Michelle Akin ( michelleakin ) is a life coach, singer and a YouTuber. She talks about how we spend a lot of our twenties refusing to take ownership of our own lives and how we need to be more mindful of what we consume and who we allow to matter.

It’s insightful and might be hard-hitting for some people, but definitely very honest. Give it a listen - it’s worth your time. Promise.

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TALENT: THE STEPTONES

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Introduce yourselves
We are a four-piece band coming out of Canberra, Australia. The band consists of Patrick Ryan (vocals/guitar), Tim Douglass (guitar/keys), Jono Warren (drums) and Jack Schwenke (bass). Stemming from a broad range of musical influences, we aim to capture and deliver what has been special about pop music since its origin: Relatable lyrics and catchy hooks that are able to evoke foot-tapping enjoyment. That, and something that people can just dance to. And we also throw in a few cool guitar solos.

How did you all come together to start making music?
Tim, Jono and I all lived in the same residential collegree at our university, ANU. After a few times playing in the college band for various events, we decided to have a bit of a jam. Turns out, it went rather well. After a number of gigs and swapping instruments (to compensate for the lack of a bassist), we met Jack, who studies with Tim and Jono at the music school. The rest is history.

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How would you describe your music?
We’ve been described by a college radio presenter in the US as “Well, imagine if you will, Jack Johnson accidentally walking into a Beatles’ session and they decided to write and record a few tunes ‘just for the fun of it’”, which is pretty cool. Those two artists definitely have an influence on us, but not so much so that we’re bound to the confines of that brand of music. Fundamentally, we’re a guitar-driven pop-rock band that doesn’t mind mixing things up to keep it interesting.

What are some of your influences/inspirations, musical or otherwise
There’s always the classics. And they are classics for a reason. Dylan, The Stones, the Beatles and Pink Floyd are all some of my favorites, who, along with many others, have shaped modern pop music. My personal all-time favorite is the Dire Straits. Tom Petty comes a close second. We write what we know, so all of these musicians, and countless others from a range of genres have helped to shape how and what I play.

Can you tell us about your experience working on your debut EP, ‘Someday Soon’?
If you asked me a year and a half ago how I’d be spending my summer of 2013/14, never could I have fathomed that I’d be recording an EP. The whole experience was scary, mildly tedious at times (doing the same take over and over again can get to you), an awesome learning experience, and most of all, so much fun. 

After writing a number of songs, we had planned to record a few tracks at a local studio in Canberra, then send them out for mixing. So, we shot off a couple of emails, to which we got back an email from Producer ‘Lindsay Gravina’, who not only was happy to mix our tracks, but wanted us to come into the studio to record with him. After months of pre-production, we managed to find the 5 that we were happy with to be released on an EP.

Once we got to the studios, we were exposed to a whole new world of music production that none of us had ever experienced before. Four weeks later, after many a late night listening over and over again to the same 5 tracks, we came out with an EP. It’s a completely different side to gigging and live performance that we’d only before experienced to a minor degree. For me, I love the live stuff, so this was definitely where all the hard yards go.

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What’s your first musical memory?
Me and my Dad driving in his car blasting ‘Breakdown’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, with us both singing along. That song rocks.

Favourite collaboration? (Either real or imaginary - is there someone you’d love to work with?)
I reckon Katy Perry and The Steptones would make a killer song, negotiations are still in progress… Aside from that, I think it’d be so much fun to work with Dave Grohl.

How do you spend your mornings?
Sleeping, if I can. Although I start work at 6am a couple of times a week, which really throws a spanner in the works. Apart from that, lots and lots coffee.

Would you rather live one 1,000 year life, or ten 100 year lives?
Ten 100 year lives, It’d be fun to mix things up a bit.

TALENT: KELLY CHO

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Introduce yourself!
Hiya, I’m Kelly. I’m a twenty-three year old designer living in London. I’m from Hong Kong.

What are some of your influences/inspires you on a daily basis? Explain your creative process.
Elements of history are always in my work. On a daily basis, I’m obsessed with history documentaries and will watch anything to do with it. When I go on holiday, I’m tempted to stay in my hotel sometimes just to watch the history channel. Lately, all my work are digital collages made with cut-outs from encyclopedia illustrations. Encyclopedia illustrations are so well-drawn and odd at the same time …like the illustrations of different races. It’s such an out-dated visual source but I’m really drawn to that aspect of it and also to the fact that it feels like a lot more care has been gone into documenting one thing, like for example, an egg. 

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What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a series on the theme of colonialism. I just finished the first piece, called The Landing. (Shown above)

How do you feel about being an emerging creative? Any thoughts on how the online community and social media has changed to benefit the creatives of our generation?
I’m not against it. I think the things I see online are pretty interesting these days. There is so much you can do nowadays. On one hand, there is an overkill of trends… there are more things that make you go, oh I’ve seen this and that before. But trends will always exist, and there are still so many things I come across online that blow my mind and challenge my thinking of design in new ways all the time. The online community pushes us to go further because there are just so much good work out there that are available for everyone to see and appreciate. 

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Any advice you could give to other emerging artists / advice you’d been given in the past that you’d like to share?
Someone once said these encouraging words to me, “Someone one day will find your work and things will take off from there”. My mantra, as cheesy as it is, is to keep doing what I love doing and not worry too much.

What would you like to get out of your twenties? What would you like to have achieved by the time you reach 30?
There isn’t any one thing that I’m aiming to achieve because I think there are too many possibilities …some that I have considered and probably some that I haven’t even foreseen. I think as long as I can find a balance of some kind with my creative work and the boring stuff like being able to make enough money to sustain myself or save for my future then I’ve done ok. 

How do you spend your mornings?
I’d rather skip breakfast than lose a minute of sleep, so I usually sleep till as late as I can… put on some instrumental music: the opening title score of Crimson Wings is my favorite haha. Then I shower and take forever to chose my outfit for the day and am usually late by the time I get to work… even though I live five mins away. 

You’re on death row. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted. You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
A bowl of soup noodle …though chinese style scallops with vermicelli, soy sauce and garlic is also another fine option.

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CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT MORE OF KELLY CHO’S WORK. THEY’RE CURRENTLY ON SALE.

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TALENT: CARLEY CORNELISSEN


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TB: Introduce yourself!
C: My name is Carley Cornelissen and I am a 32 year old artist from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

TB: What are some of your influences? What inspires you on a daily basis? Your creative process?
C: I love colour, I was always very conservative with my colour use in the past but in the last few years I have realised that bright colours inspire and motivate me, fluro pink and all shades of blue being my favourites. I also work in an art supplies store so I am lucky enough to be constantly surrounded by colour on a daily basis and am always on the look out for new colour combinations. 

My other passion is animals, especially the plight of endangered species, I wish to create colourful little safe worlds for these precious creatures in each of my works while hopefully drawing attention to their heartbreaking situations. 

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TB: What are you working on right now?

C: I have been lucky enough to be represented by Retrospect Galleries who have a gallery in Byron Bay here in Australia but also travel to Europe and Asia for international art fairs and the next ones are coming up later this year so I am working on some new pieces for that. Also I am about to begin a mural in the lounge room of our new house, 4 meters long, my largest piece ever! So we’ll see how that goes, I’m pretty excited! 

TB: How do you feel about being an emerging creative in this era? Thoughts on how social media has changed to benefit the creatives of our generation?
C: I LOVE Instagram! It is such an amazing platform for creatives to not only get their work out there but also to connect with other like minded people. I have been lucky enough to connect with such a wonderfully supportive group of incredibly talented people and they inspire me every day. I also find it is great to see the process of other artists, how they work and what inspires them. I love the way the artwork and the artist become so much more connected with social media. But the short answer is yes, I am addicted to instagram!  

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TB: Any advice for other emerging artists / advice you’d been given in the past that you’d like to share?
C: Probably the most important piece I could give is one that I had to learn myself. I spent many years after Uni unsuccessfully trying to find my own voice with my practice, now when I look back I realise I was trying to recreate styles that I admired in other artists. I would jump from one style to another and never be satisfied with the results. But I now realise that I was painting too much from my brain and not from my heart. The transition from that to what I do now wasn’t overnight but I realised that the more colour I used and the more freely I used it the more insipired I was and it just led on to another idea and so on from there. So I think the advice is paint from your heart and follow your passion in your practice and the rest can kind of fall into place from there.

TB:  Any plans to come to Hong Kong in the future? (We gotta ask. Drinks on us!) 
C: Hopefully! I’ve never been before but my art has! My husband and I are planning a trip around Europe on a motorbike next year so that will be first!

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TB: How do you spend your mornings?
C: If it is a work day I will either ride my bike to work, go to the gym or sleep in till the very last minute! I normally don’t do any painting before work, I leave that till after dinner. But if its a studio day I will drink coffee and binge watch tv shows while painting in the studio all day, that’s my favourite kind of day!

TB: You’re on death row. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted. You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
C: Hmmm, I think it would have to be a platter with pesto pasta, vegetarian dumplings and potato gems, with ice cream for dessert!

FIND CARLEY CORNELISSEN:
WEBSITE INSTAGRAM 

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TALENT: THOR RIXON


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TB: Introduce yourself!
T: Hi, my name’s Thor Rixon and I am a music producer and film director from Cape Town, South Africa.

TB: How did you first get into producing music?
T: I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to take when I finished high school so I decided to go out and take a course in music production in June 2010. I loved it and have been practicing in my bedroom and friends studios almost every day since.

TB: How would you describe the music you make?
T: I would say it is organic and acoustic sounding electronic music. The tempos vary drastically between each track. I also try and put as much sadness/happiness into the music as well. ‘Melancholic tones’ is another way of putting it I suppose.

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TB: What are some of your influences/inspirations, musical or otherwise?
T: I am a huge fan of really honest and heart wrenching folk music. Bands like Beirut, Noah and the Whale, Cat Empire and Bonobo are some of my favourite artists and are listened to everyday. Aside from musical inspiration, people who push our understanding of what is good and really extended their creativity are what inspire me to do the things I do. I get really excited when I see something that I have never seen or heard before.

TB: Tea Time Favourites, your 2nd album, is a great mix: how did you come to work with the artists on the album? What was the driving force behind creating the album? How did you come up with its name?
T: When I write an album I just give myself a date and write as many songs and as much as possible leading up to about 3 months before that date where I choose my ‘favourites’ and massage/tweak those till they are sounding like something worth sharing. I am good friends with all of the collaborators on the album and when I wrote the songs initially, I felt that certain people would really suit the song and take it to where it’s meant to be. The name of the album came about in conversation with friends. I am constantly writing down album names or band names that just happen from conversations or from a funny thing that someone said. I cant remember exactly how it came about, I just remember sticking with that as a name for a long time.

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TB: You did a surreal, ‘weirdly wonderful’ photoshoot for the album - do you feel a strong connection between film and music? You’re also a director - do you find visuals to be as important with music as with film?
T: Music and Film compliment each other so well. If I could, I would have a video to accompany every single one of my songs. When you put a visual to a sound you are adding another view point and understanding to both mediums, you are giving the sound context and the visual feeling.

TB: What’s your first musical memory?
T: My parents played me a record of Burning Spear’s Black Wa Da Da (The Invasion) which wasn’t necessarily my 1st musical experience but was definitely the time in my life where I fell in love with music. The thick bass line in that track is something that has stuck with me and will continue to do so in to the future. It’s so badass and just pure groove.

TB: Favourite collaboration? (Either real or imaginary - is there someone you’d love to work with?)
T: The person I would really love to collaborate with would definitely be Zach Condon of Beirut and Spoek Mathambo.

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TB: What’s on your iPod? What are you listening to right now? What are some all-time favourites?
T: I’m currently listening to The Watermark High who is a super badass young producer from South Africa that is destined for some great things. It’s very chilled, downtempo electronic rumblings. https://soundcloud.com/thewatermarkhigh

TB: How do you spend your mornings?
T: I spend my mornings trying to; wake up for an hour or so (the snooze button is the devil), make some gourmet breakfast and gourmet tea, get dressed and head out to vibe the day ahead. 

TB: Would you rather live one 1,000 year life, or ten 100 year lives?
T: Oh wow, you’ve got me pondering life quite hard right now. hahaha, ummmm, I’d say 100 year lives because then you can experience all the vibyness of growing up in many different ways and experiencing many unknown ways of life I suppose.

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TB:
And finally: you’re on death row. (Giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s say you’ve been wrongly convicted). You have to choose your last meal: what do you have?
T: An extra large thin-based pizza with mozzarella, banana, pineapple, mushrooms, avocado, fried onion, rocket, feta and balsamic reduction. Sorry, Im a huge fan of pizza.

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LISTEN TO TEA TIME FAVOURITES HERE

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FRIENDS OF TWENTYBLISS GET TO SKIP THE WAIT LIST FOR THE Q CAMERA!

We’re hooking you up! I’m sure some of you already know about theqcamera, and how quickly they sold out of their first batch. Well, here’s a special sale for friends of TwentyBliss to skip the wait list and get ahead! This offer is for a limited time only so hurry before they run out.

CLICK HERE TO GET A Q CAMERA