Exploring Life’s Complexities in Foreign Colour’s Debut Album, Weight of a Rose

Fall has personally always been a relentlessly nostalgic season, pelting a world of memories in your brain synapses…kinda like that particular scented candle that brings you back to a specific space and time. In this case, I think the latest release–and debut album, Weight of a Rose–from Raytheon Dunn’s Foreign Colour embodies that same feeling.
The ten-track album encapsulates a horde of emotions colorfully painting a beautiful but complex picture of life displayed and imagined through the existence of a rose. The rose is the symbolic crux of the album, fulfilling its ordained role of carrying the burden in representing life, joys, passions, struggles, doubts, and love—like Atlas holding the weight of the world…this is Weight of a Rose.
Read my track-by-track take on Foreign Colour‘s debut album along with some insight from the artist himself.

Your Heart, My Flower

Jasmine Rodriguez: Pivotal in setting the tone and mood of the album, “Your Heart, My Flower” exists almost like that time-lapse your bio teacher would play when learning about the genesis of a flower in the plant kingdom. “Your Heart, My Flower” is that flower bud—that love and life ready to bloom.

Foreign Colour: I knew I wanted this song to be the intro. I used to play this song in-between breaks with my old band. I was inspired a bit by The Last Bison after seeing them live for the first time some years back. In the background, there is an older man speaking. That sound comes from a recording we had during one of our jam sessions, and when things got quiet, we heard this old recording coming out of my amp.

My amp was sort of old and not the best, so it picked up a radio frequency, and we thought it best to keep for future use. When I got to this song, I felt like it needed something underneath the music to help give it a dreamy feeling, so I added that recording. The beginning of the song is my old friend David recording himself walking and hitting his tape recorder.

Goodnight (I’m Happy for You)

JR: Moving on from the previous track’s somber melody, “Goodnight (I’m Happy for You)” opens up both in a musical and figurative sense with a bright shimmering sound matched with a colorful array of percussive instruments. The track symbolizes a new beginning, a new life that brings along with it bittersweet emotions. This can best be understood in lyrics ‘I heard the days have changed / It gives us new life to gain / But when your problems they grow / We all know how the story will go.’ Exuding child-like energy, Dunn manages to temper naive expectations while also uncovering all of the possibilities that life brings forth. The flower is in bloom.

FC: This is probably the oldest song on the record, going back almost nine years. There are probably eight versions of this song floating around the internet somewhere. Musically, I wanted this song to be a bit festive/colorful. I was listening to a lot of Washed Out albums, Paracosm and Purple Noon, which had just come out. I would like to add that I don’t know about anyone else, but I get a rush of inspiration when I hear new music from musicians I really enjoy. I just have to create while the energy is there; it’s too powerful not to do so. I remember that feeling riding my bike late at night last summer and hearing the entire song in my head, so when I got home, I got to work, and a few days later, it was done!

Lyrically, this comes from a relationship I was in many years ago where the person I was with was very prideful, which caused many problems in our relationship. Too stubborn, you get in your own way; too stubborn and there will be no room for you to grow. More or less, it’s a song about agreeing to disagree about how to grow a flower.

Sundancer

JR: Like you always do‘ is the core sentiment of Foreign Colour’s debut single, “Sundancer.” Approached similarly to “Goodnight…,” a light and airy nature consume the five-minute track, playing out to a cyclical scheme of rhythm and lyrics, which is kind of genius of Dunn. In an interview earlier this year, Dunn gave some insight on the origins of the song, noting heavy existential questions that would make any nihilist nod their head–or really anyone during 2020. Despite the hardships and growing pains that life presents us, Dunn reminds the listener that at the end of the day, you’re still moving, breathing, and accomplishing things, no matter how big or small. And that is something to dance for.

FC: This was the first song I wrote and completed for this album. Originally, this song was much darker and moody, which is how it usually goes when I write on acoustic, but when I brought it to my studio, I realized I might have something bigger here. The rhythm guitar is a rendition or inspired by my old band’s song, “Sleepy River,” but with more groove to it.

I battled a lot with my friend/mixer & mastered engineer Severin about how the song would end because for some weird reason, I wanted the outro to play for an obnoxious length, and he quickly told me, ‘Don’t do that!’ I just enjoyed how it sounded, and I was proud of it, so I didn’t want it to end in a weird way. Once I got the music right, or the sound I was looking for, I sent it out to some friends to get reactions. After hearing [the song], I felt like this would be the debut single whenever I put out this [album].

This takes inspiration from my wife sort of having a mid-life crisis questioning ourselves as humans and our place in the world. In the midst of lockdown, we talked about a lot of things, what our purpose was, and honestly, the meaning of purpose. After many late-night conversations, it all came down to no matter where she goes in life, I will love her just trying and figuring out what life means to her—to love someone without being possessive of where their future will go.

The Flower

JR: “The Flower” is the comedown from the former high-tempo songs, replacing the youthful, exuberant energy with something more grounded and mature—perhaps signifying that the flower is now fully developed. Reassurance in lyrics ‘I’ll wait for you / The flower as it blooms ‘ paired with the sweet and soft lulling melody assures the person on the other end that all of their worries and aspirations are valid. Because regardless of how things turn out, “the flower” will be cherished for all of its qualities and for simply being. This is the calm before the storm.

FC: This song was written sort of out of the blue but for a good reason. I found out while recording this record that we were going to have a baby. I was extremely emotional about it. My wife suggested this was a perfect song to write about and something for her to listen back on. So I tried to bottle everything going [on] when I first found out [and] let it out over this song.

“The Flower” represents my daughter, Sienna, who I try to [symbolize] [as] a flower. With a taste of the sun and water, she will bloom into a beautiful human being. I wanted the music to be like a lullaby. Also, the piano in the middle of the song is called “Fairytale Lullaby.” I wanted it to be something she could listen back to, or my wife could play for her to help her sleep. It’s funny too because she said it does work! My favorite part of the song would have to be the guitar solo panning left and right during the bridge.

Under Your Spell

JR: If “The Flower” was the calm before the storm, then “Under Your Spell” is the storm. Juxtaposing the last song, “Under Your Spell” introduces a nice change of pace with a gradual build-on instrumental that carries an energy not see before in the album. I imagine if this was played live, the lighting engineer would have a field day. This song positions itself as the rough storms we weather in life and can be interpreted as the turning point in the album.

FC: In my opinion, this marks a turning point in the record where the tone is less lighthearted. This song was supposed to be on my band’s record, but we went different ways before the record could debut. I felt like this song needed to be heard by everyone, so I re-recorded the guitars, added some synths, and there it is. It’s a song I can’t way to play live. I love when bands/artists show off how beautiful and powerful their music is when there are no vocals. It can feel like an organized jam session.

A Swan Song

JR: The title immediately caught my attention for this track. Typically, a swan song is like the final bow that an artist or performer carries out. That being said, it makes me wonder if Dunn had doubts about continuing on with his passion which, in the context of this album, represents the flower slowly wilting away. Whatever the case, Dunn really shines in this stripped-back song with an acoustic accompaniment that emits a hauntingly beautiful aura. It’s my absolute favorite song from the album and one that I wish I would have written.

FC: This one is quite personal. I had the first couple of lines I sang for about three years or so, but I could never find the words to help me finish it. I was writing about something I felt inside of me, but it wasn’t clear for me to distinguish exactly what it was. It wasn’t until things took a turn for the worse that the song found its meaning, and it wasn’t about me anymore.

I found myself in my relationship where my partner lost someone extremely close to them. I have learned in the past to never put yourself in their shoes but just be there for them when it’s hard to do anything else. The emotional battles we fought would take a toll on us, and I did my best to understand it all. Our time together ended before the light could be at the end of tunnel. With this song, I wanted to tell my final feelings—a sort of wishful, ‘Goodbye, I hope you found it in the middle of it all.’

Hallucinate

JR: Continuing the darker sound in the latter half, “Hallucinate” instills an almost hypnotizing-like quality with its swaying rhythm and lyrical refrain of ‘I can’t let you go, ‘ signaling a cry of defiance against the once resigned fate drawn in “A Swan Song.”

FC: This was the last one I wrote but also the fastest. I think I finished 90% of it in a day; the lyrics came a couple of days later. This song was fun to play and write. I had this bass line stuck in my head after listening to Fontaines D.C.’s song, “Televised Mind.” That song gets me excited! The drums came naturally after [listening] [to] that!

I listened to an interview of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala saying, ‘You know you got something special when you can just play the drums and bass line on loop forever.’ That’s what I did. The crazy thing is I’m still trying to decipher the meaning of this song–it doesn’t have a huge meaning, but is something you will just have to determine.

Adorn

JR: The curveball of the album! I did not expect to hear a “jazz meets samba fusion,” but here we are. It’s the way Dunn sings ‘ How I love to, to adore you / Feel my love now, all around you‘ that makes you feel like you’ve been enveloped in the warmest embrace. Coupled with the comforting lyrics, the gentle presence of “Adorn” brings respite from the prior sullen soundscapes. The flower has been revived.

FC: This song probably took the longest for many reasons. Growing up, my mom did her best to expose us to different kinds of music [that] I really gravitate[d] towards, [like] blues, jazz, and R&B [with] artists like The Isley Brothers, John Legend, and (most of all) Sade. I’m a huge fan of Sade’s work and sound. This was originally called “Whisper,” which is an entire song itself, but out of curiosity, I changed the BPM of the drums to something faster, and all of a sudden, we had something different, a brand new feel.

There are so many elements in this song that it was a little complicated for me to mix myself [in], but I knew I struck gold with how this song could potentially be. What was also cool about the song was that I felt like I was the producer because I sent this song to a friend of mine who plays trumpet, and I knew it was the perfect element to add to the song; without it, the song was lackluster.

I think he sent me about four takes of the song. [From] [there], I picked and stitched parts together that I liked, placing them in different places throughout the song. It was a tedious process, but it needed to be done! I always knew this song would be a [feature] debut, but who would it be and would they help elevate the song? I would sometimes hear my friend Ciara singing on her Instagram stories (before she deleted her IG), and I thought she would be perfect for the job. We sat down and had long talks about the song and approach I needed from her to make this song something special. I think after two sessions, she nailed it and for that I’m eternally grateful for her giving this song so much life. People are really surprised with this song because there’s nothing like it anywhere else on the record.

The Doppelganger

JR: Jolting the listener out of the previous dreamy-like reverie is the unsettling “The Doppelganger.” Serving as a reality check, “The Doppelganger” delivers a foreboding warning to establish who you are before someone else does it for you. It’s a reinforcing track about taking back control against a world that isn’t always so kind and forgiving.

FC: This song really came out of nowhere. I don’t remember exactly how I got started on this song; if I remember correctly, I was listening to a lot of In Rainbows by Radiohead, and I wanted to make something weird and progressive. At the beginning of the song, my guitar is making a crazy feedback kind of sound which was totally done on accident. I was getting flustered with how the recording process was going, and I just started hitting the string hard and randomly. When I listened back, I said, ‘I think this could work for some odd reason.’ I tried to stray away from playing chords and lean on just playing leads throughout the song, which I think I nailed down during the chorus. I was focused on the delivery of my vocals, wanting it to be as smooth as possible like I was talking on a phone.

Another big influence on this song was HRVRD. They have a demo floating around the internet that inspired a bit of lyrics in this chorus. This song [came] to me after reading this book called Supermarket. It was a short but twisted book about a man losing his own mind in the effort to be successful. After reading it, I thought about myself in this man’s situation and how I would be if the person I feared the most was myself.

Sound of Your Dreams

JR: Closing out the album is the mystical, “Sound of Your Dreams.” Despite the track’s tranquility, it doesn’t pose itself as the deus ex machina. Instead, there’s an air of unfinished business strewn throughout that screams “to be continued.” Maybe it’s because of the song’s short length, or maybe it’s because the song just fades out with no clear ending. In any case, the closer is the epitome of life being a mixed bag. The ups and downs…lessons learned and personal victories earned…all make life worth living.

FC: I was attempting to build this song into something very whimsical, something orchestrated to where you could feel the world around you while listening to it. However, I think I was towards the end of the record feeling the need to just surrender what I have and really take the time to make something like that on the next go around. I feel like you need to look at each instrument like it’s its own character, and you need to find where they belong in your story. I have always liked the phrase “Sound of Your Dreams.” It’s something that I carried with me in several different projects, so I thought it was time to give it a home. Besides, I did feel like it sounded like a dream.


Featured image artwork courtesy of Severin Di Croce; edited by Raytheon Dunn.

Thank you to Raytheon Dunn of Foreign Colour for providing a behind-the-scenes look into each song. Weight of a Rose is out now on all streaming platforms!

The Journey to Finding Peace in Shaolinn’s Blackstone

Tap into your inner self tonight with the help of rising VA artist, Shaolinn as she premieres the latest in her soul-gripping musical collection with the “Blackstone” EP, out now on all streaming platforms. The show, specially curated by Shaolinn herself, will be held at the Bunker Brewpub in Virginia Beach, with doors opening at 8 PM and the show starting at 9 PM. Other featured artists joining the night’s celebratory events include Gee Litt, Boris the Lucid, Brooklynn, Tson, Khi Infinite, and DJ J-Rok. Read Sumone’s short and sweet conversation with the Heir Wave artist below.

Your release show for your upcoming EP, “Blackstone,” is [tomorrow]. What are you most excited about for the show since it will be the first show you’ve personally curated?

Just seeing all the talent and working with a band for the first time.

What were your thoughts working through the curation process when developing the lineup for the show?

Seeing my favorite local artists peeps and performing with a band for the first time.

Did you find growing up in the 757 to be influential in your creative process or musical style?

Yes, in the process, but not in a musical way. A lot of the artists I listen to aren’t from the 757, but more from the world. I do work with a lot of talented people from the 757, though.

How did you find time to record music prior to being signed to Heir Wave? Was it difficult recording during those times, or do you look back at those moments more fondly?

It wasn’t really different; because to get there, I already had a process in place. It can get expensive, but I had supportive people around me to lend a hand.

When do you feel you create your best work?

On nights when my mind is clear, and I can really dive into the music.

In “Heavy Heart,” you repeatedly mention “being free,” “letting go,” and “finding peace.” What are some words of encouragement that you or someone else provided that ultimately led you to let go and find your peace amidst your self-love journey?

I’m actually still finding my peace. It’s something we all need to work towards. Surrounding yourself with positive people helps a lot.

In a previous conversation, you stated that you did not think people would like “Heavy Heart” “but surprisingly listeners did.” Has your mindset changed when it comes to writing or releasing music after seeing a lot of people gravitate towards your music?

Yes. I didn’t think people wanted such a “talky” song. It’s not a catchy melodic song. I didn’t think people would care about me talking about my life. When I perform it, so many people come up to me and tell me how they relate to it. After that, it made me feel more encouraged to be open about my personal life.

On your IG live minutes prior to the visual premiere of “Vivian,” you expressed surreal excitement. What message did you hope fans would receive when watching the video?

The perspective of a drug addict and how hard it is for someone going through the struggles of it all. The harm isn’t malicious. It’s hard on everyone.

What are you most proud of thus far in your career?

I’m just proud to be here and have this opportunity and the inspiration from all of the people around me. I just want to keep going and, along with myself, make everyone around proud of me.

What do you hope listeners get from your music?

Anything. Anything that they feel. I speak my story, and I hope it makes people tap into their own story and bring something special out of them.


Featured image by: @playknows

Thank you to Shaolinn and her team for the interview, you can get your show tix here. “Blackstone” is out now on all streaming platforms.

Celebrating Juneteenth with Norfolk’s Finest at the Smartmouth Juneteenth Solstice Festival

Join the city of Norfolk’s finest for a day full of music, art, food, good people, and most importantly…good beer.

It’s safe to say that after the past year, people are yearning to get back together and celebrate life and all of the beautiful things that come along with it. Luckily, the good folks at Smartmouth Brewery have got us covered with this Saturday’s Juneteenth Solstice Festival.

In honor and celebration of Juneteenth, Smartmouth has teamed up with local NFK brands and organizations to throw a good-ole fashioned block party. The day’s festivities will consist of a black-owned art & vendor market, food market featuring black and POC-owned restaurants, chefs, and food trucks, and a diverse range of musical acts throughout the 757. The festival will be held at the Smartmouth NFK HQ from 12 PM – 10 PM, is free, and welcome to all ages.

Get up to speed with the day’s details below.


Utopia Feni Art Market | 12 – 6 PM


Nomarama Food Market | 3 – 9 PM


Music Lineup

Listen to our specially curated Popscure playlist while you get familiar with the stacked lineup below:

Well seasoned producer Gabe Niles is a household name in the city of Norfolk. When he’s not producing earworm tracks like Shelley FKA DRAM’s “Cha Cha”–or working with his partner-in-crime for experimental outfit, Sunny & Gabe–the producer is delivering larger-than-life mixes that are bound to whisk you away. 


Hot off her latest EP release, “All My Friends,” Koren Grace is more than ready to take on the masses and introduce them to her world. There’s no plane of emotion and existence the singer/songwriter can’t take you with a discography rich in colorful sounds.


Dariel Clark has a powerful, magnetic presence about him that amplifies when he cranks the amp up. Sparing no niceties, the Virginia Beach musician delivers a one-two combo through his weapons of choice—his guitar and voice.


Headed by the musical virtuoso Big Torrin himself, Big Torrin’s Fusion Groove is the sonic definition of the phrase “good vibes.” With tasteful flecks of jazz, r&b, house, hip-hop, and soul, Big Torrin’s Fusion Groove is sure to satisfy every groove nerve in your body.


Rapper/lyricist Cam Murdoch is known for his pensive, neo-soul inspired raps that focus on the ‘self’ as much as they do fictional characters. His latest single, “The Wave,” carries on this wave of introspection through an unlikely combo of soothing ukelele riffs and strong trap beats.


While fairly new, Kyere Laflare is not to be underestimated. Debut single, “How Does It Feel,” brings in a throwback r&b vibe that’s sure to remind you of simpler times.


If you go by 1pump and wear Scott Summers-esque visors, you better come with the heat and charisma. 1pump certainly doesn’t disappoint with a strong, bombastic release in Scott Summers II: The Light Within.


Known for her hypnotic but real delivery, Lex Lucent is ready to put you under a spell with a laidback flow and unique instrumentals. Her debut project, “Incase You Forgot,” solidifies the rapper as one to look out for.


Beyond the Lens with CloudNai

This past March, I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Nailah Howze, better known as “CloudNai,”—a notable LA-based photographer, producer, and founder of Face2Face Media. Known for capturing the black community in its purest form, CloudNai’s impeccable photography allows her diverse clientele to embrace their individualism beyond their limits. CloudNai is a breath of fresh air, openly down to earth, and easily the one you want in your corner for all things creative-driven. I spoke with Nailah on her remarkable journey to success, inspirations for capturing black art and culture, and future career goals.

Featured image(s) courtesy of CloudNai

I genuinely enjoyed my time chatting with Nailah and was greatly inspired by her words of wisdom. My goal for anyone watching this interview is to remain encouraged and inspired to achieve your dreams. “The sun and moon both shine, just at different times—there’s room for everyone.” – CloudNai

Getting Gritty for a Good Cause with Crime Line

“Loud, fast, snotty rock and roll” is how members of Crime Line describe their sound. Their debut EP released in January includes six punchy, punky songs all under 4 minutes that grab hold and don’t let go – rock for rock’s sake. The group is made up of local artists and musicians prevalent in the Norfolk music scene for years – Steve Marsh, Jared Fritzinger, Andy Harris, Charles Glover, and Raymond Braza.

This Saturday, May 15th, they’re rocking out for a good cause. They’ll be playing at Marsh’s restaurant LeGrand Kitchen with 3 other bands – Raise Hell Over the Summer, Hobots, and Danet Jackson. All proceeds for the event are going to Punk Rock Saves Lives, a non-profit focused on community music events to promote unity, nurturing, and positivity.

We got a chance to catch up with guitarist Steve Marsh and lead singer Ray Braza via email…


Popscure: Tell us a little bit about how Crime Line started.

Steve: Crime Line started when singer and guitarist of Norfolk Nightmares Charles wanted to just solely play guitar instead of singing too. We got together with Jared to mess around with some music and clicked and started shopping around for a dedicated frontman.

P: What led the band to get Ray as the lead singer?

Ray: Steve mentioned how their band needed a frontman while we were at LeGrand and so I came to the next band practice. About a month later we played our first show at Smartmouth!

Ray Braza and Steve Marsh playing at Smartmouth last November

Q: Was this your first musical project? If so, what got you interested in it?

R: Yeahhh! Aside from the garage noise Eric Laginess and I drunkenly made one hazy night, this is my first ever musical project. It’s pretty amazing to see the whole process from beginning to end of a song. I dig it! It’s the creative outlet for me. Ha!

P: What made you all want to go from Norfolk Nightmares to Crime Line? What are some different things you’re channeling in this project?

S: The transition from Norfolk Nightmares to Crime Line is great! I always love the aspect
of a dedicated frontman singer and Ray fits the mold perfectly.. all of us in the band are really stoked about him and the project as a whole!

P: What made you think of the name?

S: We like making references to our area.. Great Dismal Swamis and Norfolk Nightmares… there’s lyrics in one of the song I wrote “see your ass on crime line” thought the name was cool. [You] can tack on the 1-888-Rock-U-Up and it’s golden.

P: What are your songs about?

S: Songs are usually about seedy personal experiences or love and heartbreak. But also skateboarding, drugs, or partying.

P: Do the lyrics or the instruments come first – or do they come separately then see what happens at rehearsal?

S: Usually music comes first but Ray might have lyrics or subject matter already in mind. Me and him might work on the structure of the song before going into work [at LeGrand where Ray is a chef], so it’s more productive when the band gets together for practice.

Songs are usually about seedy personal experiences or love and heartbreak. But also skateboarding, drugs, or partying. 

Steve Marsh

P: Steve, you absolutely shred. How long have you been playing & what got you into guitar in the first place?

S: I’ve messed with guitar since middle school. Stopped for a very long time. When I was early 20s I wanted to pick it back up and play like Johnny Thunders from the NY Dolls… so I taught myself Chuck Berry licks and all that and over the years kinda developed my own guitar identity.

P: Tell us a bit about the organization Punk Rock Saves Lives and why you chose it?

S: Charles chose Punk Rock Saves Lives. Hoyt and him have been best friends since high school and he believed that’s what Hoyt would be most stoked on.

P: Tell us a little more about Hoyt, the drummer from Spells the show is dedicated to.

S: Hoyt March was a dear friend to a lot of people. I met him years ago when he was playing drums in the Larchmont Trash. We hit it off and bonded over hot dogs, agriculture, and skateboarding (he was a farmer/florist). He started growing me produce and we became closer friends. Loved his name so much I named my son the same. He was the most generous person and would go ridiculously out of his way to help you. We lost him last year due to suicide and are still heartbroken about it.

P: What can people expect at the show Saturday night?

S: Saturday will be fun as long as everyone’s respectful. I believe we all need a little fun to blow off steam from the last miserable year and some.. seeing live music and congregating with humans will hopefully help a lot of peoples mental health and well being.

The Wonderfully Weird World of Back Patio Press

Read the latest peek behind the curtain from Popscure writer Jerome Spencer with independent literature press, Back Patio.

I generally just review books I like. No one assigns me books or solicits my endorsement…and I certainly don’t get free books from publicists (anymore). I review a book when only I am compelled to tell others about it. Recently, I was looking at my stack of books that “compelled” me – a stack of unwritten reviews I was putting off – and had this epiphany.

Most of these books – particularly Cavin Bryce Gonzalez’ I Could Be Your Neighbor, No Glykon’s Numbskull, and Venice by TJ Larkey – were all on the same independent press. Back Patio Press. Not to mention, at the time of this epiphany, I was anxiously awaiting another package with Cavin’s latest offerings. So why not just do a feature of the press? If Back Patio is consistently delivering the good shit, why not just shine some light on this operation? Also, let’s be real…it sounds easier than writing four or five reviews.

So I reached out to Back Patio Press’ Editor-in-Chief Cavin Bryce Gonzalez and Managing Editor Zac Smith on Twitter (this is where things happen, folks), and we talked about making books, running a press, and monetizing our hobbies. Of course, it was chaotic and ridiculous and fun, but it also was a conversation with two people who are passionate about what they do and know exactly what they want, yet don’t adhere to rigid boundaries. And it certainly has me looking forward to the future of Back Patio.


Jerome Spencer: Start at the beginning. Tell me who y’all are and what you’ve done.

Zac Smith: My name is Zac Smith and someone on Twitter just recommended I look up this Shins EP that’s not on Spotify. And I’m listening to it now and it’s pretty good.

Cavin Bryce Gonzalez: My name is Cavin Bryce, and I started reading independent literature in 2017 when I was in college and still thought writing could be a job. I somehow found my way to Soft Cartel where I was an editor and when the other team members wanted to move on I was like, ‘Well, shit…I wanna keep publishing because it’s fun.’ Also, I do not listen to The Shins, but I have two of them…2shinzzz.

ZS: I got into the indie lit scene in like 2017, because I had written a novel and wanted to figure out how to get it published. Then I found the stuff that was going on, sort of post-alt lit, and started writing short stuff and got involved in the community. I met Cavin from submitting a long story about a head to Soft Cartel and we’ve been friends ever since.

CBG: Yeah, Zac submitted a story to me at Soft Cartel, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be his friend now.’

JS: So Back Patio comes from the ashes of Soft Cartel. Was there a gameplan there or just the desire to keep it going?

CBG: Absolutely zero fucking gameplan. I loved working at Soft Cartel, and I put together my first book under Soft Cartel. I love making books and working with people. It’s fun. That’s my whole motivation, having fun. There were all these amazing books and stories and poems and nobody was publishing them. So I thought: I can literally just publish these myself.

ZS: Cavin’s a great editor, and I think he and the community both needed him at the helm of a press. When Cavin said he was making books, I got excited and wanted to help because I wanted to make books, too.

JS: A website seems ambitious enough, but books…

ZS: I remember feeling proud of Cavin when he announced Back Patio and all these great people immediately started sending him writing.

JS: Cavin was the first person I ever submitted fiction to. I just felt like he would “get it” and I think that’s a thing.

CBG: I think homies having fun and riffing is the reason Back Patio continues. There’s a drastic lack of real friendship/genuine passion in the publishing scene. I was blown away. I thought Back Patio would just be this little thing, and I’d just publish my friends or whatever, but the support was amazing. I guess people just jive with the movement.

JS: It does feel like a movement. And it feels intentionally cultivated.

ZS: Definitely. I was blown away by his response when I subbed to Soft Cartel. Super enthusiastic, kind and really friendly. I think Cavin brings that energy so hard, and I think it resonates with people who love writing, but don’t feel like they fit into all the academic bullshit or pretentious lit mag drama stuff.

…Back Patio at its heart is just people fucking around and having a good time.”

– Cavin Bryce Gonzalez (Back Patio Press Editor-in-Chief)

CBG: Running a website is cool and fun and all, but it’s the act of making a physical object of art that really invigorates me. There’s something magical about making a book from scratch.

JS: Your starting line-up is amazing. How do you find these authors?

CBG: Just like this, man. I’ll be talking to someone who enjoys reading. We swap stories and manuscripts and when I like something I think, ‘Oh, I’m going to publish this.’

JS: Is that informal method how you plan to continue? Or is Back Patio going corporate?

ZS: We’re selling out, baby. We’re getting that Long John Silvers money.

CBG: Dude, yeah. I’m just gonna publish really boring, marketable books and buy a new car and drive it into the sun. We’ll keep it informal, for sure. More structure moving forward, but Back Patio at its heart is just people fucking around and having a good time.

Watertown by Dan Eastman courtesy of Back Patio Press

JS: Can you tell me what’s next? How many books have you got locked and loaded?

ZS: 2021 is almost all set. We did Cavin’s book with the bonus book. Next is Watertown by Dan Eastman, then Good at Drugs by KKUURRTT and Liver Mush by Graham Irvin. Dan [Eastman] originally sent me a draft of Watertown for advice on sending it as a chapbook to some loser press, and I said, ‘Don’t do that, this is a book.’

CBG: It is cool how many of our books wouldn’t have existed if we didn’t organically motivate our homies to write them. Or publish them. Feels cliché or whatever, but we genuinely love the books we publish. You read something so good that it’s GOT to be made.

ZS: I think there are so many presses around with print on demand and digital printing and everyone seems it as a get rich quick scheme. At Back Patio, we don’t like that churn-em-out mindset or plotting to make money. So, yeah, it’s basically making stuff by and for friends.

I think indie lit can learn a lot from indie music.”

– Zac Smith (Back Patio Press Managing Editor)

JS: So that’s the only motivation?

CBG: Absolutely. Nobody likes working. Back Patio isn’t work, it’s a genuine passion project. I see editors and publishers complaining about shit and it blows my mind. I don’t know why anyone would do this if it wasn’t incredibly fun for you.

ZS: I think my ideals about indie lit is that there’s such a huge discrepancy between the larger industry and indie publishing that there’s some sense of freedom in just saying yes to something weird and new. For so long, a printed book was just so expensive and hard to make, it required teams of people and huge investments. So there’s something really fun about being able to say, ‘Yeah, we can make nearly professional looking books, but when you open it, it’s about liver mush instead of sad New Englanders.’

JS: From the outside, Back Patio kind of looks like a really specific record label.

ZS: I can’t speak for Cavin, but I come from the indie rock world where my favorite labels are small cassette-only or limited edition vinyl-only doing weird, experimental music. I think indie lit can learn a lot from indie music.

CBG: We tend to skew toward real shit. There are so many fucking books already in existence, the same stories and tropes and the same poems getting rewritten. But when you can make a weird book, something totally different, that’s empowering. Zac has been teaching me about modeling Back Patio after indie music labels.

ZS: I think art that speaks to just a few people but really resonates with them has so much more value than broadly appealing art. Like, I really vibe with people who aren’t delusional about their art’s appeal to the mass audience.

CBG: The fewer people who will appreciate an artistic creation is directly related to how vastly they can appreciate it. When you just write for five people, those five people are going to absolutely love it.

I Could Be Your Neighbor, Isn’t That Horrifying? by Cavin Bryce Gonzalez courtesy of Back Patio Press

ZS: Yeah, and I know I rely on small labels and presses to curate art that I know I’ll like. If a band has a tape on such-and-such label, I’ll definitely check it out and four out of five times I end up liking it. I want Back Patio to be that for people because there’s so much out there and it’s hard to find what you like.

JS: That is what Back Patio is becoming for me.

CBG: We’re just lucky to work with writers who have a realistic perception of what INDIE literature is. You see a lot of writers on the indie scene and their dream is to get like…agents and to be on Oprah’s fucking book list. There’s nothing punk about being on Oprah’s book list.

ZS: And I think that we can all acknowledge almost all of us have had that delusional mindset, but I wouldn’t send my stupid shoegazey, demo-quality music to Epic Records or whatever.

CBG: Back Patio Press: send us your shoegaze demo tape. I hope that the transparency and human connection Back Patio oozes continues to establish trust with people. I really want to be just homies having fun. The closer in proximity I get to “the scene” the more I realize it’s just people. No brand, just people. And some people are fucked.

ZS: I know it comes from a place of privilege to say this, but I don’t trust art that’s used as a source of income. I think it’d be impossible to truly write what you feel you need to write or express while knowing that it needs to end up being palatable to some big editor to pay your rent.

CBG: The desire to make money from writing is absolutely insane to me. I like being able to pay authors – that’s the best part – but it circles back to “work.” I fucking hate working. I don’t want to hate writing.

ZS: I like art that comes from people writing in their free time because it’s fun for them and it’s exactly what they want to write. And they’d be just as happy self-publishing or throwing it in a garbage fire at the end of the day.

JS: Isn’t that the loop? I don’t want writing to be work, but I want my job to be writing. Don’t we all want that?

ZS: Yeah? I don’t think I would. I wouldn’t want to monetize my hobbies.

JS: Sure. Me either. But I don’t want my job.

CBG: That’s why independent art is so good. It ISN’T inherently palatable or made to generate income. I’d rather read a book written in the notes app than a book written at a mahogany desk.

ZS: Basically, I think it just comes back to what people have been doing forever; just creating a space or community as an alternative to whatever happens in the boardrooms for the masses. We’re not really pioneering anything. We’re just having fun.


Featured image courtesy of Back Patio Press.

Still not sure where to get your ultimate reading fix??? It’s Back Patio Press—do yourself a favor and click the link!

Making Sense of the Foreign with Foreign Colour’s “sundancer”

Raytheon Dunn is no stranger when it comes to revealing a little bit more of himself in each and every different project he undertakes. Popscure’s Jasmine talked with the Norfolk artist about his progression as an artist, the meaning behind his newest project–Foreign Colour–and where music all began for him.

I’ve been a fan of some of your past projects like Dear Adamus since the Shakas [Live] days. Do you find this project to be a natural progression from your past projects? Is this a solo endeavor?

Hey! Thank you so much! This project came about so naturally thanks to the free time I was given during [the] lockdown, but also out of this weird state of anxiety and wanting to create music but not knowing exactly how I would achieve that. Luckily, when I really want something to happen, I typically will figure it out, and that’s what happened.

This is a solo project. [A]rtists such as From Indian Lakes & Tame Impala really showed me that your sound, the sounds you want to make, can come from just you—you just got to work a bit harder to make it happen.

What’s the significance behind the name Foreign Colours?

I’m a black man in America; my colors will always be foreign to those who choose to not grow and understand. [B]ut in all seriousness, thinking of a name for this project was hard. I settled with the name because my other two choices were taken. When Dear Adamus was going through a rebranding phase, Foreign Colours was one of the names we picked. I took the “s” off because it’s just me.

Image Courtesy of Katie Lange

Your first single is titled “sundancer.” What’s the meaning behind the song and title?

During lockdown, my wife and I found ourselves with a lot of free time to just be together. [I]t was like our unofficial honeymoon, but there was one day in particular where she just seemed off. She would ponder with questions like, “What’s the point of anything if we are just going to die?” and “Why are we here? What does it all mean?”

Too much free time can leave us wondering deeply as to why and what our purpose is on this planet. So I wanted to write a song about those who are just trying [to] live their lives day by day and just want to be loved while they try to figure this thing called life. We are all dancing around the sun, and we just want to be loved and feel love.

On first listen, there are evident hints of bands like Copeland, American Football (notably their most recent self-titled LP3), and Balance and Composure. Would you say these bands were big influences on your approach to this project?

I love Copeland; their newest album is a work of atmospheric joy for me. Balance was an amazing band. I did load-in for those guys once, and we talked about J. Cole and Better Call Saul. I’ll have to go check this album [American Football (LP3)] you’re talking about! I could say yes because I really enjoy these bands, but I can’t.

I did my best to listen to everything. Maybe last year, I watched an interview of Tyler, The Creator, and another of Phoebe Bridgers, and they both said the same thing, ‘Listen to new and different music.’ Because of that, not only am I listening to music way more, I’m seeing why it is important, and it helps me to step out of [my] music listening comfort zone. You just never know what could inspire you.

I noticed your vocals were placed behind a layer of some light, compressed distortion. Is this more of a stylistic choice, or are you trying to convey something deeper?

Honestly, I just thought it sounded kind of cool with the song. I recorded those vocals using the microphone built in the iPhone headphones while my wife and daughter were shopping in Kohls, haha! There’s a part in the song where I sing, ‘Like you always do,’ and you can somewhat hear a car passing by! During lockdown it was hard to record vocals at home when everyone is home, so the car became my vocal booth for a bit.

Sonically, what are you trying to achieve with Foreign Colour?

I just want to write the music I hear in my head and create something I’ll be happy to listen back on in the future. I hope the music finds its fans, people who genuinely enjoy the music I make.

You have a stunning repertoire of visual art, including a really dope coloring book based on your hand-drawn art. Do you find elements of that passion making its way into your music?

I appreciate that. My personality type is that I don’t do things without reason or passion. Without those, nothing gets done. [S]o when it came to music, I just went for it with the fuel of passion, making everything happen. It may sound strange, but I have these moments where I feel like I’m on auto-pilot and things just get done…I forget that I’m tired or hungry.

Artwork by Raytheon Dunn

The best part of that is knowing when to walk away from a song like I do when I work on my art. It’s because I am not sure where to go next with it, and in those pauses and breaks, I may have what I need to finish a piece or a song…but those breaks can be as long as they want to be. I don’t rush it. Like this song, though it was the first song I started writing for this project, [it] doesn’t mean it was the first one finished. Then there is a song on this album that only took two days to write!

How did you get started in music?

We had a drum set growing up, but when my family moved to Virginia Beach, we down-sized a lot, and that was it for the drums. I got one of those Walmart First Act bass guitars in middle school—I played that thing until the strings broke off.

In high school, I asked this guy, Joshua Polanco, to teach me how to play guitar because we liked the same music like Copeland and The Mars Volta. Between his lessons, I would go to his band practices and watch like, ‘This [is] the coolest shit in the world!’ One day after their practice, one member gave me a ride home, and he had an acoustic guitar in the back, and I said, ‘That’s a cool guitar!’ He said, ‘Thanks, you want it?’ I said, ‘Nah,” and he gave it to me anyway. From that point on, I taught myself how to play.

Image Courtesy of Katie Lange

What’s your go-to approach when crafting a song (or starting a project)?

I think it has to be, of course, an organic experience. Writing lyrics that mean something to you or trying to create a listening experience takes time. Sometimes I will go sit at my tiny studio and just see what happens. There’s a song on this record called “Hallucinate” that [was] birthed out of me [by] letting the writing process be whatever it [was] going to be. With the song being made with no real agenda and not being sure exactly what it [was] about, [it] leaves my interpretation of it changing every single time—which is pretty cool.

Any local artists you would love to collaborate with?

I’m not too sure, honestly. I really want to get into writing sessions with other musicians and producers for fun! Just to see what we can create!

What can others expect from Foreign Colour in the future?

Another song to come, maybe a music video, and an album with a release date!


Featured image artwork courtesy of Jake Taylor.

You can listen to, and download, “sundancer” at the Foreign Colour bandcamp site.

Step Into the Multi-Dimensional Debut of Lex Lucent with “Incase You Forgot”

Following the release of her first project “Incase You Forgot,” rising VA rapper Lex Lucent gave Popscure member Cam a little more insight on the magic behind her hypnotic sound.

“Before this rapping shit, I been writing music since I was 13. I got my ass beat at the age of 13 for . . . a fucking rap on a piece of paper . . . and my mom found it, and she beat my ass. [S]he said, ‘This shit’s fire, but why are you cussing at the age of 13?’

The saying, “Watch out for the quiet ones,” is relevant in the case of Lex Lucent. And that’s not to say the Brooklyn-born, Virginia-raised rapper is short of bravado. Underneath her laidback delivery, Lucent is giving it to you straight. “I’m literally just me, and that’s really what I wanna be,” says Lucent, “[A] lot of my lyrics…it really just be how I be living my life . . . . So it’s just like in a cool way, I’m just gonna explain to y’all what kind of person I am, and it’s just like I hope y’all fuck with who I am.”

That message comes across loud and clear in Lucent’s unique style of delivery. She doesn’t have to put on a front to be the next “Cardi B” or “Rico Nasty” or “Flo Milli” with emphasized vocal execution or over-the-top trap beats. Lex Lucent can bring to the table her hypnotic style and still get the point across just the same.

Listeners got a taste of the VA rapper’s vibe in the 2020 Flip Phone+ compilation album, Phone Calls, with playful track, “B.D.E” (best known as Big Dick Energy). “…how this song came about? . . . I guess you can consider it a freestyle,” she explains, “[C]ause I be like, ‘Alright, what am I about to talk about? I want ya nigga ya feelin’ me / You told them don’t sleep wit the enemy / You cannot fuck wit my energy / You cannot fuck wit me period.’ And it’s like, you can’t fuck with my energy because I just be knowing. I have that intuition, so…you can’t fuck with my energy…you can’t fuck with me, period.” And quite frankly, that’s a testament to how Lucent carries herself throughout her short but impactful discography.

While somewhat new to the game, Lucent has been quickly making moves, recently landing a joint music video premiere under Pusha T’s Heir Wave Music Group for 2019 single, “Y.U.M” and “Incase You Forgot” opener, “PeriodT.”

Lucent goes on to explain how the anthemic track came to be, “I was just sitting at the computer, and I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do with this?’ Because I really liked the “PeriodT!” Like that part…”PeriodT!” And that’s kinda when like the City Girls was doing the whole like “periodt” shit. And I’m like, ‘Alright. What would make you say periodt?’ “A nigga gon do what I say so / Play wit a nigga like Play-doh / PeriodT!‘ You get what I”m saying?”

In the rest of “Incase You Forgot,” her signature cool and collected demeanor is harnessed and amplified with FAKE UZUMI‘s trance-like production, ultimately making the two a match made in heaven. Tracks like “Bomb$” and “Look @ Me” capitalize on Lucent’s chill flow with dreamy instrumentals that make you feel like you’re floating only to come back down with cutthroat lines like, “If I see you in the streets / Imma hit you with this heat,” or “I’m the only bitch in VA doing real rapping shit / A lot of you niggas be cappin’ shit.” Other songs find Lucent having fun with fellow Flip Phone+ artists MACK and WhoGotDaDutch in “W.T.A” and “Dingleberry,” both filled with clever metaphors, catchy melodies, and plenty of bravado—I told you.

But the standout track in “Incase You Forgot” has got to be “Blue Confetti + *69.” Described as “straight poetry” by Lucent herself, the joint track channels the vocalizations of legends like Erykah Badu and Jill Scot in the first half while seamlessly segueing into a Lil’ Kim-esque flow in the second half. The track showcases the musical agility and promise of the rising artist displayed throughout “Incase You Forgot,” serving as a reminder that behind the illusion of Lucent’s laidback style is the nitty-gritty realness of what Lucent is really saying—she is not the one to mess with…Incase You Forgot.


Artwork by MadStartt

“Incase You Forgot” is out now on all streaming platforms.

Get Ready for the Reign with tyler donavan’s Virtual Concert Series

Adding on to the experience that is inhale, triple threat–rapper/singer/songwriter–tyler donavan presents the first edition of his BREATHE virtual concert series—ACT 1: INHALE [LIVE].

The concert, produced by creative hub 9th Nimbus and Richmond-based video production firm NO FUN, will be streamed via the 9th Nimbus website on Friday (April 9th) at 9 PM EST.

Viewers can expect a complete performance of the inhale EP alongside other songs in tyler donavan’s discography, as well as several special guests, like rapper King KolTrane, to drop-in and perform.

You can RSVP for free here and snag a limited edition shirt while you’re at it!

Catch a sneak peek of the concert below with tyler donavan’s relentless performance of “the lamb,” a song chronicling the artist’s journey of self—steeped in conviction through the confrontation of his own doubts and insecurities.


You can watch the rest of ACT 1: INHALE [LIVE] on Friday, April 9th (9 PM EST) at 9th Nimbus.

#StopAsianHate: Support the AAPI Community

Support

  • #StopAsianHate GoFundMe – a central GoFundMe page with fundraisers to support the AAPI community.
  • Stop AAPI Hate – a site dedicated to tracking hate crimes against the AAPI community.
  • Asian American Legal Defense Fund – a NY-based organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the civil rights of Asian Americans.
  • 61 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities – an archive of organizations to donate to
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – a nonprofit working to strengthen the Asian American community by providing the tools and resources for building the capacity of local and state-based counterparts and Asian American youth leadership, educating the public and media about Asian Americans, and strengthening the voice of Asian Americans in national politics.
  • CAAAV – a pan-Asian, community-based organization that works to build the power of low-income Asian immigrants and refugees in New York City.
  • Asian Law Caucus – an organization that works to promote, advance, and represent the legal and civil rights of Asian Pacific Islander communities.
  • APIENC – a Bay Area-based grassroots organization dedicated to empowering the queer and transgender Asian and Pacific Islander community.
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum – an organization focused on building power with AAPI women and girls using a reproductive justice framework.
  • Asian American Federation – an organization dedicated to raising the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy, advocacy, public awareness, and nonprofit support.
  • Asian Americans for Equality – a nonprofit organization that works to advance racial, social, and economic justice for Asian Americans and other systematically disadvantaged communities.
  • Coalition for Asian American Children+Families – the nation’s only pan-Asian children and families’ advocacy organization.
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates – a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Hate Is A Virus – a nonprofit community of mobilizers and amplifiers that exists to dismantle racism and hate.
  • Gold House Co. – a nonprofit collective that works to connect and create bonds across professional, familial, and community life throughout the pan-Asian community.
  • Butterfly – a Toronto-based organization that works to provide support and advocacy for the rights of Asian and migrant sex workers.
  • Swan Vancouver – a Vancouver-based organization that works to promote the rights, health, and safety of im/migrant women engaged in indoor sex work through front-line service and systemic advocacy.
  • Red Canary Song – a grassroots collective of Asian and sex migrant workers organizing transnationally with a labor rights framework.
  • WPN Power, Co. – a sex rights advocacy organization working to advance sexual rights and freedoms, address rape and violence against women culture, promote harm reduction, self-care and empowerment for individuals in the sex trade industry in the Atlanta area.
  • Asian American Resource Center – a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing programs (e.g., EL/Civics Class and Rapid Re-Housing Program) for the disadvantaged in the AAPI community.
  • Center for Pan Asian Community Services – an Atlanta-based, private nonprofit dedicated to promoting self-sufficiency and equity for immigrants, refugees, and the underprivileged through comprehensive health and social services, capacity building, and advocacy.
  • Raksha, Inc – a Georgia-based nonprofit with a mission to promote a stronger and healthier South Asian community through confidential support services, education, and advocacy.
  • Asian Mental Health Collective – a collective dedicated to making mental health easily available, approachable, and accessible to Asian communities worldwide.
  • Asian Immigrant Women Advocates – a community-based organization dedicated to developing the collective leadership of low-income immigrant women and youth to organize for positive changes in their living and working conditions.
  • Asian American Advocacy Fund – a grassroots, social welfare organization dedicated to building a politically-conscious, engaged, and progressive Asian American base in Georgia.
  • Asian American Feminist Collective – a collective dedicated to engaging in intersectional feminist politics through public events and resources to provide spaces for identity exploration, political education, community building, and advocacy.
  • AAPI Women Lead – an organization dedicated to strengthening the progressive political and social platforms of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S. through the leadership of self-identified AAPI women and girls.
  • National Organization of Asians and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence – a program under the Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity with a mission to support local and international community-based programs and governmental organizations in enhancing their services to victims of sexual violence from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S., U.S. Territories in the Pacific, and Asia.

Learn