For Will Holland, digging for records in Medellin, Colombia, has become a tradition. There’s one spot he favors, located inside a small house in a dodgy neighborhood downtown with wall-to-wall music. On his most recent trip, Will took photos of the dusty records left in crooked stacks on the ground, and columns of coverless 45s and 78s lining the stairs (which he fittingly dubbed the “Stairway of 45s”).
“The last time I went it was in a completely different neighborhood, and they managed to transfer all the records to this other new place,” says Will, better known as the producer Quantic (@quanticmusic). “There were four of us and we went through it for a day. It was pretty entertaining. But it was hard work.”
Will’s connection to Colombia dates back to a recent seven-year stay in the country (he lives in New York City now), where he hopped around recording music, learning the accordion and experiencing the culture. For a record collector, Medellin was always a good place to visit –– an epicenter of the Latin American recording industry, it was the perfect spot to stumble on bucket list albums.
“The great thing about Latin America: Records are currency, even if they are without a cover and stacked in a column,” he says.
Will has always been drawn to an eclectic mix of sounds. Growing up in Birmingham, England, his parents encouraged him to explore different genres, both through records and live music. His mom would take him to different shows –– one night, it would be baroque musicians in traditional dress, the next, revolutionary Jamaican poetry. Meanwhile, his father was obsessed with Americana.
“He was a very good banjo player who learned all these American songs,” says Will. “So I had this very American-orientated household life as well, where I listened to a lot of American, a lot of Southern, a lot of folk.”
It should be no surprise that the now 35-year-old musician is known in the music world for his chameleonic efforts. Will’s most recent solo album, Magnetica, captures a variety of sounds from different genres and eras, mixing elements of Latin, soul, reggae and hip-hop.
That historical component of music has always played into Will’s creativity. That’s why, for instance, he began playing the accordion (“I like the mysticism of all these folkloric tales of these accordion players riding horses or donkeys and playing at the same time”), or why he’ll opt for old analog equipment in his songwriting and photos.
“It’s just the grandeur of it,” he says. “They really concentrated on the aesthetic of how they looked. You have the faceplates and the designs and the way the colors are used and the chroming. It’s like something akin to vintage cars, where you have this illustrious and classic look, which sums up the sound as well.”
–– Instagram @music
Around the Community
To see more photos of Tosha Kowalski’s hike through the Appalachian Trail, follow @theotherforkintheroad on Instagram.
Imagine feeling lost in life, and seeing a sticker on the ground that told you to “Quit your job / See the World / Fall in Love / Find Yourself.” That’s what happened to Tosha Kowalski (@theotherforkintheroad) in March of 2014. A few weeks later she left her job, flew to the Arctic Circle in Finland to learn sled dog racing and then spent 10 months backpacking across Europe.
Now, Tosha is hiking the 3,500 km of the Appalachian Trail – from Georgia to Maine – for nearly six months. “I didn’t start this hike as an escape from anything. I’m not trying to disconnect from the world. I’m trying to reconnect with myself, the person I know I already am, and there is a difference,” Tosha says. “Over the past year, and even more so on this trail, I re-realized how strong I am, how independent, how motivated and determined. At some point during the confusion of life, I had forgotten all those things.”
American skateboard superstar Nyjah Huston (@nyjah) and Brazilian skateboard champion Leticia Bufoni (@leticiabufoni) both love big air, skating rails and pushing their limits. “I would say our styles are pretty similar as far as work ethic and trying to push ourselves to do the hardest and biggest stuff we can,” says Nyjah. Leticia agrees on their similar styles but adds a caveat: “He skates big stuff, like really big stuff. I like big stuff but not as big as the stuff he skates.”
This weekend Nyjah and Leticia are each competing in the Skateboard Street events at the summer X Games (@xgames) in Austin, Texas. But it’s more than the awards and recognition that motivates them to progress as athletes. “What gets me up in the morning to keep skating, honestly is the progression of skateboarding,” says Nyjah. “There’s always new stuff to learn, and there’s always ways to get better at it. There’s so many ways to keep it fun,” he adds. Leticia feels the same way. “The skateboarding is the same, it’s the other things that are different,” she says. “Going out there and learning tricks, it’s the same. When I am at the skate park or at competitions it looks like I’m 10 years old again skating and having fun.”
Bright leather Tetris-block dresses, banana-yellow loafers and harsh green and red squiggles in an empty space. This is the visual feast served at the table of Martin Solveig (@martinsolveig), French national treasure and dance music’s most colorful character.
“I live a very happy life,” says Martin, from his studio in Paris. “I think there are so many guys who are good at being dark and mysterious. I’m the opposite of that.” The frenetic vibrancy of his image is carefully crafted in counterpart to his energetic sound. The Parisian producer first made waves on U.S. shores with 2010’s club anthem “Hello,” a collaboration with indie dance darlings Dragonette. The upbeat quirkiness continued with 2012’s “The Night Out” and 2014’s “Blow.” Both were a stark contrast to the hard-hitting big room and deep, meandering house music going on around him.
“The obsession for one beat and one format of dance music has really expired,” says Martin. “We can’t take any more of that. It is too much. We need something else.”
For Martin, “something else” is a hybrid of styles old and new. He’s breaking the cycle by turning to the past. On recent tracks “Intoxicated” and “+1,” he calls on the lessons of classic Detroit producer Kevin Saunderson and Chicago’s Lil Louis, as well as French Duo Cassius and other ‘90s-era “French touch” favorites. Both songs are as cheerful as they are commanding. It’s a style characterized by effervescent violence. The bass hits you in the face while the groove tingles your spine. It’s a sound fit for the lofty dance floors of Ibiza and the sweat-drenched grime of Los Angeles.
It certainly made a splash at Coachella in April, where Martin wowed audiences with a unique, one-time-only 3-D mapped stage production specially synched to his live mix performance. It was bursting with all the colors of the French designers that inspire him, featuring playful images of snapping fingers, Martin swimming through empty space and more primary color corkscrew squiggles than a ‘90s sitcom intro.
“It was a first for me, but it was something that I’m going to work on a lot in the future,” he says, of the set design. “It’s not going to be necessarily the same content, the same image, but I like the idea of editing some special video content that is really super connected to the sound, and not generic in a way.”
Martin promises more of that unique sound down the road –– new songs tied by the same pop art visuals and fanciful sonic flair. That project will culminate in a full-length LP of the simple and straightforward title, Dance Musique. Like himself and his inspirations, it’s all very French.
“The identity of everything I’m going to be doing, from ‘Intoxicated’ to the end of that, is coming from France,” says Martin. “I think that France has ‘it’ right now, especially in graphic design. It has a touch that is extremely interesting and is very refreshing compared to a lot of other stuff.”
D’accord, Martin. Bring on the banana shoes.
––Kat Bein for Instagram @music
“People often ask me, ‘What’s the story about the tree?’ If there is one, then I’m writing it right now,” says 44-year-old photographer Patrik Svedberg (@patrik_svedberg). Patrik started the @thebroccolitree project after noticing an otherwise unremarkable tree on Lake Vättern along the drive to his studio in Jönköping, Sweden. Taking photos and videos of the tree since 2013, Patrik is struck by what happens outside of the frame, as well as what’s in it. “Sometimes it’s the most beautiful sky. Sometimes it’s a couple in their 90s. Sometimes it’s birds or stars or just so, so gray and dull. But it’s almost never about the tree itself,” he explains. “If something truly stunning happens just outside the capture then it’s lost. I will not go chasing it. But so many times something remarkable has happened right where I want it, so still today my pulse rises a bit every time I’m approaching the tree.”
Patrik says his Swedish upbringing made him environmentally conscious and the long winters are a challenge to make the best out of bad conditions. “It’s very Swedish to grow up with a strong sense and respect for nature for some reason,” he says. “Maybe it comes with the very varying seasons.”
Patrik plans to showcase images of the tree over time in galleries in the region, and will keep adding to the tree’s story over time: “The tree is the main character, but the stories wrap around it more than the tree is telling them, and each photo has its own story.”
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 goal this week is to make images comprised of one dominant color. Whether you’re capturing a scene of bright yellows or muted blues, look for interesting and creative ways to make a particular color the subject or focus of your picture. Some tips to get you started:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPmonochromatic hashtag only to photos 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.
Monthly 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 along with this month’s project, #MHPmusicmood on @music.
The goal this month is to make creative images and videos that capture the mood of a particular song or genre. The project takes inspiration from guest curator Caleb Zahm (@calebzahm), a 19-year-old photographer based in Chicago who says that music both keeps him focused and inspires him in the editing process.
“To me, photo and music are very similar in the sense that they are both expressing emotion or telling a story of some kind,” says Caleb. “This photo is in an abandoned school in Gary, Indiana, and reminds me of the song ‘Back to School’ by the artist Bones. His music videos give off an eerie feeling and this was a classroom that was just left to rot away.”
Some tips to get you started:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #MHPmusicmood hashtag only to photos and videos taken this month and only submit your own. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged image or video taken this month is eligible to be featured.
To see more of Takeshi’s daily sketches, follow @takeshiterayama on Instagram.
(This interview was conducted in Japanese.)
“When your job is to create lots of drawings on a daily basis, you almost never get yourself to practice drawing again,” says freelance illustrator Takeshi Terayama (@takeshiterayama), who is based in Fukuoka, Japan. Inspired by a fellow illustrator friend who manages to keep up with his sketches every day, Takeshi started to get into the habit of making daily drawings using a croquis book and a black dermatograph pencil. Sharing his work on Instagram has also helped make the habit stick. Every evening between dinner and bedtime, Takeshi spends anywhere from five minutes to two hours drawing motifs that come to his mind. “I don’t have any specific theme,” he explains, “but it’s boring to draw models and images that are already art-directed by someone else.” While many of his subjects come from his personal photos and scenes from documentary films, he admits that his baby son is the best model — especially when he’s out of ideas. “I plan to continue my drawings for a while, because I want to find out where this will lead me.”
Although he is fully committed as an illustrator, Takeshi likes to work his creativity in another hobby he is passionate about, which is cooking. “I wanted to become a chef when I was little,” he says, adding, “I’ve been cooking since I was in first grade, and my experience with cooking is actually longer than my career as an illustrator.” He likes to be in the kitchen so much, that he even shares his cooking photos and recipes online. “If you want to know how much I love cooking, I’d say that my mind is full of recipe ideas all the time — from when I’m taking a bath to those moments when I get in bed and think about things until I doze off into sleep.”
At Sugar House Creamery (@sugarhousecreamery), a tiny dairy farm tucked in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, it’s all about the Brown Swiss cows. They’re hardy. They’re docile. They turn the farm’s tough grass into well-balanced milk perfectly suited for cheese-making. “And they’re not too hard on the eyeballs,” says Alex Eaton, who, with Margot Brooks, founded Sugar House in December 2013.
The farm produces just three types of cheese, which Alex says ensures consistency and extremely high quality. But the small size of their operation also allows for experimentation, which Margot can trace back to her childhood on a dairy farm, making batches of chèvre on the kitchen stovetop from the milk of her pet goats.
Alex and Margot’s photos and videos capture the essence of life in the New York countryside — except for the smells. “The grassy, vegetal smell of warm summer milk being strained into the bulk tank. The smell of the cheese cave: beer and pine boards and yeast and earth. So many smells,” says Alex. “Some bad, but mostly good.”
Last year, Alison Mosshart (@amosshart) was looking for inspiration. Captivated by skid marks on asphalt, the lead singer of The Kills was determined to recreate them in her artwork. Her first idea was super rock and roll: drive her baby, a Dodge Challenger, through paint and over a ream of canvas, thus uniting her two loves of muscle cars and art. Unfortunately, it also would ruin her ride, so she nixed it. The second was rolling a spare tire around manually, a much easier idea to execute in her Nashville home studio. Then she realized without weight on the tire, she couldn’t get skid marks.
Which is how she found herself in a Toys R Us late at night, inspecting the treads and wheels on remote control cars like a fifth-grader composing a Christmas list.
“I got a bunch of monster trucks and went home. I turned into this madwoman driving a car around the studio, laughing to myself like, ‘This is the most fun ever!’” she says, while sitting in a booth at Los Angeles’ Café 101 and chewing on the straw in her iced tea. The finished tire paintings comprise much of her upcoming gallery show in New York.
Though Alison has been burning up stages alongside Jamie Hince in The Kills for over a decade, and Jack White in The Dead Weather since 2009 she’s been drawing since she was a little girl in Florida. Her mom, a high school art teacher, discovered she could plop Alison down with a packet of magic markers and keep her content for hours.
“I’ve been doing [music and art] forever — they feel like the same thing,” she says. “Painting and drawing is a part of waiting. I’ve been on the road touring since I was like, 14. Twenty-two years straight — so all my artwork is suitcase-sized.”
Until recently, her artwork was most prominently displayed in her mom’s attic. But when she bought her house in Tennessee, she designated a big room with lots of windows the “complete crazy chaos music and art room.” When friends visited and saw her paintings strewn on the floor, they told her she should start posting them. Within a week, she was offered her first gallery show in New York.
“I could not believe it,” she says. “This is insane. I just posted pictures of paintings!” She’s a prodigious poster, much to the delight of her fans, and even shares the stuff she hates.
“If I don’t like a painting, I’ll paint over it. My mom liked one I thought was so awful,” she says, pointing to a recent piece. “I posted it, still hated it. Painted over it and posted that and she was like, ‘Bring the other thing back!’ It’s too late, Mom. I hated it anyway!”
Her modesty is charming, but it’s not exactly a surprise that the art world, just like the music industry, has been receptive to her work. The inspiration for both comes from the same place. “The same feeling that makes me want to paint something is the same feeling that makes me want to write a song,” she explains.
With painting, “everything is really fast. Fast, fast,” she says, as opposed to her work in The Kills. “It’s a pretty long process with me and Jamie because there’s just two of us. Everybody has to do everything. It’s a lot of work,” she says.
That duality and state of flux play out in her drawings, too, many of which contain two or three or 23 faces, an eye bugging out here, a tongue sticking out there, as if different parts of Alison are fighting for the final say by way of brushstroke. “I can’t stop painting faces. That’s all that comes out,” she says. “There’s a lot of changing of the mind going on. That’s why things always have like three eyeballs.”
The one change she’s not so comfortable with is the lack of a place to retreat at her exhibit openings. “I’m quiet,” she says. That’s true in the literal sense — she speaks in such a gentle tone the diner’s lunchtime din nearly drowns out her voice. But her music, and now her art, is quite the opposite.
And with that, Alison drains her tea, smiles politely and ducks out the front door. Safe bet she left at least one set of tire tracks in her wake.
––Rebecca Haithcoat for Instagram @music
To see more of Ibrahim’s photos, follow @ibrsoul on Instagram.
For Ibrahim Hammada (@ibrsoul), hands have unique powers of expression. “I used to hold my mother’s hands tightly when I felt anxious, and that always helped me relax,” says Ibrahim, a Syrian doctor who now lives in Koblenz, Germany. “Growing up, I realized that the power of our hands is not limited to touch but has something visual, too.” Ibrahim has always been drawn to art and architecture and he began the #StoriesInMyHands project as a way to do what he loves in his spare time. “When it is difficult for me to find words to express, my photos can do the job.”
Ibrahim’s photos are the result of looking at the world with a twist. “The objects of my photos are around me all the time,” he says. “I just need to think about them differently to come up with new photos.”
His project is a challenge that he happily accepts. “My plan is to keep doing this as long as I have hands, heart and mind.”
To see more of Felix’s photos, head over to @felixskinner on Instagram.
On a Saturday night this past spring, screeching dissonant guitars and a clashing, heavy-handed beat could be heard filling a dark bar in downtown Oakland. If one were to have peaked their head in, they would have been surprised to find the noise coming from just two people: drummer Ignat Frege (@hand_model) and multi-instrumentalist Felix Skinner (@felixskinner).
The two make up Wreck and Reference, a metal band from Los Angeles that defies most of the traditional trappings of metal bands. There is no guitar on stage, no bassist. Only two musicians, one of who, Felix, elicits piercing, guttural screams into the microphone while striking the pads on an electronic sampler strapped around his neck.
“It was clear early on that the possibilities that it provided were limitless, that it would allow us to run with any mad idea we had,” says Felix, 28, about his use of a tool more closely aligned with electronic and hip-hop music than metal. “We’re typically drawn to sounds that aren’t traceable, that require a bit of wrangling and warping to make just right.”
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Felix began taking guitar lessons at the age of 10. But he was more intrigued in going against the grain with his music than submitting to any prescribed notion of what things were supposed to sound like. He refused to practice the Dave Matthews Band songs his teacher asked him to memorize.
“I was more interested in the strange sounds I could create by hitting the parts of the guitar I was told not to, using my pick to scrape instead of pluck,” he says. “In retrospect, it’s clear this was just a way for me to cope with the fact that my fingers never did what I wanted them to.”
The harsh, unforgiving tones that would eventually make up the sounds of Wreck and Reference go hand-in-hand with the photos Felix likes to take: haunting, captionless images tinted black and gray and red. But when it comes to writing music, it’s more about sensations than images for him, creating songs about unsettling feelings. It’s about tapping into an emotion, no matter if the sound that comes out fits into someone’s built-up perception of a musical genre.
“We’re just as averse to being a ‘synth band’ or an ‘electronic band’ as we are to being a ‘guitar band,’” he says. “As soon as we find ourselves in a box like that we’re overcome by the urge to kick our way out.”
Photos of Drifting in Daylight, a dreamy pathway of art installed by the nonprofit public art organization Creative Time (@creativetimenyc) in New York City are the focus of this week’s #whereartthou. “The beauty of the park is that you can feel like you are completely lost at times, but you’ll still end up where you want to go,” says Cara Starke, director of exhibitions. “We wanted to create an exhibition that would celebrate this vision.” The works – which include Spencer Finch’s sunset-colored soft serve ice cream; Ragnar Kjartansson’s S.S. Hangover, floating along the Harlem Meer; and Alicia Framis’ Cartas al Cielo, an invitation to send a postcard to the sky – are on view from noon to 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays until June 20.
The exhibition is designed to be just as accessible for someone who accidentally stumbles upon one artwork as it is for someone who has time to spend wandering from one to the next. “At its core, Drifting in Daylight is about celebrating the park,” Cara says, “and discovering the incredible landscapes, gardens, woods and bodies of water that Frederick Law Olmsted designed, and the histories embedded in them.”
For more from Rowan, follow @rowanblanchard on Instagram.
“#Hellomynameis Rowan Blanchard (@rowanblanchard). I am a 13-year-old student, actress, activist and aspiring writer. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, even though my heart belongs to New York City. Acting is something I have adored since I can remember — I started when I was five, which led to booking my show Girl Meets World in 2013. Acting gives me a better understanding of humans, and makes me far less judgmental of people, because I can see the world through their eyes.
I am not shy to speak my mind on anything, and I encourage my fans to be the same. I want teens my age to know that they have a voice and it should not be silenced. I have been lucky enough to grow up around people who have let me use my voice to speak up about things I see. There is not an age requirement on when to start changing the world.
Education is something that’s extremely important to me. Unfortunately, many kids who are actors don’t value school, but my biggest hope is to go to the Columbia School of Journalism and then Oxford University. Besides being on Broadway and baking a perfect apple pie, it is on the top of all my dream boards.
Acting has given me confidence and strength in my voice, which led to working with HeForShe through social media. I teach my followers about gender inequality and how we can change it. I use Instagram to share things that I genuinely care about, whether it be the Armenian genocide or my dog getting scared of the rain. I hope that my pictures inspire anyone of any age to understand the value of their voices.”
For more ‘Blade Runner’ details in the world, follow @bladerunnerreality on Instagram.
“I am personally interested in random places that have the ‘Blade Runner’ feel,” says Ryan Allen, a PhD student from New York, who co-created the account @bladerunnerreality to post pictures of places that are aesthetically similar to Ridley Scott’s cult film.
“We realized we had a lot of photos of a certain kind of architecture or lighting which evoked flashbacks of ‘Blade Runner.’ We both loved the look so we got pretty excited about finding more of it in New York pretty quickly,” adds the other creator, Siddharth Chander, who now works in education in Washington, D.C.
They are also fascinated by the craft shown in the film. “The future isn’t clean, like so many other movies depict. It’s just this one little detail that builds this very real-feeling world,” says Ryan. Siddharth adds, “Yes, I think the detail is really inspiring. That kind of thinking resulted in one of the most beautiful films ever. You’d like to see that sort of creativity encouraged more often.”
Both Ryan and Siddharth share their own images of ‘Blade Runner’-inspired sightings, and also curate submissions of original pictures on the account. “For instance, we recently had one from Kazakhstan, which I don’t think is a place that immediately evokes a futuristic look,” says Ryan. Siddharth adds, “The best part of this whole thing was that right from the beginning we were contacted by a few people from Europe and South America who just loved it.
“We aren’t telling a story, each photo sort of tells a different story and then the next day it’s something new entirely,” says Siddharth.
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 #WHPholdstill, which asked participants to take creative videos while holding their camera completely still in order to capture the motion in a set frame. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.
To see more of Carl’s highline views, follow @carlmarrs on Instagram.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah I’m out here balancing on a one-inch-wide [2.5 cm] band of nylon fibers above a great drop, and I feel really good about it. Yeah, I like this. This is good.’” Welcome to the inner-dialogue of Carl Marrs (@carlmarrs), a 23-year-old climber and highliner from Seattle. Highlining is slacklinging – walking on webbing that is fixed to two anchors – but at elevation. “I think it’s cool that as human beings our mind has the power to transform a situation from something dangerous into something exhilarating,” Carl says. But before ever becoming attracted to the adrenaline of great heights, Carl was inspired by the photographs of climbers and highliners he admired.
Carl started climbing with high school friends in 2010 and later discovered a passion for slacklining during a trip with to Yosemite, the site where some believe slacklining was invented. “I’ve slacklined as much as possible since then and don’t see any signs of slowing down,” he says. Through slacklining, Carl has found more than just an athletic challenge with amazing views. He has found belonging in a vibrant community. “The times I’ve spent at highline festivals surrounded by the tribe are the best of my life,” Carl says.
While Carl enjoys being out on the ropes with fellow athletes as well as sharing his photographs with a diverse community, he also values the meditative and solitary feeling he gets out in the wilderness. “The best moments come when I’m out in the middle of a highline, comfortably balancing, feeling a light breeze blow by and hearing nothing but the calls of swooping birds echoing through the canyons hundreds of feet below me.”
“I love certain tones, like whites and browns and reds and oranges. But the most important thing is lighting,” says 23-year-old film composer Eric von Fricken (@ericchristian).
Eric, who’s based in Boston, began playing piano at the age of four. However, he only got into taking photos recently, thanks to a good friend who’s a professional photographer. Now Eric approaches his pictures the same way he writes his music: through an outside eye, with a willingness to revise and revisit his work.
“It’s easy to get pulled in when you’re creating or you’re taking a photo,” he says. “But to be able to step back and look at it like it was from somebody else, I use that a lot with music and photography. You write and rewrite. Maybe the melody should be a French horn or maybe it should be a cello. There’s no right or wrong answer to photography or music, it’s just which route do you want to go.”
For more imaginative character studies from Joey, follow @joeyellis on Instagram.
For Joey Ellis (@joeyellis), drawing is a study of relationships. “You can’t treat your younger sister the way you treat your grandma. They are at totally different stages of life. Drawing characters is similar,” says the Charlotte, North Carolina-based illustrator. Joey’s work is filled with bold, off-the-wall personality — from dragons in business suits to robot musicians.
“I love creating things that look one way, then different when you see them in a whole different world,” he says. “Things that are out of context, being used by someone else out in the wild. To me, that’s very gratifying.”
While experimenting with mismatched environments is important to his character work, the thing that weaves all of Joey’s projects together is something more simple: fun.
“I think everyone has the same problems. Everybody carries around heavy, sad things throughout their life — everybody — and it’s possible to handle it in a positive and silly way,” he says. “Life is short.”