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May 2015

Together Is Better

Life Liberato

May 26, 2015

As May 22nd finally came around, Not Gonna Fall’ had its music video debut and release on iTunes, introducing us to new musician Kendall Custer. But there was another debut that day, one behind the scenes for a girl who is used to being the scene; Liana Liberato.

Known for her acting roles in both television and film (most recently in the Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation, ‘The Best Of Me) Liana had no real intention to segue into directing. But sitting on her floor, listening to one of her best friends reveal an up-to-that-point secret music project, she willingly threw her hat into the ring for any position that put her in a place to be a part of Kendall’s art.

Last month, Kristina and I were fortunate enough to watch the actress take command on set as the director for the ‘NGF’ music video. Calm and collected, she handled the room with ease and clearly knew what she wanted out of every scene. It was hard to believe she’s just 19, even harder to believe that this was her first attempt at the job, given her natural take to it.

This past weekend, while celebrating the single’s launch over slices of Susie’s Cakes, I got to catch up with the accomplished actress as we discussed the album, friends and this new chapter in her professional life. Here’s some of what she shared…

COTF: What was your inspiration to segue into directing?

LL: That’s the thing…I didn’t plan on segueing into directing at all! It’s kind of funny because I’m an only child, and that comes with the fact that I’m very bossy I guess…but people have always said “You should direct!”, and I would say “No. I don’t want my hair to turn grey by the time I’m 20!” because that’s what I’ve seen as the most stressful job in the entire world, which I was not wrong about! So I kind of just fell into it, because when I heard Kendall’s song about 2 years ago I told her I would do anything to be a part of it and I didn’t care what it was. How I sum it up, is my group of friends are super tight knit and we’ve all come out here to achieve something, to inspire people and to help people believe that you can do whatever it is you put your mind to…you don’t need to narrow your thoughts. And when I realized Kendall was achieving that, and she was working so hard to show people that she can do really great things, well I wanted to be a part of it… I want to help people like that achieve whatever they want.

COTF: Were you nervous sitting in the director’s seat?

LL: There were so many moments before where I thought “What have I gotten myself into! No Way. No way can I do this!!”, but I’m a firm believer in that nothing is put into your life unless you can handle it. And everything just started to lay out in front of us so nicely, I mean there were barely any problems, and I just thought, if this is going as smoothly as I think it is then I’m obviously meant to be a part of it.

COTF: Being that this was your first time in this role, what was your strategy for directing Kendall’s video?

LL: I’m definitely an actor’s director. I definitely believe in everything that is involved with pre-production, but I don’t think you’re going to get what you want if your actor isn’t comfortable and you’re not attentive towards them. However much work you put in before hand is going to mean nothing if your talent isn’t going to put out what you want. So it’s kind of like, pre-production is done, I’m not not gonna think about it when I’m on set. My job is the here and now, the person in front of me that I want something really cool out of. So I guess that’s the kind of director I am… I found a lot of my acting bleeding into my directing just because I care so much for actors. I found myself relating a lot to what was going on with Kendall and Ryan, and hopefully that showed. I also found myself, and this is so silly, but I’d be watching the monitor on the verge of tears! Because I’m totally feeling what Kendall is feeling. I’m sure there is video of me out there dancing and freaking out in front of the monitor because I’m just so emotionally invested in what’s going on! Me and Ken (Kendall) have worked so hard on this together and collaborated so much, we literally connected on the same brain wave: we were doing a performance scene, and there’s the line “my girl come talk to me” and I knew that part was coming and I remember speaking to the monitor saying “Come on, just go like this!” (motioning with her finger) And she DID IT! She freaking did it without me having to tell her or anything.

COTF: Now the video was originally going to be shot in Brooklyn. What brought it back here to L.A.?

LL: We did want to shoot in Brooklyn…I can’t even remember why…we just liked the look. But then as the actual storyline evolved, we realized we really didn’t need to be there and spend thousands of dollars to fly everyone out, we can do it in L.A. We just need some really cool walls! Everything really came together here.

COTF: Whats the most unexpected challenge you faced on this project?

LL: I realized when I got into directing that what you see a director doing on set is literally just the surface of what their actual job is. I now realize that directing begins with an idea and ends in an editing room. An actor’s job, for the most part, is what’s happening on that set on that day, and its a full circle for directors. For an actor it’s pretty much laid out for you; this is the chair you’re going to sit in while you say this line and this is the carrot you’re gonna be eating because it says so in the script. But you don’t see that everything was so meticulously laid out beforehand and that the director had such a big role in it all. So that was a really big learning part for me, that this isn’t just about being on set, this is about building the whole story.

COTF: What was one special moment you had personally during this experience?

LL: It was the “Oh WOW. I can do this!” That was cool. Because I’m the type of person where if someone approaches me with something that really scares me, well then I have to do it. I have to see if I can do it. That’s the beauty of this job. I’ve been doing this (acting) for 10 years and it doesn’t get any easier, never the same problem or challenge, always new scenery. So being able to help someone with the creative process, I love that. And knowing that I was a part of Kendall’s journey, wherever she ends up in the next 10 years, that I was there in the beginning makes me so proud.

COTF: You roll with a pretty tight crew, including Kendall. Was there anyone you knew you wanted to be a part of this project?

LL: Yes, our DP (Director of Photography) Casey Stolberg. I met him three years ago, he was a friend of a friend at Chapman, and I always said I wanted to work with him and I had sent him some scripts of mine and said “Hey, I wanna direct this!” or “make this with you”, but it just never came about. But I always knew I wanted to use him at some point and this was the perfect fit. He totally got the vision and  was very meticulous, which was what we needed. He really kept us focused and broke everything down. Literally we broke down the song scene by scene, angle by angle, shot by shot because of him, which was so cool…and very tedious! But we needed it. Kendall brought in our producer, Julia Hodges and I can confidently say that this video would not have been made without her.

COTF: How did you enjoy being a part of a music video rather than a film?

LL: It was A. DREAM. And I say that because it didn’t have sound, the track plays through the entire thing. And coming from a complete technical stand point, sound can hold a production up for so long sometimes! Especially if you’re filming outside, so I was like “Great! I can talk to Kendall the entire time we’re filming!” and I could work with her without having to worry that the mic is going to pick something up. I think it was a nice transition into directing and I would love to, at some point, do an actual short or maybe a couple scenes, or maybe one day a feature…that would be cool.

COTF: Do you want to direct any more music videos in the future?
LL: Yeah, I LOVE it. I’ve always had a fascination with music videos and I’ve been in a few of my friend’s videos, I think they’re fun! I really love music, I don’t know anything about the industry, but I love listening and am a big appreciator. Kendall and I started planning the next video for her while we were filming this one. I made her promise me that I’m directing every video for this album! But I’m definitely doing the next one. And I’m dreaming real big, but there’s one specific song we really want to film in London…

COTF: Are there any teasers you can give us for the next one?

LL: Stories evolve…But, in my head a music video is just not gonna be flashing lights, dance choreography, and pointing to a camera. There is a really cool song she wrote about our friend group, called ‘Warfare Friends’, and that’s the one we’re most likely doing next. It’s going to be semi based on a specific night Kendall and I had in New York, but the video will mostly follow the guy in the story. You’ll only get to see Kendall for a few seconds.

COTF: Now lets rewind a little, where are you from and what brought you here?

LL: I’m from a small island in Texas, called Galveston. Its kind of the vacation spot of Texas….not a lot of people live there. But I was born and raised there until I was 9, and I was very blessed because I grew up with my parents saying “You don’t have to go to college”, which for many people thats not the thing. But they were like “What do you want to do” which was such a huge blessing because I was able to think “Oh! What do I want to do?” It is a small town that can get a little boring, and the one escape that I had was my theatre, playing different people, and playing out different stories. I loved watching movies and television and just completely escaping the world that I was in. I just thought WOW, if I could be that escape for other people and create stories for people to live in and imagine, that would be awesome. And my parents didn’t stop me from thinking that, they were ok with it… I mean I took their entire retirement! But they still believe in me! I promised my Dad an El Camino and my Mom a beach house so I’m gonna get it to them. But, everything big in my life happened in LA, so I formed my life here very quickly. I made my core group of friends, who are now my family because we all clung together, we knew no one and needed support.

COTF: How did you and Kendall meet?

LL: About three years ago I was at Sophi’s, and Kendall came walking in with her sister, she was the new roommate. I’ve known Sophi for 10 years and we’re a small group so, not on purpose, letting other people in can be hard sometimes. But there was a specific moment where we all went to the beach in the middle of the night and hung out, and I was going through a rough time, a big transition, and I remember driving back that night and knowing “these are my people”, these are the people I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. Kendall was so included in that, and I kind of knew instantly that she was going to be in my life for a long time.

COTF: Now the personal stuff! Dead or alive, what director would you most want to collaborate with?

LL: That’s SO hard!…I love Darren Aronofsky, I love Danny Boyle. I just think they’re such cool directors, I would love to act for and work with them.

COTF: Were there any films in particular that inspired you as a kid?

LL: Anything with Julie Andrews. I freaking love her. I started out in musical theatre when I was three. I LOVED acting and I loved singing, not much of a dancer, but I loved both those things and Julie Andrews did both in movies and entertained people. So, Sound Of Music, Mary Poppins, I was all for it!  I kind of wanted to emulate her career and always said I wanted to work with her before she stopped working. She was a BIG inspiration for me when I was younger.

COTF: Is there an actor or actress you would most like to direct?

LL: I have so much respect for Michelle Williams and think she’s so brilliant. From an actor’s perspective, she’s my muse, the career I’d most like to emulate. I was actually working on a project in New Orleans last year and specifically took a weekend off to fly to New York and see her in Cabaret. I was so star struck. So as a director it would be the most intimidating thing in the entire world for me, but would be such a learning experience for me because I would get to watch her working.

COTF: Ok, easy questions now… First thing you do in the morning?

LL: I’m really diligent. I have to wash my face and brush my teeth the second I wake up!

COTF: What do you do to stay active?

LL: I’ve done Pop Physique and Soul Cycle with Kendall before, and my idea of Hell are the stairs in Runyon Canyon. I’m more of a healthy eater type of person.

COTF: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever travelled to?

LL: It’s funny you ask, because I’ve just recently decided that every year I’m going to take a trip for myself outside of the country. Last year I went to London for 10 days, and that as of right now is one of my favorite places ever! But I also love Venice, Italy and Montreal, Canada. The food in Montreal is SO good.

COTF: Any go to words of wisdom?

LL: My Dad told me something a long time ago, that always makes me feel good and has meant a lot to me, “Never regret something you once cared about”. It can be so easy to tear yourself down for making a mistake, so I really like that one. A Shakespeare quote that’s stuck with me and I also really love is, “Cowards die many times before their death”.

COTF: How do you like to spend your down time?

LL: Watching Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Dance Mom’s… and just hanging out with my friends and eating lots of food.

COTF: Favorite spot to brunch?

LL: Kendall introduced me to this place, Highland Cafe, and it’s SO good. And Aroma Cafe. That’s my place, I love going there.

COTF: Favorite social media app?

LL: Twitter and Instagram are two of my favorite things. Twitter because that’s where I get all of my information, from serious news to fashion. And I love Instagram because I love photography, so I like to get a little creative with that.
(*Follow her at @LianaLiberato on Twitter and @LianaLiberato on Instagram)

COTF: Last question of the night, favorite type of cake?

LL: Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top! I’m a total chocolate and strawberry person.

On that we cheered our cake forks as our interview ended and joined Kendall, Shevy, Sophi and Julia all shoulder to shoulder, hovered in front of Shevy’s computer to listen to the next tracks being put together. Singing along, celebrating the video, cell phones rapidly being checked and responded to, I could hear Liana tossing out ideas to Kendall as their eyes continued to get wide with excitement. The energy was infectious and I knew this crew was just getting started on what will be many, many projects together.

For Liana, life holds no limits, and we here at CakeOnTheFloor look forward to watching what she does next! Enjoy the ‘Not Gonna Fall’ music video here and stay tuned for future features on these lovely leading ladies.

Xxo – Sarah & Kristinakendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriterkendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriter,  Liana Liberatokendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriter,  Liana Liberatokendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floor, music video, LA, California, singer songwriter,  Liana Liberato

Sarah Post

Cuts For Custer

May 22, 2015

kendall custer, not gonna fall, 522, cake on the floorIn all respects, the video shoot Kristina and I were about to walk into should have been filled with nervous energy. It was a first time event for just about everyone who was working on it, and even the star herself had never even released a song, let alone could be prepared for the pressure of a make-or-break music debut. However, every single soul that was present for Kendall Custer’s ‘Not Gonna Fall’ video production was PRESENT. We walked into a well oiled machine. Each person knew their purpose and was eager to keep the energy moving throughout the large warehouse buried in downtown LA. Kristina and I quickly got into the groove of the work in progress, as we progressively got wrapped up in the magic and magnetic force that is watching a star on the rise!

Younger than me, yet with a mature air about her that made me feel like a juvenile, there was no denying Kendall’s confidence or poise. It was hard for me to remember that this was the same girl I was giving Port pointers to a few months ago over dessert, like I would to a younger sister. But here and now she was in command, nobody’s little anything, and I felt like I was talking to an old pro, not the girl who moved to LA two+ years ago from Boerne, Texas to start her music career.

“It’s crazy to me sometimes that this is happening the way it is… just all from the beginning, the first time. But then I think, of course that’s how it’s happening! Because we chose to make it happen! These are all my friends…”, Kendall says it best. It is by no means normal to arrive in LA, become best friends with fellow creatives/up & comers, hit it off with your first co-write (who then wants to produce you), and create the music that is special to you and YOU love. Then, sit on a floor and surprise your friends by playing your latest recording, letting them know you’re a secret agent, songwriting, guitar slinging, singer. But, that’s pretty much what happened to Kendall (except she says she’s not a secret agent, however I’m not convinced) and then add onto it that her best buddies wanted in on the creation of her video and public music debut.

You could feel the camaraderie and love between everyone on the ‘NGF’ set, so we were more than excited to be included in the warm and fuzzies going around at the craft service table while Kristina snapped behind the scenes shots. When Kendall finally got a break from filming, I pounced all over her to ask about this exciting time in her life, and also to please remember us when she gets to invite an entourage to the Grammys (we see “Best New Artist” in her future!). Here’s a bit of my convo with Kendall…

COTF: Tell me a little bit about the song, ‘Not Gonna Fall’, and what inspired you to write it?

KC: The song is about a guy I had met once… its that thing where the second you tell yourself not to fall, you’ve already fallen. So its that whole conversation going on in my head of “don’t fall!” but as you hear in the song, I already have.

COTF: What inspired your concept for the video?

KC: I was inspired by the relationship of a mutual friend of mine and Shevy’s. She was seeing this guy she really liked, who basically starting disappearing on her. It made her think the relationship was over…only to find out later he had actually traveled to Costa Rica and graffiti-ed a stencil of her and her dad on a huge wall there as a surprise! When Shevy told me the story, I thought it was the most romantic thing I had ever heard… So, when we chose to use that inspiartion for our characters [*Ryan Good and Kendall]  in the video, the same guy who made her stencil, actually made one of me! They are such an extremely talented, creative couple and I love how the use of the stencil shows the action of our characters, building up to this big reveal at the end… As a whole, the video represents miscommunication in relationships; the classic guy/girl thing where I think he’s not into me, but he actually is. Both my character and Ryan’s are stuck in the fear of not wanting to fall for each other, which is what the openeing room symbolizes… We’ve both put up these ‘walls’, but the difference is Ryan’s character is painting over these ‘walls’, with her.

COTF: Outside of having your friends around, what gave you your confidence on set?

KC: A lot of it was the control, in that I knew what to expect because we had been planning every detail, right down to the hand double!… it was all figured out, so I had nerves but I was more excited that the day was finally here… Also, my Dad surprised me and flew my Mom in. There are so many moments I’m glad she’s here for! Things I would have wanted to tell her, but never could have explained, so I’m glad we get to share this.

COTF: I know I love working with my BFF and you got to team up with two of yours on this project, is that right?

KC: Yes! Shevy Smith and Liana Liberato… Shevy really is my inspiration and role model. The smartest, most talented and overall balanced person I know, she’s a true gem. We formed our own game plan from the beginning, and I hope that we can continue to work like that!…Be in the Canyon and make the music… And I could never imagine anyone else directing this besides Liana. I mean she’s brilliant, tasteful, and I trust her whole-heartedly… We really all enjoyed going through this process together. It’s been our little baby!

COTF: Let’s dive in a little to how you and Liana teamed up…

KC: I met Liana a few days after I moved here, she was best friends with my roommate, and I got welcomed into their friend group…which was the biggest blessing. So almost three years ago we met, and it was really instant. It was so cool to be able to start this project from the beginning with her…I’d had the song, and had been very private about what I was doing with Shevy in the canyon… we would just work up here and were developing the sound so I wasn’t about to bring it to my friends and say “Oh listen!” as it was still being worked out… so once we had ‘Not Gonna Fall’ finished, I drove to Liana’s house, we sat on her living room floor with friends, and played it off of her big speaker. That was the first time she had heard anything I had been making… about halfway through the song she whispered to me “I will do anything to be a part of this..lets do a video” and that’s how the idea started with her directing! Since she had never directed before it was just cool, because it was my first anything; first song, first video, and it gets to be her first directorial debut. Obviously, she is a PRO and has been in the business for so long, so I was never worried about her directing, it was just nice to share in this new thing for both of us, from the ground up… She’s been a huge influence, and just sitting there a year and half ago on her floor to now, its crazy!

COTF: Did you run into any obstacles in making the video?

KC: We actually tried filming it before, but it just wasn’t working out, the timing wasn’t right, so I called it off. We were going to shoot in Brooklyn, but our resources were really here, so we regrouped… It was where the harder I worked on it, the further it got away. So I took a pause and knew that this wasn’t the right moment, I didn’t need to do this right now, because I wanted it to be right. So we put in on hold, and I realized that I wanted to do this with my crew. As soon as that decision was made it was game on! And everything started happening really fast. Our producer Julia Hodges is awesome and was the catalyst that got us going, and she’s from Boerne too! It was great to have relationships with the people that were working on the video, because generally on sets its not like that on the first day!…We really did create our own little collective and are already talking about what we’re doing next.
COTF: Speaking of next, what song will we be hearing from the album?

KC: I think it’s gonna be one about a boy from London who lied…

COTF: Count us intrigued! Ok now lets rewind a little, what came first for you; singing or guitar?

KC: Actually, writing! I learned to play guitar so I could write whole songs, and I would say that I am first and foremost a songwriter above anything else.

COTF: When did you start really putting your songwriting, singing, and guitar all together? Coming into your own so to speak…

KC: End of High School… but then when I moved here and went on my first co-write with Shevy, that had a lot to do with finding the sound.

COTF: When you write a song, do you have any rituals or habits?

KC: As it comes, it comes. But usually I’ll have one word or sentence that sticks in my mind and I’ll go off of that…I never start building a track before I write, it usually comes from the lyrics.

COTF: Can you take us a little more through your process?

KC: It starts with something that happened in my life, and I’ll think of a lyric or an idea for a song…and this whole EP has been a co-write with Shevy, we’ve written it together, so it generally goes; something happens in my life, me calling/crying/running to Shevy saying we have to write tonight, and us sitting on her kitchen counter for about 2 hours while I tell her what happened, and then we go into the studio and just do it…pour it out.

COTF: Ok a few fun and “easy” questions…Dead or alive, who would you want to do a duet with?

KC: That’s a tough one!… I honestly really like Elvis…and Patsy Cline!…but currently, I love this up and coming rapper from London, Loyle Carner. Shevy sent me this video he did a few months ago….he’s so cool… I swear he’s gonna blow up within the year, watch!

COTF: Whats the first thing you do in the morning?

KC: Drink coffee.

COTF: How do you like to stay active?

KC: I’ve been doing POP Physique with Liana, SoulCycle, and then run and hike.

COTF: Favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

KC: I’ve never been to Europe and would love to go… hoping my life takes me there soon. But, I really do love California! I feel lucky to work here in Topanga Canyon, to have found my niche… That might not be ‘traveling’ to many, or an exciting answer, but it really is my favorite place.

COTF: Any words of wisdom you like to turn to?

KC: I love that Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” And Galatians 5:22 is really big for me… it was my Grandmother’s favorite verse, and it’s ultimately about being a good person, the fruit of the spirit; love, joy patience and kindness.
(*It’s also tattooed on the inside of her finger and the clever release date of NGF!)

COTF: How do you like to relax?

KC: Going to the beach, movies… anything with my friends!

COTF: Favorite brunch spot?

KC: I’m really into this place in Highland Park, Cafe De Leche, it’s my hang right now. You have to try their iced horchata!

COTF: What’s your favorite social media app?

KC: I like Instagram (*follow her @KendallCuster)

COTF: And of course, what’s your favorite kind of cake?

KC: Coffee Cake!…with ice cream, coffee ice-cream…

We can’t stress enough how heavy we’ve had ‘Not Gonna Fall’ on repeat, and Kendall knows I’m already dying for the dance remix. And of course, the next single (my inside sources say that the next tracks are currently being cut by miss Custer)! Stay tuned as we get more insight on Kendall’s career with our follow up interview featuring the lovely Liana.

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Sarah Post

Smith & Lessons

May 19, 2015

I’m not one of those girls who has 50 friends and is always jetting off to spa days and brunches. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or that I wouldn’t enjoy that being my life for awhile, but it just isn’t my reality. Instead, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always surrounded myself with a very tight crew. I’m blessed to say the quality of that crew is pretty damn high, and one of my most recent and respected gals I’m fortunate enough to orbit around is the one and only Shevy Smith.

Shevy and I met a few years ago when she came in to take one of my mat Pilates classes and I instantly hoped she’d come back so I could wear her down into becoming my friend. Luckily for me, the feeling was mutual! And it was’t long before we were grabbing weekly glasses of wine and gabbing about our entire lives. I soon learned that while she has an impressive past (which I will briefly tell you about next), her present is inspiring and her future is ridiculously exciting!

Born and raised in Haven, Kansas farmland, Shevy started playing guitar at 10 years old because it was more portable than the piano she had already been playing since she was 4. Singing & songwriting was a natural part of the musical process for her, she began collaborating with a music producer by 14, and then moved to Nashville immediately following high school. Here I thought I was adventurous for running away with the band when I was 19, but Shevy WAS the band. After working with a publishing house, playing internationally and touring over 500 shows, her personal and professional life took a turn to the west and she found herself wanting to separate from Nashville and setting roots down in Topanga Canyon, CA.

Ready to take a break from touring life and reconnect with her passion for music, she started Forte Poesy in the Fall of 2009 to teach not only instrumental, but songwriting skills to kids who were hungry to learn. Inspired by the work with her students, she wrote, produced, performed and recorded her own album Ad Astra in her Topanga home studio, and began writing and producing for others. Fast forward to today and Shevy continues to run successful music writing, education, and performing school Forte Poesy, is also a 2014 Emmy nominated and ProMax Gold winning producer and composer, and (as if that isn’t career consuming enough) Shevy found time to collaborate with and continues to passionately support a cause very dear to her; the Afghan Women’s Writing Project (AWWP). I think its pretty clear why I have so much respect for her drive, hustle, and heart, and it doesn’t hurt that she makes me laugh my face off and is an incredibly supportive friend to boot. Obviously I wanted her to meet Kristina (because I knew they’d be instant old souls) and to do a little collaborating of our own…

So when Kristina did recently come to visit me in L.A., we got backstage access to Shevy’s latest project and a behind the scenes peek at what I can honesty say is the next BIG thing. Secretly meeting under the guise of gals just getting together, there’s been the set up for a star to shoot out of Shevy’s Topanga lab! Let us be the first to tell you the name behind the song you’ll soon have stuck in your head; Kendall Custer! Over the past year Shevy has been guiding the young songstress into creating her debut album, and the first single is about to drop this Friday. As we hung out back stage at Kendall’s first music video shoot, I snagged some time with Shevy to learn more about her new artist, what we can expect to hear coming down the pipeline, and some fun facts about the boss lady herself. Here’s some of our conversation as CakeOnTheFloor crashed the set of Not Gonna Fall….

COTF: Lets start with telling us a little about Kendall and how you met…

SHEVY: We met a few years ago.. set up to write together by a mutual advocate in the business, Tracie Verlinde. She’s (Tracie) just one of those people where you really trust their intuition, and Kendall had gone in to meet with her and she said “I know who you need to write with!”… Kendall came up to my place in Topanga for her first cowrite, and it just worked! The chemistry was there…cowriting is a lot like dating, you know within the first few minutes if this is gonna be a natural fit… and we just wrote really fast.

COTF: What is the first track you will be releasing off of Kendall’s album?

SHEVY: The song we’re here filming for today; Not Gonna Fall.

COTF: Can you share a bit about how the concept for the video came about?

SHEVY: My best friend from childhood, Jessica, is a TV producer in New York and is fantastically creative in everything she does. She just attracts really talented and creative people, like her boyfriend, who is an artist in many mediums but does this amazing street and graffiti art in Brooklyn. Awhile back they were getting ready to go on a trip to Costa Rica together. Around this time, David (her boyfriend) just seemed really unavailable, to the point where Jess was getting super frustrated and wondering if they should even go on the trip. When they did finally leave, everything was going great, but after arriving he disappeared and she started to wonder what was going on again. Finally, he comes back saying he has something to show her… Now, there’s an iconic picture to anyone who knows Jess, of her and her dad (who she lost abruptly to ALS disease) where he’s holding her as a young girl. David had made a stencil of this image, hid it in their luggage, and then tagged an entire wall with it in Costa Rica!… It was a classic case of a guy trying to do the most thoughtful thing he could, but the girl thinks he’s not thinking of her, and just when she gets fed up, there’s this reveal and it is so specifically thoughtful…  When we started talking about this video, I told Kendall the story and we thought we could do something interesting to show this miscommunication between men and women; where the guy can know he’s doing the most thoughtful thing, but if he doesn’t communicate it to the girl, she thinks he’s checked out… We knew there were certain players we wanted involved in the video, and now there’s this cool continuity to the story and the video because David made a stencil of one of Kendall’s promo photos that will be tagged and filmed here in downtown LA.

COTF: Now that we know the inspiration for the video, what inspired the song?

SHEVY: Kendall had a night out at an LA party… where she had an exchange with a guy and had that feeling of “there’s something here but I don’t know if I should trust you with my feelings” … its less about an existing relationship & more about a possibility, and that miscommunication of intention versus perception… and thats what the song really capitalizes on.

COTF: Can you tell us what song will be coming out next?

SHEVY: I can give some hints….It’s a song thats really difficult to stop singing! And I can say that as the biggest critic of most anything I’m a part of… its one that gets in your head! It also has a very strong U.K. connection and it is a collaboration with a wonderful esteemed artist, so I’m super excited for that tie in.

COTF: Now lets get to know a little bit more about YOU! When you’re writing songs, do you have any rituals to get into the writing “zone”?

SHEVY: For me its a faucet, you just keep the faucet running… A lot of the water gets wasted, some of it doesn’t get used, its rusty, some is dirty, but some of its clear and wonderful. For me, if I waited for all the “conditions” to be right, I would never write. I find the more that I do, the more I get done, so I have very few moments in my week when I actually sit down and write, most of it happens in my head…sometimes I make notes into my phone… But for the most part, if its good enough it sticks in my memory and if it isn’t, I don’t have this fear of “I had this great line and I lost it!”. Usually if its truly a good line its there, and it comes back around… I do like writing with pencil more than pen, but i don’t have a special notebook or anything… I find the music lives a foot above my head at all times, I just have to reach up and grab at it.

COTF: As an artist yourself, coming from this place of touring, writing your own songs, being on a label, and knowing it all from that vantage point.. what has been the biggest transition for you going into this producer role and cultivating your own artist?

SHEVY: I can eat whatever I want on the set of the video! No, that’s silly, but honestly I like the chameleon aspect of it… the variety. I love the challenges of it… of how do I combine what this artist wants to get across, what the client want to get across , while also tucking these cool little things in that satisfy me… and probably only me, I’m probably the only person that notices them, but its fun! ….to finish something and have it meet all the needs of all the people, from the artist to the listener, or whoever is involved, to create a piece that is moving to all of those people and still artistically satisfying, that is complicated and rewarding!

COTF: How do you put it all together when you’re working with an artist?

SHEVY: Kendall is the first artist I’ve developed. Wow, I feel like that’s such a Svengali word!… Kendall developed herself, I’ve developed as a producer, and we’ve grown together… its really a team thing. But I think its just shedding your ego whenever possible and really listening…its the tenets of any good relationship that make a producer artist relationship work well…really listening, and accommodating, however still trusting your instincts…just removing all the pressure, creating something that serves the moment and moves us, and from there its just fun! How can we layer this, add instrumentation…then, what can I possible strip away?…With Kendall that’s really important. Her voice is so unique, her lyrics are really thoughtful, and they deserve to have center stage. If you write a strong enough song you shouldn’t need to add too much.

COTF: Now some fun and “get-to-know-you-better” questions… Dead or alive, who would you most want to do a duet with?

SHEVY: Ooooh…Can I make it a trio?!…. Emmylou Harris and Kid Cudi… & can I add in Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem? I like super groups… I’d like to write something with them or do a Leonard Cohen album cut.

COTF: Whats the first thing you do in the morning?

SHEVY: Check my emails on my phone…and tell my dogs to go back to sleep!

COTF: What do you do to stay active?

SHEVY: I run a lot, surf as much as I can, and (I’m not saying this because you’re interviewing me!) I throw on your videos!… Do planks, the advice you gave me about adding in squats and just finding a moment to fit it in…and anything I can do to wear out my dogs!

COTF: Whats your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?

SHEVY: I was marooned on a Sardinian island for like six days and that was pretty wonderful!…But the most formative place I’ve been is Afghanistan, that left an indelible mark on me.

COTF: Any go to words of wisdom?

SHEVY: I have LOTS of them!… The Mary Oliver poem, Wild Geese, is probably the compass that I always come back to… its the “…you don’t have to be good, you don’t have to crawl through the desert on your knees repenting, you just have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

COTF: Your favorite way to spend your down time?

SHEVY: At the beach, or hiking, and honestly playing music!…it’s still what I do when I have a moment.

COTF: Favorite brunch spot?

SHEVY: Canyon Bistro in Topanga!

COTF: Favorite social media app?

SHEVY: I really like Twitter! I get all my news off of Twitter and I feel like its the only one that expands my knowledge of the world. (*follow her @ShevySmith)

COTF: Last, but of course not least, whats your favorite kind of cake!?

SHEVY: Cheesecake… My Mom’s cherry cheesecake. Its not quite as thick as New York style, but its not like Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake…which I’m not knocking! I like that too!

And we sure like Shevy Smith! Stay tuned this week for our follow up interview with Kendall and the drop of her first single Not Gonna Fall! Now excuse us while we work on our songwriting and put our headphones back in, volume on 11….

Xxo- Sarah & Kristina

cake on the floorcake on the floorcake on the floorcake on the floor

Together Is Better

Let The Cards Fall Where They May…

May 11, 2015

From Sarah: I grew up in a fairly small town as part of a very happily diligent Christian family. We attended church every Sunday (and usually Wednesday), my parents held various prominent roles, I frequently sang special music to the congregation, and Christmas was hands down the BEST celebration of the year. We also never celebrated Halloween. NEVER. I recall attending a harvest festival at church in Junior High but you get the picture; I was more Easter Bunny than would ever be Trick-Or-Treater.

It was never presented to me as “witch craft” per se, but Ouija Boards, Mystics, Spells, Tarot Cards and the like were absolutely not things to be played with or practiced during my youth. So you can understand that at the age of 30, as I booked my very first Tarot Card reading at the House Of Intuition, I could feel the baby devil horns pop out of my head, just a little. As I jumped in the car with Kristina to head to the reading, the consistently sunny weather turned to a downpour of rain and I was certain we would miss at least one of our appointments. I offered to forfeit mine, given I didn’t think I’d believe in it anyway, Kristina had her own personal questions to ask about, and I was fairly sure the rain storm was sent by either GOD or my Mom. Fully prepared to sit and smell incense, I was pleasantly surprised to enter into a calming little shop where Kate, our reader, was relaxed and waiting for us. Assuring me the delay in arrival was no trouble, I was whisked into a tiny room and my reading began….

SPOILER ALERT: I’m totally not going to tell you what she told me! Why? Because it was SO personal!! But I will share a little bit about what was revealed to me, and give you an idea of what to expect if you ever decide to dabble in your destiny.

As I sat at the small table, Kate made me feel instantly at ease. Like a girlfriend I’d go to Pilates with, we fell into an instant report and she explained to me that Tarot Cards don’t “tell you the future” but more so read your energy and allow you to understand lessons you are currently learning or need to learn, and where you are headed based on your current actions. She reminded me that life is all free will, and that I am in control of my ultimate destiny; I can change the cards.

Her way of explaining the process made me feel totally different about what was about to go down, I was much more interested and excited, and it was time to start. Knock on the deck three times, deep breaths, shuffle, split, make three piles, and then Kate the Great starts laying down your life! You can ask as general or as specific of a question as you like, and since I didn’t really know what I wanted to ask, I started with a general life read. Three cards get placed in front of you, the first representing where you’ve been, the next where you are, and the last gives you an idea of where you’re going if you stay in your current path. My first three cards had me in tears with how personal and accurate they were to me and my life. I felt like Kate KNEW me, but not in a creepy way, in a comforting way, like family. As we continued through my 30minutes, my life was played out in the cards depictions and a whole story started revealing itself. It was so much more insightful than I ever could have anticipated, and as my time came to an end, I was filled with a sense of understanding and an overall overwhelming positive vibe.

I walked out so Kristina could walk in, DYING to share with her what had been discussed during my reading and DYING to know what hers would reveal. I wandered the shop while I waited and ended up with two stones, carved into skulls, to take home as trinkets. The first, a large black onyx from Peru, was said to absorb and transform negative energy and help prevent the drain of personal energy. It also aids in the development of emotional and physical strength and stamina, especially when support is needed during times of stress. Who couldn’t use a little of that?? The second piece, a much smaller green aventurine skull, is said to promote vitality, growth, and confidence as well as help you be willing to heal and move forward with your life. It assists in finding hope, optimism, and joy in daily life and helps heal and regulate the heart and circulatory system. Now while I’d never trust these statements from a “diet pill” or “super drug”, my tiny stones make me happy and have no harmful side effects, so bring on the positive stone power!

Once our readings and shopping were complete, I left the House Of Intuition motivated and in a really good mood. While not everything in my reading was positive, it was all presented in a way that made me feel very in control of where I’m going in life, and for that, I thank Kate. I can honestly say that had I ducked into a $10 Tarot House (which are sprinkled EVERYWHERE in the valley) I wouldn’t have had anything close to the same experience. I found my session to be therapeutic more than the hocus pocus I was originally expecting, and thats in part because Kate never at any point is trying to scare you into buying more time, to get deeper into a reading, or to have some made up curse lifted off of you. Should you decide to take a try at Tarot, do your homework and find someone you feel good about (Kristina and I read through multiple bios before choosing Kate)! Just like going to a therapist, you want to choose someone you feel you can be open with, even if you’re not the one doing the talking.

Would I do a Tarot reading again? Yes! But I view this experience like I do my chiropractor appointments; I go about once a year to check up on my alignment and get my body balanced, more if I get an injury. I can absolutely see myself having a yearly touch base with Kate, to get my energy read and to remind myself of the powerful role I play in creating my own destiny. In the in-between time, I will keep my card shuffling reserved for games of go fish, and leave you with this final note from my reading… The cards look GREAT for CakeOnTheFloor!, and thats a future prediction I can totally vibe with.

House of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorHouse of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorFrom Kristina: From a photographer’s perspective I think I was more excited to photograph the House of Intuition than to get my reading. I just imagined colorful, new content and moody lighting. Also, I just knew Kate would be up for a photo op! Kate, if you are reading this…THANK YOU for letting me take your portrait. I loved getting to photograph you. (I will show my fave photos of Kate at the end of this post) She was so humble/flattered we wanted to blog about her and couldn’t she stop giggling when I started to take her photos. It was the best.

As I waited for Sarah to get her reading, I started asking the person at the front desk questions. What products do you regularly use? What has been your favorite product? Turns out, as soon as he purchased and lit the “money candle” he got an interview to work at the House of Intuition and has worked there ever since. Hence the lovely portrait of him with THE candle. As I thought about his experience with the “money candle”, I stared to think about energy and what you put out into the universe with your thoughts. I won’t bore you with all my thoughts on the matter, but let’s just say I do think you “get what you give”.  I’m glad to hear of people thinking with intention and receiving a positive outcome.

After some wandering around in the shop I found myself checking out all the crystals, gems and stones. Each was labeled with a long description of powers/energy it holds. The kind man let me know you are drawn crystals or stones you need. With that in mind I purchased a small piece of a “Peacock Stone” AKA Bornite. Here was the description: “The stone of happiness and imparts the message that life is truly a journey. Used to protect from negativity and removes blocks that prevent reaching goals. Helps release that which is no long useful, breaking old patterns.” With lots of goals for this year, it seemed to fit the bill and be just what I needed.

Patiently waiting my turn I sat in the chair near the door of the Tarot reading room and heard Sarah and Kate laughing. Knowing Sarah was having a good time with Kate made me even more excited for my first reading and before I knew it, I was sitting down and shuffling.

I didn’t realize I was allowed to ask the cards questions. Having not really thought about what I wanted to ask, I just jumped to the first thing that has been on my mind. Babies! Yep, news flash everyone, we want to be parents. And here is the exciting news, after pulling certain cards, Kate told me that I would be pregnant by the end of the year. I happily accepted this prediction and am going to fly back down to California to give Kate a huge high-five when this happens. 🙂 You heard it here first folks.

Next up on my mind was my Grandma Ya Ya (Crystal). She has had some health concerns lately and I asked about her well-being. Kate told me she will overcome her illness and meet my future baby. She also told me Ya Ya was my older sister in a previous life. Which makes perfect sense! We are cut from the same cloth and I just LOVE that woman. Again, news I was glad hear.

Lastly, I asked about our blog and any predictions for the future. Here are the cards I got. Seven of Cups, Magus and Ace of Disks. Both the Magus and Ace of Disks are known by different names in certain decks, however they have similar meanings. With these three cards combined I was told some very positive and encouraging information. I do believe it’s safe to say COTF is going to be around for a while! Cheers to blogging our hearts out! Overall I have a good inclination 2015 is going to be an awesome year and can’t wait to see where we’re at in a few months. I’ll close with the words painted on the storefront. “Your intuition lead you here…”House of Intuition, Highland Park, CA, tarot cards, herbs, crystals, mystics, cake on the floorYou can follow House of Intuition on Instagram HERE.

 

Together Is Better

Country Inspired Concoctions

May 5, 2015

Nashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonNashville, Rayna Jaymes, Deacon Claybourne, Cocktails, Bourbon, Drinks, Cake On The Floor, Two Stars, Sparkling Wine, California, WashingtonWe all lead busy lives, but who doesn’t like a good show (or two) to wind down too? For us here at COTF, Nashville is the ticket! Good music, drama, plot twists, love affairs, drama, friendships, and did we mention good music? We were instantly hooked, and love sharing our takes on every episode with one another week by week.

If you are watching and loving the show as much as us, then you know lately you need a stiff drink to handle all the action! And what says Nashville more than Bourbon and Whiskey?

In preparation for Kristina’s last visit to see Sarah in California, we held off on the last two episodes so we could create tasty concoctions and be shocked by the show together. But what cocktails to make? At first we thought we’d make a drink inspired by every character, but soon realized our livers weren’t as ambitious as the writers for the cast. So instead, we decided to focus on two main characters; country music star Rayna Jaymes and her on-again-off-again-on-again love interest, guitarist Deacon Claybourne.

If you don’t know anything about them, we think these drinks will do the talking! So lets start with the leading lady. For Rayna we chose a Bourbon based Sangria, because just like the drink, Rayna gets better with time! And this cocktail has a strong spirt with a little sweetness to round it out, just like her. So here’s our recipe for “Make It Rayna Sangria”…

MAKE IT RAYNA SANGRIA

Ingredients:

2 Oranges (sliced by mandolin or peeled into wedges)
1 Can of Pineapple Rings
1/2 Cup of Pomegranate seeds
2 Cups Pomegranate Juice
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 Cup Bourbon
1/2 a Lemon squeezed
2 Bottles of Champagne
Ice

Directions:

In a large dispenser or pitcher, combine the pomegranate juice and sugar by stirring together. While the sugar is dissolving, use a mandolin (or feel free to hand slice if you don’t favor your fingers like we do) to thinly slice the oranges. Next drain the juice from the pineapple slices and then combine the pineapple, orange slices, and pomegranate seeds to to the pitcher. Next measure out your Bourbon (we chose Two Stars since, hey, we’re focusing on two stars) and add it as well as squeezing the lemon juice into the mix. Place in the fridge to let the flavors combine for at least 30 minutes (but a few hours is best). When ready to serve, add the champaign. If serving in a dispenser like we did, you can scoop in as much ice as you deem necessary and add more as your party goes on. If serving out of a pitcher, fill glasses half with ice, top with sangria and garnish with pomegranate seeds. Yummmmmmm.

Not to be spoiler alert, but Deacon’s character is not one to partake in a libation. So in his honor we constructed a Old Fashioned whiskey inspired “Mocktail” for your guests, or just those nights when alcohol doesn’t fit the bill. We’re calling it the “DeaCan’t”, for when we can’t.

THE DEACAN’T

Ingredients:

Tea – A barley tea is best, but the one we chose was Numi HoneyBush Organic Tea, which has a rich earthy flavor a honey overtones.
Bitters – We chose to add a little flavor with Orange Bitters
Lemon
Sugar or simple syrup

Directions:

Start by brewing two tea bags for at least 20 minutes. Once tea is brewed, place in the fridge until completely chilled (At least 3 hours).
Pour tea into cocktail shaker and add bitters (few drops to start) and squeeze just a bit of the lemon in. Add one tsp of sugar and shake. Add more bitters as needed to achieve the smokey flavor of whiskey, then pour over ice and garnish with lemon peel to serve.

Cheers & ENJOY!!!

XXoo – Kristina & Sarah