Enter Stage 1: Badwood

The first artist in our profile series leading up to the ART BISH Digital Festival is fashion/streetwear designer and artist, Natalie Wood–a.k.a Badwood. From starting in 2013 out of her parents’ garage to working with well-known artists like Zendaya, Nicki Minaj, Kendall & Kylie Jenner, and Future the LA native has proven that a strong belief in what you love and do is key to success.

Natalie Wood’s artistry can be seen in various forms ranging from her paintings on canvas, limited edition Badwood collections, infamous “Blasted by Badwood” Sharpie® tattoos, one-off curated pieces, and collaborations with other brands such as Supra Footwear, G-Pen, and Dixxon Flannel Co.

And perhaps the biggest takeaway from Natalie Wood’s story is that you don’t have to follow a specific path or guideline to get to where you want to be. Trust in your craft and everything else will follow.

Stay tuned for our next ART BISH artist profile and if you haven’t already, check out our article here that gives you some more info on the festival and founder.

Embracing Your Inner Bish at the ART BISH Digital Festival

Find your inner BISH at the 3rd ever ART BISH Digital Festival Wednesday, Sept. 30th at 5 PM PST//8 PM EST. Tickets are on sale now ($5 OFF PROMO CODE here) with an Early Bird ticket going for $15 and a VIP package that includes a BONUS 45-minute Q+A Session with a headliner of your choice and an exclusive VIP merch box, for $125. For every ticket sold, $1 will be donated to The Global Alliance Against Trafficking of Women (GAATW), an organization committed to fighting worldwide sex trafficking.

The festival is a LIVE online event dedicated to connecting aspiring womxn passionate about the creative arts. Started by founder Claire Bishara, the festival is designed to dissolve the mysteries and misconceptions about starting a career, as a womxn, in the creative industry. The full experience will include six stages headlined by some of the most successful womxn in their respective industries ranging from fashion designers to full-time artists, all who will share their stories and tips on evolving your passion into a career!

Other opportunities include having the chance to shop at and support womxn-run virtual vendor booths (ART BISH Apparel, alilpickle, and Manic Diaries) and network with fellow creatives attending the festival in chat booths.

Most importantly, the ART BISH Festival aims to eliminate gatekeeping by allowing attendees the chance to request and join a stage via video-chat, ultimately allowing for a space of community and authentic interaction.

If you’re not sold yet, take a look at the lineup below and read our Q+A with the main BISH herself, Claire Bishara.

Stage 1: BADWOOD | Stage 2: Sweet Mutuals | Stage 3: Ashourina Washington
Stage 4: Sincerely Art | Stage 5: Cassie Marin | Stage 6: Cloudnai

How did ART BISH begin and what is it at its core?

I started out as a painter. I would show my work at art shows all over Los Angeles and Orange County and tag my paintings “Art Bish.” People always commented that they loved the name, and so I decided to order a tank top off the internet and rhinestone it myself to say “ART BISH.” I took it everywhere with me and shot it on every girl I could find.

People instantly started wanting one, and so I started to make more forms of apparel that said ART BISH. The brand formed into a clothing brand that empowered the badass womxn artists. The apparel turned into a podcast, which turned into festivals and now it’s a full digital platform that empowers creative womxn!

What made you want to start Art Bish?

I started ART BISH because as an artist, I always grew up feeling like I could never live a successful life as an artist. I tried to fit into other career paths and find another hobby that I thought would make me successful but being a creative constantly pulled me back. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I got more invested in the LA art world that I started to come across these super successful badass creative womxn who had full throttle careers and businesses from being artists, designers, photographers and more! I wanted to get the word out there and highlight these women in hopes of inspiring other emerging artists to go after their creative dreams.

You mentioned this is different than a panel discussion format, how so?

What makes this festival different is that not only do our attendees get to hear advice, tips, and tools from some of the most successful womxn in the creative space, but they also get the chance to jump on stage with them via video chat and connect face to face. This lets our attendees have a more open and authentic conversation and truly get inspired. In addition, our festival has both a networking portion and a virtual expo where our attendees get to video chat with other attendees at the festival and shop exclusive deals from womxn run businesses.

Who are a few artists you’re most excited about?

I am truly excited for every single artist at this festival! Just because of my background in painting and fashion, I am definitely excited to see Badwood kill it at her stage!

Did you do gatherings IRL before the online events?

No, we had not…it was definitely something we were working towards and still want to do in the future but these festivals were purely born in quarantine.

Tell us a bit about what guests can expect from an ART BISH event?

Something the festival guests can expect is that they are going to truly leave the festival feeling completely moved to go after and chase their creative passions. The festival is such an inspiring experience, it’s almost impossible not to leave feeling a new sense of pride in your creative talents and a new sense of ambition to start making moves in your creative career! I think they can also expect to learn quite a lot.

I personally think that our education system doesn’t do the best job at not only valuing creative careers but teaching us enough about the real tools we need to know to pursue them. Our festival does a great job at this because you are hearing directly from the womxn who are currently living that dream out and who are at this festival to show our attendees how they can do the same.

Do you dabble in any art/creative mediums yourself or are you just a lover/promoter of the arts (I can relate!)

Yes, I definitely do! I started out as a painter and that will forever be my first creative love. I also do photography, creative directing, fashion designing and more! I like to try and do it all!

Thank you Claire for the Q+A and for giving aspiring artists a space to feel inspired and empowered! Be sure to stay tuned to our features of every artist headlining at ART BISH! And don’t forget to tune in to the festival on Wednesday, Sept. 30th at 5 PM (PST) 8 PM (EST). You can learn more and buy tickets here!

Burst Your Bubble: That Brunette and Ryder Lickquor to Perform at Music & Drag Extravaganza, Bubble Ball

Bubble Ball is one sud you should definitely pop. The virtual drag and music event happening online Saturday at 6PM EST is sure to be an upbeat party for a good cause – all proceeds are going to Mermaid UK, an organization that supports trans children and their families. You can buy tickets here.

There’s a bonanza of bold personalities performing at this weekend’s Bubble Ball. From the sexy gender-bending twinsies, The Dragon Sisters to the self-proclaimed “ballerina turned bop maker,” LEXXE.

We got to talk to the other two performers whose titles and identities are slightly more afflux. Already having dealt with high-level producers and taking the traditional route after attending the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College in New York, Madeline Mondrala is ready to take full ownership of her artistry and embark on a part of deliberate authenticity under her new moniker, That Brunette.

Tay Richardson, on the other hand, is a they of even more names. When performing their subdued R&B fusion, they go by EVZDRAPS, but when donning a beard and plenty of glitter + leather, you may refer to them respectfully as Ryder Lickquor.

We asked both folx a few questions so you could get to know them before the party starts:


Your singles are very poppy and upbeat – will your upcoming EP, “Millennium Fig,” explore a different side of your sound?

“Millennium Fig” is definitely a bit more contemplative. It still has a pop feel to it, but the lyrics I [wrote] for these two songs led me to more of a musing soundscape that lends itself to the introspective subject matter. I love these songs because you can dance to them if you’re feeling happy, fun and free, or you can vibe to them if you happen to be in your feelings.

Who are your musical influences?

My influences run the gamut. I grew up loving Joni Mitchell, Hole, Chairlift, Rilo Kiley, Erykah Badu, The Shins, the list goes on. Lately I’ve been loving Caroline Polachek, Sudan Archives, Dounia, Empress Of, Tove Lo, Banoffee, Christine and the Queens, Georgia, ROSALÍA, Salt Cathedral, and of course Taylor Swift.

I had a rough start to my music career. It involved a lot of lies, manipulation, and false promises.”

– That Brunette

How did you first get intertwined in the drag scene?

When I moved to Bushwick, I started going out to the queer bars in the area like Metropolitan, Macri Park, and The Rosemont, seeing local queens perform their hearts out was really inspiring. At the same time, I was becoming a super-fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Watching the episodes in packed pre-corona gay bars with my friends and peers was invigorating and gave me a sense of community like I’d never experienced before. I also had close friends that were getting into drag themselves, and I loved supporting their self-expression and watching them slay the stage.

Why did you decide to switch gears and go under the moniker That Brunette?

I wanted to choose a name for myself as the older, wiser womxn I am today. I also wanted to let go of the negative connotations my previous name held for me. I had a rough start to my music career. It involved a lot of lies, manipulation and false promises. I wanted to honor my evolution and experience by giving myself a fresh start. That Brunette is equal parts authentic and indistinct. I love it’s simplicity and straight-forwardness.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m super excited for the release of “Millennium Fig” and for Bubble Ball. I’m really happy to be involved in a livestream show that directly supports trans and gender variant youth and their families. All the performers and collaborators involved are excessively talented, and I’m honored to on the same bill as all of them.


What are your names and pronouns?

My name is Tay, and my pronouns are they/them. When in drag, I go by Ryder Lickquor. Ryder identifies as a Drag Quing and uses the pronouns he/they.

Where are you based out of?

I’m currently based in San Diego, CA, but I come from the East Coast!

How do you define drag?

I define drag as the intentional exploration and exaggeration of gender expression. Folks do that through looks and makeup, lip sync/live performance, comedy, etc. At the end of the day, I think we’re really taking folks on a journey through gender and its possibilities.

How does drag kingdom help with the exploration of your masculine side?

Hmm…this is a very interesting question. I think what my drag has really allowed me to explore is the feminine sides of masculinity with more comfort and confidence.

I’ve seen many Drag Kings lean more toward the hyper-masculine side of expression and emphasis. That’s not Ryder. He’s loving, goofy, sensual, angry, and passionate, and expresses himself in all of those ways.

In that, he allows me to model and challenge different ways that masculinity can be lived and expressed. Ryder can feel like an escape from my fears and insecurities sometimes.

When, and why, did you first get into drag?

I was interested in drag before this, but I first got into drag when I was in college. I went to a school that really celebrated drag and expression! There was one large drag ball that happened annually, but folks would do drag for different events and parties throughout the year.

I worked myself up to performing for the first time during the second part of my freshman year and grew from there! It definitely aligned with my personal exploration of gender.

This was around the same time that I began to feel as though I had the permission to view gender as something other than what I was taught and socialize[d] into.

At the end of the day, I think we’re really taking folks on a journey through gender and its possibilities.”

– Ryder Lickquor

How is your drag different than what people might expect?

I think the storytelling aspect of my performances can be a little different than what folks expect when going to experience a drag number. I like to edit different music together and take folks on a journey with intention.

I noticed you do music as well, when did you first get into creating songs?

I started creating songs when I was really little…probably way back in elementary school. Music has always been something that is extremely important to me.

I used to create little songs in my head that I eventually started writing down. As I got older, I started learning different instruments and incorporating them into my music. Now I write and record stuff at home and am always open to collaborating with other artists.

Do you incorporate live singing into your shows?

I have! I haven’t done it as much as I would like, but I have done some live singing. It’s so much fun though! When I’m Ryder, and I sing live, it’s almost as if Ryder and Tay become more in sync. I’m able to connect with the crowd on an even deeper level. It’s such an interesting feeling.

Ryder’s drag mother, Miz Jade

Who are your drag idols or style icons?

Some style icons of mine would definitely be Prince, Jon Snow from GOT [Game of Thrones] Janelle Monáe, the entire aesthetic of the 1996 film, Romeo + Juliet, Jaden Smith, Vampires, Gomez, and Morticia Addams to name a few!

One of my drag idols will always be my Drag Mama, Miz Jade, who is based in Brooklyn, NY. She is such an incredibly hard worker, and I have learned so much from her over the years. There are so many layers to her and the type of drag that she creates, and she fiercely advocates for inclusion within the drag/nightlife community.

It’s easy to see that Drag King/Drag Quing representation is not as present and celebrated as Drag Queens. The recognition of black drag performers, overall, is another area of improvement within nightlife. Miz Jade makes to sure to book Drag Kings and black drag performers for her gigs knowing that they aren’t booked as abundantly. She inspires me to keep creating and keep evolving.

How has quarantine changed the ways you approach performances?

Quarantine has allowed me to reimagine how my performances can look and be facilitated. I’ve had a few gigs (and am accepting more!) during quarantine, and each one has allowed me to get really creative with how I utilize my space and try to connect with folks through a computer screen.

For my pre-recorded performances, I have been able to use editing to create some interesting dynamics I could never do with a live performance. I do still miss the energy of an in-person crowd and being able to reach out and touch folks.

What exciting projects are you working on? Anything cool you’ve made during quarantine?

I made a holder for my records out of wood that I’m honestly super proud of! Outside of that, I’m actually working on returning to my music. I’m in the process of writing music and am looking for producers and other artists for collaboration.

I’ve move all of my creative projects (outside of drag) to be under the moniker of EVZDRAPS. I chose the name EVZDRAPS because a large part of my creation process is to listen and observe.

I’m secretly listening to, and taking in, my surroundings and turning what I learn into experiences. This includes listening in on conversations with myself and challenging my vulnerability. Eavesdropping (editor’s note: evzdrapping). I’m excited to share some things that I’m working on and to introduce the world to EVZDRAPS.

A BIG thank you to all of the artists for their time, thoughtful answers, and support for a great cause. Be sure to tune in on Saturday (Aug 29th) at 6PM EST for Bubble Ball!

Black Experience Collective – August

Our Collective of the Black Experience in America starts with this month’s submissions from VA based artists – Cam Murdoch (“Stay Well”) and Lock (“Negus Shit”) along with poem, “I Am Black,” by Popscure writer, Darryan Miller.

To submit your experience for next month click here

Lock | 21 | Virginia Beach, VA

“Negus Shit”

Darryan Miller | 24 | Portsmouth, VA

“I Am Black”

I said I am black
Why do I have to perpetuate a stereotype of what
you think a black girl is, to be considered black?
Black is not whatever the fuck you think it is
because you've seen all the Fridays and had a
black boyfriend once.
Black is not abusive drug dealing boyfriend, strung
out mama, or free before 11.
Black is not a comedic relief
It is not weave, hoops and coochie cutting shorts
Black is not something that you get to spray on to
be a little darker and take off when it no longer
benefits you.
Black is not you saying nigga
Hold on
You want Ebonics?
I ain't got it.
Let me tell you what black is
Black is curvy with hips and breasts for days
Black is Shea Butter Babies, Ari Lennox Fans
Black is natural, relaxed, silk wrapped, finger
coils, twist outs, box braids, locks, lace fronts, 
satin bonnets and scarves.
Black is music, soul and rhythm
It's brush strokes, Jazz notes, blues and poetry
It's bellies, thighs, arms and noses
Is hymns and crystals
Is creativity
Is beautiful
Solange said don't be mad if you can't sing
along, just be glad you got the whole wide world.
I said I'm black
This shit is for me
For you
For us

Cam Murdoch | 30 | Norfolk, VA

“Stay Well”

Supply On Demand: An Interview with Trey Hill

Virginia is a diverse state with so many niche cultures that anyone visiting might find it overwhelming. One such niche that has remained prevalent over the years is skate culture. Despite seeing its fair share of both disdain and criticism, the relatively new sport has been shown to bridge the gap between kids of different colors and backgrounds with grip tape—ultimately bringing an appreciation for the culture as a whole. Cam spoke with Skate Supply’s wearer of all hats, Trey Hill, to chat about the surprising effects of COVID-19, the evolution of skate culture, and the importance of community.

So, how have you been throughout the craziness that is 2020? How has COVID-19 affected the way your business operates?

Believe it or not man, we’re doing fantastic. Once exercise was deemed “okay,” and you could go outside in small groups or even by yourself, [we] [saw] a huge uptick in sales of skateboard products. A lot of people went back to skating again after not skating for a while or wanted to pick up a board for the first time.

The problem that I don’t think anybody predicted is that the supply chain was going to dry up, so right now, what we’re all facing is more and more manufacturers having their production times delayed. You’ve got the wood suppliers, the people that press boards, then the graphics that get screen printed, and eventually, it makes it to a shop. Now, all of that is taking much longer than anyone would have ever thought. This is happening just as the demand is also becoming huge. It’s not just the skateboard goods that suffered but manufacturers for apparel and sneaker brands too. March through May was rough, but some things are starting to get back to normal. Personally, ordering a product is like buying Supreme—if you see it, you need to buy it right now.

You mentioned that there are a lot of new people picking up boards these days.
Skate shops are becoming community staples in more neighborhoods like bike
shops and the post office. How have you seen skate culture change since you
first started skating?

It’s changed for sure, but that’s with everything, right? Everything’s going to change in the world as we progress as a society, and if you don’t adapt to change . . . you’re going to get left behind. When I started skating in 2003 after getting my first board for Christmas, it was really hard to find a skate shop that didn’t “cool guy” you and chastise you for being new. So when I got into the position to run Skate Supply, my entire idea was to change that culture. For the average Joe that doesn’t have a clue, it only takes one bad experience to just hang it up. You could go to the skate park all you want but are you going to fit in? If you don’t know how to treat people with respect, you’re not going to make it anymore. What’s to stop somebody from going to buy a skateboard on Amazon, so they don’t have to deal with your “cool guy” attitude? So it’s definitely changed, but I think it’s changing for the better for shops like my own and others who are adopting more of a service aspect.

I respect that; I might not be afraid to pick up skating now. So, tell me about the Skate Supply video that just dropped? It’s been a while since I watched a skate video like this, but they always give me And 1 mixtape vibes.

The skate video is such a pillar of the skateboarding culture. For a long time, even in the early 2000s, when I got started, you were waiting [for] years to find out where skateboarding had progressed. . . . [W]e didn’t even know [about tricks] unless you were reading a magazine and saw the photos that a trick had gone down. Even then, you still haven’t actually seen it done until the video came out. It [was] the biggest marketing vehicle to support your brand and showcase what your team offers, [along with] the image you [were] going for . . . it [was] kind of a snapshot of the era you [were] in.

I grew up waiting six years for the LaKai “Fully Flared” video to come up and watch it break skateboarding. I watched dudes go from tight pants and wristbands to corduroys after that video dropped. You were watching an era change, and now, . . . there is no “era” anymore. It’s kind of like the wild wild West. You got Instagram where these kids can post every new trick they land in real-time. You can go to the skate park and land your latest trick that no one has ever done and post it that minute—that’s really progressed skating to this new point.

As far as the Skate Supply video, when I got the opportunity to run the shop, and hand-select guys [I] sponsor and support, I thought, ‘What better way to show off the guys I’d selected than to showcase their abilities.’ Little did I know that filming, editing, [and] traveling was going to create this much work. It’s also hard to get ten friends to do anything together with jobs, girlfriends, etc. It [the video] still comes off with a family vibe, and that’s what I was going for because that best describes our group. For instance, our youngest team riders, brothers Tyler and Colby, joined the team when they were 8 and 11 (or 12), respectively, and now Colby just turned 18. I’m literally watching these guys grow up, and it’s pretty awesome to have a solid group of people that you can rely on and support as well.

How did you get started with Skate Supply, and to what would you attribute the success your team has had up until this point?

I think it’s funny because as a skater you kind of dream of working in a skate shop even if you’re just a lowly sales associate. I’d ended up getting a job at a local surf & skate chain, and I’d worked up to becoming a key holder at the location. While I was on vacation with some friends, the store was robbed, and when I returned, they terminated me on the spot. I thought that was the worst thing that could have happened, I was baffled that I’d just lost my job. . . . What I didn’t know was that they pressed charges against me, so my family and I ha[d] to lawyer up. I remember my mom saying, ‘People go to jail for things they didn’t do all the time.’ We beat the case, of course, because I didn’t do it, and they had no evidence nor proof, but we still had to get a lawyer, which cost thousands of dollars.

Around this time, a buddy of mine was working at Skate Supply, and he was on his way out, [so] I ended up taking his place. [I]t was rough. At times, for four days straight, no one would come through the door. The store was understocked for boards, and other products were dated, it looked like it was in shambles. After my first few months there, I asked the owners if they could give me a little bit of money to play with because I thought we could turn it around if I started buying the right product. At the time, I never stopped skating . . . I’m still in the skate scene . . . I know what the kids are into, but now I had this opportunity to be the buyer and manager of this store. I’ve always been into photography, and I’ve always been into product. I was a huge Nike fan back in the day, so product is a big thing to me, whether it’s just a Nike SB Dunk or even just a limited-edition skateboard. I’ve always been a collector of things, so I was excited when I got the opportunity to start shooting photos of the product that [was] in the store and whatever events we were doing.

Then a skate park opened down the street at the Chesapeake City Park, and that really helped because a lot of the kids in the area were coming to us for the product. I could immediately see them use it and ask them how it was. It was like research and development. I was selling you the product and seeing you at the skate park and asking how it was, not to gain your respect or friendship, but I genuinely wanted to know if it was a good product because I didn’t want to buy it again if they didn’t like it. Actually, one of my best friends told himself that he would never come back to the store because of how they treated him in years prior, but he gave it one last shop, and it happened to be me in the store. I saw him at the park later and asked him how the product was and from there built a friendship.

It’s really the community aspect; I can’t do this without the support of everyone. Anybody that I’ve ever hired, anybody that buys a bearing, even when they come in and don’t buy anything at all . . . it all goes hand in hand because this communal hub can’t operate without them. I can buy all the stuff for the shop that I like, but if the community doesn’t like it, what do they care?

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wake up every morning stoked that I get to see kids walk out with a smile when they get their first board or even just getting a product that somebody wants, and they couldn’t find it online. All of that stuff keeps me wanting to skateboard until it’s not fun anymore.


Support the resistance, Black lives matter! We’ve made a handy list of good places to donate to during this time. If you have any you’d like to suggest, please email us at popscuremedia@gmail.com

Support the resistance, educate yourself! We’ve made a handy list of good books, podcasts, movies, and other resources to check out. If you have any you’d like to suggest, please email us at popscuremedia@gmail.com

Support the resistance, show up for POC! Here’s some petitions to sign, articles to read, and more resources. If you have any you’d like to suggest, please email us at popscuremedia@gmail.com

Shaina Negrón: Realness with a Smile

Popscure writer Darryan Miller took some time to speak with artist Shaina Negrón on loving oneself, the freeing nature of art, and rejection of labels in today’s identity-driven society.

Creativity takes courage, and Shaina Negrón has plenty of both. The New Jersey-based artist has many talents, from drawing to tattooing to painting, with hopes of stepping into the music scene. For years, Negrón has made a niche for herself in the social media world with a positive platform extolling the virtues of self-acceptance and love. “My main goal is to help people be more comfortable with the skin that they’re in,” Negron says.

Negrón is accomplishing this goal through her accounts on both Twitter and Instagram, where she goes by the name @toushai, a moniker that plays on the word ‘touché.’ Through creating the hashtag #TeefTuesdays used on both social media platforms, she channels the vulnerability that comes with showing one’s teeth by putting a positive spin on things. “I love when people smile. I’m always trying to get people to laugh and I do definitely think that energy, it’s very much felt, and we need more smiling humans out here. “#TeefTuesdays came about from the interactions she had on social media, “[People] were complimenting me using that word, and I was like, ‘Yo, I should just make it a thing.’ I stayed consistent with it and made it just a Tuesday thing— on Tuesday we show our teef, like on Wednesdays we wear pink.”

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushaiart

“I love when people smile. I’m always trying to get people to laugh and I do definitely think that energy, it’s very much felt, and we need more smiling humans out here.”

With her artistic ability, humor, and lively nature, it’s clear that the 26-year-old is a triple threat, which isn’t going unnoticed. On her main Instagram page, where she writes inspiring posts encouraging followers to stay true to themselves, she has amassed over 104K followers. In one of her posts Negrón writes, “Aside from protecting your peace, you must protect your creativity. It’s okay to turn away from things that do not serve you. Move in the direction of your heart, move in the direction that serves you full. Do not be afraid of what you leave behind; keep going forward. Bless.” This powerful statement is just one example of how Negrón encourages creativity.

Starting at the age of 11, the artist began drawing, eventually leading her to discover kids’ face paint at a local YMCA event. “There was a woman there, and she asked me to paint her stomach for a maternity shoot. The following week I did it, and I [thought] ‘Wow, I’m good at this,’ I never knew I could paint.” While her favorite medium is pencil to paper, Negrón also creates illusions with the stroke of her brush, blending the human body into colorful backgrounds.

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushai

Negrón paints the nude human body. In an array of colors, the artist strategically paints her muse against different backdrops–some of the backdrops are solid colors, and some highlight the work of other artists. Each person and piece of body art stands out and makes a bold conversation piece. “I’m painting nude bodies so that people are okay with being naked. Don’t be ashamed to take your shirt off in front of another woman or man. Don’t be scared, like that’s you, that’s your skin, you were born into that,” Negrón says. Through her art, she is not only imitating life, but making a political statement.

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushai

When asked what influences her, the influencer says, “I feel like everybody influences me. When I paint, I paint a lot of women. I always paint women walking into a different dimension. I feel like I’m always painting other women, but, in the sense that it’s always me. It’s like it’s me putting myself into everybody else’s shoes. I understood this girl’s whole story in this way,” she continues, “People influence me, life and the situations that happen, real life shit influences me. I really appreciate life.”

Though Negrón has a tough exterior, her interior is anything but. She’s sensitive and intuitive, shedding tears when the topic of LGBTQ+ identity comes up. When it comes to identifying herself, the artist doesn’t believe in labels. She is who she is, her sexuality is fluid, and though society would deem her as non-binary, she doesn’t conform solely to one distinction or another. “I just kind of learned that I’m non-binary and an androgynous female, and I learned that because people were putting that label onto me. Why do we have to label ourselves LGBTQ+? Why do we have to have a coming out story? Why can’t we just be? My brother never came out and was like, ‘Yo Ma! I like girls!’ Like, why do I have to do that?” Negrón goes on to say, “I open minds up to the idea that you can just be yourself. You can be masculine and still like to do feminine things, or you could be masculine and a little feminine, or you could be super feminine and want to be treated in this masculine way, like, that’s totally okay.”

“Why do we have to label ourselves LGBTQ+? Why do we have to have a coming out story? Why can’t we just be?”

In a curious world that demands answers almost to a fault, Negrón states, “If I label myself, you’re going to look at someone that looks like me and label them, for what? Why are we labeling each other? I’m just me. I’m all for the parades and festivals because that’s our march; that’s just taking a stance against the people that do not like that.”

Shaina Negrón advocates for messages that center around being true to and accepting of oneself, which comes from a place of working hard herself to get there. “People view me in this weird light. I say it’s weird because people are like, ‘Oh, you’re so positive. You’re so confident,’ but that all came from me not being confident and not being positive. There [were] a bunch of times that I didn’t like the way I looked, or me noticing that I’m different. I had to grow to understand myself, and me growing to understand myself was my breakthrough. Like wow…this is me, it’s okay to be like this.”

Between positive messages, and sharing her gifts and wisdom with the world, Shaina Negrón is first and foremost human, spreading kindness so other humans can feel comfortable in their skin. Through all of her work, Negrón is an artist to watch, an artist to love, and certainly an artist who’s message could inspire — who knows? You just might surprise yourself.

The featured photo at the top was shot by @defcampus. You can find and follow Shaina Negrón on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Getting Familiar with the Unfamiliar: Flyyscience on COVID-19 and Beyond

Following the livestream takeover from our Instagram last night, Popscure Editor-in-Chief Shannon Jay chatted with laboratory scientist, Brianda, better known as “Flyyscience” to discuss all things science, including the recent pandemic.

Brianda is a medical laboratory scientist working on achieving both her Masters in Biological Sciences and PhD in Molecular Medicine. If that wasn’t enough on her plate, she’s also a YouTuber that connects pop culture, society, and science. Under the name @flyyscience, she engages in all of her passions – music, arts, sports, and (obviously) STEM. Her hope is to communicate science to a general audience in a cool and interesting way!

Ever wanted the break down how a bath bomb works? There’s a video on that. How about the science behind that siqq ink you’re rocking’ on your arm? She’s got you covered there too.

Blending her love of hip-hop and medicine, she talks about some of her favorite rappers’ battles with diseases. She starts her Eazy-E video out in his signature shades before talking about his battle with AIDS.

Image via Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In her J Dilla video explaining how he died from TTP, she starts off by grabbing a sweet snack that’s a nod to his signature album “Donuts,” and even uses Stars Wars figures to explain how the disease works. Need I say more?

Image via Stüssy

Missed the livestream? Don’t worry, you can still view it on our Instagram story for a limited time! Stay tuned to our IG for future live Q&A’s with Flyyscience and subscribe to her YouTube channel!

Coronavirus and Why Your Fave Band Tee Is Important Right Now

In the midst of a global pandemic, Popscure contributor, Allison Weeks, took the time to share some perspective and grounding advice on how to approach our new reality in a world without live music and entertainment.

Spring has started springing, and music lovers and makers alike have reached the threshold of that long-awaited time of year: festival season. In a moment of divine harmony, chilly temps seemed to be on the outs while sunshine, crop tops, and fantasized lineups (too good to be true) floated into sight—a blissful ménage à trois between industry, spectator, and – well, Mother Nature. That is…until we were met with the unexpected.

COVID-19. Coronavirus. It has been difficult at best to get straightforward answers about the now pandemic and, as more and more cases are confirmed within the US, industries have been scrambling to make immediate safety decisions. Like rampant wildfire, events and institutions are announcing cancellations – including academia, concerts, festivals…the entire NBA season, even. But the music world has encountered these effects at a much more rapid pace.

On March 6th, in a shot heard ’round the world, the city of Austin, Texas, pulled the trigger on cancelling SXSW. Known more fondly on the street as “South By,” the mega festival/conference is a living, breathing point of convergence among film, music, tech, and interactive media, bringing together more than 400,000 attendees and over 2,000 acts spanning the globe. It’s a smorgasbord of art, culture, indie music, film, and ideas – and the damn thing generates over $350 million in roughly a week. The cancellation, a first in the notorious event’s 34 years, represents more than just a missed opportunity to knock back one too many PBRs while jamming to an exclusive Pom Poko set. It exists as an allegory for the financial ripple effect that artists are immediately feeling in the wake of social and economic chaos.

At this point, the numbers of cancelled shows and postponed tours are too large to gather, but if there’s one undeniable takeaway, it’s that this hurts. In the era of free streaming, leaks (read: hackers), and the availability of just about anything via smartphone at our fingertips, the whole “musician as a full-time job” thing is no cakewalk—nor is it much of a money tree for most. That’s why your favorite acts are always all, “Link in bio,” “Buy some merch,” “Get to the gig!” Promo is dough, yo.

Image via music think tank/Jonathan Ostrow

In all seriousness, with no clear end to the corona-madness in sight and more cancellations rolling in by the day, it’s evident that festival and spring touring season are not going to be the midriff-bearing, sunny dreamscapes we had anticipated. Nevertheless, in the recent words of a quarantined Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in baseball.” That’s right. Now isn’t the time to pity our missed experiences – it’s time to step up and show support in alternative ways to our favorite bands and artists. Cop some merch. Order the limited-edition vinyl. Buy the entire record on Bandcamp. Share their pages on your social media. Venmo where venmo is due (sorry Cash App, shameless personal plug). Also, consider making direct donations to independent labels and venues – they, too, are feeling the heavy weight of this. Seriously, be there for these folks. After all, the sounds they create and share with the world are what get us through difficult times like these.

Once the dust settles and we (hopefully) return to whatever pre-pandemic version of normalcy that existed, it’ll be your continued support that allows artists and venues to reschedule and keep the groove alive.

For more information on how to support artists, view live-streaming events, and stay updated on further cancellations, visit the Virtual Music Events Directory, compiled by Cherie Hu. The featured photo at the top was shot by Tye Truitt via SXSW.

As an added aside, recently featured artists: Shormey, Alfred., LOVELORN, LEYA, and Suburban Living‘s tours have been cut short. In good nature of the article above, directly purchasing any content/items from the artists/bands would be a great way of showing some support.

Unfamiliar with any of these artists? Take some time to get familiar below:

Shormey and Alfred. Announce Spring Tour, SXSW Appearances

Lovelorn Returns With New Sounds, New Tour

LEYA Sheds Light on a Sort of Beauty

Discovering How To Be Human With Suburban Living

Remembering Katherine Johnson and Others In Shetterly’s Hidden Figures

This week we lost Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician who was an integral part of the United States race to space. Her calculations were so spot-on that astronaut John Glenn requested she double-check behind the NASA computers to make sure all the math was correct. In her 35-year career, she broke down racial and social barriers as she was one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist. After receiving both a Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal, Johnson lived a long hardy life to the age of 101.

With her contributions so carefully immortalized in the book Hidden Figures, we figured (no pun intended) that it would only make sense if we shared a piece that our editor-in-chief Shannon Jay wrote back in 2016 when the book’s author Margot Lee Shetterly came to speak at Old Dominion University in conjunction with the release of the Oscar-nominated film based on her book. For anyone who has not read the book or seen the film, we can’t recommend it enough and urge you to seek it out.

“We are the breath of our ancestors” rang the harmonized voices of Old Dominion’s choir, an appropriate sentiment for the events unfolding the night of January 11th.

The song “We Are”, by acclaimed all female, all African-American acapella group Sweet Honey in the Rock, encompassed the themes explored in the university’s 33rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Observance.

The main event was speaker Margot Lee Shetterly — if you don’t recognize the Hampton, VA native by name, the title of her first novel, Hidden Figures might ring a bell. The best-seller was turned into a feature-length film and hit theaters in a big way, beating out Star Wars for the #1 spot at the box office in its first week.

The story follows four women, two of which received honorary degrees from ODU. During the years of 1943 through 1968, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Christine Darden worked with other black female mathematicians at NASA Langley in a segregated room. With only pen and paper, these women computed through World War II and went on to calculate the trajectories that would orbit John Glenn around Earth and send Neil Armstrong to the moon.

Coming from no farther than West Virginia, these four extraordinary women are woven in the fabric of our state’s history. “This is a celebration of this place and its people,” Shetterly said. “We have always known this region is a place of fascinating and often complicated history, but now the world knows it, too.”

During a time when segregation was still heavily prevalent and women couldn’t even get a credit card in their own name, “the women of Hidden Figures upend [what it means to] be female, to be black, to be a scientist, and to be American,” Shetterly said.

Mary Jackson had to apply for special permission at Hampton High School to take advanced math classes, and went on to become presumably the country’s first black female aerospace engineer. Katherine Johnson was born in 1918, a birth year where black baby girls faced just a 2% chance of graduating high school. She calculated the orbital space flight that allowed John Glenn to achieve “American domination of the heavens” during the Space Race. Christine Darden, from a segregated grade school with second hand textbooks and no science lab, wrote the computer program that set the industry standard for sonic boom minimization, and became NASA’s leading expert on the topic.

While the night focused on King’s ideals to improve the lives of African-Americans, and how those same values are applied to women, Shetterly wanted to make clear these women “wanted to be what John Glenn says in the movie — the ‘smart one,’ [just] the right person for the job.” She emphasized that the women of the Hidden Figures story needs to be told “not just because they are black or because they are women, but because they too are part of our great American epic.”

Image courtesy of NASA

In the shadows instead of out on the streets, Shetterly said, these women were “marching not with their feet, but with their mathematical talent” for racial and gender equality. There’s an added layer of nobility with this particular group’s civil rights work, having faced dehumanizing segregation at work daily. However, Shetterly said, “they wore their professional clothes like armor, [and] they wielded their mathematical talent like a weapon, warding off the presumption of inferiority because they were black or female.”

Shetterly’s father worked alongside these women at NASA, and the author only heard their story when her husband, Aran Shetterly, inquired about her father’s time there. That was 6 years ago, and ever since Margot Lee Shetterly has interviewed the women and spent time with their families to uncover the untold story. Their amazing achievements inspired her to found The Human Computer Project, which works to archive all the stories of African-American women who worked as computer scientists and mathematicians at the height of NASA that history has skimmed past.

The Human Computer Project aims to collect and highlight the contributions of women to NASA and NACA throughout the years.

The women of “Hidden Figures” felt the weight of the responsibilities the ODU choir hummed and Sweet Honey in the Rock chanted. “They knew,” Shetterly said, “that every action they took over the course of their long careers would have implications for the next generation of people who looked like them.” Along with being great at their job, Shetterly said, these women and their colleagues were out to prove “that excellence has neither color nor gender.”

When an audience member asked if the film would have a sequel, Shetterly responded that it won’t be a direct second act, but she’s working on another book, and hopes for a long career in telling stories untold.

From Shannon Jay: “Johnson was there that day, and even then I realized how special it was to share a room with history – a woman whose achievements were monumental and so important not only to black women, but to all of America. Now, with her passing, it’s a moment I’ll hold even more dear.

Katherine Johnson 8/26/1918 – 2/24/2020