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#LocalLens: Jordan’s Golden Deserts and Night Skies with...

Sat, 05/09/2015 - 14:16


#LocalLens: Jordan’s Golden Deserts and Night Skies with @farahfoudeh

For more from Jordan, explore the Amman, Jordan location page. To see more photos from Farah, follow @farahfoudeh on Instagram

“The landscape in Wadi Rum gives you the feeling of being on Mars, and the night sky reminds you how small we really are,” says Farah Foudeh (@farahfoudeh), who lives and works in Amman, Jordan. The 23-year-old grew up in Nigeria, but says she always found a way back home to Amman where she spent summers as a child. Farah spends her spare time hiking and exploring her surroundings and her love for Jordan led to a job at the country’s tourism board. “I am a sucker for silhouettes,” she says, naming Wadi Ibn Hammad and Wadi al Kerak canyons as great places to shoot. “They have natural water flowing through them, and interesting vegetation grows there as a result. You sometimes have desert valleys with palm trees growing horizontally in all directions from the side of the mountains.”

She adds, “One thing people might not know about Jordan is that it gets pretty green here in spring,” referencing mountains in the north of the country. But Farah’s favorite location is the Dead Sea at sunset or sunrise. “The stillness of the Dead Sea mirrors the colors of the sunset perfectly on a clear day.”

Here are some more of Farah’s favorite places to shoot:

  • The Siq in Petra — “The narrow pass-way between the canyon walls makes it quite easy to get great compositions, not to mention the lighting there is stunning.”
  • Wadi Ibn Hammad, Wadi al Kerak and Wadi Assal — “The canyons are great place to shoot! When the sun is setting I love how the light is reflected off the wet canyon walls.”
  • Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon — “It’s a three-hour drive from the city, and the perfect getaway to connect with nature and just relax. The silhouettes of the mountains are breathtaking at sunrise, and the entire desert is golden for a few minutes.”

Inside Scotland’s Gorgeous Retro-Futuristic @tapestudio To see...

Sat, 05/09/2015 - 13:44

Inside Scotland’s Gorgeous Retro-Futuristic @tapestudio

To see more inside Tape Studio, head over to @tapestudio on Instagram. For more behind-the-scenes music stories, check out @music.

What a song we’d hear if these walls could sing.

In bygone times, they housed a brothel, a cork factory and a whisky bond, and now they’re home to Edinburgh’s Tape Recording Studio (@tapestudio) –– a warm and bright digital / analog haven whose vintage sonic arsenal has ties to Pink Floyd, ABC, Fleetwood Mac, the Kinks, Marilyn Manson and ABBA.

Studio director Fiona McNab and record producer Stephen Watkins launched Tape in December 2013, as an antidote to the dingy squalor of many male-dominated recording studios. The stunningly renovated 19th century warehouse is embedded in musical history from its (floating) foundations up, as Stephen –– part steampunk pin-up, part encyclopedic pop tour guide –– explains as we explore the building.

It’s welcoming and retro-futuristic –– from the brilliant-white fabric walls (the guys who fitted them had just finished working on the home studio of David Gilmour, from Pink Floyd) through the neon glow in Tape’s impressive double-height live space (“It’s like Blade Runner in here at nighttime”), to an archaic-looking giant beast –– part-wooden tomb, part-submarine –– that transpires to be a 1960s plate reverb. (“We bought that from the Kinks’ Ray Davies. It sounds like old Fleetwood Mac records.”)

And then there’s Archie, the studio dog, whose squeaky-bone chewing and scampering paws play out like friendly metronomes.

Every corner of the building has a purpose –– a vocal booth here, an echo chamber there –– not to mention rooms and shelves heaving with kaleidoscopic audio-visual treats that range from the 1940s to the present day. These include myriad analog recorders, boom boxes, effects pedals, instruments, all manner of reverb systems (“That’s like the one ABC used on The Lexicon of Love”) and tube limiters (“You’ll hear something like that on Marilyn Manson and Weezer records”).

There are cozy sofas and home comforts, lava lamps and diamante dinosaurs, ornamental cheetahs, glam-rock My Little Ponies, a wall-mounted stag’s head and a blood-red hand idly flicking the Vs.

Both Stephen and Fiona talk engagingly about the theater of the studio, as an instrument and as a living, breathing organism – and clearly these philosophies are integral to the Tape ethos. “We want the studio experience to be tangible and exciting – and inspiring,” offers Fiona.

“Music should be a union of equipment, technology, techniques, ideas, songs and the ambience that’s captured in a building,” Stephen adds. Fiona offers a case in point. “I think a good example of what Stephen’s talking about is TeenCanteen, who’ve just been in recording,” she suggests. The Glasgow indie-pop four-piece have released a couple of well-received singles and worked with the Vaselines’ Eugene Kelly, BMX Bandits and Bill Ryder-Jones, but this sounds like a step up.

“When you hear the new songs they’ve done with Stephen, it’s quite a departure,” says Fiona. Stephen plays us the tracks they’ve been working on and, true to this, TeenCanteen appear to be morphing from twee-pop rabble to dramatic, Ronettes-era girl group, reinforced by killer strings. “That’s Stephen’s strength,” Fiona offers. “Bringing a band in and working with them from the ground up, to develop what’s in their heads.”

“I think TeenCanteen are the best new band in Scotland,” says Stephen. “Carla [Easton, singer-songwriter] has really clear ideas. They’re all about being a girl group and being feminists. Their influences are quite 1960s – harmonies, Phil Spector, Wall of Sound.” Stephen’s studio aesthetic and TeenCanteen’s pop ethos make for a righteous match. “They want things widescreen and orchestrated over-the-top – and, of course, if you look around the studio, you can see that’s totally my thing too,” he laughs.

It sounds like a singular labor of love. The same could be said for Tape Studio.

–– Nicola Meighan for Instagram @music

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPmydailyroute Weekend Hashtag...

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 19:10

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPmydailyroute

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

The assignment this weekend is to make photos and videos along a route that you walk frequently. The goal is to capture moments of things that are so familiar that we pass by without considering them worthy of being photographed. Our inspiration for the challenge comes from Stephen Shore (@stephen.shore), a celebrated photographer famous for his pioneering use of color photography as an art form. Stephen has spent his career examining what it means to really look at the world, and has found that what we choose to see is as important as the subject itself. “We sometimes have filters in our minds about what makes a ‘good’ picture. Then we see the world through these filters,” says Stephen. “The aim of this assignment is to make more direct contact with the world and to see without these filters — to take the pictures we’ve learned not to take.”

Here are some tips to get you started with advice from Stephen:

  • Follow a route or a walk you take regularly.
  • Try to see this familiar route as if for the first time. “Imagine you are giving a friend from another city a silent, visual tour of your world,” suggests Stephen.
  • Look for details of ordinary scenes that have a life of their own.
  • Finally, keep in mind that what looks ordinary and unremarkable now will change over time. “Subjects that were overlooked yesterday can become a source of meaning and metaphors today,” says Stephen.

PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPmydailyroute hashtag only to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own photographs to the project. Any tagged image taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured Monday morning.

Diving Into the Delicately Detailed Woodwork of...

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 14:37

Diving Into the Delicately Detailed Woodwork of @mcnabbstudio

To see more of James’ works and the studio life with his wife Stephanie and the two shop dogs Buster and Riley, follow @mcnabbstudio

“I could talk for days about wood,” admits Philadelphia artist James McNabb (@mcnabbstudio). “Its rich history. The amazing varieties of colors, patterns and textures that nature has created in it.”

Inspired by his father, a skilled carpenter, James took his first woodworking class in high school. “At that time, I struggled with the typical textbook/chalkboard style classroom dynamic, and felt more comfortable in a setting with hands-on learning techniques,” he remembers. Now, with his own studio and over a decade of experience in making wooden objects, James, who’s 30, creates delicately detailed sculptures of urban landscapes. “Like a painter uses a paintbrush, I work primarily on a band saw to produce abstracted architectural forms,” he says, adding, “The work is designed to be engaging from a distance, and like a city skyline from afar, reveal layers of patterns and textures as the journey gets closer to the object.”

Photographers Rally to Stream Images for Earthquake Relief with...

Fri, 05/08/2015 - 07:45

Photographers Rally to Stream Images for Earthquake Relief with @nepalphotoproject

To learn more about the Nepal earthquake crisis and relief efforts, receive updates and follow @nepalphotoproject on Instagram.

“Growing up in Kathmandu was magical,” says Sumit Dayal (@sumitdayal) reflecting on his childhood in Nepal. “At the time, literally a small quaint Kingdom. A home with a small cowshed and an orchard in the backyard. A larger than life tree towering over an old temple, stretching its long arms over the entire neighborhood.”

For the New Delhi-based photojournalist, whose family had moved from Kashmir to Kathmandu a generation ago, the past year has been marked by seasons of disaster. In the fall of 2014, torrential rain and floodwaters engulfed his family’s ancestral home in Srinagar, and less than two weeks ago, a massive earthquake struck Nepal, where his parents still live, killing thousands of people, and obliterating entire villages. “She broke down,” says Sumit, describing the moment when he reached his mother by phone. “She was in shock and completely shaken.”

He flew back to Kathmandu, while aftershocks were still rocking the city, and rallied a team of photographers from across the region to participate in a collective Instagram account called @nepalphotoproject, streaming real-time updates to aid organizations and families desperate for news of loved ones. While describing his network as “anarchic,” Sumit has been stunned by the group’s impact, as his team scouts out areas in need of assistance, passing on imagery and even GPS coordinates to crisis responders, and directing offers for donations to volunteer groups on the scene. “We’re not chasing news trails or going out there to do devastation porn,” he says bluntly. “We’re telling the stories the way they are and putting these visuals to work in a more practical, purposeful ways.”

In the Woodshop with @rosannacoyne May 4-8 is Small Business...

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:02

In the Woodshop with @rosannacoyne

May 4-8 is Small Business Week in the United States. To see more photos and videos from Rosanna’s woodworking studio, follow @rosannacoyne on Instagram.

“I was exposed to tools and materials from a young age,” explains woodworker Rosanna Coyne (@rosannacoyne) of Hampden, Massachusetts, who traces her creative roots back to her parents, who emigrated from Italy. “In middle school, I was fortunate to be in the first class where woodshop classes were offered to female students.”

Woodworking would remain a weekend passion for Rosanna until, after a decade in insurance, she left her job to apprentice under a master woodcarver. Rosanna opened her own shop after nine years of intensive study, but found there was lots of downtime between commissions. “To fill that time I began woodturning. I found it to be very satisfying, with objects made in hours instead of weeks or months,” she says. “I was also drawn to using material that was destined for the woodpile or landfill.”

“Successful woodturning is in the ‘seeing’ as much as in the doing,” Rosanna explains. The orientation of the wood grain dictates how it’s turned, what shape it takes and, most importantly, whether it warps or cracks. In the end, however, adaptability is paramount: “Having the ability to fix your mistakes makes a good woodworker great.”

Home, Sweet Home on Jeju Island with @_jeje For more photos and...

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 14:02

Home, Sweet Home on Jeju Island with @_jeje

For more photos and videos by Ji Sook and Ji Young, follow @_jeje on Instagram.

After years of living in cities like Seoul and Tokyo, sisters Ji Sook and Ji Young Heo (@_jeje) returned to Jeju Island off the southern coast of South Korea, three years ago. “We realized the same thing: our hometown is the most amazing place in the world,” says Ji Young, who, like her sister, works as a commercial photographer. “We could only notice by going to a foreign country.” The sisters’ dreamy photos of this idyllic island — which often feature each other, or models — were recently made into a book. “We drive all day to find the best spots to take our pictures — the sea, forest, mountains, farms, flowers and animals.”

Before becoming photographers, the sisters both pursued visual careers: Ji Sook studied oil painting and then worked as a color psychology counselor, while Ji Young studied Japanese painting and worked as a curator at an art museum. “We have sensitive eyes; a different approach to color. Especially Ji Sook,” Ji Young says. “But that is not strange, considering her job.”

Perhaps photography was always their destiny. “We grew up under the influence of our grandparents,” Ji Sook says. “They were both photographers.”

Around the World and Behind the Turntables with DJ...

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 14:00

Around the World and Behind the Turntables with DJ @locodiceofc

To see more of Loco Dice’s photos, follow @locodiceofc on Instagram. For more music stories from around the world, check out @music on Instagram.

The first time German DJ Loco Dice (@locodiceofc) performed for a crowd was in 1991, at a basement party, using equipment he and his friend had picked out of the garbage.

“You know, Germany is so rich, they throw all the best parts away,” says Dice. “You always find something you can use. ‘Oh, a broken turntable? What is broken? We can fix it with duct tape.’ There’s stuff you can repair if you want to repair it.”

Dice has since upgraded his tools, which you can spot in the concert photos he posts from around the world. But top-of-the-line equipment doesn’t necessarily mean going big every time he hits the stage. When Dice plays abroad, he tends to travel light. No need to tote a huge vinyl collection and studio with you when you can just bring the essentials: a mixer, a turntable and a laptop (also, some tequila).

Loco Dice is a veteran of the international DJ circuit. While his current live tastes veer toward house and techno, his roots are firmly entrenched in hip-hop. Growing up in Germany, Dice would often drive to Amsterdam to get the latest rap records from America. In fact, before he switched to his current gig, he tried emceeing. He even released a single in his native country and was on tour with Snoop Dogg. But, due to his large record stash, friends began to wonder whether he’d be up for DJing instead.

“I was like, ‘I suck as a DJ as much as I suck as a rapper,’” says Dice. “They were like, ‘Well, you can’t go wrong, because you suck at both.’”

Dice was right about changing focus, but wrong about his skills. He was soon performing all over the globe, often for big, sprawling crowds. (A personal highlight was his set at Love Parade, which attracted upward of a million people.) But he’s more anxious about the smaller gigs –– the intimate 150- to 200-seat capacity clubs, where the connection between you and the audience can be both intimate and intimidating. “I get really nervous, because everyone is really close to you,” he says. “Everybody can see every mistake –– they are right in your face.”

Big or small, in cold weather or hot, wherever Dice travels, he likes to soak it all in and get a feel for the community who have gathered to watch him perform. As he explains, once you understand the culture and the people, then you will know how to vibe with them. Take his recent trip to South Africa, with the Bridges For Music program, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of developing countries through music.

“They are very proud people, they are very good people, they are very intelligent people,” he says. “There is a very colorful culture there. They are very open-minded, and they took me with open arms, and I loved it.”

For Dice, anywhere he goes, the music is always king. It’s about mixing styles and experimenting with new ways of hyping a crowd. It’s about connecting with the audience. It’s about bringing songs to the people, no matter the instrument or newest gadget you have on the table in front of you.

“In the end, I am a musician,” he says. “We work with the music and we work with the vibe and it can’t be 100 percent perfect. Never. I am just a human. It’s not my computer who’s doing the music –– it’s still me, it’s still me who’s deciding how to work it out. This is the exciting thing about being a DJ.”

–– Instagram @music

Walking Through Details with @marcequevedo For more fragments...

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 19:01

Walking Through Details with @marcequevedo

For more fragments from Marcela’s travels, follow @marcequevedo on Instagram. For more stories from around the Spanish-speaking community, follow @instagramES.

(This interview was conducted in Spanish)

“I like things with fading color. I like to see the passing of time because time can tell you good stories,” says Marcela Quevedo (@marcequevedo), an industrial designer from San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Little details are also special to her: “I can go into an ice cream shop and be drawn to its decoration, but I’m not going to capture the entire place, so I focus on a detail that grabs my attention. It could be a messy wall that represents a nice mess.”

Her pictures also act as a way to relive memories. “The love of my life and I broke up, and I like to share things I experienced with him,” she says, adding, “For example, there’s a window with a little piggy somewhere, and for me, that represents a nice day because we ate corn right in front of that window. For me sharing a meal with someone I love is part of my daily life.”

Marcela travels constantly. “Most people go to well-known places, but sometimes I’m just on a road, I see something that catches my eye and I wonder, ‘Where will this little road take me?’ I venture into villages and there I usually find small details I truly like.”

The Colorful Masks and Music of Lightning Bolt Drummer...

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 14:04

The Colorful Masks and Music of Lightning Bolt Drummer @chimpendale

To see more of Brian’s colorful creations, follow @chimpendale on Instagram. For more music stories, head to @music.

Brian Chippendale (@chimpendale) is into masks. There’s the blue balaclava-like one that stretches out over his face, and the magenta one attached to two giant severed teddy bear heads. These days, Brian prefers his “tiger mask,” a multicolored stitched shell he wears while drumming for his band, the noise-rock duo Lightning Bolt. Inside it is a contact microphone, which picks up all the guttural vibrations, rumblings and sweat that accumulate during a show.

“Wearing a sweat-soaked rag on your head an hour a day helps dispel inhibitions,” says Brian, over the phone, about his facial disguise. “It’s funny because people are just like, ‘It must be so disgusting.’ But I wash it every night that I play.”

Washing may disinfect it, but it doesn’t keep it intact. The more laundry cycles it goes through, the more it starts to shred and fall apart, the more it begins to turn into another one of Brian’s growing pile of tattered creations.

The Rhode Island native’s tradition of designing and wearing his own costumes began some time in the 1990s. Back then, he and a group of artists were shacked up in a warehouse in Providence known as Fort Thunder, a collective art space where they played shows, drew comics and held wrestling matches. Then some developers came in and tore the place down to make way for a parking lot. So Brian packed up his stuff and, after living in a new space for a couple years, eventually moved down the road into the third floor of an old mill, which serves as his current home base.

“I miss Fort Thunder days in the same way I miss my 20s,” says Brian. “But I am also really happy where I am in my life now. If I had the option to go back, I wouldn’t. We had like eight cats and one litter pan. It was pretty ridiculous in its filthiness, and [there were] tons of roommates, which is so awesome and horrible at the same time.”

Brian is an artist-musician, or possibly a musician-artist. It’s hard to say which comes first. Drawing a comic comes just as easy to him as providing a steady backbeat on his two-decade-old kick drum. His group Lightning Bolt began in 1995, around the time Fort Thunder was getting off the ground. Since then, the duo has released seven official records, including its latest, Fantasy Empire. The new album has the same piercing dissonance and guitar shredding from the group’s previous efforts. But this one sounds crisper, due to the band utilizing the full digital technology of a studio for the first time.

The music wasn’t the only thing they approached with a fresh perspective. Lightning Bolt album covers, which are handled by Brian, have always included bursts of color. But this one is more minimalist––a black-and-white collage redrawn with a small pen.

“A lot of our covers are these colorful, aggressive things,” he says. “For this one I wanted to go for more of an atmosphere and an air of mystery.”

Like all of his projects, Brian worked on the cover while parked in his current studio in Providence. The building spans almost a city block –– 8,000 square feet (743 square meters) of wood and brick and a broken elevator, which makes loading gear for tours a bit of a pain. But the space is very much his own. There’s a room full of shredded paper for collaging, a room for silk screening, a room to record Lightning Bolt material and several rooms to draw in. There are also spaces filled with junk and other knickknacks he’s dragged up there over the years.

“An old roommate came over here once and started rummaging around in some room that I don’t really go to,” he says. “He pulled out an entire windsurfing board and I had never even seen this thing.”

The building switched hands a few years ago to a new landlord, but unlike Fort Thunder, Brian doesn’t think he’ll be kicked to the curb any time soon. There’s too much stuff to get him to leave –– art materials and toys, a couple of printing presses and his drum set, and maybe even that two-headed bear suit from the Fort Thunder days, languishing in some hidden corner in a box. Worst-case: If he gets evicted, Brian will just set up shop somewhere else.

“I am an artist and a musician just because I can’t do anything else and I won’t do anything else.”

–– Instagram @music

Painting from Nature with @hannahjesus For more of Hannah’s...

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 14:01

Painting from Nature with @hannahjesus

For more of Hannah’s paintings from nature, follow @hannahjesus on Instagram.

Hannah Jesus Koh (@hannahjesus), a high school art teacher from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, uses water from the nature around her to capture landscapes through watercolor painting.

Her technique came about at the base of Iceland’s Gullfoss waterfall when, armed with her journal and watercolor paints, she realized she’d forgotten the water. “But the dense mists off the waterfall heavily saturated my surroundings,” she tells, “and that was all the water I needed to render the scene. I collected some with my fingers and used them and my brush to paint. Sometimes I ran my brush directly onto the droplet-laden blades of grass.”

Since that moment, incorporating the water from her environment into her art has become as meaningful as the landscapes she paints. “It’s nice to know an elemental part of the scene will always be a literal part of my painting,” Hannah explains. “The salty Arctic sea spray is infused into my painting of Dyrhólaey. Drops from the largest ocean on Earth permeate my small painting of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Pacific Northwest rain rains into my painting of Multnomah Falls. And cheap black coffee from a hole-in-the-wall joint in Brooklyn colors in the bricks of the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The Art of Papercutting with @emilyhogarth To see more of...

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 19:08

The Art of Papercutting with @emilyhogarth

To see more of Emily’s papercutting art, follow @emilyhogarth on Instagram.

“Each papercut can take anything from a day to a week to complete all depending on the scale and the complexity of the design,” says Emily Hogarth (@emilyhogarth), an illustrator and papercutting artist from Edinburgh, Scotland. “I design it as I go along, which I find often makes the design more organic.” Each work is cut by hand and on the opposite side of the final product, which means Emily is extra careful when incorporating words into her designs. “Writing backwards has become normal for me these days but it did take a bit of practice.”

Emily says she uses Instagram to capture the magic of everyday life, as well as to document her art. “My work is often inspired by my surroundings, flowers and foliage on my dog walk or the pattern on an old vase.”

Emily assures anyone can take up the art of papercutting: “The best thing about papercutting is that it requires so little tools — all you need is a cutting mat, a piece of paper and a scalpel and some blades and off you go.”

All in the Family: A Portrait of Drummer @spencertweedy To see...

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:03

All in the Family: A Portrait of Drummer @spencertweedy

To see more of Spencer’s life on the road, follow @spencertweedy on Instagram. For more stories from around the music community, follow @music on Instagram.

“Recognize it?”

The year is 2001 and a young, doe-eyed Spencer Tweedy is holding a lollipop in his hand and quizzing his father, Jeff Tweedy, the lead singer of indie rock legends Wilco, on the drumbeat he just played on his lap.

“What is it?” asks Jeff.

“Guess! It’s one of your songs.”

“It’s one of my songs?! ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart?’”




“‘Dreamer in My Dreams?’”


The back and forth continues until Jeff gives up and asks for help.

“It’s something with a drummer,” says Spencer.

“‘Heavy Metal Drummer?’”


Spencer puts the lollipop back in his mouth and starts to drum on his legs again. Jeff smiles and joins in.

The footage, seen in the band’s 2002 documentary, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” has since gone down in the annals of Wilco history both as an enduring snapshot of father-son bonding, as well as an artifact for a familial musical relationship, now 19 years in the making.

More than a decade after that tour bus moment, Spencer found himself on stage in San Francisco at the Fillmore Theater with his dad, this time behind a real set of drums. The two were at the tail end of their world tour with their group, fittingly titled Tweedy.

Earlier in the day, the teenage drummer was sitting upstairs in a room at the venue, reflecting on his musical history. Spencer has technically been playing drums since he was two –– at least as much as any two-year-old can play the instrument at that age. He took to it quickly. By seven, he had started his own band, the Blisters. But Spencer never assumed he’d be working on a formal project with his father. Then, at 17, the elder Tweedy asked his son to contribute to an album he was producing for the soul singer Mavis Staples. Even today, Spencer admits he was both “shocked and really, really excited” at the opportunity.

“To me, that was always too far fetched of an idea, because my dad has Wilco,” he says, about getting to officially record with his father. “If I had ever imagined that when I was younger, I would think it would be really cool but it would probably never happen. And then it all sort of fell into place.”

Soon after, they recorded an album, Sukierae, named after Spencer’s mom, who was going through chemotherapy at the time. The results are a long, winding path of introspective lyrics and melodies. The two were on the road playing the finished tracks for the last several months, across the US and Europe. Save for the occasional trip with Wilco, the excursion was Spencer’s first official tour as a drummer.

“I think to a lot of aspiring musicians, the idea of touring is the thing that you want to do,” he says. “And I feel really lucky to do that at 19. But I think when you imagine that in your head, it’s a really romantic idea. It’s like, that’s making it as a rock and roll musician. In reality it’s a lot more normal. I think that I knew that, and to experience that is not disappointing at all. If anything, it’s just heartening. It’s still real life. It’s not unimaginably wild and crazy,” he says, later adding, “We are still waking up and eating cereal.”

The Spencer today doesn’t seem that far removed from the one readers got to know when he was younger, when he was writing smart, inquisitive essays for his blog and other publications. The sharpest piece, from 2011, is titled “About a Boy,” in which he discusses depression, anxiety and puberty with remarkable, matter-of-fact clarity:

“I had it all backwards. I don’t feel weird because my body’s changing and girls are confusing and school is hard and drugs are scary. I feel weird because my thoughts are different — my feelings are different. I feel weird because I feel weird.”

Spencer doesn’t write as much these days –– he says it’s gotten harder as he’s gotten older, feeling like he has nothing new or interesting to say. However, as he’s discovered while on the road with Tweedy, those early pieces had an impact on others. Meeting people who have been moved by the work he did as a young teen is an experience he calls both “weird” and “heartwarming.”

“I like writing. Aside from music, that’s one of the main things I like to do. I just need to figure out some way to do it that works.”

What works for now is touring and playing with his dad. During the Fillmore show, the experience came full circle for Spencer: Jeff, feeling wistful, remarked that the last time Spencer was at the venue he was a kid, chasing spotlights on the floor with his younger brother.

“That makes me really sad, but I am glad to be chasing spotlights on stage with you tonight,” he said to his son, before they both broke into a rendition of “Heavy Metal Drummer.”

––Instagram @music

Appreciating Culture and the Happiness of Children with...

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 14:03

Appreciating Culture and the Happiness of Children with @casadetake

For more photos from Shunsuke, follow @casadetake on Instagram.

“I try to capture the Japanese landscape and culture through my family life with Sora and Itaru,” says Shunsuke Miyatake (@casadetake), who lives in Japan’s Kanagawa prefecture. A father of an outgoing five-year-old girl and a restless three-year-old boy — both very curious about everything from insects to music to outer space — Shunsuke always has his camera ready for moments when the little ones absorb themselves in something interesting in their environment. “Through my kids, I want to share aspects of Japanese culture and sceneries,” he explains, “from the traditional ‘wabi-sabi’ aesthetics to the history and to the edgy modern art in the cities.”

For this Children’s Day, celebrated annually in Japan on May 5 to appreciate the growth and happiness of children, Shunsuke looks back on some of the favorite captures of his kids. Those moments include when Itaru became glued to the window when he saw a Japanese garden for the first time, and when Sora and Itaru sat and sang at a park on a cloudy day during the rainy season while they patiently waited for sunshine. “I love this photo,” he reflects back on the latter, “because the innocence I see in my kids makes any gloomy day of the rainy season seem brighter.”

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPemojisinthewild Weekend Hashtag...

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 20:05

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPemojisinthewild

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.

This weekend’s prompt was #WHPemojisinthewild, which asked participants to capture real-life examples of their favorite emojis. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.

Visiting a Miniature ‘Star Wars’ Universe with...

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 17:58

Visiting a Miniature ‘Star Wars’ Universe with @jeremy_ennis_1979

For more intricately detailed Star Wars iconography from Jeremy, follow @jeremy_ennis_1979 on Instagram. For more Star Wars fan art in honor of May the Fourth (Star Wars Day), explore the #starwarsart hashtag.

Jeremy Ennis’ (@jeremy_ennis_1979) micro-illustrations celebrate Star Wars in stunning detail. As a student working on his natural science illustration certificate, the Seattle-based artist plays with the techniques he learns in his studies by drawing his favorite characters and ships from the beloved film franchise.

“I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I came to the Star Wars movies late, actually. I watched A New Hope when I was 13 years old back in 1992,” he says. “I was so drawn in and impressed by the visuals and the creative attention to detail.”

Although his day-to-day work focuses on the patterns and textures of the natural world, much of Jeremy’s creative work is sparked by the intangible — from music to galaxies far, far away. “I am a self-taught violinist,” he says. “I am also really into the order and chaos of the universe, and spend a lot of time learning about astrophysics.”

Before he pursued an illustration degree, Jeremy grew up in Ontario, Canada, where he was a self-described “hitchhiking homeless guy” from age 15 to 20. Now 36, the experience shaped how he approaches his art.

“I spent those years hitching back and forth across Canada, and I met so many different kinds of people and paradigms,” he says. “I had to learn to adapt to all different circumstances to survive. It’s definitely influenced who I am and how I see the world.”

On the Front Lines Fighting Forest Fires with @caitlinchinn May...

Mon, 05/04/2015 - 14:03

On the Front Lines Fighting Forest Fires with @caitlinchinn

May 4 is International Firefighters’ Day. To see more moments — both adventurous and mundane — from Caitlin’s life as a firefighter with the La Grande Hotshots, follow @caitlinchinn on Instagram.

“Getting stalked by cougars and run-ins with pissed off bears … Feeling the earth BOOM when a 700-year-old tree that was burning out from the roots cracked and hit the ground not even 100 feet away … Getting drenched with water from rogue bucket drops, and splattered with red retardant from air tankers.”

In five years of fighting forest fires, three of them as a member of an elite 20-person Hotshot crew based in Northeast Oregon, Caitlin Chinn (@caitlinchinn) has had her share of harrowing experiences. For Caitlin, who grew up outside of Seattle, a grueling and dangerous job was not preordained. “I overcame way more difficult social obstacles to become a firefighter than physical ones,” she says. But a life of adventure, where work and play are largely indistinguishable, is exactly what she sought out.

The La Grande Hotshots’ season begins May 18, and kicks off with an 80-hour session of training and physical endurance tests. Then, they wait. “The early-season fires are typically in the Southwest or Alaska, so we’ll probably be headed there first,” Caitlin says.

“I take pictures from places many people don’t get to see and provide my own perspective,” says Caitlin, who emphatically rejects labels people might ascribe to her. “I am just an ordinary person with an extraordinary part-time job. If I happen to inspire people, great!”