I was brought back to another time in my life. At the beginning of middle school, that’s when I was an eco-nerd, I had three different fish tanks in my room. …
stick your head in a song, not the sand.
This is a season of enduring hunger, and keeping alive the promise of being fed. Our vaccine is held up by a pharmaceutical trade race, weapons and violent tongues keep rising, and we’re losing lights every week. For some of us, this is the first time the world’s burned too hot, and for others, this feels like only the latest fever.
By our lights, culture can only do what it has always done. Music keeps our pain and our hope company; it clothes and shelters us when the world will not. In music is strength.
So set your SpaceX brainchip to sickening~ and stream yourself a rhythmic river to freedom… Here’s our Summer 2020 Playlist (in no particular order):
Flo Milli – Ho, why is you here?
“Beef FloMix” made fancam happen and introduced the world to Flo Milli. Flo Milli is Flo Milli. This July, Milli released her first mixtape, Ho, why is you here? and you could fit its flaws in the space between its title’s “here” and “?” Flo Milli delivers insistent jabs gloved in goofy punchlines, and insists on the immediacy of every syllable. Her wordplay checks each box like sevens on a slot machine. Her rhetoric is truer than Benjamin Franklin’s; her flow goes farther, faster, than Paul Revere. Flo Milli could have written the Declaration of Independence, but no Founding Father could have written “Weak.” Give Flo Milli her flowers, and wrap a twenty around each bloom. …
Michael Love Michael is an independent musician and writer based in Manhattan, whose latest single, “6 Jaguars,” holds up a magic mirror to wealth inequality. Enchanted, we had to catch up with them to ask about their reflections on crafting music as a lens through which to see what money makes of us.
How do you navigate the relationship between storytelling and selling stories? We don’t have another system right now. This is where we are, and I’m a person who has a certain amount of ambition. I’m putting music out there, which is an ambitious endeavor on its own, you know? I’ve worked within corporate hierarchies, so I can make a living. I understand this is necessary until we invent a new way of living and being, and supporting ourselves. But my desire to tell stories comes from a place disconnected from the idea of making money. I lead with my heart. I try to not live my life based on what’s gonna make me the next quick buck.
Like the film Parasite, “6 Jaguars” is a portrait of someone in their high tower while we suffer below, but there’s a certain luxe appeal. You end up wanting it, but also knowing that it’s awful. I’m really drawn to that juxtaposition, always. I’ve been binge-watching a ton of TV, like everyone, and I’ve been watching a lot of Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy shows. I’m obsessed with how they have these central characters who on the surface are corrupt, but you find goodness within them. They’re complex. And that’s how real life is. Nothing is one way or another.
At the end of “6 Jaguars,” as you repeat that phrase, “Bitch if they don’t like me / Cunt if they despise me,” it transforms in meaning. …
From Sydney to London and on, she's producing her own path
If we harnessed the anxious repression behind every fake smile on Zoom—let’s say on a Wednesday at 5pm—we’d solve the energy crisis. Or, we’d get “Block Colours” by Aria Wood! Currently based in London, Aria Wood is a singer/songwriter/producer/savage who left Sydney, Australia, to go get hers. “Block Colours” is a single in anticipation of her upcoming debut EP, Groovy Tunes, to be released independently. “Block Colours” takes what kills in dealing with shit people—the shut-in, useless emotion when someone tries you and you can’t react—and spins that into something that shimmers and shakes.
As March collapses into May, and the seasons lock themselves indoors, we need pop that processes dark thought to motion. Turn “Block Colours” on at 3AM, when you’ve lost yourself online, and see where it takes you.
Wood set off for London in 2019, her luggage stuffed with production gear. She doesn’t arrange on others’ beats; she creates and arranges her sounds alone. This means her songs are married to themselves at every layer, like Valentina’s makeup. The beat and the fantasy express one message, together (also like Valentina). When asked about producing, Wood replied:
“I like making sounds, continuing to try and understand what textures go together. Layering and shaping sound in different ways is like painting a picture. Even if I’m tired and unmotivated, I sit down and can’t stop doing it. I’ll work at it eight hours and somehow it’ll still feel good.”
Here for anyone who works eight hours to help us shake the demons off our backs. …