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Frank Ocean talks about his IG, moving to NY in rare interview with GQ

In a rare interview conducted by his Blonded Radio co-hosts Vegyn and Emmett Cruddas, Frank Ocean spoke to GQ magazine, on an eclectic mix of subjects; his vices, skincare routine, his decision to make his IG public, his cover songs, his move to New York City, and finally, his New Years Resolution.

Aligning with the artists’ enigmatic style, there was no mention of a new album or tour or any update on the Spike Jonze visual project. I guess we will have to wait until Ocean gifts us with another surprise project.

In the meantime, we do have access to peep his Instagram after Ocean surprised his fans by making his account, which dates back to May 2017, public in November. Ocean made his introduction to a wider audience by posting a mirror selfie with the simple caption “welcome.”


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In the interview, the elusive singer-songwriter explained about his motivation to make his Instagram public, stating,

“I feel like there was dissonance between how I was seen by the audience and where I was actually, so that contributed to the decision to make my Instagram public, for sure. But there’s also the idea of dialogue and discourse and conversation — like theater, where the audience can interrupt you, versus the television.”

Ocean also discussed his recent activism in response to the Midterm elections and his decision to more explicitly politicize his platform. The singer-songwriter used his blonded RADIO episodes to boost voter turnout and encouraged fans to vote by offering free, limited-edition merchandise.

On making his move to the Big Apple, Ocean described how he has felt enthralled during his since stay in New York, and immersing himself in what he poignantly described as the “unsaid energy” that characterizes the city.


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Plus, Ocean is relieved to have finally put a stop to his nomadic lifestyle, living from hotel to hotel room and finally finding a place to call home.

While New Year’s resolutions often involve gym memberships, finding a new job, acquire a new hobby or skill, Ocean admitted that his will carry over from 2018, revealing,

“I didn’t do my last one, to be honest with you. My last one was self-decoration, and I haven’t finished any of my jewelry, so I’m gonna carry that on to next year [2019].”

Releasing only a handful of song covers in his career, he explained to GQ that a song really has to speak to him in order to feel an Ocean interpretation is necessary.

“Nowadays, I have to live with the song for a bit and I have to see if it’s worthwhile to interpret it first. To see what I can do with it, where I can insert my voice. It’s much more deliberate than when I was just focused on the rap mixtape approach of taking a beat or flow, swapping the lyrics and performing it. The performance almost being the stream-of-consciousness, in-the-moment thing, whereas now I would much prefer having the song be with me for more time before I have to record it.”


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@ironkoopz w the sneak haha

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He recalled his thought process behind covering Aailyah’s “At Your Best,” Stevie Wonder’s “Close to You” and Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood classic, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. He recounted,

 “[‘At Your Best…,]” I was at a party and it came on, and I had to sing it. With ‘Close to You,’ it was a similar thing, only without the nostalgia. I was living in a hotel, and I remember listening to it and being really nailed to the floor by Stevie Wonder’s interpretation of it. That version moved into my favorite-songs-of-all-time list, right there with Prince’s ‘When You Were Mine.’ I don’t know what creates that feeling of ‘I have to sing this song.’

On his most recent “Moon River” cover, he explained,

“Someone asked me to sing it, and that was the only reason I listened to it. People ask me to do a lot of things I don’t do [laughs], but when I listened to it, it was something that I wanted to do because I thought the song was small and beautiful and neat. It’s the ‘ocean in the drop’ idea, all these feelings inside this small thing. Living with it, listening to the many versions, thinking about who I would work on it with and what I would go for in interpreting it. Of the covers I’ve done, ‘At Your Best…’ and ‘Moon River’ are my favorites.”

In sum, what we learnt is that the R&B singer-songwriter is an avid moisturizer user and a “true believer of night cream.” Ocean admitted that he perhaps watches too much television and equated MSNBC  with the hit-reality TV show, Love & Hip Hop. 


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@alasdairmclellan @gq 🙂

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Though he did reference Jonze, Ocean recalled the director’s advice for which bed mattress to purchase. And if you a curious, the mattress is called the Duxiana, and the luxury mattress retails at $7600. Gulp.

The singer-songwriter continues to remain tight-lipped about his ventures, opting to instead drop projects here and there online, sending his fans on social media into a frenzy.

Setor Tsikudo

Meet Setor Tsikudo, the NYC photographer with an unmatched drive

If you mix self-belief, creativity, and intuition and apply that combination to your vision, success will be attainable.

For NYC photographer Setor Tsikudo these are the ingredients that have allowed him to snap pictures of famous music artists and their fans at the wildest events.

His aesthetic goes way beyond just snapping a picture on his iPhone 7+ and uploading it to the Gram. He adopted a covert technique, going right to the center of crowds at shows, giving way to a “right in the moment” style.

The man behind the lens is even more intriguing and his respect for the craft is unmatchable.

We caught up with Tsikudo to see what’s really good with his unique style and photographic brand. As he told us, this all felt like divine intervention,

“It’s crazy how the universe helps you move towards pursuing your passion.”

Tsikudo’s decision to pursue his passion didn’t come right away. He decided to chase his dreams after losing two offers from Ernest & Young. What would you do in order to succeed? Tsikudo made the choice to bust his ass for his passion rather than money.

“I was chasing the money and not my dreams. That’s a recipe for misery and regret. My first step was thinking, ‘what do I actually what to do regardless of the odds?’ When I lost those offers at EY, I had to have a real moment with myself to decide if I wanted to go back to working at firms and busting my ass till 2 am every night for something I wasn’t passionate about, or bust my ass till 2 am trying to get a dope shot of an artist. I chose busting my ass for my passion.”

Fuck a corporate 9 to 5 hustling for someone who just sees you as a number. Tsikudo gambling all his chips on his photography career was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.

He went full throttle getting himself access into events thanks to apps like Songkick, which allows music fans to keep up with their favorite artists while they’re on tour.

Tsikudo would then go on the hunt searching for the right events and who to contact for press passes, which he sometimes didn’t even receive.

So, how’d he gain access when the plug didn’t come through? Finessing the situation.

“Most passes go to blogs or publications over freelancers and also as a freelancer you always have to be on the hunt for the right events first and then worry about how you are getting access. I owe the majority of my success to an app called Songkick.”

Tsikudo explained that sometimes you just gotta hustle and find specific contacts to get into the right situation,

“With Songkick, I basically get a schedule and information on every music event happening. The app lets me know when tickets are going on sale and where the shows take place. After this step, it comes down to identifying who I need to email. Sometimes I finesse these situations where I can’t gain press access by buying two tickets and resealing one at an inflated price to offset the cost for me. Of course this only works with big names or trendy artist.”

One of his most exciting shoots thus far was when he got to see Frank Ocean perform at Panorama Music Festival this past July. Ocean’s amazing set made the music festival rank within the top three concerts Tsikudo has ever experienced.

But although he was a huge fan he didn’t let a moment pass by where he was unfocused.

“Hands down, Frank Ocean was that person. I got the chance to see him at Panorama Music Festival this past July and that was by far my top three favorite concerts ever. His set was just simply amazing. In regards to the excitement and being a fan of an artist I shoot, It’s sad to say, but with time your excitement for big artist decline. You develop a sense of numbness to stardom that takes the awe of these experiences. I am so ingrained to getting good content that everything else is irrelevant. That’s what’s important versus having a fan moment.”

Frank Ocean | July 2017

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One thing that I admire about Tsikudo is his persistence and endurance to hold strong even when he has to go against the current.

Besides the peeving process of copping access to shows, the daily struggle also entails getting paid. Tsikudo stressed the importance of building a brand for yourself as a photographer,

“The most frustrating part to me is a tie between getting access or getting paid. It’s honestly a daily struggle. It’s almost impossible to find artist’s management contact to get passes, and even when you do get access most people aren’t willing to pay you because they can find another photographer who would be willing to do it either cheaper than you or for free. That’s why creating a brand as a photographer is essential to seeing success.”

Building his brand intertwines with a respect for the craft of photography. You can’t just say you’re a photographer because you have a camera, it takes years to get nice with it.

Don’t sleep on his skillset.

“For me, the biggest misconception is this is a skillset. With camera technology becoming more and more accessible every year, people are able to get their hands on camera equipment that in the past was just way too expensive. This has opened up the gate to a lot of people to self-proclaim themselves as photographers when in actuality they shouldn’t because they haven’t studied this craft. I mean there are basic things people don’t understand about the camera that you just absolutely can’t call yourself a photographer, especially if you don’t even know how to focus it. I want people to understand that this is a craft. It takes time to get good. I’m not even there yet and I’ve been at this for six years now. Respect the craft is what I’m getting at.”

Tsikudo’s eye sees past concerts and fans as he loves to capture portraits and is infatuated with beauty shots. “I capture a lot of portraits. In fact, love beauty shoots.”

Tsikudo’s obsession with his craft is admirable.

His aesthetic developed unintentionally. The energy felt from his shots makes the viewer feel like they are right there at the stage.

“I’ve developed an aesthetic unintentionally. When I first started out getting access to shows was very difficult, so most times I was shooting from the crowd. My shots are mostly first person POV of a fan who is right in front moshing or singing their heart out. I’ve learned with time you develop an eye for certain shots and from there you begin to develop a style.”

The NYC-based photographer has a huge list of priorities he wants to check off. At the top of the list of someone, he wants to shoot, stands President Barack Obama. He sees Obama as a beacon and the “epitome of achievement.”

“To me, [Obama] is the most iconic figure of our time. Shooting President Obama is one of those things I want to show my kids in the future. I want to show them that photo and tell them about how great this man was. Obama is the epitome of achievement. I want to show my kids that anything is possible and Obama definitely signifies that.”

How will he get there? A complete rebrand of self. As he grows within his career, Tsikudo sees branding as an opportunity for an artist to showcase their identity, land gigs, and gain bigger clientele.

“My number one priority right now is rebranding myself. Branding is needed as you grow. It allows you the opportunity to showcase your identity and skill set as an artist/photographer. This, in turn, gives way to landing gigs and gaining bigger clientele.”

Tsikudo added,

“Later this year I’ll be creating a portrait series again, but this time around my focus for subjects will be musicians. I believe this will get me outside my norm of shooting concerts and events, giving way to explore editorial style shooting. Creating images of high caliber that can be seen on album covers or magazine features.”

Another skill Tsikudo is looking to add to his covert and street photography expertise – editorial style shoots and cover art for music artists.

“My thing has always been more covert and street photography. As I’ve progressed with my skillset I’ve taken more interest in studio work. I want to move into the editorial style shoot, more specifically with cover art for music artists.”

For young aspiring photographers, this is definitely someone’s lane you want to follow – individualistic, social, and confident.

Tsikudo’s message for the youth dem is oh so inspirational.

“I would say if it’s where you wanna be, then don’t give up. Also, don’t compare yourself to anyone because everyone’s path is different. How one person comes up, will be different than you. I have this problem myself of comparing myself to other photographers out there and had to realize that Setor’s story and journey is Setor’s story and journey. How one person makes their Starbucks drink is totally different than someone else.”

He added,

“It’s ok to look to people for inspiration, but trying to emulate them won’t do you any good. You are good enough. With music photography, you have to look at yourself as a photographer and as a business person within the music industry. Networking is the main way to excel in the music industry. It’s not always about what you know, but it’s more than likely about who you know. Whether you’re the best photographer or the worse, your networks get you access.”

Be yourself, follow your vision, and good things will happen.

Music week in review: LCD Soundsystem, Frank Ocean, Yung Lean, & more

It wasn’t the most jam-packed week of music releases, but with a new album from one of the great American bands of our time, things are good.

The weather is getting a little chippy, so you already know you need something to carry you through the long weekend.

LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

Holy shit, this album.

LCD Soundsystem came back as a band over a year ago and have been touring, despite a grandstanding “last ever” concert at MSG in 2011 (which I attended).

Now, their first album since 2010 is easily one of the best albums of the year, if not recent memory. Headman James Murphy’s lyrics are as clever, funny, sad, sarcastic, morbid, and fun as ever as he chant-sings along to the driving instrumentation.

“oh baby,” the opening track of the album, employs plush synths that wash over the listener as Murphy sings along about a bad dream.

Then there’s “how do you sleep,” which runs for over nine minutes, the first three and a half of which have Murphy screaming in the distance until suddenly a wall of synthesizer goodness reigns down.

“Call the police” is an anthemic, more rocky number than some of the others on the album. It’s the sort of driving, fast-paced, head-bopping tune that makes LCD Soundsystem so amazing to see live.

This is the only band that can make you dance to lyrics like:

“This is nowhere
We all, we all, we all, we all know this is nowhere
There is no one

It’s pretty damn awesome to have these guys back.

Modwai – Every Country’s Sun

We got some more middle-aged rockers doing their thing this week with Mogwai’s 9th album as a band. The Scots have been around since the mid-90s, but their ambient post-rock vibes hold up as well as ever.

Mogwai is not always the most easy to listen to, and at times the album gets weighed down in some pretty dense and inaccessible concepts. But songs like “Party in the Dark” are as fun as any rock music out this year.

Cheers to all the rockers over 40 out there.


EARTHGANG have had a busy 24 hours. After the duo, consisting of rappers Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot, announced they were signing to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records last night, they dropped the five-track EP, Rags.

It’s an extremely impressive and intriguing project from EARTHGANG, who have been holding it down for the Atlanta underground for years now.

A lot of quick assumptions come to mind when Atlanta hip-hop is brought up, but EARTHGANG, with their soulful musicality and political and social commentary, are much closer to Outkast and Pharcyde than Future and Young Thug.

Now that they’re signed to Dreamville, hopefully EARTHGANG will have more of a platform for their brand of hip-hop, they deserve it.

Frank Ocean – “Provider”

Frank Ocean dropped his newest single on his Apple Music show “blonded RADIO” and it’s vintage Frank.

There’s multiple pitch changes, beat switches, Frank goes from singing in his technologically-altered falsetto to rapping about trying to find his zip (the other kind, not the part on clothing) in his Patagonia jacket.

Frank is as contemplative and poetic as ever. Hopefully this means there’s more music from the New Orleans native to come… but by now we know not to hold our collective breath while we wait for Frank.

Young Lean – “Red Bottom Sky”

Yung Lean has an album coming this year. It’s unclear exactly when, but it’s coming nonetheless!

The Sadboy originator has come a long way since the drug and stress-induced meltdown that landed him in psychiatric care. It’s clear in his music too. While “Red Bottom Sky” isn’t exactly a happy song, it’s pretty damn beautiful.

The floating flutes and synths are a far cry from the dark production on Lean’s earlier work.

We’ll be on the lookout for his full length project.

N.O.R.E. – “Uno Más” (ft. Pharrell)

So NYC legend N.O.R.E. has made a beachy little number for the club along with Pharrell. It’s not exactly the type of shit that Capone-N-Noreaga fans knew the Queens rappers for, but hey it’s 2017 and everyone’s gotta make some watered-down reggae.

In an Instagram post, N.O.R.E. called it his “favorite record I ever made in 20 years” and labeled Pharrell the GOAT producer.

This song sure is something.

Ty Dolla $ign – “So Am I” (ft. Damian Marley, Skrillex)

Speaking of watered-down reggae, Ty Dolla $ign, Skrillex, and Damian Marley have teamed up to make this song, “So Am I.”

There’s not really much to say about it other than it’s a decently fun listen and it seems like Skrillex has been taking notes from Diplo during their Jack U sessions on how to make diet reggae.

Playboi Carti – “New Choppa” (ft. A$AP Rocky) (video)

A$AP Rocky and protege Playboi Carti head to the gun range in the new visuals for the track off Playboi’s debut album.

It’s definitely worth a watch and surely was fun as fuck to shoot (no pun intended). Also, beautiful irony with the video starting with A$AP saying that “n****s with guns in they videos is corny anyway” and then proceeding to spend an entire video shooting guns.

A$AP Rocky also confirmed this week that a solo album is dropping in 2017 and his new clothing album AWGE is set to debut soon.