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Twin Cities’ Greatest

We interviewed TEN of the greatest people in the Twin Cities area, from musicians to publishers to poets. Below you can find all of the Q&A’s with these awesomely talented people.

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special thanks to Aria — www.ariampls.com

Quickly jump to an interview:

Benjamin James Kelly

Taylor Madrigal

Lydia Hoglund

Tyler Michaels

Allegra Lockstadt

Lewis Mundt

Molly Davy

Bobbi Dazzle

Kaleem

Tish Jones

 

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Benjamin James Kelly

Musician | Age: 24 | @BenJamesKelly

Q: What current projects are you working on?

A: Well first, I do professional work as a bass player full time as my job. Through that I play in a lot of different bands. All those projects have separate gig. I’m the bass player on five records that will be released this year. One is “Take Time” by Jack McNally. He’s the owner of McNally Smith, where I went to school. I’m recording on John Mark Nelson’s new record which is called “The Moon and The Stars.” Then I’m recording with my band Sexy Delicious. “Too Hot to Bother” is the name of that record. That’s three, then…Black Blondie, I don’t think we have a name for that record yet. That’s gonna get released some time this year. And another with a gal named Leah Tousignant. So, those are some of the records that are being released, and besides that I have all kinds of gigs.

 But the main thing I do is called Coffee Pot Productions with my partner Adam Conrad. Him and I did a musical and an original record last year and this year we’re working on a second musical and another run of the musical we did last year. And then we’re also doing work on two other projects, a new film score for a local filmmaker named Kevin Horn. He made a few films last year, one of which we scored was called “Panhandler.” We have done some other things like string arrangements with pop singers. Adam and I also co-run and gig with Improvestra which is anywhere from 15 to 25 musicians all improv-based with a conductor. That’s kind of a good summary of 2013.

Q: Do you have any other big plans for 2013?

A: Project Coffee Pot was about the show last year. We’re planning on doing another run of that show and reigniting that production, tightening up some bolts. That was the biggest thing I did last year, in April of 2012.

Q: Are you keeping that production in the Twin Cities?

A: That’s the plan. We’ve had some insight, as it’s a unique style production where it’s art installation based theater. So what we do is build the whole show. We rented a 7,000 square foot warehouse and then we acted as tour guides. Instead of having actors, we had local artists like a muralist painter, a filmmaker, a ballet dancer. They use their art as an avant-garde portrayal of the story. It was all scored live be a 20-piece orchestra and it was al hidden in the building so you never saw the characters of the band.

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Q: How did you get into playing music? What instruments do you play, beyond bass?

A: I play piano and guitar. I used to teach guitar, but I only play piano. I don’t gig with it, but I do write all my music on piano and keyboard. I started playing electric bass when I was 14. In high school I played in a heavy metal band with my older brother, just as I was growing up. The big thing for me was always jazz. I really wanted to play jazz so then I started playing upright bass and a lot of punk music, a lot of R&B. I was really excited about new sounds. I decided in high school that I wanted to go to school for music. I went to Anoka Ramsey Community College. I’ve been playing gigs since I was 15. So all through high school I was playing gigs.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Those bands are a big part of my life. And so is what I do with Adam: Coffee Pot Productions. There’s not really a strong presence of that company yet, but that’s the plan to grow that over the next year. Adam is a conductor and orchestrator and then we’re both composers.

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Taylor Madrigal

Producer | Age: 22 |  @TaylorMadrigalFacebook /AudioPermwww.audioperm.com

Q: How and when did Audio Perm start?

A: Audio Perm was pretty much started through Hope Community. Me and Julian kicked it there, along with Bobby, Yakub, most of Audio Perm. Yakub had entered in a production battle I had organized, which were done over Facebook, and one of his beats was called “Audio Perm” and I saw that and was immediately drawn to it. I don’t care if I sound like a dork when I say this but it was kinda like I had a premonition when I saw those words. So I took the idea to Julian, and he was pretty much thinking the same thing as I was, “producer crew”, and we went from there. We then brought the idea to Cory, who was also down. Audio Perm started in May of 2009 as a producer crew, which was me, Julian, and Cory, and in 2012 we made the switch over to a full fledged rap crew, and now includes the rappers we perform with. 80h20, Chantz Erolin, Unfuh Qwittable(aka Scoundrel Spence), Yakub, Bobby Raps, Dylan LP and Ramiro X.

Q: Does your relatively young age ever serve as a barrier between you and the “adult” music scene?

A: No. Not really at all. I’m actually very impressed at how nice people actually are here. You always hear about all this music biz shady-ness before you really get into it, but I’ve never really experienced any of it. We’ve actually gotten a lot of respect from the more “grown-up” heads in the music scene. I appreciate that too.

Q: Can you credit anyone for inspiring your hustle? Your drive or ambition?

A: Probably my mother. But it was really probably her, and my stepfather. Pre-15 year old Taylor was very very irresponsible, very not-give-a-fuckish. Not really on a good path at all. No drive. Didn’t really have too many goals or anything. But my mother has done so much in her life, and worked so hard to get where she’s at, and I saw that and realized for myself that it’s my life, and if I want to make the most of it, there’s work to be done. And my step dad was really the one who kicked me into gear as far as responsibility and taking care of business goes. Those are the 2 big ones, but there’s a lot more stuff that goes into it.

Q: What’s the story of your “first real beat”? Like, the one that made you realize producing was something you really liked and could do?

A: The first beat that I made when I realized “damn, that is exactly what I wanted to make, and I love it” was the beat for “Spark One”( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0soX8mCBvk ). That was a beat that I had been trying to make ever since I started producing. And I love it.

Q: What’s one project you’ve definitely got in store for us this year?

A: Kinda hard to say. But I’m definitely making a lot of beats and mostly trying to focus on music for the winter. I want to get an audio perm project together. I just want to be working on music a lot more than I did in 2012. It was hard because all these other things started coming up like Soundset, all these shows, all this other stuff, it was hard to sit down and focus on my craft. So now I’m glad that we have this time to chill, and I can really put in work on music. Scoundrel Nation has a project coming out in April. Bobby and Muja Messiah’s project coming in March I believe. Chantz and 80 have a project done, and Chantz has another project done too.

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Q: What are Audio Perm’s goals for 2013?

A: Just really to put out some super dope music, and get more fans. ‘Bout to smash shit this summer, then go on tour in the fall.

Q: We’re known across-the-board collaboration here in the TC, could you name one person you’ve always hoped to make music with or work with?

A: I’ve always wanted to work with I self Devine, he rapped on one of my beats last year, but I want to work with him more in the future for sure. When I have something for him.

Q: As a producer-what does a “perfect beat” do? Make people shut up? Sing along? Think? Get chills?

A: I’d say a perfect beat is when you got that stanky-like, screw face thang goin’ on. For me, it’s not really so much about making a “perfect beat” as much as it is about making the “perfect song” and sometimes those perfect beats, don’t make the best songs. I always like to keep in mind that its 50% beat, 50% lyrics. Big Quarters told me that. I interpreted it like this: if the beat is super crazy, going ham all the time, no space for an emcee, how is that supposed to make a good song? Nothing wrong with making those super crazy beats, but I’m more into making songs with people. That’s what I’m about. The collaborative process.

Q: You get a shot to headline any venue, here or in any other place. Where’s your ideal place to play?

A: The Tunnel. NYC. Circa 1999.

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Q: You’re known for being Audio Perm’s hustler-in-chief, what’s the wildest thing you’ve ever had to do to get people to buy an album or come to your show?

A: Fam—I used to tape a sign to my chest, while I was at work at my gas station that said “BUY MY CD. $5″ and put a few Audio Perm stickers on it. Worked very well. Also, another time, now, this is probably not something I would do right now, because it’s not really very nice to the people who gotta clean up the city and whatnot, BUT, back in the day, for the first show we ever had, on the night before the show, I took the very last of the fliers I had printed for the show (around 1,000) and went to the top of this parking ramp downtown, and me and a few of my homies threw all of them off the side of the ramp onto the street, and jetted. But the dumb part about that was I had put our phone numbers on the back of the flyers, so they called Cory and left an angry voice mail. But yeah. There’s a lot more but ill cut it off right there.

Q: BONUS FUN QUESTION: Audio Perm rolls deep-really deep. If you guys got to have an official “Crew Vehicle”, what kind of whip would it be? It has to be able to fit everybody.

A: If we had infinite money? Shiiit, a big ole huge ass bus. In real life? An old van will do fine, as long as we gettin’ where we gotta go.

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Lydia Hoglund

Singer-songwriter | Age: 18 | @broglundSoundCloud: /Lydia-hoglundwww.bombadeluz.com

Q: Bomba de Luz started as a band when you guys were pretty young, was that your first musical project?

A: Actually, yeah, the first musical project for sure. I had been writing songs but it wasn’t really anything I’d consider a project…That was just my beginning step, and then we started the band.

Q: Does your relatively young age ever serve as a barrier between you and the “adult” music scene?

A: You know, it really used to for sure. I think now that we’ve gotten more attention venues sort of pass it off with a “they’re young, they can bring in a bit of an older audience, let ‘em have their kicks, let ‘em play,” attitude. It’s really cool. It still does, there are times when we want to stay for a whole show, but it’ll be 21+ and we’ll have to leave immediately after we play. That’s always such a bummer.

Q: Can you credit anyone for inspiring your hustle? Your drive or ambition?

A: I’m gonna name drop, bro. But definitely Stef Alexander (P.O.S) has taught me to “write for yourself and if other people like it, rad”. But don’t do it for anyone else. Maybe write about life and the world and try to make some sort of change if you believe in it, but don’t write for everyone. That’s the coolest thing he’s ever taught me. That it’s my art, and if I like it, then I succeeded. A lot of drive also came from Big Quarters, Sean McPherson of Heiruspecs and Desdamona, they really pushed me and changed my life by believing in me and helping me so much. I’m forever grateful for them.

Q: Songwriting isn’t always an exact science, where do you draw your inspiration?

A: See this is what bums me out the most. I’m still learning how to put ideas down eloquently and put them into a form. A lot of my songs were very self-indulgent in the beginning, really about knowing myself and finding myself and expressing emotions, but now I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from movies and books. Since I do PSEO at McNally, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Brian Laidlaw and Jeremy Messersmith. One thing that really stuck out to me was from Jeremy. I was getting lunch and I ran into him at Jimmy Johns, and we walked back to McNally together, and we talked about movies. He told me that he had gone on a big old movie binge in college, or something like that, and it really helped him think of stories and stuff. So then I tried that…and it helped a lot. I probably haven’t not watched a movie at night for like…a month or two now. But they’re always those weird dramas on Netflix instant play that are always so bizarre you feel weird after watching them. But truly, I think life is where most people draw their inspiration, because life, being life, is extremely inspiring. So I draw most inspiration from life and relationships and friendships and memories and shtuff.

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Q: What’s one project you’ve definitely got in store for us this year?

A: Well, it’s a shaky ground right now. It’s a lot of time management and stuff. There will definitely be at least a single from my solo record, I’m currently working on that. I’ve been demoing songs for my project with POS, and we have no clue when that one’s going to come out because it’s going to be a big project we’re taking on. I’ve been writing for that for probably half a year now, making sure I’m happy with everything, and now I’ve moved on to demoing the songs and seeing if he likes them. I think he’s really standing back and letting me do my own thing, which is both scary and really cool that he trusts me with this. Then there’s another Bomba record happening, probably dropping beginning of next year? Something like that? It’s really weird, there are no set dates or plans. So…basically I have no idea. Something from all of those, probably. At least some little things, singles and such. Music videos, probably? Worst answer ever. Sorry dude. I’m pretty unsure of these things.

Q: What are Bomba de Luz’s goals for 2013?

A: New record! Music videos, playing some really awesome gigs and just having fun.

Q: We’re known across-the-board collaboration here in the TC, could you name one person you’ve always hoped to make music with or work with?

A: Sir, I have multitudes of people I’d like to work with. Definitely Dessa, and definitely Aby Wolf. They are such kind women and they have really inspired me in writing styles and in vocal techniques…I’m not too much of a nerd when it comes to technique but they definitely inspired me to try new things. So I’d love to work with them, and even like…doing a song with Trampled by Turtles or Brian Laidlaw, I seriously love, love, love working with everyone. That’s the best way to learn anything. Working with someone. Everyone has a different experience and something new to tell you and some new approach or way to help you. That’s how I’ve always learned best, going into the studio, doing something incredible on accident, and then feeling good about it for the rest of forever.

Q: As a songwriter-what does an ideal song do? Make people shut up? Sing along? Think? Get chills?

A: The ideal song just moves you. It doesn’t matter what it really sounds like it just has to move you. I think that’s different for everyone. When people are really moved they shut up and get the chills and think.

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Q: You get a shot to headline any venue, here or in any other place. Where’s your ideal place to play?

A: 100% Colorado Red Rocks, holy crap if I could stand on that stage for even a second…I would probably pee my pants out of excitement. I spent a lot of last year placing tender kisses on the floors of venues (I know, I know, it’s so gross). I didn’t kiss the First Avenue mainroom stage though, Jeff Buckley graced that stage (Get it? Grace? His album Grace?) and I was so honored to set foot upon that stage…But I should probably not kiss stages…That’s just asking for flesh eating diseases.

Q: You’ve got a hell of a voice: is there any part of your own singing that you’d like to improve upon this year?

A: Aw dude, thanks so much! I just want to be down to get weird with it and try new things. I spent the last two albums seriously in my comfort zone, so I’m trying to push it and try new styles!

BONUS QUESTION: If Bomba had to replace Central’s High School basketball team for a night, which position would you play? Who’d be the “fifth man”?

A: Dude, I am absolutely the worst person at sports in the history of man. It’s actually ridiculous. I’d probably just be a cheerleader and break all my leg bones trying to do the splits or something. The fifth man would be…Oh my gawh, what a hard question…Mark Mallman. Yeah, definitely Mark Mallman.

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Tyler Michaels

Actor | Age: 24 | www.TylerMichaels.com

Q: What are you involved with right now? (Includes jobs, volunteer work, other groups etc) Where and people see you perform?

A: Currently I am in Bye Bye Birdie out at Chanhassen Dinner Theaters which runs until March 30th. I am also one fifth of Bearded Men Improv. We perform every Friday night at 10:30pm at HUGE Theater. Off stage, I recently started coaching speech at Wayzata High school, as well as teaching a few improv classes around the cities. I am also an on-camera talent at Nuts ltd.

Q: What keeps you here in the Cities instead of trying to make it work as an actor in a bigger city like NY or LA?

A: Simply: I love it here. The theater community is full of the nicest and most creative artists I know of. It’s not cutthroat here (I’ve never been in the LA or NY scene but I hear that’s how it is); it is warm, and kind and supportive. I am able to focus on the projects that I want to create – I don’t think I’d be able to do that as easily in a bigger city. I think I’ll give it a try in New York eventually, but for now I am comfy here.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out around town?

A: I don’t have much time to hang out! Most of my free time is spent sleeping or driving from gig to gig. When I can, I find myself at HUGE Theater. They have cheap improv shows every night of the week aside from Tuesdays when they teach classes. Beer and wine bar, funny people, cheap entertainment… Can’t beat that.

Q: What was it like working with students from the U during Spring Awakening?

A: The U students were amazing. I immediately grew attached to all of them through our process. And damn, are they talented! We had such a great time working on the show. It was great to have the young roles in the show be age appropriate too. It made the production so much more volatile.

Q: What was playing Bat Boy Like? Not a part many people get to play…

A: Playing Bat Boy was one of my favorite on stage experiences ever. It was such a physical role – crawling around, jumping from cages, making horribly ridiculous noises- I find myself most at home on stage when I can use my body to the extreme. Bat Boy forced me to do that.

Q: What is it about improv or Bearded Men in particular that you are so attached to?

A: With improv I am able to perform in a completely different way than in a scripted play. You are constantly thinking on your feet. You are creating characters you would never have in a play. And you are creating every second you are on stage, that’s my favorite part. No other form of performance allows you to do that. I’ve been with Bearded Men since college when seven of us theater students founded the group. We’ve grown so much as performers and as people together. With the Beards, we have such a good sense of each other on stage and off, we are able to create some really great stories that are both funny and moving.

Q: What is the most memorable role you’ve played and why?

A: That’s a tough one. So many roles have affected me in varying ways. Since moving to the cities, I’d say playing Moritz in Theater Latte Da’s Spring Awakening is a big one. It was a great role to use the physical talents I possess, but it also pushed my dramatic acting ability to new and unexplored places. Emotionally it was one of the hardest roles to wrap my head around and get right, but the challenge was very exciting to me from the start.

Q: What are your plans for 2013? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: I’ve got a lot on my plate for the year ahead! I will be sticking around Chanhassen for a while to do Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from April to September. After that I’m set to work with Flying Foot Forum on their Alice in Wonderland Project. The Bearded Men will be premiering a pirate adventure improv set, Beards on the High Seas in March. I am also developing a comedic podcast with some of the Bearded Men that will hopefully have a summer release date.All in all, I am hoping to continue and expand my on-stage presence in the cities while beginning to develop some of my own personal projects that have been swirling around in my head for a while.

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Allegra Lockstadt

Illustrator | Age: 24 | @alockstadtwww.allegralockstadt.com,
www.yeahokaysure.com

Q: What are you involved with right now?

A: Several great freelance illustration projects and ongoing illustration work for Rookie (an awesome online magazine which is geared towards teenage girls). I also occasionally work on and off in MCAD’s gallery department aiding in gallery installation alongside a killer install team and awesome gallery director. The install position is very refreshing for me because it’s not very computer based and I get to use my hands and my brain in a very physical and spacial way to solve art installation problems. I also love that I get to meet with other artists and learn about their creative processes and their work.

Aside from client driven freelance work and working for MCAD, I also try to make and find time for my personal work and projects, yet these are always developing at quiet, glacial and meditative pace.

Q: What is it about drawing/illustration that interests you more than other art forms? Or do you just happen to be a great illustrator with a secret passion for sculpture or something?

A: In the illustration and creative communication world, I find that working with another person’s conceptual problem and maintaining a dialogue about that problem to find a visual solution was much more interesting to me than working alone in my studio on my own conceptual problems. The latter of the two has definitely aided the former, however I found that having to actively communicate my process and ideas with another was much more engaging to me.

I also love how illustration offers the challenge of trying to figure out how to clearly explain something in a way that is interesting without hitting an audience over the head conceptually. It’s a practice of practical visual semiotics and establishing a certain point of view: you have to use common visual cues and metaphors that communicate an idea clearly, but you also want to be sure to make sure that it’s interesting to an audience and isn’t too dry or trite in its delivery.

As for drawing, what I love most about it is trying to maintain high level accurate representation through abstract means-it’s a crazy process where you have to oscillate between different ways in which how your brain processes information: you have to go back forth between very objective thinking and very abstract thinking and you also have to be very able in activating this constant switch.

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Q: You’ve done illustrations for Rookie Mag which is super cool and you seem super pumped about. Is there another publication or writer that you have always wanted to work with?

A: Yes, working for Rookie has been super amazing and unbelievably cool-it has been an amazing opportunity that I am grateful for and the staff is just phenomenal to work with. Everyone who contributes to is very passionate and extremely driven.

There are other authors, publications, and projects that I do dream about working with, however, I try to keep my steering and direction somewhat loose since I love being surprised with unexpected projects. And although I welcome unexpected projects, I do try to seek out work that can challenges my abilities, allow me to learn, and also can offer this same unexpected and surprising experience. Lately, I’m finding that illustrating short stories and creative editorial pieces has been very fun and different for me.

Q: What music do you listen to while drawing and doing design work?

A: Podcasts galore. Seriously-they make things so much more interesting and I also feel that they keep my brain active. I love Radiolab, This American Life, 99% Invisible, and NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t tell Me. I’ve also recently fallen in love with Sam Weber’s podcast called Your Dreams are My Nightmares, in which he talks to several working professional creatives.

Q: Why are you currently living in the Twin Cities? What keeps you here?

A: Last year, I had actually made tentative plans to move to Toronto, in order to get a fresh perspective, be near some of my family, and to have overall different experience. Although I visited and loved Toronto, things started to really pick up in Minneapolis and I decided to give it a chance and see where it could go if I poured myself into it.

At the same time, I was also finally finding out who I was to the city as a working creative and what the Twin Cities had to offer. A lot of this came about from witnessing others do the same as well as forming new friendships with amazing local organizations and individuals who were orchestrating remarkable projects: groups such as Paper Darts, Works Progress, MCAD, Springboard for the Arts, Pollen, Coco Minneapolis and the entire Minnesota based creative and entrepreneurial scene. It was as if I was finally able to learn how to find my way and to make this a place for me to grow and find new experience in. It’s been really great and I’m very grateful for what the Twin Cities has offered me thus far.

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Q: Where are your favorite places to hang out around town?

A: Since I work so often I feel that most of my favorite places are very work related: as already mentioned I love working from Coco Minneapolis. I also love that I live near Uptown-the hustle and bustle makes me feel energized which is a definite must when you have a very quiet and solitary work-from-home-on-your- computer lifestyle.

I also try to make a point to get out and take short adventures around the metropolitan area when I can- everything from Museums to short regional road trips to national parks, roadside attractions and other cities and towns I haven’t been to. Taking these short mini vacations can be very refreshing for me-especially in the winter.

Q: If your life was made into a movie, who would you cast as yourself? Why?

A: Not sure, but I just googled actresses with intense dark eyebrows as a start.

Q: What are your plans for 2013? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: I always want to try to be better at doing something new and spontaneous-like travel or taking on projects that have formats that are completely new to me. Most of my goals also exist in order to motivate me into get things done professionally. Things like having the goal to update my website at least 2 to 3 times a year, or like trying to actively and thoroughly track my budget, resources and income from projects in order to see how and where things can improve and grow (especially after becoming more familiar with other creatives who have done this). I also want to be better about challenging myself with generating work that is very self initiated and a little more personal instead of focusing solely on client work.

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Lewis Mundt

Poet | Age: 23 | Facebook: /BeardPoetry@BeardPoetry

Q: What are you involved with right now?

A: I’m a cook at Maeve’s Café five nights a week. I’m a receptionist one night a week at Fluid Ink Tattoos in St. Paul. I created and host Mild Monday Open Mic on Mondays twice a month at Groundswell Coffee. I’m in my 3rd season coordinating and coaching the Hamline University Poetry Slam team. I’ve been a seasonal intern at the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth for the past four years, helping teach physics and theater. I’m one half of Sharkhooks, the other half being Cristopher Gibson, which is a performance/publication collective. I also do Beard Poetry, which was just my chapbooks, but I just released a chapbook called “THE LOVE HYPOTHETIC” by Anna Binkovitz. I run the merch table at the St. Paul Soap Boxing Poetry Slam. Then I also am a spoken word performer and I’m trying to tour.

Q: Why do all of this?

A: Part of it being, sadly, it’s because I just don’t know how to not work my ass off. I think that’s a big part of it. Another part of it is that I’m stimulated by being very busy and always having projects going, and it makes me really happy to do it. I think there’s a lot of value in putting energy into multiple outlets at a time.

I mean, it’d be super easy for me to go get a bank job. I might have to shave and cover my tattoos, but I could get a full-time bank job, pay my rent, write on the side, and start to pay back my student loans. But I think if I can make these things work and engage with the community more—whether that’s performing or cooking them sandwiches—I will feel more fulfilled, and the kind of things I want to do in the world are more accessible through those.

Q: You go by Beard Poetry on your Facebook page and Twitter, but what happens if you decide to shave your beard?

A: Hmm—you know, the Mayans have predicted it. And Lord knows what that actually looks like.

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Q: What does “Sharkhooks” mean?

A: I saw Wang Chung do a performance on TV a couple years ago and the announcer went up to them and was like, “Oh my God, thanks for the song! “Wang Chung,” you’ve been “Wang Chung” for so many years and no one ever has known what it means and now you’re kind of reuniting, you’re doing these performances, and we’re all wondering—what does “Wang Chung” mean?” And I don’t know their names, but one of the guys said, “Well, we have kept it a secret this long.” And that was all he had to say. Sharkhooks is kind of like that.

Sharkhooks is, functionally, what we call it when Cris Gibson and I do a show together, but it’s also kind of the name for our weird friendship. And it’s workshopping—it’s whatever else comes out of it.

We don’t really know.

Q: You have a tattoo that says, “Real Talk.” Does that by any chance have to do with the R. Kelly song?

A: [laughs] No. But yes. But no, not really. Absolutely—no.

“Real Talk” has become my life’s mantra and mission in the past year. It’s about honesty with the self, it’s about honesty with other people, and it’s about verbal and action integrity. It’s about making the world a less deceptive place to be in. But no, not R. Kelly.

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Q: Why are you currently living in the Twin Cities?

A: I love it. I think it’s an incredible community. The fact that it’s so supportive and—it’s not easy to get into the arts community that you want to be in, but there a lot of venues for it and if you really want to dedicate your self to it it’s extremely possible. I love that about the Twin Cities.

But I really have no plans to stay or leave.

Q: Do you have any big plans for 2013?

A: 2013 is going to be my first full year living without being in school. I’m interested to see how that works out. I really want to—I kind of did that thing that I assume everyone after undergrad does where they just kind of freak out for a second, can’t figure out what they need to do.

But I’m calling this—I’ve named it the year of the shift, 2013. My real goal with that is to rededicate myself to poetry and making it work even if that means a pay cut or something a little more confusing or something a little more unsteady.

So in terms of plans, I would like to turn Beard Poetry into a more legitimate small press. I would like to do some shows out-of-state, I’d love to do some feature shows out of town. And really work on opening the possibilities of spoken word to—we have an extremely strong spoken word scene here, most of which is centered around slams, and while I do—I value the slams, I work with a slam—I would like to see what else can be done with spoken word and collaboration in the Twin Cities.

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Molly Davy:

Publisher | Age: 23 | Facebook W O M A N H O U S E zine

Q: So tell me about the history and the inspiration behind Womanhouse, the zine you self-publish.

A: The inspiration came in my first art history class in college. Womanhouse is a sort of performance feminist art piece from the 1970s. The first issue was also inspired by a print by this artist Louise Bourgeois who I really like. She and Womanhouse inspired me to make something feminist, and then also at the same time a of my friends at St. Kate’s were writing amazing things, especially essays for class that were not necessarily recognized by anyone outside of academia. It felt like other people should have access to it. I realized through websites like Tumblr that people were writing things that didn’t have to be reserved for just one audience: either peers in school or their professors. I wanted to make another space for people to read something like that. Especially, a safe space where people wouldn’t think I would give them all these editorial problems. Unless something is totally ridiculous or offensive I’ll publish it.

Molly Davy 1 - by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Q: When does the next issue come out?

A: I’m publishing it this week. It will be the sixth issue.

Q: Are you excited about it?

A: Totally. It’s focusing in part on Azealia Bank, a female rapper with a lot of feminist critiques about her song “212.” There are a lot of different perspectives on it, four or five entries. Some coming from the more positive side, others saying that it’s feminist regression. It’s interesting, just to have a wide enough array of perspectives on it.
The other part of it too as a subject is feminism as commodity so the act of selling feminism by using it as a slogan on T-shirts and the profits around that and the ethical questions it raises.

Molly Davy 3 - by Heidi Bohnenkamp

Q: You’re also working on a publication called “Banquet.” Could you tell me more about that?

A: That’s really where my focus is right now. It’s going really well and I’m working with Titi Phan and Sophia Leenay. They both just graduated from the U. Titi does graphic design. Sophia comes from the activist side of things. She works for NARAL Pro-Choice and is part of the Women’s Student Activist Collective on campus at the U. And I kind of have the self-publishing, editorial writing part of things under control. We’re all bringing different things to the table and it’s basically a survey of activists and artists that are really interesting in Minneapolis, especially people we feel haven’t really gotten the attention or recognition that they deserve for the work that they’re doing. We want to make their work visible to everybody, to celebrate it.

Q: What are you excited about in 2013?

A: In the near future, we’re going to take both Womanhouse and Banquet to Chicago Zine Fest. That’s really the biggest celebration of self-publishing in North America. There’s Brooklyn Zine Fest, L.A. Zine Fest, Minneapolis’ too, but Chicago Zine Fest just takes up an entire building in downtown. It’s really well organized and there are people from all over the world. So that’s cool to get everything out and to represent Minneapolis there.
For the rest of the year, I’ll be working on Banquet. Banquet is also part of Permanent Wave, which is a feminist activist group with spaces already in Brooklyn and Philadelphia, also in the Bay Area and I think in Seattle. We want to start it up in Minneapolis. A lot of the stuff I do with Womanhouse is really behind the scenes, so I’ll be trying to do more community work and just trying to be more active to try to get all these different organizations together in one place so people who wouldn’t have previously collaborated will be encouraged to.

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Bobbi Dazzle

Bobbi Dazzle:

Drag Queen | Age: 24

Q: How was Bobbi Dazzle as an identity born?

A: Quite simply actually. Back when I worked at the Mall of America one of my favorite hobbies was to browse Sephora, a makeup store. This was back in 2010. And Urban Decay had just released a new eye shadow and it was called Bobbi Dazzle. I was just browsing the aisles and ran into Bobbi Dazzle, which was a nude and shimmery color. And I was like, hey, that’s just like me! So I started going by that and it caught on really fast. It was awesome.

Q: Tell me about your work performing in drag around the Twin Cities.

A: I’ve been performing in drag off and on for the past six years since my freshman year of college. For me, the line between drag and just a daily outfit is kind of blurry. What normal people call dressing in drag to me is just an extension of how I’m feeling that day and how I’m expressing one of my many gender identities, whether I’m performing on stage or not.

Q: You recently co-hosted a drag werqshop at a queer space in Minneapolis. Could you tell me about how that went?

A: The drag werqshop went really, really well. It was a collaboration between me and my drag sister Rug Burns. We wanted to see more new talent performing at our parties at queer spaces, which are usually weirdo drag performance dance parties. So we thought, why don’t we host a drag workshop for people who are new to performing or new to drag? The actual event consisted of mini presentations, like about what we find interesting about drag.
We brought both of our drag wardrobes and dumped them on the floor. Then we had a drag race, where everyone had three mintues to put together a look based on the huge pile of clothes on the floor. Then there was a character development portion where we could talk everyone through. A lot of other community members came in and did makeup tutorials. It was a wonderful, daytime event. We got four new performers at Pegasus that night.

Q: What is Pegasus?

A: Pegasus was started by a group I don’t know how long ago, maybe five or six years? The group was called the Revolting Queers. They were a radical queer organizing group in the Twin Cities that had these Pegasus parties at wherever would host them. The old Bedlam, for example. They’re always part dance party, part performance. The performances were usually pretty raunchy, anything goes. We decided since we were having a lot of issues since not every space is ok with nudity that wouldn’t it be great if we had a set space. Pegasus parties were really the impetus for us to search out and rent our current space, which has been around for two years.

Bobbi Dazzle2

Q: What do you have planned for the next year?

A: We definitely hope to throw more drag workshops. We want to bring in more performers from around the community in the Twin Cities to give their take on drag, what that means to them.
Let’s see, personally I’m sure I’ll be working on more Pegasus parties. They happen every other month. And with another friend of mine, I’ve helped create a queer goth dance night called Rectum. So we have a couple of Rectum planned events in March. It’s a queer goth dance party where we DJ all vinyl.
I don’t perform consistently anywhere. At Pegasus and at various drag towns. TYSN (Trans Youth Support Network) is putting on a drag show later next month and I’ll be performing at that one.

Q: What about your work with the Minnesota AIDS project? How did you get involved?

A: I started volunteering with them in college. Making safer sex kits and handing out safer sex kits at bars. I got my foot in the door that way and started applying for jobs there immediately after graduating and eventually I got one. I’m full time staff with pride alive, an HIV prevention program for gay and bi men in the Twin Cities. I do HIV testing around town, condom distribution and volunteer coordination.

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Kaleem:

Rapper | Age: 15 | @KaleemTheKingwww.TitanAdministration.com/Artists/Kaleem

Q: You have a family history with hip-hop, how old were you when you first started rapping? Do you remember what your first verse was about?

A: 6 years old. My first verse was about knocking wack rappers out [laughs].

Kaleem

Q: You’re a lot more skilled then most MC’s your age, have any secret training tips you can share?

A: Yes, you never have done your best. There is never a limit you can reach.

Q: Does your relatively young age ever serve as a barrier between you and the “adult” music scene?

A: Not really, but I do have boundaries.

Q: Can you credit anyone for inspiring your hustle? Your drive or ambition?

A: The Twin Cities Hip-Hop scene in general. We need to be heard and I wanna help make some noise.

Q: What’s your favorite way to get inspired to write a verse?

A: Listening to real dope beats, or really dope lyricists like Kendrick Lamar, Try Bishop, and Ab Soul.

Q: What’s one project you’ve definitely got in store for us this year?

A: I’ve got a collaboration project with my dad A.K.A. Mastermind called Apple Tree dropping on Father’s Day! As far as solo projects those are in process as well.

Q: Could you share some of your goals for 2013?

A: To actually build a fan base that loves my music

Q: We’re known across-the-board collaboration here in the TC, could you name one person you’ve always hoped to make music with or work with?

A: Jay-Z.

Q: As a rapper-what does an ideal verse do? Make people shut up? Sing along? Think? Get chills?

A: Think, and sing along as well.

Q: You get a shot to headline any venue, here or in any other place. Where’s your ideal place to perform?

A: First Ave!

BONUS FUN QUESTION: You dropped a video for “Body bag” last year. If you had an unlimited video budget, where would you shoot it? Who would you guest star be?

A: I would on a green screen actually, and my guest star would be Drake.

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Tish Jones - Uchefotography

Tish Jones:

Poet | Age: 25 | Facebook /TishJonesPoet

Q: What are you involved with right now?

A: I am the Founder, Executive, & Artistic Director of a budding nonprofit in the Twin Cities, TruArtSpeaks. My primary focus as the E.D. of TruArtSpeaks is organizing The (K.)N.E.W. MN Youth Slam Series. I host the Soul Sounds Open Mic in Saint Paul, a program of The Saint Paul Almanac. I am a member of S.P.E.A.C. at Hope Community in South Minneapolis. I am an African American and African Studies Major at the University of Minnesota.

Q: You recently posted about TruArtSpeaks on your Facebook page and started the blog, but what more can you tell us about that?

A: TruArtSpeaks is an arts based non profit that I have been developing since 2006. It is a dream of mine that is finally coming to fruition. The mission is as follows:

TruArtSpeaks utilizes elements of Hip Hop, Spokenword, and the arts to contest literacy and leadership, supporting a generation of vibrant young voices as they make their claim on the world. We provide a platform for youth to find, develop, study, and share their stories in safe spaces. TruArtSpeaks dares participants to give back and become agents of the change they seek, while remaining students of the culture and histories past.

Q: A lot of spoken word artists seem to be community organizers, activists, and educators too, as you yourself are—why do you think that is?

A: In regard to this question, I can only speak to myself and the folks that I know personally. That said, Amiri Baraka has already summed it up. He said its “…in the tradition.”

Q: You are the Community Engagement Director for the St. Paul Almanac and live in that half of the Twin Cities—so what do you find special about that city? Why should Minneapolis people get over there once in a while?

A: I am no longer the Community Engagement Director for The Saint Paul Almanac [ed. note: The Saint Paul Almanac should change the contact info on their website]. Saint Paul is a beautiful city. It has a rich sense of history that vibrates through the bones of every street. It is a city that is bursting with promise and opportunity and it is backed by a community of family and friends with the know how to make things happen for the city, its inhabitants, its heritage, and its legacy.

Q: On a larger scale, why are you currently living in Minnesota? What keeps you here?

A: This is my home, my base, and I have not yet been called to leave.

Q: Who are some poets/rappers/performers in the Twin Cities that you think people should be paying attention to?

A: One of my favorite young poets, from Saint Paul, Mayo. He is one of the most honest and authentic artists that I have encountered in a long time. I could listen to his work all night.

An emcee, The Lioness. Another truth spitting lyricist from the Twin Cities who is truly honoring the legacy of female emcees in the Hip Hop Arena.

Nazeem. Also an up and coming emcee in the Twin Cities.

And lastly, singers, Gabrielle Samone and Ashley Dubose. Two women who write color filled stories that take me back to the singers (storytellers) of old. Not to mention the fact that their voices are out of this world.

Q: Where can people see you perform?

A: I host an open mic every week in Saint Paul. The Soul Sounds Open Mic at Golden Thyme Cafe, 921 Selby Avenue from 6-8p

Q: What are your plans for 2013? What do you hope to accomplish?

A: Honestly, I just want to smile. I plan to enjoy being a student, to stay in the community and continuing being filled by the stories of my people, and to see that MN has a youth slam team representing at BRAVE NEW VOICES summer of 2013.