Hanging Out with Bobby Sessions (and Presenting at an Awards Show)

They had my face huge on the screen.

“Once the drag queen comes out of the cake, you’re up.”

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I nodded to my editor and a fellow Dallas Observer writer and I walked onstage, envelops in hand.

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The Canton Theater was full of local artists and Dallas music enthusiasts. All eyes were on me as I read out the nominees to the Dallas Observer Music Awards and then did the whole “And the winner is…” while opening the envelope.

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One of the names I read was “Bobby Sessions.” He was nominated for a few awards throughout the night, and won 3 of the biggest ones.

The next day, my friend Yani who works for the Universal Music Group asked me to photograph her interview with him.

I arrived at a management studio in Deep Ellum. Bobby Session’s manager, Vince, came to the lobby to get me. When we came up the elevator, Yani and Bobby were sitting on a black leather couch. They both got up to greet me.

Bobby Sessions sang the title track for the new movie featuring KJ Appa, Amanda Selberg, and Common, The Hate U Give.

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I took some candid shots of Bobby and Yani as he spoke about his career, his life and his personal connection with the issues in the movie.

Once the interview ended, Yani and I just kind of stayed and chilled in the room with him, his manager, and his girlfriend. We just got to chatting. We talked Kanye West, SMU, and other random things.

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Here’s where I took advantage of the situation. I asked him about interviews he’s had with people and what has made a good and bad interviewer. He told me a few key tips:

  1. Be genuine, but don’t sound fake.
  2. Be genuine, but don’t sound disinterested.
  3. Ask questions you genuinely want to know, because the interviewee can tell if you do.

That’s it. Then he took us to the roof of the studio where he often hangs out and thinks. It had a breathless view of downtown Dallas.

Bobby Sessions is a deep thinker and an artists through and through, but he’s also just a chill kid. Almost everything he said was profound, and it was cool to get to know him just as his career is taking off.

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Josh Groban Laughed at Me

Okay, fine. I made him laugh.

On my quest to conduct interesting and unique interviews, I’ve added a couple “experimental” questions. I’m trying out a couple different questions outside of the typical “how would you describe your musical evolution,” or “what’s your tour going to look like?”

I asked Josh to describe himself, which I know is a weird question to ask somebody who has been famous as long as I’ve been alive.

He laughed.

“Just in general? Well, I’m a pisces…”

The rest of his answer is in the interview article on the Observer.

 

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My First Time as an Official Concert Photographer

I had never been so nervous to go to a concert.

Last week, when I covered the Troye Sivan show, I was very confused about this whole concert photography thing. How does it even work?

My first attempt at this was during the Haim concert. The Southside Ballroom staff was super nice and gave me a photo pass, though I had no idea how to use one.

At the Box Office, once I gave them my name and publication I was there for, they gave me this nice canvas-like sticker with the Haim girls printed on it. It said “Photo” on it. They said it was my photo pass and pointed to a security guard that would show me where to go.

The only thing? I didn’t have a freakin. Camera.

The venue coordinators were very confused with me. “Did you bring your camera?”

I held up my phone like the dork that I am. “I thought I would take photos on my iPhone?”

Again, I had no idea how this worked. Clearly.

Long story short, they told me I’d probably get better iPhone photos if I just tried to get as close to the stage as possible. I ended up not using my photo pass (as it now decorates my waiter bottle), and just asked my friend for the photos she took with her phone.

When I covered Troye, I thought I could just hop on the photojournalism train for fun. The Observer had hired a photographer to shoot for my article (shoutout to my boy Mike), but I thought I could just join anyways for experience. Wrong. I found myself looking like a dufus at the media table, surrounded by 8 professional photographers who knew that they were doing, ready to go with multiple giant cameras around their necks.

So, at NEEDTOBREATHE, I got my shot at redemption.

I got handed a photo pass at the box office of Toyota Music Factory.

After explaining to the people at the metal detectors why I was bringing in a big black bag with camera equipment, I was in.

I waited at the media table tucked at the corner of the venue, getting my camera settings ready and the zoom lens on.

At 9pm, the event coordinator came to grab me and the other photographer at the table to bring us to the pit.

Toyota Music Factory hold 4,000 people in the pavilion. Not only was this a sold-out show, but they opened the back of the pavilion to a lawn that holds another 4,000.

The other photographer and I were led into the pit, about a 5-foot gap between the railing that held back the mosh pit and the stage. It was just us and the bodyguards allowed in this section.

I adjusted my camera settings, and soon enough the band came onstage.

The other photographer put in earplugs.

Why didn’t I think of earplugs?

I couldn’t hear anything for the next couple hours, but it was worth it.

8,000 people and I got the best view.

This was one of the most nerve-racking jobs I’ve ever had. I only got to shoot for the first 3 songs, that’s it. It was sheer luck that I went away with clear photos.

I was so scared everything I shot was blurry. Granted, 80% of what I shot was horrible and either too light or dark, but I was so excited with what I came away with.

I got back home close to midnight, and couldn’t sleep until I edited all my photos.

Here they are!

Interviews with Kevin from Pentatonix and Kristian from Sugarland

So, quick life update for context:

I’m working an internship at a summer camp is Philadelphia. Basically I’m helping to lead a leadership training program.

But while living at a camp and working full time, for some reason I thought, sure. I can keep working Observer articles. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

I recently submitted an article on my experience being backstage during a Lion King production (which will either get published soon or I will put it up on here), and then I landed two interviews. 

One Tuesday morning at camp, I took a break from my internship duties to go back to my cabin and have a phone call with both Kristian from Sugarland (the duo that just did that song “Babe” with Taylor Swift), and Kevin from Pentatonix (aka my favorite member).

Kristian was very professional and pleasant to talk to. He gave me the scoop on his partnership with Taylor Swift and everything. 

Link here for the Sugarland article!!

Kevin was calling from Cali so he had just woken up it seemed, so it was a very chill conversation. He was super nice, even trying to work with a couple technical hiccups I had. I gushed about how much I loved their show last year, and he was so excited about coming back to Dallas for Whataburger. 

Link for the Pentatonix article!!

I Got Paid to Obsess Over My Favorite Band? HAIM ARTICLE

Have you ever heard of Haim?

If you follow my art Instagram, @artsyrosebud, you most likely have.

*shameless plug* *click below to check it out, cough cough*

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I made 3 posters for a contest they had, but no, I didn’t win…

Anyway.

When my editor asked for pitches for stories, I told her I was going to see my favorite band, Haim (click here to read my last post with a couple of videos of theirs I recommend). She then asked me if I needed a ticket.

I already had a ticket, but I told her I’d take another one if I could. So the Southside Ballroom (the uber-cool venue Haim was performing at in Dallas) gave me TWO tickets BESIDES the one I had already bought for myself (yes, to go watch them alone. I bought it before going to concerts was something I got paid for.) They also gave me a photo pass!

I knew about one of my extra tickets early, so I was able to surprise my friend with it.

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Also, while lining up two hours before the show, I found out I got two free tickets and was able to call my sister to come join. It was so spontaneous and super fun.

I am not kidding when I saw I FREAKED OUT THE WHOLE FREAKIN TIME. It was by far the best concert I had ever been to. These girls are so incredibly talented. I don’t think I breathed the whole time.

Anyway.

I basically just freaked out about how much I loved the concert, and that’s what resulted in this article.

>>>>HAIM ARTICLE<<<<<<

 

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(Photos by my friend Hannah Hansen!)

My only thing? My editor wrote the headline, which I didn’t like very much. I felt like using “Sex” in the title was click-bait-y and distracted from the whole point I was going for.

But hey, they paid me to go to a concert!

 

Troy and His Series of Unfortunate Events

 

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You see that beautiful piece of zebrawood I’m holding? That gorgeously crafted piece of art? That is my electric-acoustic Ibanez, commonly known as Troy.

(Side note: My first guitar was a classical named Gabriella, so maybe you can connect the theme here. I unfortunately can’t plug her in or put a strap on her, so I needed an acoustic guitar to be able to bring around and use for church and performances and stuff.)

Yesterday, Troy died for the third time.

Get ready for a musical story of love and heartbreak. If you’re a musician of any sort, this might be hard to read. Just bear with me. Stay strong.

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Right after the picture above was taken (the picture of me and my best friend, not the gif of Will Ferrel…), I forgot Troy at our church building. It was right after I had done a rendition of “Beautiful” by MercyMe, and I had headed to work right after. Luckily, I was meeting a friend later that day, so I just asked her to grab it for me. The thing is, Troy didn’t have a case at this time. I had still been saving up to buy one. And unfortunately, the strap was a little finicky. While my friend carried it, the strap came undone, and CRASH.

Troy was decapitated.

Pretty much.

Well, his head was hanging off. (Technically it’s called a headstock, but… details.)

Needless to say, my friend was mortified. And it’s been a while since I’d seen her freak out that much. She knew how much I love Troy.

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We took turns comforting each other during this emotionally traumatic time. Luckily, she being the good friend she is, paid for Troy’s repair. Guitar Center fixed him for $150. Looking back, I should’ve just used the money to buy a replacement guitar, but hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it?

Troy was fixed.

The End.

Right?

No.

Months later, on a road trip to visit our friends in College Station as pictured below, I decided it was a good idea to leave Troy in my friend’s car overnight.

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Worst. Idea. Ever.

You see, I had left Troy in the car many times before and it was fine! That is, I left him in the car many times before he was damaged. I didn’t even think about how his fragile state could affect his ability to withstand the intense Texas heat.

On the way home, I found Troy dead again. His head was once more hanging lose. The glue from his repair had come undone, and we were back to having a broken guitar.

This time, my parents were angels and agreed to pay for his repair. Once more, I really really really should’ve just bought a new guitar. I really really really really really really should have.

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Anyway.

After going to a big worship music ministry conference with my church, I was super inspired to start playing Troy again.

It was a Sunday night. 8:04 pm. I was in my dorm room. I opened the hard case I now keep him in, and there he was.

This time, completely decapitated. His head(stock) wasn’t even hanging, it was just completely off.

My guitar was in two pieces.

Keep in mind, I got Troy for Christmas, but had to still pay my parents half of his cost. He was $399. I’ve spent $250 on repairs by now. And he just freaking KEEPS BREAKING.

After a very intense cry session in which I had a questioning-my-life-and-contemplating-quitting-music-forever-and-never-picking-up-an-instrument-ever-again-maybe-this-whole-thing-is-an-omen-and-I-should-just-live-a-music-less-and-miserable-existence breakdown…….

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I eventually gathered myself together. An omen to stop music? Ridiculous.

I took the poor guitar to Guitar Center, and a nice man who worked there heard my sob story and offered to repair it for free, since their last repair was only a little over a month ago. There he now sits, getting his third surgery. But the Guitar Center repairman told me that he won’t last long. He explained that it’s like having a wrecked car. You can fix it, but it will never be the same. It’ll just keep breaking.

Basically, I need a new guitar. I’ll still have Troy, but I need something I can actually bring around since he’ll only last maybe a couple more months.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do, honestly. My plan was to save money for an electric guitar and a keyboard. Now I have to backtrack and figure out how to get a replacement acoustic. No new toys until I replace it. Do I get the same guitar as a replacement? Do I get a different one? Should I just get a keyboard instead? Should I wait until Black Friday? Or Christmas?

I don’t know. I’m bad at decisions. I’m still looking around and spending a questionable amount of time at Guitar Center feeling out the instruments and trying to figure out what I need to buy and with what money. We’ll see what happens.

So there you have it. The story of how Troy died. Three times. And though he’s getting repaired again, his life is over. So let’s just end this weird cliff hanger of an ending with some pictures commemorating our good times together.

Song Explorer- an aid for the music nerd

For my Intro to Digital Hybrid Media Class, my professor had us listen to a couple podcasts on Song Explorer. On this website, artists take apart their music piece by piece. If you want to hear musicians dissect their work, I’d highly recommend to check it out!

 

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I scrolled down and stopped when I saw “La La Land,” of course. It’s my favorite movie, so obviously I want to hear about it. It was the coolest thing to hear the different parts of “Audition.” I heard Emma Stone’s voice stripped of the orchestra, and vice versa, all taken apart with commentary from its creator, Justin Hurwitz. This guy is mega talented, so I loved hearing his thought process and creative journey through making this beautiful song.

 

Click for La La Land podcast

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047e64fa924a9cfa76cd7da210667d73I also listened to a podcast on The Lumineers. It was about their song “Ophelia.” I’d never heard the song before but I’ve liked some of their music so I wanted to learn more about them. I loved listening to the behind-the-scenes clips of the artists working on the song and hearing their thought processes. My favorite part of the podcast was when they were telling the story of stomping on a wood floor in a random corner of the studio with their boots for a beat.

 

Click here for the Lumineers podcast

Anyway, super random but I hope your enjoy dissecting music!
*not my photos!