Pirate Studios & Rain Phoenix’s LaunchLeft Co-Host ‘Queer Artisan Pop-Up’ For Junior High LA
LOS ANGELES, CA- The pandemic was hard on everyone, especially small businesses. I personally know a handful of friends who had extended lines of credit to launch their own businesses, only to have those businesses fail before they even started. Thankfully, with lockdowns and restrictions being lifted (let’s knock on wood that the Covid-19 Delta variant is more bark than bite), life… and business… is slowly crawling back to normal.
Two brands whose original launches were stymied because of Covid, Pirate, and LaunchLeft, decided to jointly hold a proper event to celebrate their respective business ventures. Held at Pirate’s creative space located in Silver Lake, the two held a “Queer Artisan Pop-Up” during the final week of Pride Month to represent “a literal coming out” for the two brands.
Pirate is a global organization that offers artists space for creativity at very reasonable rates and terms. The rehearsal studio located at the Silver Lake location is bookable by the hour and open 24/7. The rooms are nearly fully furnished with free backline accessible for each room. There are rooms for rehearsals, DJ practice, recording, podcasting, and dance.
Pirate’s Liz Regan was kind enough to give me a tour of the various rooms, and I was quite impressed with the layouts of each room and the various touches they gave to each type of room. For example, the DJ rooms had colored lighting options for added ambiance. Check out room rates by CLICKING HERE.
LaunchLeft is “an alliance of left-of-center artists, space for famed creatives to launch the next wave of music rebels.” The social initiative is helmed by Rain Phoenix, who also MC’d the day’s entertainment. Rain is also a co-host (with her sister Summer) of LaunchLeft’s podcast, which you can check out by CLICKING HERE. LaunchLeft has stated that its aim is “to create an intentional space to highlight and empower all artists for whom radical creativity is not a choice but a necessity.”
The event also hosted a handful of small businesses and food vendors whose stations lined the event’s boundary. The businesses on hand were partially curated by Junior High LA and included the following: vegan streetwear brand BeetxBeet, Mecca Candle Co., Suay Sew Shop, Besso, Anna Tregurtha, artist Skye Clark, Wunder, Nomadica, 101 Cider House, and Liquid Death. Proceeds from the event, and the auction of a Fender guitar, benefitted Junior High LA.
If the cold libations and friendly company weren’t enough to keep you entertained, there was a quality line-up or artist to stimulate your senses. Caroline Kingsbury, accompanied by Liv Slingerland, took the stage first and delighted the audience with a dreamy set of solid power pop. It was my first time seeing Caroling perform live, and when I went home and listened to her recently released debut LP, Heaven’s Just A Fight”, I started to crave seeing her perform more from her 16 track, 53+ minute debut. Thankfully, I bought my ticket for Lauren Ruth Ward later this year, and she’s one of the opening acts.
The next talent to take the stage was poet, performer, and activist Sonia Guinansaca. This internationally renowned artist offered the crowd a recitation of several of her poems from her 2016 debut mini chapbook “Nostalgia & Borders”. Powerful and inspiring words that felt more so when read aloud.
Will Jay was the next artist to take the stage, and I was surprised by the intimacy of his performance. I had familiarized myself with his “popular” Spotify playlist and had become accustomed to the full, polished production of his hits. When he took the stage, he didn’t sing to backing tracks but rather gave the audience a fantastically vulnerable performance of just his voice and an electric keyboard.
The final act was the avant-garde artist Simone Istwa, an artist whose EP “Heartweb” was released earlier this year through LaunchLeft. This was my first time seeing and hearing Simone’s music, and I can honestly say that I was instantly smitten. I don’t know if anybody has ever made this comparison yet, but I was totally getting some Siouxie and the Banshees vibes from Simone… and that’s a real good thing.
The more that I listen to Simone’s “Heartweb”, the more I hear Rain’s vision of the “next wave of music rebels.” While there is a hint of something familiar, it’s definitely not music that can necessarily fit neatly into a prepackaged box. The five tracks all sonically flow through waves shoegaze and noise rock, but there’s something in Simone’s emotive vocalizations that gives the recordings that extra kick. The layered vocal tracks in “Freaked Out, Insecure, Neurotic” really give you that unsettled pull of all three emotions. That’s some powerful stuff.