A few weeks ago I found this album somewhat randomly while gathering music for a mixtape, and it couldn’t have been a more perfect album for Browntourage to share with you, our esteemed readers. It is a post “Arab Spring” gathering of female voices from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria weaving together the regional Arabic influences and contemporary studio productions with producers such as Olof Dreijer of The Knife and Sudanese/American producer, Oddisee. The production is on point and the message of rebellion against imperialistic and military repression still very much relevant today.
We want to introduce our new contributor, Saniya, who translates, analyzes, and contextualizes this compelling album for you.-Jaqi
"Women were, and still continue to be, in the front-lines of these revolutions, leading efforts to counter violence and exclusion from the public sphere, particularly as gender is instrumentalized for the imagining and preservation of a patriarchal nation. Art has thus functioned as a tool for women’s own self-representation and counter-narratives, of challenging and redefining womanhood through their own cultural production, and it is from within this context that Sawtuha emerges.”
For this installment of Konversation.us, we got one alt rolemodel Nisha Sembi to join us in creating art inspired by Kalakari. Nisha Sembi (@kalakaricrew) is an artist with a unique style that perfectly reflects her multifaceted identity. With references to Indian linework, and graffiti handstyle- this Berkeley born Punjabi uses her unique skills to promote the visibility of brown creatives in art, hip hop, political causes, and mostly to make art she likes. After we saw her work in “Our Name is Rebel” promoting Indian revolutionaries, and realized it was the same artist who designed Word to Your Motherland and the Heiroglyphics hand style merch, we couldn’t not hit her up. She definitely inspires us and we are honored to have her as our featured guest for this installment of Konversation.us aptly titled “Kalakari” – which translates to artistry in sanskrit.
PSA OF THE DAY: Gabriel Cortez’s “Perfect Soldiers”
Inspired to see fellow poet, Gabriel Cortez, illuminate the struggle with diabetes generally in America, but also specifically to POC populations.
"Cuz we never learned to pull maize from the soil, but we did learn to pull the tab of a coke can.”
For the people who are responding with comments putting the burden of responsibility on parents to make the “right choice,” I urge you to re-listen to when he mentions the price of soda being less than clean water. That’s very real. Signal boost.
Queens D Light is well-versed and well-rehearsed. You may remember this MC from our konversation "Oshun" or our My Art, My Culture review, and we’re glad to announce the music video for her warrior of love track “Love Pistol” off her upcoming album California Wildflower dropping March 20th.
Seriously, Queens’ music gives me hope. She eloquently embodies her world vision and honestly does not care who you want her to be. The video, directed by renown videographer and loving friend Brandon Tauszik (Antwon, RL Grime, Emmy award winning production company Sprinkle Lab), follows Queen’s on a love hunt and beautifully casts West Oakland as a sci fi set complete with dancing spirits in warehouse terrariums, blazing arrows in fields, and well-suited team huddles in alleyways. The mystical style of the video truly has me ready to figure out some sign language, wear matching separates, paint a gold dot by my left eye, and read a short fiction novel based on this video to get every detail of it’s world and Queens’ chase to take aim with her love pistol and all that it stands for - bang bang.
Give it a good watch, and hold on for the full album, California Wildflower, dropping this Spring.
On our radar right now is designer Sheena Sood of abacaxi nyc. Her SS14 collection caught my eye on Instagram and I’ve been peeping her work ever since. Sheena launched abacaxi in 2013, described as a “unique urban-island aesthetic,” and the vision behind the clothes is so strong. Most captivating about the line is the multi-cultural perspective of how modern women can dress. I say “can” because I feel like there aren’t many accessible designers who have a mutli-cultural/bi-cultural upbringing making clothes for women who struggle with identity in a diasporic world. I see a beacon of light in Sood’s clothes- calling us to embrace color and ethically sourced textiles in a contemporary context. Finally, someone I trust on this side of the water to craft the nostalgia of back home into something I’d go to the studio, work, or dance in!
"I’m Sheena Sood. I love travel, nail art, chocolate and pineapples. I really enjoy living in Brooklyn even though I am essentially a beach bum…"
We do a recap of some fav stuff that came out of the Fall/Winter runway shows, with particular focus to designers quick on the rise and what’s trending. We’re seeing lots of trans visibility, camel suede, and cyborg technologies happening, click through to read more!
The LA zine fest got me missing the feeling of putting pen to paper. The DIY aspect is so liberating- you can print whatever you want however you want! Whether the pages are filled with photos, doodles, collages, opinions, comics, poetry, or manifestos, zines provide a freeform field for people of all backgrounds to express themselves and find people who relate.
Flocks of people gathered in the Helms Bakery district Sunday to appreciate over a hundred zine stalls. With such a diversity of styles and content, I tried to check up on women/poc run zines, and ended up taking style pics because i couldn’t not. I was so overstimulated by beauty the event itself merited a zine of its own. Here’s my online attempt.
For this audio visual exhibit, rapper Queens D Light introduces us to her muse. Inspired by the Yoruba goddess Oshun aka Lady of the Lake, we scrapped a collage together of underwater snapshots like a seafarer might in an effort to find their love below, and paired with an improvised monologue by Queens.
How did you first come across Oshun?
I first came across Oshun in a reading by a Yoruba priest. He said she watches over me and guides my path. After reading up on her, I found a lot of similar qualities in us both. She loves the beautiful and reflects those who rotate around her- much like myself.
Does Oshun inform your personal brand as Queens D Light?
Oshun inspires a lot of my art. She is attached to gold, honey and mirrors. I reference these things visually in my music video “Love Pistol”. Studying my videos or lyrics you’ll hear many of these things interwoven.
As someone who raps, models, and makes videos, and much more, what opportunity do see in multidisciplinary creative approaches for building your own visions as an artist?
Well its important not to limit your own creativity. We are here to be architects and build. My art comes from the core of me- channeling in ways I do not completely understand, yet I embrace that ambiguity. When creating you are giving birth to new ideas and I understand this is more important then vessel it comes through it self. Its important to accept the many fashions my art chooses to manifest so that I may fluid.
We are proud to present you with the third installment of our mix series by way of our LA sister, Maieli! I couldn’t be more excited to include homegirl on our roster of dope female DJs, and when her mix landed in the inbox late night, I saw fireworks. Instead of turning in for the evening, her mix conjured the turn up inside of me. I powered through the mix with so many “Oh no she didn’t” outbursts- like did she really go from 90s nostalgia to the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and back to ASHANTI?? Not to mention a tracklist repping Fade to Mind, that new Princess Nokia track that has me j.u.m.p.i.n., and that clutch Beyonce with a twist. Her aesthetic in this mix is a fusion of global and contemporary sounds that’ll knock you into a hypnosis- the perfect way to forget, or get in the mood, for V day and beyond.
HBA is upping the ante with this Fall collection and runway presentation. The clothes represent a hybrid industrial street collage more than ever- with zippers all over pants and sweaters, thick soled moon boots, and new textures such as leather, suede, and shearlings.
The blocking in color and design is still intact in a classic HBA way, but Shayne Oliver is incorporating an aesthetic reminiscent of his ballroom days, “It brought me back to the days when I was in the ballroom scene, how raw that was and finding every possible way of getting dolled up.” he says in a Dazed review.
Part of the styling included hardware heavy crowns of extensions and cut & paste collaging of photos of faces on the models’ faces. The platform boots, flare leather pants, and camel colored suede remind me of my late 90s, early 2000s Wet Seal phase of life I never thought I’d relive again. I donned a long, camel suede skirt with leather laces up two sides, had the same version as pants and a coat (worn together, I felt like a boss).
I feel like this collection is an homage to a time where glamour saw no borders, and Oliver presents us with an extremely dynamic array of both wearable art and a performance experience.
He ended the show with a slew of shirtless vogue dancers literally tearing up the runway with dips and twirling blonde hair. Some described it as an eat-your-heart-out moment in the face of Rick Owen’s step dancers as models. The ballroom and vogue scene is an integral context for Oliver’s work and essence in this world, and its uplifting to see queer poc representation infiltrating the ranks of an intense industry. Props to the new avant-garde, we salute you.
Full collection and photos by Jacob Breinholt here.