10 Questions with Violinder

Violin prodigy. Check! Played for the Obama's at the White House. Done!
21, dreamer, doer, musician, Bay Area to LA kind of artist.
Allow me to introduce you to Raginder Momi AKA Violinder.
If you haven't heard of him yet, you will very soon.

Where were you born?
Bangkok Thailand. Before marriage, my dad found a job there as a music teacher. He moved back to India and got married and then a little while later both my parents moved to Thailand and that's where I was born.

Did you always listen to what your parents said growing up or did you go through a rebellious age?
People always assume I'm very innocent. As a child for example I wasn't too obedient. Maybe at some point when I started going out a lot, my mom probably thought I was being rebellious. But it was nothing out of the ordinary. I was average.

When did you start playing the violin?
11 years old. One day in 5th grade they showed us a wide variety of instruments, trumpets, brass, violin, and all the kids started choosing. Actually it's funny, I didn't choose the Violin because all the guys were making me feel like it was too much of a girly instrument. Finally when I did start playing the Violin, I got more and more into it and started taking it seriously the 2nd year.

What's the hardest part of playing the violin that people wouldn't know about
Discipline. When I was younger, it was not being able to go outside and play. It was a lot of practicing, taking lessons. 

Do you feel lucky? Some people really struggle to find what they want to do. so early on in life.
Oh yea. Well Senior year in high school I still didn't know. I didn't know if I wanted to stick to music or go straight to University. I ended up going to a community college. But right after all my classes, I would come home and play the violin and so gradually I knew where my heart was leading me.

How did you end up playing at the White House man?
I had a gig in DC and some people in the crowd were actually organizers for the Sikh American events in the White House. After the event, they got in touch with me and a few months later I got a call from them asking me to perform for Guru Nanak Dev Ji's event. Of course I said yes. I flew out there, got meet Michelle Obama, I had just turned 20. It was good.

The biggest hardship you've faced in your life?
My mom passing away.

Your biggest fear in life?
I don't really fear anything like death or not being successful. My fears are more towards the spiritual side. Like at the end of my life did I do enough to make my spirit happy. I don't want to arrive at the end of my life and feel incomplete spiritually. I'm not afraid of death but more about what happens after. I want to be connected to myself spirituality.

The first website you went on this morning?
I went on the sports center app

Last meal?
Maybe something healthy since it's your last meal.
What? Why man? You're gonna die?!
Ok, so maybe sticky mango rice, animal fries, Roscoe's chicken n' waffles
 

10 questions with Designer Gaelle Constantini

Paris! Are you ready to be Pimped out? Allow me to introduce to you the very talented lady and creator of Pimp My Shoes, Gaelle Constantini. When she's not busy representing her creations at the Cannes film festival, this creative young designer is on the hunt for recycled material to make some sick dresses, shirts, and accessories. Visiting her atelier was like sitting high above in a cozy little cloud where the focus is on the clothes and her passion for the environment. She's not in the business of setting new trends or being high fashion blah blah. Actually, there's a awareness to recycle in her business plan yet remain fierce in her designs, but above all, close to her morals. Below, my very lovely interview with designer Gaelle Constantini.

When did you start your business?
In 2009. I was working at a club with friends at the time and I would always make shirts and accessories for them. It was all freestyle and for fun in the beginning.

What makes you different from other designers?
All the material I use are recycled. I don't just want to be another fashion brand, but rather work with intention. I'm a little obsessed with the environment and nature. It's deeper for me and more than just fashion. Creating beautiful pieces for someone using recycled clothes respects what I believe in.

Biggest challenge in starting your own business?
Finding good people to work for you. People with the same passion. I'm constantly working, there aren't many holidays. I have orders I need to fulfill, deadlines to be met.The administration aspect. The stress of keeping a business going. Paperwork. When you do something, you have questions for the future and hopes that it's going to be OK. This is all part of having your own business.

How long does is take to create one piece?
Oh, that depends. Certain pieces are evident and others take more of my imagination. By the end, the whole concept can change. Each piece can be a learning experience.

Does fashion run in your family?
My father worked for Nina Ricci, my mom loved beautiful clothes and I grew up around nature near the South of France. I guess there is a piece of all that in my work.

Future of Gaelle Constantni?
To be able to live my life by doing this. To have a bigger atelier. I would love to be able to create jobs for others for people living in the streets. Sometimes, the first thing I see when I leave my home is a homeless person. That bothers me. I hope someway I con contribute to change that.

Who are your designs for?
I care about nature so people who are cautious of the planet will appreciate my clothes.

Best and worst part of living in Paris?
Well I'm from Aix en Provence from the South of France. My childhood was full of nature. Of course you lack that when you move to a big city. However there is a excitement about Paris. It's a magical city and to be among the citizens of the world, for an artist it's a great place.

When you need to escape, where is a favorite place to eat in Paris?
Le Petit Mathieu in the 10th and Tokyo Eat at Palais de Tokyo.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
In the Amazon Forest in a little wooden cabin.


If you guys want to check out more of Gaelle's work you can, visit @ http://www.ateliergaelleconstantini.com/

I loved doing this interview. Thanks G!

10 Questions with MTV's Raphal Yem

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Cool, some people are just cool. I'm not one of those people, but Raphal Yem definitely is. It's not because he's a popular host at MTV France or because he gets to interview famous stars, it's because he knew what he wanted out of life and he got it. How do some people do that? They wake up each day and simply do what they like doing. Though it hasn't been a simple path, it's been a good one for Yem. I met up with Raphal at the MTV headquarters in Paris and as we chatted about rappers and growing up in the suburbs I instantly felt like he was someone familiar from back home. I could have talked to Raphal for hours this day, but I had to stop asking so many questions and looking like I was crazy. Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did interviewing Mr. Raphal Yem.

Where are you from Raphal?
My parents are from Cambodia. There was a war in 1975 and they moved to Normandy, France. I was born there and grew up in the 'banlieues', the outskirts.

When you were younger, what did you want to be?
A journalist. I knew that from a early age. My parents were strict. We weren't allowed to speak Khmer, only French. They left everything in Cambodia when they moved here, and they wanted us to be educated, do well, become something. I was really into urban culture and rap. I wanted to know more about my surrounding so around 17 I started my own magazine interviewing rappers, artists, and writing about urban culture. That's where the journalism journey began.

What is your job at MTV France?
I am the Host & Editor in Chief of 4 channels. Top MTV Base is one of the more popular ones.

Did you always want to be a MTV host?
No. Didn't even imagine all this. It wasn't a possibility for me because of where I grew up. When I was young, the kids in my building and I would try to find a way to get MTV for free because it was expensive. Working at MTV was a dream. Too big of a dream for me. I don't have the look for MTV, I don't have the background. 

Since you wanted to be a journalist, did Normandy ever seem too small?
I didn't know anything else so no. I didn't know nobody in media, my parents wanted me to be a good student and around 17 my only dream was to work at the local Normandy Newspaper. That was the ultimate goal. I was interviewing rappers and artist and working on my own magazine. That's where it all started to come together. I was already a journalist in my own world. My interviews were not the professional, in a big studio type, but they were real, people could relate, it was honest conversations with artists. I had to make it where I was with what I had. As I got older, I felt like I didn't need to leave Normandy to succeed. The move to Paris wasn't intentional. I started getting a lot of work out here and there was too much going back and fourth so moving to Paris was more for practical reasons.

How did you finally get here, the job at MTV?
Someone had come across my magazine and eventually that lead to a opportunity in Paris. I also started working for Canal Plus TV in Paris on there channel called Canal Street about urban culture. I had a acquaintance who was leaving her job as a MTV host and she wanted me to audition for her part. I was working a lot at this moment, so when I finally heard from the producer that I got the job, I was happy but I knew my life was going to be on fast pace. I held multiple jobs that year and worked. A lot!

Favorite memory so far working at MTV?
The first time I was in front of the camera recording my first show. I interviewed a rapper. No training, no idea how to technically do the interview but once I started, it felt organic, it flowed. I remember the adrenaline.

Biggest challenge you faced ?
What I am. Where I come from, too young, too fat, from the suburbs, no journalism degree, I'm not your typical candidate to have gotten the journalism jobs I got and then to host my own show on MTV?! I had to create everything for myself in the beginning.

Best advice you ever got?
I'm a big guy, but someone once told me don't loose weight too much. It's more real, more who you are. Don't change.

Best and worst part about your job?
It's fragile. This could all be over and someone new could take my place. My contract could end. Best part? Well it's MTV. It's a institution. But I would say it's when my mom finally realized what I do. For the longest time, my mom didn't understand this business. The magazine I started, the interviews, all that. Then finally she saw me on TV one day and called me and said "You're on tv!? What are you doing on TV?" It was a good moment for us.

10 Questions with the only, 52Martinis

52 weeks in a year, 1 martini per week! That's how she rolls. Thankfully Forest Collins started a popular blog a while back (52Martinis) which  has helped lost souls like me identify where to find a good cocktail. A few weeks ago, I went over to her place and chatted about living abroad and doing what you love. It was absolutely my pleasure to spend some time with Forest at her charming residence in Paris and get to know why and how 52Martinis started. There was always a buzz surrounding 52M and I wanted to know more. I left the interview inspired by her hard work and excited to go check out her new baby, The Chamber

There is no place like home! Where are you from Forest?
Seattle, Washington. Great city for food!. Each time I go back now, it feels so small. Before I always thought of it as this big ol' town. But it’s home for me.

How long have you been living in France?
About 11-12 years. I lost count. I wanted to study abroad, so I went to Annecy because it was a little town where I could learn French. I knew if I went to Paris, it would be this great big city with lots of international people speaking English. So I spent some time in Annecy before moving to Paris.

Hardest part of living abroad.
You are totally screwed after living abroad!. The reason is because you will never be fully satisfied anywhere. When you're at home, you miss being aboard, when you're abroad you miss being home. You always miss something because you lived abroad.

What is 52 martinis?
52 Martinis started as a cocktail blog and I would really say that now it's a cocktail lifestyle. It might sound funny, but that's how I perceive it. The blog is a chronicle of my cocktail adventures and the lifestyle is lived through my meetups, chamber events and fellow cocktail lovers that I meet through them.

Why did you start 52 martins?
To simply put it, I was in need of some cocktails in Paris! There was no intention to make it anything more.  In my travels to places likes London, NY, Germany and Japan, I noticed that so many metropolitan cities have this great cocktail scene and it just didn't exist in Paris. So I decided that each Wednesday I would strategically seek out a place that made (potentially) good cocktails and try them out. At the time I was sharing this information on a local food forum, but I decided to start the blog as a means to keep everything in one spot and share it easily with visiting friends. This all began around 2008 and shortly after I started getting emails from people who also wanted to find great cocktails and wanted to have a drink with me. In 2009 I started my first meetup. That's when all this kinda' began and grew into something beyond my initial and personal search for the best cocktails in Paris.

I feel like recently your blog has taken off. Do you feel that as well?
Yes! Cocktails are exploding in Paris right now. Around the time I started 52 Martinis, the ECC group kicked off this revived craft cocktail culture in Paris with their first bar, Experimental Cocktail Club.  They’ve become a big trend. In the early days my blog got attention from a small network of cocktail geeks. Now it gets more attention from a global audience who are getting on board with the new trend.   I try to think of 52 Martinis as a small project I do within my own little bubble of a world and not of its place in a bigger movement because I want to stay credible and genuine.  It might be part of a bigger global trend, but at the end of the day, it’s just me, sharing my opinion on what and where I like to drink.

Future of 52?
Nothing will change much. I want to keep my blog more up to date. The friday5 is still alive (where I invite 5 people to try different cocktails). All my meetups will still continue and there will be a big focus on The Chamber events that I've started.

Yea so I heard about The Chamber events. What is is?
The Chamber is a private social club. Kind of like the hidden supper clubs, but for cocktails. People are tired of going out the same way and the Chamber is different because it allows people to meet in an intimate environment of 12 people in a wonderful venue, eat high quality food and have some great drinks. It's simple, I want people to have a good time and this was the best way for me to make that happen. When you sign up for the annual membership, each month you have the opportunity to buy tickets for our events at special rates for members. Because spaces are limited and on a first come first serve basis, members get the first crack at tickets for the monthly popups as well as other events like the Tipsy Tea Time, Boozy Book Club, or Master Classes on spirits and interesting food or drink brands.

Favorite cocktails places at the moment?
Ohh that IS such a hard question. It depends on so much like mood, feeling. My likes are always changing. Currently, I would say Mary Celeste is always a great place, Joe over at Red House is awesome, and Artisan.

Favorite quote
Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.' by Gustave Flaubert

10 Questions with The Artist, Brian Scott Bagley

If you're going to follow your dreams, you better be ready to bare it all, get judged, succeed, lose the worry, take the stress off, remove the fear, let your mind get naked and just go and get it gurl! Allow me to introduce you to singer, dancer, actor, Brian Scott Bagley, one of the most talented people in Paris who is following his dream. All the way from Baltimore, I met Brian a while ago and randomly saw his performance one nigh at Très Honoré in Paris. I was mesmerized. Dark room, sparkling lights, and Brian twirling around the room with a mic, hypnotizing the audience with his talent. I had. To meet him. I needed to know more about who he was. You see, when you meet Brian, you don't just meet him, you meet his Dream as well.  What he represents is possibility. And this, I needed to know more about. His story is honest, it's enchanting, exciting, and just as dreamy as ever. A beautiful soul dancing his way to Paris and doing what he does. A few looks at his performance, and he might also have you under his spell. Here are my 10 Questions and the photo shoot with The Artist, Brian Scott Bagley.

Brian! Finally! Finally. I've been waiting so long to get a chance to sit and talk to you. First, I gotta ask, where are you from and how did you get into Cabaret and end up in Paris?
Im from Baltimore Maryland. The city of Billy Holiday, Thurgood Marshall, and John Waters!
How did I get into Cabaret? Blame it on Disney. I grew up with great music. But seriously thanks to an American musical culture. Expressing once self in my blood. So I didn’t get in to Cabaret, it was always there. But how I got to Paris…WOW while studying at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, I was living with an amazing dancer named Jason Reed who introduced me to an Amazing singer named Nkinge, who was auditioning for a show that would tour Paris and throughout Europe. This show happened to be about one of my spiritual heroes, Josephine Baker. I jumped like hot coals burning my biscuits at the chance to work with Nkengie in hopes of landing a job myself. I began to coach her on how to dance like Josephine Baker. One morning Nkengie called me and told me to come to the Belvedre Hotel. That is where I met the famous French director Jerome Savary who gave me the opportunity to be his eyes of dance during his auditions in New York. At the end of the audition process I was offered a contract. And as they say the rest is history.  

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing your dream?
First thing, keeping the faith and not giving up. Understanding the business. How to get from A to Z. The details of it all. Artistic thieves. It's not easy when someone steals a show and starts doing the exact same act as me. Clients not paying up or not paying on time is sadly also part of the business. I know I'm talented. Knowing and owning your talent is a true test of confidence, and not ego. Anyway, once you know you got it, you must learn that there is a skill in figuring out how to promote yourself etc. Finding the right representation. That's been a learning experience for me and I am learning every day.

What are some pros and cons to living in Paris?
Pros: It's Paris! It carries a sense of possibility. Not as saturated as the States. Paris has quite a certain magic for me. It still feels fresh and alive to me
Cons: French Administrative System. Rudeness. There is that. 

When you were in high school or college., was this a dream of yours to live and perform in Paris? 
Never imagined I would be here.  But I always told God, where you want me to go I will go. So I guess here I am.

What else would you be doing?
I don't know what else I would of been doing. I have such a deep passion for dance and theater. My life is involved in what I'm doing, I don't think that I have a plan b, if this doesn't work, except, accept, say “Oh Well” and re-create. At the moment all I want to do is be a entertainer. It’s in the blood and all over me. It's really all I've wanted and it's what I'm doing

What is some useful advice you can give to someone who wants to move to Paris and be a performer?
If you really want it, don't be afraid to be raw and 100% real. Let go. Just do it and perform. Have business sense. Do your research. It will help you in making better decisions and also shed light on what your getting into. 

Ok I heard your performed with Dita Von Teese, true or false? 
True! We both performed at the Casino de Paris in the show La Gentry de Paris Revue. I had a great time. In 2012 I also was the Assistant Technical Director and Assistant choreographer for her show Strip Strip Hooray.

And a little birdie also told me that you were on American Idol. How was that experience?
It was OK. But those are reality shows you know. Paula said to me "your too old fashioned for what we are looking for!". But I thought to myself, that's who I am. It's me. Old fashioned. It's what I do.  And today Retro and Vintage is in.

What has being a performer brought to you in your life? How has it made you stronger?
Lots of joy, pain, sunshine and rain. There have been days when I'm up and going and things are on track and other days where it's just not working out as I imagined. But this is the life of an artist. It has and I believe will always bring me joy. Joy to perform and joy to see the joy from the audience, thanks to the gifts that God has given me to use…Just to help someone get little happier than how they felt before they came into the theater.

Favorite Quote?
Nothing beats a failure but a try. And nothing beats that but “JUST DOING THE THANG!”