Little Sam's Art

Welcome to another installment of the Heart Beats Series. This is a series we explore the stories of those making an impact outside of the music industry. I started this podcast in music, and while music artists will always be the foundation of Auxoro, I felt that I was watching fascinating stories outside of music pass me by. So, I created a space for these stories to exist called Heart Beats.

This time we are going to do things a little bit differently. But first, let me tell you about our guest this week, Sam Brunell who started a company called Little Sam’s Art (@littlesamsart). Sam draws vivid, colorful, and striking sketches of music artists, actors, cartoon characters, and others. He makes some of the best artwork I’ve seen, and I don’t say that lightly. These aren’t just portraits. Sam incorporates elements from each person’s life into the artwork.

For example, in a recent sketch of Ariana Grande, Sam included a mini sketch of Mac Miller covering his face and peaking through one eye (from the Vulture profile, the last interview he did before he died). Sam also included an Eevee, one of Ariana’s most recent tattoos, in the portrait. He describes this style as “portraits within portraits.” Sam, now 26, has been drawing since six years old. He’s done some epic collaborations, including one with Justin Bieber, and his drawings have even been featured on Will Smith’s Instagram. As a kid, Sam endured multiple, serious surgeries to address spinal problems and extremity issues. On his website he says “life was a big struggle for me when growing up, undergoing many serious surgeries from a young age. Drawing and creating characters I wanted to be around seemed like an escape from it all. Ever since I remember putting pencil to paper, I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”

I think Sam makes amazing art and I reached out to have a conversation with him on the podcast. He responded, saying “I’d love to do it, but I have really bad speaking anxiety. One of my worst fears is giving speeches. I broke down in college before I had to give a presentation, and ever since then I can’t do it.” Even though Sam felt uncomfortable speaking, I still wanted to have him on the podcast. So I sent him some questions over email, and he sent me back his answers so I will be reading them for Sam. Without further ado, here is our latest installment of the Heart Beats series with Sam Brunell.

Bahari

This time, Bahari is taking over the podcast for another installment of Off The Record. For those of you who have never heard our Off The Record features before, these are usually shorter form, and the artists share experiences, tell stories, and answer questions about the moments that matter. In this episode, Ruby and Natalia of Bahari talk about the inspirations behind their latest song ‘Sad Face,’ written like the emoji [:( ]. Ruby and Natalia also speak on working through tough times in a relationship and why sometimes, love is not enough.

Chloe Lilac

This time, we sat down with Chloe Lilac, a seventeen-year-old singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, NY, right in the heart of our stomping grounds. This conversation got deep, and part of me wasn’t expecting it to. Maybe that’s my fault for underestimating a seventeen-year-old. I’m 25 now, but when I was 17 I had a lot of insecurities and some harsh experiences, but I wasn’t nearly as comfortable or as able to talk about these things like Chloe. She seems very self-aware and not just for a teenager.

In this conversation, Chloe speaks about sneaking out of parent’s apartment at 13 years old to busk in the streets of NYC, struggles with addiction, Childish Gambino, her latest project Manic Pixie Dream, and more. Even if you aren’t an avid listener to music, or maybe you haven’t discovered Chloe Lilac yet, I encourage you to listen to the full extent of this conversation. We live in a landscape where the teenage perspective can resonate with anyone from 12 to 60 years old. And if you don’t believe me, just look at what Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas is doing. This conversation definitely changed my perspective on a few things, like creativity and Alcoholics anonymous, and I hope you can give yourself the same chance. So without further ado, here is our wide-ranging, deep conversation with Chloe Lilac.

James Hersey

This time, we sat down with James Hersey, a singer-songwriter from Vienna, Austria. As an artist who does not collaborate often, James made his first mainstream dent on the charts with an original song called ‘Coming Over.’ Kygo and Dillon Francis then hopped on the track, a collaboration with James that now has over 125 million streams on Spotify alone. He was able to replicate that success with the smash hit ‘Miss You,’ which was written, sung, and produced by James.

Starting as a kid on drums who played in punk bands with a mohawk, I respect the Mohawk, James evolved into a hell of a songwriter. Even if you haven’t put the face to the voice, you have no doubt driven in the car, drank at a bar, or worked out to one of James’ beautiful, infectious melodies. After seeing massive success on the track with Kygo and Dillon Francis, singing at festivals all over the world, James could have become a go-to vocalist for mainstream electronic producers, and there would have been nothing wrong with that. Many take that path. But for James, he stayed true to his own artistry, who he was, and made the music he wanted to make. As James’ Dad says, “Creativity allows you to make mistakes, art is knowing which ones to keep.” In this conversation, we discuss the story behind ‘Coming Over’ with Kygo and Dillon Francis, a pivotal getaway experience in Austin, Texas, judgment on social media, the inspirations behind his latest project, Innverse, and more.

Even if you aren’t particularly passionate about music, or maybe you haven’t discovered James Hersey yet, I encourage you to listen to the full extent of this conversation. There are a lot of good takeaways that apply to many aspects of life outside of music. If you do anything creative, or maybe you’re at a crossroads and aren’t sure where to go, give this a listen. I’m not saying you’ll find the answer here, but you’ll be listening to a couple of people who share that uncertainty and work through it every day. So without further ado, here is our wide-ranging conversation with James Hersey.

Naomi Wild

Welcome to another installment of Off The Record where the artists themselves tell stories, share experiences and answer questions about the moments that matter. This time the absolute boss Naomi Wild talks about her fearless approach to making art, the last time she had a deep cry, feeling awkward in public, and a funny moment with Odesza and Wynne on live radio, or more accurately a live stream on live radio.

filous

This week, we sat down with multi-instrumentalist and producer, filous. He hails from Vienna, Austria and started playing music at only 10 years old. On tour, he plays the harmonica, piano, acoustic and electric guitar, and even started learning an instrument called the “onde magnetique,” which is cassette taped based. Early on, he played in metal bands, got into jazz, and eventually tested his hand at electronic remixes. His remix for ‘Coming Over’ by James Hersey, has north of 50 million streams on Spotify.

Filous continues to add to his repertoire with original tracks like ‘Bicycle’ and ‘All My Friends are Rich.’ In this conversation, we talk about a lot of things that are important, even outside of music, so I encourage you to listen to it in its entirety. We discuss Filous’ techno Grandma, what we would do with our ‘rich friends,’ getting too high, the collaborative process, Ted Talks, and more. Without further damage to your eardrums, here is our wide-ranging conversation with filous.

SHAED

This time, I sat down with a lovely group named SHAED. If you are a lover of good music or a fan of apple products you have definitely encountered their work. They have an EP called ‘Melt’ that was released in the fall of 2018, which you need to go check out, and their song ‘Trampoline’ off of the Melt EP was featured in Apple’s global campaign for the MacBook Air. That song now has over 50 million streams on Spotify alone. Chelsea, Max, and Spencer of SHAED share an uncommon and intimate dynamic not often found in the music industry, or any industry for that matter. Spencer and Max are identical twins, and Chelsea and Spencer got married last October. All three live under the same roof and have for a while with no plans to change. While this may seem odd to people on the outside, it really isn’t, especially once you get to know them.

Chelsea, Spencer, and Max have known each other for over a decade, and as a group, they were spending 99% of their time together anyway. Living in the same spot only strengthens that bond and makes the creative process readily accessible. When Spencer and Max have an idea at 2 in the morning, they can hop down to the studio in their boxers while Chelsea is fast asleep, because she’s not as much of a night owl. Then Chelsea can wake up the next morning and play around with what Max and Spencer have created.

In this conversation, we dive into what the creative process of SHAED looks like, how recharging by exploring nature can give you that extra boost of creativity, how Max came out to his brother Spencer, whipping up recipes in the instant pot, and more. Even if you aren’t an avid listener of music, or maybe you haven’t heard of SHAED, I encourage to listen to the full extent of this conversation. We talk about a lot of moments and lessons that can be applied to many areas of life, especially those outside of music. Also, they’re pretty cool and I had too much fun with this conversation. And Chelsea promised me pasta so I’ll definitely take her up on that. So maybe whip up a bowl of your own pasta, pour up a hefty glass of wine, and turn up this wide-ranging conversation with SHAED.

Lost Kings

This time we sat down with Rob Abisi and Nick Shanholtz, otherwise known as Lost Kings (@wearelostkings). They garnered early attention by producing unofficial remixes for Disclosure, Dirty South, and the Killers. Since then, Rob and Nick have been extremely active on tour and in the studio, releasing an official remix with Rihanna and making original smashes of their own. Shortly after New Years, the duo released an EP titled Paper crowns with features from Wiz Khalifa, Loren Gray, Social House, and more. This entire EP is an absolute banger for the house party, pregame, car ride, shower, doesn’t matter. I’ve been bumping Paper Crowns and sometimes that does involve me flexing the pipes in the shower. That’s the power of Paper Crowns.

In this conversation, Nick and Rob discuss building success in LA - the city where many dreams go to die, chasing those dreams while on the verge of giving up and moving back home, the weirdest jobs they’ve had to work, being baked on the set of the ‘Don’t Kill My High’ video shoot, what goes into planning a set for Ultra, and more. Even if you don’t make music, listen to electronic music, or maybe you haven’t heard of Lost Kings, this conversation is one you will want to listen to. If you do anything creative, whether it’s a side project or your main source of income, you need that relentless drive and something unique to offer, which Lost Kings has and then some. So get a little comfortable, maybe light up a j, pour up a drank, and stay tuned for a conversation that will definitely not Kill Your High.

Bryan Sammis (La Bouquet/Olivver the Kid)

Welcome to another installment of Off The Record where the artists themselves tell stories, share experiences, and answer questions about the moments that matter. This time, Bryan Sammis, formerly of The Neighbourhood and currently of La Bouquet and Olivver The Kid, shares a clip about how finding who you are, how finding your purpose, can help you manage the harmful cycle of anxiety, depression, and this crazy fucking thing called life. Bryan had a breakthrough, catharsis moment when he woke up half-drunk in a widow’s attic in New Orleans, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. So without further ado, here is Off The Record with Bryan Sammis.

Kevin Garrett

This week, we sat down with Kevin Garrett (@kevinogarrett), a singer-songwriter from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a Grammy award nominated artist, a multi-instrumentalist, and someone who makes some of the most intimate, powerful sounds I’ve heard. He’s also a funny guy, even though he’ll probably tell you that he’s not, and he made an appearance on the comedy production series ‘Funny or Die,’ back in 2017.

He just dropped an album called ‘HOAX,’ which stands for Hell of a Heartbreak. I listened to it straight through while I was walking to and from Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago. I went to Trader Joe’s for some eggs and chicken and ended up leaving with 6 bottles of merlot and 10 tissue boxes. That’s the power of Kevin Garrett. I was probably still a couple of bottles short.

In this conversation, we spoke about Kevin’s early memories of Pittsburgh, his approach to songwriting, meeting Beyonce, the inspirations behind HOAX, and more. Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to watch Kevin perform a few songs off of HOAX at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC. In his own words during the performance, Kevin said, there will be “no hits tonight,” only new stuff. Well, I think time will definitely bring multiple hits out of this album, and I’m truly grateful for the sounds he’s brought into this world. So without further ado, here is our deep and wide-ranging conversation with Kevin Garrett.

Yoste

Welcome to another installment of ‘Off The Record’ where the artists themselves speak about pivotal moments, share experiences, and answer questions about the things that matter most. This time, Yoste (@soundsofyoste), a producer and songwriter from Brisbane Australia, talks to us a bit about his approach to songwriting and applying emotion to the actual song structure. In his bio, Yoste writes “I’ve struggled for years with a severe sense of listlessness and general lack of purpose. I still do in fact. It’s something I now recognize in many of the people around me, both young and old. It’s damn fascinating to write about.” Well, I can say Yoste, you are damn fascinating to listen to as well, both your words and the music.


SLANG

Welcome to our latest installment of our 'Off The Record' series where the artists themselves tell stories, share experience, and answer questions about the moments that matter. In this episode, SLANG, a rapper/songwriter/producer from the outskirts of London, opens up about some of the darkest times he's been through, the anger that built up inside, and a conversation in a cafe that changed his life.


Sam Dameshek (photographer)

In this episode of OffStage Spotlight, we spoke to photographer and content creator Sam Dameshek (@samdameshek). Offstage Spotlight is a series where we highlight those in the industry that make an impact outside of the spotlight. Sam has shot superstars like Shawn Mendes, Bazzi, Miley Cyrus, Madison Beer, Post Malone, and more. At only 15 years old, he started to get tapped by corporations like Pac Sun, Aeropostale, and Tommy Hilfiger to take photos for their campaigns that would ultimately represent these global companies. Now 4 years later, Sam has cemented himself as one of the most in-demand photographers in the entertainment industry.

From an outside perspective, it might seem like Sam has the perfect life of photographing beautiful people, hanging around rockstars, and living the absolute dream. But the path to his current level has not always been smooth. Jealousy from others, anxiety, and the normal struggles of adolescence all played a part in Sam’s story as he entered the spotlight as a sophomore in high school. His bio says he failed photography class in high school, but we’ll get into that later. A photo can say much more than words ever could, and there’s a lot more to Sam than just the man behind the camera. And none of this would have happened if he hadn’t first picked up the camera and taken photos of some friends who were skating and surfing. So, without further ado, here is our deep conversation with Sam Dameshek.

Citizen Cope

For this episode, we sat down with the legendary songwriter/producer Citizen Cope otherwise known as Clarence Greenwood. The first time I heard Citizen Cope, I was 12 years old and watching the movie Coach Carter. At the time, I didn’t know who Citizen Cope was, but I knew that his song made me feel connected to players in the movie. Now when I listen to his music as a slightly more mature adult, I also feel a deeper sense of connection to myself. His production and lyrics foster a certain sense of introspection paired with observations of everything that’s going on in the world. As Cope explains in an interview with Billboard, “I think everybody feels like there are elements in this world that are not so fuzzy and warm, and we see the harshness in the reality of life. Life is not an easy thing, but we need to look for a commonality of love and empathy that can conquer even the worse situations.”

It’s been about 7 years since Citizen Cope released a full-length project. He just put out his latest album called Heroin and Helicopters and you should probably listen to it. It’s really fucking good. The title of the album derives from a conversation that Cope had with Carlos Santana at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Santana told him to stay away from the two H’s - Heroin and Helicopters. Music artists haven’t had good track records from either of those. And it makes for a hell of an album title. In this conversation, Cope and I talk about the connection between poetry and songwriting, Cope scalping tickets as a teenager in DC learning street economics, eating steaks with Matthew McConaughey, and dealing with stage fright. Even if you aren’t interested in songwriting and production, or maybe you’re not a fan of Citizen Cope, I encourage you to listen to the entirety of the conversation. We talk about a lot of things common to the human experience and things that anyone can apply to a struggle that they’re going through. And you’ll probably turn into a Cope fan by the end. Without further ado, here is our deep and extensive conversation with Citizen Cope.

Justin Fleischer (Documentarian for Logic, Creative Director of Elysium)

This time, we sat down with the man, the myth, the legend Justin Fleischer (@jflei). He is the documentarian for Logic and the creative director of Logic’s label Elysium, and he has done a lot. Justin has been a public school teacher, he’s shot videos for Iron Solomon, including some in the abandoned tunnels in the Westside highway, he was the director of visual production at hot new hip hop, and now he works with Logic to create some of the most eye-catching, dynamic, and honest content in the game. On this episode, Justin talks about his decision to leave teaching, shooting the Everybody documentary with Logic, what makes a good director, and more. Even if you aren’t a director or content creator, I encourage you to listen to this episode. I believe everyone should have a creative outlet, whether they make a living off of it or not, and Justin takes us through what it’s like to be in those beginning stages when you’re experimenting, failing, making adjustments, and trying to find your lane. And Justin would tell you that he still endures those same cycles even today. So without further ado, here is our wide-ranging conversation with Justin Fleischer.

Call Me Loop

Welcome to our first installment of the 'Off The Record' series where the artists themselves tell stories, talk about experiences, and answer questions about the things that matter most all while having some fun. This week, Call Me Loop answers questions that deal with anxiety, her tips for the "casual hookup," her best purchase under $100, calming nerves before a show, and more. She just dropped her latest EP, Drama, which you can stream now wherever you listen to music.

A R I Z O N A

This week, we sat down with A R I Z O N A, the band not the state. A R I Z O N A would want me to tell you that they’re just three normal guys, Zach, Nate, and David, who make music as a medium to connect with people. All three grew up in New Jersey, and as you’ll soon learn, there is a very important distinction between North Jersey and The Southern part of the state.

Early on, Zach, Nate, and David broke into the industry as songwriters and producers, making music for other artists, a more of a behind the scenes day-to-day. Somewhere along that line, the guys hit a low point in production and were considering getting full-time jobs outside of music. In the depths of that dark place, they made a song called ‘Let Me Touch Your Fire.’ They didn’t mean for it to turn into anything, but the people responded and all of a sudden they found themselves on the other side of the glass. In Zach’s words “we got home and decided to make something with no bounds, requirements, goals, or marks. We just wanted to create for the sake of creating.”

In this episode, the band dives into mentality behind their creative process, how they dug themselves out of that dark place, building a makeshift studio in a Toyota Corolla, Touring with Panic! at the Disco, the realities of being full-time music artists, and more. So Let us touch your fire with this episode as we take you into the story behind the music.

The Spotlight Effect

In this installment of the Self-Care Series, we address the Spotlight effect. We started the self-care series in honor of the late Mac Miller to discuss issues related to physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and The Spotlight Effect is something that none of us humans can escape. But you can better equip yourself to handle the situations when the spotlight strikes. The Spotlight Effect is a phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are noticed more than they really are. By recognizing this effect and becoming aware when it is happening to you, you can disarm it and become more free in the moment. So without further ado let’s shed that spotlight.

Why Gender Matters with Dr. Leonard Sax

For this week’s episode and the latest installment of the Self Care Series, I sat down with Dr. Leonard Sax to discuss his book Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers need to know about the science of Sex Differences. We started the Self Care series in honor of the late Mac Miller to address issues related to physical, mental, and social well-being. Understanding the differences between boys and girls, men and women, is paramount to self-care and your relationships with others. A little bit of background info on Dr. Sax: He graduated MIT at the age of 19, earned his Ph.D. and MD in psychology from University of Pennsylvania, and for 19 years he was a practicing family physician in Maryland. Dr. Sax has spoken on the issues of child and adolescent development throughout the US, Bermuda, Canada, England, and numerous other countries, and he has visited over 400 schools since 2001.

Now, what makes understanding gender differences so important? We live in a society where, according to Dr. Sax, “the lack of awareness of gender differences has had the unintended result of reinforcing gender stereotypes.” For example, did you know that for the average boy to hear you as well as the average girl, you have to speak about 8 decibels higher, which is equivalent to 3 clicks on the car radio? Or that on average, girls’ visual systems are better at picking up color, detail, and texture than boys? And boys are better at picking up on speed and direction? There are concrete differences between boys and girls, and there are millions of ways to be male and female. Gender differences do not equate to gender inequalities. We should be celebrating these differences and better understanding them, rather than pretending like they don’t exist.

Even if you have no interest in gender differences, I encourage you to listen to this conversation to broaden your perspective because these issues affect everyone, including me and you. And yes, people may disagree with some things said in this episode, and I want that. I encourage you to reach out to me and Dr. Sax with any thoughts you have on this episode. Both of our emails will be in the description of this podcast, along with a link to Dr. Sax’s book Why Gender Matters. No matter how difficult, politically incorrect, or polarizing a certain topic may be, the goal should always be to have a conversation grounded in facts.

Sol

This week, we sat down with the Seattle-based rapper Sol. During his time at the University of Washington, he was awarded the Bonderman Scholarship which allowed Sol to travel to 10 countries in 10 months. One of the requirements of this trip was that he had to go alone. At the time, Sol sat at #1 on the iTunes Hip Hop charts and #4 globally after the release of Yours Truly, then decided to drop off the map. When most would look to do anything to capitalize financially and socially on an album’s success, Sol saw it more important to find himself.

In this episode, Sol talks about the impact of this ten-month journey, how he actually started as a painter before music, his relationship with Macklemore, a pivotal conversation with his Aunt, studying under Seattle Legend Isaac Meek, and the creative process behind his most recent album that just dropped March 1st, Soon Enough. Even if you aren’t an avid listener to Sol or music in general, I highly recommend you listen through this conversation. This talk was more than music. Sol drops some unique insight on crafting the vision of an independent artist, understanding different cultures, and why your definition of success should not be defined by the mainstream. Without further ado, here is our wide-ranging conversation with Sol.