That Time I Ate a Salad with Colin Kaepernick

kaepernick-vman-jonnycoleman-weber

Earlier this summer, I was tasked with profiling Colin Kaepernick (QB 1, San Francisco 49ers) for the cover of VMan’s Fall Issue. He was in LA to present at the ESPYs, and we spent an evening talking about his life*. The NFL has long been fascinating to me. It’s the most popular show on television, after all, and, although just entertainment, football reflects America’s values and problems more clearly than anything I know. Two years ago, I wrote a spec pilot about the inner workings of professional football, which basically outlines the crisis the NFL currently finds itself mired in. Kaepernick has had a brief-but-controversial career, whether it’s tattoos, blackness, religion, sex life and even hat-life being over-scrutinized by the media. The NFL consistently underscores so much that is still wrong in our culture – as seen through the lens of Kaep –  while offering some faint glimmer of hope. I get into all that in the article, which is illustrated by some amazing photos by the don Bruce Weber.

You can now read and download the piece here or pick up the issue on newsstands, wherever $30 magazines are sold.

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*One detail I had to share that didn’t make it in the final cut was that, after the interview, Kaepernick was headed to a party where SWV was performing and retired running back Eddie George was DJing. I really, really, really want to know what he played, but I guess I never will. It was one of those parties where you have to fill out tax paperwork before you go because the gift bags are no joke.

PP Q+A #1: Alex Oxley

alexoxley-levelsPP Q+A is a new series where we talk to producers, artists, supervisors, labels, and multi-hyphenates from around the world who we think are worth talking to. We have several amazing individuals whom we’ll be speaking to this fall (*no spoilers*), and we’re going to let the conversations touch on a lot of areas about music, media, and culture. So if you’re not up for the longread, maybe a listicle is more your speed. 

Our first guest is Mr. Alex Oxley, a British ex-pat currently living in Los Angeles. You might recognize him as 1/2 of Fleetmac Wood or come across him in the promotion, PR, or label side of various international music outlets. Even if you haven’t, he’s a fine individual. We spoke last week as he was busy rolling out the first release for his brand new label, Reinhardt Records.

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PersonPeople: Tell us a little bit about yourself, for the people out there in Internet Land…

 

Alex Oxley: I’m a Sheffield lad, who grew up in the Lake District before hitting my 20′s and chasing the dream in London, about spent some years stomping the pavement there, before heading to Berlin in search of techno.

 

PP: Tell us about Sheffield and Berlin. How did they help shape your tastes?

 

I was born in Sheffield, but grew up in the Lake District. All my family are from Sheffield, I really feel a strong connection to the city and have spent a lot of time there over the years. Musically the synth movement in the 80′s pretty incredible, there’s a wealth of material from Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and the like. Then it goes without saying that I am a massive fan of Warp Records, and have read into their legacy extensively. I admire their attitude, they had the right mindset from the off. I couldn’t discuss Sheffield without mentioning the techno mainstay that is The Black Dog, those guys have been consistently innovative and future thinking throughout the years.

Living in Berlin was a real eyeopener but visually and musically. The techno scene there is of course well documented, and rightly so as the community and clubs there are quite incredible. I’m sure anybody has has been to Berghain will sing its praises. It was super exciting to live in a city that is so art and music focused, Berlin literally has creativity at ever turn! 

Music has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember, when I left school I became a painter and decorator but it was inevitable that I’d end working in music to some degree. I’ve worked professionally in the industry for ten years, wearing a variety of hats. From label manager to club promoter and festival, it has certainly been a colourful experience.

 

PP: When did you move to LA and why?

 

AO: My wife Lisa, who works in advertising as a senior creative was offered a job role at an agency based out here. I believe change is a positive, and it wasn’t the easiest of moves but the thought of working on my tan (note: I still don’t have a tan) and speeding down the LA freeway listening to Underworld ‘Born Slippy’ was to much to pass up.

 

 

PP: What do you think about living here so far?

 

AO: I absolutely love it. We have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people, and travel around a bit. The sear scale of Los Angeles and Southern California is just mind boggling. I feel like I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface!

 

PP: Tell us about your previous experience working at with labels.

 

I was label manager at Botchit & Scarper for around four years. The Managing Director there set me off on the right path. He threw me in the deep end on my first day interning, fresh out of university it sure was an eye opener, but I learnt quickly and loved every minute of it. I can’t thank him enough.

 

PP: What is the ethos of Reinhardt and where did you get the name from?

 

AO: To release music we are passionate about and believe in fully. I want to build a label people look to as a mark of quality and a certain aesthetic, not driven by trends or genre. Musically Reinhardt is an open book, and a label where artists can push and fully express themselves. I’m in this for the long haul, and the music we release and artists we work with will reflect this.

I procrastinated over the label name for months. Aside from the logistical elements of setting up and running the label, settling on the name was a job within its self. When I heard the word Reinhardt it struck me instantly, and I ran it by a couple of people in the industry who opinions I trust highly and they gave me the thumbs up.

 

PP: Why did you think it was necessary to create a label?

 

AO: Well, it has been a dream of mine to have my own label since picking up dj’ing in my late teens. I’m sure most DJs you to speak with will tell you about their obsessions with certain labels, and what drew them to the labels. You get to that point where you literally can not wait for a record to be released, and you are there on the door step of the record shop the day of release. The industry has changed so much in recent years, but I want people to feel that same passion I have and had for certain labels about Reinhardt.

 

PP: How is being in L.A. going to help the label?

 

AO: The sun certainly helps, that is for sure. As I said earlier and I am still finding my way in LA, but musically it sure is a hot spot right now so only time will tell how much being in LA influences the label.

 

 

PP: Tell us about this first release and other artists who are committed…


AO: The first EP is by Antenna Happy, a producer who cut his teeth in the 90′s releasing a bunch of 12”s and DJing extensively, but got disillusioned and drove his energy into his second creative passion, acting. Fast forward to last year, and Antenna Happy sent Lisa an early version of the lead EP track Pinto. We were both instantly hooked, and I knew this track had to released.


In regards to forthcoming releases, I can’t announce them just yet but keep an eye on the label’s social media.

 

PP: How does a small run label in 2014 make ends meet? What’s your plan?

AO: I have always worn a lot of hats whilst working in music, so I am all to aware of how tough it can be to make ends meet. Running a label is no picnic!

Music synchronization is certainly an area I will be exploring with the label, and we have already started to gain interest with just one release under our belt. There will also be Reinhardt club nights and live audio-visual shows, plus maybe some limited edition tea towels.

 

PP: Are you doing vinyl, digital, and CDs or what formats will you be focusing on?

 

AO: Physical products will be a premier focus for the label. We’ll release the vinyl first then the digital release with bonus material a month later. There is a CD compilation planned further down the line, and we will be move into artist albums as things progress.

 

PP: Anything regarding the label’s plans that isn’t ‘official’ yet that you want to tease?

 

AO: I am keeping tight lipped for the time being, but more details will be revealed soon.

 

PP: Since this is a music supervision site…Any bit of music supervision (ads, TV, film, video games) catch your ear or impress you recently?

 

AO: I thought Yppah’s track ‘Never Mess With Sunday’ worked really well on this 02 advert from a while back.

 

 

AO: I’m a quite a film buff, and seek out a lot of soundtracks on vinyl both old and new. The music on Drive - I’m sure most will agree – was amazing and worked perfectly with the film, and I was impressed with the Under the Skin soundtrack too.

 

PP: Any recent music, music biz, or press trends you like or loathe?

 

AO: Well, let’s not get started on the recent U2 album saga shall we, zzzzz.

I’m always trying to keep an eye on labels and artists working in imaginative ways. I thought the Boards Of Canada and Aphex Twin campaigns were superb. Hats off to Warp Records for sure.

Sometimes it is what you don’t say or show that really sparks intrigue and excitement.

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Reinhardt’s first release – Pinto EP by Antenna Happy - is out now on vinyl and will be released digitally on October 20. Hear more on Reinhardt’s SC page.

FYF 2014: Stray Observations

FYF Arena Disco Balls

Stray observations from FYF 2014:

      • There were some production hiccups on the first day. This was the first time it was hosted in the LA Coliseum complex just south of USC. It was difficult to get into the dance stage, as it filled to capacity, and some people experienced long waits to get in. This was basically solved by the second day, but, on the first day, I got into the dance arena and basically stayed there until the end. Too afraid to leave and not get re-entry.
      • From the lighting to the smoke machine to the 50 disco ball diorama to the glittering cosmic backdrop, the Sports Arena felt like Space Mountain.
      • Speaking of the Sports Arena, the last time I saw a show here was for the kickoff show of the Alive 2007 tour.
      • DJ Harvey’s fashion was inspired by Freddie Mercury. He opened with this. Played this. Also this. And ended with this, a nod to the Todd.

 

     

  • Caribou’s set was great. The new album is sounding great. The perfect mix of rock show and dance party. I met Nathan Fielder there, which was bizarre. We spoke about magic, misdirection, and the subconscious for most of the set.
  • Terje’s set was also a treat. He delivered many of the expected hits and closed with Eurodans with bonus Whitney Houston acapella over top. Godt djort.
  • Supposedly, several hundred teenage Strokes fans entered at opening gates (around 1p.m.), camped out at the front of the Main Stage, and sat there all day until the Strokes went on around 10:30. Many of these young Strokes fans suffered from dehydration and heat stroke and were carried away during the Strokes’ performance.
  • With Interpol and Strokes headlining, it conjured images of stepped on charlie in a post 9/11 New York. There’s an idea that doesn’t need a revival.
  • Darkside – whether you like their recorded output or not – puts on a fantastic show. It was like if Pink Floyd was filtered through a New Beat kaleidoscope. At the end of the set, Dave Harrington broke that evil-looking spotlight. Rock and roll, bruh.
     
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  • Pound for pound, one of the best booked festivals I’ve been to or even seen.
  • Total acts I saw: Caribou, Todd Terje, Darkside, Caribou, DJ Harvey, Daniel Avery, Tanlines, John Talabot, Future Islands, The Strokes, Presidents of the United States of America
  • I regretted missing: Run the Jewels, Haim (caught a few songs in the distance), Slowdive, Kelela, Blood Orange, Kindness, bands I’m too ignorant to even know I’m missing out on
  • I did not regret missing: Phoenix
  • Number of bacon dogs eaten: only 1
  • Number of whiny people on social media: All
  • Number of attendees at the festival: roughly 45,000
  • Number of free Bud Light Apple-Ahhh-Ritas that can fit in my pockets: 6
  • Number of ‘mystery bags’ filled with white powder found on ground: 2
  • Number of Strokes t-shirts: a Billion
  • Days of recovery time: 2-3
  • Number of fucks given: ∅

Interview with Axel Willner (aka The Field)

Axel Willner for VMan

Early this year, I interviewed Axel Willner for VMan. Axel is the man behind The Field, Loops of Your Heart, and various other small-run aliases like Lars Blek and Hands.

The article was part of the issue titled, “The Outer Limits,” which investigated the human mind and its conscious and subconscious powers.

Click here to read the piece, and get loopy.