Wynter Gordon Breaks Free

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Shortly after Wynter Gordon’s hit “Dirty Talk” shot up to the top of the Billboard charts in 2011, the singer/songwriter dropped nearly everything that made her debut successful: her music label, her clubby dance sound, and her ultra-sexy look. “It wasn’t me,” Gordon said simply, following our shoot at the Bowery House on the Lower East Side. “I just can’t do things that I don’t believe in. And, I haven’t even begun to showcase my real talents.” So over the last few months, the Queens native – who has written tracks for artists like Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez and Ciara – has been redefining who she is and what she stands for on a four-part EP called The Human Condition. Each offering will coincide with a real human emotion – the first being Pain - and only a handful of tracks will be dance-driven. “This new project is the start of me showing who I really am.”

Check out our photoshoot with the star, her newest EP, and our powerful interview!

You had so much success with “Dirty Talk,” why move forward in your career without your label?

 Well, I wasn’t really happy anymore doing dance videos. I like dance music like I love other genres but [at the label] I was being put in a box and stuck there. It was frustrating not being able to express myself, and only being able to show one small part of me. My label didn’t want to support me through other genres, they wanted me to dance. So I left my label.

Did you ever think “Maybe this isn’t the most rational decision, I’ve just made it”?
I had that feeling, sure, but the ship has sailed. I remember waking up on Christmas morning thinking “I can’t do this. I can’t continue to do things I don’t believe in… making music that I don’t really like.” When “Dirty Talk” came out, it was hard to deal with the reaction and the feedback. Lots of guys were saying “talk dirty to me,” people would talk to me as if I was an object, not a person. My career became about my sexuality, and that’s not what I wanted as an artist.”

Well, something’s working with this new EP. Your video “Stimela” is the best yet! 

Yes! I’ve taken the reigns with my career, starting with this new EP. I’m very particular and I don’t think that the public ever really understood me and what I envision for myself. And so I put that video together with the perfect people. The Zulu hook references an anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. And I wanted a song that represented my freedom from a bunch of things holding me back in life. Stimela is a starting point of me being exactly who I am as a person, my real charcter, my ideas, my thoughts. It’s mature.
You’ve got a song called “Kids” that seems sad, personal, and reflective.
This project is really personal to me, it was like writing in my journal. I think everything in humans and people stems from our emotions, and so each EP is loosely based on a different emotion. When I started with Pain, I was feeling a lot of it. I was really angry and sad about a lot of things – who was going to support me, how would I pay my bills. I found my father and he died shortly after. But with the second EP, which I’ve named Lucky, you’ll hear the climb. I’m no longer moving down but up.
Biggest Frustration In The Industry?
I don’t have a problem with the industry, you go into business knowing what a business is about. But now, it’s changing. It seems like the business is following the art again.
What’s The Item That Every Woman Needs To Have In Her Closet This Fall?
Thigh-High Boots always make you sexy. Good old Pretty Woman thigh high boots can always make you feel sexy. Army colors, lots of greens and dark colors, camo. Love! I think everything looks better with accents, little personalized things, but little accentsMake your own basic things. DIY is in period…in life! Being yourself is just IN.
What Makes A Dapper Dude To Wynter?
Ha! A weirdo. An Edward Scissorhands, really artist Johnny Depp type, Basquiat-ish. I think creativity is hot, so if he has a ripped t-shirt and paint all over it, but it’s his style, I’m into it!
We’re big into throwbacks at Swagger. Any vintage songs you’re listening to?
Brandy’s “I Wanna Be Down”!
And you’ve written for some top names. Work with anyone recently?
Well, I’m on the new Major Lazer album, on a single with Shaggy! Just wrote a track for Ciara, called “Livin’ It Up.” And shhh, I’m supposed to work with some big pop divas very soon, so stay tuned!

Swagger New York’s feature with Wynter Gordon was created in partnership with the Creative Council by UGG Australia!

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Exclusive: Natalia Kills

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With fall’s breeze cooling the city streets, and New York Fashion Week in full swing, there’s no better time to unveil our fall fashion feature with British pop star, Natalia Kills. In 2011, her debut alum, Perfectionist, commanded much attention abroad, with its singles topping multiple music charts and its racy videos racking up over 25 million views on Youtube. But Kills, who spends her time between NYC, London, and LA, wants something more from her sophomore album — she wants to break the States.

At our Brooklyn loft space, where she blared her new music for hours (it’s less pop-Perfection, more electro-hip-hop-perfection), Kills danced around in an off-the-runway Salvatore Ferragamo pantsuit and leather cap looking like Janet Jackson from Rhthym Nation. She was giddy that this new sound would stick in the New York streets, that its beats and belts, its thumping and threatening, would rile the underground downtown scene. The British pop star is aware that right now is her big chance at superstardom. And from the looks of it, Natalia Kills is ready to murder the American music scene.

Get tips on the best looks for fall – from cap toe shoes to oxblood hues! – via our shoot with Natalia Kills below. And check out the pop star’s interview with our editor, Sian-Pierre, as well as our behind the scenes video featuring an instrumental track from Natalia Kills’s forthcoming album.

Your single will be coming out in fall. Anything you’ll be looking forward to fashion wise? Any must-haves in fashion?
I just wanna say something very quickly. I fucking hate summer – I hate it. I hate the fucking denim cut-off shorts. I mean, I’ve obviously fallen victim to those a few times in the past — 21, please forgive me god. But, I hate the whole boohoo and I’m not doing my hair today–I hate it. Summer is just an excuse for everyone to be lazy, just the way Christmas is an excuse for everyone to be fat, and I’m much rather be fat at Christmas because that is fun…but I do love the color orange for Fall, which I call “Autumn.”

Tell me about the sound of the new album, how is it different from Perfectionist? 

Kills: Well, I would say this album doesn’t only represent me, I believe it represents the generation that I grew up in. [The generation in which] both parents were working, dealing with their own problems and their own lives, and [we were] being raised in the sort of like age/sex/location chatroom generation of hyper-stimulated curiosity where nothing was off-limits and it was safer to stay out after ten p.m., and say ‘no’ to candy from a stranger, than to actually be in your home with the pedofile on your home computer on the family desktop. And [on the album] I’ve sort of delved into a kind of explanation of my own fucked up-ness, and obviously I’m not saying I blame it all on television and I blame it all on my parents (sorry mom and dad), I’m saying that it’s an explanation of how we can come to being so numb to like everything, and so passive when it comes to love and dismissive of relationships…I don’t want reality but I still crave it. It’s more chaotic, it’s sort of renegade pop, it’s more shouted and screamed than sung. (See video for more)

You have a song called “Trouble” on the new album as well. Are you troubled, or you being a trouble maker? 

Kills: ”Trouble” is a love song, and it’s written about my um ex…I set the house on fire…I tried to set the house on fire with me and my boyfriend in it after an argument when I was eighteen. I just want to apologze right now to my management or anyone else who probably would advise me not to say any of this stuff. But I tried to set fire to the house with us all in it after a really big, crazy argument – don’t worry he totally deserved it – and the police came, and of course it was all taken care of and no one got burned to death which is great. And “Trouble” is about that and that kind of moment where I’m kind of like…it’s a love song, I’m warning him, I’m like ‘you know I’m trouble, you know you love it.’ He does, he loves it.

On Fall Fashion

Swagger New York’s feature with Natalia Kills was created in partnership with the Creative Council by UGG Australia!

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The Sketchbook Project

filed in Creative Council, Culture

For longer than we can remember, we have been trying to figure out how we can make our Sketchbook Project tours even better and more efficient. The idea of a book-mobile seems obvious, but when you’re dealing with thousands of pieces of artwork it takes a lot of planning. Finally, this summer we devised our dream book-mobile and got to work to make that happen.

Today, we announced our inaugural first tour, A Landmark and a Mission, with support by The Creative Council. We will bring past Sketchbook Project books that have been curated by Christopher Jobson, from Colossal, to fit the encompassing theme to Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, and Cleveland, all cities that we have never toured to and that were suggested by the Art House community.

What does this mean for the future of The Sketchbook Project? It means we will have more books out on the road, to more places, more often. Not to mention the fact that we will be able to do additional tours with books from past years that will get another chance to be seen through a new lens. We know that this will be just one of the many mobile tours that we will do going forward, and we think that is pretty awesome.

Check out this 3d mock-up of the exterior of The Sketchbook Project Mobile Library! More info to come on the future of the mobile library and The Sketchbook Project.

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AfroPunk Festival 2012: Day 1

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The 2012 AfroPunk Festival kicked off Saturday with mega music acts like Erykah Badu, Alice Smith, NinjaSonik, and more! But the two-stage fest wasn’t only about smooth sounds, Commodore Park played host to some of the city’s finest fashion mavens too! Check out our photo journal from the day below, and if you’re in the city tomorrow, head down to Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn for Day Two (ft. Toro Y Moi, Janelle Monae, etc!).

Erykah Badu

Puchy Loo

Cole Mohr And Friend

Bayli of The Skins

Erykah Badu Pt. 2

Swagger New York’s coverage of Afro-Punk was created in partnership with the Creative Council by UGG Australia!

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