Saturday, July 7, 2018

An Interview With Portland's Most Captivating and Inviting Flower, Blossom

We're sitting in the middle Kelly's Olympian, one of the oldest bars in Portland, where back in the day, travellers would come in for a quick drink and mingle with the locals before continuing on their journies. With vintage motorcycles hanging from the ceiling, and neon signs littered throughout, it's pretty fitting Blossom would pick this spot to chat with us. 

We meet Blossom and immediately realize why so many people are drawn to her. She oozes a positive energy that catches you off guard, and then she starts talking and you can't help but hold on to every word. Her friend Snugs is with her, and they're both buzzing off a local TV performance they had before they met us. The night prior and early in the morning before we met, Snugs produced a melody for her that she later turned into a song, all in 24 hours. 

As we sat down to do the interview, I started to wonder what the theme and end goal of it would be. It happens to be pretty obvious - Blossom is about community and the energies she has surrounding her in her life. She's fun and lighthearted and has a natural attraction that people are drawn to. Her friend stops to say hi halfway through the interview, a table behind us interrupts us at one point and she chats with them for a bit, and another time a girl walks by and Blossom yells at her that she's gorgeous. She's about love, manifesting positive situations throughout her life.

Blossom is fluid in her movements, a creature that's the embodiment of going with the flow. Things work in her favour and those waves don't clash - at least she doesn't let it show.

With her roots in Trinidad & Tobago, Blossom is now causing a stir in the Pacific Northwest, and for good reason too. her music is utterly mesmerising. 

PP: So, what's on the agenda for today?

B: We're gonna go to my studio session upstairs after we're done this interview! 

Do you have set plans for what you do with your days off?

I do. Mainly because I get so few days off. Whenever I have a day off I tend to jam pack it with stuff and today is no different. I literally got up at 7 and go, go, go. Every other day I'm at work and my work needs my attention and focus. I try to multitask with music and emails at work but it's really hard to do so. 

We saw your video recently you did with Marmoset, where you talk about finding inspiration wherever you go and writing it down immediately. What was the most bizarre place you found inspiration and later drew from it?

Stuck in traffic coming back from the eclipse I had an instrumental CD in my car that Neil, who you'll meet in my studio, gave me, and I wrote the first song that's going to be on my next album from being stuck in traffic. We were stuck in traffic for like, 4 hours, and we went through the CD once, and then again, and then I just kept playing one song, and I was in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, making music, and there's literally nothing out here to inspire me but just like, the roundabout way of being here, and what we're doing, and you know that anxiety you get when you're stuck in traffic? I wish I could be anywhere else but here! That motivated me because I was thinking of all other places I could be but here.

Moving from Trinidad & Tobago, do you feel far from your roots?

No, I have a lot of family. I'm definitely far away from the every day of my roots and my culture and what we typically do every day - which is the same as anyone. You know you grow up anywhere and you go to a football game with everyone in your town, and let's say you're not going to go to a football game where you don't know anyone.  That's my disconnection, but family life and food and things like family has done a pretty good job at keeping that up. My aunt cooks for me or my dad every time she comes here. Trinidad food, I've learned to cook myself, and I kind of have an awesome fun family where we do those things together.

You love teaching and doing fundraisers. You essentially get a genuine joy from people's faces when you perform. Was music always so selfless for you? Did you ever dream of fame and fortune?

I dreamed of what the fame and fortune could give me, not neccessarily having it. I have really, really intense anxiety over being obsessed over. It freaks me out if a certain person or someone is spending too much time or focus on me. I have a very rational but irrational fear of being kindnapped. Watching Selena horrified me. I'm still looking for a manager because I'm scared of somebody not having the right - Is that Martell? 

(At this moment, someone pulls up in their car, blasting music, distracting Blossom. She jumps up promptly and runs to give him a hug)

I'm so sorry about that! Okay so, long story short, I've been stalked before. It scared the shit out of me! I have a very big fear of what that whole life brings. I just want financial stability and I think that's just what every musician wants in the long run, but I also want a platform to have a voice to speak up about things that aren't cool, because I have no fear of sharing my emotions and being up there in the front line, and there's people who...that's not made out for them, but they want to talk, so I'd like to be the voice for them.

So, what is it that you want to articulate?

Everything!! I'm nuts girl. There are so many things I'm so extremely passionate about. You can be passionate about a million things! I'm passionate about childcare, the foster system, I want kids to get adopted, I want kids to have better foster homes, I want there to be more help for caretakers and for social service, because they're tired and the reason why they're doing this shitty job is because there's not enough of them, and it's too much and they're overwhelmed and anybody doing any job, when you get tired and you get frustrated you won't do a good job. I want to tell more people that are financially in the position to take care of other people and other children to do so. It's hard emotionally, yes, but you have all this space, let's be a little bit less selfish and share the space with the world? I'm really passionate about the food at schools in lower income areas. I hate that there's such split districts and divisions. Like why is Beaverton thriving and Portland isn't, and we're in the same state? It's not okay. There's not a creative outlet in all schools and I'd like to educate and be a part of making that better. I've gone to a lot of schools and talked to a lot of music programs, and it's really unfortunate that schools have to segregate their instruments because they can't afford to have a section for everything. One school is strings, another school is horns, another is clarinet, flute etc, and what if I don't want to play the violin? I wanna play the drums. But my school district doesn't provide it for me. That sucks.

We love giving our artists gifts. We saw this and for some reason were so drawn to it and thought you would appreciate it. An inkblot book. What do you think?

AHH! (keeps screaming). I love it!!! You don't even get it! (gasps, starts looking through it). Oh my God. Ah! My heart is so excited for this! 

So we thought it would be fun to play a game. We have 5 inkblot cards here, and we want you to pick your favourite and tell us why, and then once you tell us, you can flip it over and tell us the actual meaning on the card.

This one, because it's my aura. It's how I feel and look inside and out. (flips the card over), Oh my God. Wow! So I first saw the x-ray, the heart, then the stingray on it. The stingray means, "you tend to put yourself second, and are familiar but not neccessarily comfortable with the sensation of being put aside by more powerful characters. A consequence is that you can sometimes be apologetic to a fault." And that's so true! All the time. I was walking down the street and this lady was in front of me and she wasn't gonna move, and I said sorry, and she kept walking. I even told my dad to stop doing that, like stop saying you're sorry when you didn't even do anything. I have to tell myself that too but it's really nice to have a reminder. I love this gift! I can't wait to do this with my godson! You guys! Can I hug you?

It's crazy you got me this because I wanted to be a psychologist. I went to school for it for a bit to try and become a psychologist then I decided there's no fucking way I'm going to school for that long. Anyway, that was a really thoughtful gift! 

We love what a feminist you are. You have your backup vocalists, you have your girl crew front row at your shows, and you celebrate females in your music videos. It's beautiful. With feminism taking such a center stage recently and with people becoming more aware of it, what do you think is a common misconception about being a feminist?

That it means we hate men. That's just such a stupid way to bring the conversation back to men instead of addressing the fact that we're just women who have something to say. If you're a man and that hurts then, cool, we're talking to you. But we're not talking to everybody. I hate the phrase, "not all __". You don't have to say any part of that. Like, you shouldn't have to. When someone responds to you with, "I don't do that." Cool well, was I talking to you? I said a statement, that applied to this demographic, a fact, and if that fact hurts your feelings then do better, so when you see facts, you don't get upset about it. For example, if someone says, "oh you're a Gemini then you have to be blah, blah, blah", and I feel sometimes the answer should be, "no, maybe some other Gemini", not, "NOT ALL GEMINIS!!" Like, who are you standing up for? Why are you being defensive for no reason? And that's passive aggressive behaviour and I don't like that. And that statement is out there, and I've decided, I don't think I like it. And I'm going to try very hard to not say it, and I'm going to try and educate the reasons for why I don't want it to be said. Freedom of speech is for everyone, and I can only speak on me. I'm just saying this is what I think, and you should probably not say it anymore. Just think about what it means when you say it. 

We want to talk to you about your fantastic single, "U Got Me." You've talked about it being about self-love and independence, so we want to know, what does being independent mean to you? 

That's such a good question. Hmm. I think it means, independent in thought and being okay to disagree. That comes with maturity. Being able to communicate is really important. I don't think going against the grain means you're independent, because you can agree with a lot of people and still be independent. But like, loving the things that you do as an individual and using those things to live your life. Like saving your money and deciding, "I'm going to do this because I want to get further" is being independent. Not letting anyone else tell me this is something I gotta do. I make my choices for my future on my own. And you can have people influence your decisions but if you're not making them for yourself then you're not being independent. 

We read that you categorize your life into eras. 2017 were your sassy years. You have zero tolerance for stupidity, be it from men or women or politics. Are you still in your sassy years? 

I'm in my lover years right now! I'm so, ahhhh (swings around). I wanna love and be loved and I wanna have the people around me trust me, and! I want everyone to be really happy. I focus on being ready to be loved. What does that mean? Where do I wanna be when I'm in love? And then I'm like, okay, I'm gonna grow towards being that "in love" person, because I'm such a romantic in every aspect of life! I have these things that I want, so I'm in that state of mind.

We've noticed you talk a lot about positive intentions and universal energy. Did you grow up with this mindset, or was it something you learned on your path? 

I had to learn what those feelings were for me as a kid. There never was a lot of communication about that as a kid. I had a lot of people who acted that way so when I was older and able to put a word to the actions. I had a lot of people who decided they were going to do this, do that, and there were all these things they were gonna do to get it. The mindset was, " I cant wait when this happens" not, "I wish." Everything all of a sudden started happening, snowballing. 

Have you ever experienced manifestations energies yourself?

I don't know! I always feel like I have a feeling like, "oh is this manifesting?!" I guess cool things just happen....oh wait! Here's one! When I first started doing music,  I heard about this festival, here in August, it's outdoors and it's all ages and it's awesome because you can smoke weed and you can drink and it's families! But it's amazing, and there are all these different stages and you can camp there. It's family oriented and you can wake up and there's outdoor showers and yoga, and bungalows. It's huge. I looked at it and I was like, I wanna play there! And it's here. So, then they emailed me after I wanted it and it just happened! 

Redo the soundtrack to a film, which film would it be and why?

Burlesque with Christina Aguilera beause it's bomb, and it's amazing and I love the show and I love everything and I feel like I could find a vocal home with that sort of production....oh and! West Side Story!

A piece of advice for your fans and our listeners?

Go out dancing, as often as you can. Go with your friends. Dance with strangers. And take your shoes off if your feet hurt. Don't be that bitch. You're never too boujee to take your shoes off and have fun. 



Monday, July 2, 2018

George Clanton Isn't Into Films, He Isn't Into Other Music . He's Too Consumed In Creating His Own Legacy

Paradise Playground, as many of you know, is a blog that celebrates musicians and their craft, and isn't out to make monsters out of artists. That's why, upon meeting George Clanton, I was curious to get to know him better. The enigma and one of the heavy hitters behind his genre of vaporwave, George got intellectualized really early on and quite frankly, misunderstood, thanks to online forums and gossip. What he really wants is to connect with his audience and make memorable experiences for them. He's the type of guy who believes that people at his shows hang out with him and sing with him. That they're all in this together. He's the type that jumps into crowds and you watch as the faces of his fans transform. Their auras and their energies amplify as he hugs and pats them on their backs and ultimately these are experiences that these people will take home forever. 

George shattered a specific print persona that we went into this interview with. To be honest, we were intimidated at the start. From the get-go, he thanks us multiple times for coming to Portland and for the interview itself. He then thanks the security guard for letting us go backstage with him to conduct the interview. He jumps cheerfully and eagerly to get started on the questions. He's earnest, hoping he doesn't sound too boring in the interview, and he means well. We came to get to know George during his US tour in Portland, where he was playing a show at Doug Fir Lounge with his girlfriend and record label co-owner, Lindsey French AKA Negative Gemini.

What we came to find out is that George is about providing experiences for all his fans. He's not an 80s revival artist, he's not a new wave artist, but he is, in fact, his own genre. His music is something so different, that once you hear it live you realize that George Clanton, in himself, is the experience.


PP: We're huge fans of your music - of course. We were sitting and listening to you one day and trying to see where you appear to draw inspiration from. We threw ideas around, heard bits of New Order, some Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, some cinematic 80s synth stuff. The cool thing is it's all modernized into this really rad synth-pop package. We're wondering how that translated to growing up in Virginia. What's the music scene like there? What got you into late 70s or 80s new wave?

GC: Well, first of all, thank you! But I mean, I don't know. There's not a lot of people where I came from. I can't speak for Virginia as a whole, but when I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of people to bounce ideas off of. Me and my friends we all liked Oasis in high school. That was the coolest band we liked. But then, from downloading a misnamed file on Limewire that said it was Oasis, we ended up downloading something cooler, and that led into the internet and discovering some music. We really didn't know anybody outside of our friend group that was listening to anything we were listening to at that time so, Virginia, I don't know if that's relevant. I just think that you know, we got lucky. 

What was the defining moment when you grasped for these inspirations behind your genre? You were stuck for a bit within the vaporwave
 genre, but now people (I guess us included), see these large influences in 80s new wave. Do you even want to be put in that genre even?

(Sighs). No. I mean, 80s new wave is my least favourite, I'd rather be pigeonholed into vaporwave than be pigeonholed into 80s new wave. Just because vaporwave is happening now and 80s new wave is dead and gone. And, I've been called an 80s revivalist my whole career and I'm kind of sick of it a little bit. Of course, I am influenced by those things, but I feel like the only thing that makes it so obvious is that I'm singing so much and my contemporaries don't sing. Or at least they don't sing like me (coyly smiles). That's not my fault, I'm not trying to do an 80s thing per say, I'm just singing every era up until this point, but synthesizers are back in fashion so, I guess, the only time that singing and synthesizers went together in fashion were the 80s. But I don't know if it sounds like the 80s because I listen to it a lot of the 80s stuff, particularly the new wave channel on Sirius XM, and I think it's shitty. I think that they got really lost pretty quickly and started making formulaic music. (laughs)

In an interview, you say that you don't want to be pigeonholed in a genre. You mention that you wear all black because if you wore 80s neon windbreakers, people would definitely see you as an 80s throwback artist. The thing is what if you just wanted to wear an 80s windbreaker some day? Our question is, do you feel like you have to push away from this 80s aesthetic in every way of your life in fear that it may give people the wrong idea?

(Lindsey laughs in the background). Well, no. And if I do want to, I do. That being said I'm not sure exactly the quote but sometimes I say things, and um, as you'll see, sometimes I just say things and like, "how do you translate this into print" because I'm..I'm kind of lying, you know? 

I was probably just making fun of something I was doing. I make fun of myself a lot and in New York everybody wears black, and as you can see I'm not wearing black at all today. I'm kind of trying to make fun of myself in another way by dressing up in 80s baggy jeans and Sketchers and I've got this fucking wallet chain. I don't necessarily think any of that is cool, but I think it's cool because it's fun. But you know, if all the vaporwave kids start wearing wallet chains and baggy jeans and No Fear shirts then I'll be like, "pfff fuck this, I'm gonna figure out something else."

We wanted to talk about you and Lindsey for a second. You guys are obviously doing a phenomenal job with your record label together and you tour together. You support each other so much and that's brilliant to see. You both have said though, you're not into doing collaborations because you want to keep the work 100% your own. Why is that? The obvious next step seems like doing a song together.

Well maybe because it's the obvious step that we've avoided it for so long. At the same time, we've started having a little bit more fun making the music. I mean I don't want to speak for her but the way I see it is I've been creating music and trying to prove myself, thinking everything I do is a legacy, and I'm worried that if I do something that's a little bit different than this path that I've been on, that I'll muddy it up and it'll be more confusing.

When I talk to people, nobody really understands, nobody really sees my music the way I see it. I think that we've been opening up a little more and we're not afraid of, "what if this doesn't sound like what someone would expect." So, Lindsey already did it and made an album that kind of shattered expectation of what you think that her music is going to sound like and then my new album that's coming out soon is kind of the same thing. At the same time, we were talking up until very recently and we were pretty much saying that we were going to do a collaborative thing. But Lindsey has got some irons in the fire where that doesn't make sense to be the best use of her time because she really should be working on a solo album with some bigger label, and that takes precedent. So either way, it would be a good thing. I'm not against it anymore. Basically, I just changed my mind a lot. You can't expect to read something I said in an interview and think that it is real or that it is set in stone. I say things really matter-of-factly and then I don't even know if I mean them wholeheartedly because I just take it one step at a time. 

Has the music industry ever driven a wedge between you guys or has it brought you closer?

Yeah. Like in really stupid ways. I'm a control freak so then if somebody wants to help Lindsey out and I disagree with it then I'll be really upset, then she'll be really upset that I'm being upset and it's really none of my business. But then ultimately...I wasn't right. To rewind on your question, not really. It's funny like, little tiny things, not really a wedge between us but we're both in the industry and then something annoying happens and it affects us both and then we bicker. She wants to do something and I want to do not a lovers quarrel but partners quarrels.

We know you love reissuing obscure vinyls on your label and you're a fan of collecting them yourself so - we brought a present for you. Japanese synth. From the 70s. What do you think?

(excited) Is this something that you really like? 

Yeah! You'd love it.

I don't know what it is. This is awesome, I'm very excited. Damn, but it's reissued, they got the jump on me. (laughs). Well, maybe I'll listen to it and then we could do it. I've had a hard time getting rights to Japanese music. 

We know.

Yes. But you know, some people seem to pull it off. (gets distracted) Thank you very much! I think it depends on who owns the rights to it. When I reach out to the artist directly but the labels are hesitant, because they have their own business plans and they have a greater understanding of how it works than I do, so maybe I would mess up their royalties. 

You tweeted back in 2017, "Every interview makes me sound bad, that's because I am bad." You've actually brought up in interviews a couple of times that people think you're a dick, or that you're trying to make sure people don't see you as one. You don't seem like one though! Why do you think people would think you're a jerk?

You know...I'm just really sensitive. 100 people may say, "you're so nice" and, "I love you" but then somebody will say something, and again on the internet, you can't tell if you're joking or not, but it really hurts my feelings.  I google myself all the time and somebody said on 4chan, "yeah I met George Clanton, he was a total dick though because not a whole lot of people came to his show and he was pissed off about it." So then I'm like searching my memory, and I can't think of what show that could have been, or when I could have been a dick to someone. 

And then another time some other people have said that I was a homophobe because I took their photo and reposted it to my instagram and I didnt know where the photo came from since I posted it two months later. So I didn't credit the person and they saw it and then called me a homophobe and said I was so mean to them at the show. Then I remembered it because I looked at their pictures and knew who they were and it was because I was charging 25 dollars for my record and they only had 20 dollars and I said, "you gotta go get 5 dollars, man," and they said, "come on bro, just let me have this for 20 dollars" and then asked if I would sign it after all that. So I gave it to them for 20 dollars, it was actually supposed to be 30 dollars and I was already charging 25, and then I signed it, and then I thought I was being cute so I wrote, "you owe me 5 bucks - George Clanton" and then they acted like I was being a dick about that. 

Some people can think that's being a dick about that and some people can think that's really charming. You never know who you're running into and people are so strange. I'm learning more as I get older that I'm the strange one too in a lot of instances. So, some people...see now again it seems like I'm a guy who thinks everyone wants to talk to, but I'm just saying that, a lot of people do want to talk to me, and that's fine, I do want to talk to a lot of people, especially those who come to my show, but some people you can never please them. And they'll always be upset. And then when they say something i get upset really easily and I take it to heart. 

Do you ever get anxious? What makes you nervous?

I only get anxious under the context of last night when I get to the show late because of the flight or something and I don't know what I'm getting into or like when the flight gets canceled. I don't get nervous in front of large crowds or small crowds. I'm comfortable with anything so none of that makes me nervous. Sometimes selling the merch makes me nervous if I get one of those people who wants to punish me the whole time and just never gives someone else a turn or ever gives me a break. But I don't get nervous about the music.

You get pretty up close and personal with your fans at your live shows, it's so rad to see the excitement in the room. We're curious what show you yourself have been to that's stood out to you as having that same level of excitement.

(pause) I couldn't tell you. I don't go to a lot of shows and when I do I'm really...hmm. Here's one thing. I don't want anybody touching me when I'm at a concert. Just because I'm not that passionate about a lot of music. If it was someone that I really wanted to see maybe it would blow my mind if they interacted with me and so I think about that. If you want that from me then you're in the front and I'll hang out with you and we'll sing together. But I don't want to bother the people in the back either because as I'm getting older I understand that like, people want to be in a safe space and don't want to be bothered. But you gotta please everybody so I try to balance. To be honest, that doesn't really happen in New York and I've never been to a Mac DeMarco show so like I see him doing stuff like that and I dunno, the shows I end up going to are more like dance parties and the DJs are really like, they could just not be there essentially. Interacting with the crowd is something I learned years ago in Virginia, something in my college town at punk shows and hardcore shows. I didn't even necessarily enjoy the shows as much as I did the environment.

Is there any sort of film you'd want to re-do the soundtrack to? Which one?

(long pause). 

We ask this all the time, we love the responses we get. 

Oh my gosh, I was about to ask for a pass on that. I don't know...because the films that I think of  I like the music to. I just don't think I'm cut out for that type of scoring. I've tried it, and I'm just more of a wham bam thank you ma'am kind of guy, you know what I mean? But I don't know. I'm not really...forgive me...I'm not really into film either. So I'm not into music, I'm not into film. I love making music. And I love some music. but I really can't just listen to anything and like it. I can't make it through an hour and a half of a movie. I'd rather watch 30 minutes of HGTV and point out all of the sloppy decisions they're making with their furniture choices because I've just got really bad ADD. So I just keep talking and I digress a lot. 

Any piece of advice for our readers?

Gosh you know, in hindsight, I think that I really screwed the pooch on this. I answered all the questions truthfully but, if I was reading this, that is one boring dude. And so, I think that, my advice would be, don't be like me, try to live your life to the fullest, don't worry about how much money you're making or anything, just spin the money that you have and try to have fun instead of  trying to do everything just right. 


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