Christopher Thorn [Interview]


Hey there Everyone! Remember when we used to talk about music a lot? I know that TWS has sort of become the MTV of the blog world, as we have shifted away from the plethora of album and artist reviews we used to do. But, we are so excited about these amazing interview opportunities that have been bestowed upon us. So, how about we combine the two. How about we showcase two of the best guitarists of our generation in one week? And tell you about some new shit you need to hear? Would you like that? Well, that’s what you’re going to get!

Christopher Thorn is the real deal in the modern world of music. For almost 30 years, Thorn has been thrilling audiences and listeners alike as the man behind the guitar for some of the finest acts of the 90’s and through to the present. In fact, he was the driving force behind one of the bands that was posed to be one of the greatest of all time, had tragedy not struck them so hard. I am talking about the legendary 90’s act Blind Melon. With just two albums released, the band was hit hard with the death of their truly unique and talented lead singer Shannon Hoon, that is now widely known. It is honestly hard to tell just what sort of magic Blind Melon might have been able to create had they been able to continue on. But, life doesn’t always work that way. So, we are left with two amazing albums that we can never be taken away from us.

Thorn’s later work has always been on our radar, as he has definitely refrained from diving out of the spotlight. He has continued to work with other amazing acts, as well as releasing his own wonderful projects. But, we will let Chris tell you about them himself! Ladies and gentlemen, Christopher Thorn!

As you were growing up, when did you first decide that you wanted/needed to join the world of music? Do you have any specific memories that still stick out to this day?

By the age of 12 or 13 I knew I wanted to play music and make records for the rest of my life. Once I made that commitment I had a focus and dedication that I never knew I had. I would wake up an hour early before school every day and practice. I had an amazing music teacher at school named Jeff Snyder who would let me practice in the music room during my study halls. I practiced before, during, and after school. I was obsessed and it felt great to find my passion .

As our old friend Marc Maron might ask, Who were your guys? What bands influenced you the most when you were coming up?

My influences are all the obvious ones. Jimmy Page and Keith Richards made me want to play guitar. Once I heard Bob Dylan and Neil Young, my focus changed more so to song writing and the craft of making a song that can drop you to your knees! The Beatles were also a huge influence as far as songs and production.

Would you be able and/or willing to give a brief synopsis of the formation of your first major group, Blind Melon? What were the early days like? And could you even fathom the amount of success you guys would have in such a seemingly short period of time?

I placed an ad in the LA local music mag in 1989 looking for a bass player. I met Brad Smith through that add and about a year later he and Rogers met Shannon. Brad called and said I found an incredible singer and we are looking for another guitar player. I went over and Shannon played me a new song he wrote called ” Change ” – When I met Shannon for the first time I thought this guy is exactly like all the legendary front men I have always read about. I had never met anyone with that much charisma, charm, and talent. He fucking blew my mind from day one. The rest is history as they say.

I don’t think anyone could really fathom that sort of success. I was a country boy from a tiny town in PA and I ended up on the cover of Rolling Stone. To this day when I even hear myself say that it sounds like I’m making it up. It still feel unreal.


Blind Melon struck a chord with the audiences of its time, and for great reasons. During this time of the sort of alternative renaissance as I have heard it called, what do you believe it was that made you guys stick out of the crowd? I know why it is special to me, but what was special for you?

I think we stuck out because we were not grunge. We were lumped in with that scene but we were on our own path. I also think Shannon’s personality and stage presence was a big part of that too .

Can you tell us a bit about Unified Theory that you started with bandmate Brad Smith and fellow rock geniuses Dave Krusen and Chris Shirin?

Unified Theory was a great time. We all got along really well. Brad and I produced the record in our own studios in Seattle and it was the first time we had control over every detail when it comes to the recordings. We toured our asses off and had a blast. I am very proud of the two records we made .

I have also become aware that you spent some time as a member of another group that I consider to be one of the finest rock acts of all time, the band Live. When was your period with this band? And how was this experience unique to you?

I was asked to join the band Live in 1998. I did a short tour including the Tibetan Freedom Concert and made The Distance To Here record with them. Around that same time I met Chris Shinn and I decided I wanted to form my own band. I asked Brad Smith and Dave Krusen to join and we were off and running. My time in Live was amazing . They had sold 20 million records by then and were riding high bu,t my time with them made me realize that starting over and forming my own band was more important than taking the easy road being a side man in Live .

And lets make more with the present, and ask about Sonny Boy Thorn. What can you tell us about this project, and what can the fans of modern times expect to hear, or have been hearing for a while?

In 2012 I toured the world with Awolnation as lead guitar player. I had a blast and it was a privilege to ride the wave of another hit song that I was a part of. The song “Sail” went on to sell 10 million copies but once again, I knew that starting over… ( again) and making my own music was something I had to do. I met Davie Dennis (Singer for SBT) around that time and we started writing songs . We brought in all our friends to help record. Glen Graham from Blind Melon, Matt Flynn from Maroon 5, Hayden Scott from Awolnation, Rami Jaffee from the Foo Fighters and Jim Keltner ( John Lennon , George Harrison, Joe Cocker and a million more ). It was an incredible experience. We have 20 songs complete and are just trying to figure out the best way to release the music . I truly feel like its the best record I have made since the Soup record .


Besides your own stuff, what are you listening to these days? Do you manage to keep up with the new trends in music?

I listen to a lot of new music . My new favorite band is Mondo Cosmo from LA . I love the Arc’s record as well . Queens of The Stone Age is also a modern fav . When it comes to Hip Hop I’m really digging Post Malone who recorded at my studio last month. He is the real deal and it might sound odd but his charm and charisma reminded me so much of Shannon.

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug here?

I have some really big plans for the future that I have been working on. Art projects is all I can say at this point. I think the Melon fans will be very excited when I reveal what I have been working on. I am also excited about the Danny Clinch/Shannon Hoon documentary . It is one of the most unique and intimate films I have ever seen . Shannon shot all of the footage . Its like looking at some ones private journals .

What was the last thing that made you smile?

The last thing that made me smile was Nico Hoon and her mom came out to Joshua Tree to spend time with my family and we all pretty much laughed our asses off for the entire week!

Check out this amazing video for Sonny Boy Thorn’s single “Wild and Free”:

Brandon Crowson [Interview]


I have been wanting to do this one for quite some time folks, and I am so happy to finally get it done. Today’s interview is with filmmaker Brandon Crowson, a man who has delved into a world that we are far too familiar with here at Trainwreck’d Society. Crowson’s debut documentary, The World Has No Eyedea, is a stunning look at the tragically short life of musician and poet Michael “Eyedea” Larsen. Avid readers of the site will know exactly how he fits in to the TWS world. For those of you just joining us (first of all, Welcome!), Michael Larsen has been a figure around here for a very long time. Or dear friend Alexander “Bodi” Hallet (former TWS Person of the Year!) wrote a very touching tale of Michael’s influence on him in what you may call the “prequel” to Trainwreck’d Society, our book Children of Mercy: Tales and Teachings From the World of Independent Music, and was also a dedicatee in the book. And since then, we have featured his work, and that of his friends for the last 6 years now. He’s a legend, and is sorrily missed.

So, it is quite the honor to have Brandon talk with us today. Brandon is a brilliant young mind with a future that is as bright as the sun. Years ago, Crowson linked up with the late Eyedea’s mother and a friendship was built that has become his amazing documentary, The World Has No Eyedea. Through years of hard working, crowd funding, etc., the film is now out in the world and is currently touring the country side with Brandon at the helm, and uniquely acting as a real solid live show usually featuring Eyedea’s former music partner DJ Abilities. For those of us who have not been able to attend the live shows, we are simply waiting impatiently for the physical release, that simply can’t come soon enough!

We wanted to talk to Brandon basically to see what makes him tick. How does a midwest boy from Minnesota decide he wants to make movies to earn a living. And he was gracious enough to share some very kind stories with us here today! So please enjoy some words with filmmaker Brandon Crowson!

What made you decide to become a filmmaker, working in almost every form of filmmaking? What drew you to this form of artistic expression?

I’ve just always loved storytelling. It fulfills me in a way that nothing else does. I’ve been writing stories as a hobby since I was 6. I didn’t really grow up in a background where the arts was encouraged, so after years of doing construction related jobs I got sick of paying my rent with backaches and went to college for screenwriting. I learned quickly that trying to be a screenwriter living in MN is a dead end, so I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about all aspects of production and started doing freelance video production while I was still in school for screenwriting. No one was giving me the opportunity to get paid to tell stories so I became largely a one man production crew and started making opportunities for myself.

And since you decided to make the commitment to be a full-time creative person, what keeps you inspired to be in the world? What keeps you’re head up when times are tough, and what makes you excited to see happen when they go well?

Honestly, I just love what I do. I’m kind of obsessed with it. I’ve had any number of good and bad jobs over the years, and I would fantasize about doing what I do now at every single one of them. As far as tough times and good times, life is all peaks and valleys. My motivation is always the same, I have to survive capitalism and provide for my kids. Only difference is now I literally never have days where I hate going to work. I have stressful days sure, but it’s different. There’s a certain pride of ownership that comes with working for yourself. And nothing touches the feeling of sitting in a packed theater and watching a room full of people look at your work and laugh when you wanted them to laugh and cry when you wanted them to cry.


You’ve been screening your documentary debut,The World Has No Eyedea, to audiences across the globe over the last year and some change alongside performances by DJ Abilities and more. What has the reaction with audiences been like? What has the feedback been like for the film and these events as a whole?

Overwhelming in all the best ways. Laughter, tears, cheering, more tears. No one’s called it boring yet. We’ve literally been selling out theaters everywhere, won awards, and sold out in countries Eyedea’s never been to, so I feel like I didn’t screw it up.

Is there any word on when fans will be able to check out the film from their homes? Are there VOD or physical releases set to happen in the future?

Hopefully May. That’s all I can say right now. We’re trying to release it online and on DVD at the same time, so obviously that involves working with bigger companies and waiting on their timelines.


Being from the area and knowing the scene quite well, what do you believe it is about the Minneapolis that has made it a hotbed for alternative hip hop? And does the city still have flare it had 15-20 years ago as its popularity has risen?

We’re definitely a city that has a lot more diversity than most midwest cities. So you get all these different perspectives and skills living in the same city. Add to that the fact that everyone has to lock themselves in their homes for the most part in the winter. The winter creates a lot of opportunities to get your skills up and create as you have to do something to stave off the madness that comes with sub zero temperatures and lack of sunlight.

Plus, obviously, Rhymesayers. That whole crew built something truly amazing over the last 20 years and created a lot of opportunities, as well as provided a lot of inspiration for Minneapolis artists, hip hop or otherwise.

You have been known to tackle just about every aspect of the filmmaking process, much like a Robert Rodriguez of sorts, which I can only imagine brings on a bit of stress. So I’m curious, what would you say is your favorite aspect of filmmaking? What part of it do you enjoy the most?

If you’d asked me this question a few years ago I would’ve said screenwriting. My 3 favorite parts now are writing, directing, and editing. In a perfect world, that’s all I’d do is write, direct, and edit one movie a year, every year until I die as an old man by tripping over one of my Oscars and breaking my neck.

What is next for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

Who wants to see Slug throw fire at people? My next movie is titled The Different. It’s a sci-fi/action piece that’s heavy in social commentary. I wrote it myself. I have Slug attached to play a character, which as a huge Atmosphere fan still feels weird to say out loud. There’s a couple larger production companies that are considering funding it right now, but I’m not counting on that. So we’re making a mini web series set in the world of The Different that will be used as part of the crowd funding campaign to get us the budget to make the film. We’re almost done with post production on webisode 1. I’m excited about it. I think it looks really good.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son Griffin. He’s a toddler. 7/10 times that kids the reason I’m smiling on any given day.

Sadistik: Altars [Album]

It is absolutely insane to stop and think about what time can do to us all. It has almost been 6 full years since I first wrote a few words on this very site about the “underground” sensation that was/is Sadistik. “The bourbon in the espresso” I called him. And I will still stand by that one. So 6 years and  3 albums later, I can still only find great words to say about the legendary moody rapper that is Sadistik. He is a man who is constantly perfecting his craft, and always getting better at it as you can all hear right now on his latest album, Altars.

Altars is an album that brings us back a bit. It is a brilliant collection of poetry that is reminiscent of Flowers For My Fathers, in only that it reminds me personally of what it was that made me fall in love with this guy’s work. I’ve constantly referred to this man as “your favorite indie rocker’s favorite rapper”, and with Altars he only proves my point further. Just listen to “Roaches” and try to soak in all of the elements that went into telling this very dark story. You will soon realize that Sadistik is so much more than just a dude spitting bars over a some sounds with a heavy bass line. But, that is if you are a new listener, of course. Die hard listeners of Sadistik will definitely not be too surprised by some of the insane content he provides on Altars, but I guarantee they will be pleased! This dude has branded himself very nicely as the dark horse in the rap game, and his latest album proves just why he is the king of moody and gothic oriented hip hop.

With a solid track list, and some very nice cameos from old favorites like Kristoff Kane and P.O.S., Altars is an album that is destined to go down in history as one of his finest collections of poetry to date. Because in the long sighted view of his career, that is what Sadistik truly is: A fucking poet. And Altars is a brilliant addition to his catalogue that you absolutely must hear.

While we are sadly a bit behind in getting our words out to you, there is still time to catch Sadistik on tour with wonderful support from the great Nacho Picasso and the stellar Rafael Vigilantics, especially those of you out there in the cold midwest. And if you weren’t able to catch him on this round, you can definitely rest assure that Sadistik is far from being done with you. The demons in this man’s mind have to freed, and he will sure release them upon you for many years to come.

To check out Altars in it’s beautiful entirety, just go HERE.

 

 

Check out this amazingly produced video for the single “Free Spirits”:

Cas One Vs. Figure: So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us [Album]

By the time you are reading this, Cas One and Figure will be wrapping up their nation wide tour in support of this album (I believe they are in Portland Maine tonight!), and the explosion of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us should have already exploited your ear holes and hearts and sad minds by now. So, just consider this a fan note if you will. And if you haven’t quite gotten around to hearing this incredible album, stop what you are doing, and either go listen to the album right now, or just park your running car in a garage and sit there, because I don’t want to know you. It’s that serious, People! I am going to straight up say it here and now…So Our Egos Don’t Kills Us is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. A bold statement, I know, but arguable to the death. It’s just that damn good!

Long time readers will know that we have proverbially been on Jacob “Cas One” Snider’s nuts for quite sometime. We’ve even covered SOEDKU‘s debut single “Murder Media”, which is still a gem from the album, but just one of 15 now that we are hearing it all. I’ve personally talked about how his opening bars on the track “Savior Self”, released by another old friend Sadistik, are some of the most pivotal words ever put to record. And his long time connection with another dear friend of ours, Alexander “Bodi” Hallet, has come up from time to time. And I’m only bringing that last part up because Bodi produced another one of the finest hip hop albums, of all time, The Fall of Atlas, just a few years ago, and I want it to be on record when I say that So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us is the best hip hop album since Atlas. It is truly fascinating how amazing this album is, and I can’t express enough just how infatuated I am with it. There is a power in this duo that I simply was not expecting to hear, and am so happy with how surprised I am by its power. I knew I was going to love this record, but I didn’t realize just how fucking amazed I was going to be by it. And that is always a treat.

I will admit, I was not aware with the work of the 50% of this record, the widely successful in the electronic genre, Figure. I had honestly only heard his name brought up by Cas One himself. Upon further investigation, I realized that this was a big fucking deal. Figure has been one of the leading DJ’s in the industry for quite sometime. But, not being a part of that world, I was still clueless as to what Figure would bring to the table. And then I heard it. Holy shit, did I hear it. It is suffice to say that I can guarantee that I would not be as obsessed with this album if it were not for the beats that Figure provided and garnered strength for each track on this album. Snider is one of the greatest wordsmiths in the world of hip hop right now, and I will definitely get into that, but I have to say….with the production that Figure added to this album, this album could have been just Cas One reading the phone book in his best Mickey Mouse impression, and it would have surely still have been pretty dope. What I grab most from the music of Figure on this album, is the space. Through whatever spiritual algorithm that goes through this guys head, he knows how to fill the space in a track, with a perfectly delicate yet rash precision. He doesn’t over do it with extravagance, but he still manages to hold NOTHING back. It’s down right fucking brilliant how this man can fill the space perfectly on each and every track on this album. It flows together so beautiful that Cas One’s lyrics become just another piece of the the masterful jigsaw puzzle that is So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us. So simplify it all, it is fucking perfect!

And to make it all spin right back around, this album is a prime example of lyrical excellence! Though Cas One could have phoned it in on top of the beautiful production, we knew that just wasn’t what he is about. I honestly don’t believe it is possible. Jacob is known to cut deep. I honestly wasn’t sure how he could top his work on his last solo album, The Monster and the Wishing Well, but the motherfucker did it once again proving that his talent is almost unparalleled in the rap game. Whether he is making a political statement, or he is exposing is most inner demons for your god damned entertainment, he is telling a haunting tale that everyone should take heed form. There is a subtle difference on So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us from his previous work that has to be addressed as well….it’s not ALL sad shit! Jacob actually tends to lighten up a bit on some tracks (i.e. “Razor Blade Mark” and is 50 ft vape cloud), and proves that he doesn’t have to be brooding to tell an amazing story. His stories on this album will surely answer the questions that fellow followers of him in the social media world have surely been asking themselves, “How is the guy who writes all of these sad ass songs, so damn funny!”. Well, one quick listen through this album will give you all the answers. The album is not without darkness, of course, but beyond that darkness is a light that is undeniable and starts to shine through in a huge way. Cas One provides a perfect emotional balance within Figure’s perfectly filled musical space.

I won’t attempt to try and analyze each track on this album, as it would take a novel length set of  descriptors to truly do so, but I do have to point out that Cas One has some amazing company on this record to go along with his brooding yet light-hearted at times lyrics. There are some legendary names on this record even. Being that the album is a Strange Famous release, it was excellent to hear Sage Francis appear on “Time Bomb”, who will ALWAYS deliver. And of course, Del the Funky Homosapien and Carnage the Executioner fucking KILL on a track that is heavy on the old school vibe, “Lone Wolves”. And P.O.S. is on there murdering as well. These are golden names here, people. It should be no surprise that they brought an additional amazing element to this record. But, if I have to choose a favorite addition to the record, it would be difficult to choose one, so I have to make it a two way tie between Sean Little’s hilarious antidotes on the battle rap themed “I Should Just Warn You” and the return of Bitter Stephens on “Madness”. Stephens appeared twice on Monster and the Wishing Well, and was always a highlight to me. But, this is without a doubt one of the best verses I have heard from this cat to date. He absolutely slays in his role on this seminal album.

Look, I just have to say it one more time for you all….This is one of the finest hip hop albums I have ever heard! I come at this from a fan of lyrically based, or “alternative” as it may be called in some circles, hip hop music, and not just as another desperate for views Blogger with low self esteem and anxiety issues. I am absolutely in awe of So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, if I haven’t quite made that abundantly clear. This is a brilliant collection of tracks that will forever be engrained into my mind as a reminder of why I love hip hop music so much. Very few artists today manage to bring this emotion out in me. Barely a handful actually, and the majority of them have actually already been mentioned in these words! The greatest take away from this pivotal album would have been that with the musical stylings of Figure and the lyrical madness that Cas One creates, Cas One Vs. Figure is a project that proves once again that hip hop IS an art form, and should be respected as such. If more artists would treat it with the respect that these cats have, the lack of respect would not exist. So, I implore each and every single one of you…..don’t just listen to So Our Egos Don’t Kill Us, experience it! I honestly don’t know how you could treat this album as anything short of a full on experience that will torture and delight your heart and mind. Again, it is that damn good!

Pick up a copy of So Our Egos Don’t Kills us directly from the Strange Famous website, available on vinyl, CD, cassette, and MP3.

Also you can catch a back end of their tour with DJ Abilities and B. Dolan. East coast get on it!

As a bonus for you fine folks, please check out this amazing music video for “Staying Gold”:

Sophia Cacciola [Interview]


So, we are wrapping up our Women of the Present showcase in the best way we could possibly imagine. Today’s interviewee is a person we have been talking about here at Trainwreck’d Society almost since our inception so many years ago. She is a filmmaker, musician, writer, and overall wonderfully talented individual that we have been fortunate enough to follow along a wonderful journey of artistic discovery. It is the great Sophia Cacciola.

Sophia Cacciola recently transplanted herself from the greater Boston area with her partner Michael J. Epstein (also no stranger to TWS), to the City of Angels, where she has been shaking up the scene as a woman behind and in front of the camera pretty much since she landed. And for those of you who haven’t been living in a box, you will also recognize Sophia as the vocalist behind one of our favorite bands, The Prisoner themed Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling. So, she is no stranger to the TWS world, but we have never formally/digitally sat down and asked her some questions directly. We’ve talked extensively about her work over the years, but never got around to talking to her directly.

So, what better time to get a few words from her when we are celebrating the wonderful accomplishments of women in the world of film and television who are killing it in the business. We are so excited to have Sophia headline the entire gig, and wrap everything up so beautifully. So, please enjoy a few words with the great Sophia Cacciola!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a part of the creative world? What are some of your earliest memories that made you realize you were destined to live the life of an artist?

I’ve always known. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, on a mostly non-functional farm. When I was really young, I had a Fisher-Price cassette deck with a microphone. I think you were supposed to use it to sing along to Disney classics. Instead, I used it to write and record my own little songs. I remember wandering around the empty barn and fields singing crazy songs.

When I was twelve, my father gave me his guitar and sent me to a few guitar lessons and from there I was writing songs every day. By 14, I was finding cafes to play at. In high school, I was part of the AV club, which gave me access to VHS cameras, so in addition to shooting live events (plays/sports), I would bring cameras home on weekends and shoot weird little movies at my house (which is super-creepy, from the 1700s) either live cutting in camera, or later with two VCRs.

My parents were hippies, and I was never pressured into considering college or a “real” career. I was raised to be very independent and self-sufficient, and desk jobs (while I’ve had my share) never could interest me for long. I took off to Boston at 16 to play music, got a job in a record store, and started a bunch of bands. Nowadays, I’m much more in the film world than music, but both figure prominently into my output.


When you find yourself in the writing process, what is your ultimate end goal in story telling? Beyond the pure unadulterated entertainment you provide, what are you essentially hoping to tell your fans through your writing?

With my songs, I was always processing anger and depression into snippets of conversations. They always felt like they were part of another world; one that I created, full of snapshots of relationships, rooms. So, those are much more open-ended than films, and just about providing me a voice, and hopefully somethings others can interpret for themselves and relate to.

With films, and especially feature films (where you have more time to explore/develop), I have the express goal of having a message. I love science fiction and horror films, and the biggest thing that resonates with me is how they hold a mirror (exaggerated, yes) up to society to make commentary. I love leaving a movie and having something to think about. I feel a responsibility, especially as an indie-filmmaker,, to have something to say.

You made quite the splash with your following in the Boston area when you announced that you would be relocating to Los Angeles. I know people were obviously sad to see you go, but knew it was what was best for you. So how are you transitioning out in the City of Angels? Are you finding it easier to find work out west? How has your life changed since relocating?

I’m loving it in Los Angeles. For one thing, no winter can be beat! The big change is that I’m able to find lots more work in film. So, in addition to working on taking our films to the next level, I’m supplementing my time with doing cinematography (and other work) for other directors, which keeps me sharp and learning all the time. There are lots of every kind of project, and I want to work on them all!

You seem to always have like a dozen film projects going at a time. But how has the music been going for you? Are we going to get to hear more from our beloved Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling?

I’ve definitely been pining to start working on music again. Michael [J. Epstein] (my film/life/music partner) and I will probably be starting up a new band in LA soon. It’s time for an electro-punk revival. Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling is still going for at least this year. We have two more songs to write/record in our series of 17 songs based on the 1967 British TV-show, The Prisoner. We are very, very excited to be playing at the upcoming PrisonerCon in Seattle in September. We’re coming together to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Prisoner for a whole weekend. Our new, final songs, and hopefully some new videos, will be completed by then.

http://donotforsake.comhttp://www.theprisonercon2017.com


In your films like Ten, Magnetic, and Blood of the Tribades, you put a wonderful and rightfully empowered twist on subjects by featuring primarily women, and in the case of Ten ONLY women, and in Magnetic…just one person, a woman! These are brilliant yet practically unheard of things to do in the world of filmmaking, truly ground breaking. When did you decide that these were the types of films you wanted to make? And why do believe this idea is so rare in the modern world of filmmaking?

I decided I wanted to make films featuring interesting women, women actually doing things, because that’s the kind of film I want to see, and there really is a distinct lack of female representation in film. Everyone deserves to feel represented on the silver screen! It opens up whole new worlds for people, and if certain groups/genders are entirely ignored (as they mostly have been), then they don’t get the same inspiration from films the way others with better representation might. And worse, their stories aren’t told. We’ve had many years of the same perspectives and it’s absolutely time for new, fresh stories to be told. We have so much more ground to cover. I will always make films that feature fully fleshed out women, and I’ve been working on creating more diversity in my output as well.

When you think about other women who are working so hard behind the camera, do you feel as though there has been a good amount of progress? Even in a very male-saturated business, do you believe that women are finding ways to come out on top?

The statistics are still abysmal. Only 4% of directors are women and that number isn’t seeming to go up. Only 3% of cinematographers are women – camera work has become one of my main jobs. Only 26% of dialogue spoken in films last year was by women. It’s not a lack of interest from women, it’s that women are actively pushed out through not being pro-actively hired or given advancing opportunities.

It’s also generally a hard field to be in, as it is a “boys’ club,” and you have to push through a lot of micro-aggressions to begin to be respected, which is difficult when you are already doing a very physically and psychologically intensive job. So, it is still a struggle. That said, there are a lot of great opportunities and groups for women and for now, people seem to be recognizing that there is a problem. Women-led movies tend to do well when they are given the chance, but the common belief, despite evidence otherwise, is still that they won’t do well and they shouldn’t be funded. There is plenty of audience for these characters/stories, and the effort needs to come from the top-down!

What would you consider your dream project to work on if given any opportunity possible?

My dream-project would be a sci-fi horror film set in space! I’m the hugest Trekkie, so really anything set on a spaceship would utterly delight me. I also spent a month on a shoot in Roswell recently, which really got me thinking about how great a series about the events of 1947 (alien visitation? military testing?) would make a great thriller/conspiracy TV series.


What does the future hold for you? What should our readers be looking out for in the future?

Right now, I’m working on a thriller starring two women (big surprise!), with the hopes to shoot that with a decent budget, and then probably also some more wacky low-budget genre-features in the meantime! People can expect off-the-wall weirdness from me for many years to come!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

A few months ago, we got to return to Boston to do some interviews with the cast and crew of Blood of the Tribades (our latest film, a 1970s-style lesbian vampire, Rollin & Hammer-homage). We turned those interviews into a feature-length documentary called, The Blood is the Life. Talking to the people involved with the film a year and a half after filming was really special. It was so amazing to hear their perspectives on the film, how they felt about telling that story, and their fun anecdotes from set. It also furthered and launched a few people into making their own films, it feels great that the experience inspired them. The interviews made me realize that my success as a director is bringing together a community of people and creating a family who will always be connected by this slice of time and film.

Stephanie Allynne [Interview]


In our continuing effort to showcase amazing women in show business, you may have noticed a pretty common theme…we love hilarious women. Granted, not all of our subjects have been (or will be) comedians or brilliant minds of the world of comedy specifically, but many have been. And today is no exception. In fact, today we have one of the greats with us! Stephanie Allynne is an improv legend, a brilliant actress, and now a talented writer and filmmaker.

Stephanie is frequently featured and writes for in the wonderful, semi-biographical series from Tig Notaro called One Mississippi, which is an absolutely amazing show that is starting up its 2nd season soon and is not to be missed. She is also a bright shining star in the UCB world, which we will certainly talk about in the words below. So to prevent excessive rambling, and to continue on our wonderful showcase of wonderful people, I present to you, Stephanie Allynne!

When did you first realize you wanted to be involved in the world of comedy? Did you always know you would have a knack for it?

I came to Los Angeles when I was 18 to be an actor and was kind of blindsided when I fell in love with Improv. UCB really lured me in. I was shocked when I saw how real and grounded their improv was. I couldn’t believe the place existed. I had always been funny, not in the class clown way, more in the whisper a funny comment to the person sitting next to me way. I’m still that way I think.

We have been fortunate enough to get some words from a few of your fellow UCB alum, and we always like to ask what it has been like to be a part of such an amazing creative force? And what is the ultimate takeaway for you from your time with the UCB?

I love UCB, and yes it is “an amazing creative force.” I’ve spent almost a decade now with that theater and it has drastically shaped my career and personal life. My improv background strongly informs my acting, writing, and directing. The ultimate takeaway from UCB is a deep appreciation for listening and staying present.

In what seems like a very short time, from an outsider’s perspective at least, you have married and become a mother of two, so congratulations! That being said, has your perspective on the world and your work changed at all since you began this new chapter of your life? Have you noticed any differences in yourself?

Thank you. And from an insider’s perspective, I would absolutely agree. I never thought I would be married with two kids by the time I was 30, but, hey, here we are and all is dreamy. Seeing the pure love and innate joy that my sons have makes me only want to be surrounded by love and joy in the world and my work.


I know it is a very “hush hush” set up…but, IMDb is informing me that you will be featured in Showtime’s continuation of the legendary series Twin Peaks. Without divulging too much, what can you tell us about your experience on this project? Even the most vague details! Did catering provide “damn fine coffee’?

I have been sworn to secrecy, but my love for David Lynch is through the roof and it was nothing short of electrifying to see him work.

A very specific film that you have worked on that I would like to ask about is our new friend Henry Phillip’s Punching Henry. You are a part of a very elite cast of comedians and brilliant actors in this truly wonderful film including the likes of Doug Stanhope, Clifton Collins Jr., your life mate Tig Notaro, and many more. So what was it like for you to jump into the follow up vehicle for the cult classic known as Punching the Clown?

Well first of all, I love Punching the Clown and Henry Phillips, so I was thrilled to be in Punching Henry. When I think about that movie all I think about is doing that “sex scene” with Henry. I love the awkwardness of that scene and I love the awkwardness of shooting a sex scene. Plus he’s a friend, Tig was there watching on the monitor, and I was topless. And I got paid for that, and then I paid taxes out of that money… some elementary school has crayons because of that scene. Life, what a place.

In 2016, you released your directorial debut with the short known as The Fun Company. How did this project come about? And what led you to getting behind the camera on it?

The Fun Company is based on my time at The Groundlings. I had so much anger and rage after performing there and I didn’t know where to put it. I decided to write about it, so I wrote the short just to get it all out of my head. Then I loved the script and wanted to actually make it. I really wanted to star in it and it felt like something I had to direct myself. It was very personal and I wanted full control. Directing has always interested me, but I naively thought that to direct I needed a camera and to know how to work software and hard-drives. That’s what was stopping me from directing for about 7 years. I finally learned that all I needed was a DP.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to share with our readers?

We are about to start shooting season 2 of One Mississippi, which will air in the fall on Amazon. Tig and I wrote the first two episodes and this season explores our love story. The show is somewhat fictionalized, but it has been fun to revisit the genesis of our love.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My family. And the final episode of Big Little Lies.

Tami Stronach [Interview]


Tami Stronach is a woman that most of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s are pretty familiar with. She portrayed The Childlike Empress in one the most beloved adventure films of that time, and one of the best of all time, really. That film was The NeverEnding Story. And until now, it was pretty much all a lot of us knew about Tami’s work. But, trust me, she has been around. It has been the world of theatre where Tami has thrived. And die hard 80’s fans will definitely remember her wonderful album Faerie Queen that was known as a sleeper hit of that insane decade.

But, Tami is back to her old ways, moving back into the world of family friendly entertainment in the shape of a delightful production called Beanstalk Jack. And Tami has been kind enough to grace our digital pages to talk to us about this project and more at length!

An interview with Tami Stronach feels like a brilliant addition for our unofficial “Women of the Present” series, as she is indeed a woman who has touched so many different aspects in the world of entertainment. She is an actress, producer, performance artist, writer, and so much more. So we are very proud to have her here today. So please enjoy some great words from Tami Stronach!

You were phenomenal in your early performance in The NeverEnding Story. What was that experience like for you?

It was magical. It was an extraordinary summer and I loved being on set immersed in that world.

Are you at all surprised by the cult following and acclaim that this film has received over the last 30+ years?

I am surprised. I’m thrilled and surprised. I never expected it to have the sticking power it seems to have. I think the theme of doing what you dream against the odds is very powerful. We all need to be encouraged to be courageous and imaginative…plus the puppets are really cool.


Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming work you are doing with the legendary tale of Jack and the Beanstalk? What can audiences expect to experience?

My family entertainment company Paper Canoe Company just released a folk rock opera based on the story of Jack and the Beanstalk but we gave the story a girl meets boy twist—ours is called Beanstalk Jack. Right now it’s a concert, which we perform live, but we will also be developing it into a full theatrical experience over the course of the year with costumes and set pieces. I’ll list the dates on our website once we set the schedule. Paper Canoe Company is all about bringing to life classic fables or folktales with an updated spin. We love the story of Jack and the Beanstalk—it’s a pretty unusual story in that many folktales are cautionary and were used to scare kids straight…don’t leave the path you are on–Don’t talk to strangers etc… Jack pretty much does everything he is not supposed to do and it works out for him. He’s a dreamer and a risk taker…I like that. But we wanted him to defeat the mean old giant differently than by stealing his stuff and killing him partly because I have a six year old who would never let that fly. So we gave the giant a teenage daughter who lives alone in a gilded cage. She has everything…all the pillaged loot of the land. But she’s all alone. When she meets Jack, it’s love at first sight and he steals her heart…they run away together. I wanted the moral to be that the best revenge against a tyrant is to create your own corner of the world where love rules the day. The whole story is told through music. The first half of the album is old timey and references folk music but once Jack goes up the beanstalk he enters the giants turf, which is expressed through vintage rock and roll. We wanted to have fun celebrating the sound of great 80’ s musicians-for example the giant in the story sounds a lot like Tom Waits…his daughter borrows a bit from Blondie…I imagine her wearing a mix of Cindy Lauper, Blondie and Madonna clothes.

And how did you become drawn to this project? What was your inspiration, if you will?

It was my husband’s idea. There is lots of great stuff happening in kids music but we wanted to do something that had more of a story. Also we love to sing as a family so we wanted an excuse to sing some more….My buddy Jacob Silver produced the music and he really elevated the whole project by taking the concept and melodies we offered up and turning these simple pieces into this rich sound…he got incredible players to join us and added his top shelf bass playing. We were so lucky to have this team.


What made you want to develop Paper Canoe Company? What is your overall goal with this company?

I wanted to bring everything I am passionate about under one umbrella—telling stories, acting, singing, choreographing, being a mom, and being my own boss….I started with the Never Ending Story which was something the whole family could enjoy…now at this moment in my life it feels right to return to that kind of storytelling. We started out by creating live events because that’s the world I know best but we are excited about moving to digital content with Beanstalk Jack…I’ll be choreographing a video for that later this spring and our goal is to eventually expand to TV and film. But why?…. I believe that art and good stories create empathy…the sooner we build empathy muscles in kids the better! That’s what the world needs more of…stories that ignite the imagination and encourage us to be courageous, resourceful and to question things. Art is in my bones. I need to make it for my own sanity. But with the birth of my daughter I feel compelled to make stories that will nourish the next generation…Its time to reach for a broader audience which includes people ages 2-102.

What else do you have coming up? Anything you would like to tell our readers about?

Besides singing in Beanstalk Jack in the NYC area this spring and summer…

Please look for our music video coming out in a couple months. I’ll post the latest news on our website: papercanoecompany.com to see what we are up to. Please visit Bandcamp to give “Beanstalk Jack” a listen!

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I cut my index finger cooking and had to drive back from the Catskills this weekend with my left hand up in the air. The other drivers thought I was saying hi so lots of people waved to me on my way home to Brooklyn.

Check out Beanstalk Jack for yourself now via the Paper Canoe BANDCAMP page.