We both came to really appreciate music in an age still dominated by full-length albums; an age of first cassette tapes, then CDs and then, when we hit college-age, vinyl, in its fledgling re-emergence.

So, yes, we’re rather old, but more to the point, we still often think of consuming music in doses akin to traditional album formats—10-15 songs, all tied together in some sort of theme, even if it’s just in the sense that it shows you a snapshot in time of a particular artist or artists and their work; side A, side B, with strong openers on each side and ending on something with a tone of finality and/or summation.

Whether it’s intentional or hard-wired, we often approach these mixtapes in the same way—this month, we start with one of two brand new and timely songs by one of our favorite bands, Braids, each of which tackles how we interact with each other in this digital age. In their own words:
“For those of u that have ever taken selfies, contorted ur body for selfies, pushed up ur breasts, hid ur breasts, hid ur ass, pushed up ur ass, exaggerated ur bulge, exaggerated ur collarbones, turned up the contrast, softened ur lines, been ghosted, ghosted, used tinder, failed at tinder, fallen down an instagram hole, deleted and downloaded it, deleted and downloaded it, deleted and downloaded it, wandered the drug store for clarity, thought hair dye could ease ur pain, at least for a couple days, and flipped the bird at 1 or all of these things – these songs are 4 u. We hope you can sing with them, scream with them, dance with them, laugh with them and dream of how u want to feel and deserve to feel. Take a moment for urself.”

In a kind of echo to that opener, we end the mix with the return of  Belgian musician, rapper, singer, and songwriter Stormae who gives us his first original material in five years, “Défiler”, about being left behind and having your head stuck in your phone and wondering maybe which is worse. Last month, Stormae’s label Mosaert presented its very first fashion show at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche in Paris to mark the release of its latest collection, Capsule no 5“. Dubbed an “enhanced fashion show”, the whole thing combined movement and choreography by dancer and choreographer Marion Motin with an intricate set designed by Mosaert and Le Bon Marché’s creative teams and Stormae’s 9+ minute song setting the sonic backdrop. The video for the song, by Sacha Wiernik and Luc Junior Tam, captures the whole impressive event.

And giving the spine to the mix (or kicking off the ‘second side’, whichever you prefer) is another significant return—that of longtime favorite Lykke Li.  The Swede-turned-Angeleno has teased a new album out June 8th—her first in four years—and, by the sound of this track and another she’s released, fellow fans will not be disappointed.

In-between those three musical pillars we have a dreamy new song from Nashville’s Bantug; the return of Sydney-born, Paris-based songwriter Jack Grace; and some dystopian hip hop from Chicago’s Air Credits (“music from the not too distant future, when the planet’s water supply has all but ceased, the landscape turning to desert, the desert turning to wasteland”), which features Show You Suck, who we featured a couple years back. Then we’ve got a string of AKAs that played SXSW this year—breezy hip hop, also from Chicago, from Knox Fortune (AKA Kevin Rhomberg); something a little jazzier from the always-impressive Cadence Weapon (AKA Toronto’s Roland “Rollie” Pemberton); and a beautiful  soundtrack for dreamily driving through the desert from Slisbee, Texas’ Lomelda (AKA Hannah Read).

We’ve also got the first new work from DJ/producer/mash-up-artist/musician Girl Talk, featuring Brooklyn’s Erick the Architect; a nice pick-me-up from Brooklyn’s Maria Usbeck; more melodic electronic music from France’s Kidswaste featuring DC’s Manila Killa; a bouncy sing-along from Sydney’s Alison Wonderland; a glitchy banger from Stockholm’s Baba Stiltz; and something a little more pop than noise from Meghan Remy’s U.S. Girls.

As always, enjoy.

Below, the aforementioned video/fashion show and the lovely cover art for Braids’ new split single, by photographer Melissa Gamache.

Two items of produce are at the peak of their growing season locally right now.

Okay, that’s not true—this is Southern California in April; like, a million things are at peak season right now. But for the purposes of this piece, we’re focusing on two of the one million—snap peas and green garlic.

Both vegetables have been at our favorite farmers’ market stands for the past month or so, but they’re each hitting their respective sweet spots just now. The former, snap peas (AKA sugar snap peas), usually have a pretty long growing season, but they’ve been especially delectable of late, hitting the pinnacle of their distinct earthy sweetness.

Green garlic—which is essentially just young garlic that retains its leafy green tops—by comparison, has a relatively short season before it becomes…well, garlic. As with other early harvest crops (think baby arugula), the taste is less pungent or spicy than it would be in its more mature form; which, in the case of garlic, creates a great opportunity for using it raw. And what better use for raw garlic than homemade pesto.

Your traditional pesto—or pesto alla genovese—at its most basic, consists of garlic, pine nuts, fresh basil leaves, coarse salt, Parmesan, pecorino, and olive oil, all ideally of the highest quality given that, essentially, you’re just blending everything up and serving it as is, so ingredients drive the taste.

In the case of this seasonal dairy-free variant, we’re using the brighter, less aggressive green garlic, obviously, subbing in the earthy sweetness of the snap peas for the distinct anise-esque basil taste, keeping the coarse salt + olive oil, using a vegan Parmesan, and then using pistachios instead of pine nuts, which retain the rich, fatty nut flavor, but give the pesto a slightly more buttery taste and fewer piney notes. Plus it makes the pesto that much more green in color.

For the pasta, we’ve talked through this before on these pages (specifically, here), but we’re huge fans of making fresh, vegan pasta at home—despite what you may think, it’s really easy once you get the hang of it and so beyond amazing in taste. Plus it’s just three ingredients—white flour, vegan egg replacement, and a dash of salt. That’s it. In the page referenced above, we grind flax seed and use that as an egg replacer and binder, but it’s since got even easier with Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Egg. When we’re making pasta for two, we essentially just measure out a half cup of flour, make the equivalent of one egg (2 TBSP + 1/2 cup of cold water), add a dash of salt, mix well, and then add flour as needed until the dough forms a ball that’s not too sticky. That’s it. Then we let it rest for a half hour and roll it out, adding more flour if it sticks to the rolling pin and keeping in mind that the more we roll it or knead the dough ball, the more the gluten activates and creates a nice, well-bound pasta dough. Then we cut as we like and boil til it floats. Again, the more you do it, the easier it gets and the more it’s second nature. And The Kitchen has a good post that walks you through the particulars too if you need more details. But you can also totally use any store-bought pasta with this recipe.

For the pesto though, here’s what you need:

Serves two, with a decent amount left over most likely
green garlic, one stalk
snap peas, 2 cups
in-shell pistachios, 1 cup (or equivalent shelled)
grated vegan Parmesan, 6 tbsp (we like Follow Your Heart’s or this nice homemade one from Minimalist Baker)
coarse sea salt, 2 dashes
extra virgin olive oil, 3 tbsp

First, trim the tips of the green leaves of the garlic and discard anything brown/tan or overly leathery and dry—you only want to use the supple green parts of the leaves and then the inside of the forming bulb, none of its bitter, fibrous matter; cut into 1″ pieces or so and set aside. Next, shell the pistachios, removing as much of the papery brown skins inside as you can without going crazy and using only the green meat. Now throw both ingredients into a decent blender along with your salt and vegan Parmesan and pulse until you have a nice, consistently coarse powder.

Now, trim the tips from the snap peas and cut into 1″ chunks. If you want to get really into it, you can also remove the stringy membranes from the peas too, but it’s not totally necessary as you’ll be blending this too in exactly one second. Throw those into the blender (see?) along with the olive oil and blend well, until you have a nice, well-mixed but still somewhat coarse pesto sauce. If you’re using it right away, great, do it; if not, refrigerate immediately so you keep as much of the fresh green look as you can.

To finish, we like to top with a few basil leaves and throw a little bit of Follow Your Heart’s other Parmesan on top, but, again, totally not necessary. What is necessary—fresh ingredients; so get to your local farmers market and give this a try (NYC/East Coast friends—give it a couple monthds, maybe).

Back in May of 2016, we were lucky enough to catch Peter Bjorn and John at one of our favorite, more intimate Los Angeles venues, the Echo. Opening up for them was an unknown-to-us solo act, Okay Kaya, AKA Norwegian singer-songwriter, Kaya Wilkins. It was one of those great moments when the opening act proves nearly as powerful and enjoyable as the band you originally came to see. Her set was stripped, emotional, and moving…until some drunk douche in the back heckled her for some reason. Well, if life were an 80s movie and she actually gave a fuck (which I highly doubt she does), said douche would get turned away the door at her coming, I presume to be sold-out shows in support of what could be one of the year’s best albums. We’re kicking this mixtape off with one of two singles from coming full-length, Both (we have a video for the other below because we love it so much).

What other sonic gems are we sharing this month? Glad you asked.

As always, Australia’s exploding music scene has bled into this mix, first with the straight-up pop danceability from Sydney’s Nicole Millar. Then we seem to have inadvertently lauded on-high our old home of Brooklyn with a  string of artists who are keeping it legit in the ‘borough of trees’—we’ve got some catchy glitch from solo project A Beacon School and Brooklyn-by-way-of-San-Juan Balun, some excellent, slightly less glitchy female-fronted electronic pop from Half Waif and Mothica; and some solid indie pop from four-piece Plastic Picnic. Then we’re getting back to our current home of Los Angeles with some experimental electronica from French-American artist, Sydney Wayser, better known by her stage name, CLARA-NOVA and taking a trip up to the great white north with Montreal’s Men I Trust, both new favorites in the studio.

Then, don’t shut this down before you give it a try, but we’ve got some witch hop (it’s a thing, I swear) from an artist we kind of inexplicably love, Scranton’s own Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. We’ve also got lovely new singles from the most excellent Londoner Nilüfer Yanya, Gothenburg’s Little Dragon, and one teaming Scottish electronic band CHVRCHES with The National‘s Matt Berninger.

And while we hate to play the comparison game, we’re ending things out with a track from Melbourne’s G Flip that has us wanting to dance around the bedroom like we’ve got old Robyn pumping out of shitty speakers at maximum volume with early aughts pre-caffeine-prohibition Sparks in-hand (our twenties were heady, orange-tinged days with little disposable income) before letting none other than Tracey Thorn drop the mic for us via a new collab with London electronic artist George Fitzgerald that’s co-writen with Oli Bayston, the frontman of one of our favorite bands, Boxed In.

That’s it! Enjoy!

And by way of follow up to the video below, you can donate to Planned Parenthood here.

The social media platform Facebook has come a long way since it first started in 2004. Back when we first joined up in 2007 amid a scant few friends at the time, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the platform would grow to become one of the largest companies in the world with 2.2 billion monthly active users or that it could unite and incite movements for socio-political change halfway around the world or, I don’t know, be used as a tool by foreign powers to help seat a reality TV star and all-around awful human being to the highest office in our land.

Now, with CEO + founder Mark Zuckerberg testifying the Senate Judiciary Committee in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, at the very least, this should prove to be a major turning point, not just for Facebook, but for social media in general. The loss of data and, with it, trust, has pushed many of us to re-examine how we use the web, what we make public, and how we value our information. But, as many point out, Facebook isn’t alone in how they treat their users and monetize their information. Writer Louise Matsakis put it most eloquently for WIRED recently: “Facebook collects arguably the most private information, but plenty of other popular social networking apps like Snapchat and Twitter collect your data too. That’s their entire business model: When you’re not paying for a product, you are the product.

Even before all of the scandal, many within our own social circles seemed to be losing interest in Facebook and the like, for myriad reasons. But what many keep coming back to—ourselves included—was the now-Facebook-owned company, Instagram: What does all this mean for the much-beloved image-sharing platform?

California-based creative digital marketer and longtime friend of raven + crow John Capone put a timely edge on the whole affair for us—”I feel like in the ether now is that people like Instagram and it’s generally evolved pretty well and not become a pile of flaming garbage like Facebook and Snapchat have recently,” John told us. “But the fear is there for users and marketers alike no matter what perspective you have. There’s only so much a user can do (especially with Snap where the developers ruined it) but I’ll always advocate for good citizenship when it comes to these communities.”

With that in mind, we reached out to some of our favorite Instagram users—artists and entrepreneurs who we think use the platform well—for advice on how to keep the ship afloat in this sea of uncertainty. How do we keep Instagram fun and—especially for fellow business-owners—valid in this climate?

The resulting common thread: be true to yourself, your brand, and your community.

Below, we’ve collected advice from friends and colleagues in our various communities on how best to keep it all from burning down. Click their IG banner image to visit their accounts (they’re all awesome). And the last bit of advice from Tomoko is short + succinct, but you really do need to see what she does with stories—magical stuff.

Stacy Michelson—artist, designer, lover-of-food, and real-life Energizer Bunny
IG is my favorite tool to use to connect with people and showcase my brand and what I do. It also gives me a chance to allow people to get to know ME. I don’t have a formula for posts, but I try and do 75% biz and 25% Stacy the person, so you feel like you get a sense of who creates this stuff. And I love stories. I love watching people’s stories and I love making them. I really feel like you can know someone better that you’ve never met with video. It’s their voice, their face, their humor, their life. I have been able to post the day-to-day silliness of my life and interests, like what i’m eating, cooking, and the silly songs I make up all day long. People seem to really like that and tell me often—in comments or in person at events—that my songs and general goofball-ness is a favorite part of their day. How cool is that? Hopefully that connection they feel with me turns into internet friend and then customer. AND I always try and reply to comments unless it’s mean, in which case I just swipe delete and forget it. No point in putting energy into that nonsense.

Jacky Wasserman of vegan apparel company beetxbeet
I think the best thing is to stay true to yourself and your brand. IG is a place that started as a way to connect with others, so just going back to those roots no matter how IG choses to change their algorithm etc is a good way to look at it—finding new ways to stay engaged and connected with your audience through the tools IG provides. We don’t know what kind of future IG has but, for now, taking advantage of the ways it can help connect you to others and market your brand is what we have to work with. If you are concerned about losing the platform, I’d say make sure to have your customers visiting your site often through blog posts and newsletters so there’s still a way to connect outside of the app.

Carolyn Suzuki—artist, illustrator, and princess of pattern
To be a part of a community, I think it’s important that you leave supportive comments for others, follow those who inspire you, and post and share your work on a consistent basis. I think the last point is probably the most important—you want people to know you’re out there doing the work and showing up everyday. Regardless of the quality of work, this commitment is what’s inspiring and I think other makers out there can feel that!

John Sepal—photographer and style documentarian behind Tokyo Camera Style
I honestly don’t care about analytics or numbers—my interest in IG is based on using it to share/celebrate a slice of photographic culture with anyone interested. The popularity tokyocamerastyle has gained is due to consistent content that is informative and positive. The fact that there’s a documentary angle is interesting—the cameras I post are ones I see out on the streets being used. Recently I’ve been expanding from just gear to my real interests—photo exhibitions and photobooks. I try to present things in a fair and clear manner and people respond to this authentic aspect. I don’t like accounts that re-gram other peoples’ pictures or request of cameras or bags to gain a following. That’s boring. Everything on TCS is original stuff that celebrates something that film photographers around the world can feel a part of.

Allison Sherman—sustainable fashion blogger
First, be thoughtful in the content you post. You don’t have to write something personal or even relevant every time you post a photo, but the image and visuals are very important—that’s what catches people’s eye! If it’s something you like but that doesn’t necessarily match your feed or vibe, post it on Instagram stories or post multiple photos and do a swipe to see more feature and have the first photo match your vibe. Similar editing style is also very aesthetically pleasing!

And check out the explore page or search relevant tags that you’re interested in. Often times you’ll stumble upon great accounts. Like their photos, comment, and/or follow them! Not sure of who to engage with to increase your following? Pick an account that you have similar content with or a similar account you aspire to be like and go and see who likes their photos. Choose those people to connect with!

Find an Instagram planning app that works for you! I use an app called PLANN. It helps me plan posts ahead of time and keep photos in the queue for me to post later. If stuff is in my camera roll, it often gets lost with all the other photos I take and it’s nice to have all the solid insta-worthy photos in one spot. I know there are many other apps like this, but PLANN was only a one time payment of under $7 and works pretty well! I had a free trial of another app that wanted me to pay monthly making it over $100 a year—yikes! Some Instagram planning/analytics apps are free but don’t have many features, so do a little research and find one that works for you!

Tomoko Imade Dyen—Japanese food ambassador and IG story savant 

Use stories to tell a story! It doesn’t have to be an epic, but do tell more than what you are doing.

 

Last week, British food writer, journalist, and chef Nigel Slater posted to his socials a rather enticing photo of a butternut tart he made with smoked bacon, parsley, and Parmesan.

We’ve been fans of Slater since his 2009 cookbook, Tender: A Cook and his Vegetable Patch. It was one of the first cookbooks we’d ever owned that merged well those world of the personal memoir and the more traditional, recipe-driven instruction and featured truly stunning photography—both commonplace enough in the world of cookbooks now, but new for us in the aughts. We love vegan cookbooks and vegan cookbook authors, but, having been vegans for about two decades now, both of us tend to find more value and excitement in working from non-vegan cookbooks that are vegetable-centric, and Tender remains to this day, so many years later, one of our favorites.

Back to the tart, though, Slater posted it to promote a piece for The Guardian where he waxes poetic on the virtues and challenges of the butternut squash—“The marshmallow note of squashes, and particularly the butternut, needs taming with something savoury. …Such flavours balance rather than bully, calming the butternut’s one-note sugar hit.”—and shares two of his favorite butternut recipes, the tart being one of them. Seeing the recipe, full of milk, heavy cream, butter, cheese, and bacon, we saw a challenge in making a vegan version, but, with some of the cruelty-free products and dairy-/egg-replacements on the market these days, we thought we were up for it. The result was a rich, savory dish that we’re guessing will become a regular staple for us in these few colder Southern California months.

Recipe below, all derived from Slater’s original, which provided measurements in grams, largely, so there’s a little rough conversion there too (150 grams of flour is actually more like . If you haven’t yet tried Miyoko’s Vegan Cultured Butter (rich, coconut based, and made here in California) or  Follow Your Heart’s new Vegan Egg, they’re both game-changers in the kitchen and highly recommended if you’ve been yearning for a new butter and/or egg replacement. Replacing the heavy cream Slater calls for, we’re using a homemade cashew cream, which is a constant staple for us. We talk through basics on how to make it with a previous recipe for fresh pasta, but, basically, it’s a matter of soaking a cup or two of raw cashews in water overnight and blending excessively with olive oil, a little sesame oil, nutritional yeast, raw garlic, and, ideally, some homemade brine and pickled cauliflower stem or something to give it some funk like that—you can simply salt and let stand some stem for a few hours and it’ll do; and just experiment—blend the ingredients, add things gradually, and taste-test as you make it. Then, for the bacon, we were torn between using something like Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon and the shiitakes, but ended up wanting to go a little less processed, more whole foods. But, for the record, I’m sure a nice vegan bacon like that would work really well (and if you go that route, nix the aminos/soy, smoke, paprika, and sesame oil below). We don’t list it in the ingredients, but we had some fresh basil on-hand that we tore up and used to top once the tart was cooling—nice, but definitely not necessary.

We used a run-of-the-mill 6″ pie tin. Nigel claims this serves 6-8…. we ate half of it on our own in a single sitting, so I guess we’re just rounding out that over-eating American cliché?

For the pastry:
Miyoko’s Vegan Cultured Butter (or another dairy-free butter….but this one’s really good) 6 tbsp
plain flour 1.2 cups (we like King Arthur brand—they’re a founding B Corp AND make great products)
Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg 2 (instructions come with the product, but it’s basically 2 tbsp of the powder + .5 cups of cold water, whisked)
Follow Your Heart Grated Parmesan 4 tbsp
totally un-branded water 3-4 tbsp

For the filling:
small butternut squash (roughly 1 lb)
sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms 1 cup
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low-sodium soy sauce .5 cup
liquid smoke (usually found near the barbecue sauce in the grocery store) 1 tbsp
smoked paprika 1 tbsp
sesame oil 1 tbsp
olive oil 1 tbsp
Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg 2
cashew cream 1 cup
unsweetened nut milk .25 cup
fresh parsley chopped, a small handful

To finish:
Follow Your Heart Parmesan 2 tbsp

Start with the pastry—cut the butter into small dice-size pieces and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it has the texture of soft, fresh breadcrumbs. Alternatively, reduce to fine crumbs in a food processor. Here, the original calls specifically for egg yolks, but, from our reading on the subject, the reason for that is usually to provide more moisture to things like dough—FYH’s Vegan Egg mentions on their instructions that recipes calling for eggs and water often don’t need as much water, and we found that just using two equivalent vegan eggs, as called for above, worked totally fine. Anyone who follows through the links above will notice too that we’re siting two different vegan Parmesans that Follow Your Heart makes. Though each of those products have different tastes, ingredients, and textures, we’re guessing you could use one of the other, we just happened to have both on-hand. If you use each like we did, just use the grated one in the dough and the more shredded one to finish. Add the vegan eggs, the grated parmesan and the water, a tablespoon at a time, stopping when you have a firm, even textured dough. Pre-heat the oven to 390F°.

Next, slice your shiitake into small, thin strips and marinate in the mixture of aminos/soy, smoke, paprika, and sesame oil. Turn the mushrooms over to coat evenly, gently squeeze, turn again, and let sit for a half hour or so to fully marinate. Drain and then fry the mushrooms in the oil in a shallow pan until crisp. Remove from heat. (Again, skip this step if you’re using a pre-made vegan bacon.)

Peel the butternut, halve lengthways, discard stringy fibers and seeds, and then cut the meat into short wedges. Place the pieces of squash in a steamer basket and cook over boiling water for 8-10 minutes until relenting—soft but not falling-apart-soft.

Make the filling—beat the vegan eggs, cashew cream, and nut milk, season tot taste with salt, if needed, then add the chopped parsley. Place the dough in the pie tin and gently push in out to the tin’s edges and up it’s side, making certain you have pushed the dough deep into the corners and that there are no tears or cracks. You may need to add a little flour as you go if the dough thins out too much or is too sticky—that’s fine. Chill for 20 minutes in the fridge. Bake for 20-30 minutes in the pre-heated oven, until the pastry is golden, browning a bit at the edges, and dry to the touch.

Lower the heat to 350°F, place the pieces of butternut in the pastry shell, and then scatter over the crisped shiitake/vegan bacon. Pour in the filling and dust the surface with the grated parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and, as Slater says, “leave to cool until just warm (when tarts such as this are at their most delicious).” Cut, serve, enjoy.

One of our favorite photographers to follow on Instagram is NYC-based music photographer Shervin Lainez. His work consistently captures the voice of some of our favorite bands and artists, showcasing both their unique styles and shifting visually, chameleon-like, from subject to subject. We took a few minutes to talk with Shervin—hands pictured above, hatting Regina Spektor, more fully pictured below—about his approach and process, picking his brain on some favorite subject in the process.

raven + crow: Thanks so much for making the time to talk, Shervin. We’re big fans of your work. I guess one thing I’m wondering is how the way you approach shoots has evolved over time? I feel like, from an outside perspective, many of your shots have gotten even more specific or themed as your career’s progressed, but I’m curious how that looks from where you stand.

Shervin Lainez:  As strange as it sounds, my approach has stayed totally the same for the last 8 years—I hear the music and get a sense of the musician’s vibe/tone/mood, then I look at previous photos they’ve done and go from there. I don’t do a lot of preparation…it’s mostly just getting two people in a room and the chemistry dictates what the photos will look like.

That’s fair. I guess if your process inherently feeds off your different subjects like that, the end products would evolve as you continue to shoot different subjects. I’m wondering how you got into this world of music photography in the first place though; more specifically this very niche part of the music world of largely independent creators with very distinct voices themselves.

I only ever wanted to photograph bands—it’s the first thing I took pictures of and it made sense as the way I could best contribute to the music world, you know? My job was to figure out how I could be a part of the music world and just go straight for that.

You used to live in DC, right? We actually used to call DC home before we moved up to Brooklyn and it still holds a dear place in our hearts.

Yeah! I’m from Northern VA, which is right outside of DC—I grew up going to concerts in DC. I love DC, it taught me a lot about how to build relationships with creative people.

Totally agree, on both counts, really. Were you involved in DC’s music scene at all? It has had some shining moments, especially some years back.

Yeah! Some of the first bands I shot were DC bands—Dismemberment Plan, Q and not U.

Oh, shit! My old band, Speedwell, played some of its first shows with Q and not U back in college, down in southern Virginia, where we were all from. And we played one of our very last shows with D-Plan back at the old Black Cat—small world! …not to make this all about me. What brought you to New York then?

I spent years in DC shooting bands—it was time to go somewhere bigger with more musicians.

Yeah, that was a natural creative next step for the two of us too. Favorite thing about New York?

So many artists, so many creative people, so much trash, so many human beings.

I think that’s written on the city flag, yeah?

We have plenty of friends in the photography world, many of whom worked before and after the shift in the industry brought about by digital photography—do you find it challenging making a living in this creative industry when anyone with an iPhone and an Instagram account can call themselves a photographer?

Being a photographer is a discipline—you have to commit to it…whatever the device or tool you use is up to the times and technology, but as long as you have a true commitment to creating what you consider art, then i believe you will succeed on some level.

Who are some idols of yours in the photography world, past or present?

All of my idols are musicians—Björk and people like her who changed the game visually; I never looked up to photographers.

This is heresy, I know, but what’s your current favorite artist photo you’ve taken. …c’mon—Pick one pick one pick one!

I love the photos I just did for Pheobe Bridgers and the band Chvrches (above).

PHOEBEFUCKINGBRIDGERS. She’s the best.

You’re a music fan and I’m sure you play it cool on set most times, but was there ever a time when you were like, ‘Holy fuck, I just shot one of my musical idols’?

I got to take photos of Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead) once and I thought I would pass out.

Yeah, that makes sense. Nicest artist you’ve shot?

Regina Spektor.

I’ve heard she’s a gem! And craziest in terms of your experience?

One time during a shoot for the band Dresden Dolls they got completely naked with a golden chainsaw and jumped in the shower.

That oddly does not surprise me. How do you spend your time behind the lens when you’re not doing music shoots?

It’s more or less my whole life. It kind of has to be.

And techy question—what’s your gear?

Nikon D810, kit lens and a proFoto 300 strobe.

Awesome. Thanks again for taking, Shervin.

Below, Shervin’s photos of some of our favorite artists—Sylvan Esso, the aforementioned Phoebe Bridgers, Maggie Rogers, and Wye Oak. Check out more of his work on his site and Shervin’s Instagram.


This month’s mixtape rides the wave of new music that continues to wash in this year as artists come out of creative hibernation and gear up for festival season—with SXSW now in the rear view, we’re still sifting through new discoveries, some of which made this mix, some of which will surface in months to come.

We’re starting out with North London duo Megan Markwick + Lily Somerville, better known as IDER, who reside somewhere in the Venn diagram overlap of R+B, folk, and electronic pop. We’re following the new up with some old though—fellow Brooklynite-turned-Angeleno and longtime favorite, Twin Shadow, (AKA George Lewis Jr) who brings us a danceable single featuring sisterly trio HAIM that has us very excited about the new album. Vienna’s Leyya follows Mr. Lewis with another uptempo single from their excellent full-length Sauna; then we’ve got a new one from the man who pretty much unanimously won SXSW last year, Anderson .Paak, and a fun one from Jacksonville newcomer Yuno (who happens to be hitting the road with Twin Shadow next month).

Brisbane’s Mallrat gives us a promising single and plays southern California next month; Bay Area artist Still Woozy stays nicely laid back with “Cooks”; some uncharacteristic but great, almost J-pop-ish music from Melbourne’s Woodes; we’ve got a great, string-filled single from fellow Maggie Rogers tour mate (in addition to the aforementioned HAIM) Caroline Rose (who wins for best cover photo ever—see below); and Oakland’s Madeline Kenney proves rhythmically + melodically agile with her track “Still Learning” (feat. Naytronix) (Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak + Flock of Dimes is working with Kenney on her next album which will inevitably be one of our favorites of whatever year it comes out).

After that, the mix careens into new wave/post punk territory with the bands Ought + Corridor—both out of Montreal—the return of NYC’s Parquet Courts, and much-buzzed-about Brits, Shame (they have an awesome video for another track that we couldn’t help but embed below). Finally, we’re easing into the great musical void and ending things off with one more Brisbane band—eclectic four piece Cub Sport, who bring us a glitchy R+B track “Good Guys Go”.

Enjoy the music and your respective lionlike weather, east + west coasts—lambs are supposedly right around the corner.

This is excellent:

By way of follow-up, of sorts, from our very first mixtape of the year, David Byrne has released an interpretation of his track “Everybody’s Coming to My House” (which kicked off that mix) by The Detroit School of Arts Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

He sets it and the larger project up:

A few months ago Eric Welles-Nyström, who I met through his work on William Onyeabor, came to me with an idea—what if we invited students and aspiring artists, filmmakers, choirs, animators, directors and actors in sometimes overlooked and underestimated cities and communities to create videos based around the songs on my new record. Besides having the potential of being really cool and inventive interpretations, this project might give the creativity tucked away in so many corners a chance to be seen and heard. Eric wanted to find people who personally embody the positivity I’ve been sharing in my Reasons to be Cheerful project—or who are actual representations of an American Utopia.

I loved the idea and immediately said, “Let’s do it!”

The first one is done and it is amazing. This interpretation of “Everybody’s Coming To My House” is transformative. To my eyes and ears it completely changes the meaning, heart and soul of the song. It is more welcoming and becomes more about inclusion and joy. We ARE all in the same house—if we want to be. I’m jealous, in some ways it’s better than my own version.

Watch + listen below (and click the full-screen toggle in the lower right for a better viewing experience).

As has been extremely well-documented by now, this whole technology thing is very much a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing that we can easily communicate with friends and family across the world, mobilize around social change, watch a cute cat video, find the perfect vegan chili recipe, and stream decades deep music catalogs at the touch of a screen; and it’s a curse that our brains—so much slower to evolve than the pace of modern information technology—are now essentially activated 24/7 by the world outside, restless in every sense of the word. Like most people, we’ve given this problem a decent amount of though and recently I personally stumbled across a small fix of sorts that I wanted to share.

But let’s back up.

Exactly two weeks back, we celebrated the birth of our first child…. To be totally clear, this is a real human baby I’m speaking of, not some kind of trope or analog to a creative project we’ve ‘given birth to’ at the agency.

It’s awesome, speaking literally—the experience has left both of us completely full of awe in almost every way imaginable; awe at the life that we created that’s somehow a synthesis of the two of us; awe at the human body and its many beyond-comprehension miracles of physics; awe at the future that’s unfolding before us every minute we spend with this little boy; awe at the sheer lack of sleep inherent in caring for a tiny human in these first few weeks.

I get that this is a seminal, rather earth-shattering life moment for us that I’m essentially confining to a small mention in what, by comparison, is a trivial piece, but I mention it mainly to set up the premise here. Suffice to say on the bigger picture, though—we’re elated.

Back to the crux of the smaller picture though, as a matter of habit, I always used to switch my iPhone to Do Not Disturb mode before going to sleep at night. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Do Not Disturb mode is a feature Apple added to iOS back in 2012 that effectively silences all notifications on your iPhone or iPad. Notifications still come through—you see them on your lock screen or anywhere else you’d normally find them once you activate the device—you’re just not disturbed by vibrations or audible pings for the notifications when Do Not Disturb is activated unless you’re currently using your activated device. Via your the settings menu, you can fine-tune the mode, allowing calls to come through from groups in your contacts, ‘favorites’, and anyone who calls repeatedly, scheduling it to automatically turn the mode on and off during the day, auto-activating it when you’re driving, and more (it really is super-handy; thanks Apple).

When it became clear that Katie was going into labor those two weeks back, it was roughly 430AM and—without getting too far into the weeds on this—things moved quickly. All went really well, but the next thing we knew, it was a few hours later and we were bonding with our son as all other thoughts fell away, distant and trite by comparison. A couple days later, once we were home and settled, I realized I’d never turned off the Do Not Disturb mode on my phone. More importantly, I realized that having left it in that mode had allowed me to focus on the here-and-now in a very here-and-now time. Cut to today, two weeks later, and I consider myself a DND convert (and yes, I’m also a longtime Dungeons and Dragons aficionado, but that’s a topic for another day; I’m talking Do Not Disturb here).

Many a piece has examined the myriad side effects of the fast-paced, hi-tech information age most of us now call home—fewer than two years back, WNYC aired an amazing interactive week-long series called Infomagical that we to this day consider transformative; and just last week, Morning Edition featured a piece comparing modern humans with smart phones to Pavlov’s dogs (yes, we do listen to a lot of NPR; thanks public radio).

Many of these pieces come to a similar conclusion—cutting back on or turning off notifications altogether is highly effective in the war we’re all waging to retain our own sanity and maintain focus amidst the non-stop stream of information. But sometimes you want to know if someone’s messaged you via Instagram or Tweeted about your company or texted you about meeting up later…you just don’t want those many pieces of information interrupting your every day on a regular basis and firing off synapses in your brain willy nilly.

For me, I’ve found that keeping the notifications I find useful still active but keeping on Do Not Disturb mode strikes the perfect balance—instead of being in a constant reactive state, picking up my phone every time it buzzes, literally multiple times a minute sometimes, I’m choosing to access the information from green-lit sources when I want to enter an information-receiving mode, ideally when I can give that information my full attention, not mid-conversation or -activity. So when I feel like I can make time for things not already in my zone immediate attention, I pick up my phone, activate, and see what’s going on in the world.

For instance, this morning I found a pause in my activity (making coffee), looked down, activated my phone, and saw that there had been two small earthquakes in the greater Los Angeles area and a Twitter account I follow had posted a new video—important, maybe; stop-what-you’re-doing-important, no way. Which seems to be the way most things go when it comes to outside information, I think.

Yes, I may be roughly five or six deep on the ever-growing list of inane-things-our-president-said by the time I activate my phone; yes, I’ll miss your call or text and have to get back to you later; yes, I’ll likely be late to the game on whatever the news of the day is, but I bet I’ll be more engaged the next time we’re together and talking in real life. And my guess and my hope is that this behavior will carry over into my interactions with my son, who I’m only just getting to know but will always be more important to me than the cutest cat video.

To a certain extent, frequency of use of the term ‘wunderkind‘ has to be directly proportional to the age of the writer, right? Though if that hypothesis were indeed true, this writer would certainly use it a lot more. So fuck it.

Sweden’s Carl Garsbo—better known by his stage-/recording name, Kasbo—is kinda young, sure, but that’s a relatively minor fact when set in relief to the vast, atmospheric, cinematic music he crates. His debut full-length, Places We Don’t Know, is due out stateside March 23rd and we wanted to take the opportunity to talk with him about his influences, what it’s like to write with someone else’s voice in mind, and Smeagol, obvs.

raven + crow: Alright, first off, thanks for taking the time to talk. We really like what we’ve heard from you so far and were curious to learn more about you. How long have you been making music?

Carl Garsbo (AKA Kasbo): Of course! Thanks for having me. I’ve been producing since like 2012, I believe. But I’ve played guitar for probably 12 years, and was making 2-note-blink-182-inspired melodies since back then.

Ah—you’ve come a long way then. Influences are tricky to talk about, but since you already kicked it off with the grandfathers of pop-punk, what’s some music that you feel inform your sound? Or who do you admire, musically?

I feel Frank Ocean might be my main one. His album Blonde is such an incredible journey in terms of soundscape. I love songwriting, chords, melodies, but I think what separates artists are mainly soundscapes, and in that, Blonde is masterful (obviously so is the writing). He puts you in so many different moods, places, time periods, without necessarily using conventional samples, like having chirping birds to make the listener feel like they’re in a forest. Like, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s easy. Frank Ocean can put you in places with a synth and a chord progression. To me, that is magic, and it’s definitely something I strive to achieve with my music.

Well-put. Can you talk a little bit about your writing process? Do your songs start with snippets of melody or do you start with beats first usually? What happens when you sit down to write a song?

I usually find samples the most inspiring. Like I said, I feel soundscape is a majority of what sets an artist aside. Like HOW a melody is played or delivered rather than the notes it’s playing. So for me, I find a lot of key parts of a song rely on the samples I use and how I use them, so a lot of the time I start with a sample. That’s how I get something that sounds completely unique to me.

And, technically speaking, what are you using when you do so—do you start with a guitar? Or keys? Or are you looping on an app or in some software you like to work with?

For most of the album it was mostly written on keys and then I added things like guitar. Now I’m writing more with a guitar from the start. It’s fun ’cause it’s easier to find more unconventional and interesting chord progression. A lot of the time spent making chords and melodies, it’s a lot of muscle memory involved, so you end up writing similar things. I like to start every session with a new tuning, so I even if I wanted to play the same thing over again I couldn’t.

Interesting approach. How does the collaborative aspect work with you and vocalists? Are you usually sending scratch tracks for them to build off or something?

Yeah, I usually have songs I think would fit a certain singer and I’ll send them stuff and see if anything inspires them, if it does, they start writing a demo track. After that, there’s usually some going back and forth before there’s a finished product.

And how do you decide who you want to work with on a particular song?

Usually, it’s very apparent to me what I want the song to be and therefore what type of voice/writing/melody’s I’d want to achieve that.

I know you’ve played out a good bit, opening for Glass Animals and the like (which must have been awesome)—what were the challenges in bringing music that’s largely composed electronically—on keys and keyboards—to the live setting? That seems like something that could throw a lot of electronic producers and home-recorders for a loop.

It’s definitely tricky. There’s a balance there. It needs to be fun for me and needs to be fun for the audience. If I’m sitting down playing a keyboard that might be fun for me, but it’s not too interactive, not too interesting to look at someone’s hands (usually at a distance) move slightly. I try to take parts that carry the key role of the specific songs and play them in the best manner, whether it be drums, vocal chops, or guitar parts. It’s definitely tricky when you’re by yourself but it’s a fun challenge.

I’ve talked to other musicians in Scandinavian countries—mainly Iceland—who contribute their country’s musical and creative productivity to long, dark, cold winters when there’s basically nothing else to do other than hang out and create art. Would you say that’s the case in Sweden? You guys have produced some of our favorite musicians.

That’s exactly the case—haha. Whenever it comes up in a discussion when I’m with other Swedish musicians we always half-joke about how it’s so dark and depressing outside, so it inspires us to sit inside and write emotional melodies. I find it easier working here than in LA for example.

Yeah, Lykke Li literally lives up the street from us in sunny Los Angeles and I’m like “I’m jazzed you’re here and loving life…but you were kinda a lot more productive when you lived in Sweden and I really miss all that music, so.”

Haha—yep. I think also ’cause Sweden can be more boring; like in LA it’s like, “Hey do you wanna go to this rooftop bungee jump party that George Clooney invited me to, also Salt Bae is in charge of the BBQ”, there’s a lot of distractions. In Sweden, it’s easier to stay focused and lose yourself in your work, for better and for worse. It’s also easier to kind of separate myself from the “scene” and do my own thing when I’m here in Gothenburg cause literally no one here is doing the type of music I do.

SALT BAE! You’re ruining LA’s music and arts scene! And, to be fair, I do think Ms. Li has a new album coming out soon.

After all of these singles, we finally got an album announcement from you a few weeks back—congrats, that’s so exciting. What compelled you to work towards the more traditional wholistic release of a full-length than, say, doing singles whenever the mode strikes?

Thank you! I think the idea of not having every song sounding like a single. With an album, you have more freedom to move along the whole creative spectrum. If I were to release a 40-second song of ambient noise and some distant pad playing as a single people would be like “What the fuck?” but in an album, I can do that.

Totally true. Can you talk about the album cover at all (below)? What’s going on there? We’re intrigued.

It’s a cover I made together with Anders Brasch Willumsen, an incredible designer. We wanted to achieve the sense of wonders of the world, and surrealism from within a safe, somewhat sterile place. Which is why there’s a cloud randomly floating in this room. It’s supposed to mirror the album concept, which is about romanticising the naiveté of youth and beauty of it.

Likewise, the visuals for “Bleed It Out”—the single you released with Nea a little while back—are very cool. Who did those and what’s going on there?

This guy Andreas Barden made them. When briefing him, there wasn’t really a specific direction I wanted to take, I wanted to keep the hyperrealism vibe of my artwork and felt he’d do a great job. The goal was to have a visual that matched the energy and fit the aesthetic to further the idea of the song. I think he nailed it.

Yeah, totally agree. It’s very much a visual realization of the music in a way. Switching topics a bit, I’m wondering if you ever get annoyed at people focusing on your age in the media? I feel like every time I hear someone introducing, like, Declan McKenna, for instance, it’s always about how young he is and how much he’s done so far, which I get, but he’s also just a really great musician regardless of his age. I feel like, if I were him…or you, that’d get under my skin sometimes.

I honestly don’t really think about it. I feel like there are so many super young producers out there that are doing bigger things than I am so I feel a lot of people are getting used to the fact that there’s no age tied to ideas and creativity.

Fair enough. I know you played stateside a decent amount last fall, but looks like you’re touring here again this spring and summer—are you excited to come back?

Extremely. Especially cause I’ll be playing my entire album out for the first time. That’s gonna be really cool.

Yeah, we’d love to see you when you’re in LA—the Teragram’s a great space. The name, Kasbo—some kind of rough combination of the phonetics of your first and last names or does that come from somewhere else?

Yeah kind of, it’s more from my last name only. In school people called me Garsbo, which kind of got more and more extreme, kind of like how Smeagol slowly morphed into Gollum over time, Garsbo morphed into Kasbo (apologies for the reference, I just finished rewatching The Lord Of The Rings trilogy).

Oh, sir, you never have to apologize to me for a Lord of the Rings reference. Ever. Thanks for taking the time to talk, and take off that ring for god’s sake!

You can pre-order Kasbo’s debut full-length via iTunes, listen to tracks from it on his site, and hear that and more (like a shit-ton of awesome remixes he did, many with free downloads) on SoundCloud; find tour information on his site and Facebook page.