Day 4-13 of The (self-proclaimed) Musical Odyssey changed my life. Every day was packed with friendship, exploration, music, surprise and steps forward. Here are some highlights from each day:
Land in sunny LA!! Met at the airport by a talented local musician, Wyatt Stone, who goes to UCLA and is generous like that. We meet for the first time and head straight to In-N-Out Burger!! Then campus tour, chilltime, and email time. Cioffi then finds me and we explore Santa Monica and find some hot hippies nonbros living together in an RV with wooden floors. Mao’s kitchen, wine. The night ends at a strange bougie hookah bar.
I have some exciting meetings set up. The first is with Chrissy Stuart who manages XL Recordings for the Beggars Group out in Silver Lake. She is passionate and smart and makes the informational session really fun and exciting. Onward to Canyon Cody who works for TopSpin Media, owns a delicious record label called Gnawledge Records and knows about all the soulful events going on in town every night of the week. He insists that we come out with him to see a live Brazilian band and we tell him we’ll be there if we can’t get into the Souljah/Mambo Sauce concert at House of Blues. Carribean dinner at Cha Cha Cha with Cioffi. The waiter gives us free food and handwrites onto my receipt “Thank you, Gorgeous!” at the end of the meal. We don’t want to pay $60 to scalp tickets so we ditch HOB and head to Canyon’s art space event where the dope Brazilian live band is playing. Gorgeous music. Female conga player. 12 piece band!! We are then herded onto the next event by Canyon and his partner in crime, LA socialite photographer and blogger Farah. We end up at a shady Korean food place turned after-hours spot where M.I.A’s tour DJ is killing it and I find sticks to rock with her, assemble a crowd, and drum for a while.
Silver Lake! This area is dope! Sick vintage shopping, cute cafes, street art, hipsters. I buy a tutu, Cioffi buys a ship. I meet Jasmine De La Paz who works for TruThoughts (Quantic, Freddie Cruger) and she sits down with us and talks about her experience getting involved with the label and running the show for the company on the LA side of things. She has a wealth of knowledge and I end up recording a really interesting part of the conversation where we swap experiences about navigating sexist stereotypes in the industry. Teddi Curtis, PYT and mutual friends with my roomie Sarah Gardiner, scoops me and takes me to a panel in Hollywood with the cast of True Blood. Too bad I’ve never seen the show. Teddi is making shit happen out here! We are convinced we should form some sort of electro-pop duo. We’d be very marketable. Dinner at a deep dish pizza place; good wheat beer for me and Teddi and an IPA for Cioffi. It’s Frances Davila’s birthday night! Haven’t gone home yet (which I’ll soon find will become the norm) so I try to turn a day outfit into a night one. We end up at the Echo for this bizarre dance party where fat men and elderly women prance around on stage while the DJ plays mash-ups.
I sleep while Cioffi works at the Farmer’s Market. 4pm we finally make it out of the house again and head towards the LA flea market in Melrose. We go to Jones and get cheese and then we meet Frances and her bud for Mexican food. I’m not the biggest fan of roadside taco joints so I have more cheese. We then go on a mish to find a drum circle at Venice beach, retreat unsuccessfully, walk around the canal and head to a Jazz spot where both Jasmine De La Paz and Canyon are planning on being. It’s a good vibe and the wine is good but because I have an early meeting, we head out at 10pm and go to bed.
The first day with the GEMA (Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance) crew! This program is the reason I am in LA: Georgetown sends some students to meet with alums and key players in the industry of their interest; mine being music. In addition to meeting the GEMA founder Rich Batista I meet with Matt McMahon and Jake Zim who both work in different areas at Fox. The last meeting of the day is the highlight: I get to meet Hans Zimmer’s assistant and walk through Hans’s studio called Remote Control Productions in Santa Monica! While walking through the various hidden rooms and soundproof editing studios, I see one team working on the score for Transformers 3 and another team working on Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Unreal. At night, more music ensues and Cioffi and I hit up The Echo to catch Liv Marseco’s show (Liv is a rad drummer that Mindy at Tom Tom Mag recommended I check out). From there, Cioffi takes us to the Bootleg Theater which is this amazing warehouse space that is hosting “Lundigras”: art, music, food and aesthetix devoted to Mardi Gras. That place is amazing. If I move to LA, the first place I’d want to play a show would be there. We drive on to La Cita where they are hosting Moustache Mondays, but we don’t want to pay so we just do a photoshoot and move on. Lupe Fiasco’s drummer, Bam Alexander, who is a friend of mine, suggests we go to Amateur Night at the Conga Room. Though it’s already 2am at this point, we check it out and the percussion/soul vibes are thick. Too bad we missed it. Cioffi would have been the only white person there but we all know that wouldn’t have been an issue.
Happy International Women’s day! Queer everything! Funk gender norms! Decongest! I meet with Erin Ruane from Netflix whose opinions on navigating misogyny in the industry are thought-provoking. Some align with my own, others don’t. She believes you sort of have to turn a blind-eye to sexism and just perform as your best office self so as not to get angered or distracted by it. She also thinks that the concept of “no sex in the workplace” is ludicrous simply because there will always been men and women together in the same space. She thinks flirting and certain behavior is only natural and that by just bringing positive qualities, whether more male or more female to your job, you will be successful. One last thing she says is that women should be able to cry at the workplace without being reprimanded. Men express frustration by yelling, women do it by crying, so both reactions must be permissible. It’s equivalence, not equality, that we are fighting for. I definitely agree with that. Next is the best interview – John Alagia at The Village Studios. Oh my god! All-American Rejects recording in the next room! The Beetles Mediation Room! Eminem’s protogee recording in another room! An old Stone Mason temple with secret rooms turned into a gigantic studio where all the big LA stars come to record. John has produced a myriad of albums including a bunch of John Mayer’s and Dave Matthews’ work. I can’t stop smiling. I wish I wasn’t wearing a fucking suit. Next is the CEO of Village Roadshow. Damn dude! That night is the GEMA happy hour, Cioffi comes, and we meet an amazing chick named Tabea Soriano. She looked way too cool to have graduated from Georgetown, and apparently she thinks the same about us so we don’t bother to ask each other if the other is there for the happy hour. Turns out we all are Gtown kids and we bond and decide to link up again on Thursday. Then dinner at a Thai place with Cioffi’s crew and a girl named Bianca who works for Evolution Music doing music licensing. I give her some Second Sky and Rhythm & Culture jams. I learn a lot. Onward to The Standard Hotel. We’re on the list because Cioffi hooks it up. Swanky hipster roofparty! We unfortunately meet the biggest tool in LA. But at least the music and drinks and outfits are good. Chilltime at a bar next door called The Library where we forget to buy a drink and spend an hour just chatting instead.
Today I am wined and dined! Tedd Cittadine who works for Fox takes me out for breakfast on the lot and I see House being filmed and House himself hanging out and bossing people around. So rad. A huge production where they are filming an emergency ambulance scene in front of the fake hospital entrance. Such a cool set. Another meal with UCLA MBA candidate Daniel Morris at Literati who has an intense and go-getter approach to pursuing a career in the music industry that I’m inspired by. I decide I am going to need to get an MBA and be either in NYC or LA when I do so. Karen Flores and Lindsay take me out to a delicious Italian lunch near the MySpace Music Headquarters. Their office is swanky but it’s nice to be in a restaurant and more low-key setting. I am intimidated at first but the meeting ends up going well and both of them are really helpful and candid and inspiring. The last meeting of the day is with the Heads of Music at Fuel TV, which is a manbroshow that Fox put out. The guys love what they are doing, like my enthusiasm and encourage me to sign-up for an internship. The sun looks gorgeous so we drive to Malibu beach, chill and then part ways because Becky Akinyode’s little sister, Funmi, is willing to scoop me for Korean BBQ and Cioffi has a banjo lesson. I reconnect with Cioffi at the Saban Theater in downtown LA where we attend a panel with the cast of Parks & Recreation. I need to see this show – the cast seems amazing and Amy Poehler is something else. From there we hit up The Villains Tavern, which is located in an isolated part of town where a lot of movie sets, studios and sketchy things are. Canyon and his buddy Sean join us and an Americana band plays live while the lead singer smokes a cigar. The night concludes at East Side Love, a dive bar with a gorgeous jazz trio vibe-conducting.
I can’t believe I am still in LA. I don’t to leave. I love this place. I know this trip hasn’t been a reality but for some reason I feel like I could still go out as much even if I did have a job every day. The only thing is that…I don’t know how to drive really. Minor detail. Today I have the best meeting I’ve had all week. It’s with the CFO of Concord Music Group (everyone.is.on.this.label) and he is so nice and inspiring and smart. Instead of talking at me and talking about himself (as some of the meetings have been), he speaks like a professor about the industry. I learn so much and he leaves me with a positivity and excitement about the music business that I didn’t quite get from any of the other key players I met with. From there I meet with someone from South Park Studios who is doing what he loves. Wyatt has a soulful, amazing, beautiful Blue Grass concert at UCLA. Oh wow that show was so amazing. 6-7pm, families, kids, open space, exposed brick, kindness, soul, authenticity and a high-level of musicianship. A renewed appreciation of folk music and the deep south. Cioffi is in heaven; this is her jam. From there is the dinner for GEMA Externs at El Cholo; I have a Mojito and chips and guac and leave early and kind of buzzed since I haven’t eaten anything all day. Onward to an art gallery event on Abbot Kinney near Venice Beach. Cioffi knows the owner. The crowd is sexy and the bartender is wearing a shirt that says “I left NYC” with a broken heart in the background. Ha I love it! So perfect! Maybe one day I’ll identify? We get the photographer to shoot some photos of us because I am experimenting with this strange androgynous power outfit from my meetings earlier in the day. It turns out he works for Patrick MacMullen! The same photographer who used to shoot all of mom’s parties at our house in NYC! Amazing. Small world. From there, we shoot to downtown LA to catch parts of the Art Walk and to reconnect with Tabea for a drink at her place. Misc freaks abound and block parties ensue. Tabea works out of home for a jewelry company called Fleet and her pad is raw. So amazing. High cielings, right in the heart of downtown, and very NYC. We have some wine, discuss LA and jobs and mutual friends and then head downstairs to see what’s up. LA loves food trucks! They’re everywhere! We come across some tents and an art fair and I jam out with some rastas trying to sell djembes. They adorn me with a necklace that I don’t plan on taking off. From there, Tabea takes us to the Keyhole bar which is a fun time, we dance, but then learn about the 8.9 earthquake that has just hit Japan and are a bit depressed. Tabea’s gotta sleep early, so we bounce and Cioffi and I get ambitious and try to catch the Afrofunke party at Zanzibar. Unsuccessful, we end up finishing the night being wined and dined at her childhood hookah spot Habibi till 4am.
We drive out to a really exciting meeting at the Universal Music Group which unfortunately gets cut short. Since both I and the woman I was supposed to meet with will be at SXSW in Austin next week, we agree to meet there. Cioffi has a meeting elsewhere, so while she does her thing, I go walking on Santa Monica Blvd. There I get a bacon-wrapped hotdog. So friggin good. I would have to say that LA one-ups NYC on that front. I wander into an Armenian cassette shop and buy the strangest one I see since we have a cassette slot in the car. When I turn around to start walking, a kid carrying a guitar walking with his two friends stops in front of me and starts serenading me with an amazing love song. He sings about how I’m a babe and how we should sell our things so we can run away together.
(View video of him singing here: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1649402399833)
I applaud him, and then proceed to pull out my drumsticks for a street jam. We go scoop Steph Vizzi from the airport! Hollah!!! So rad to be rolling 3 deep at this point, even if our trips only overlap for a night. The trip culminates in the amazing thing that is about to happen next. Cioffi and I had been discussing the problems with disgusting stop-dead traffic on the 405 and how these people must be so depressed and sad and that we needed to do something to shock them out of their corporate daze. Steph says we gotta just go for it. She films on my iPhone, Cioffi drives and also directs, and I whip out my drumsticks and cover the roof of the car with a towel we find in the trunk. We que up the right Warpaint song called Composure, I open the sun deck, and proceed to drum to the song on the roof of the car while driving through slow-moving traffic. The plan works like a charm and people are into it. Most rad exhilarating experience of my life. You can view the video here:
From there, Indian food dinner with the Cioffi fam, onward to reuniting with amazing HKU homies Bryant and Alice, and all of us reconvene at a crazy gay bizarrity called The Abbey in West Hollywood. We get drunk and move from there to TruckStop Fridays because we want to continue to oddities. Then to a party where Sabo was supposed to be playing in Chinatown (for some reason we got there but never saw Sabo?) and crash by 3am back home.
I have to leave LA and I’m very depressed. It’s been an exhilarating and informative and inspiring journey and I’ve learned about myself in ways I never thought I would. I pack, have breakfast and of course am running late. Cioffi gets us there on time as always though. I hug her and Steph and woefully proceed to check in.