Thursday, December 31, 2015

Erica Rivera Contributes to Twin Cities Critics Tally

Erica Rivera shared her Top 10 Local Albums of 2015 for the annual Twin Cities Critics Tally. See all of the ballots and comments on the Star Tribune's website here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Kate Worum

You may know Minneapolis-based illustrator Kate Worum from her sassy portraits of pop-culture icons, or her abstract artwork for Live Current Volume 11, but hopefully what you'll remember from here on out about this bold 27-year-old artist are butts.

Worum, an MCAD grad, became fascinated with painting posteriors, using her boyfriend as a model. "Boobs are all over the market right now, but I don't see asses anywhere. Let's put some butts out there," she says. The butts, which include a wide variety of body types, have appeared on wall installations and as prints in her Etsy shop right alongside greeting cards that proclaim "Eat a bag of dicks" and a floral collage that spells "Fuck."

On her way to becoming an artist, she took a detour to Winona State to pursue soccer for two years. However, her schedule was filled with art classes. "I was in this snowed-in town and bored out of my mind," she says. "I needed more of a challenge." Despite the financial burden, she eventually returned to the Twin Cities and enrolled at MCAD where her brash, colorful aesthetic was born from "making a lot of horrible artwork."

Worum hit her stride after being introduced to digital technology. "You don't have to create this amazing illustration from start to finish," she says. It was more her style to scan in handmade elements and play with their limitless variations.

For her senior piece, she worked on a 40-portrait series while living in a shipping container for two weeks for Project M in Frankfurt, Germany. The subjects were other participants of Project M, where artists come together to share ideas and work on various projects."They had these insanely different personalities," she says. "I found myself overwhelmed by being exposed to so many different people at once." By painting one portrait a day, "I found this groove," she says. "I guess you find consistency when you repetitively force yourself to create."

Worum's more recent portraits — which have featured the likes of Iris Apfel, Caitlyn Jenner, and Hillary Clinton — are born of fascination. "If there's some person that's interesting, it's a fun outlet for me to try to capture a personality."

In the coming year, Worum, who works for Target's home goods design division, is eager to find more ways to collaborate in her freelance work. She'll also have a new series of affordable prints available at Parc Boutique. "That's really rewarding; being able to share something on a local level," she says. No buts about it.

Originally published in City Pages in December of 2015.

Erica Rivera Profiles Jenn Schaal

Erica Rivera spoke to Minneapolis comedian Jenn Schaal about re-prioritizing her health over her craft. Read more in the "Artists of the Year 2015" issue of City Pages or online here.

Erica Rivera Profiles Julie Schumacher

Erica Rivera interviewed Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and the only woman to win The Thurber Prize for American Humor. Read the profile in the "Artists of the Year 2015" issue of City Pages or online here.

Erica Rivera Interviews Run Westy Run

Photo by Dan Corrigan

Erica Rivera spoke to Kraig Johnson, one of the three founding brothers of Run Westy Run, a beloved band on the Twin Cities post-punk scene in the '80s and '90s. Read the Q&A about the band's Christmas Day reunion show on City Pages here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Gabe Noah

Erica Rivera spoke to comedian Gabe Noah about recording his first comedy album and impending parenthood. Read the Q&A for City Pages here.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Erica Rivera Ranks Favorite Albums of 2015

Erica Rivera shared her favorite worldwide and local albums of 2015 along with other City Pages writers. Find out what made her Top 5 in each category here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Erica Rivera Previews Vikings Stadium Event Space

Erica Rivera spoke to Danielle Ottman, Sales Manager at US Bank Stadium, about how the new home of the Vikings will be used in the off-season. Read more in the Winter 2016 issue of MN Meetings + Events magazine or online here.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Gary Gulman

Erica Rivera interviewed East Coast comic Gary Gulman about his upcoming shows in Minneapolis. Read more about the football-player-turned-funnyman on City Pages here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Liza Sylvestre

Erica Rivera interviewed Liza Sylvestre, a hard-of-hearing painter who got her start in Miami and whose exhibit Meridians opens this weekend at Public Functionary in Minneapolis. Read more on City Pages here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Erica Rivera Previews Nutcracker (Not So) Suite

Erica Rivera interviewed James Sewell of James Sewell Ballet about joining forces with former Ballet of the Dolls artistic director Myron Johnson to revive the Nutcracker (Not So) Suite. Read more on City Pages here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Slow Magic

Erica Rivera spoke to Slow Magic, a mysterious, masked artist who makes deconstructionist house music. Read the Q&A on City Pages here.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Erica Rivera Previews "Labor Camp"

Erica Rivera spoke to Polish artist and MCAD professor Piotr Szyhalski about his new installment in the ongoing Labor Camp series. Read more on City Pages here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Paul Murray

Photo by Cliona O'Flaherty

Erica Rivera spoke to Paul Murray, author of Skippy Dies and The Mark and the Void. The Irishman discussed financial collapse, loneliness, and how novels help people. Read the Q&A on Mandatory here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Erica Rivera Previews "Don't Feed The Indians"

Erica Rivera spoke to Murielle Borst-Tarrant, writer and director of the theater production Don't Feed The Indians. The play was inspired, in part, by Native Americans' experiences of racism in the theater world. Read more on the City Pages arts blog here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Kevin Cannon

Erica Rivera profiled Kevin Cannon, a Twin Cities cartoonist and map-maker who drew one Minnesota bookstore per day for Inktober. Read more on City Pages here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Rick Moody

Erica Rivera interviewed acclaimed author Rick Moody about his new novel, Hotels of North America, his writing soundtrack, and what's behind that hat. Read the Q&A on Mandatory here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Prince Adetomiwa Gbadebo

Erica Rivera spoke to Nigerian painter Prince Adetomiwa Gbadebo about his first solo show in the Midwest. Read more on City Pages here.

Erica Rivera Interviews The Tenderloins

Erica Rivera interviewed Joe Gatto, one-fourth of comedy troupe The Tenderloins and co-star of truTV series Impractical Jokers. Read more on City Pages here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Aaron De La Cruz

Erica Rivera interviewed Aaron De La Cruz, a San Francisco-based painter bringing his monochromatic art to Public Functionary. Read more on the City Pages art blog here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Geoff Sobelle

Erica Rivera spoke to theater artist Geoff Sobelle about his new solo show "The Object Lesson." Read more on the City Pages arts blog here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Scotty Munster

Erica Rivera interviewed Minnesota tattoo artist Scotty Munster about his latest Halloween-themed art show. Read more on the City Pages arts blog here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Erica Rivera Reviews "Hippie Modernism"

Erica Rivera got an early look at the Walker Art Center's "Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia" exhibition. Read her review on the City Pages arts blog here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles The Wild Institute

Erica Rivera interviewed motivational speaker Chris Heeter, founder of The Wild Institute. Read more about how to bring all of who you are to all of what you do in the Fall 2015 issue of Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine or online here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Ezra Furman

Erica Rivera spoke to punk rocker Ezra Furman about artistic torment, dressing feminine, and reconciling his identity with the Jewish faith. Read the Q&A on City Pages here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Lianne La Havas

Erica Rivera spoke to British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas about working with Prince, finding inspiration in Jamaica, and expressing herself through fashion. Read the Q&A on City Pages here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Jim Norton

Erica Rivera spoke to Jim Norton, a comedian, radio show host, New York Times bestselling author, and actor who has appeared on television shows such as Inside Amy Schumer and Louie. Talking points included how he pissed off Jesse Ventura, his experiences with prostitutes, and why he thinks he's a pervert. Read the Q&A on City Pages arts blog here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Erica Rivera Previews Joe Sinness Show

Erica Rivera spoke to Minneapolis-based artist Joe Sinness about his upcoming show of colored pencil drawings at Macalester College. Read more on the City Pages arts blog here.

Erica Rivera Interviews Wavves

Erica Rivera spoke to Wavves, a surf punk band known for its predilection for drugs and drama. Read the Q&A on City Pages here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Hannibal Buress

Photo by Constance Kostrevski

Erica Rivera spoke to Hannibal Buress, a comedian from Chicago who rose to notoriety after speaking out against Bill Cosby. The feature is in this week's print issue of City Pages or read the full interview online here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles EmergeWORKS

Erica Rivera contributed to a cover story on how companies can find loyal employees by using alternative staffing agencies like EmergeWORKS in Northeast Minneapolis. Read the piece in the September 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Lady Lamb

Erica Rivera spoke to Lady Lamb, an up-and-coming indie rock musician, about her unusual career path. Read more in City Pages here.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Jerry Stahl

Erica Rivera interviewed Permanent Midnight author and recovered addict Jerry Stahl about his parenting the second time around -- and doing it sober -- as detailed in his new memoir Old Guy Dad. Read the Q&A on Mandatory here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Dosh

Erica Rivera was invited to electronic musician Dosh's home to observe him scoring Universe, a film featured in this year's Square Lake Festival. Read more in today's Star Tribune Variety section or online here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Miranda Sings

Colleen Evans as Miranda Sings

Erica Rivera spoke to Colleen Evans (née Ballinger), creator of YouTube celebrity Miranda Sings. Read how haters helped refine the quirky character in this Q&A for City Pages.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews "Rez Comedy" Documentarian

Rob "The Rez Reporter" Fairbanks and Jon "The Ojibwe Outlaw" Roberts

Erica Rivera spoke to Jon Roberts, whose documentary with fellow Ojibwe comic Rob Fairbanks was successfully funded in the final hours of its Kickstarter campaign. Read more on the City Pages blog.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Lake City

Erica Rivera profiled Lake City, a Minnesotan town planning to capitalize on the beauty of Lake Pepin. Read more about the area and its attractions in the July 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Hop Law

Erica Rivera interviewed Elliot Ginsburg, an attorney specializing in breweries. Read more in the June 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Paul Krumrich

Erica Rivera interviewed Paul Krumrich, the mastermind behind multiple ventures including Donkey Label bicycling apparel. Read the article in the June 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Erica Rivera On Bicycle Decor

Erica Rivera interviewed several Minneapolis and St. Paul residents whose passion for cycling is on display in their homes. Read why bike-themed decor is on a roll in today's Star Tribune Home section or online here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Seven Sundays

Erica Rivera profiled muesli maker Seven Sundays for Minnesota Business magazine. Find out how the family-owned company got on Target's shelves with a little help from Anchor Bank in the May 2015 issue.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Ali Wong

Ali Wong has a dirty mouth. From seeking anal on Craigslist to being dominated “Fifty Shades of Grey” style in bed, the L.A.-based comedian has covered a wide range of raunch in her stand-up act.

Born in San Francisco and of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, Wong earned her Bachelor’s degree in Asian American Studies at UCLA. Though she worked as a temp and a receptionist briefly, she’s managed to make stand-up her full-time job for the past decade. Wong has performed on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Chelsea Lately,” Dave Attell’s “Comedy Underground,” and “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” among many other television programs. Wong is also a writer for ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat.”

Newly married, 33-year-old Wong may be taming down her act in the future—but hopefully not before her upcoming run at Acme in Minneapolis.

Q: How did you know that stand-up comedy was what you were meant to do?

A: I was in theater group that Randall Park had founded. I liked that improv and sketch comedy were collaborative, but you really depended on other people and a stage to perform. With stand-up comedy, I liked that you had no one else to blame and depend on.

Q: You also do a lot of comedy onscreen. Do you prefer that to stand-up?

A: Stand-up will always be my favorite and the most important thing that I do. I view everything else as free money.

Q: How is your sense of humor different in your 30s than it was in your 20s?

A: Before I used to talk about a lot more about what it was like to have sex dating, and now I’m beginning to want to talk about what it’s like to have sex when you’re married. The jokes before were about how giving blow-jobs was such a chore and now that you’re married you don’t give a full-on blow-job anymore because you’re married. It’s over. You don’t need to do that anymore! We’re trying to get pregnant and we don’t really have sex for pleasure. It’s extremely clinical.

Q: You’ve often joked about how “trapping a man” is an alternative to having a career and that it gives women the opportunity to relax and hang out at Whole Foods in the middle of the day. Do you really believe marriage is like that?

A: I’ve fantasized about it. A lot of women do stand-up as a gateway into acting but I love stand-up and to be a good stand-up, you have to go on the road a lot. It means going to places in America where they’ve never seen a Vietnamese person in their life. Sometimes you’re performing Tuesday through Sunday. And it’s scary! After late shows, you have to walk back to the hotel by yourself. It’s not that glamorous.

So I look at those women who get to do hobbies, watch TV, do yoga, and I’m like, “Damn! That would be nice!” It would take the pressure off if I didn’t have to do stand-up to survive. Ultimately, I’ll probably never stop doing stand-up, but I do fantasize about being a trophy wife—though I joke that I’m more of a commemorative plaque.

Q: Has being sexually explicit in your comedy had any negative consequences?

A: I once dated this guy who wrote me this really crass e-mail after I broke up with him. He said he didn’t want to be friends because it made his dick hurt because he wanted to sleep with me. I refused to talk to him afterwards and he was so, “Oh, but I thought from your onstage persona that you were open to anything.” And I was like, “I’m still a woman. You can’t talk to me like that.” That was the only time I felt like someone misinterpreted my onstage persona. You can’t just be crass without being witty. Angry crass is horrible.

Otherwise, it probably has prevented me from being on late-night TV more because it’s hard for me to come up with five clean minutes. But it’s beginning to change. I’m moving in a different direction now that I’m married and trying to have kids.

Q: Do you feel that male comedians have more leeway in terms of what they can talk about in their acts?

A: When you are a female and a minority in comedy, people see both of those things and think you use those things as a crutch. I would never do an accent of my mom, because my mom doesn’t have an accent. But people will automatically be like, “You’re such a Margaret Cho.” They just assume. That’s challenging sometimes.

Q: What would you be if you weren’t a stand-up comic?

A: A trophy wife who’s also a Zumba instructor.

Originally published on in April 2015.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Twin Cities Telecommuters

Photo by Liz Gardner
Erica Rivera interviewed five telecommuters throughout the Twin Cities--including Robyne Robinson, Kerri Miller, and Liz Gardner--about what makes their home offices work. Read the piece in today's Star Tribune Homes section or online here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Erica Rivera on the Creative Economy in Minnesota

Erica Rivera profiled Gulgun Kayim, the "arts czar" for the City of Minneapolis. Read about how creativity impacts the economy in Minnesota in the March 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles Sheba Productions

Sheba Productions Welcomes Arianna Huffington to Minnesota

Erica Rivera interviewed Darren Ennis, owner of Sheba Productions, for Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine. Read the profile in the Winter 2015 issue or online here.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Erica Rivera on Hotel Restaurants

Erica Rivera highlighted five Minnesotan hotel restaurants that have embraced the foodie movement for Minnesota Meetings + Events magazine. Find out which ones are particularly amenable to large groups in the Winter 2015 issue or online here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Erica Rivera on How to be More Manly

Erica Rivera penned a list of 22 things men can do to be more manly for Thought Catalog. Read it here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Erica Rivera Interviews Until the Ribbon Breaks

Q&A: Until the Ribbon Breaks

You may not be familiar with Until the Ribbon Breaks (UTRB), but the UK-based pop-electronica-R&B hybrid band has already toured with the likes of Lorde and Phantogram and garnered praise from Pitchfork and NPR. Oft compared to James Blake and Primal Scream, the group’s funky dark brand of tunes began as the solo project of Pete Lawrie Winfield. Born in Liverpool and raised in Wales by professional musician parents, Winfield (vocals, keys, percussion, brass) joined forces with James Gordon (synth) and Elliot Wall (drums) to bring his love of mix-tape-style music to life on UTRB’s newly released debut album “A Lesson Unlearnt.” A film savant, Winfield is both inspired by the cinema and often pairs the band’s songs with a full-on sensory assault of visual stimulation for its music videos.

Winfield spoke to from Boston during the East Coast’s latest blizzard.

Q: In order to make “A Lesson Unlearnt,” you’ve said you had to “unlearn” the creative process and start again. What did that involve?

A: Music has a method, and you can’t approach it methodically or it lacks to some degree. If you think about it too much, you find yourself using the same techniques and the same methods. It was about unlearning the theory of music and production techniques that I’d spent years honing, which were making my creativity more sterile.

Q: What did the new techniques look like, specifically?

A: The main difference was a movie projector, setting up a big screen and projecting a silent film, and putting the piano and drum machine in front of that, and getting as influenced as possible by the movie images.

Q: Did you direct all of the band’s videos?

A: Yeah, well, I try not to say “directed,” because essentially I just stole the footage, but I edited them to our music and added words and things. It’s more tributes to the directors of the films.

Q: How is film similar to, and different from, making music?

A: The similarity is just the creativity and the expression. I studied film for a long time, I wanted to make film. The difference—and the reason I chose music in the end—is because you get a quicker response from music. You can write a song in a day, and produce it that night, and be really excited about it, running around the studio and thinking it’s the best thing ever, but a film can take two years and you can end up not happy with the result and hating what you’ve made. Music gets a visceral response and communication with people that you don’t get with making a film.

Q: Pitchfork noted a “restlessness” and an “apocalyptic finality” to your songs. Would you agree with that? If so, where do those things come from?

A: At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had no management. It was just me, no band, and it was a shitty time of wondering where I was going to go next and what I was going to do. It spiraled into thinking about the bigger picture outside of myself, realizing you are part of a changing, evolving world and you can’t just exist within your own bubble without considering anything outside of it. I think a lot of the songs came from that realization and morbid fascination with the problems of the world.

Q: Your video for “Revolution Indifference” made us wonder: what role do you think music plays in a revolution?

A: It’s a language that connects all people. You don’t have to speak the same language as someone to appreciate the same piece of music. Dance and rhythm have been with us as long as anything else has. Music gives people a platform for people to say what they have to say. If you think about the ‘60s and ‘70s, you think about the content of a song by Bob Dylan or Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye, and a message. I miss that. That music certainly had a role in the changing of society to things becoming more liberal. 

Q: If you could distill Until the Ribbon Breaks’ message down to one line, what would it be?

A: On a personal and artistic level: to constantly evolve and to never make safe music. Outside of that, on a political level, or what we’re trying to communicate, I don’t think that’s under our control to some degree. We can only make what we make and hope that it reaches some people. I’ve no great political agenda.

Originally published on in Feb. 2015.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Erica Rivera Profiles 75F

Erica Rivera interviewed Deepinder Singh, the founder of 75F, a high-tech HVAC system company. Read more in the February 2015 issue of Minnesota Business magazine.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Erica Rivera Reports on Interior Design Trends

Erica Rivera spoke to designers from Grace Hill Design and Lilu Interiors to find out which trends reigned in 2014 and which ones will stick around in 2015. Read the article in the Star Tribune Home section or online here.