THE LAFONTAINES TALK NEW TOUR & GETTING BACK IN THE STUDIO 0 123

Following the release of their new single “Up” and as the band prepare to embark on a tour of the UK and Europe later this month, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with The LaFontaines guitarist Darren McCaughey to talk live fan favourites, the venues he’s most excited to play and post-tour plans.

TITL: You’ve just released your new track “Up.” What is it about the song that made you decide it was a good fit for your next single, and is there a particular story behind it?

Darren McCaughey: We had a slight line-up change at the beginning of the year and this was the first track that we wrote following that. It felt like a new chapter for the band and a positive uplifting track to come back with. It’s maybe my favorite song we have ever written.

TITL: You’ve just completed a UK and European tour supporting Don Broco, and are gearing up to head out on your own headline tour of the UK and Europe this month. Are you ever NOT on the road, and what do you miss most about home when you’re away for long periods? 

DM: We relish every opportunity to get out there and play our music to as many people as possible so apart from the obvious things like friends & family etc. there’s nothing else we would rather be doing. The weather here can be pretty grim so it’s nice to get away sometimes.

TITL: How do your support slot shows differ, if at all, to your headline ones?

DM: With the support shows you want to get out there and make an impression and win over the audience. I’d say the majority of our fan-base have heard about us by seeing us support someone else. With the headline shows, we have already won the audience over so we just have to focus on giving them a night to remember. If you were to compare the two side by side there would be no difference in the actual performance just what’s going through my head.

TITL: For fans who are seeing you for the first time on this tour, what can they expect from your performance?

DM: A unique, entertaining and energetic performance.

TITL: Which of your songs do you find go down best with live audiences? Is there one that stands out or can it differ from place to place?

DM: We have a song on our latest album called “Torture” which has been going down really well. It’s a lot slower and mellow than the rest of the set but gets a great reaction and brings a different type of energy.

TITL: Is there one particular venue you’re most excited to play on this tour and if so, which is it and why?

DM: I’m excited to play in Milan & Warsaw as we have never been to either of those cities before and both look like great places to visit.

TITL: You’ve amassed quite a following since first bursting onto the scene, but how much of that might you say is down to the power of social media, and how have the likes of Twitter and Facebook helped get your name and your music out to a wider audience?

DM: We have always gained fans from supporting other acts and people seeing us live at shows and festivals. Social media has allowed us to promote our music to them and helps existing fans stay up to date with what we are up to.

TITL: Do you think, as a band, there’s such a thing as too much ‘reliance’ on social media? Do you think you could have drummed up the support you have over the years like you have without it – if you had to go ‘old school’ like in the 80’s and earlier? Is it possible for bands to succeed today without that online connection? 

DM: I think for us personally we could have drummed up the support we have without social media as we have always gained fans through live performance. Although I think now it is such an important tool and such an ingrained part of the culture that it would be very hard to get by without an online presence.

TITL: Finally then, with this new tour taking you through to early October, what does the remainder of the year have in store for you? Are there any plans or projects you can tell me about? 

DM: We’ll be heading back to the studio as soon as we come off of tour and in December we have a big festival appearance in India, then we round off the year on the 23rd of December for a homecoming show in our hometown of Motherwell.

The LaFontaines UK & European tour kicks off on September 12 in Perth, Scotland. Tickets for all shows are available now.

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INTRODUCING MALA FOREVER – THE MULTI-PURPOSE PLATFORM OF 2019 0 40

As a platform that as a whole is a hugely impressive creative lab for the radical femme revolution, with original film projects, an editorial digital magazine and commissioned work, Mala Forever, set up by Nina Reyes Rosenberg and Jessie Levandov and launched in November of last year, is leading the way when it comes to new and upfront platforms that champion the art of creativity and expression. With a busy year ahead, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with Nina and Jessie to find out more about the creation of Mala Forever, the power and impact of social media on its audience and their two upcoming film releases.

TITL: Please introduce yourselves if you would.

Mala Forever: We are Nina Reyes Rosenberg and Jessie Levandov, the co-founders and directors of Mala Forever – a radical feminist film studio, digital platform, creative agency, and community.

TITL: How do the two of you know each other and how did you come up with the idea for Mala Forever? Why did you feel that now was the right time to launch the platform?

MF: Mala Forever is a concept we have been dreaming up pretty much the whole time we’ve known each other – we met as film students at NYU where we bonded through our love of queer feminist stories, and have been best friends and creative partners ever since. Mala is the culmination of our diverse leadership experience in film and video, community-based social justice, and fine art and design.

We are part of a unique cultural moment, in which sexism, white male supremacy and heteronormativity in media and entertainment are finally being discussed at the level of national discourse. Now is the time for us to band together and build lasting creative infrastructure, not just for ourselves but in community with marginalized creators.

TITL: What would you say the other brings to MF? Do you each put your own ‘stamps’ on the site and its content in some way?

Nina: Jessie is a very earthly being. She keeps me grounded with a lot of warm energy and her genuine love of people. She’s amazing at documentary and verite filmmaking, and super crafty. We each have really distinct personal aesthetics, and it’s been fun crafting a brand that satisfies both of our sensibilities, kind of like a shared, essential feminist language that we both have. It’s always helpful to have each other as thought partners, and I think we both understand that the most brilliant ideas we have tend to be the ones we’re both really excited about.

Jessie: Nina is brilliant and fierce and I feel lucky every-day to have her as my vision partner. She brings fire and conviction to decision making – which is grounding and inspiring for me and something I struggle with. I love her aesthetic and sense of color – and have always been not only her collaborator and bestie but such a big fan and admirer of her work as an artist. We each bring distinct strengths and experiences to the table, and our shared core values, politics, and vision for Mala Forever makes it really exciting to be building this together – the work is better for it and so are we.

TITL: How would you sum up Mala Forever in a few words?

MF: Bold creative fempire.

TITL: What makes Mala Forever different from the many other online platforms/sites that are out there?

MF: We are not just a film studio, a digital content platform, or a creative agency – we are all of the above! It’s important to us to build a creative engine that truly addresses our audience and customers’ needs, puts resources directly into the hands of marginalized filmmakers and creators, and builds community around radical feminist stories and values. There’s a lot of lip service to inclusion and representation, but not enough creative companies are building community equity into their business structure, and are still falling back on the same systems and modes of production that have contributed to our industry’s toxicity all along. As Audre Lorde said, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” We have to do things in a radically new way, and that’s what we’re doing.

TITL: Who/which age range(s) is MF specifically targeted to and how are you ensuring you accommodate to the needs of those individuals?

MF: Our core audience is intersectional, millennial, and engaged in political resistance. There is a real hunger in our community for representation that crosses cultural boundaries and reflects our community as a complex but powerful coalition of people who share a feminist world view and lived experience of cultural otherness.

TITL: How important is and will social media be in order for you to grow your audience? Do you think eventually all physical content platforms might fade into obscurity and EVERYTHING will be online?

MF: Both the physical and digital worlds offer important possibilities for how we can connect with our community. Social media is critical to how we build and grow with our community; that being said, the physical realm is where our sense of home and community is born, and where many of us are threatened simply for being who we are. So it’s equally important to invest in physical spaces where we feel safe, can share stories and create together, as it is to invest in the digital spaces where we can communicate in revolutionary and evolving ways.

TITL: You’ve shot a short film, “Baby”, set for release in June and a feature film, “The Wild Ones” in the works. Is there anything you can tell me about either of these two projects?

MF: Baby​ is a queer coming-of-age love story set in New York City that confronts themes of LGBTQ identity and toxic masculinity. Shot stylistically as narrative cinema verite, Baby introduces us to the world of Ali, a Dominican teenager from the Bronx, on a Saturday afternoon. ​Baby​ will be released to our community during PRIDE month, June 2019.

It was the first film we produced together as Mala Forever, and was very much made possible by the support of our community. Jessie has spent the last ten years working as a youth media educator in New York City public schools – and this work was inspired by her deep love for making media with young people – many of whom starred in the film!

The Wild Ones​ is our first feature-length film, which we are co-directing. It is a coming-of-age road film about two best friends who go on the ride of their lives with a nomadic tribe of lesbian separatists. We co-wrote the screenplay, and are currently shifting into early development, building the project and community around the film from the ground up.

TITL: As two people who create original content, run a digital magazine and complete commissioned work for/with brands and organizations, how do you find time to unwind, and when you do have a minute or a period to yourself, what do you like to do? 

N: Honestly, work has never been more fun! But making time for myself and the people in my life is key to my happiness. I journal a lot. I love to sing and dance. When I’m feeling emotional, I’ll write poetry or paint. Exercise, home cooking, meditation, and getting enough sleep all do wonders for my health. And of course – watching movies!

J: I’m an Aries, and thus historically have had a hard time being still – so stillness and quiet is something I am excited to cultivate more of in 2019. When I’m not working on Mala, I love making things with my hands (I have a secret life as a jewelry and clothing designer), spending quality time with people I love over meals and on dancefloors, seeing art and films that inspire me, and taking long walks in Brooklyn.  

TITL: What’s the long term goal for Mala Forever? As a newly launched site, how worried are you about the competition and market, and how do you plan to overcome any bumps in the road you might face?

MF: We are building the creative studio our community has been waiting for, brick by brick, by any means necessary. The challenges are manifold, but we keep each other strong and grounded in our vision. Our radical, inclusive, feminist, queer audience is much larger than we’ve been led to believe, and is growing rapidly. The whole landscape needs to change, through a communal effort that goes beyond any individual company or artist. So when it comes to fellow filmmakers who are telling authentic stories from our community, we are rooting for them. Our real competition is not each other, but the existing systems of power and oppression that we’re all working to change.

For more information on Mala Forever, visit the website. You can also follow Mala Forever on Twitter and Instagram.

SOPHIE ANN UNVEILS HER UPBEAT & CATCHY NEW SINGLE “READ MY MIND” 0 71

Following on from the release of her self-love anthem “Flawless” towards the end of last year, Sophie Ann is continuing to speak out, write and sing about mental health issues – issues that affect millions not just here in the UK, but around the world – in an open and honest way in an effort to remind those who hear her music that they are not and never alone in what they are going through.

Her latest track “Read My Mind” is an upbeat, pop-funk banger that looks at the anxiety that often goes with and can come with getting in your own head. In her own words, Sophie says:

“Read My Mind is about when you have a crush on someone and create their personality and your entire future relationship in your head, and when you daydream about someone you don’t even know. I was in this headspace before I went into the writing session where we wrote Read My Mind, and I thought it was such a funny concept. It’s something that’s embarrassing to admit, but we all do it.”

Check out “Read My Mind” below and to keep up to date with Sophie Ann, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.