Archive for November, 2015

Think global, act local

By
November 25th, 2015



I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a mall person. I like to support local and there are more than enough boutiques and cute shops to have everything I could possibly want.

AMANDA DELA CRUZMaui artist Amanda Dela Cruz launched her holiday clutch collection at Kit & Ace this week.

COURTESY AMANDA DELA CRUZ

Maui artist Amanda Dela Cruz launched her holiday clutch collection at Kit & Ace this week.

Especially during the holiday season, the mall is just plain scary. People fighting over parking stalls, even in Hawai’i where nobody really speeds (that lives here) and most times they let you merge in. Something like Black Friday sounds more like a nightmare than a day to go out there and get deals on shopping. I would rather pay more to spare my own sanity. I’ll wait for Cyber Monday.

Although this year is quite special for Ala Moana Center with a beautiful new wing featuring Bloomingdale's and a dozen of other shops, for those that love the deals and love the mall, there is a great new boutique called Kit & Ace on the second floor across the Apple Store. The Canada-based company specializes in technical cashmere and likes to focus on “creative class” people. They recently partnered with a local artist and are supporting a great cause. Friends and loved ones who have moved on to the mainland would love a little piece of Hawai'i and if you purchase one of these mini bags designed by Maui-born artist Amanda DeLaCruz, a portion goes to support Women Speaking Out, a domestic violence organization.

Amanda’s beautiful watercolor drawings featured in her signature clutch collection are inspired by her picturesque surroundings, and is a great little bag to keep you from digging around in your purse for your chapstick or carrying on its own to spread the aloha.

“I’m all about the Law of Attraction” she said via email. “When you are happy with what you are doing, not anybody else then you attract nothing but inspiration and positive vibes.”

Amen, sister.

CHRISTA WITTMIERArt & Flea's Aly Ishikuni circa 2008, still killing it.

COURTESY CHRISTA WITTMIER

Art+Flea's Aly Ishikuni, circa 2008, still kills it in 2015.

If you are still out and about on Friday there is a collaborative sale in Chinatown with a wide assortment of amazing local boutiques, shops, galleries and food vendors to pick up a special and unique gift as special and unique as your loved ones are. The Downtown Shoparound goes all day until 7 p.m.

For those who want to skip Friday completely, the number one shopping event to exist (in my opinion), Art+Flea is hosting a huge block party on Kamani Street in Kaka’ako that features their trademark entertainment and small businesses.

Named in my Best of 2014, I can’t say enough good things about Art+Flea and what they do for the community. For as long as I've known Aly Ishikuni, her talent and work ethic has been very inspiring. It's so great to see how far she's come with both MORI at Ward Warehouse and Art+Flea. If you are looking for one-of-a-kind gifts handmade my local artists that keep on giving, these are some great options.

Of course, if you still can’t find anything you love, you can come to my cancer fundraiser at Nextdoor on Friday starting at 8 p.m. I'll have tons of amazing raffle and auction items, plus everyone who comes will get a copy of the paper I wrote detailing how I beat cancer in four months. I will also be screening my entire two-and-a-half-hour Snapchat story that spanned my fight for the first time. I know there are many who have been touched by this ugly disease and this is my gift to everyone who has supported me through this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, plays music as DJ SuperCW, is a tech columnist for Metro Honolulu and co-produces the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Lucky No. 8 for Soulgasm

By
November 18th, 2015



For as long as I've known about Lyanne Brooks' Soulgasm party, I knew there was a safe haven tucked away where all I needed to do was show up and my heart would be full of love — and my feet would be moving.

House music, dancing and smiles. That's just about it; these are things that seem very simple, yet go beyond the norm in Honolulu nightlife.

thirtyninehotel-SOULGASM-2013

SOULGASM 8-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

With special guest Brian Coxx

» Where: Bar 35, 35 N. Hotel St.

» When: 9 p.m. Friday

» Cost: $10

» Info: www.facebook.com/SoulgasmHawaii

I had a chance to speak with Brooks, 41, via email about the party's eight-year anniversary. It's a very lucky number and also a very long time for a party to last in this town. Congratulations!

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Where did you go to School?

LYANNE BROOKS: Princess Kaiulani (was the) elementary school where I first started dancing at recess in the '80s.

SA: When did you get in to dance and why?

LB: I've always moved to music and all kinds of music, I loved it all. But the first times I remember learning actual dance moves were as a youngster dancing with my Polynesian friends in the '80s to funk, soul, electro, and early hip-hop music.

SA:Can you tell me where the first Soulgasm was?

LB: Lotus Soundbar in Waikiki as a Wednesday night weekly.

SA:What is your advice on keeping a party going for eight years?

LB: Personally, I believe being part of the scene and a contributor to it is what gave me a solid base to work from. It helps to understand that we are all a part of what makes things happen as a participant or an organizer, that there's a relationship.

Some key things in keeping a party is doing good business, be willing to sacrifice your time and energy, dedication to hard work, consistency and quality of service. What you share is something you can always stand by and something people will feel besides just you and your crew, especially if you find that you're not about following the trends. There's a delicate balance.

KIMBERLY SEKOLyanne Brooks celebrates 8 years of Soulgasm Hawaii at Bar35 this weekend

COURTESY KIMBERLY SEKO

Lyanne Brooks celebrates eight years of Soulgasm Hawaii at Bar 35 this weekend.

If you have something different to offer you also want to keep in mind that it has nothing to do with being the biggest party or the baddest or that everyone should be in to what you're doing. People will come and go, some will stay, whatever it is, after the event is over, what will people say about your event? Was it something worthwhile for you and them? If so, then you may have something special to keep on.

SA:What are some memorable moments at Soulgasm?

LB: A concert with Nadirah Shakoor. Having live house music sounded amazing with Nadirah's pitch perfect vocals. Also being asked to choreograph the concert was awesome and I enjoyed doing this one number running off the stage while my partner flipped into the crowd while making the audience part of the setting was a highlight of that night as well. The crowd was screaming and feeling it heavy, it was so moving.

Every time DJ FLX came to play has always been amazing! He conjures up these deep ancestral vibes that you'll see in the dance floor. He's one of my top choices for DJs worldwide!

What I cherish each month the most is working with my crew, seeing my awesome friends, the hardcore Soulgasm heads, and new faces smiling and being moved by the music.

SA: Who is the special guest for the anniversary party this year?

LB: The featured guest is "The Wizard" Brian Coxx from Soulgasm NYC. He's an amazing DJ and producer. He's one of those that I appreciate as a music lover, dancer and a house head. I would love to see all the DJs in Hawaii come to hear him and be open to learning. He will play it all in a set and can make it whatever you want; for me that's what makes a great DJ.

Also, all the residents will be playing from disco with Gnaraly, more classics to straight house with Yuji, the super soulful Kentaro and the funkdafied veteran DJs Min One and Matt Kee.

SA:Where are some of your favorite places to hang out in Hawaii?

LB: Bevy, Nextdoor, Downbeat and some cool little hole-in-the-walls.

SA: What are some key elements that make a great venue for your party?

LB: Good business with the venue, that is a must. Support from the venue helps too. Venue must also have decent sound and being open to your suggestions and/or support to their system.

SA:If money was no issue who would your dream lineup be for Soulgasm's 10-year anniversary?

LB: If money was no issue, I'd have three parties, starting with a day party then peak night into afterhours with Stevie Wonder, DJ Spinna, then Bodhisatva, Osunlade with vocals by Oveous, Nadirah Shakoor into Karizma, then finally Louie Vega and Tony Humphries til the end.

However, I will gladly take Nadirah live in concert for the 10-year! Maybe have Brian return alongside Ejoe Wilson to DJ and do a dance showcase, and DJ FLX too!

SA: Anyone else you want to mention?

LB: You, Christa for always being so giving and supportive of our scene and the people in it. Having coverage of our scene has helped so much in keeping it fresh, moving and alive!

My crew Kimberly Seko, Gnaraly, Liz Miller, Yuji, Matt Kee, Min One, Kentaro, Rayne. George and the staff at Bar 35, Timo and Christian at Bevy, Darren and Willis at Asylum, Daniel Gray at Nextdoor, Paul Shih (Lotus Soundbar), Photocyclone, all the guest artists, DJs, vocalists, dancers that have come through.

My friends who have inspired me Shane, FLX, Eddie, Josiah, Ejoe, Brian Coxx, Redness, Nadirah, Terry, Naz and all those who came and/or come to dance with me at Housing Project 360. Everyone who has ever helped Soulgasm from then til now and those who come to the event! Your love is what keeps this alive and healthy. I can't thank you enough for giving me something to look forward to and cherish in my life every month!

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, plays music as DJ SuperCW, is a tech columnist for Metro Honolulu and co-produces the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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Annalog embraces It Girl attitude

By
November 11th, 2015



Before this blog was so rudely interrupted earlier this year, I introduced you to Elora Tahiti and the concept of an It Girl — someone who, as I described Tahiti back in April, is one of those “magnetic and charming ladies who are a rare find amongst the abundance of supermodel hot, perfect 10 women who frequent Honolulu’s nightlife scene.”

COURTESY ANNA DANG DJ Annalog on the decks at the Trump Waikiki in October.

PHOTOS COURTESY ANNA DANG

DJ Annalog on the decks at the Trump Waikiki in October.

Speaking of an It Girl, I'll never forget meeting Anna Dang, aka DJ Annalog. It was a special all-female lineup at Addiction Nightclub. I was spinning and she came into the DJ booth during the middle of a major girl power moment, telling me she was a DJ from New York. I was immediately intimidated and prayed the next transition I made was on point. I remember her texting me later that night, saying, "Great music! I danced all night!"

The thing with girls is the ones who prefer to support and build up rather than tear down are the ones who will truly win at life. Dang is one of those girls. From the night we met a year ago until now, she has been supportive and made a point to come to my gigs. We have similar taste in weird indie music, but she also loves hip-hop and proved at the recent LUX at the Trump Halloween party that she knows how to hold a dancefloor.

I recently spoke with Dang via e-mail and discovered you can't judge a book by its cover. Just because she is a model doesn't mean she can't also be obsessed with music and sports, or be super down to Earth.

HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER: Who are you?

DJ ANNALOG: Full legal name: Anna Nguyen Dang. Known as: DJ Annalog and Dangasian. Website: www.djannalog.com.

SA: Where did you grow up?

DA: I was born in Lancaster, PA and then moved to Orlando, FL when I was seven. I pretty much grew up there until I finished high school. After that I followed a boyfriend to Louisville, KY for my freshman year in College. (I know, Louisville? It was awesome though) After that came and went, I returned to Florida, where I finished my liberal arts studies at USF and Rollins College.

SA: How old are you?

DA: I'm in my dirty thirties, 31 to be exact, my birthday is coming up in April though on the 14. Which means a LA/Coachella birthday extravaganza.

SA: When did music become a big part of your life?

DA: I guess music was always a part of me growing up. I started playing the guitar when I was seven and then took up the alto sax when I was in middle school. The funny thing about that was, in middle school, band was the only elective class that offered a field trip to Busch Gardens every year. To answer the question more specifically though, I'd have to say music was my every living moment when I moved to Louisville and got a radio show on my first day of school. It changed my whole scope of living "the college life."

IMG_12561

SA: Do you have early memories of music?

DA: Man the first live show I went to was when I was in eighth grade, I had just gotten into ska music and there was a spot in Orlando called DIY records. It was this hole in the wall space that sold punk 7-inches, cassettes and CDs.

As far as my earliest memories of music, I remember listening to a lot of Mozart and Pavarotti at the dinner table with my family. My parents went through a phase were they insisted on listening to classics and "enriching music." My mom was a singer and my dad played the guitar. They had a band together with some of their Vietnamese friends from church. On Sundays after church we would go to their friends house in their basement and listen to them jam on a stage with streamers and all the kids would play hide an go seek while our parents played music and partied. It was pretty epic.

SA: Can you tell me about the first show you ever played?

DA: First show I ever did was back in 2006? I think? It was opening for Ghostface Killer at (Cal State-Fullerton). It was intense. I got the call to perform about an hour before the how started. I was sitting on a trampoline with another promoter who got the call looking for me. He turned to me and said, "You mean, Annalog? She's right in front of me..."

Next thing I know, I'm driving back to my crib to pick out some records and speeding down the toll roads to the college campus to perform. I roll up and call the PA and stage manager of the tour to meet us and we get walked in through the back entrance where they had a stage set up in the common area. There were probably 3,000 students there jamming out to Witch Doctor, who was the supporting act on tour with Ghostface. The whole production was sponsored by Cornerstone and Adult Swim. I had maybe 15 minutes to prepare backstage before I had to perform. I didn't get to sound check or anything but I felt semi-anxious to get out there and wow the crowd.

I wore a blue zip Sector Nine hoodie, with a yellow and red racer back American Apparel tank top underneath. Stretching my legs, I took a deep breath and strided casually in my plaid Vans high tops and Obey dark denim jeans. I had my hood up over my head and looked down at my feet. Looking up into the crowd I put my record crate on this wonky foldout table that had a wobble to it and picked my first record. I took my hoodie off and everyone in the crowd was like, "it's a girl!" I got on the mic and introduced myself and within seconds I could feel even more anxious as I realized how imbalanced the table was.

Nervously I spoke into the mic and said,"You know what, this first song will explain everything and exactly how I'm feeling right now." I put the needle on the record and let A Tribe Called Quest's "Stressed Out" play through the airwaves. In that moment I felt the stress in my body just melt away. Song after song though I felt like I was diffusing a bomb on stage because of how wobbly the stage an tables were. It was so bobo. But I made the most of the experience and played my gems.

The show ended and I had made lifetime fans who asked for my autograph and where I'll be next. Then and there started this snowball of club, festival and house parties... I will always remember that day.

image2

SA: When did you start producing?

DA: I started seriously producing music when approaching the Major Lazer remix contest in 2008-ish. I had fiddled around with a Roland 808 and reason when I was in college but DJing stuck to me more than producing had at that point. The first full track I ever made was a minimal electronic remix of "Pon de Floor."

SA: Did you have a mentor or were you self-taught?

DA: As far as production goes, when I first started, I had a co producer show me how to use the program, Ableton 8 Live, in its simplicity but not in depth as I had grown to learn on my own as I began to get a real feel for it. If you know anything about producing music, Ableton almost feels like working in DOS sometimes. There are way simpler programs out there that are user friendly, like Fruity Loops, but if you sample or mix down multiple pre recorded tracks, Ableton is the way to go. You can see the wave forms in the immediate skin vs clicking a couple of drop downs to get to the wave.

SA: What is the greatest reward from DJing?

The greatest reward is seeing a crowd of people dance and move to what you're spinning. Their expressions in dance and in their faces alone are the feelings that drive you to DJ more and more.

SA: Do you have any issues with your gender/looks?

DA: I had one totally skeezer slide a sneaky hand onto my butt and I turned around and decked him. The booth and music stopped and everyone was staring up at us. I was at Don Hills in NYC. He pushed me back into the tables and two of my friends straight jumped him. We got bear hugged by security and brought outside.

As were getting pulled out of the club my friends knocked over beer bottles and kicked the guy in the gut. It was nuts.

SA: How was it living in New York?

DA: Living in New York as a model/DJ was an eventful combination. By day my life was skating (skateboarding) the city from model casting to casting. There would be days where I'd kill time baking in the sun in Sheeps Meadow and then times where I'd be squeezing my legs into size 0-2 resort pants and couture dresses.

Some people would say I've been blessed with good looks and good brains, which may sound arrogant now when I think about it aloud, but whatever. I'm so thankful my parents were good looking babes. By night I'd work on music, go to the Bryant Park Library and eat loads of Chipotle before heading into DJ an event or socialize with my model friends at promoter dinners and civic events. Life was good in NYC. It's my second home, behind here in Hawaii.

SA: How often did you play?

DA: At times I would play weekly when I'd organize my own nights revolving around the NY skateboard scene. I threw parties with pizza and skate products.

SA: What clubs/bars were your favorite haunts over there?

DA: My favorite places to kick it could be ranked from bourgeois to divey spots. I ran with different crowds that enjoyed all kinda of scenes. Most of my model/skater friends and I would party at places like Provocateur, Avenue, Up and Down and PHD at the Dream, which are places known for charging upwards of $3,000 for a table to Brooklyn spots like The Flat that would cost maybe $5 to get in when there were live bands or Epsteins which plays skate videos and has cheap wings.

SA: What genres do you like to play?

DA: I like to play a blend of moombahton, trap, tropical bass and classic hip-hop.

IMG_2915

SA: What do you like to produce?

DA: I like producing Miami bass and bMore sounding tracks that use a mix of familiar sounds, samples and bites with accents of original sound creations.

Once upon a time, I had also made an EP called "Neon Sea Wallz" in hopes of touring with a live band and Lazer light show. The dream was to do an aquarium and planetarium tour with that album. You can hear it on http://djannalog.bandcamp.com.

SA: Can you talk about skateboarding?

DA: I started skateboarding at the age of 5 in Pennsylvania with my older brother and sister. My dad had bought a board when he first moved to the (United States) and we'd cruise and row each other behind my dad's bike with a tow rope growing up in a very suburbany rural neighborhood. It was awesome. We always had a skateboard around. Whether it was the OG deck my dad had bought, a nash or new school pro model deck we were a family that skated.

My brother and I progressed with the times and changes of the sport as we grew older and learned flat land tricks in front of our house in Florida. We'd try ollying over recycling bins, trash cans and then eventually built rails out of PVC pipes and 2x4s. We were the neighborhood skatespot for a while, then blueprints for mini ramps came about in the CCS skate catalogs and we learned to build in our friends backyards who's parents would allow it. Nowadays, I like to skate flow courses at concrete and wood skateparks. I cruise and throw an occasional trick here and there.

SA: What other sports are you in to?

DA: I'm really into all board sports really. All the cute boys in Florida either surfed, skated or wakeboarded when I was growing up. It helped having attractive and active guy friends that were into the same sports.

SA: Were you always active?

DA: Yeah, I was always outdoors as a kid and still am now. I never wanted to be cooped up for too long. If so, I'd end up painting things or designing new inventions or ideas.

SA: Do you have brothers and sisters?

DA: I have and older brother and older sister. They are funny and charismatic people.

SA: Can you share your thoughts on Honolulu’s bar/nightlife scene?

DA: So far, Honlulu's bar/nightlife scene feels like home already. It helps having good friends and welcoming (locals) to the scene guide me through. If I was completely alone and anti-social, it'd be a different feeling. Luckily, I'm pretty easy going and love to dance. The DJs are definitely up to par with the current musical trends and you can see a good blend of visitors and locals on the dance floor, too.

SA: Why did you move to Hawaii?

DA: I moved out here to get back to a more organic way of living. Having grown up in Florida, New York winters equal slow death. You could say I'm a snowbird living in Hawaii.

I also wanted a challenge and a new experience. So far, Hawaii is a lot like how I grew up in Florida, but turned up to 1,000 with mountains, waves and beautiful lookout points.

SA: What do you do in your spare time?

DA: In my spare time I like to play pool, darts, hike, skateboard, go on bike rides, do yoga, camp, and anything outdoors, really. I also watch a lot of Netflix, try to cook quasi-gourmet food and take Instagram worthy pictures.

SA: What is your day job?

DA: I just moved here so I'm looking for a possible day job.

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, plays music as DJ SuperCW, is a tech columnist for Metro Honolulu and co-produces the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

Take a Snapchat, it'll last longer

By
November 4th, 2015



Well hello there! Did you miss me? I wonder if you even knew I was gone? Just kidding!

It's actually kind of serious, my hiatus. In May I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stage 4 with metastasis to my lungs. It was also in my brain but we didn't find that out until much later. So weird how the world works. I never had cancer in my family and with the exception of Daniel Gray, I've never been touched by the disease at all.

cwstrong flyer

#GIRLGANG

Presented by #CWSTRONG

» Where: Nextdoor, 43 N. Hotel St.

» When: 8 p.m. Nov. 27

» Cost: $20, includes one specialty cocktail created by the Hawaii chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild

» Info: facebook.com

To say I was shocked to learn this is a huge understatement. I never really accepted or believed it, even now.

I've spent the past few months working hard to take control of my health and can happily share that all of the cancer has been completely resolved. I still have a few surgeries to deal with, but the hard part is over.

They said once you reach stage 4, you can't be cured. That it will never truly be gone... but I want to be the person that proves this wrong.

I spent a lot of time looking inward and for the first time in my life I taught myself how to meditate. It made a huge difference in my frame of mind, with my intuition and deciding which path to take. My Snapchat stories became very popular as more and more of my network learned about my diagnosis. I didn't hold back and shared everything, becoming more motivated to do so after many told me I inspired them. It became a part of my normal routine to share the entire fight. The more people I saw looking, the more I wanted to post. It kept me motivated.

I saved all my Snapchat stories and made the video above to share my journey with as many people as possible. It's very scary during those first few days and weeks after you're told you're basically going to die. I pray for every woman facing this now and am here to tell you that you can beat it. It's possible.

COURTESY GRACE LIMThis is the face of someone who just beat stage 4 cancer. The closest thing the author can compare it to is a snake that's shed its skin.

COURTESY GRACE LIM

This is the face of someone who just beat stage 4 cancer. The closest thing the author can compare it to is a snake that's shed its skin.

My fundraiser is set for Nov. 27 at Nextdoor. #CWSTRONG presents the #GIRLGANG. It makes me happy to be able to do this event at Nextdoor, which is Daniel Gray's bar.

All of the ticket, raffle and auction sales will go towards the next two years of maintenance I need, but Gray — who continues his fight against cancer — will keep the proceeds from drink sales. So make sure you secure a designated driver in advance and come with some extra cash for him and his bar staff.

I have collected a ton of my favorite things to share with everyone that night, with a special all-female DJ lineup and many surprises. If you know me, I would love to include your participation in this event, as it was very much our fight. Please email me any videos or photos you might want to share — we are compiling everything to show on the big screen at Nextdoor.

If you have no connection to me, come to learn more about cancer and how to attack it. I will share what I did and my entire two-and-a-half-hour Snapchat story. If anything, I want everyone to walk away feeling inspired.

Cancer is an ugly, ugly disease that can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter how healthy you are or how careful you are, but I am here to prove that it can be beaten!

———

Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young's Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for Pow! Wow! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular Bacardi Pool Party on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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