Posts in Interviews
My Interview with Emily Griffin and Her Wonderful Art.

Twitter is one of those places on the internet where getting lost either takes you to something really terrible or presents something really interesting or fantastic. A few weeks ago I was browsing through my feed where a lot of really terrible stuff popped up (fight videos, political discourse, depression, etc.) as it often does - when all of a sudden, a nugget of wonderfulness appeared; it was Emily's art.

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I'm always on the look out for interesting and talented people to interview for my Koonagi's World Blog, so I reached out. I love to learn about what inspires different artists and what drives them to create. I explored her website, Day Brighten, and her art. I dug it and most of all, I connected to it.

She messaged me back a couple days later after getting back from a trip and the rest of this article just sort of fell into place. Without further ado, here's my interview with the talented Emily Griffin.

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What are your earliest memories of creating art and how did that translate into being a passion?

I’ve been creating art since I was super little - it’s always something I felt really comfortable doing, especially as I realized I didn’t really like playing sports as my mom tried getting me into different hobbies when I was younger. It helps that you get to draw a lot for projects in school, so I could do it for a grade and for fun all at once, and even help my friends that didn’t like drawing.

When I was in college, I was encouraged to go a “safer” route and studied business, but I still minored in watercolor. That + getting an iPad Pro was what really kept me painting and drawing as an adult, and then got lucky enough to find some opportunities for commissioned projects and to work with HelloGiggles on my weekly feature, “A Wednesday Cute”. Word of mouth from Twitter was truly the catalyst for most of my work today.
— EG

 What artists or things in everyday life inspire you or your work?

I follow so many artists on Instagram and am inspired by bits and pieces of their work constantly - color, texture, humor, the way they illustrate emotion with cartoon styles. I’ve been a longtime supporter of The Sad Ghost Club and their focus on mental health (I also love ghosts). I also find everything about Hiller Goodspeed’s work incredibly charming. A lot of my personal work feels close to these artists, in that it’s cute and generally has a lot to do with feelings and small, special moments (even goofy ones).

I also tend to use a lot of muted pastels in my work, which is very much tied to the way I dress and accessorize. I like to keep things soft.
— EG

Do you have any art pieces or art-related achievements you're particularly proud of creating?

My final watercolor series at the end of college is still one of my proudest achievements. I painted seven space scenes and really love how they look, and how much time I dedicated to them. Each little star is hand-painted!
— EG
More recently, I’m proud of several pieces that I made last summer. I was going through a really exhausting and heartbreaking time in my life and still kept drawing through it. I feel like I achieved the level of emotional clarity that I wanted to with these - which is cool, because I’m usually hard on myself and only see where I could have illustrated something better.
— EG

What projects are you working on now?

I just finished a lot of illustrations for some awesome tech talks.
— EG

Some of Emily's Brilliant Tech Talk Illustrations:

Now I am “relaxing” a little bit with pet portraits (and a moose!) and couple portraits, which are my typical projects. I’m also working on a pin design for a local meetup :)
— EG

Where can people follow you and your work?

You can follow me on Instagram @daybrighten for most of my work, and I’m also super active on Twitter @emilywithcurls. You can also view more of my work on daybrighten.com or on Tumblr.
— EG

As you can tell "Day Brighten" isn't just the name for her website, but really describes her personality and art as well. Art can make you feel a lot of different ways, but Emily's seems to always convey a positive vibe, even when the subject matter may not be. I think that's what drives me to her work most; it quite literally brightens my day.

I'd like to thank Emily for taking the time out of her busy schedule for this interview. I can't wait to see what she creates next. Whatever it is, I have no doubts that it will bring more joy into a world that desperately needs it.

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Kabbobin: Dallas' Newest Online Art/Clothing Shop.

Today's interview is with a close friend of mine, Kabbakeh Bangura, and one of his best friends, Robin Hayes. We're focusing on their new company called Kabbobin; a clever mixture of both names. For this article, I asked each question to both of them for each's unique perspective. Let's dive in.

How long have you been interested in art and who/what inspires you?

I have bee interested in art since I was a child. I lived in Europe for a few years as a child and the architecture and just history...I grew up being involved in art and as I got older I discovered the craft side to it.
— Robin
I came out the womb holding a pencil and sketch pad I think. I get my inspiration from my life experiences whether its interactions with family, friends, strangers, etc! I tend to find art in everything!
— Kabbakeh

What sparked your interest in starting an Etsy shop with your designs?

I’ve been branching and experimenting with making new things with a new device I received as a gift from my husband. From there, Kabbakeh reached out to me and pitched this awesome idea for us to start an Etsy shop. We figured between the two of us, we really had something to work with.
— Robin
After a random sketch, I decided that I wanted to illustrate more since my design style is so structured. The “punny” animal shirts are just the beginning and I thought who else to do crafts with than Robin?
— Kabbakeh
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What can we expect in the future for Kabbobin as an online shop?

You can expect great things from Kabbobin. Custom, witty and just one of a kind pieces.
— Robin
You can expect weird, but great designs. You can also expect perfection in our crafts and products!
— Kabbakeh

If you can't tell by now, I love to write articles about Dallas locals and interview small businesses because they feel like they still have that passion that a lot of big box stores lose after becoming too large. Speaking with Kabbakeh one-on-one on lunch breaks (we work together) I can see his passion for design, art, and creation in general. I have no doubt these two will go on to do great things with Kabbobin. Now go check their clothes out and...

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Visit them online for more designs at their Etsy shop and through social media below!

Meet Artist Joanna Winograd and Our Children's Book Collaboration

About 3 years ago, I wrote a short children's book about a star named Herbert. The story covers his life while explaining how a star and its orbiting planets form and die in space. After the story's completion, I went on a hunt for an illustrator.

Over the years, artists have come and gone. After a long arduous search, I posted the collaboration idea to a website called Art Connect. This website connects artists with other artists to create joint projects. After a couple days of posting, I received quite a few inquiries, but none as amazing as an artist named Joanna Winograd.

I instantly fell in love with her art. After looking through a few pages on her website, I knew she was the person I wanted to team up with for this book. In addition to our collab, I wanted to share Joanna's past work and provide a space where you, the reader, can get to know her and her amazing creations. Even though we're separated by roughly 5,200 miles, through the magic of the electronic internet machine, I sent her over some interview questions. Let's dive get to it, shall we? 

What are your earliest memories of creating art and what fueled your passion for it?

It is difficult to find a particular memory, but since I can remember painting, drawing and creating is what i like the most and the way I feel most comfortable to express myself. But I think is not exactly a passion, is the way I am, I need to create the same as I need to eat.
— JW

Are there any artists or things that inspire you or your work the most?

My inspirations come from everything around me, starting with the religious art from the Middle Ages over traditional Latin-American art to actually every comment or behavior of people around me.
I like to observe everything and to think about everything, even to develop sociological theories about our time and people’s behavior. And I like to tell some of those thoughts in my artwork.
— JW

Do you have any art pieces that you're particularly proud of creating?

I am proud of the children’s book « les monsters au plafond » that I made together with (Sevrine Loison who wrote the text) and the menus and the illustrations I made for Candelaria (a famous cocktail bar and taqueria in Paris). I think those are my favorite projects.
— JW

For my last question, I wanted to inquire about her past collaborative endeavors. I know for me, this is my first collaboration with an illustrator, so it was interesting to find out whether or not she is seasoned when it comes to teaming up on a creative project. 

Do you normally collaborate with other artists or is this your first big collaboration?

The book « le moistures au plafond » was my first collaboration, and I really like to draw the stories that someone else writes! So I hope there are many more to come. :) 
— JW

I'm incredibly blessed to have found such a talented artist to not only interview, but work with on a children's book. Joanna and I want to give everyone a small preview of an early design for the book entitled, "The Life and Death of Herbert the Star" and the art style she's illustrating it with.

 Page 7 From Our Children's Book

Page 7 From Our Children's Book

The Life and Death of Herbert the Star will be out later this year/early next year. I hope to collaborate with Joanna on a bunch of projects like this one in the future and I thank her for allowing me the time to interview her. I will keep everyone updated on our book's progression and publication as time goes on. In the meantime, explore her website and let her know how awesome her works are!

Shaun Gunnels and His New Music Project: Dnvr Max

Shaun and I go way back to when we both used to work at Firewheel Mall together in Garland, TX, starting in 2006/2007. Even at the time, Shaun was playing music. Around that time, he played in a band called The Background. Recently, I saw that he had started up a new music project and after listening to his new song and loving it, I reached out to him for a brief interview on his musical past and DAT NEW-NEW: Dnvr Max. 

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When did you start playing music/singing?

My musical passion began before I could walk and my career started when I was 18 with my first band, The Background. For a decade or so we toured regionally on 4 different EP’s spanning those 9-10 years. Dallas fans and the Dallas music scene taught me everything I know and is a huge reason I’ve decided to come out of hiding with this project, Dnvr Max!
— SG

I feel like I grew up listening to The Background, not only as a local band, but within the same playlists as All American Rejects and my other favorite bands.  These dudes have been killing it for awhile. Here's an example of their sound and one of my favorite songs from The Background.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

My music influences change almost daily. I’m super influenced by friends and fellow musicians in the scene.
— SG

It's been really cool following Shaun's music career through the years and watch as he progresses through the Dallas music scene. I can't tell you how many times I've been somewhere in the past decade and seen a video or post about the band from different fans. It would be an understatement to say that he and The Background, as a whole, have had a huge impact on the North Texas music scene.

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Do you have an EP coming out or have you already put one out for the new project?

Right now, I’m writing and recording and releasing what I feel represents me the best. My first release is streaming over at SoundCloud.com/dnvrmax
— SG

Check out his new single below!

DNVR MAX

"Come & Go" EVERYWHERE JUNE 1ST

The new song has been on repeat for me and I can't wait to see where Shaun goes with Dnvr Max. Hopefully, as he progresses, I can keep everyone updated and write a follow up article in the future. 

If you'd like to follow him on your own and stay up to date on future shows and song releases, check out his Facebook at Facebook.com/dnvrmax and of course his Soundcloud at SoundCloud.com/dnvrmax.

The Wonderful Discovery of Tyler Adair

As a part of my daily routine each week, Spotify puts out a 'New Releases' playlist I always listen to. A couple weeks ago as I went about my business at work as usual, a piano song stripped of all other instruments, began to play.

As the lyrics came in and the artist's voice came over the sound of her keyboard, I really enjoyed what I heard. Then the chorus came in and I was hooked. The artist in question? Tyler Adair.

After I listened, I decided to look more into her music. I ended up finding some stuff on YouTube and her website, but I really wanted to share her sound with others in an encompassing way, so I reached out. We emailed a couple times back and forth and she agreed to an article. Without any further ado, here is the budding musician behind my newest song to jam to, "You'll Miss Me Someday", Tyler Adair!

Where are you from and when did you start playing music/singing?

Born in Long Beach and raised in San Diego! I have to say, I’ve pretty much been singing since I learned to talk (much to my siblings frustration haha). Singing has always been one of my favorite things but it’s mostly been confined to my house, the shower, and definitely in the car. I took piano lessons when I was in second grade, however it only lasted until fourth grade when I decided that soccer was more fun than piano lessons. To this day I cannot read music, however I figured out how to play by ear which is how my song “You’ll Miss Me Someday” was crafted.
— TA
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Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Growing up, my mom loved a wide variety of music and really encouraged us explore our own tastes so I was very lucky to have been exposed to a very eclectic set of artists and bands. My top influences include: Dave Matthews Band for their passion, Everclear for their raspy sound, Amy Winehouse for her trailblazing attitude, Jack White for playing so many styles, and I’ve always loved Kings of Leon.
— TA

Are you planning on playing any shows soon?

I actually just played my first open mic last weekend at 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach! I’d love to do that again soon. A friend of mine invited me to sing at his show on June 30th at Sanctuary Lounge in Scripps so we have that coming up as well.
— TA

It's so awesome to interview and discuss music with talented new musicians like Tyler. It's especially great when the meeting happens because of a random connection through Spotify. I wish her all the best and I can't wait to hear what you have in store for the world in the future!

 If you'd like to see Tyler Adair play and you're in the San Diego, CA area on June 30th, head on over to the Sanctuary Lounge. You can find more details HERE. You can also keep up with her through her website at TylerAdair.com

Autumn's Eyeliner Notes

I love finding out previously unknown, relatable details about friends, like when I learned that my friend, Autumn, was also a writer. Not only that, but she had a website, as well as regular contributors to the site. Even more intriguing, after reading through her posts, I realized the story-content she was creating was something completely unique and inspiring. She somehow writes in this perfectly abstract and poetic way that attracts you to each and every line of dialogue.

After reading through different posts on Autumn's site entitled "Eyeliner Notes", I felt compelled to share her talented writing with my own audience of readers. Needless to say, I sent some questions her way shortly after our discussion and now, here we are.

When did you first start writing and what sparked that interest?

I was a happy introvert as a kid. My room was full of journals, costumes, dioramas and TONS of dolls. I was involved in all things creative writing and literature-related in grade school. At that time, I didn’t see writing as a passion of mine. It was just something I spent a lot of time doing.

I’m the oldest of my siblings so my family had no idea what to do with a teenage girl. By time I reached age fifteen I spent the majority of my teenage years grounded indefinitely.

At first this was excruciating so I tried creating as much as possible to pass the time. The first time I logged on to LiveJournal I knew that I had found my escape. I was obsessed with my outlet of choice and quickly lost interest in the outside world.

This was even down to school subjects; if a class didn’t involve open ended essays then I would try my best to avoid it.

My high school AP English teacher helped me feel understood and encouraged my passion. Having her as a mentor kept that spark going into my adult life.
— AK

Are these stories fiction, non-fiction, or a mixture of both?

Definitely a mixture of both. Some are more non-fiction than I’d like to admit. I do try to provide a good mix of the two. I’ll give myself challenges on certain entries from short stories to poems etc. I slip into the habit of just writing about what I know and I try to be conscious of that and keep it in check. Some entries I create more for the readers and then other entries I’ve just got to spill my guts.
— AK
 From the post " Meetin Mr. Locheart "

From the post "Meetin Mr. Locheart"

What sparked this project?

A friend of mine enjoyed writing poems about busking. We spent all last Summer exchanging writing ideas. I was shy about what I wrote but decided to jot down an emotionally charged piece “Cloud Queen” and show it to him. As an adult I became secretive about my writing. My husband had never even read anything of mine up until this point. Our friend unfortunately passed this Winter so it made that piece more significant and it turned into the current “Cloud Queens” series on Eyeliner Notes.

With the overall website, I teamed up with two other women. The original vision was to have a shared space of free creative expression with the three of us and the occasional featured writer. Like a lot of creative endeavors, it was a fantastic idea at first but life took us in different directions and it didn’t pan out. I took the project over and now have my Cloud Queens series combined with occasional featured writers. So far I’ve been incredibly lucky to come across so many badass creative women. I can’t wait to see how they’ll help Eyeliner Notes evolve.
— AK
 From the post " Before Medication "

From the post "Before Medication"

Where did the idea of using Barbies come from? 

Okay the simple answer to this is that I absolutely love creating miniature scenes. Because of this I never grew out of making things like clay sculptures, admiring all things that have to do with creepy dolls and playing The Sims. I even had a friend that I’d play Barbies with in secret up until we were eighteen years old! The plots were a lot different than when we were kids but I have to admit it was pretty weird. So, using Barbies as the visual portion to each piece came as second nature to me.

The slightly more complex part to this is that the “Cloud Queens” series is about recognizing and celebrating the feminine human experience. It’s an attempt at providing the world with additional insight on what femininity really is and how that can contrast with what a lot of people perceive it to be.

I was raised right around the time where people were starting to finally full on question the unrealistic standards that have been placed on women. As a result, Barbies weren’t seen as fun or appropriate anymore. They were suddenly little she-devils in pink boxes that moms from the 90’s would gripe about. That made them even more appealing to me. I thought they were amazing instruments to act out the fictional characters that I created. From a young age they empowered me.

I was taught that the only positive way to be a woman was to be outgoing. Because that would send the message that I’m strong and can stand up for myself. Introverts like me, oh no. That must be a flaw. That must mean that I’m passive and weak. Feminine strength is so commonly misunderstood and it’s pretty frightening.

This series strips away all of these assumptions about what people are when they identify as feminine. For example, I don’t want to look like a Barbie. Or to compare myself to a doll. I want to create and be inspired by them. I’m not loud and outgoing but I can write my way through a lot and with all the quiet self reflection I do, I could probably think up a strategic way to kick your ass.
— AK
 From the post " An Afternoon with Monogamy "

Do you have any future plans for your work (like a book) or will this continue online for the foreseeable future?

Additional info on having the Cloud Queens series in print is in the works and in the meantime Eyeliner Notes will continue online with upcoming contributors.
— AK
 From the post " Enter the Cloud Queen "

From the post "Enter the Cloud Queen"

Do you have any other projects you're working on or any upcoming shows?

I’m working on getting prints of the visual art portion of the Cloud Queens series available for purchase on the Eyeliner Notes website by the end of the Summer. I do have additional writing projects but I’m too secretive and neurotic to talk about anything that half baked, haha.
— AK

To me, it's an amazing thing to see an artist put themselves out there as much as Autumn has with her writings. I think that's what makes her website so wonderful though. You can feel the raw emotion of the subject matter when you consume each and every one of her posts. I, for one, can't wait to keep reading and following her work.

To follow her and her contributor's works, click on the image below:

Dallas' Own "Tension & Release" Debut Their EP + Interview

If you're from Dallas, you know a lot of great musical acts are born here. One of my favorite neighborhoods for underground music is Deep Ellum right outside of downtown Dallas. Since I've begun hanging out there a lot more within the last six months, I've decided to dedicate articles here and there to these up and coming Dallas artists. To kick this series off, let's dive into a newer band called, "Tension & Release".

Tension and release is a collaborative group of musicians with varying musical backgrounds that decided to mix their talents in 2015. The group is comprised of James, John, and Jacob (pictured below). I got a hold of them and was able to ask them individually about their backgrounds and some more insight into the band itself. 

How, where, and when did you guys get started as a band?

I listened to all kinds of music growing up (rock, hip hop, classical music, house), but didn’t pick up an instrument until the age of 22. Joined a band with John and a mutual friend after watching an anime called, “Beck Mongolian Chop Squad” in 2012.

A few months later, we got a jam space (which I basically lived in for 8 months) until we had some more material to work with and we got more comfortable playing music together. Originally, I was going to learn and play guitar in the band, but when a spot opened up to give drums a try, I jumped at it and didn’t look back.
— James
 GIF courtesy of Tumblr

GIF courtesy of Tumblr

I was actually a drummer originally back in high school, playing for shitty pop-punk bands. The music was pretty weak, but we were just having fun. Eventually I got more serious about it and started playing different instruments in different bands, just seeing what I could do.

I eventually picked up a guitar and I really dedicated a lot of time to it, started jamming with James and Jacob, and went to college to get a degree in Audio Production. I picked up vocals in college and learned a lot about harmonizing from a badass singer we had in the band for a while.
— John
My memory is fuzzy on this one, but John and I have known each other since middle/high school (early 2000’s). I started chatting with John back in 2011-2012 about playing music and he had a jam space and was just starting to learn the guitar with James on drums. We jammed in that studio into the late hours for a few months before I had a mid-mid-life crisis and kind of went ghost on them.

Fast forward to 2015 and John and I get in contact again. He wanted me to come try and play some bass on a few songs he had written up. Two years later I’m in the band without John even asking me, but that’s okay, because I already wanted to be in it. It’s like when you and the hot chick in high school are dating but neither of you ever made it official.
— Jacob

Who are your biggest musical influences?

Growing up I listened to a lot of emo-pop-punk stuff with fast riffs and catchy hooks. Green Day, Blink-182, New Found Glory. My music taste has definitely evolved from that. Not to take away from any of those awesome bands, but I prefer indie folk and experimental types of music now.

My biggest musical influences ever would have to be Ben Gibbered from Death Cab for Cutie and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver . There is nothing that these guy puts out that I don’t like. Gibbard’s talent to paint a story through words is just so unreal it’s like you are watching a heart breaking every time you listen to his songs. Justin Vernon on the other hand, I haven’t quite been able to decipher all his songs but he does have a way of making you feel like you are on drugs without ever having to be on drugs. Definitely the two guys who influence my style of playing and music writing today.
— Jacob
I listen to a lot of weird, vocally-driven music like Bjork and Imogen Heap, and also love what the progressive-metal scene is doing with drums and guitar right now, ya know, stuff like Animals as Leaders and Periphery. Queen is also god to me.
— John
 Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

Daft Punk’s “Discovery” was one of my favorite albums when I was younger. Honestly, there are too many for me to name. I try to pull from whatever I can listen to. There’s too much good music out there, haha.
— James

Tension and Release will be releasing their first EP March 31, 2017 entitled, "Letting People Into Your Life". I got a sneak preview of the EP and it's pretty fantastic. You can get a taste of what their EP is like with their songs "Love Among" and "How To Save Her Soul" on YouTube now in collaboration with up-and-coming artists: The Cure For Paranoia, Eff3, Dez, and Jake O'Neill. (videos below)

Their EP "Letting People Into Your Life" will be available March 31, 2017 on iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora. You can also check them out at their website www.jtownsounds.com and their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

I wish these dudes all the best and I'll keep everyone updated on when they book some shows here in Dallas. They told me that they'll begin playing shows after the next EP. I know I, for one, am extremely excited to see them jam out live! 

D Magazine on Beauty Bar's DJ Colly T

I don't typically write articles only to share links to other sites. Typically that's a marketing technique and this particular blog doesn't normally cater to that niche. However, D Magazine wrote a really great write up on my friend Colin Theall back in 2014, who is a DJ in the Dallas area. More specifically, off of Henderson Ave. and I just found out about it. I really wanted to share his talent with more people, so here we are.

I met Colin while at our mutual day job. He's one of the most genuine human beings I've ever met. I asked him recently to send me some of his mixes and they are fantastic:

His most recent mix can be found here.

The article described at the beginning of this article however, can be read at the link below. It's a fantastic article filled with everything you'd need to know about 2014 DJ Colly T. As for 2017 DJ Colly T, I'm a little fuzzy on where he currently is. My best guess would be the bass dropped so hard at one of his concerts that his heart stopped and so did everyone else's in the room. Though I also heard that:  

I’m planning on putting out one more mixtape in between now and the fall...
— Probably DJ Colly T

Only time will tell.

Enjoy the full D Magazine article below.