Posts tagged interview

Prior to following Mac for his photography which entails clean action shots and footage of New York’s skate culture. It came to my attention that he’s involved in other intriguing projects as well. After buying fabric for Adsum, he came across New York based brand under Japanese textile company, Paper Project where He later found himself photographing their product developed with paper yarn, as well as running photo and video for creative shop The Real Travel Agency with friend Zach Cohn. I got a chance to talk more with Mac about these projects and more during quarantine outside of New York and in his hometown in Ohio.

(S) Tell us about yourself.

(M) I’m 28. I grew up in Xenia, Ohio on a farm. It’s the town that the movie Gummo is about. So it’s pretty strange but I had a good childhood. I grew up around Alien Workshop and Habitat Skateboards. Mike Hill and Joe Castrucci really played a big role in framing how I see and do things. I currently live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with my girlfriend Kristine.

Two years ago, I started a little creative and strategy agency with my friend Zack Cohn called The Real Travel Agency. The point is to do creative projects for brands the way we want to do it – DIY, personal, and quick. So we work with a couple clients and also do our own conceptual videos and small batch products. It’s an excuse and outlet for creative ideas that aren’t skating related.

(S) Tell us a little more about Paper Project. 

(M) When I was working for Adsum, we were buying fabric from this guy Takashi who runs the US office of a Japanese fabric mill. He’s the coolest, nicest guy. We kept in touch, I’d talk to him about surfing and stuff. A few months ago, he told me about a small brand that the company had started called Paper Project and he asked me if I could come in to talk about shooting photos. One thing led to the next and now Travel Agency is fully invested in trying to grow the brand with them. The quality of the product is insane and they can basically make anything you can imagine. The team is amazing and really let me have a ton of creative control. So I’ve been shooting and doing little creative projects with friends to create a foundation for them. Now, I’m in the middle of figuring out a plan to keep things going during shut down. It’s been a bit hard to shoot photos and the supply chain is messed up.

(S) Looking forward to seeing more of Paper Project in the near future. What projects are you working on back home?

(M) I’ve been back in Ohio for the last few weeks with my girlfriend so we’ve had a ton of projects. Zack and I are working on a couple small batch products for Travel Agency. I have been natural dyeing t-shirts over a fire with osage orange saw dust. We are also making a mug, a pin, and some other videos. I’ve been helping my dad harvest some of the trees on the farm that are dead and processing the wood. Kristine and I made some cutting boards out of the tree from our front yard. It was fun to take her through her first woodworking project. I’m also going out and skating/shooting photos with the Hulkrips guys which has been fun because they are skating the most insane spots in Cincinnati.  

(S) Keep us posted on your t-shirts and woodwork we would love to see the end product of these projects! I’ve seen a lot of folks working on new things and picking up new hobbies during this time. Have you found yourself doing the same?

(M) We processed natural clay from the side of the creek on my family’s farm and are in the middle of teaching ourselves how to make and fire ceramics. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s fun to learn. We dug the clay out of the side of a hill near the creek with a pick ax. Then we dried it in the sun for a few days. Then we smashed it until it was pulverized into dust. We filtered it through a screen and then added water. We’ve made a few test pieces that will need to dry for about two weeks. Then we have to figure out how to fire them in a fire pit. Fingers crossed that everything doesn’t just explode. 

(S) What does your day to day in quarantine look like? 

(M) I don’t have a super interesting or regular routine. I wake up around 8 and get a cup of coffee. I usually do computer work for a few hours. If people are skating, I’ll go meet up around noon or one. If I’m not skating, sometimes I’ll be editing videos for work or shooting product for Paper Project. Or I’ll be helping my dad with something around the farm. 

Then it’s making dinner with the family. And then either more work, something creative or movies at night. 

We’ve been going on evening bike rides or doing some yoga but it’s nothing regular. 

(S) What music are you listening to these days?

(M) I have a pretty extensive podcast list but I have tried to chill out on it a bit. The political stuff like Citations Needed and Chapo are pretty stress inducing. Throwing Fits is funny and completely superficial so it’s relaxing. 

Music wise, I’ve had a great time listening to music super loud and not in my headphones, either from the speakers next to my computer or in the car. Gene Clark Alice Coltrane, Robert Wyatt. I always try to listen to entire albums all the way through. I usually pick an artist that I kind of know and listen to entire albums that I know nothing about. Like Roberta Flack, I’ll go and listen to 4 of her albums straight just so i know i’ve heard it. My friend Brian Goodhart has been making some good playlists. And I’ve also been listening to the daddies brothers’ Elara radio. 

Follow to see more of Mac Shafer’s upcoming projects on Instagram @mac_shafer


I met YL the summer of 2017 and through the years seen him build a name for himself New York and worldwide with 7 albums since his first Open 24 which released February 2017 to his latest Alone Time which released during the rise of New York’s quarantine pandemic in April 2020. YL has worked along side Starker, Zoomo, Mid and Theravada of New York and Yung Morpheus and Pink Siifu of Los Angeles. I got a chance to speak with him to see what he’s been up to over the bridge in Manhattan during this time.

(S) Tell us about yourself.

(YL) I’m YL, I’m Ecuadorian, born and raised in Chelsea, Manhattan. I’m a producer, writer and engineer Living in New York.

(S) Let’s talk about influences who inspires you?

(YL) I am inspired by a lot of older music especially the golden age of hip-hop such as Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang, Madvillain, J-Dilla and Blu. I was able to piece together my own sound when I heard their music. Growing up i resonated with their work because of the human approach they took with their lyrics. They were able to tap into different pockets of life and point of view outside of the regular get money shit.

(S) I’ll start off by saying Congratulations on your recent album Alone Time, the sample on Been Gone is mad nostalgic. Did you have plans to release this in April despite quarantine? 

(YL) I didn’t have a set date plan when I thought of the concept of this album but I had the title already written down in my notes and picked it before quarantine started picking up in New York. The idea of an album came to mind after 2 days of recording a bunch of shit and just felt the urge to put it out immediately during these circumstances.

(S) What is your favorite track on the album?

(YL) The last track “You Not Invited To The BBQ” produced by Brainorchestra. It encompasses the vibe of the whole album. Although every song is a piece of my personality, this one really hit home for me. When the words come to me quick I know I’m making something special and honest. I don’t have to think so much about what I’m saying. Once I got the beat I knew it was the missing piece to the album.

(S) I see that you are a current resident with NTS radio and recently featured on New York’s HOT97 late night show with listeners tuned in around the world which I can imagine hearing yourself on the radio is crazy. When did this start for you? 

(YL) I was putting out mixes on my Soundcloud a couple years back after I got hip to DJ Sofie. I did my first mix for them in 2017 right before Open 24 dropped, so I’m coming up on 3 years with them. 

My Hot97 feature happened after my album Smoke with Staker and DJ Skizz. My boy Mark from Topshelf Premium heard the album and sent a few tracks to Peter Rosenberg, who runs the Late night special. It’s been huge for me being that I’m from New York and been listening to Hot97 since I was a kid. It still takes time for it to settle in but I’m hype.

(S) How are you keeping busy during this time in lockdown?

(YL) I been on this inside vibe for a minute now. I have a studio in the crib and been making a lot of music. I’ve been trying to read more, maintain a balanced diet but most importantly found myself closer with my family. I kinda took that for granted before, but now I’m not able to see them all the time I’m trying harder to keep our relationship close.

(S) What does your daily routine look like?

(YL) I’m an early riser these days. I roll up, run errands, finish songs and features on my busy days but I also like to cook, watch movies, tap into new things and chill.

(S) What are your hobbies outside of making music. If any?

(YL) I like shopping. I like clothes and sneakers. I like going out with friend and being around people whether it’s getting food or going to shows. Don’t matter what we do I just like kicking it.

(S) What’s RRR who is involved?

(YL) RRR is the foundation. It stands for Real Recognize Real. It consists of myself, Mid, Zoomo and Starker with extended members who’ve become our family. RRR was already the squad name before anyone did music. But as far as the music side, it’s just us. Initially Mid founded RRR and I started off filming videos for him on my camcorder when he started rapping. Then I started rapping, met Starker a couple years later then Zoomo clicked up 2 years ago and now it’s a squad.

(S) Are you currently working on any upcoming projects?

(YL) In the immediate future I’m going to be dropping a few more singles on all streaming platforms. I currently have the limited edition vinyl for Alone Time being pressed up, but most importantly I am currently in the process on finishing up my album Jesus is My Homeboy that I started last year. It’s gonna be a real community affair just as far as all the different people I have on it that heads aren’t gonna expect. Definitely gonna be my largest body of work to date and I’m just ready for people to soak it in and live with it.

Follow to see more of YL upcoming projects on Instagram @youngwhy

Photo Credit: Derek Balazero

Stephanie De La Rua

I met Shaira one evening of spring 2016 in the Lower East Side which turned out to be one of those never ending downtown nights, to this day brings back so much nostalgia every time it crosses my mind. Through the years she has become a community organizer, activist, curator and mother as well as photographing her peers and nightlife events in New York City. Her recent work was shown on the opening of “The Living Room Kitchen” curated by Kiara Cristina at the Andrew Freeman Home in the Bronx in February 2020.

(S) Tell us about yourself.

(SC) My name’s Shaira Chaer. I was born and still reside in the Bronx, New York City. I’m an activist, strategist, photographer, writer and mom. 

(S) How are you keeping busy during Quarantine?

(SC) Quarantine hasn’t changed much of my routine. With a toddler, you have to set a routine – mostly for them to follow – and it’s been easy for me to keep going because I have the privilege of working from home. I have found more time to do mindless things like watch movies (on a quest to watch as many A24 films as possible), write poetry, and consider what new ways I can be creative. 

(S) I’ve been following your work for quite sometime and notice a lot of your photos are focused on New York City punk shows and underground raves. When did you get into the scene?

(SC) I’ve been taking pictures since my mom gifted me my first camera at 8, and had been going to shows ever since I was in high school, so putting the two together was second nature to me. With a team of queer folks of color, No Flowers for YT Powers was created in 2017 and we’ve been hosting underground hardcore punk shows and poetry nights ever since. Raving has become more accessible in the recent years – mostly because of collectives like DisCakes, Melting Point and Outlaw – and it became the place where I could just blend in and be myself. No one watches you in the dark. And I think that’s where the magic is, right? My work reflects a moment in time – watching people experience and express joyful moments on the dance floor, heavy bass, flashing lights, and writhing bodies. It isn’t rehearsed or performed. Dreams also influence my work, that’s where my obsession to create colorful landscape in my photographs are from. I try to capture moments in nightlife that make the person looking at my photos feel like they’re there. And now that the pandemic has changed New York City nightlife in ways we have yet to see, sharing my archived work hopefully provides an escape, even if it’s just for a blip in time. 

(S) Have you been able to focus on any upcoming projects?

(SC) If the public hasn’t seen them, does that make them new? I was hoarding a lot more work than I thought over the last year, so I’ve been taking a deeper look into my photo archives to see if I’ve missed anything that I could use for future projects; since the pandemic put nightlife out for the foreseeable future, I don’t think I’ll be touching my camera again any time soon. I have been avoiding getting in front of the camera but I’m finally gonna work on a self-portrait series with my one-year-old daughter. It’ll be called MAPI – which is mama and papi put together. There’s a question of how overlooked feminine labor, or home keeping is. It’s been documented to be worth over $1 trillion, which is wild to me. I have a full time job, try to be an active and nurturing parent, write or work on my art and organizing cultural events, but there is so much more expected of me just because I am a mother. In the early months, folks totally forgot about me and just pressed me about the baby. I felt neglected, lonely and not like myself for quite some time. Now that I’m sort of out here again, people are coming out the woodwork to ask me to do shit for them. Man, I’m still growing and changing and I need to be seen as my own person and not just an extension of my child, or an extension of my relationship with her father – I’m more than just the roles I play in people’s lives! And I hope MAPI will dig into the complexity of parenthood as a queer polyamorous person, critique capitalism, and affirm every part of my gender expression, which is always changing. 

(S) What are you listening to these days?

(SC) Gotta shout out the homie Adrian AKA H.B.I.C. I bump their latest release más duro pretty often. I’ve been bumping “no indictments/hang yourself.” It’s a song for the times, especially as more news pours in about police brutality towards people of color in the NYPD’s pandemic response, the extrajudicial killings of Black folks like Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and trans femmes like Layla Peláez and Serena Angelique Velázquez in Puerto Rico – I’ve been sitting with a lot of rage and frustration, so this track helps me move through the feelings. (Fun fact, I shot the cover for the EP.)

(S) What are some examples of self care that you are practicing during quarantine?

(SC) I’m practicing empathy for myself. On hard days, I try to make sure I’m being as real with myself on the things I can realistically accomplish. There’s a meme going around that is challenging folks not to fall for the trap of needing to feel like they’re being productive because the world we had two months ago is not the one we exist in now. I’m trying to incorporate that in my daily life and kill the boss in my head. 

Follow more of Shaira Chaer’s work on Instagram @shairacnyc

-@stephaniedelarua

interview by Stephanie De La Rua

I got a chance to chat with São Paulo based tattoo artist Alexandre Assal during Quarantine to talk about music, tattoos, his influences and how he’s keep busy during this time.

(S) Tell us a little about yourself.

(A) My name is Alexandre da Fonseca Al-Assal, I’m a 25 year old tattoo artist. Born and raised in São Paulo. Many Brazilians have different miscegenations, my family is Lebanese, Portuguese and indigenous which created a multicultural atmosphere upbringing.

(S) Brasil is definitely on my travel list! Excited to learn more about subculture of São Paulo. When did you start tattooing, what was the reason behind this choice?

(A) Since I was a kid drawing has always been a thing in my life, but to me it was something that used to keep me calm and concentrated. Later in my life I started to listen to hip-hop and hardcore music which developed an attraction to graffiti and tattoos-since most artist of this culture had tattoos. When I turned 15 I was looking for ways to make some money through my art work. I did illustrations and mural work but it wasn’t my thing it wasn’t turning out to me. In 2013 when I turned 18 I went knocking door to door on tattoos studios to find an apprenticeship which was pretty hard til I found a studio near my neighborhood, which was a dream coming true however the owner was struggling with crack and cocaine addiction, so after six months I left it and started working on my own.

(S) I agree, I also developed an attraction for tattoos through music and the media especially when i tapped into photographers such as Estevan Oriol in my teens. I see you have developed a style in tattooing for yourself with heavy single needle line work and Chicano influences. Who inspired your style and is it popular in Brasil?

(A) Well Brasil, specially in São Paulo, is heavily influenced by hip-hop, skate culture and rap was becoming really popular in the early and mid 2000s when I was growing up, as well as a lot of popular artist and football players were starting to get heavily tattooed most of them with black and gray lettering and Japanese. I think those styles became popular because it looks good on brown and darker skin and that made it very popular on teenagers especially on periphery communities and I kept digging into it til i found out about California and Chicano culture. I automatically related to because being Latino I didn’t feel represented by the American traditional tattooing and those aesthetic we’re already around me.

(S) Love to see how California and Chicano culture reached Brasil! Some of my tattoos are cutty old english letters that were done in my boys Brooklyn basement those are my favorite. So much style. I see that your also incredibly talented illustrator as well are you currently working on any new projects during time outside of the shop due to Quarantine? 

(A) Due to the quarantine situation my income was hit pretty hard since I’m not able to tattoo as I used to, so I’m looking for ways to get some money to afford my living, such as focusing on painting panos and some comissioned work too.  I’m also taking this time to put some ideas in place I’m starting to think about an art show with some friends of mine and work on my own merchandise when I’m able to do so.

(S) We’re lucky to have this time to focus on future projects for sure. You’ll have to keep us updated when your merch is released though we can agree that these are crazy times. What does your day to day look like in Brasil and have you been able to practice a routine?

(A) As Brasil is a third world country things are looking pretty bad in a nearby future which has impact a lot on my mental health and anxiety issues, so at the moment I’m trying to maintain by keeping myself calm and focused on a short time period, like stretching, cooking and reading to refresh myself. At the beginning of quarantine I was pretty messy with my routine like going to sleep at 5am waking up in the middle of the afternoon but in the last month I got more organized and started to follow up a routine with work exercises and self care.

(S) I feel this completely. I definitely hit a wall in the beginning and had to build up a routine for myself as well but as soon as this is over all i want to do is travel. Do you have any plans on coming to visit America when this is over and where would you like to visit first and why?

(A) I was planning to visit USA by August this year, but unfortunately the pandemic made me postpone it to the next year maybe. I would like to go to NY and LA especially because it’s where a lot of my references are such as tattoo but also in music as well. I also would try to get an upgrade on my equipment since things are way cheaper in the United States.

(S) We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for you coast to coast next year that’s mad exciting!  Do you have any hobbies outside of tattoos?

(A) I used to photograph a lot in the past years but I lost my camera in a trip to Paraguay and never had the money to buy another one nowadays I’m really into music and I live with a friend that is a DJ and he’s currently teaching me a lot about turntables and I have been collecting records for a couple of years.

(S) Photographing and documenting is everything to me as you know but i am music head myself and i always wanted to learn more about DJing as well! With that being said, what is your favorite genre and what are you listening to these days?

(A) Brasil is one of the richest country’s when it comes to music we have like a universe of genres and styles so I definitely would say that Brazilian music in general is what gets me the most. I grew up listening to Samba which is popular Brazilian regional music to Bossa Nova. Right now I’m digging into old soul music samples and Brazilian soul music is one of the things that I listen to most.

Follow more of Alexandre Assal work on Instagram @alexandre.assal

(S) Who are you, where are you from and
what you do?


(K) Hola, hi, hello, i’m Krizzo,
i reside in Los Angeles, CA, & i create art,
digital illustrations, and i’m also
a freelance graphic designer.


(S) How are you keeping busy during
Quarantine? Have you found yourself able
to establish a routine?


(K) Honestly i’ve been working on my
art more ever since miss rona showed up
and we had to quarantine. I’ve always
had a routine i stuck to religiously
pre-quara but changed drastically ever
since this all happened, so me being the
virgo that i am i adapted & created
a new one which took some time to get
used to but i like now.

(S) Have you found yourself working on
any projects and if yes, would like
to share with us?


(K) Yes, definitely more personal artworks
and also partook in my first ever
3D augmented reality art exhibition
which was as cool and fun as it sounds
& is available to view til the end of
May at: staygallery.org/human

(S) What are some examples of self care
that you are practicing during quarantine?


(K) 1 of the biggest forms of self-care was
actually the change in routine due to
quarantine surprisingly,
another is jogging (participating in safe
distancing ofc), walking my dog, and
a lot of sunbathing
which i’ve found to double as meditation
because it’s kept me at peace w/ the
world and myself,
and i get to tan so it’s a win/win.


(S)What inspires you/your work?


(K) Movies are definitely a monumental
inspiration for me, my daily walks w/ my
dog and when i buy my coffee—
i document anything i find interesting
on my walks be it cloud shapes,
the chipped paint on a car from a detail
job, graffiti in my neighborhood, the
“buff’s” brush strokes
when they cover up the graffiti, etc.,
things of that nature; big fan of my
environment.

stay tuned for upcoming interviews by Stephanie De La Rua