Monday, July 27, 2015

Pheaturing Van Müller

Hey, good evening, welcome to the Phile. How are you? So, Hulk Hogan defended himself on Twitter for using the N-word and made it so much worse. If you haven't been keeping up with Hogangate, here's a refresher: the Hulkster was caught on tape dropping N-bombs, and then the WWE dropped him. Also, his daughter wrote a poem about it, and everyone else is making fun of him. That was pretty much the whole story until this morning. Previously, Hogan had just issued the standard official apology, but hadn't explained himself. Today, he gave a half-hearted defense by retweeting some poor schmuck who tried to back him up. The argument didn't really make sense, and now they're both in the line of fire. Here's the tweet in question: "Bi-racial President Obama uses N word, is applauded and keeps his job. @HulkHogan uses N word, is vilified and loses his job. — Wolfshead Online (@WolfsheadOnline)." That's really the best he could come up with? "Obama said it, so why can't Hulk?" I can think of a few reasons: one, Obama is black. Two, he was discussing race relations on a podcast, not talking about how he doesn't want his daughter having sex with black men. Three, Obama has more credibility than Hogan, because he's the president and not a big muscly clown.  Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan fulfills his destiny by being a cranky baby at Disneyland. You remember Billy Corgan, right? He's that guy from Smashing Pumpkins who was great at sing-yelling about all of your feelings when you were 12 and starting to understand what it feels like to not belong. Well, great news! That 48 year old adult man is still a cranky outcast, but now he's armed with a bucket full of conspiracy theories and, apparently, a fussy toddler's dislike of Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. At least, that's how it looks in this photo from last week that's gone viral...

What's wrong, Billy? Do you want a cupcake? Are you sure you don't want one, Billy? I think your blood sugar might be low. Take a cupcake, Billy.

That feels better, doesn't it?  After a concert in Uppsala, Sweden on Saturday, Snoop's car was stopped. Police suspected he was under the influence of drugs (no way), and even though he wasn't driving, he was still taken to the police station on suspicion of possession. They made him pee in a cup and searched the vehicle, but determined he was clean. Really? Snoop claims he was the victim of racial profiling, but I'm not so sure of that. How many black people do Swedish cops even see? If they do profile black men, this is probably the first time they've ever had a chance to put it in practice. I do think they profiled him, not for being black, but for being Snoop Dogg. Any one of his songs would hold up in court as probable cause.  President Obama is in Kenya right now, reaffirming U.S. political ties to African governments and driving birthers crazy at the same time. In a joint press conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta today, he took aim at the global ivory trade, saying, "I can announce that we're proposing a new rule that bans the sale of virtually all ivory across state lines." That's right. If you're profiting off the fruits of elephant poaching in the U.S., your free ride is over. From now on, it will be somewhat more complicated to make that happen. Red tape to the rescue! This story sheds light on why the hell selling ivory is still legal at all in the U.S. Despite previous legislation to limit it, America is still the second-largest market for elephant ivory in the world after China. And considering that nearly 35,000 endangered African elephants are poached every year, this is a big deal. Do we have to make playing the piano illegal to stop it? I'm okay with that.  Remember that scene in Love Actually when fake British Prime Minister Hugh Grant really sticks it to fake American President Billy Bob Thornton during a press conference? President Obama did that in real life, expressing his concern over Kenya's gay rights record, and the struggle for gay rights throughout the African continent. He did this despite requests from Kenyan leaders not to discuss it during his first official visit to the country. Homosexual activity is illegal in Kenya and punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 14 years. Obama discussed gay rights in the larger context of human rights and freedom, noting that "When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that's the path whereby freedoms begin to erode." It is most impressive that Obama did this for the record. And for the record, Love Actually is not a good movie and doesn't hold up.  So, whose excited for the new Star Wars movie? Or the new Spider-Man movie or the new Batman vs. Superman movie? Imagine if all those movies blended together with a football movie. You'd get this...

That's so dumb.  I actually have a new pic of a scene from the new Star Wars movie not seen anywhere else...

Hmmmm.  When I was a kid I was a big fan of those Hardy Boys books. There's one though I don't remember reading...

Okay, it's summer and as you know by now I am showing you bathing suits and bikinis you might be seeing around at beaches and pools. Here's another one...

"I held onto a rope, twirled around a bunch, and BOOM! High fashion." Haha. And now for some sad news...

Theo Bikel 
May 2nd, 1924 — July 21st, 2015
That should put an end to all that damned fiddling.

It's 8:31pm, 79°F and Kelly covered "Blank Space," and it was awesome, but does this hurt her chances of joining Taylor's squad?

If you spot the Mindphuck let me know.  

Today's guest is a singer from Brazil whose album "Find Yourself Here" and her new single "Sweet Sugar" are both available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile the lovely...Van Müller.

Me: Hello, Van, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Van: Hey, I've been good, thanks for having me on your interview, how are you?

Me: I'm pretty good. I have to ask you about your name... is your first name Van or is it short for something? It's unusual for a girl to be named Van.

Van: It is a short version of my name, Vanessa. We came up with this ''Van idea'' (my producers, my manager and I) as we were working on the songs, we just thought it would cooler to have a shorter name or a nickname that people could relate to the sound we were developing. I really like playing around with that though and I definitely dig the other ''Vans'' that I've known and heard so far, like Van Morrison and Van Halen, also if you think about girls with boyish names in the history of blues and rock 'n roll, you're gonna come up with amazing references like Joni Mitchell, Nico (Velvet Underground), Billie Holiday. But anyway, this has always been my nickname since I'm a child, I really connect to this ''Van persona'', I wouldn't say it's my alter ego, it's just a simple and playful abbreviation and it's all good and fun.

Me: Van, where are you from? Brazil right?

Van: I'm originally from Brazil, but to be more specific, from the country side of Sao Paulo.

Me: You seem so young, how long ago did you leave Brazil? Do you ever go back there?

Van: Oh,  thanks for the compliment! Well, before I moved to NYC, I was coming back and forth as I started thinking that I should try a career in the U.S. But it's been 2 and a half years since I packed my bags and changed hemispheres for good. I still visit my family every 3 months, I love going to Brazil, the weather and the people are so amazing, I'm really proud of where I come from.

Me: Did you ever go on a trip to Disney World with a group of people, and a tour guide holding a flag? Turning 15 and going on a trip is a big deal in Brazil, am I right?

Van: Haha. This is such a great question! So true, in Brazil you pick a place to go when you turn 15 and normally girlie girls choose Disney World. Well, I don't blame them! But I was more like a raw and rebel kinda girl, and of course my best friends were older then me and really into rock'n roll and adventures. So I convinced my mom and went on a road trip to another state, trying to get to a city where UFO's were currently identified. We were supposed to see the UFO's and hang out with the crazy but very artistic crowd that used to visit this town, but of course, as it would take us a few days to get there, we decided to go camping in random cities for the night. Trouble was that in one of those camping nights, we didn't check the ratings for this whatever camping place that we found and the whole thing turned out to be a horror movie, super cold weather, a very strange and lonely stalker in the middle of the night owner, angry dogs trying to attack us, awful camping food and me and my friends trying to put the tents together and light the fire like pro scouts. Of course we got back home right away, but the most amazing memories remain from that road trip!

Me: Wow. You live in New York, right? How did you choose New York over California or another state, Van?

Van: Cause I already had a few friends living here, so it didn't feel so lonely when I had to start all over again in a different city and country. I really love New York, it's been so welcoming since day one. But I love the west coast, and actually most of my friends who live here are either from L.A. or San Francisco or have that easy going Californian mood. I really love this country, the cities and everything else about it.

Me: Do you like living there?

Van: I love living in NYC, every day is an adventure, people are so creative and there's so many things to do and to see and amazing places to go all the time. It's been a wonderful journey and experience living here.

Me: You have a really cool album called "Find Yourself Here" with a really cool band. Tell the readers who is playing on the album?

Van: I've been blessed and so honored to have these guys playing with me and on my record: Ethan Eubanks on drums (Joseph Arthur, Crash Test Dummies), Whynot Jansveld on bass (The Weepies, Gavin DeGraw), Tomek Miernowski on keys (Morley, Charlene Kaye), Thad DeBrock (Suzanne Vega, Blow up Hollywood) also Andrew Sherman (Maria Carey) and Ben Butler (Paula Cole).

Me: Your drummer is from the band Crash Test Dummies. Being from Brazil, and them being obscure, have you heard from them?

Van: Oh yeah, it was actually a huge and great surprise when I found out that Ethan played with them. They had a big hit in Brazil back in the 1990s, that pretty cool ''Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm'' song, and to be honest I still like this band and enjoy listening to them sometimes.

Me: I had both Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid on the Phile before. Van, what kinda music did you listen to growing up?

Van: I grew up listening to my mom's records, she was a neo-hippie back when I was a child, so she had a collection of all these folk vinyls like Bod Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Neil Young, Tracy Chapman, Carole King, The Beatles but as my mom got divorced and we had to spend a couple of years on my grandparents house, my ants, a little bit younger than my mom, were really into rock'n roll (probably because of their boyfriends) so I got to know The Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Bowie, Mutantes, just to name a few, actually classic rock was really welcome in the house. I can still remember getting those records and trying to understand the whole concept of each one, all the colors and the amazing art work that used to come along with the record itself. I was too young to translate that feeling in words, but I've always been amazed and fascinated by all those bands and music in a general way.

Me: Any Foghat?

Van: Yeah I know this band, a fellow musician told me about this band over a year ago, to me it sounds like fun, classic rock'n roll. "Slow Ride" is a great tune. I love the way they came up with a name/word for the band and the album (I guess) that didn't really exist. Awesome creative rockstars. 

Me: You've been compared to Sheryl Crow and Grace Potter, to name a few. You must be fans of those women, right?

Van: I find Grace Potter and amazing singer/songwriter and I'm a huge fan of Sheryl Crow's. I discovered her in the 1990s and I still love her tunes, she really inspires me. I've seen her performing at Radio City Hall, and that was a fantastic concert. She's an incredible musician and definitely one of my heroes.

Me: I looked over your bio, Van, and one thing really stuck out... you started singing in bars at seven years old?! What did your parents think about this?

Van: Haha. Well, my mother had always known what music meant to me. She had that feeling that at the moment I was singing, I was being happy at my most. She just happened to be friends with a bunch musicians and they used to have me as a guest performing with them, I wasn't being payed or anything like that, I was just having fun. I used to sing pop Brazilian music with them, it felt so good. My memories from those moments are really fresh. I love it. But you also should know that I was some sort of annoying child, so big was my passion for singing that I used to sing anywhere I felt like, at school, kids parties, adult barbecues... There was this funny episode when I came to the bank with my mom and started singing out loud int the line, just so people could feel less sad... Life is funny!

Me: What kinda laws do you have in Brazil, anyway? That kinda stuff would never happen in America. At least, I don't think so.

Van: Well, it wasn't really official, so it was alright, but I guess the laws were probably easier in Brazil back in that period if time, or maybe it was just my town... But anyway, when I went I to this TV show to perform for example (you know those talent shows) as a child, I remember to get some sort of permission... What I'm trying to say is that once it's official and the kid's gonna be exposed, etc, you have to follow the law and it's rules. But back to my bar performances, my mom would definitely take me home right after the show, we were just having fun and fulfilling a necessity that I had for music.

Me: What songs did you sing at seven years old?

Van: Pop Brazilian songs.

Me: Van, thanks so much for being on the Phile. You're gonna be a big star I think.

Van: I thank you too so much, I had a blast answering those fun and smart questions! \

Me: Will you come back onto the Phile when your next single or album comes out?

Van: I would love to come back, just let me know.

Me: I wish you lots of luck, and continued success.

Van: The same to you, keep rockn'!!!

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Van of a great interview. The Phile will be back next Sunday with Lisa Piccirillo from Hotels & Highways. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let alligators and snakes bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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