- Monday, Apr. 15, 2019
Let me start with a full disclosure. You know, that “fair balance” stuff. I am a liberal Democrat. Social and fiscal. I usually vote the party line, unless the candidate is really inappropriate, or in jail. You, dear reader, may not hold those beliefs as self evident. That’s okay. We can still hug and share a beverage. But let’s not throw our drinks in our faces—and no politics at the dinner table!
All right, that felt good. So, to begin: Lately I feel I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of stories about women who are just crushing it in areas where, it seems only a short while ago, there were few at the front lines. In politics, in business, in the arts. And, for me, it’s been inspiring to consider each story—and then to put them together and feel some kind of awesome common thread. A powerful sisterhood thing.
On the political front, gotta just go there, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC for the syllable-challenged). We actually remember her from the bartending days at Flats Fix in Union Square, a few blocks from where BANG was located till recently. A self-described socialist, co-author of the Green New Deal, proponent of Medicare for all and the object of nearly relentless ridicule from the good folks at Fox News, she has the special sauce and street smarts to invigorate the socio-political conversation without mincing words. Yes, there may be some edges that will need honing in the years ahead, but I predict she’ll be elected to very high office by 2024. 2028 at the latest. And I’ll be going door-to-door with the leaflets.
But enough about politics. (She’s a rock star, right? Oops, sorry.) I recently read a New Yorker profile (click here) of stylist Karla Welch, whose remarkable career in the entertainment world and beyond has been on a near vertical trajectory for over a decade. In 2003 she “styled the iPod” for the print campaign that her husband, Matthew Welch, a photographer, was shooting. It was an advertising breakthrough that helped bring the device out of the world of technology and into popular culture. Today, she works independently with a diverse roster of clients from Justin Bieber to Oprah, Karlie Kloss to Anita Hill and dozens more, making sure their “style” is a true version of themselves. She also has her own clothing line, x Karla, and talks about making commercials in the future, and films…there is no limit. Ms. Welch has said she’s further inspired by former champion sprinter Angela Manuel Davis, now a teacher/trainer at Soul-Cycle in West Hollywood, who helped her gain the confidence in herself to “ride” from the back of the room to the front row. Says Welch, “It’s about not being afraid to be successful. Like, why be fine if we can be great at something?” That inspirational trainer (Beyonce and JayZ are also clients) definitely sets a room on fire.
Also in the world of fashion, the “athleisure” apparel company Outside Voices, started by CEO Tyler Haney, continues an irrepressible expansion into a very crowded market. From another piece in a recent New Yorker, “…the activewear market is now a fifty-five-billion-dollar industry…Outside Voices is only a fraction of that market…but it has had triple-digit growth every year since its founding.” In an interview with USA Today, Haney says of the biggest lesson she’s learned: “Treat people with kindness. We have a value at OV called ‘human, not superhuman’.” Click here for the USA Today interview. We also learn that she’s friends with a singer-songwriter we’ve written about in this space before: Maggie Rogers, whose own career has taken her in just three years from small clubs around the world to two nights at Radio City this October. And this stunning performance on Colbert’s show.
Now we all know that business and music mix, and earlier this month it was announced that Beyoncé and Adidas had struck a deal—a very big deal. She’ll be one of their creative directors, have her own line, of course.(Okay, Rihanna had a similar arrangement with Puma a few year earlier.) In a statement, she “touted a shared philosophy ‘that puts creativity, growth and social responsibility at the forefront of business.’” With over 100 million Instagram followers, there’s no doubt about the brand bump Adidas will enjoy from this partnership. Click here.
And now, time for more music: I was kinda blown away by a piece in Tuesday’s Times about Tayla Parx, the 25 year-old former child actress who has been quietly building a monumental career as a songwriter and artist. She co-wrote half of Ariana Grande’s stratospheric album, “Thank You, Next” (they first crossed paths on the sets of Nickelodeon shows nearly a decade ago). Regarded as one of the hottest songwriters of the moment (credits include Panic! at the Disco, Jason Derulo, Mariah Carey, Janelle Monae, Meghan Trainor…) she’s just dropped her own album, “We Need To Talk,” on Atlantic Records. This single from the record, “I Want You,” I think is pretty killer.
Finally, girls. And boys. We must talk about Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell—shortened to Billie Eilish—the 17 year-old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles whose debut album “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go,” written & produced entirely by she and her brother Finneas, has just landed at Number 1 on the Billboard charts, unseating Ariana! Here’s a taste, in “Bury A Friend”
There are very few successful pop artists on the planet who can release music that hasn’t had a team of writers and producers all over it (i.e. Ms. Parx, above), but this young lady has written all of her songs with only her brother as partner—most of them in his bedroom at their parents’ home. It would be too easy to suggest that Billie is a “flavor of the month”—she’s been writing and performing since pre-teen years and released her first song on SoundCloud, “Ocean Eyes,” in 2016. If you have the time, check out this Times piece, and the Skype-doc with reporter Joe Coscarelli. (Click here). If Ms. Eilish just wants to have the world, she most definitely is getting it.