Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Ugly D Album Out Now!

We're very excited to be releasing the new Ugly D album "Person to Nosrep" on Secret Aweome. Produced by DJ Hi Yella, Ugly D brings Cape Cod hip hop out of the woodwork. Featuring artists like G Free and Justin Sawyer. Ugly D may not ever cross the Bourne Bridge, but his music is out of this world! Check it out on the Secret Awesome bandcamp, or pick up a CD copy from the store!

Monday, January 4, 2016

André Beriau Interview

Ya winter is here, but that's no reason to stay home. André Beriau talked to us about his new zine, Analogue Companion, which chronicles all kinds of adventures in surfing, skateboarding, and checking out new places! So sharpen up your adventure sticks and get a copy of Analogue Companion here!

Tell us a little about yourself for starters! Where are you from? What do you like to do?

My name is André Rober Beriau. I am an Eighth Grade English Teacher south of Boston, MA. I live on the South Shore, which is a good jumping off point for surfing around New England, getting to Boston or Providence, RI to skate or see a show, or going north to snowboard. Originally, I’m from a little town in Central Massachusetts named Fiskdale - it’s a tiny area inside of Sturbridge. I grew up on a dirt road out there building ramps in the driveway with my brother, Jacques, skating in the basement, or snowboarding in the woods in the winter. Outside of teaching I spend most of my time figuring out where the surf might be good. Depending on the season, and if there isn’t a run of swell, I either go skate a local park, or head up to the mountains to snowboard, hike, and camp. When the weather turns foul, I spend most of that time reading or working on little writing and art projects at home. 

You recently started a surfing/travel/adventure zine called Analogue Companion, tell us how that came about? Where does the name come from?

The zine was an idea a few friends and I had been throwing around for the past few years over campfires. We’d go back and forth on it, but it never came together. Some of those guys moved out west, and the idea disappeared. Last summer (2015) I got a promo offer for a free photobook through Shutterfly, one of those “make-your-own-photobook” companies. I had to pay the shipping, but I got twenty-pages for free. I put together a collection of photos and stories. When I got it in the mail it was rad to see my photographs in print and laid out with the text next to them. I don’t know, for lack of a better explanation, it felt cool. Granted it was myself putting it out, and not someone of any esteem, but there was a different effect than just posting them digitally, which made me want to do more with the travel stories I was writing.  When I saw the little book, it reminded me of the zine I’d wanted to start and the zines I read growing up in the Boston punk/hardcore scene in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. There were a handful of local zines like “Our Time” and then larger zines like “Suburban Voice” and “The Journal” going around. Reading those zines got me stoked to go push around or check out a new band. Up to that point I had been putting together stories and photographs on a blog and Instagram, but I felt like there was something missing. There is so much content that gets put out instantaneously today, and that is cool, too, in its own way, but I wanted to be able to put something out there that took time to produce and to read, rather than just scrolling through a feed and clicking off at an image. I set to work looking at zines from my hardcore days, and newer zines, and picking over what I thought was kind of bold and straightforward. I researched some templates to figure how to put one together. Those bold, black and white fonts and pages of the zines I grew up with really stood out to me in contrast to the polished world of digital content. Coming up with the name was difficult. I had this idea and concept of what I wanted it to be about, but I didn’t know what to call it. I knew I wanted it to be presented as this simple reading material that could be carried along in someone’s back pocket or ditched somewhere for someone else to read. I thought about what I wanted people who didn’t know what a zine was to think when they saw it, so that it wouldn’t be this weird, unapproachable thing, but that they would grab it. I shoot mostly film, and the words, though typed, are also presented in an analog form, so I thought I had to include that somehow. Analog Companion kind of just came out when going through a mental list. It seemed like this nice fit between a simple, straightforward piece of physical media, and something a person would want to take along with him or her. We can’t always travel with friends, but we can always travel with books. When that name popped into my brain, it made sense. 

There's a lot of different focuses in Analogue Companion, from surfing, to skateboarding, to just wandering about. What is the thread, or threads that tie it all together? 

Skateboarding is what ties it all together for me. Growing up in Massachusetts, and New England, my brother and our friends were always leaving our safe little town to go somewhere to skateboard. Those trips, listening to new and old albums in my brother’s truck, stopping at gas stations and hot dog joints to grab food, meeting other skateboarders, those are what motivated me to see something other than my town, to meet new people, and visit other places. Without skateboarding, I wouldn’t have found snowboarding or surfing, or the friends I have, and so that brings it all back together for me. Even if a trip isn’t about skateboarding, at the core, skateboarding is the original reason I ever set out to see something different, and that sparked a curiosity to see other things besides a skatepark, a ledge, or a piece of tranny. There are articles in Analog Companion that don’t have to do with skateboarding, like Kevin Bicknell’s feature, Fire on Formosa, an article about Taiwan. Skateboarding was what brought Kevin there, though. His experience in that article was a sliver taken from a 14 month trip supported by a research grant he used to explore how skateboarding may be a universal language. In that way, skateboarding is the thread that ties it all together.


What got you into writing, and what are some of your influences?

Before I was ever interested in writing, I was interested in reading. I fell in love with books in elementary school through these little Penguin Classics my mom bought us from a pharmacy/book store. Most of them were abridged versions or adaptations of books for children. I was introduced to all these characters that did the same things my friends and I did. I read about Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer who spent their days like I did, fishing in the woods, pulling pranks on the neighbors, and riding bikes. Those characters were my friends, and I thought it was cool that books could do that, that they could transport a person to another place with different adventures, and teach a lesson. When I read those stories, I could picture my buddies and I doing those same things. Stories like Treasure Island and Lord of the Flies made me want to uncover every inch of my neighborhood. As I got older and moved into Middle/High School, I took the same route I think a lot of social introverts did. I started reading poetry, and trying to write it. They were silly poems, and never really anything overtly emotional, they were mostly focused on the natural world. Reading Robert Frost’s work and Walt Whitman, Donald Hall, each of those poets took my backyard and turned it into these beautiful pieces of contemplation and reflection hidden under leaves and branches. That type of writing stood out to me and made an impact because they captured what I experienced as a kid on the lake or in the woods. Through college and into my early twenties I was drawn to the travel writing of Bruce Chatwin, American Fiction like Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, and international authors like José Saramago, Haruki Marukami, and Gabriel García Márquez. Each of those genres brought different worlds to me that I couldn’t afford to visit. It wasn’t until college that I really plied away at trying to convey anything through writing. Before that I would write travel logs from snowboard contests out of state. The guys at Eastern Boarder Worcester were encouraging, and would put it up on their site. Otherwise, I didn’t write much. I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to paint and draw and make graphics, but after multiple failed attempts to get into art school, I found out – last one to find out – I suck at art. I sought out writing. Most of my friends went off to art school, and through them I met other friends at MassArt. Their work always motivated me to write. I’d visit them and they would have something visually stimulating they worked on and could be proud of. I took those trips down to visit them as motivation to write, and to have something I could call my own. I’d go back up to my tiny university in the White Mountains and get to work on something – a story based on a memory, something pulled from a line in a Craigslist singles ad, anything that I thought I should try and dig into and wrap some words around. I eventually got involved with the university newspaper and it gave me a new sense of written structure and helped propel my curiosity in a way that I hadn’t experienced before.  

How do you think photography affects a piece of writing in combination, and vice versa? And how do you try to employ the two? 

I think photography helps fill in the spaces that words cannot always reach. A photograph can give context to a piece of writing, and writing gives context to a photograph. Most of the photographs I take are quick snapshots of a minute, day, or week, and the context of what is happening is lost to anything that happens outside of the 1/125th of a second in which the picture was taken. When I get film back from the developer or when I process it at home and scan it in, the pictures help me recall when they were taken and the mood I was in, or the things I was thinking about. We have so many thoughts happening all the time, and I know mine flip around in an instant. One second I’m thinking about who lives in that miniature town at the bottom of the hill, then I’m thinking about eating a hamburger, and then I’m thinking about what that bird thinks when it flies over the townspeople.I try to employ the photographs and words in a way that tells a story. Sometimes I’m in there, or my friends and I are in there. Sometimes, depending on the image or images, there is no pronoun related context, and I attempt to tell a narrative that follows a line of thought as to what is or was happening inside and outside of the frame. Many of the stories are reflections of what I was thinking about when taking the photograph. In that way, I try to use the writing to give the image context to help the viewer see what isn’t necessarily inferred from looking at it, and also, for the viewer to have the picture to reference when the words don’t provide enough detail or imagery. The pictures are really a way for me to trick people into reading. If I can try to take a photograph that is stimulating enough to make a person contemplate what is happening, and then there are words that accompany it, my hope is that they’ll make their own inferences and conclusions about the image, then move into the written portion to give it a narrative context for them to think about and compare with their own ideas. Whether people do that or not, I don’t know, but I hope they do. Reading is cool. 

Photography influences?

As a teenager I didn’t have a lot of access to photography books or magazines, it wasn’t like today where a person can search “famous, wildlife extraterrestrial photographers” and have fifteen photographers to choose from in under thirty seconds. I suppose I could have taken out books from my local library, but I was busy trying to go fishing, or skateboard, or build a tree house, so it never occurred to me to do that. My Pepe (grandfather) is my earliest influence, though. He had a darkroom in the attic of the triple-decker apartment in Worcester, MA where my father grew up. My first memory of being exposed to photography was through him in that darkroom. He brought us up to the darkroom once to show us how to process film. I had to have been about eight years old. The attic was this place that always haunted and entertained my brother and I, the only room we knew we couldn’t go in was his darkroom. I don’t remember him pulling the film, and that part of the process, but I vividly remember him setting up a slide on the enlarger, setting the focus, preparing the paper, exposing the image, and then dropping it in the chemicals. He flipped on this red light, and I remember watching the image of this goose slowly bleed out from the center of the paper. That was like watching magic happen. The photographers in National Geographic always had an influence on me, too. I would flip through literal hundreds of my Pepe’s NatGeo magazines on the sun porch of that house. The images always transported me somewhere I never heard of nor could I pronounce the name, but the landscapes and portraits were incredibly compelling. I never bothered to read their names, or the articles, but I loved the pictures.  About fifteen years later I was living in Sierra Leone, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and the local library had the same span of NatGeos from the 1980s – 2000 that I looked at on my Meme and Pepe’s porch as a kid. I read through every article, some twice, and photographers like Joel Sartore, William Albert Allard, and Steve McCurry made those articles come to life. The way those photographers capture emotions, movements, and landscapes offer an element to the writing that cannot be fully described in words, and so looking at their work really influences me to be more descriptive in my writing, and to also be conscious of what I’m taking a picture of, or why I’m taking the picture. 

The ebb and flow of getting out there and exploring comes up a few times, the excitement of beginning a trip, and the melancholy of ending one. Talk about that a bit if you don't mind.

As people we put so much time into thinking about a trip or planning a trip, any kind of trip. Whether it’s a trip someone has worked all year for, saved every penny, nickel, and dime, or a weekend with some friends in a cabin in the woods, the size and expense doesn’t matter. No matter what the budget there are the same anxieties and excitements that come with the anticipation of a trip. Just as there are those feelings of melancholy at the end. For me, I want to see and do as much as possible, with as little funding or resources as required. I get excited about a new trip, or a place that I’ve been before, thinking about all the variables, the inconveniences, the random left turns, the surprises, all of those unknowns both good and bad are stimulating to me. I know I’m not going to be able to do everything wherever it is I am going, and I also know I don’t want a checklist. I leave a lot up to the trip to determine what we do, and that is what makes me want to get out there and explore.

Last January (2015) my good friend Evan and I went up to Montreal. He wanted to go somewhere to snowboard, so I figured we’d drive up to Canada and find some snow as we’d been having a slow winter at that point. When he asked, “Why Montreal?” I said, “Well, I haven’t been to Canada in a while, I want to see if there is anything I’m missing out on.” Exploring like that, with little to no agenda, having at least a comfortable place to sleep, and someone to share the trip with, is part of that excitement for getting out somewhere. Ending it is always tough, especially when I’m with a good handful of friends, or even solo. Those few days or weeks are liberating. When people plan out vacations a year in advance or have a checklist of to-do items that must be exhausting. I hear people at work talk about coming back from vacation and needing another one. I understand what they mean, but I’ve never experienced it. Without an agenda, or at the minimum, having a few places or things I want to do, I can be open to the whole reason I left, which is to get away, to take some time to reflect, to think about things from a different perspective, to learn about myself, or other people in the world. That is what puts a melancholy filter on the ends of trips for me. I scrimped and saved, planned out a few minor details, allowed the trip to shape itself, owed nothing to nobody for however long I was away, and now, now I have to return back to structure and social expectations, and pleasantries. The freedom that comes with even the shortest of trips is incredibly rewarding, and it’s this mixed emotion of being ready to return to that scheduled life and apply those new ideas, yet always wanting to keep going, to see what else might happen – to see if there is anything I’m missing out on.   

Issue one of AC is all you ya? But in issue two you've started to include contributions from other writers, how do you see this developing?

Yes, and I felt totally lame about doing that for Issue One, but I didn’t know how else to get this idea off the ground. I wanted to be able to share my stories and photographs, and get others motivated to go out and find their own adventures, but I also felt like this egocentric guy trying to put out a zine and saying, “Hey, man, read my stories.” That is lame, and it’s not who I am or what I want the zine to be about at all. Which is why in Issue Two I wanted to get in touch with some friends who also write and travel, and have their stories be shared. Ty Beck and his wife Camille Ives as well as Kevin Bicknell write in two different styles, and I wanted to have their stories featured so that readers who might not necessarily like the way I write would be able to connect with Ty, Camille, or Kevin, and the stories they tell. Each of them is sharp, funny, talented people with great stories that should be read. As the zine develops and progresses I’m hoping that Ty, Camille, and Kevin will be generous enough to contribute more articles to the zine, and also other people. There are an incredible amount of talented humans within the community of friends we have, and their friends, yet it is difficult to get writing or photographs published with the saturation of digital media today. For me, Analog Companion is a way to promote the stories and photographs of people whose work does not typically fit into the confines of mainstream physical or digital media. I hope to be able to develop it in a way that pulls in friends or friends of friends who are involved in the arts and music as well, as there has always been a strong connection to travel in both of those worlds. I’m hoping that more people will be willing to share their stories, photographs, and adventures so that the zine has a diverse background of contributors. Right now Camille’s article is the only one that features a female writer, and I was really stoked when Ty and Camille coauthored that piece. I’d love to have more women involved and sharing their writing and photography as well. I want to be careful of what goes out, too, though. I want to make sure that the issues are worth reading, and that someone will walk away feeling like they learned something from one of the articles, or that they are motivated to go out and explore, or keep exploring, and then write about it, or take photographs and share them with their friends or contribute them to the zine. 


What's acheke like?

Ha! Man, I don’t want to offend any cultures or people, but I do not like acheke. It’s a dish served in West Africa and is a combination of pasta, ketchup, mayonnaise, Maggie (bouillon cubes), salt, pepper, lettuce, and usually fish or fish balls mixed into tomato paste. Without the fish it’s bearable when completely famished. Considering it is one of the few alternatives to rice and beans two meals a day, seven days a week, it could be worse, ha-ha. The flavor isn’t even what makes it difficult for me to eat, it’s the texture. The ingredients are almost all warm, including the lettuce, which becomes kind of rubbery in the humidity, and the ketchup and mayo combination does not really offer the best flavor profile. I have skipped meals, gone to bed hungry countless times, and sat in transportation for hours on an empty stomach until I could find something else. Mayo and a baguette, though, that is a good standby. Or an egg sandwich. Even a warm egg sandwich is better. 

What's in store for the next Analogue Companion?

Issue Three will be coming out in February of 2016. I asked a few friends if they had anything they might want to contribute and I’m really stoked on the features that will be in this issue. There is an article from Tanner Pendleton who works as a snowboard videographer and photographer and Reid Casner who has had his hands in the snowboard and surf industry for almost a decade, often traveling to places like Australia, Fiji, and Mexico for work. Both Tanner and Reid are incredibly skilled at what they do, and have amazing stories of their own to share for the surf and snow side of the zine. Tanner and Reid are from New England, which will be great to have another set of contributors who grew up on the East Coast writing stories about somewhere else. My brother and I are traveling up to Nova Scotia to hopefully catch a little bump of swell that is coming in, so there will be a piece on that as well. Who knows what will happen, if we’ll score or get skunked, either way there will be an article on whatever comes from that trip. I’m bringing along a super 8 camera and a Nikonos V that I recently picked up. I’ve never shot super 8 film before, but as long as it captures and process correctly, readers will be able to hop online and check out a little analog film that documents our trip. There will be a mystery section as well, maybe some leftover images that didn’t fit into the formatting of the stories, a short story, or a spread of photos submitted/collected from other trips, too. Otherwise, readers can anticipate another set of stories to hopefully stoke them out and get motivated to explore in their own way.


Shout outs?

Kevin Bicknell, Ty Beck, and Camille Ives for sending in articles and helping the zine grow. Bub at Eastern Boarder, Dan at Levitate Surf + Skate, Mark at Nor’Easter Surf Shop, and Spike at Fritz’s Bike Shop for passing issues of the Zine on. Luke Butler and Al Pechillis on the North Shore of Mass for spreading AC around. My brother, Jacques, for taking me on those first few skate trips and shaping me surfboards (Sealovesurfboards.com). Tanner Pendleton and Reid Casner, looking forward to their contributions. Evan Sommer, Charles Larson, Kyle Couture, Dylan Shippee, and Michael Serafinowicz, thanks for traveling along. Dana Osterling, exploring confidant. You, Zak Kirwin, for asking me these questions. Anyone who has picked up a copy, read it, and passed it along or who found an issue under his or her windshield wiper and at least read the cover before throwing it out! Thank you for reading!

Check out Analogue Companion here!