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Women Making History: Laurie Rubin

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Women Making History: Laurie Rubin

Laurie Rubin

Laurie Rubin is an internationally celebrated mezzo-soprano who happens to be blind. Growing up blind, Laurie Rubin often wondered what it was like to fit in. Midsentence she might discover that her “friends” had quietly slipped away. And while they bopped to pop, Laurie, with perfect pitch, was mesmerized by opera and was singing publicly by age 12. Even though she was happy, traveled, learned to water and snow ski, played music, and did normal kid stuff, her mother’s best friend expressed pity for their lot. When Laurie finally did find her crowd in the music world, an opera director would not cast her for fear she would fall off the stage.

A lifetime of unintentional discrimination—of assumptions being made about what she could and could not do—and a child’s innocent question that became the book’s title, prompted Laurie to write about her life. We all have traits that make us something other than “normal,” Rubin believes, but for the strong and persistent dreams can overcome any barrier. In her new memoir, Do You Dream in Color?, she explores the biases and fears we all harbor about those we perceive to be different within a life-story rich in detail an inspiration.

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

Barbra Streisand was always one of my biggest heroines. When I was growing up, my mother played her music for me in the car, and I just loved the richness and emotion in her voice. “Memory” from the musical “Cats” was the very first song I sang in my voice lessons at age 10 because I had loved Barbra’s rendition of it so much. Beyond Barbra’s singing, I admire that she was a director when it was almost unheard of for women to direct films, that she was a gifted actress, a mother, and a spokesperson for gay rights.

I also loved that she embraced her Jewish identity, playing many Jewish characters in movies at a time when being Jewish was also not as widely accepted by society. She never seemed to balk at the things that made her different, and I love that she’s had such a multifaceted career. As an author, co-song writer, singer, actress, motivational speaker, and even jewelry designer, I really admire those who have had careers that have encompassed many facets of who they are successfully. I’ve been told since I was a child that I look like Barbra Streisand, and I am proud that she is the celebrity people compare me too.

When did you realize you were musically gifted?

I’ve always had an affinity for music. When I was a very young child, I remember my dad playing classical music on his new stereo because at the time, classical orchestral music showcased the sound of great speakers the best. I was drawn to classical music. When my grandparents listened to music, they often listened to opera, so I was exposed to it at an early age, and that is when I started to experiment with my pipes for singing. I used to emulate the sounds I heard the sopranos making when they’d sing. My grandparents were amused and impressed, and suggested that I take voice lessons.

For years, I took piano lessons because it seemed as though it was the default for kids. I loved the music I was supposed to be learning, but didn’t feel the desire to practice piano. It just wasn’t my instrument. My piano teacher also noticed that I had a particular affinity for singing, harmonizing with the melodies she’d play for me, and she suggested to my mother that I switch to voice lessons.

In the meantime, my mother really loved the music of Kenny Loggins, and she met him in the butcher section of a market near our house in Encino, and near a house that Kenny owned at the time. My mom told Kenny that I loved listening to his music in the car with her, and he was touched that a four year old blind girl was loving his music. He invited us backstage at his next concert in LA. I remember being fascinated by certain things, like how he could make harmonies with himself.

At age 4, I started taking two tape recorders, recording my voice with one of them, and then playing my voice back and recording on a second recorder until I had created several tracks of my own voice in harmony with itself.

Laurie Rubin

Of all the different musical genres, what was it about opera that attracted you?

When I started singing, I started in pop as that seemed to be the default for kids of my generation. When I saw “Phantom of the Opera” at age 12, that’s when I realized I wanted to sing opera. The show itself is a musical, but the style of singing is very operatic, and you are thrust back into 19th Century Paris, and the setting is the Paris Opera House. I told my voice teacher I wanted to sing the leading role of Christine, so I started learning her songs. My teacher who was a Juilliard alum in opera, was thrilled that I seemed to show some potential in classical singing, and she moved me into classical repertoire when I was 12.

This coincided with middle school, a particularly difficult time in my life. I had just started at the college prep school my brother had just graduated from, and I was the first and only blind student there. I felt very isolated as the other kids had never met another blind kid before, and I also didn’t look very cool because I had a huge laptop computer (this was the early 90′s), a cane that I wore in a pouch every day on this belt over my jeans, a key to my locker hooked to a keychain on that same belt, so I sort of looked a little unapproachable to most people.

I found many of my friends in musical activities I’d do outside of school. I joined the All-State Honor Choir in 9th grade which is made up of the best high school singers from all over the state. When I was in choir, kids liked me because they could relate to me through the music we shared together. We all became friends through the music in spite of our ethnic, class, Race, and any other differences.

I found this same special bond with kids when I went to the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, a summer camp-like program for kids to study their instrument with world renowned faculty. We all sat on the Tanglewood lawn in this remote but beautiful part of Massachusetts, listening to the Boston Symphony, and all the world class artists that performed during the summers at Tanglewood, and that was such an amazing part of my education and inspiration towards opera.

Because music had treated me so well in a time when I felt so isolated, I decided to devote my life to it, and I went to Oberlin College and Conservatory where I studied classical voice. I then went onto Yale Opera, and then lived in NYC for many years to pursue my career in classical music. Oberlin was the first place where I felt celebrated for my blindness. I think that really made a huge difference for my self esteem, because for the first time, I felt cool in a school setting on a daily basis, and that feeling was so new to me.

What’s your favorite piece of music that you have performed?

Oh, there are so many. What first came to mind was an opera by the composer Francis Poulenc called “La Voix Humaine,” which takes place in Paris in the 1930′s in a woman’s apartment. The entire opera is about a conversation in real time she’s having with her lover who tells her midway through the call that he has left her to marry someone else. The piece is completely tragic, and captures all of the worst fears we have of abandonment, the utmost loneliness, and fear of what’s ahead.

The neat thing about the opera is that I am alone on stage while performing, and the only other character is a telephone which rings now and then when she gets cut off, and the person playing this role always has to make the audience hear what her lover on the other end must be saying to her. There are so many vocal colors and facial expressions I had to convey, and it was one of the most rewarding, viscerally human experiences I’ve ever had on stage. I also think it shows my vocal range.

Another piece I love singing is one that was written for me by the Israeli composer, Noam Sivan called “In the Mountains of Jerusalem.” The poetry is by the late Israeli poet, Leah Goldberg. These are also about isolation and longing, frustration with being disconnected from some sort of life experience. There are four pieces in this set, and each one is like a little opera in itself, the range of emotions and the vocal range in the song are both really dynamic. It is always great when a composer writes something for a specific singer because they can capitalize on the vocal and artistic characteristics unique to the individual performer. Even though I’m a mezzo-soprano, and a specific vocal range is attributed to my voice type, Noam discovered that I have a particular affinity for singing with emotion in the upper register which may almost put me in the soprano category, but he featured both my low and high ranges, making the piece very fulfilling for me to sing.

Who do you want to work with? What opera would you love to perform that you have not yet already?

I would love to sing with Placido Domingo. I just adore his voice. It just oozes emotion. It’s like eating a velvety piece of chocolate cake. I would also love to work with the conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas because he is one of the most talented conductors out there, and he has gotten the orchestra to sound absolutely incredible. I’ve also always wanted to work with the director Peter Sellers because his productions are so innovative, and I had the impression that he would really see my blindness as an interesting trait to incorporate into an operatic role. I also feel the same way about Julie Taymor who also happens to be an Oberlin alum. I actually voiced this to her when I met her briefly at a talk she gave at the Lincoln Center Film Festival. I hope we do get to work together because she is so brilliant, and is also really good at getting the best artistry out of her actors. In terms of an opera I’d love to sing which I have never done before, anything by Claudio Monteverdi which is very early Baroque, and is just incredibly sensual music.

Laurie Rubin Do You Dream In Color

What inspired you to write Do You Dream In Color?

I was inspired to write my book because I wanted to give people insight into just how rich and fulfilling a life I have as a blind person as many people sadly assume my life is isolated, lonely, and lacking in the normal joys and expectations most women have, such as being in a wonderful relationship, having children, having a successful career, etc. I wanted the reader to forget about the blindness, and just to experience a universal, relatable story about challenges, rewards, obstacles, and successes, while also taking a colorful journey with me through my own personal adventures.

I wanted to use the words “dream” and “color” in the same sentence because I wanted to challenge people to think past their limitations, to see their weaknesses as their greatest strengths. Some might think that dreaming in color is a paradox for a blind person, but the truth is that I do dream big, and that I have a colorful life. I think that people who forget to dream because they are so scared to rid themselves of their own self-imposed limitations just need a push in the right direction. They need to hear that others are doing it, whether we’re blind, faced with some other health challenge, unhappy with some sort of physical or other trait, or otherwise fearful. I hope that my story can help others, and I hope I also change people’s perspectives on blindness in the process.

Your story is so inspiring – how have you gone about spreading your message and why is it important to you?

I have gone about spreading my message mostly via my concerts and some motivational speaking engagements. In my concerts, I often tell stories from my life which pertain to the pieces I’m about to sing because I always go on stage thinking that there is someone in that audience who needs some lifting up, some encouragement, or else just a fun evening to let their hair down. When I bring my point home with the music, it really gives my message the emotional context it needs for each individual person with his or her own unique story.

It is so important for me to share my story because I know that we all feel like the underdog at times, but we all deserve to achieve the greatest success, and to claim the fulfilling life we deserve. I think that being blind has given me perspective on how it feels to be treated differently. I feel very strongly that difference should be treated as a positive thing, not a negative one, and yet people are so focused on the traits they don’t like about themselves. Often, these insecurities stand in the way of people’s goals, and I feel that people need to find the skill sets, the things they are best at to help them get where they need to be.

I also believe that many people do not see themselves as beautiful. It is so important to feel beautiful which I did not for so many years. It’s when I started to feel beautiful, happy with who I am that I started to have more success, and that is why my partner Jenny and I are in the midst of writing an album with the title track, “The Girl I Am,” about those times when we have been brought down, and how we need to rise above it and remember the people we are, and how wonderful that is. We’ve performed this song for a variety of audiences, most recently a high school girls choir in Rock Springs Wyoming. All the girls in the room were sobbing, and they told us that the music and our words gave them hope in a time when they feel so insecure about who they are. That is who we want to reach, the teens and young adults who need to know that life gets better as long as they remain truthful to who they are.

How did you get into jewelry design?

In 2006, I was living in NYC, and had been doing so for about a year and a half. I was trying to find my way, not only in music, but in general. Job opportunities seemed limited to a blind person because there was little trust from those out in the work force that we were equally contributing and valuable members of society as sighted people. I found that more and more as I interviewed for various jobs, and tried to get work even as a private voice teacher.

In the spring of that year, my mother’s friend was visiting NYC, and when I gave her a hug, I happened to notice a bracelet she was wearing. She told me she had made it herself, and that she thought of me when she was taking the jewelry making class because she used her sense of touch more than her sight. It was so nice to hear someone say that jewelry making was something accessible to me that I was inspired to start taking jewelry making lessons, and I asked the private instructor for the Jewish Community Center’s beading and wire wrapping classes to give me private lessons so as to show me hands on the techniques I would need.

This opened up a world of artistic explosion for me. I’ve always loved jewelry, and now I could create my own styles. I would go to bead stores for hours, and just listen to the beads clinking against each other, feeling the different textures, being told about the amazing colors of each strand of stones. I loved the idea of making unique statements by juxtaposing unusual texture, color, and shape contrasts. That same friend of my mother’s who had recommended that I take jewelry making classes hosted my first showing at her house in Santa Barbara, and I’ve since had my pieces in various boutiques around LA and NYC, as well as having my own online site for my jewelry: TheRLook.com.

Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a musical career?

I would tell ladies who are just starting a musical career to trust their mentors. Never believe what the nay-sayers say. Those people don’t understand us, so we need to find those who get why we’re unique, and why we have something special to say in our music or art.

I would also tell them to always know who they are as artists, and what they are trying to convey. Never try to emulate another artist, but know what makes them special as individuals.

Finally, I’d tell them to always be kind people, and to be compassionate. I’ve met so many people in my career who are so lonely because they forgot to take the time to get to know other people and their stories. I always find that putting community and family first will help make for a rich and well-rounded happy life.

Laurie Rubin

Laurie Rubin Interview

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area you can see Laurie Rubin perform this weekend at Ohlone College:
Saturday, March 9, 2013 at 8:00pm
Jackson Theatre, Smith Center at Ohlone College

General Admission $20
Seniors, Staff, Students $18
Youth 12 & under $15

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Women Making History: Indie 184

New York graffiti artist-come-fashion designer Indie 184′s art can be seen from South Bronx to Oslo. The Puerto Rican-born, NYC-raised artist’s work has been featured recently in Grand Theft Auto IV, and, just last week, in a solo exhibition called “Go Hard!” hosted by Munky King Gallery in LA (we were there!). In our exclusive interview with Indie, she talked about her roots and the artists that have influenced her and helped get her started.

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

Lately, I’ve been inspired by Maria Montes, she embodied fearlessness and passion. She had a goal, conquered it and stayed consistent until her death. At a young age she set her sights on being an actress so she learned English, moved to NY from the Dominican Republic and eventually Hollywood where she became superstar. She set her sights beyond her culture and didn’t let adversity be her crutch; she just took life by the horns and rocked it. I love that she created her own opportunities instead of waiting to be discovered. She made an impact and also embraced motherhood. I love reading biographies, very encouraging reading the path of how ladies in history (or herstory) came to be.
How did you get your start as an artist?
When I was a kid I was constantly drawing family members doing activities things every child does in the beginning. Growing up, I wasn’t encouraged or discouraged but I didn’t continue to pursue it, which I regret. Then I got into music in Junior High school being in a marching band and even auditioned for Julliard School of Music. I didn’t make the cut and moved on to high school where there was no serious art or music curriculum. So art kind of died out for me. Then as I got older I went to the public library and found the two graffiti “bibles” - Spraycan Art and Subway Art – they completely blew me away! I would try to mimic graffiti pieces in there. Then I started to really take notice of all the graffiti in my neighborhood. But being that graffiti is like a secret society I didn’t have access to that world until my early twenties so until then I remained clueless and searching for my voice in art.
I didn’t nurture it until I go acquainted with the graffiti around my neighborhood in the Bronx and upper Manhattan as as young teen. Finally, I would meet graffiti writers, painters and photographers so it was like a renaissance period for me. Graffiti is like an apprenticeship art form and I met a few generous writers who would give me outlines with my newly found tag name. Creating my graffiti alter-ego allowed me to break my shell. I never went to art school I always would take my curiosity to lead me somewhere or just submit to being a business woman. During that same time I discovered graphic design and one of my close friends would give me tutorials. Once I got a taste of the art and design world, I was eager to satisfy my appetite for my new found hunger.
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created?
There are so many! They are all special! Every piece is a piece of me. To take time out to create a painting in the studio or the streets takes time and sacrifice so I am happy to just create it. But if I did have to pick a favorite it would have to be the graffiti piece I did in Paris 2010!
How did you transition from art to fashion?
When I was a little girl I was sketching my back to school outfits so  my mom would know what exactly to buy when she’d go shopping. Later, when I was living on my own I started painting my t-shirts by hand and even started getting orders to custom bedazzled cut up t-shirts. Later I would work at a licensing company, creating backpacks and accessories for The Jim Henson Company, Hillary Duff, Crayola and others so I got to see the creative, production and business side of fashion. It was a natural transition for me to start my own brand since I have always craved to be an entrepreneur developing my own ideas from conception to production.
What’s the meaning behind Kweenz Destroy?
Kweenz Destroy is derived from my partner Cope 2 and (cope2.net) graffiti crew, Kids Destroy that he started in the South Bronx in 1982, which later became Kings Destroy. I was tired of experimenting with brand names and I finally found one that represented my purpose for the brand I had intended. Kweenz Destroy with Queens spelled differently to keep the graffiti legacy so it means Kweenz staying on top dominating and destroying all obstacles in her way.
Who do you want to work with? Who do you want to see wearing Kweenz Destroy?
I would love to see more around the way and worldwide girls rock KD. I would love to work with Rita Ora shot by Terry Richardson - random vision. We recently worked with Maluca on our lookbook “Koncrete Jungle” shot by Marley Kate and styled by Oscar Sanchez. We had such a blast, her energy on set was amazing. For KD it would be amazing to see a capsule collection with OBEY. For my art I would love to collaborate with a cosmetics brand or even a sneaker brand- my graffiti graphics would be so explosive on their product. I think if you open your heart and put the right energy into the universe anything is possible! I always like to think big. The sky is the limit!
What part of being an artist and running a clothing line is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
For the most part they are both full time entities add family responsibilities in the mix and it can be overwhelming. It literally is a balancing act but with smart time management all is not impossible. Cut out a lot of unnecessary noise and get right down to work and create. I am happiest when I am producing, creating and seeing progress. Having even short-term goals is necessary, accomplish a little of both each day and you will see the progress. Everything counts.
Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path in art or fashion?
I have many mantras - Be yourself, Be fearless and don’t give up. Don’t stay stuck on one hit you have to stay consistent and keep evolving. You have to create your own opportunities because no one is going to hand them to you. Keep it fun and simple. Don’t forget to smell the roses.
Follow @kweenzdestroy on Twitter
Kweenz Destroy on Facebook

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Women Making History: Kristian Giambi of BRULEE


Women Making History: Kristian Giambi of BRULEE

Meet Kristian Giambi, the creative ingenue behind made-in-NYC BRULEE Lingerie and Loungewear. The Northern-California native is a lifelong lover of fashion and art. BRULEE offers femininity “without the frills,” a motto that reflects Kristian’s busy lifestyle. We’ve posted about BRULEE before so were pumped to get to finally talk to Kristian about starting her own business and getting started in the fashion industry in our exclusive interview!

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

Coco Chanel for her ambition and determination.

You studied Visual Communications in school – how did you make the transition to designing lingerie and starting your own company?

Yes my college degree is in visual communications. I studied advertising, graphics, photography, branding, etc., all of which was truly instrumental in starting Brulee. I wanted to combine all I learned and loved in college with my passion for fashion and design. Studying visual design and communications I had no formal training in design or fashion, so I really had to figure it out on my own. I started doing research on the industry – factories, product development, sourcing, production, etc. I really wanted to produce in New York City, so I began connecting the dots there. Sometimes I look back and think how crazy I was for taking this on! I really had no idea what I was doing but as I put one foot in front of the other, it came together so wonderfully. From the Brulee line to company branding and everything in between, I have truly loved building every little detail that encompasses this brand.

One of your design motifs is “femininity without the frills” – what do you mean by that? What do you wish to convey through your designs?

I believe you don’t necessarily need all the frills and fluff of bows and lace to be feminine and sexy. I am not saying it is a total no-no, I just think there is a beautiful way to execute it. The Brulee design aesthetic is classic pieces that are glamorous and have a modern sensibility. That sort of modern femininity is so sexy to me.

Many of your designs look vintage inspired.  Do you try to evoke “old glamour” in your designs?

Yes, I am inspired by and do infuse the glamour and sex appeal of pin-up era in Brulee, but executed in a modern, minimalist way.

What’s your favorite piece of that you’ve created?

That’s hard to pick just one. Probably the Coco Teddy.

Who do you want to work with?

I could go on and on listing the people I’d like to work with in all aspects of design because I admire so many people.  I would love to work with Karl Lagerfeld. If I could go back in time, Helmut Newton or Coco Chanel. Also David Carson and Kelly Wearstler. Just to name a few. I could go on more!

What part of running your own business is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?

The most challenging part is simply that every day presents new and different challenges! But this is what keeps me motivated, inspired, and on my toes. I really can’t say there is any part of this I dislike.

Any advice for ladies on the fit and care of lingerie?

Certainly finding silhouettes that work for you. What looks great on one woman may not look great on another, so try out different silhouettes until you find what complements your figure the most. Care for lingerie carefully! Do not just throw into the washing machine, especially fine silks. Hand wash with a delicate solution and hang to dry. Or dry clean.

Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career in the fashion industry or running their own business?

Education is important, but beyond that I believe finding a mentor in the business who can offer their insight is invaluable. And believing in the motto that you can do whatever you set your heart out to do!

Brulee pieces run $65-$280 on brulee.net
@bruleelingerie on Twitter
Brulee on Facebook


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Women Making History: Tara Martins


Women Making History: Tara Martins

Photo by Jason McDonald

Tara Martins rides a motorcycle, once owned a scrunchie business (vintage chic), and will beat you at Texas Hold ‘em.  She’s also the US General Manager for Aussie bag brand Crumpler. In 2003, Tara had a chance encounter with the owners and pitched them the idea that she could start their business in the US. Since then, Tara has personally overseen the design, installation, and opening of multiple retail locations, a shipping warehouse, and a US headquarters office.  She’s also an avid bike rider who’s somehow found time to bike the 550 miles from San Francisco to LA and dip into the Tour de France. This summer, Tara will ride her bike 300 miles across Zambia for charity. We got to talk with her about her work-adventure balance. Check it out!


Photo by Mike Vorrasi

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
Madonna for performing the super bowl at the age of 53.
How did you get your start at Crumpler?
A metal cash box and a red hard cover notebook.
In 2002 I met Crumpler owners, Dave Roper & Will Miller, through an Australian friend. They were in NY with the intention of opening Crumpler’s first US retail store, and asked me to help them do it. I agreed. Shortly after opening the store they had to return to Australia and handed me the keys, a metal box to collect cash, and a notebook to record the sales. There was a lot of “on the job” training and me just figuring it out one day at a time. Our first store is still in the same location, although these days we use computers and modern technology to run things.
What’s your favorite part about working for Crumpler?
Our people. This group is chock-full of the most talented and interesting people I’ve had the chance to meet.
You’ve done quite a bit of traveling and bike/motorcycle riding.  How have these experiences influenced your work at Crumpler?
I’m addicted to learning, but I have to be active and challenged during the process. Many of my experiences derive from a desire to step out of my comfort zone and participate, as opposed to being a spectator.  The same goes for my work at Crumpler, I’m very hands-on with every aspect of the business, and love a good challenge.
How do you balance work with your personal adventures?
I check my email about 400 times a day, so the answer would be modern technology, which allows me to communicate from anywhere. Well almost anywhere, I’m headed to Africa in June for a charity bicycle ride across Zambia (www.bikezambia.org). I’ll have to quit email checking cold turkey during that ride.
Who do you want to see Crumpler work with?
Ace hotel. Their spaces are brilliantly curated and we share the same love for intricate attention to detail.
What part of being the US General Manager for Crumpler is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
I just recently had to go through the hiring process and ended up reading a total of 240 resumes and interviewing 30 people.  I’m not sure anyone likes reading piles of resumes, and interviews are often so contrived, it becomes a game of reading between the lines.
Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path in the fashion industry?
“You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.”
Check out Crumpler.com

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Women Making History: Phlo Finister

Twenty-year-old R&B singer Phlo Finister is determined to bring the ’60s Youthquake movement back to the forefront of our consciousness. The Oakland-born, LA-based artist might be just the person to do it. After leaving home at age fifteen, the past five years have seen her working as a model, a fashion stylist for Def Jam artists, and a singer. Her new EP, Crown Gold, features covers of ’60s favorites “Bang Bang” (originally Cher, covered more famously by Nancy Sinatra) and “Riders on the Storm” (The Doors), along with several other original tracks, including one that samples Tupac (“Hail Mary”). We bring you our exclusive interview with Phlo, and the new EP below:

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

Diana Vreeland. Complete icon - fashion, print, business, woman.
You grew up singing in church where your grandfather was a pastor.  Did you know then that you would want to go on to become a singer?

No not really, but I got over any fear I might have had of preforming in front of people.  And found enjoyment in it.


How has singing in church as a child influenced your music and development as an artist?

Classic influences, songs, the way they are are sung and why they are sung.  I didnt know it then, but it stays with you.

You are from Oakland and later moved to Los Angeles – how has growing up in California affected your sound?

LA really shaped my sound, I was young in Oakland, but I think the realities of a city like that stay with you…  LA a real place too doe.  Just a mix of everything west coast I guess.


While you were in High School you moved in with your best friend’s family and your friend’s mother was Teena Marie.  How did spending time in a musical home with a great artist like Teena Marie have an influence on you?

I was blessed to have such a great best friend.

I love the way you mash up different sounds and styles.  How did you develop this unique sound?

I’m really particular about the things I like.   I’m more of a visual person when it comes to sound. I like it like my fashion - mod.

You call yourself a Youthquaker – tell us about Youthquake 2.0 and where you see yourself fit in.

It’s something going on with the youth.  Being who you want to be.  It’s powerful when you use your creativity. It’s a movement, not like Youthquaker is a movement, but just all these kids not afraid to be themselves, that’s a Youthquaker.

I read in an interview that you’re trying to redefine what a sex symbol is by making it more about sex appeal and not taking your clothes off, which is very refreshing. Why is this important to you?

It’s important to maintain the mystery.  It’s like hiding behind my shades.  Why isn’t that beautiful anymore?

Before you began your music career you also were a model and stylist. Were you always interested in fashion? How did you become involved in the fashion industry? Do you still have an interest in working in the fashion industry?

I  started out doing modeling with friends. I always had a strong opinion on fashion so I used my personal style to create my music. I always look to designers for inspiration like Betsey Johnson and Pam Hogg or Prada - they’re my favorite.   They inspire all my art - to me, to work in the “fashion industry” is my music…

What’s your favorite song that you’ve written?
My favorite songs I’ve written have yet to be released so you’ll have to wait til poster girl comes out .
Who do you want to work with?

Missy Elliot… She’s dope.

What part of writing music and singing is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
It’s all a challenge.  The creating process is strange, like you definitely have to have an a abstract mind to make the music that a billion people relate to and feel as if they know you…  But if they relate to it, it can’t be that abstract right?
Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in the music industry?
Do everything yourself.  That way when things do start to move YOU have the power to shape your career, not let someone else own it…
Follow Phlo on Twitter @phlofinister and on tumblr
Check out her new EP, Crown Gold:

Check out these videos!

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