Redefining female sound: J McAuliffe

The MAIN REASON that Up in Smoke was ever able to exist is thanks to the constant tuning and volume correcting of sound expert J McAuliffe. The audio producing Phoenician asked listeners to re-evaluate the stereotypes they place on gender —- more specifically as it relates to sound – on this episode of Up in Smoke.

(So keep (stop) reading and listen here🙂

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“J-editing,” a surefire future biography memoir title. TU Erin Lubin.

Re-adjusting the sound levels of what she considers a less-than-perfect microphone as she spoke during the opening of this episode, J avoided all of the compliments that Raina and I poured onto her because she can’t handle the truth (– did I mention that she is a badass superstar golden fluttering unicorn and the reason that Up in Smoke is possible? Check out this article about her winning first place at the Hearst Journalism Awards competition.)

As a sound and audio expert, J is very active in the podcast world (Literally ask her for sound help – but don’t tell her I told you that). In this episode, J talks about how her audio production skills and her point-of-view as a nonbinary person sometimes throw off listeners or those just meeting her. Reason being because her voice is considered deeper than that of your “””””average””””” (wtf that means) woman.

“Like right now (on the podcast), when you first hear my voice, and you weren’t given the pronoun ‘she’ leading up to it, and even then, for the listener there might be some sort of dissonance,” J said.

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“J-walking,” a surefire future biography sequel memoir title. TU Maria Esquinca.

The constant praise of her voice, deeper than what is considered “feminine” by societal standards, but more than welcomed in the world of radio, is what J said lead her to pursuing sound full-time as a college student.

“I pinpoint it to that, someone telling me ‘wow, you’re good at this thing’ and going on and doing that,” she said.

Now more comfortable in her position as a trans* woman, J spoke about her praised radio voice as the leading part of her gender dysphoria. She gave examples of a couple of awkward introductions and explanatory conversations with strangers who automatically assumed her gender on the show.

“When I’m ordering a coffee or any interaction with a stranger (I know what) their first impression of me is: ‘Oh, they are going to gender me as male right now,’ just because of my voice and that’s the part that kind of sucks sometimes,” J said.

Her experience with sound has only further-backed her research and exploration of the pressure placed on voices based on gender. On the show she spoke more about some of the social constructs and stereotypes that people attach to how a woman or a man is programmed to speak.

J talked about the typical ways people interpret a female voice, saying, “The way you say certain words or the way you begin a sentence and the slight little changes in inflection, like if you are going to answer things a little bit more of a question sometimes.”

Along with voice issues, she also spoke about her current answers to every outfit or appearance question that she has received as a trans* woman. J’s current approach to set stereotypes being to act as if she were the only person on the planet, ignoring prior societal expectations or “safe” answers that tend to be associated with being a trans woman in Arizona.

J also briefly spoke about the experience she had when coming out to the people around her about being trans* – first individually, then collectively, then on Facebook. The common theme of the “coming out” conversation being that the conversation usually ends up having nothing to do with her.

“I realized that coming out is not a nerve-racking experience,” and later said, “It’s more of a big deal for the person I’m telling.”

J said that the conversation switches to people thinking that this is a “big deal moment” when she is actually approaching it more casually because it’s just one voiced realization out of a million.

HEARST JOURNALISM AWARDS PROGRAM 2017
“DJ-editing,” a surefire future audiobook memoir title. TU Erin Lubin.

 

Now hoping the land an audio production job as an ASU post-graduate, J credits her audio involvement to being actively involved in ASU’s student run radio as well as the several podcasts that she has produced and hosted (keep reading……)

For those wishing to find more experience in Arizona with audio, editing and mixing she said that it is a pretty small pool of people and not a ton of resources locally for audio engineering.

“There’s not (many) opportunities for wanting to be an audio engineer, which sucks, so I think the biggest thing would be creating your own stuff,” she said.

Check out some of the work J has done, like “How to train your Jedi,”her work with Blaze Radio, the student radio station, and “In a world” the movie soundtrack podcast.

Then listen to the rapid fire round where we force J to answer the unavoidable: Earthquake or Hurricane?

Check it out!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Jamee

 

Also follow J on Soundcloud here or stalk her on Facebook here.

Redefining female sound: J McAuliffe

Religion and Art: Michaela Emerson talks film

As a former private Christian school student, Michaela Emerson has tested her creativity in a variety of ways; most noteworthy being her role as production designer for a strip club in a music video.

Now an Arizona-based artist and ASU alum, Michaela’s latest film project, Domestic, is complete (— which is why you can watch it right now via the video below these words). She talks more about the creation of Domestic, as well as her own past experiences with the intersection/collision of religion and creativity in this episode of Up in Smoke.

 

Before Michaela dove into the creation of her most recent film or mentioned any of her stripper encounters, she talked to Raina and I about her experience in transferring from California Baptist University to the ivy-reject party school that is Arizona State University (disclaimer: that is a joke, go Devil(s)).

She spoke about her short-lived private Christian college experience making her slightly bitter about her past, but highlighted the fact that she has nothing against Christianity and is more or less just opposed to certain details of religion.

“It was definitely a tough experience for me, I would say, because it was very conservative, very religious, and I kind of felt lost in that,” she said of the small school.

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The film major transferred to ASU shortly after her first year, realizing that some of the creative endeavors that she was trying to pursue at CBU were making her feel like a complete outcast.

Michaela also spoke more about her transition between the polar opposite schools. She credits the once uncomfortable leap to ASU as something that helped to push her further out of her comfort zone. Eventually she landed an internship in New York City with Yacht Club Films, with the full intent of getting as much hands on production experience as possible.

 

“I ended up going to New York and stayed there for three months. I lived in a basement with five other guys,” Michaela said.

One of the most memorable experiences of the internship was being put in the role of production designer for a rap music video which required her to set up and design a strip club, she said.

“I had to give some strippers some birthday cake, it was really interesting,” she said.

Michaela also talks about the conversation she had with her mom in which she tried to explain what she was doing as an intern (which you can hear more about here).

 

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Michaela on set for the production of “Domestic”.

Flash forward to Michaela’s most recent project: Domestic (shoutout to Nichole Perlberg) which is based on the large amount of people who will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The dance piece falls in line with her desire to create projects that also have some kind of social impact, she said.

And when we asked Michaela what advice she has for other women looking to switch up their own life and try something completely out of their comfort zone she quoted Nike’s life slogan: “Just do it.”

“I went (to New York) terrified because I was like, ‘I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ -but that’s why I went – because it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about it,” Michaela said.

Moving forward as an artist with the goal to bring her diverse background into her writing, the now desert dweller hopes to take her creative talents to London — and you can follow more of that journey on her FB here and IG here.

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Side note: We also talked about how feminism was viewed at Michaela’s prior school, questioned why people keep saying “though shall submit to thy husband,” at weddings, and I relived my life changing moment of discovering this Youtube video of Pomeranian dogs wearing bread as a face mask**.

 

***you’re welcome.

—Jamee

Religion and Art: Michaela Emerson talks film

Black Laughter Matters: An interview with Comedy Historian Bambi Haggins

Labeling herself as “comedy nerd since birth,” Dr. Bambi Haggins, the author of Laughing Mad: The Black Comic Persona in Post-Soul America, joined Raina and I for episode eight of Up in Smoke.

Bambi has worked as a historical consultant for Showtime’s Why We Laugh: Funny Women and as a writer for HBO’s Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley. She also is a PhD-vetted film and media studies professor, who teaches “Comedy as a Social Discourse,” in which students explore the ways that comedy has both directed and dissected history.

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Whoopi Goldberg + Bambi (Nbd).

“One of the things as a film and media studies teacher, sort of my raison d’etre, is to turn out conscious media makers,” Bambi told us during the show.

The class ends with the all-student comedy show, “Standing Up for Discourse,” giving many students the option to try stand-up comedy for the first time. The class comedy show also gave Bambi the opportunity to put her comedy historian skills into action, pushing her to also try standup for the first time, she said.

“I did standup for the first time at the same time that some of my students were doing it,” Bambi said.

Bambi is now in the process of writing her latest book, Black Laughter Matters, which focuses on comedy and blackness in the age of Obama and beyond. While her prior book, Laughing Mad, focused on comedy from the Civil Rights era to 2007, Black Laughter Matters is aimed to dissect what comedy has become in the last decade.

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Bambi and her dog Willow.

The result of November’s election have forced Bambi to pivot her prior narrative of Black Laughter Matters, which she spoke more about during the show.

Bambi had originally focused the book on the progressive surge for people of color as an escalating force in the last decade, but is now going back to also record the fallout to some of that power in the last few years, she said.

“When you look at the sort of ‘white-lash’ that took place, I feel like I have to go back and look for the ways in which we suspected this could happen,” Bambi said.

Nonetheless, Bambi has continued to use her position in academia and her comedy expertise to raise questions for both her students and readers about if a comedian’s mic is “a tool or a weapon.”

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She also spoke about her admiration for female queer comics of color and the current over-saturation of ‘club’ comics.

——–which you can listen to here.

Bambi ended her talk with some numbered bullet points for anyone itching to try standup but still too scared to do it, as she once faced those same obstacles:

  1. Watch as much comedy as you can.
  2. Don’t be afraid to think about what you want your comedy to convey.
  3. Do it. Do open mics, do storytelling nights, plays— any space that there’s a microphone and you can tell jokes, do it.
  4. Remember that it’s gotta come from who you are – speak your truth.

You can follow Bambi and find out updates about the release of Black Laughter Matters via Facebook.

ALSO —Raina recently released her latest documentary, Unsinkable, which focuses on four amateur comedians doing shows across the states. Check it out!

ALSO ALSO — I am currently drinking overpriced coffee in the city of dirty glitter and Skid Row — so message me if you are in town!!

–Jamee

 

 

 

Black Laughter Matters: An interview with Comedy Historian Bambi Haggins

AJ Odneal: the ukulele folk artist on a mission to create more diversity in Phoenix

AJ Odneal is the only voice I wanted to hear after the chaos of graduation (which Raina, Jaye, and myself all endured this month… WHOOO!!).

Instantly Raina and I were relaxed by AJ’s beautiful-neo-folk voice and then blown away by the fact that she pay$$$ her rent through her music and live performances – IN THIS DESERT WE CALL ARIZONA.

Btw—this podcast episode begins with an original song by AJ, “Growing Old.” Watch her video below and then listen to Episode 7 here.

 

 

AJ is a VIP member of that small group of talented people that make their living off of their talent (that’s not really a club don’t @ me) — and she’s only 22. Her weekly shows have given her financial stability, with her first paycheck coming to her during her freshman year of high school.

Plug: You can check out some of her music here, or listen to a sample during Episode 7 of Up in Smoke here.

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Despite her God-sent talent, the creative control that AJ currently has over her music has kept her from signing a label or even wanting anything to do with that side of the music industry. She spoke specifically about the downsides of being attached to a major label during the show.

“They own you– what you look like, what you represent, what you’re allowed to say, what you’re allowed to do, and they can change it all on you,” she said before further going into how she has seen it effect similar people in her position.

“As a woman of color I run the risk of either being forced into a stereotype or being changed in a way of like, straightening my hair. I have a lot of friends who are in businesses where they try to be on film and they tell you, ‘Well, don’t go out in the sun because the darker you are the harder you are to cast,’” she said.

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The anti-stereotype stand that AJ has taken with her music career correlates with her bigger goal: to see more women that look like her in the entertainment and music industry.

“That’s very important to me as someone who didn’t have representation growing up as being like, this little mixed brown girl. I didn’t get to see myself a lot on film, so whenever I’m making videos I’m always trying to become more diverse with each one,” she said.

And her music videos are awesome — so if you have not already watched the one linked to the top of this page then you should reconsider your life choices.

AJ also talked about her pen pal (listen to hear more on that) and spoke about a few specific instances of “well-intentioned” racism that she has faced from some of her Arizona audience members in the Valley this past year.

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And AJ’s advice for similar ukulele playing artists? Know what your end goal is and reach out to older musicians and learn from their mistakes, she said.

(side note :she plays a lot of other instruments besides the ukulele)

LISTEN TO EPISODE 7 HERE.

Raina’s band stories also made their way back to the podcast, as she knew AJ in high school — so keep your ears open for that and then ask Raina to do a band reunion show.

Also, may I suggest that you follow/ stalk/ tweetlisten to AJ Odneal if you want to add some Zen to your day or if you need another reason to get a pen pal.

 

AJ Odneal: the ukulele folk artist on a mission to create more diversity in Phoenix

Michelle Y. Allen on quitting her corporate job to become an Arizona Actress

Woah——- please prepare yourself for the erotic thriller that is Episode 5 of Up in Smoke (I will explain later).

Raina was going on two hours of sleep and I was functioning on a 100% caffeine so you can bet that the beginning of this episode is probably the closest we have gotten to sounding like druggy hosts of a pakalolo podcast.

MORE IMPORTANTLY—- Michelle Y. Allen sat down with us and filled us in on a couple of local films she has been working on, as well as how she went from being an IT help desk specialist to a lead actress in the Arizona film, “Dark Dignity.”

Listen to Ep. 5 of Up in Smoke with Michelle Y Allen here or keep reading below:

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After working at an IT help desk in a corporate insurance office for 11 years, Michelle Y. Allen decided it was time to switch her focus to acting.

Two years earlier, her corporate company had put out a casting call for a training video. Michelle used the audition opportunity simply to get away from her desk. After landing the lead, Michelle started to further explore the possibility of acting in Arizona.

“In 2005 I left my job to pursue an acting career and I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even know that I wanted to be an actor, I was always very shy in front of lots of people,” Michelle said.

She went on to take local acting classes, act in local college plays, work on movie trailers and seek out new audition opportunities.

“I knew my chances of being successful were, like, zero. But that’s OK because when you have a dream and the means to follow it – why not!?” Michelle said.

After sitting down with her husband and downsizing her income, Michelle was eventually able to devote all of her time and attention to her acting career and leave her job.

Now acting in one of the starring roles of the locally filmed and produced movie, “Dark Dignity,” Michelle hopes to continue honing in on her skills. She also spoke briefly about a lot of the “hobbyists” that make it harder for Arizona to become a sustainable filming environment. (Listen here homies).

“To me, hobbyists are people who have a good time doing it, they still have other jobs, they have things that they have to do (besides acting). They’re not really into learning their craft, or learning more about the layers of the onion,” Michelle said.

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With the goal of building a thriving film community in Arizona, Michelle is now working on another locally produced film, this time an erotic thriller. (Michelle talks about how the film, “Finally You,” is helping her to grow as a producer in the podcast here.)

Her advice to actors and actresses looking to get into Arizona’s film scene? Michelle said to take classes (like the ones at Verve Studios with Amanda Melby), check the internet for ways to get involved, and to get out of your comfort zone.

“Don’t be afraid to say what you want; just go out there and do it and don’t be afraid of what people think because whatever they think doesn’t matter anyway,” Michelle said.

Specific audition websites that she recommends for finding Arizona auditions include:

  • Durantcom.com to look for auditions for crew, acting, behind-the scenes positions in Arizona.
  • Facebook for the Casting Calls Phoenix page and other Arizona acting related pages.

+++++++You can hear even more advice for women looking to get involved in Arizona’s acting scene in Ep. 5 of our podcast.

Note: We were not on drugs.

Note: Yes, the closest comparison for an “erotic thriller” is SAW II + porn.

LISTEN TO IT. 🙂

-Jamee

Michelle Y. Allen on quitting her corporate job to become an Arizona Actress

Arizona’s hidden hero behind “Queer Girls”: Creating a more inclusive desert through photography

On the fourth Episode of Up in Smoke, Marjani Viola Hawkins was on her 47th model out of the 50 total to be shot for her first photography book, “Queer Girls.”

Queer Girls is a film photography book that Marjani has been putting all of her time and energy into in hopes of creating a more inclusive LGBTQ environment in Arizona.

“There needs to be a safe space for queer women and also queer women of color,” Marjani said.

The book focuses on any woman who does not identify as straight and gives the models involved the option to be photographed fully clothed, in their underwear, or semi-nude (Check out some of the photos here).

Marjani sat down with Raina and I and talked to us more about the creation of the book, her own experience as being a queer woman of color, and how to obtain pro-feminist socks.

Listen to Ep. 4 of Up in Smoke featuring Marjani here.

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She also spoke with us about the reactions she has received when bringing up the book in an ultra-conservative Arizona environment (shocking but it’s actually been mostly positive thus far) and some of the current challenges she has faced within Arizona’s LGBTQ ecosystem.

“There’s not really a strong, safe space place for women within the LGBTQ community, it’s very centered on the male experience and the male voice. I wanted to create something that is just for women and centered on women.”

The casting process for the women was completely open and Marjani asked anyone interested to reach out. She has since faced some backlash for the amount of white women featured in the book, but said that that was just a result of making it as inclusive as possible and that the women featured in the book were the only women who reached out to her.

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She also spoke briefly about one of the book’s sponsors, One*n*Ten, (One*n*Ten is a national LGBTQ nonprofit focused on empowering youth in various cities, Phoenix being one of them), and the workshop she will be doing with them over the summer.

(Listen to Episode 4 here)

We also went back in time for 2.7 minutes and Marjani talked about starting out her photographing career in high school (all in Arizona) and using her friends as models. (Fun Fact: Raina was the first girl photographed by Marjani for a webtorial in Circus Magazine and Raina is also in the Queer Girls book so GET HYPED.)

Flash forward to now and we have the hidden hero giving advice to other photographers looking to start a community-centered project in Arizona:

“You have to be extremely focused, nothing that I have ever done has just been by chance,” Marjani said.

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She also spoke about her goal of doing ten things everyday to move her career forward and some other solid creative women career advice…..but you should stop reading all of this advice and instead listen to Episode 4 here.

OR FIND OUT WHERE TO GET FEMINIST SOCKS HERE! (hehehe this is how I am tricking you once again to listen to the podcast).

And be sure to check out the Queers Girls book website here and Marjani’s amazing photography on her Instagram here.

–Jamee

Arizona’s hidden hero behind “Queer Girls”: Creating a more inclusive desert through photography

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe: Being a female entrepreneur in Arizona.

Marion Houghton sat down with us for the……wait…..wait…….THIRD EPISODE of Up in Smoke !

The show has already proven that there is a Walmart-Supercenter-sized-amount of incredible women doing art and starting their own thing in Arizona, and Marion is no exception. The co-founder of Anidaso – an Arizona company that circulates beautiful, handcrafted purses and accessories from Ghana and resells them in the US –  gave us the scoop on her company and its focus on mindfulness, as well as her life-changing road trip.

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Now pause this reading nonsense and go listen to episode 3 of Up in Smoke here!!!

“So what exactly is this Anidaso company and why is it in Arizona?” you ask. (Although technically I asked because I was the one on the podcast with the mic…but here’s an answer below so plz don’t hate my awkward parenthesis statements. Listen to the question on the podcast here. bye.)

In Twi, a dialect of Ghanaian, “anidaso” translates to hope. The company and it’s official name came to be after a serendipitous meeting between Marion and her co-founder, Kaitlyn Fitzgerald. Kaitlyn sprouted the idea of a for-profit company after she experienced firsthand some of the drawbacks of mission trips. She began selling the bags from the trunk of her car and met Marion shortly after. The two combined to form a company that focuses on the concepts of mindfulness and community building.

“We consider our company currency to be mindfulness. Mindfulness is what moves us, it’s how we operate everything that we do,” Marion said.

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The “Diana” Dora Bag from the Anidaso website.

The young entrepreneur talked about the creation, concept, and mission of Anidaso on the podcast (which you can listen to here) and quickly spoke about the blog she curates, before moving more onto her own background and how she navigates Arizona.

Some of her biggest advice? “Your vibe attracts your tribe.”

Marion went on to explain the rhyme in that she is who she hangs out with and is a big believer in attracting supportive friends and giving a big Beyonce BYE to the rest. She also goes out of her way to attract similarly minded people in Arizona by planning small meetup events around the valley. Currently, she organizes Phoenix “Mindful Meals,” and “Mindful Morning,” sessions, always filling her creative guests with food and thought.

unnamedOne of the best parts of this podcast (other than Marion’s wonderful startup advice) is her story about how she got in her car solo and took a road trip across country.

SO LISTEN. IT’S GOOD. I PROMISE. YOU’LL LEARN THINGS. LAUGH AND FEEL BETTER.

Listen to episode 3 of Up in Smoke here!!!

Then ask me about the roadtrip I’m planning this summer….. ;]

—-Jamee

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe: Being a female entrepreneur in Arizona.