Monday, April 20, 2015

Zainab Hasnain

Photo Courtesy Of  Zainab Hasnain

DJ ZEEMUFFIN, HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN? START FROM THE CRADLE
I was born in Lahore, Pakistan and came over to the States when I was five. The earliest memory of an album I loved was probably “Dookie” by Green Day. I had a huge love for punk, indie and rock music, and then eventually fell in love with hip-hop when I was in middle school. It was N.E.R.D and The Neptunes that helped bridge the gap between rock and rap for me. I remember playing “In Search of.” and “Clones” over and over again. Then I became obsessed with G- Unit, De La Soul and so on. Not many people know this but I played viola for like 13 years. That was fun, but I really loved the drums, and picked them up when I was 11 or 12. Then I started messing around on the guitar.

I was always going to shows as early as I can remember. I was never the "cool kid" in high school and never went to parties. My sister and I would go to shows in the city instead whenever we got the chance. We would camp outside Bowery Ballroom for the Kooks, or get fake I.D.'s so we could see the Arctic Monkeys at Hammerstein Ballroom- that was the thrill for me. When I got into college I wanted to learn how to produce and DJ but didn’t know where to start and also didn’t really allow myself to take it seriously because my parents were paying for me to study something “real”. After college though, I got a job in banking and paid for a class at Dubspot and then purchased my first set of turntables when I was 20. I just knew I wanted to express my love for all types of music by telling a story of how these songs and artists connected in my head. I’ve always been fascinated with telling stories through sound.

YOU’RE ALSO AN NYU GRADUATE, WHAT WAS YOUR MAJOR?
I majored in Politics and double-minored in Economics and Business Studies. I was an investment banker for a short period of time after school and held other jobs at startups after that. Needless to say, it totally sucked and I would always spend a majority of my time on music blogs or Wikipedia reading about music. I'm still very passionate about world politics though, you can see how opinionated I am on my Twitter.

WHO’S THROWING THE BEST PARTIES IN NEW YORK AT THE MOMENT?
Man I still have to give it to Venus X. Her Ghettogothik parties are still one of the only authentic parties remaining in New York. I’m going to add in a little shameless self-promotion in here too. I just started a new weekly party with Jillioniare of Major Lazer, Richie Beretta and Jay White on Tuesday’s at Kinfolk in Williamsburg. Look out for that. It’ll be nuts.

YOU RECENTLY CREATED AN EXCLUSIVE MEDLEY FOR THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2015,  HOW DID THIS VENTURE COME ABOUT?
When I worked at a digital agency for a brief period of time, I worked on a project with Tribeca Film Institute for the Nas documentary, “Time Is Illmatic”. After leaving the agency I was still good friends with the folks over there since they loved my work I did for the social side of the film. A person high up there follows me on Instagram and reached out to me because he was loving my photos of Lahore. He told me he wanted to do something with them and Tribeca. I met with the Tribeca team and brainstormed on the piece together and the rest was history. I knew I wanted to do something with my experience there regardless, and I was lucky enough to have an incredible institution like Tribeca reach out to me and provide a greater platform for the story I wanted to tell through words, sounds, and photos. It was the first time I was able to combine many of the mediums of expression I enjoy and turn it into something meaningful and close to my heart. I think that’s really tough to do and Tribeca made it really easy, which I'm eternally grateful for.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MIX SET OF ALL TIME?
That’s a tough one! It’s impossible to pick a favorite mix - I have too many favorites. For the sake of brevity I’ll go with Jackmaster’s Mastermix from 2014. That was an insane mix and really showed me that you can pretty much blur the lines of producer and DJ if your song selection and mixing are on point.

WHAT’S THE MC's ROLE IN POPULAR CULTURE?
Well Kendrick has sort of set the bar to show us how someone can transcend being a rapper and become a voice for a generation. I really think America is going through another civil rights era/movement and “Pimp a Butterfly” is the soundtrack for that. He’s one of the most important voices out there period. Someone like that can show you how art can insert itself into the narrative of our present day culture and shift the conversations we are having amongst each other. MC's have the power to make the world more conscious of their own surroundings - not a lot of artists care about that factor or think it's "cool" to be conscious, but Kendrick has showed everyone how it's done. He talked about meaningful things and didn't do it in a corny way. King Kunta is deep, but it's also a banger. How many people can do that?

AS FAR AS DJs GO, WHO’S THE BADDEST BITCH OR MITCH IN THE GAME?
Baddest Bitch/es: Louisahhh, Jubilee, Anna Lunoe and Venus X. And Baddest Mitch: too many to pick from. Jacques Greene and Q-Tip are crazy good live.

WHAT’S ON YOUR PERENNIAL TO-DO LIST AND WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO OUTSIDE OF THE MUSIC SCENE?
Music is just the start for me. I want to write a book, direct a film, start a clothing line and build my own creative agency and record label. My mom always tells me I don’t have a focus. I think it’s because I just want to express myself in as many ways as possible! One thing at a time though.

ON A SEPARATE NOTE, YOUR SENSE OF STYLE NEEDS TO BE DISSECTED AND DISCUSSED. WALK US THROUGH YOUR CLOSET
Why thank you. For me, style is all in the details. I don’t think expensive equals stylish. I think it's all about dressing in a way that makes you feel confident and sexy, and that’s different for everyone. I used to buy trendy things but recently I’ve just been wearing a lot of sneakers, kimono’s and jewelry. I like to keep the clothes themselves simple but wear crazy sneakers, or a headpiece, or one item like a blazer that pops out. I love buying vintage things and pairing them with more modern items. Sneakers are everything.

WHAT SHOULD EVERY WOMAN TRY AT LEAST ONCE IN HER LIFE?
Every woman should try loving herself more. It’s the hardest thing to do. It’s also the most important.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Book & Movie

Photographed By Ellinor Forje


"Liya did a great job. I met her in the 1990's at a party at Iman's apartment in New York City. I was at the peak of my career and Liya was a beginner. She starred at me all the time and then introduced herself. Ten years later, she became a supermodel herself and played me in the movie," said Waris Dirie. Besides the fact that Liya Kebede is perfect for the role, I'm wondering, "Who else was at that party?"

"Desert Flower" (2009), is based on an autobiography written by Dirie. Elton John bought the rights to the book shortly after it was published in 1997. However, the author and acquirer didn't agree on the script leading Dirie to sign with German Academy Award winner Peter Hermann instead. The premise centers around Dirie, whose name literally means desert flower, and her escape from an arranged marriage which forces her to run through the barren lands of Somalia to England. After a time of trials and tribulations she eventually becomes a model in London, and resumes her life as a nomad by moving between Paris, London, Milan and New York. Glamorous as it may seem, her traumatic past remains present.

Dirie who was completely involved in the production says, "I was shocked and burst into tears when I saw it the first time. It's very hard to see your own life in a film." The film is hard to watch, and the book even harder to read, although I recommend you do both. And I'll back up my advice. Several years ago in Boston, after a George Michael concert, I noticed a guy wearing a t-shirt with the sentence "Stop Male Genital Mutilation" written at the back. This sparked my curiosity as to whether the letters "F" and "E" were written somewhere in the front. After a swift semi stalker-ish maneuver made to appear like I was walking towards the lad away from the hall, I discovered that they weren't. Instead there was a sentence that read "If it's not okay for girls, then it's not okay for boys."

After initiating a conversation, I was informed that John Doe was discontent with the reality of his parents  decision to circumcise him without his permission or approval. And if there was movement advocating for women then one should exist for men, too. Then he blamed the Africans, Jews, Arabs, colonial rule, the post-world war immigrants, the Abrahamic religions, Roswell 1958, the government and the cosmetic industry for their continued scheme.

“Cosmetics, like lipstick you mean?”

“No, creams that women rub on their faces to prevent them from getting wrinkles.”

Even though he was on a mission to raise Cain, I decided to Listen Without Prejudice.

With that said, the procedures are not comparable. Female circumcision is ultimately about control, or as Dirie explains it, “FGM is a crime against women. It destroys female sexuality and self-determination.”

Monday, April 13, 2015

Waris Dirie

Photo Courtesy Of Waris Dirie 

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE “DESERT FLOWER” AND THE BOOKS THAT FOLLOWED?
Friends of mine convinced me to write a book about my life. They supported me through the process. Afterwards, no publisher wanted my story. I almost printed the book on my own expenses and giving it free of charge to schools and universities. In the end a publisher in New York bought the script and sold 12 million copies. After this every publisher in the world wanted to publish books by me.

YOUR LIFE PLAYS OUT LIKE A MODERN DAY CINDERELLA STORY, A FAIRY TALE. YOU’RE MYTHOLOGICAL ALMOST. IS THIS AN ADVANTAGE IN YOUR WORK OR ARE YOU OVERWHELMINGLY ABSTRACT TO THE PEOPLE YOU’RE TRYING TO REACH THROUGH YOUR FOUNDATION?
I‘ve had a lot of luck in my life, and I‘m very grateful. I don‘t see myself as a mythology, rather as a hard working woman with a mission. Fame serves as an advantage to spread a message, if you have one.

WHY DOES THE PRACTICE OF FGM (FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION) PERSIST DESPITE THE UNETHICAL AND MEDICAL ISSUES INVOLVED?
Because people are ignorant. Ignorance is the worst and most difficult attitude to eradicate.

CAN A PERFECT STATE OF GENDER EQUALITY TRULY EXIST (ESPECIALLY AS SOME MEN MAY BE UNDER THE IMPRESSION IT MEANS A CARTE BLANCHE TO NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR DINNER)?
Absolutely! This is the goal. I can pay for my dinner myself.

HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR DAY-TO-DAY AS YOU’RE ENGAGED IN SEVERAL PROJECTS SIMULTENOUSLY?
I get up early in the morning and I have a very good team at my Desert Flower Foundation.

HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU DID YOUR FIRST EVER FASHION SHOW OR PHOTO SHOOT?
It was pretty easy. They take pictures of you, fly you to beautiful places, and you’re getting paid for this. It‘s an easy way to make money.

HOW DID YOU COPE UNDER THE PRESSURES OF BEING A MODEL AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE SIZE ZERO CONTROVERSY IN THE INDUSTRY?
I never felt pressure as a model. I was the one who made pressure. Size zero is stupid and invented by idiots. Good food to me is more important than a modelling job.

WHAT HOBBIES DO YOU HAVE OUTSIDE OF YOUR PROFESSION?
Sports, music and painting.

WHAT IS TIMELESS STYLE AND HOW DOES ONE ACHIEVE IT?
Don’t care about the others. Wear what you like – then you are timeless.

HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR FLAWLESS SKIN AND STUNNING FIGURE, SURELY YOU’VE FOUND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH AND REFUSE TO TELL?
Olive oil is the best body lotion. You can get it in every supermarket. That is my secret.

Mixing It Up

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Natasha Tsakos

Photo Courtesy Of Natasha Tsakos

YOU’RE A SWISS MISS WHO LIVES IN FLORIDA AND IS INTO TECHNOLOGY, CORRECT? ELABORATE
I am a Swiss terrestrial of Hellenic heritage living in the tropics plotting a moonshot.

IS MIAMI BEACH STILL MIAMI BEACH?
Define "still"? Latitude: 25°48′46.89″N. Longitude: 80°8′2.63″W. Still on the map!

If you listen closely you’ll hear the city’s drum beats, start-up frenzy, and parrots' squawk.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE ART AS A CAREER?
Theatre pursued me. I was five in a closet with books, shoeboxes, imagination and a flashlight. The rest is a story in the making.

WHAT’S YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?
I graduated in Theatre from the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts, and passionately educate myself in other fields to make the shows that move in my mind. I also love reading about science and technology, and liberate myself through randomness.

AS A CREATOR AND CONCEPTUAL DIRECTOR HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK TO A COMPLETE STRANGER?
I create unique theatrical experiences harnessing the power of imagination and the magic of technology.

WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AND HOW MUCH TWEAKING IS INVOLVED?
A Show Recipe: Start by cutting one idea. Let it marinate in dreams for a few weeks. Abstract moments from reality. Pour them in fair quantity. Dissolve imagination. Add a pinch of science. An ounce of fiction. Twist reality. Freshly squeeze metaphors. Research abundantly. Let it simmer organically. Dice a meticulous storyboard. Mix it up musically. Stir the right. Talents together. Cook it well. Showtime baby! Note: allow for tweaking, laughing and head banging time.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES, IDEAS AND/OR DILEMMAS THAT YOU’RE TRYING TO ADRESS THROUGH YOUR ART, AND DOES EXCESSIVE SCIENCE RENDER HUMAN EMOTIONS VOID?
When perfectly in tuned and equalized, I believe science and human emotions make the greatest Works of Art. I like to create stories that are relevant to today in both content and application. Contemporary themes in relationship to the human condition fascinate me! I also love to challenge the norm while using pop cultural triggers, and making unusual connections so that you might arrive at an unpredictable place in your mind.

WHAT DO YOU CITE AS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INFLUENCES?
Challenges. Dares. And Dreams. Also, Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali., Michael Jackson, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Branson, Jacque Fresco, Elon Musk, Peter Diamandis, Jim Carrey, Ray Kurzweil and Martine Rothblaltt. Now we’ve just moved to inspiration.

WHAT ARE SOM FUN FACTS ABOUT YOU THAT MAY OR NOT BE DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR PROFESSION?
I want to create shows for outer space environments.

YOUR STYLE OF DRESSING IS DOWN TO A DISCIPLINE, CATEGORIZE IT LIKE IT WERE A GRADED PROJECT
I Guess there is a Limited Gap in this Republic of Bananas due to the DeKayNY. Is Levi's such an alarming Exchange when you Express your Benetton? Ask Tommy, he’ll figure!