Thursday, January 30, 2014

Erica Rivera Interviews Adam Turman


Erica Rivera interviewed illustrator and screen printer Adam Turman. Turman's murals appear all over venues throughout the Twin Cities, including Butcher and the Boar and 612 Brew. Read how Turman made art his full-time job in the February 2014 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Erica Rivera Interviews J.D. Fratzke and Tim Niver


Erica Rivera interviewed Chef J.D. Fratzke and Tim Niver, the business partners behind the Strip Club steakhouse and the forthcoming Saint Dinette in St. Paul. Find out how this double entendre loving duo made themselves two of the Twin Cities' most beloved restaurateurs in the February 2014 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Erica Rivera Profiles Good Work Group


Erica Rivera interviewed Molly Priesmeyer and Karen Kopacz of Good Work Group, a creative consultancy in the Twin Cities. Read about how these two entrepreneurs teamed up to help local mission-driven companies brand themselves better in the February 2014 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Erica Rivera Interviews Sandra Bernhard


Q&A: Sandra Bernhard

Sandra Bernhard has done it all, yet doesn’t appear to be throwing in the towel anytime soon. Though her career began as a stand-up comedian at the Comedy Store in L.A. during the ‘70s, Bernhard went on to be cast as a stalker by Martin Scorsese in “The King of Comedy,” star as the first openly gay character on television in the hit sitcom “Roseanne,” pose for Playboy, author three books, release multiple music albums, and create several one-woman shows both on and off Broadway.
                                                             
Bernhard is listed among Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Standups of All Time and has been described by the New York Times as a “living, breathing bonfire” and a “true original.” The 58-year-old provocateur’s latest creation, “Sandyland,” examines everything from the mundane to the musical, and includes an appearance from her band, The Flawless Zircons.

Bernhard was born in Flint, Michigan to an artist mother and proctologist father. Bernhard is currently raising her 15-year-old daughter, Cicely, with girlfriend Sara Switzer in New York City. She recently spoke to Vita.mn from Los Angeles.

Q: What inspired your latest show “Sandyland?”

A: So much inspires my work constantly: my life, my travels, people I meet, my family, my daughter, my girlfriend, my dog. It’s a journey to all the places I’ve been and all the things that I experience every day through my filter. That’s how I approach all of my work.

Q: You’ve written books, been on TV, acted in movies, and do stand-up. Do you identify with any of those more than the others?

A: The thing I love most is performing live because it’s something I created and I control.

Q: Was there a defining moment when you knew you were meant to be a comedian?

A: I was five years old when I made that decision. [Laughs.] I was at the house of my dad’s wife. She was making dinner and said, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I said, “I’m going to be a comedian.” She laughed, and I just looked at her nonchalantly like, “That’s what I’m going to do. That’s the plan, Marlene!” And sure enough, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Q: You’ve managed to thrive in the male-dominated entertainment industry. Is the level of sexism still the same as when you started or has it improved?

A: I think it’s definitely improved. There’s so many talented women that have come up through the ranks and have broken through. It’s a much different world than it was when I started off.

Q: You’ve said that the most important, overriding arc of your career has been that you would never be self-deprecating. Is that something you still abide by?

A: Absolutely. I think it’s essential, now more than ever. That’s never been my thing. It will never will be.

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Oh, absolutely. I was lucky to grow up during the feminist movement and have that be my anchor. I’m very proud to fly that flag.

Q: Has raising a daughter changed your stand-up or your worldview?

A: ­­I don’t think so. If anything I’m more dedicated to my views.

Q: You have a successful career and a happy family life. Do you think women can have it all?

A: It’s not easy for anyone to have it all, but it’s harder for women because we bear the children and our emotional connection is probably the most important thing for them. It takes a lot of balance. If it weren’t for my girlfriend [helping me raise my daughter], I probably couldn’t have done it.

Q: What do you think of the “Lean In” phenomenon?

A: The what?

Q: “Lean In,” the book by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.

A: Oh. I didn’t read the book, and I’m not 100% sure what it’s about, so I probably can’t weigh in about it. Is it about having it all?

Q: It encourages women to step up to the plate in the business world regardless of whether or not you have or want a family.

A: I think that sounds like good advice, but you also have to have your life together and organized.

Q: What are your biggest pet peeves at the moment, be it in entertainment, politics, religion, or social media?

A: In terms of social media—which seems to be an overriding day-to-day thing we all have to deal with—everyone thinks that they can weigh in on subjects that used to be left to the politicians and the educators and social commentators. Now everybody thinks they can all go off on these tangents. I don’t think it’s necessarily the right approach to social criticism.

Q: Do you have any advice for young comedians on how to make comedy a career?

A: The most important thing is to have a sharpened point of view. If you don’t have anything new and interesting to talk about, I don’t suggest going into it. It gets redundant. There’s only a certain amount of things to shed light on. If you’re not in the deep end of the water and willing to turn over new stones and reveal new things, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Q: Do you have any unrealized career aspirations?

A: I’d like to do more dramatic roles in film and television, things with a sense of humor but with a little more depth to it. That’s something I’m really working on.

Q: You’ll be in the Twin Cities for two days. Do you have any sightseeing planned?

A: I am not going to have any time on this trip. I have friends who are based in Minneapolis, so I will at least be hanging out with them as I run from gig to interview to gig and try to catch my breath. I look forward to coming back to “Minny.”

Originally published on Vita.mn in Jan. 2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Erica Rivera Interviews Jason Alexander


Erica Rivera recently had the opportunity to speak with Jason Alexander (best known for his role as George Costanza on the hit series Seinfeld) about his latest project, a variety show called An Evening with Jason Alexander and His Hair. Alexander touched on his follicular inspiration, his newfound passion for directing, and what he plans to pack for his upcoming trip to Minnesota. Read the Q&A in the Star Tribune or online here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Erica Rivera Interviews Yuck


Q&A: Yuck

London-based indie rock band Yuck is anything but bitter despite being abandoned by their frontman, Daniel Blumberg in early 2013. Guitarist Max Bloom took over, penning songs and laying down tracks with drummer Jonny Rogoff and bassist Mariko Doi at Dreamland Recording Studios. Thanks to the guidance of producer Chris Coady (who worked his magic with the Smith Westerns), the trio released “Glow and Behold” in September 2013 on Fat Possum Records. Previously compared to Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. after the release of their self-titled debut in 2011, Yuck’s new sound is more polished, lush, and appealing to a totally different palette than their original incarnation.

Bloom skyped with Vita.mn from a London Starbucks.

Q: When did you first get into music and how did that path eventually lead to Yuck?

A: I’ve been playing music as long as I can remember. When I was 16, I started a band [Cajun Dance Party] with some friends from school, and that was with our old singer Daniel. We got serious at quite a young age. We released an album and that band broke up when we were 18 or 19 because some of the other members wanted to go to University. Then me and Daniel spent a year hanging around and writing songs. We got stuff going with Yuck and got Jonny and Mariko involved. Jonny dropped out of school and came over and stayed with me in my parents’ house for a year. It was so risky, but luckily it all worked out.

Q: Were you prepared to take over the role of frontman after Daniel left the band or was it something you had to grow into?

A: I was prepared, for sure, but you can never really be fully prepared because it was something I had never done before. It didn’t take that long to get into it. It took me, like, three shows to relax and have a good time. At this point it feels very normal and very fun. I don’t feel like the frontman. I see Jonny and Mariko sharing an equal role with me. When I sing, I don’t think people are looking at me, they’re far more likely looking at Mariko or at Johnny with his huge hair. I feel like I’m the least recognizable member, if anything.

Q: How has Yuck’s sound evolved since the first album?

A: The first album was completely born out of an obsession and created with love during an intense period. With this album, I didn’t want to go back and repeat myself. I wanted to do something completely different and get out of my comfort zone. The first album was like a patchwork of songs that we wrote, arranged into an album. It was kind of like a compilation or a greatest hits vibe. The second album is more consistent and you can listen to it start to finish. The songs were more personal and it was a more solitary experience making it. As people, we’ve matured and our tastes changed and that obviously played a big part in it.

Q: You’ve been touring with the likes of the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. Have those bands given you any professional advice?

A: We didn’t get to know Frank Black [of the Pixies] that well, because it was only a week’s worth of gigs, but we were about to go on stage in Prague and he was like, “Okay, guys, let me give you a little piece of advice.” And we were all like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah! Go on!” We were very eager to hear his advice. And then he was like, “Yeah, I don’t have any advice.” It was quite funny. I would absolutely love for them to say something meaningful to me, but I think they see giving advice as patronizing.

Q: How do the American and British music industries differ?

A: In the UK, it’s very small. There aren’t that many people that actually work in the music industry nowadays. It’s very fickle. Labels change names. The head of the company changes every few months. You can’t get to know anyone. In America, there are different levels of success that you can happily exist on. In America, you can be a not-very-well-known band and still sell out shows. If you’re in the UK, there’s not that many levels you can exist on. It’s either big theaters and arenas or you’re underground, touring the country in a car, playing rubbish venues. There’s not much in between.

Q: How do you keep touring from becoming tedious?

A: I’ve tried so many things to stop touring from being tedious, but nothing seems to work. I’ve tried getting drunk every night. I’ve tried going to the gym every day and having a healthy diet. Mostly it’s just watching TV like a pastime with a box set like “The Wire” or “Mad Men.” It’s about being as relaxed as possible at all times. You’re in danger of going insane if you’re not careful. You’ll forget what day of the week it is and before you know it, two months have gone by. You have to learn how to tour and keep a level head. It’s a practice. It’s an art, really.

Originally published on Vita.mn in Jan. 2014.