Skating Tree Town by Valerie Le is a publication that chronicles Ann Arbor’s rich skateboarding history and culture. Using visual design, photography, interviews, and historical archives, this book attempts to synthesize Ann Arbor skate culture and its community for skaters and readers to enjoy. All sales proceeds will be donated to All Girls Skate, an Ann Arbor Skatepark initiative that gives instruction to young female skaters of all experience levels in a welcoming environment. – Valerie Le
You can purchase Skating Tree Town on Valerie’s website and at Olympia Skate Shop (1145 W Michigan Ave #5124, Ypsilanti, MI 48197) as of April 15th.
An amusing musical short film with local rap duo Fiendigods
“Fiendi got the critics raving” as a direct line from Youngsinsei’s verse in new single “FREEMASON$”. Better known as up-and-coming drummer and rap musician David Ward, he and emerging rapper Evan Parks make up the duo Fiendigods. We teamed up with these Ypsilanti-based artists to help produce the official music video for their single and talk about the meaning behind the song.
Q: So first off, why Freemasons?
David: “Who even really knows what the Freemasons are? People say they’re the Illuminati, but the Freemasons say ‘no, we’re not, we just like books and are friends and that’s it’. And I think there’s a lot of intriguing stuff there. There’s a lot of talk about how to turn the tables, but if all of that information is out there for everyone to know, then someone can use that to mess you up. Simply going about your business, isn’t for anyone else to know… it’s just you and your business partners.”
What does “FREEMASON$” mean to you?
Evan: “‘FREEMASON$’, to me, is about us being ourselves to the absolute fullest. We’re feeling ourselves and being authentic–some people probably won’t like that, and that’s to be expected. We pay them no mind, and that’s what the Fiends do. We make music and express ourselves truthfully and naturally regardless of what people say.”
David: “[In ‘FREEMASON$’], I want to shed light on the fact that there are rappers out in the public eye who are opening up more and more about their individual journeys to spiritual enlightenment, and that it’s not a coincidence. We’re saying you can be yourself, and the more you know yourself, the less you care about what other people think.”
Brothers of Destruction drops May 1st, 2021 on all streaming platforms.
We caught up with rising artist Nolan Feeny to touch base on his new release, composition process, the current streaming landscape, and more. Keep reading to learn more.
Who am I? I don’t really know. I guess I’m just someone that wants to enjoy life and be a catalyst for others to do so as well, be it through engineering or music or whatever. I am definitely super passionate about music though, started playing cello and piano when I was about 4 or 5, and got more into making my own songs during college. I’ve always had abstract ideas in mind, some stuff on Soundcloud from a couple years ago, but only recently have they been more finalized and concrete. I recently graduated last May, now I’m staying for graduate school at University of Michigan.
MUSIC IN QUARANTINE:
I knew some big social ceremonies like commencement would be cancelled, and that gave me drive to want to do something in place of that, something else that could be symbolic for that transition of my life. I think having less social interaction has also enabled me to put more of my focus into making music and practicing. I just felt like I had more time during quarantine.
I think it always starts with inspiration from other artists for me. I really like Bon Iver’s vocals, and some Sufjan songs with a girl also singing the melody. Really nice texture that I wanted to recreate. With dreamers I was fiddling with the guitar one day and came up with 3 finger-picked chords that I liked, and instantly had a melody come to mind, so I recorded it on my phone. When I started actually recording it on my computer, I started imagining other fill sounds to make it come alive more, like little fairy dust piano, an additional echoed guitar, a shaker, other vocals. I think a lot of that is inspired by other artists. For me, all of the music I’ve made so far represents how I feel and who I am. I might experiment with taking a persona that isn’t me on future projects though.
I think to me it’s about relationships that end and leave an empty space — how that can lead to feeling alone but also becoming more comfortable with oneself, growth into the unknown, but can definitely mean different things to different people.
ON THE STREAMING LANDSCAPE:
I think for the most part streaming is a really good thing, everything is so accessible and shareable. I’m new and small as an artist so I don’t know all the details, and it can feel daunting at times but overall I think it’s promising. I’ve thought about buying advertising space on social media platforms, I might set aside some budget to do that. Maybe for the next album release. I think if I ever got in the studio or performed with any of my big inspirations, I would feel complete as a musician.
GIGS & UPDATES:
I have a virtual gig with Empty Mug Records coming up on March 26th. also working on another album that’s outside of the genre I’ve been in. I also have a very clear outline for a music video that I want to shoot, which hopefully I can do in the next month or so.
Make sure to stay tuned for more artist features soon, and check out Nolan Feeny on Instagram and on your preferred streaming service of choice.
Artwork by University of Michigan Art and Design Student Bryan Wilson (@bryn art)
“My name is Bryan Wilson and I am a realistic oil painter and digital artist. My art represents my experiences and the people who surround me.”
“My artistic process starts with the creation of a concept and creating sketches based on that concept. Once I create these sketches I would select the sketch I like the most and further develop that sketch and eventually turning the developed sketch into a finished composition.”
“My goal as an artist are to inspire people who aspire to be artist and enter a creative field. I also hope to be able to be able to support myself and be able to create freely.”
Bryan along with oil paintings, has taken his artwork to merchandise design. He currently has items available for purchase on his website that can be found at www.bcwarts.com
We connected with Ann Arbor-based artist and student Hannah Levine-Drizin and asked her about her process, art and more!
HLD: When I’m making art, especially these illustrations, I get really in the zone. Right now, it’s especially hard for me to find motivation, but my art motivates me. I get excited about seeing something come together, although at the same time it’s kind of scary. One minute what I’m working on looks like trash and then all of a sudden it doesn’t.
I think when it comes to making these pieces, I really focus on reference photos, which takes up most of my attention. I look back and forth between what I’m creating and what it’s based on. It is great because life can be overwhelming at times, but when I’m creating art, that’s all I’m really thinking about. I also get very excited when I think about people having my art hanging up in their houses.
Some of the pieces are my versions of famous pieces, so I can’t rake all the credit. The woman with the umbrella is a Monet piece I tried in my own style–“Woman with a Parasol turned to the left”. The orange with dancers is based off of a Degas, “Dancers at the Barre”. And the bedroom one is a Van Gogh, “Bedroom at Arles”.
Follow Hannah on Instagram to see more of her work!
Been needing something fresh to add to your playlist? Check out the tracks below and let us know what you think in the forums.
knew u – PLASTIC PLANET ft. Jake W
PLASTIC PLANET’s 5th single is here with some much-needed chill summer vibes. Jake Ward features on the intro for some smooth r&b action.
Cold Peanut Butter – Faddy Datty, Mr. Proper
Faddy Datty is back in 2021 with a fresh flow and some t h i c c lyricism for one cold track.
Chechen (Album) – GVO
Detroit-Area based rap collective GVO (Good Vibes Only) is following up their debut live concert last week with their debut album. 10 cuts, 11 artists, and a million bars in this project. Check it out, let us know what you’re thinking and stay tuned for more rising artist coverage
In Lieu of GVO Collective’s Live Debut on Saturday, February 20th at 7:25pm (via their Facebook & Instagram Live), we caught up with Co-Founder Marty Gray and manager PJ Roberts of GVO to get the scoop on their new event, what the collective is all about and their new project dropping Feb. 26th.
ON ‘THE GIG’ : “On Saturday night GVO (Good Vibes Only) will be doing a live-streamed concert. We are a hip hop collective out of Detroit, and we are performing our debut release. It’ll be an exclusive, and it’ll be the only time listeners will have a chance to listen to the project before the album drops on the 26th. People can view it on FB and insta live..”
ON ‘ORIGINS’: “David Bashaw came up with the name years ago (rapper and founder). We initially rented out a studio for an entire weekend in November of 2019. We then made beats from 8am to 2am for two days straight. We spent the subsequent year writing and recording vocals. And now we’re ready to release.”
ON ‘COLLECTIVE’: “We represent a creative hub where hiphop artists, producers, visual creators and writers can feel free to express and work their craft together. We have 11 members in our collective so far.
This album is for anyone and everyone. Three more producers are working on our next record, ones that haven’t worked with us before. The idea is for creatives to flow in and out as they please.”
ON ‘COVID’: “You know, it can be hard to coordinate with a large group of artists or people in general. COVID added another level of complications. But that just meant we had to be better about communication and utilized technology to our advantage with things like discord. The bulk of the in-person creation was done before the pandemic. During the pandemic we essentially recorded vocals with one person at a time (in an isolated vocal booth). Covid 19 didn’t seems like a huge hinderance honestly.”
ON ‘MUSIC INDUSTRY’: “What does it mean to be an artist…LMAO.. it’s a livelihood! Music streaming services pay very little to artists, and the cost of touring is too high for most artists to swing. Two huge challenges…just getting noticed and getting our music out there in way to where it can be widely consumed by family, friends and how to get fans that have no connection to us to check out our music and other content as well.
ON ‘DEBUT PROJECT’: “This concert will feature every single song on our debut. Without giving too much away, in a broad sense our project is about the light and dark of life. Highs and lows, etc. Not allowed to say what the project is called yet 😉 Let’s just say there’s a certain….duality to our release.
Make sure to follow GVO on Instagram and Facebook to stay tuned for their Live Stream debut SATURDAY @7:25PM EST of their brand-new project. Check out the drop on February 26th on all streaming platforms.
We sat down with Matt Lichtinger and Jonathan Lin, Creators of Slide (@slideapp_), the newest way to share all of your information with just the flick of your finger. Check below for their responses and a link to download the app so you, too, can begin sliding!
ABOUT: Slide is the quickest way to share your phone number and social media with others! Gone are the days of handing your phone to someone or waiting for them to read off their numbers and/or usernames. Now, you can simply Slide them your profile and they’ll have it all. You can even add multiple links for each platform, perfect for sending your personal socials in addition to those of your business, student organization, or anything else!
ON “SLIDE”: “Slide” is a verb that spoke to us as a great name to represent the action of sending your info. “Hey, can you Slide me your number?” just Slides off the tongue very easily. Once we decided on that, we turned it into the action.
ORIGINS: Slide was born almost exactly a year ago out of the need for a faster and easier way to share info when meeting someone. We hated having to shout our numbers during loud parties or hand our phones to others to have them type in their handles. It’s too mistake-laden and takes way too long.
CUTTING EDGE FEATURE: Profiles, hands down. They let you group your socials in any combination so that you’re ready for any occasion. Other apps either don’t let you do this or make it tough to use effectively.
DEVELOPING IN COVID: We started before we really even knew COVID was a thing, but COVID started shortly after, so most of our development was remote, with Matt in Ohio and myself [Johnathan] in Connecticut.
The biggest part of the development process was figuring out how to even build an app/website and business. Neither of us had any real experience with any of these things. So we spent a LOT of time just learning for the first few months before we made any real headway on the application and business. We really started making progress in about November.
The nice thing about this though was that we were customers of the app, i.e. were some of the people who were going to use it, so that helped a lot in informing our design decisions. We did a lot of internal testing/feedback amongst ourselves, but when we finally started really making progress, we were able to get feedback from our real audience via an official beta in late December, which was huge for better iterations of the application.
BUILDING AN APP: To be honest, we thought this was going to be WAY easier than it actually was. At the beginning, we estimated only about 3 months of development (i.e we thought we could get it out by late July/early August). However, we ended up having to push our start date back by about 5 months because the learning curve was much higher than we anticipated. Plus, around August, we acquired a huge piece of the business puzzle by getting accepted into the law clinic here at the University, which was monumental in helping us be legally compliant and get all our ducks in a row. While all this made us release a bit later, it was 100% worth it for the security and resources they provided.
BIG PICTURE: We are hoping that this becomes the mainstream way people connect, and would love to see this grow past the University and onto other college campuses and environments as well. The big end goal would be for us to be able to go to someone new and say “Hey, can you Slide me your number, snap, etc.” and for them to know exactly what we’re talking about, and do it instantly. I think it’s a phenomenal way for us to stay in touch with people that we otherwise wouldn’t, especially during the pandemic. It’s also an awesome way to learn more about the people you meet, see what they’re interested in, and build more meaningful relationships that way.
“My name is Ajay (AJ) Gallardo, I was born and raised in and around the Seattle area! Being the first born to a young single mother, I had a lot of time spent to myself. I used this time watching cartoons, playing video games, and playing sports. My mom had always been into drawing and painting during her free times and I think that’s where I was initially influenced. Growing up, I had always been into creating these cartoon characters at home and especially during class. Much of my original inspiration comes from early nickelodeon cartoons, such as Fairly Oddparents and Spongebob. I also took a lot of inspiration from classic Disney cartoons and Studio Ghibili films.
Today, I grab most of my inspiration from my favorite artists, Takashi Murakami and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I also take lots of inspiration from music. Music is such a big part of my day-to-day life, ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you how much music means to me. I listen to music of all kinds, to get an idea of what I mainly listen to, my daily listening usually consists of: Smashing Pumpkins, 070 Shake, and Aries. If you take a look at any of my art, you’ll notice my use of colors. Growing up in a city as dull as Seattle, I had an infatuation with the use of colors and how to manipulate combinations and mixtures of colors to get a strong emotion or message across in my art. If I were to explain my style, I would say that I create cartoon inspired characters that represent or influence a particular mood or message that is relevant to the viewer.
COVID-19, similar to almost everyone, has had a tremendous impact on my life. COVID sent me home from Bozeman, MT, where I was living and attending school. Instead of focusing on the inevitable negatives of this pandemic, I’ll focus on the positive aspects of the past year. Spending the last almost year in quarantine has impacted me similar to a lot of people. While in quarantine, I started to create much of my art again and had attempted many different art styles. Because of this, I had met many many people that I am extremely grateful to have met. From other artists on Instagram and Twitter, to many local artists in the Seattle area, I have made many meaningful connections.
My favorite piece is always my last. When going to make a new piece of art, I always go into it with the mindset of getting better from the last piece. If I don’t believe it was better than the last, nobody will see it.
In 10 years, I hope to be happy with my work, and having a positive influence over the people who are there to see what I’ve created. I hope to be creating clothing people would love to wear, painting murals across the globe, and just keeping a smile on my viewers’ faces.I don’t want to tell too much and put too much pressure on myself, but right now I’m actively looking to get my first solo mural somewhere in my hometown, Seattle. I also plan to put a website up, where people can purchase prints, stickers, and more!”
Katie Corbett is a student and photographer currently pursuing a Spanish and Global Health and Environment focus in the International Studies department at the University of Michigan.
“Photography has been a constant throughout my college experience and has helped me connect with creatives in the fashion industry. Looking forward, I hope to continue pursuing passion projects that incorporate photography.”