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.

2020 – A Year in Reflection

As we wrap up one hell of a year, we thought it was only best that we took some time to reflect on some of the really goods things that have come out of this year, specifically with Popscure. Thank you all for making this year a special one—here’s to many more.

What was your favorite write-up from this year? Why?

Tyler W: It’s probably a tie between the Dawit N.M. interview conducted by Cam Murdoch and the Q+A I did with members of the Wild Bunch before the “Our Streets” exhibition, both of which focused on photography. Since practically everyone in the digital age can capture an image with ease, it’s really interesting to me to hear how photographers approach it as an art form.

Jasmine R: My favorite write-up probably has to be “Whose Streets? Our Streets!”— a Q+A written and conducted by Tyler. Documenting the (without a doubt) historical summer of activism and unity is so, so crucial to say the least.

Cam M: The Tyler Donavan piece, I just want that guy to win and have his story shared, so it was big for me to see the response he got from that.

Shannon J: From Overseas, Tyler did a great job poetically telling the story of Kevin Sery and made the piece just as atmospheric and grounded as his music. Otherwise, I was excited to have a couple pieces I wrote go out (“Treasure,” “Bubble Ball“). Since I started working full-time, I haven’t had much time to write for Popscure, so I’m glad I can contribute, and I’m excited to have some new writers on this year too (Allison, James and Noah).

Noah D: Oh jeez, I don’t know. I hate to self-plug but maybe the Why Bonnie interview. It was the first time I’d interviewed a bigger name band, and I just really enjoy the chances it gave me, and I was proud to see it get feedback. Other than that, I loved the recent article [“25 Local Places to Get Gifts in the 757”] focusing on shops in the 757. I think it gave some really solid media coverage to businesses that needed it, and I think it influenced a lot of peoples’ decisions in gift buying.


What was your favorite piece to have edited and published? Why?

Tyler W: I really liked how Jasmine’s interview with LEYA came together because I see that as a great example of how Popscure can create connections both online and IRL. We were able to create a relationship with both the band and their label through email correspondence and then reach new readers through social media shares by the band and label. At the same time, we were telling our local readership about this emerging band that was on tour coming to play in our town. And then we were able to go to the show, meet the band, network with local musicians, etc. I also just really like them and their album—their album was one of my favorites this year. 馃檪

Jasmine R: One of my favorite pieces that I helped put out was the Shaina Negr贸n feature by one of our writers, Darryan. It was a super cool look inside the conjoining of art and self-expression from Negr贸n. I’m also really proud of our Black Experience Collective that we put together as a response to the events of police brutality and blatant murder and injustice that occurred this year. The collective serves as a platform to amplify the black voices unheard in this country.

Shannon J: Jasmine took care of much of the editing, bless her soul, but one of the few I did was “Coronavirus and Why Your Fave Band Tee Is Important Right Now.” Documenting such a shift on the blog was crucial since so much of our content is dependent on live music and the musicians who play shows.


What was your favorite standout moment for Popscure this year?

Tyler W: One moment that stands out for me is posting the Fake Uzumi feature on our new WordPress site in February. Around that time we were leveling up, and I felt proud of the efforts from our newly-formed team. I knew the feature was going to get a lot of exposure, and I remember feeling like our operations were just starting to run smoothly; we had all been working hard getting ready for this new level of attention.

Jasmine R: One of my favorite moments from this year absolutely has to be the Valentine’s Day-themed party we did with Smartmouth Brewing Co. and Citrus City Records. This may sound cliche, but the energy was literally full of love that night. It was literally “nothin’ but love.”

Cam M: Nothin’ but love show with Smartmouth.

Shannon J: Stay Put Fest 2020 was amazing. It was such a fun challenge to translate the exhilaration, fun, and camaraderie of live music onto people’s phones. It was the first time I’d chatted with local showgoers and saw my friends play music in months. There were technical difficulties and a learning process for sure, but I think everyone appreciated it. FlyyScience’s COVID info takeover was super interesting too, and getting to know her and her work was awesome. We just really had to think outside of the box this year with events. No one stole our Instagram account either, which was a plus!

Noah D: I haven’t been on the team long enough to comment!


What do you most look forward to in the future of Popscure?

Tyler W: I look forward to us continuing to grow our team. By adding more contributors, Popscure will expand our investigation into the various aspects of culture and bring our findings to our community.

Jasmine R: Our growth!!!

Cam M: Breaking boundaries and bringing obscure talent to the masses.

Shannon J: Parties, hopefully we can do something fun in the summer!

Noah D: Writing more, editing, carving a voice for myself in the team, etc. etc.


Thank you all for the love and support you showed us this year! On to the next one…

25 Local Places to Get Gifts in the 757

We all know supporting local is important year round, and the holidays are no exception. Skip the Amazon orders and last-minute Target run for something more unique! Not to mention after a year like 2020, our small businesses need us now more than ever.

According to 13 News Now, local retailers predict a 15% drop in holiday sales, and have experienced 50-75% lower sales since shutdown in March. 20% of businesses had to close temporarily or permanently, with 75% closing for 15 days or more. 

Some businesses that did not survive the pandemic include sister bars Saint Germain and Pourhouse in Downtown Norfolk, Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, and Jones鈥 Restaurant in Portsmouth, the latter which has been opened for 34 years.

If you鈥檙e running around the 757 still trying to figure out gifts for loved ones, here鈥檚 a few places to start:

El Rey (photo credit: Realtor Richard Calderon)

Restaurants have been hit especially hard with dine-in service being limited, so buying a gift card to give your loved ones a nice night out is a good option. Here鈥檚 some restaurant suggestions:

Dirty Buffalo: With basketball season underway, it’s only right to grub on some wings while watching – they鈥檙e currently doing dine-in and takeout.

Kappo Nara Ramen: This place is the real deal ramen joint, starting with the edamame and finishing with the black tonkotsu ramen is the way to go. If you buy their cute t-shirt as a gift, your loved one can wear it in there and get 10% off every meal – the gift that keeps on giving.

Noodeman: Speaking of noodles, this Chinese restaurant is named one of the best in the world with their diverse menu of handmade noodle dishes. Hot and Spicy Soup and the Jalape帽o Chicken are the way I roll.

El Rey: With the best shredded beef tacos this side of the border, this family-owned restaurant gets a lot of bang for your buck with $2 tacos on not only Tuesday, but Sunday as well!

Image may contain: indoor
Kobros Coffee (source: company’s Facebook page)

Skip Starbucks, there鈥檚 plenty of great coffee shops in the area that need support. Whether your giftee enjoys making fancy french presses at home or knows someone who needs to break from their work from home desk for a few hours, there鈥檚 a gift within this option of roasteries and cafes. 

Kobros: With their new location in the works, the veteran-owned coffee joint is sure to be a great spot to unwind. Pop in their location on 24th street during your weekend shopping for a rotating specialty latte.

Fresh Cup Coffee & Tea Company: With their easy-to-use online ordering system, pick out artisan flavored coffee from the comfort of your couch.

Lucky Cup Coffee: This shop is a cute spot to get some work done, or grab a bag of CBD-infused coffee to wrap up. 

DJ Bee of Freshtopia (source: company’s Vimeo)

Looking for that special something for the music lover in your life? Check out one of these locally owned record shops for something new they can spin.

Freshtopia: Home of Real Fresh Radio, this spot is the place for hip hop records and I really want one of those hoodies鈥

Vinyl Daze: One of the larger collections of vinyl in the area, this place specializes and only sells records. They鈥檝e had to expand not once, but twice to hold their collection! 

AFK Books: A great spot for not only records but a wide variety of books. If you have old records bring them in for consignment to get some extra Christmas cash. 

Local Heroes (source: Travel and Leisure)

Speaking of books鈥 avoid Amazon or Barnes and Noble and shop local book shops! Many of these places have used books, which is a great way to not only support our economy, but reduce our carbon footprint as well. 

Prince Books: Right around the corner from Waterside, this place is a hidden gem with a wide range of titles. It’s a charming place with a good selection of fiction novels and biographies.

Local Heroes: The gold standard of comic shops, full of single issues, graphic novels, and other fun gifts. I can鈥檛 help but always get some cute stickers or a mystery box for myself when I go here. Fun fact: This was also named one of the best comic books in the country by Travel and Leisure.

Book Exchange: This place has a wide range of used books, which is a great way to not only support our economy, but reduce our carbon footprint as well. 

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Veil Brewing (source: company’s Twitter page)

Beer is one gift you cannot go wrong with! With so many great breweries across Hampton Roads, a six-pack could be the tastiest site under the tree for an indulgent giftee. 

Veil Brewing: Some of the most unique brews in the country let alone the area. Not only is their beer delicious for any palette, but their merch is very cool, too.

Big Ugly Brewing: Over a decade in the making, this spot has some solid brews you can get in growlers or giant cans. If you have someone in your life that loves old cars and motorcycles, this spot is a great place to get a gift card to.

Commonwealth: Armed with the knowledge of European brewers, this family-owned spot went from homebrewing to big time after years of perfecting the craft of, well, craft beer.

Norfolk Country Feed and Seed (source: The Virginian-Pilot)

Plants are the hottest trend right now, and a gift that most folks can appreciate (well, at least I can – I鈥檓 pushing 70+ plants in my home currently). Whether your loved one is a self proclaimed black thumb or has accumulated a jungle during quarantine, these are some of my favorite nurseries in the area:

Plantbar: More on the boutique side of the nursery spectrum, this spot is super cute and offers take-home terrarium gifts for a more interactive planty present. Not to mention you get a free alcoholic beverage while you shop, which is very clutch. 

Anderson’s: This huge location is worth the drive to Newport News, and has a lot more than just plants available in their gift shop. It鈥檚 a great place to knock out a good amount of shopping. 

Norfolk Feed and Seed: This place has a good selection and great prices, with one section that has smaller plants for $1.50. Plus, there鈥檚 store cats, which makes it even better in my book. 

Velvet Witch (Source: company website)

If you鈥檙e looking for other unique gift items such as jewelry, home goods, and so much more, these are some really cute spots to get your shop on:

Velvet Witch: If your loved one is obsessed with crystals, is a foul-mouthed feminist, and/or personally identifies with their star sign, this is the spot to buy for them. 

Kitsch: This was my first spot in my Christmas shopping journey, and I knocked out a good amount with their wide variety of items.

Mrs. Pinkadot: I got a lot of my ornaments and Christmas decorations here, so they have a great selection of borderline tacky but utterly charming gifts for everyone.

Hot House Yoga Shoot | Norfolk Virginia Beach Commercial Photographer
Hot House Yoga (Photo Credit: Echard Wheeler Photography)

Stuff is great and all, but what about something fun you can do together? Here鈥檚 some interesting activities that can get your giftee out of their comfort zone.

Mambo Room: Get your favorite couple or significant other a different kind of date night. With the clubs closed, anyone can use an excuse to get dancing!

iFly: For those who have a fear of heights, this may be as close as they鈥檒l get to the thrill of skydiving.

Hot House Yoga: They鈥檙e offering a 10-class card right now good at multiple locations, and this could be a great gift for someone who has mentioned detoxing and getting more mindful after a crazy year. We could all use a little of that after 2020, couldn鈥檛 we?

Monthly Mix: Gabe Niles

We鈥檙e honored Gabe Niles took some time out of his busy schedule to grace us with this funk house mix. He鈥檚 always between VA and LA, either working with Sunny and Gabe or some of your favorite artists. He helped hometown hero D.R.A.M. hit it big and now perfecting beats for Eryka Badu and others alongside legendary hip-hop producer Rick Rubin. Enjoy this nice, long, danceable hour and a half narrated by DJ Sup Ladies himself.

Finding Sweet Peace with Sunny and Gabe

 All photos via Anjelica Jardiel
All photos via Anjelica Jardiel

Sunny and Gabe haven鈥檛 released a full length in five years, but that doesn鈥檛 mean they haven鈥檛 been busy. Gabe Niles has been working with legendary producer Rick Rubin off-and-on in LA on secret project with big names. Sunny鈥檚 been jamming on side projects such as the jazzy dapzam and collaborations with Opal (which has been featured on a couple TV shows now), and solo stuff kept under wraps for now.

They blessed us with a few bites recently, with Vacay and Hadouken, the single off their new record. Now they鈥檙e serving up several slices with 鈥淧eace of Cake,鈥 released this week. The first Time Traveler鈥檚 Ball last fall spun a few tracks in the DJ setlist, but now they鈥檙e performing entirely pre-enjoyed jams live at Origami this Saturday for round 2. Popscure caught up with them before the show to talk about where they started, their travels, and what inspired the long-awaited album.

 

Tell us a little bit about your origins – how did y’all get together to start making tunes?

Sunny – He ripped my song off of SoundCloud and remixed it. Soon thereafter, I recorded on the coolest beat I鈥檇 ever heard. We started e-mailing back and forth and had an album鈥檚 worth of music within a couple of months.

What music, art, or otherwise do you pull inspiration from generally?

Sunny – I just let it come through me. I鈥檝e always played with word association and letting my mind go wherever it wants. Kind of like stream of consciousness. Whatever feels right is right. I鈥檓 mostly inspired by this and how it mixes with my own state and emotions, and how it can fit into whatever instrument or instrumental I鈥檓 faced with at the moment. I love so much music that I have no idea what is influencing me. Love weird shit and honest shit.

Gabe – Colorful things. Chaotic themes. Sci fi. High energy, jazzy moments.

What did you want to do differently with this record?

Sunny – Make it sound a little less dusty. I love Free Candy and the way it sounds but we wanted to clean this stuff up enough to be presentable and ingestible to a wider audience.

Gabe – This record we actually took our time lol. Not really, but the sense of it. Actually just made more songs and chose from a bigger pool of records鈥o we could be patient and hold on to some classic songs for the next rather than overload.

What scene do you hope to set with this album?

Sunny – Oh man, just a big run through time and space.

Gabe – Space casino latin bar called LNS-19 is pretty much the vibe. LNS-19 stands for Latin Nights Sector-19. Def kinda futuristic. 5th element/Cowboy bebop vibes

I know long-term partner D.r.a.m. is on this record. What are some Other exciting collaborations you worked in?

Sunny – I鈥檝e mostly collabed with my own dark emotions.

Gabe – Oh ye, gotta dream team. Gary Donna from our band touches a lot, he is one of my main collaborators. Dude is crazy. Roget Chahayed on the keys for a couple records. He is a walking platinum plaque. Despo aka Los Hendrix, craaazy guitar player from Yonkers based in LA. He produces for Brent Fiyahz, one of the first musicians I met in LA. Pip, amazing composer. He arranged and played a lot of the strings you hear throughout the record. He produces as well, very well rounded. PaperDiamond mastered it, dude is a genius. Justin Battle and Mike Mizzle came in on 鈥淪istermoon.鈥

You all are time travelers, what time periods influenced the music on the new record (past or future since you have seen it all)?

Sunny – A mix of everything at once. A lot of 70s I think. A lot of smoky jazz clubs as well. LNS-19 is a smoky jazz club in the future. It鈥檚 just whatever you feel; it鈥檚 right.

Gabe – Mesoteric Era meets Jetsons meets 2003

As for the present day, how do you feel about tunes coming out lately, for better or worse? What’s exciting you and what’s disappointing (if anything)?

Sunny – There鈥檚 a lot of the same shit that鈥檚 getting a whole lot of attention right now. There鈥檚 also a lot of GREAT shit going on. I鈥檓 a little disconnected and only occasionally find/am introduced to something I鈥檓 reallllly feeling. When I saw King Krule come out with a big ass buzz it was probably the most motivating thing I鈥檝e ever seen.

Gabe – It’s a lot of good shit that comes out that just gets kinda pushed to the side occasionally. It’s kinda mundane when you hear a lot of the songs that sound exactly the same, but you also gotta understand the culture. It’s a great canvas tho, since it鈥檚 kinda flat lines. So it’s still as exciting as it is boring.

From when Sunny and Gabe began roughly 5 years ago to now, how has the industry changed?

Sunny – I have no idea what the industry even is because I鈥檓 afraid of it, but it seems like everything is about some playlist or something. I miss albums. I really miss like, guitar music. I don鈥檛 really use weird genre names to describe what I like but I miss GUITAR MUSIC. Some hard ass shit. There鈥檚 so much smooth shit. I get really tired of stuff that just sounds really good, smooth singers, smooth beats, just FUCK I wanna feel something. My bad, I鈥檓 like an old school person who likes shit nobody has ever heard of. But there鈥檚 a lot of good shit, again, don鈥檛 get me wrong.

Gabe – *Clears throat* it hasn’t. The only things that changed forreal are the gates and the gatekeepers. Play ball.

What does the future hold for music, and what are your efforts to push it in that direction?

Sunny – I want to help inspire others to be different. Straight up. I鈥檒l fight until I鈥檓 dead if it鈥檚 going to help someone else do what they want instead of try to follow a trend.

Gabe – See above.

Seems like you all have been holding onto these tracks for quite some time… why is now the right time for release?

Sunny – We are SLOW AS FUCK. The tracks got too clean and had to get dirty again. We made SisterMoon last month. There’s so many reasons. We have no boss so for two creatives it鈥檚 a nightmare trying to get to a point where we call something 鈥渇inished鈥 Now is the right time because it just happened to happen. No idea.

Gabe – They forced their way out after holding us at gun point.

 

Peep 鈥淧eace of Cake鈥 in it鈥檚 entirety below

Monthly Mix: Wivve

AT THE START OF EVERY MONTH, WE’LL BE FEATURING A MIX OF SONGS FROM DJS, WHIPPED UP ESPECIALLY FOR POPSCURE

The secret’s out – Wivve put out the call for this special mix on Instagram last month, and we took the bait. Hip hop heavy with house elements, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser to thrown on at any function.

The Virginia-based DJ spins all over the 757 and helps put on poppin’ events through Extra Company. In the past, he’s teamed up with Shake, and working with No Preserves this weekend for a stacked lineup, featuring session scarlet Opal and Stones Throw Record’s Simulator Jones.

 Don't miss this one, secure your tickets now at  nopreserves.org
Don’t miss this one, secure your tickets now at nopreserves.org

tracklist

Breathe (Bass Mix) – Hollaphonic
Blazin feat. Sophiegrophy – Airwolf
Ultimate (Yung Noize Remix) – Denzel Curry
I Want (Braveaux Mod) – MADEINTYO
Na Hora (Ft Faktiss & Chris McClenney) – S谩ngo
Russian Cream – Key Glock
Move – Key! & Kenny Beats
Love Hurts (feat. Travis Scott) – Playboi Carti
Live SheckWes Die SheckWes – Sheck Wes
Hater – Key! & Kenny Beats
PHARMACIST – NOLANBEROLLIN
PHARMACIST [UZUMI EDIT] – NOLANBEROLLIN
DOESKIFROMDAPACK – DOE$KI
New Slaves – Kanye West
Nonstop – Drake
Skateboard P – elijah who
Get It (4801 FREESTYLE) – Kyere

Monthly Mix: FAKE UZUMI

EVERY MONTH, WE’LL BE FEATURING A MIX OF SONGS FROM DJS, WHIPPED UP ESPECIALLY FOR POPSCURE

Benji Uzumi has already been noticed by bigger outlets for his remixes and edits, but is still down to give our humble blog a taste of his unique, seamless blend. He’s already worked with pretty major artists like Opal as a producer, but still finds time to spin around town. He’s at GameWorks every Wednesday to soundtrack free adults-only arcading, and can be seen around town any given weekend.  

This mix celebrates his hard work and could be considered an ode to other Virginian artists who work just as hard but still stay humble. Along with VA artists featured like Masego and N.E.R.D, Uzumi proves 757 stands against top hip hop and house music real well.

tracklist

N.E.R.D. – Everybody Nose (Remix)
KP & ENVI – Shorty Swing My Way
Erykah Badu – On & On (Remix)
Yaeji – drink I鈥檓 sippin on
Barbara Tucker – Everybody Dance
Yaeji – Raingurl
Masego – Girls That Dance
Azealia Banks – Licorice
Les Sins – Bother
Aaliyah – One in a Million (Remix)
Nightcrawlers – Push the Feeling
Azealia Banks – Van Vogue
Nightcrawlers – Fall in Love
Lakim – The World is Yours
Theophilus London – TNT
Goldlink – Meditation
Duckwrth- I鈥檓 Dead
The internet – You Know
Kaytranada – I Can Love You
Chynna – Switch It Up