We first heard Canadian artist Lowell this summer when we caught the minimalist video for her excellent single “High Enough.” The song caught us right from the start, with low droning keys and stripped-down that blow up into a glitchy, thrumming, danceable track that quickly found a spot on one of our favorite mixtapes this year. When her media people reached out to us with an early stream of the rest of Lowell’s new Part 1: Paris YK EP (out now on Arts+ Crafts) and an offer for an interview, we jumped at the opportunity to find out more about the singer, musician, producer, and writer. Read on for a conversation on her songs, their inspiration, and politics in and out of music.

raven + crow: Alright, I don’t think I’m alone in not knowing a whole lot about you beyond what’s communicated in your music—tell us a little about yourself, if you don’t mind. You’re Canadian, right?

Lowell: I am a dual citizen, Canadian and American. I’m obsessed with making music, especially writing.

And you’re concise. I like it. I feel like so many of our favorite bands through the years have hailed from Canada though—Braids (my absolute favorite band), Purity Ring, Broken Social Scene, Owen Pallett, Arcade Fire, Stars…the list goes on. I’ve interviewed Icelandic artists and discussed a similar dynamic with their country and they ventured that all the cold weather and lack of light had something to do with the creative output—do you think something similar’s going on with all you talented Canadians?

Its possible! I know for a fact the best comes out of me when I’m out of sorts, and winter can certainly do that to you. The other greats all come from Sweden and the winters there are no picnic either. Canada also has a pretty supportive system for certain artists. I’m sure that has its pros and cons but with that list I’m guessing the pros somewhat out weigh the cons. Speaking cons, The Constantines belong on that list as well.

Right right! You even lived in the Yukon for a time though, right? That had to inspire some introspection. How has that landscape or Canada in general colored your work?

I didn’t really live there, my father lives there. My connection to there is through him, although I have of course visited. One year I even looked after Huskies up north in the summer. The great white North is a beautiful thing. I’m sure it has contributed to some of the sound of my music…somehow.

Not to fixate, but do you have any lesser-known Canadian bands we can look into?

Your list so far is great. You could look into Weaves, Andy Shauf, Tobias Jesso Jr. (one of my absolute faves) and I have a new project I’m super excited about called Les Nananas.

Nice—I have yet to hear Weaves, but like your other suggestions. And we’ll have to check out Les Nananas. Can you talk inspiration for album titles for us? Your first EP was named I Killed Sara V.—what’s that from?

I Killed Sara V. was both a personal and political statement. I had a story of my dodgy past working as a stripper for some time under a sudo name “Sara V.” The press thought that was exciting…I thought I’d just put it out there and let people react to it. The idea was that when I made the EP it was a form of me killing “stripper me” and reincarnating as Lowell the artist. The most important thing came in the album We Loved Her Dearly which was a revelation that I didn’t need to kill or reject the things I did in the past to be respected. It became an ode instead of a murder story. It showed remorse for the beauty who was killed by society…a sexually empowered and successful female who felt the need to be “dignified” and reject herself….

I love that, it’s a really nice evolution of self-awareness or image of self, I think. Bringing us up-to-date, you released the Part 1: Paris YK EP late last month on Arts & Crafts—can you break that one down for us?

Its probably going to be three parts. Each part will relate back to an important place of my nomadic upbringing. I chose The Yukon first. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer and though sometimes its been a great thing for me, it has also caused me to suffer. There was a time when The Yukon was the land of opportunity… and this place Paris, Yukon could be looked at as, say, “Canada’s dead Hollywood.” With that in mind, I guess this EP was supposed to make you question your hopes and dreams. Something I need to do every now and then in order to stay happy.

How do the songs on this new EP differ from your previous work?

They are different I suppose. This EP in particular was more of a collab on the production side, so that made a huge difference.

I always liked the track “Cloud 69″ from your first album a lot, but I do feel like the new work shows a certain musical growth and maturity…and we like it a lot, for what it’s worth. How did you get hooked up with Arts & Crafts?

They called, I answered. I have always had a love for that label.

Likewise. You’ve openly stated that work to address real issues and empower listeners with your music—why’s that important to you?

I think in order for people to move forward as a whole, artists have to start a movement.

Is there a song you can think of that was difficult to write for you in terms of subject matter? Or, if that’s no fun to talk about, maybe one that you just felt really impassioned about, like “I HAVE to write about this NOW”?

My song “LGBT” came to me after some hate crimes were committed in front of me in London. its not the deepest song on the surface but I was upset and that’s what came out.

Have you ever had any fans reach out to thank you for talking about these more difficult topics in your work?

I have, yes! I don’t think I’m unique in that way. Artists have the gift of being able to affect people in a special way, even if its nothing to do with the subject matter. It still makes me feel great when I get notes from people saying I’ve inspired them to look more into feminism or approach the way they make music themselves. Being open and honest as an artist is not always easy and there are times where it is down right terrifying, but I really believe it is something that needs to start happening in pop culture, so anytime I get a pat on my back it makes me feel like i’m doing the right thing. It makes it easier for me to stay true to my vision.

Glad to have your voice out there, honestly. Speaking of terrifying though, given how FUCKING FRIGHTENING the possible outcome of our election this fall…can we come live with you in Canada if things don’t pan out well for us?

I’m not sure. I have a spare room in my house you could probably settle into but you’ll eventually need a Visa. Luckily Canada believes that immigrants are actually very helpful for the economy and so the process wouldn’t be that gruesome. In fact, we’ve been doing our best to fly in and settle Syrian refugees whilst also putting together some integration programs to make the shift as easy as possible for new immigrants. We have settled up to 25,000 in the past year. I’m sure there is plenty of room for you as well…but you should stay there…if the unspeakable happens they will need you more than ever.

Good point. And cheers Canada for doing what we should—I heard that news story about the Syrian refuges earlier this year and it simultaneously made me inspired by your country and dismayed by ours. It’s been so turbulent and divided here the past years.

Lowell performing live in 2014.

Lowell performing live in 2014.

ANYWAY though, I don’t know if you’ve read it, but in Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl—Carrie Brownstein’s excellent memoir—she writes about how annoying it was that Sleater-Kinney constantly got asked about how it felt to be ‘women in music’ and so eloquently stated “To this day, because I know no other way of being or feeling, I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in a band — I have nothing else to compare it to. But I will say that I doubt in the history of rock journalism and writing any man has been asked, ‘Why are you in an all-male band?’” Is that a question you get a lot and do you have a similar feeling on the matter?

I find it weird that, as a writer/producer, I am part of the 3% of women that do what I do in music. So for me, I am not bothered by the question. It is fair to observe that there is a lack of women doing what men do in music. There is a great all girl band in Toronto called The Beaches and their merch is a t-shirt that just says “GRL BAND.” Yes, it is an anomaly. It is also silly. Women rule at music. That being said…it is probably annoying to be asked all the time about being a woman when being a woman should have nothing to do with what you do.

I recently heard someone putting forth what I think is now a pretty widely unaccepted concept—that we’re living in post-raciaal America because our country elected a Barack Obama. They then extended that concept to say that we’d live in a post-gender society if we elected Hilary Clinton. Can you give me your two cents on why that might not be?

We are living in a post-racial America, we do live in a post-gender society and this will worsen when Hilary is president. For me it has been difficult to see racism crawl out of the woodwork like it has over the last few years, however it is so important to remember how great this is for the future of society. Racism doesn’t just spontaneously generate. It was very much alive before Barack Obama and it only seems worse because it has become more visible. The backlash against Black Lives Matter… and the fact that “All Lives Matter” is a real actual thing that people say is upsetting, but its better for people to hear it than to not so we can stop denying race issues and start doing something about them.

Totally agree with you on the last bit—I’m hoping these are cultural growing pains, painful as they are. Back to the music, I haven’t seen any announced tour dates recently—think that’ll change in the near future?

Yeah! You’ll know very soon. I do have a tour coming up.

Any plans to come to Los Angeles?

I hope so!

I know it’s not about California, but can you tell about the inspiration for the song “West Coast Forever”?

Its all about being in a shit hole and yearning for more.

We’ve seen bands do it well and bands do it…not so well, but what are the challenges in your mind in translating a largely electronic studio track to something that’ll play well on stage, in front of an audience?

Its always though finding a balance between budget and and artistic vision. The more tracks you use, the cheaper it will be and the more money you will make (or more accurately, the less money you will lose). I have a lot of respect for real musicians, because I went to music school for a year and met so many legitimate musicians that have undeniable drive and talent. I like to see that kind of thing when I’m at a show; however, reality is, most of my fans are excited about seeing my personality and so I can kind of get away with using tracks and just performing to the max. My shows are not exactly about scales and noodling anyways, they are about having fun, partying, dancing etc. I’m ok with that. Of course I still play, and Matty D is a killer guitar player, but until I’m headlining with a real budget, a full band aint happening! To be honest there’s something charming about the way it is right now anyways. Its very intimate.

Can’t wait to see ourselves. Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us.

Listen to and purchase tracks from Lowell’s new EP via iTunes or your favorite service and stay tuned via Facebook to see when she’s playing near you.

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I think in order for people to move forward as a whole, artists have to start a movement.

This past weekend, Katie + I made a quick, daylong stop at home here in Los Angeles after our trip up the California coast before heading back to New York for a long-awaited event—the opening of the new vegan restaurant Modern Love Brooklyn.

MLBK is the collaborative effort of three of our friends—sisters Erica + Sara Kubersky of MooShoes and Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a celebrated vegan cookbook author, chef, and all-around OG in the vegan community, creating and co-hosting a cable access vegan cooking show in the aughts called Post Punk Kitchen.

Isa opened her first Modern Love in 2014 in her now-home of Omaha, Nebraska, choosing a path that was far from what might be considered preaching-to-the-choir and opening in New York or LA or another metropolitan area already abound with animal-free eating. But the Brooklyn native’s roots run deep and she’s always wanted a returning to home for her cooking. Pair that with the fact that Erica + Sara, who grew up in Queens, have long sought a vegan restaurant venture in New York, and you’ve got magic—13 years after the first episode of Post Punk Kitchen aired on New York community access television, Modern Love Brooklyn opened it’s doors in Williamsburg to a crowd of friends and family of which we were delighted and proud to be counted.

All parties involved in MLBK wanted the restaurant to reflect its place and regional culture just as its predecessor in Omaha does, so the menu focuses on plant-based comfort foods, much of which has roots in the shared Eastern European cuisine both Isa and the Kubersky sisters enjoyed growing up—vegan latkes, blintzes, chops + applesauce, a Niçoise with deviled potatoes, root vegetables aplenty. But they don’t take the inspirations as rigid guidelines, allowing them to pull from other popular cuisines with a beautiful Italian lasagna that boasts handmade noodles, a take on New England chowder a surf + turf, and the ever-in these days—shishitos, which they do beautifully.

The menu will likely shift with the seasons, but even if it didn’t, everything we had was crave-able enough to keep around for good. That said, we’d recommend getting there soon in case some favorites do leave the menu—again, everything was great, but our favorites of what we had were the latkes, the truffled poutine, the grilled caesar, the hearty chops + applesauce, the mac, and the lasagna (I know, a lot). And seriously—we’re not just saying all of that because we’re all pals. We were able to come in twice while we were in town, and it’s all truly beautifully done, really wonderful food. Vegan or not, we highly recommend going. For all you celiacs + gluten-free out there, there’s a vested interest in the menu being extremely GF-friendly, with deliberate kitchen practices to minimize cross-contamination on the gluten-free menu items.

MLBK is located at 317 Union Avenue right by the Metropolitan G and currently open Wednesday to Sunday, 530 – 10PM. They’re serving dinner only right now but brunch should follow shortly; then a lunch service soon after.

All photos by our gracious + talented friend, Justin. Below, Erica, Isa, and Sara; Seitan Chops + Applesauce—rosemary breaded seitan, gingery sweet potatoes, pink applesauce, seared brussels sprouts; Mac + Shews (gf)—creamy cashew cheese, pecan-cornmeal crusted tofu, BBQ cauliflower, sautéed kale, tomato vinaigrette, spiced pecans; Surf + Turf—glam chowder, herb grilled seitan, seared radish, wilted mustard greens, popcorn cauliflower; Grilled Caesar (gf)—grilled romaine, garlic caper dressing, polenta croutons, peptic parmesan; Blistered Shishitos (gf)—edamame mint hummus, frisee, parsley oil; Zaatar Pretzels—baba ganoush, chili oil, preserved lemon, sumac; Wild Mushroom Blintz—buckwheat crepe, smashed beet relish, almond ricotta, kasha arugula salad; our friend Agatha + Erica; and us looking tough in front of the MLBK mural.

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The whole concept of Modern Love is a vegan translation of traditional food with whole ingredients and make it even better. I think, where the locations are, they influence us.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz to Paste Magazine earlier this month.

Yesterday, on our southward journey back from a stay at the very lovely Stanford Inn, we got a chance to check out Amy’s Drive Thru, the all vegetarian, very vegan-friendly take on American fast food by Amy’s Kitchen.

Though now ubiquitous with its convenient, vegetarian, organic meals, Amy’s started out small, with husband and wife Andy + Rachel Berliner starting the company in 1987 and running it from their home and barn (they named it after their then newborn daughter, Amy). After their signature vegetable pot pie shot to grocery store stardom, Andy + Rachel expanded their line to include soups, beans, chili, sauces, and millions upon millions of frozen burritos, with an eye toward combining heathy living with convenience.

Last year, Amy’s opened Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, California, just north of San Francisco, and we’ve been meaning to stop by ever since. The concept—convenient, health-minded, vegetarian and vegan food that’s competitive with the non-veg fast food market—is an easy extension of Amy’s Kitchen’s core concept and, we have to say, from our experience, it’s a huge success.

First off, prices are great—single-serving pizzas for $6+; sides of mac for $4+; burritos for $5; vegan and dairy shakes for $4; and the signature double-patty veggie burger, The Amy, with (vegan) cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and spicy or non-spicy special sauce, all for just under $5. And everything’s still made largely on-site using organic ingredients.

And the space itself reaches for new heights in über-eco-ness—tables are made from old automobile brake drums, wood used is either recycled or culled from off-cuts, tableware is recyclable and compostable, and the roof sports both a rainwater capture system and habitat-creating, naturally cooling drought-tolerent garden.

Maybe most importantly of all—the food tastes fucking great. Everything we had hit that perfect taste point of classic fast food that many of us still hold in a nostalgic place in our hearts but wholesome and clearly better for you, while still retaining the crave-worthiness—we seriously started craving The Amy mere hours after leaving the Drive Thru.

Between Amy’s, San Francisco’s already formidable vegan food scene, and The Stanford Inn’s all vegan offerings not too far north, we’re already planning our next trip up the coast.

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Amy's Drive Thru is returning to the roots of American fast food, serving lovingly handcrafted food to nourish hard-working citizens, busy families and road-weary travellers.
Amy's Drive Thru

We’re thrilled to bring you our September mixtape today, featuring a beautifully glitchy opener from Sydney new-comer BUOY; a brand new single from favorites Sylvan Esso (who are running the festival circuit of late, playing the newly created Music Tastes Good festival in Long Beach in a couple weeks; the lead single Irish folk singer James Vincent McMorrow‘s newest venture into electronic R+B; woozy trip-hop from Vienna’s Leyya; a bold new track from Melbourne-based, New Zealand-born Teeth & Tongue; a great new one from LA hometown heroes and fellow NPR-lovers Cherry Glazerr (who just signed to Secretly Canadian); a bizarrely cool new song from Brooklyn’s Chrome Sparks featuring Angelica Bess; another great song from another great musician from down under, Jack Grace; a really wonderful track from an artist I’m just hearing about, England’s The Japanese House (AKA 21 year old Amber Bain, who plays a sold-out show at the Echo in December); a new single from fellow Englishman (and vegan, I think), Declan McKenna, that’s even better than his previous break-out, “Brazil”; a track by another New Zealand musician, ives.; something from Liima—the collaboration between longtime favorites Efterklang (currently working on an opera) and percussionist Tatu Rönkkö; something from Tyné out of Cambridge; a soaring new single from Kishi Bashi (deeper write-up on him here); and finally, we close with a song from Brooklyn’s Hannah Epperson.

Yes, that was technically one huge run-on sentence.


We just added to our design portfolio some branding and site design work we did for Los Angeles-based companion animal care company VIVA PETS.

One of the first questions we ask clients to answer for us with branding work is ‘What makes you unique in your field?’ How are you better than the guys down the street; how do you set yourself apart in your work; why should we chose you for whatever it is that you do instead of someone else?

If the answer’s difficult to grasp…that’s likely a bigger problem than can be adequately addressed by a creative agency. But, honestly, it usually isn’t, especially for small business owners. Usually the answer’s built into why those people started their business in the first place; usually it’s inherent in the passion they have for their work, otherwise they’d pack it up and opt for the far easier route of working for someone else.

With Aubrie, this uniqueness and advantage is inherent and baked in to not only her company’s work but her individual personality and passion for all animals. A longtime vegan and animal rights activist, Aubrie has positioned VIVA PETS to treat animals like their humans do, with the utmost care, compassion, and love. As they put it, “We care for your pets exactly how we’d want ours to be taken care of in our absence.”

Aubrie has a huge, kind personality, and that certainly came across in when we wrapped on her logo and site design, when she wrote on Facebook:
“the creative mavericks of raven + crow studio branded the hell out of my business, VIVA PETS! this has been a long time coming and i couldn’t think of better people to have done this. they created my logo, website and brand. i’m floored with how awesome everything came out. so, now my company reflects me. we aren’t just legit, we look legit now. so, a couple of things – check this shit out, tell your friends and if you need help in this arena hit them up.”

So do indeed hit us up.

You can see more in our portfolio and on VIVA’s site.

viva-pets-site viva-pets-mobile

The creative mavericks of raven + crow studio branded the hell out of my business, VIVA PETS!
VIVA PETS owner + founder Aubrie Davis via Facebook on our design work.

A friend and colleague of ours was recently traveling up the California coast and reached out to us to ask if we knew about “this vegan eco resort” in Northern California.

Woefully, we have not made nearly enough time to explore our new coast—sure, we’ve spent a good bit of time in Sonoma and Big Sur and Joshua Tree, but we have yet to make it down to San Diego in these past three or so years or up to that crazy Danish-looking town or to majestic Yosemite or even up to San Francisco (one of my favorite American cities) since we moved to the West Coast! I know, despicable.

We’re working on remedying that, but, given that neither of us has ever been south of Portland, Oregon or north of San Fran, suffice it to say that we’ve never been to Mendocino, home to Stanford Inn by the Sea, a coastal sustainably run eco resort that includes a canoe + bike shop, wellness center + spa, California certified organic garden, and an all-vegan restaurant. Stanford Inn is run by Joan and Jeff Stanford, a vegan couple dedicated to bringing the magic of Mendocino to all that stay at the Inn.

We have every intention of making what’s sure to be a beautiful journey up the coast to visit the Inn, but, in the meantime, the whole operation piqued our interest so we reached out to Jeff Stanford to find out more about how two people came to run this earth-friendly, animal-friendly establishment for over 25 years. Jeff was kind enough to oblige, giving us the low-down on how he and Joan came to be innkeepers in the first place, farming organically without the use of animal products, their favorite dishes at Ravens Restaurant—their award-winning vegan restaurant, and how the doctor from Murder She Wrote happened upon a mystery of his own.

No, really.

raven + crow: You’ve got a quote on your inn’s home page by J. Hamrick that greets visitors—”In my dreams I walk on fog-enshrouded cliffs through wild flowers dancing in the wind with the sea booming below me, the mist wrapping about my ankles. And longing fills me, settles over me like a soft summer rain. And I know that I must go to Mendocino.” Who’s J. Hamrick and what’s the origin of the quote?

Jeff Stanford: Joan and I had heard Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s rendition of Linda Ronstadt’s “Talk to me of Mendocino” in the mid 70′s and we found ourselves drawn to this then unknown place. Hamrick embodies the feeling of quiet, fog, the special place that Mendocino is.

We found the quote in a book, years ago. We used it in print brochures and then on the internet. I just googled the quote to find information about the writer and, instead, found one of our fellow innkeepers also uses the quote. Wonder where he found it.

I hope to be mysteriously quoted one day. So, we’ve never been north of San Francisco or south of Portland on the west coast—can you give us an idea of what makes Mendocino so special?

You’ll have to come north to find out. Mendocino is an experience. It is personal! The facts of the place are that it is out of the way; the roads to it are beautiful, winding along cliffs bordering the Pacific, through redwood forests, or through wine country valleys and ridges. The roads are gateways, visitors in a sense earn their experience of Mendocino. The town of Mendocino is an archetypal coastal small town that evokes in some the sense of community as it might have been at some long ago time.

I think you two moved to Mendocino in 1980 or so—where from? What your lives before that and what brought about the move/shift?

We came from Carmel. We had moved there during the recession and economic chaos of the 1970′s. I was an academic and Joan a youth worker. We wanted to live on the West Coast. The way to do it was to help run a small inn.

Where does that fundamental interest in and reverence for the land and environment come from for the two of you?

From meditation—the recognition that “land and environment” are not different than us; they define us as much as we define, describe, enhance or harm them.

And where did the desire to open an inn come from then? Or was it more wrapped up in the land and the working of it?

We didn’t open an inn. We purchased an operating motel. We did this mostly with borrowed money for the down payment and we were able to do so because a number of people believed in us. We knew how to operate and enhance the motel, converting it to an inn. The desire was simply to live, work, raise our family, explore life in one place, grow within a community much of which we had to create for ourselves. Best part of this place, then called Big River Lodge, aside from the energy here, was that there were no owner’s quarters—we didn’t have to pay for them—and we moved into a unit. We eventually took over a second room, added on a small reception area, and operated that way for eight years. We did not have to pay rent—only lost the deprecation on the part we lived in.

Was everything pretty much in the state it’s in today when you took the property over or did the two of you end up putting a lot of work into it?

The lamps were bolted to the night stands, the nightstands bolted to the walls. There were sliding aluminum and glass doors and windows, and shag carpeting. There was one deck everyone shared, providing access to the rooms and a view into them—not private. We began making changes: First, we unbolted lamps and furniture to show that we trusted our guests (and also to provide more room on bedside tables). Second, we removed baseboard heating and replaced with fan-forced resistance heating, dropping our utility bill. Third, borrowed more money and ordered furniture. We received a $20,000 loan from good friends as a “kicker” and they helped us contract for furniture. Fourth, began putting in wood burning fireplaces, seeded the pasture on which the motel had been built and began general landscaping.

Wow. Were the gardens, restaurant, spa, or canoe/bike shop already part of the land or did you develop those over time too?

None were here. Catch A Canoe had been started in 1972 and was no longer operating when we purchased it in 1983 with help from the realtors who loaned us the down payment. It was a necessary purchase to protect the inn from the potential shopping center that zoning allowed. The property which is a part of Catch A Canoe is in front of the Inn.

As mentioned above, we began landscaping when we bought the inn. First we purchased fuchsias which we hang from eves of the building, and then planted flowers, trees, and bushes as we could afford them.

In 1986-88 we brought in different bike lines and changed the name of Catch A Canoe to Catch A Canoe & Bicycles, too! which we adapted from “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too!”

In 1985 we expanded our “landscaping” into areas that we had no money to improve and began organic farming. Originally a friend and I dug five beds and began truck farming, but it soon grew to many more beds. We were guided by the work of Ecology Action and John Jeavons, not knowing that they had relocated from Palo Alto to Willits, an hour away from the Inn. We now partner with John to promoted small scale farming as a response to climate change.

How did all of that work affect how you all thought about the land and the whole venture?

There’s a strong spiritual component to our lives here. We found ourselves living within it. It was here before we were and rather than fight it—I don’t think we could—we try to understand its movement and its movements toward us. It was not until trees fell that we expanded. They came down not during a storm, but unexpectedly on two sides of the property and I suppose others might have taken the falling as just random; having not experienced this before, we took it as having meaning. When Joan wanted a better view for the rooms, literally trees fell down creating the view. This was 35 years ago and she still refers to this as an important awakening for her—the interrelationship and lack of fine distinctions between us and our environment.

I’ve personally moved around a lot in my life, but I could see having spent so long in one place—especially a place as special as this seems—being formative and impressive. It seems like you have a lot of staff that’s been at the inn for a pretty long time too; many of your employees are full-time as well, I think—is all that purposeful or key to the idea you have for the business, providing a larger, long-lasting relationship with your staff?

It is purposeful. It is based on how we would like to live and be treated if we worked for someone. Plus, the energy here is life-affirming. It is amazing and although many may not be aware of it, they work here because of that intangible.

I know you use some pretty specific methods in your garden beyond just run-of-the-mill organic gardening—can you talk about those a little bit?

We use the techniques developed primarily by Jeavons and his somewhat philosophical predecessor, Alan Chadwick. We also use our own approaches based on the micro-climate here.


I was talking with a friend recently with regards to veganism as it impacts organic farming and vice versa. His point was, if, in ideal world, someone championed a lifestyle of no animal use whatsoever, organic farming wouldn’t be an option and you’d need to rely instead on chemicals to fertilize the plants one grows for food. I just wonder if that’s something you all have ever tackled in terms of the philosophy of running an enterprise that’s both very vegan-minded and very organic-minded.

They are wrong and the science is there to establish that. We have been vegan farming for years. We don’t use animal products—none of those allowed in organic process. The idea is to create a growing soil, one replete with the “soil bacteria” that humans evolved with. Animal product used as fertilizer can kill the bacterial. We compost and the best way is to form layers of plant materials above fallow beds. Sometimes there are weeds, but it all decomposes to create healthy soil.

Steiner’s method is based around cows—Biodynamics. We use use a process developed by Alan Chadwick and refined by John Jeavons and his Ecology Action combining French Intensive and non-animal biodynamics in regard to timing, planting techniques, and so on. Check out Jeavon’s How to Grow More Vegetables, Eighth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine.

In the future a “sustainable movement” will have to measure true organic production by the bacteria and other microorganisms present in the soils in which crops are grown. Need a soils scientist for this, but organic growers would be rated on the basis of the health of their soil. Most people do not recognize that soil should be the emphasis. All micronutrients, all the components of the plant are manifested through the action of bacteria, funguses, and viruses that make them available for plant uptake. See for example, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets.

A bit more on biodynamics—there are people in Britain that are working to create vegan ‘potions’ to address the cow-part potions used by followers of biodynamics to realign or align energies. Making potions is about bringing awareness to perceived distresses in the garden and the potions focus intent to realign garden energies. The process is about awareness and intent to heal the garden and this is all energy. Energy is motion and movement and doesn’t need to be mediated by cow or plant parts. This is one of the great realizations achieved in full-on awareness, choiceless, sensitive, and acute observation. What I am writing is that what’s important is awareness of the garden, it’s energies, its movements or lack of movement—impediments. The solution is in the awareness of the garden and our intent to align with its energies. Everything else is simply ritual—a method of bringing attention and intention into the garden.

That’s a lot to take in, but thanks for clearing that up. It’s something that’s bugged me since I heard it as it didn’t add up in my head, but, lacking the background in farming (despite my surname), I couldn’t really make sense of the reality of the situation. I read that your garden provides produce to your restaurant and others in the area then?

It did. We now use most all of it and the rest goes to staff.

Your gardens aren’t the sole source of ingredients in your restaurant though are they?

No. We estimate about 20% of produce, not including citrus.

Why was it important for you to create a vegan dining experience for guests with Ravens Restaurant?

We are vegan. Selling anything other would disconnect us from ourselves; cognitive dissonance. We don’t want to live with that—plant-based or no restaurant.


Did you get any pushback from either the community or friends with that move? I know a lot of environmentally minded people who don’t necessarily see a strong connection between the ecological sustainability and veganism.

Yes. First we were vegetarian. We didn’t know about what happens in dairies and certainly knew nothing of hatcheries. When we learned, we became “vegan” or as we rather put it, “plant-based and thoughtful/scientific.” What that means is that some products (non-animal) are better than plants. Example—the production of cotton, organic included, wrecks havoc on the environment. Using a petroleum recyclable material such as microfiber is more environmentally friendly. Some people don’t like using non-plant fibers. Hemp may someday replace cotton—thus far it hasn’t been widely used.

And with regard to to those “who don’t necessarily see a strong connection between ecological sustainability and veganism,” they are missing the point. First, science fully establishes that the most ecological action a person can take is to adopt a whole food, minimally processed plant-based diet. Second, the disconnect between claiming to be sustainable and continuing to eat animal products is simply damaging to one’s psyche as he or she twists together rationale to support eating animals. That twisting impairs growth. It ties up energy.

Agreed, agreed, and agreed. Back to the restaurant, does the menu there change a lot based on seasons or over time from year to year?

The menu changes in subtle ways as availability of ingredients change. Larger changes are usually thematic: Last year we had theme of haute Mexican. Now we have a theme of a widely varying ethnic fusion menu. We offer special menus for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, mushroom season and crab season (like crabless cakes).

I have no idea when crab season is, but I’m going to look that up and start planning travel around it. And you’ve got a cookbook now too, right? Was that fun to put together?

Work. The recipes are from nearly 20 years and had to be tested and photographed. We use a co-creative model to develop the menu and recipes. Everyone can contribute to recipe development—prep cooks, line cooks, serving staff. Final decisions are made by me who serves in the role of executive chef. We now have a position which is “chef instructor and creative chef” whose primary job is to teach cooking classes and work with SidGarza-Hillman (our kitchen director and nutritionist) and me to refine recipes. Many of the ideas come from experimenting in Canada where Joan and I are free to play around when we are on vacation.

No, we have many friends who’ve written cookbooks and I certainly don’t envy them the time and work that went into them. How long have you two been vegan and what brought you to making that life choice?

I injured myself in early 1985. During the prior 4 years, Joan and I had been working long days, 7 days a week. Our two children were born at the Inn and we were trying to make the Inn into a true destination. We didn’t stop. I did not take vacations. Cracking my hip, I had to slow down. I reflected on chicken and ethics and became vegetarian. I “realized” that I would not kill a chicken to eat it and that I was wrong to ask someone else to do it for me. It was that simple. My family quickly followed. None of us had any idea about the practices within hatcheries and dairies and almost 20 years later, the Humane Society of the United States (if I remember correctly) designated the Clover Stornetta Organic Dairy as the most humane in the US. I knew owners of the dairy. Their children went to school with ours. I read their website which I found damning and became vegan. That was 12 years ago—the end of 2004. At the time the restaurant was ova-lacto vegetarian, as it had always been.

By 2007 we had converted dinner service to vegan and all morning recipes to vegan as well. We still provided eggs and dairy on request.

We didn’t like the slowness of the change. There were reasons we went slow, however the reasons did nothing to assuage our cognitive dissonance. We had to move a large staff and guests away from casomorphins and eggs without further damaging our ability to pay our mortgages. I don’t believe there were any full service hotels that were vegetarian when we opened the restaurant in 1996-97. Former guests actually yelled at us then for making the change. Breakfast was always vegetarian and we hadn’t served dinner until then. In 2007, we were still recovering from the dot-com crash. The principle source of our guests—the San Francisco Bay Area—was undergoing a huge real estate bubble and many of our guests no longer traveled to us. They stayed home to pay for increasingly expensive mortgages and rents. Adjusted occupancy went from nearly 80% to the mid 40′s.

In 2012 we quit providing dairy and egg options. We still suffer the harpoons thrown by those who don’t want to be reminded of the choices they might better make. Literally, not having eggs or half-and-half sticks in some of their craws.

I can only imagine. Hopefully the longer you’ve done it, the more accepted it’s become and the more you attract a specific set of visitors (like us) who are willing to travel further because of the changes you’ve made though. So what’s your all’s favorite menu item?

Joan’s favorite is our ravioli. Mine is potato salad. We have sea palm strudel, a wonderful barbecued portobello, paella (which I learned to make in Spain), and others. But it is potato salad. We don’t serve it all year, but when we do, I enjoy it. The dressing recipe was created alongside Lake Winnipeg in the tiny community of Matlock in Joan’s cottage.


Well I hope to be able to try it myself. And—obviously we have to ask this—where does the name for the restaurant come from?

On May 31, 1995, 5 months before we broke ground to build the restaurant and additional rooms, a pair of ravens showed up perched on top of a dying Grand Fir, behind our main greenhouse, which encloses the pool. Nearly 2 months earlier, we were visiting my Dad and stepmom in Carmel, when my Dad told Joan that he felt a special affinity to crows (we didn’t know the difference between them and ravens then). He said, when he died, he would return as a raven, pointing to an opportunistic raven on the pavement in New Monterey. He died in May and two weeks later the raven pair appeared in Mendocino. We had been here for 15 years and had never seen ravens here. There are now hundreds that often soar above the gardens and land in fruit trees to knock down pears and apples.

Well, that’s lovely. Do you have any other favorite vegan or vegetarian restaurant around the US?

We don’t travel often except to Washington DC and to Manitoba, Canada. We have found a few vegan restaurants that are just fun, such as peacefood cafe in NYC—their fluffy quinoa salad and chocolate cookie—and Hangawi in NYC—their appetizers are creative and unique. Our daughter recommends Vedge in Philadelphia—we haven’t made it yet. Boon Burger in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada offers a variety of different vegetable-based burgers. Sanctuary Bistro in Berkeley, California.

Joan and I prefer to eat at restaurants where we can learn something, but we avoid stressing staff. This means we check out fine dining restaurants when we travel and, if they have even interesting side dishes, we will eat at them.

Ah, Hangawi’s one of our favorites in New York. And I haven’t been to peacefoods in years, but I have fond memories of it. I know you all allow pets at the Inn and have had some interesting ones (Vietnamese pot belly pigs‽)—are you two big animal people (besides the whole vegan thing)?

We have two horses—a pinto and bay quarter horse—that were “rescued” in the sense that they had to be moved from land that could not support them, literally—the horses broke down the soil causing it to go into a protected waterway.

We have two rescued miniature donkeys. Seems that people like to buy them as pets, find them like a dog, and then hand them over to a donkey sanctuary which then tries to find homes for them.

Three male llamas live on the land with us, still cared for by the breeder who bred them, but living here. Four cats and two dogs and 4 geese round out animals that live (sort of) with us.

That’s a veritable ark. Any interesting pets in the Inn stories you can share?

Guests booked for Christmas three years ago. Just before the holiday they called again and asked if they could bring two pet geese, Snowflake and Cupcake. We said, “Yes.” They then asked if they could leave them in our pond because they were going to be traveling beyond Mendocino and past the holidays. We said, “Of course.” Snowflake, an Embden goose, is still with us. Cupcake, a Toulouse goose was killed by a fox. To provide Snowflake with company, we adopted three younger geese, one Toulouse and two Embden. Now we don’t know which is which Embden. We haven’t had geese for many years with the exception Cupcake and Snowflake. Geese serve as excellent alarms at night. By the way, we have arranged our fencing so that the geese can get to water if a predator gets into the area, which is always possible. Cupcake was only 20′ from water, just enough distance that the fox got her.

Other potential predators reported along the coast include raccoons, skunks, opossums, bobcats, and cougars. The larger cats don’t like that we have many dogs and dog smells. Our pet policy has protected our donkeys, horses, and llamas, as well as our pets—cats and dogs.

It’ll never cease to amaze me how wild the West Coast is as compared to back east in so many ways. How about in general—you two have run the Stanford Inn for over twenty years? What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened under your watch?

Seems to me that most of what has happened that’s crazy shouldn’t be repeated. At least those are the ones I am remembering.

I want to note that we have been here going on 37 years. One story that’s not crazy and describes the nature of some guests’ experience was 20 years ago. A well known public relations executive stayed with us with his ten year old son. Here, he experienced an epiphany. He wrote us to tell us about it and suggested that we tell people that the Inn is a place of amazement and growth. I replied that we were aware of the changes that occur for some, but noted that the experiences behind them should not be expected—not anticipated. He tacitly agreed that raising expectations might not be a great idea.

The most unusual story but not so crazy that Joan could remember concerns an actor in a detective television series who was in Mendocino taping. He came to the Inn’s Catch A Canoe and wanted to rent a solo canoe. We always warn a solo paddler that the conditions on Big River can change and that it is a great idea to have someone along to help paddle. He assured us that he was an experienced outdoors man. He went out, alone. He had been told that we close at 5:00. At 5:30, the time staff actually leave, I became worried. It was summer. The sun would not set until between 8:30 and 9:00 and I decided to give him until 7:00 to return. At 7:00 I went to the dock to launch a boat to go looking for him. I didn’t have to. He pulled up in his canoe and laid out clothing on the dock deck.

I went down to the dock. He and I went trough the “treasure.” Shorts and underwear and t-shirts for a man and woman, two pairs of shoes (if I remember correctly), and an envelope with a small amount of change. On one of the t-shirts was brown stain that could have been blood. He had found all this in a paper bag that was hanging from a branch of a tree whose trunk was embedded in the bottom of the river. We called the sheriff who took a report and took away the clothing and money. The actor was William Windom who played Doctor Seth Hazlitt on Murder She Wrote.

Oh, and the prosecutor from To Kill a Mockingbird! Wait, Jeff, is that the end of the story‽ Was foul play afoot? That’s a bit of a cliff hanger there!

And so it remains a cliffhanger. This is what I think happened—a couple was out camping and hiking along the river and had brought along lunch. Because no one reported seeing or hearing about naked people, they were probably camping on higher ground nearby. This is a very rural area. They were eating and lounging on the river beach and decided to swim, and placed their gear in the bag where their lunch had resided. They swam as the tide brought up the water level and launched the bag, which they were then unable to find. The bag became hooked on a skag and was found by our canoeist perhaps even a day later.

OR Doctor Seth Hazlitt didn’t see them skinny dipping nearby and inadvertently punked them! That’s so Doctor Seth Hazlitt.

Wait, I almost forgot to ask—what’s the story behind the logo for the inn?

It is a stylized fuchsia. The first plants we bought for the inn were fuchsias. An artist rendered them and they became our logo. When we redid our website 10 years ago, we adopted a more stylized single fuchsia.

I see it now! Well, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. Hopefully we’ll see you all soon!

Visit the Stanford Inn’s site to find out more, see photos, watch videos, and book your visit.

Video by Rystar Productions; photo of Jeff + Joan courtesy of Gathering Green; all other photos, Stanford Inn.

"Land and environment" are not different than us; they define us as much as we define, describe, enhance or harm them
Stanford Inn Co-Owner Jeff Stanford on their connection to the land.

A while back, a friend introduced me to the concept of “bullet journaling”—a quick, customizable system of journaling and organization developed by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. This introduction was sparked by a generous gift from said friend—a set of three Field Notes paper journals and a Blackwing pencil re-issue. A lot of friends know that I still make a habit of writing in paper journals and have a longstanding personal obsession with pencils of all kinds.

Though my friend prefers traditional wooden pencils that can be sharpened, I’ve always leaned more towards the precision of mechanical pencils, especially drafting pencils. But this preference has always come with caveats and acknowledgement of inherent problems with mechanical pencils; first and foremost, the pencil leads break far too often, especially if you prefer thinner leads and tend to press down hard, both of which I do. Secondly, there’s a certain sentimental loss of the warm wooden feel of traditional pencils with mechanicals. Even that unmistakable pencil smell that’s wholly functionless but nonetheless pleasant in a very nostalgic way is left by the wayside when you limit yourself to mechanical pencils.

Enter the Prime Timber 2.0—a collaboration between Penco + Tokyo-based Kita-Boshi Pencil that combines the best qualities of mechanical and traditional pencils.


Made in Japan, the pencil uses California incense cedar for the pencil barrel (giving you your nostalgic wooden pencil smell) to house an elegantly simple mechanical system that pushes out a solid 2.0 mm graphite lead which you sharpen to a point with an included, compact plastic pencil sharpener.  And it comes in a variety of color combinations for the design-conscious.

I bought mine at Abbot Kinney purveyor of all things Japanophilic, Tortoise, but Portland’s Little Otsu carry’s the pencil in a variety of colors too, all available online.

Long live the digital analog.

penco-prime-timber_4431 prime-timber-2.0_4433

There’s a new vegan bang mi in town, people, and it is fucking good.

If you know us, you may well know that we love a good vegan bahn mi (please see Blue Window; please see Urban Radish around the corner; please see Brooklyn’s Toad Style; please see the bahn mi champion, Hanco’s also outta Brooklyn). The shiitake one at Urban Radish is good and nearby, but we’re pretty big fans of a good, plant-based-protein one too that approximates a traditional chicken bahn mi.

Last week, on our way to pick our copy of the anniversary issue of Popeye at the local Japanese Bookstore, Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo, we stopped in our tracks as we noticed a menu taped up at a luncheonette featuring—you guessed it—a vegan bahn mi.

The story goes that downtown LA’s very modestly and conspicuously named Sandwich Shop—located at 6th + Grand—opened a second location just late last month in the very same complex as Kinokuniya (and awesome Japanese supermarket Marukai).

And the verdict on the bahn mi? Impressively large, scrumptious, and craveable, with a superb showing of the sandwiches characteristic combination of spicy, fresh toppings and savory, rich proteins and spreads, all stuffed into the perfect example of that monstrous, crunchy French bread that totally, lovingly shreds the roof of your mouth as you eat it. The shop uses a Vege USA/Vegetarian Plus style vegan soy chicken (the kind you can get in the freezer section of good Thai markets) that’s fried and coated in a ginger marinade. And in addition to the traditional cilantro, jalapeño, pickled vegetable toppings, they use a Whole Foods brand vegan mayo on the bread, which most non-vegan restaurants (Hanco’s included) don’t bother to do.

So if you’re in Little Tokyo or our nearby neighborhood of the Arts District, stop by the Sandwich Shop—123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St #108. And yes, that is an awesome street name. If you’re further west in the downtown area, their original location’s at 531 W. 6th Street.

And according to the shop via Twitter, you can sub in the vegan chicken in the miso salad too.

New favorite work lunch spot—check!


Last week, listening to one of favorite radio shows—KRCW‘s Press Play with Madeline Brand—we heard a piece on a Japanese men’s magazine named Popeye that was celebrating its 40th anniversary. The magazine’s debut issue hit the shelves in Japan in 1976 and it focused nearly all of its pages on California, most specifically Los Angeles.

As reporter Julie Makinen points out in her Press Play spot and her Los Angeles Times piece, Japan in the mid-70s was a far different place than it is now. Far from a trend-setting, hi-tech mecca, the country was still going through struggles and growing pains of all kinds; to most, Los Angeles looked from afar like a blissed-out, care-free paradise full of inexplicable-yet-fascinating cultural trends. As the Popeye‘s original editor—now 86-year-old Yoshihisa Kinameri—told Makinen, “In Los Angeles, people looked happy and cheerful. It was magical; it was like heaven.”

Kinameri sent four of his staffers to southern California to capture that magic and bring it back to Japan and, as Makinen points out, the now re-issued inaugural issue reads like a time capsule that evokes either a wistful nostalgia or kitsch depending on when you were born.

Amongst other topics, the first issue of Popeye—”Magazine for City Boys”—covers such subjects hang-gliding, skate-boarding (along with a “Who is the hottest?” spread), the idyllic and very un-Japanese at the time UCLA campus (complete with dorm room + dining hall visits and a full map of the campus), “Healthy Californians,” sports vans and how to airbrush them for maximum radness, and jogging, along with a detailed spread on how to jog and three spreads full of awesome running shoes of the time—according to Kinameri, “In Japan at the time, students had maybe two kinds of sneakers, and they were cheap and not stylish at all.”

The full first issue of Popeye was printed as it first appeared in 1976 (minus vintage ads being swapped out for a modern sponsor—smart) and is included in the current anniversary issue of Popeye, which takes a much less culture-shocked, very savvy look at Los Angeles and surrounding environs 40 years later, when we’ve both changed so much. And they are very on-point—not only do they feature some of our favorite spots for food in LA (Night + Market Song, Donut Friend, SQRL, Dune), they also feature some of our favorite people—shout-out to Clara from Clara Cakes and her tour of Atwater Village!

Below, some of our favorite moments in the 1976 reprint, followed by Clara, a road trip spread, and a nice illustrated map of Los Angeles in the 2016 anniversary issue.

popeye_4507 popeye-hang-gliding_4555 popeye-magazine-1976_4556 popeye-magazine-japan_4559 popeye-japan-skating_4560 popeye-1976-skate_4562 popeye-magazine-japanese-skating_4563 popeye-japan-bruins_4571 popeye-magazine-jogging_4564 popeye-how-to-jog_4567 popeye-tokyo-sneakers_4570 popeye-mag-japan_4510 popeye-japanese-claras-cakes_4544 popeye-japan-calaifornia_4550 popeye-japan-los-angeles-map_4551

It’s hard to capture the feeling now, but then, it was just all so different. We had seen running in the Olympics, but seeing jogging in real life was completely strange.
Popeye's original editor to the LA Times

Last year, we stumbled across the sunny, California sounds of the band Tall Tales and the Silver Lining and immediately fell in love. With their hearts clearly rooted in folk-rock’s golden age but their heads in the here and now, their wistful-but-hopeful music painted the perfect backdrop to driving down the California coast in our new home state. We first wrote the band up briefly after discovering them as part of last March’s mixtape and then at year’s end when naming our favorite albums of 2016. So, needless to say, we were bummed to hear that the band was breaking up this spring, so soon after us first finding them.

We recently reached out to Tall Tales founder + frontman Trevor Beld Jimenez in hopes of finding out more about the band’s beginnings, influences, and ending and he kindly obliged.

One of Tall Tales’ more recent track “Burning Out” is below and you can scroll down to the end of the interview to see the official video from one of our favorite tracks from their full-length, “Something to Believe In.”

raven + crow: So, outta the gate, I’ve gotta ask about the name—Tall Tales and the Silver Lining. It’s such a unique name and one I’ve always been intrigued by in terms of the story behind it. How’d you come up with that? Where’s it from?

Trevor Beld Jimenez: Thanks, brother! Originally it was gonna be more of a solo endeavor, so I wanted a moniker cause I was too scared to use my name. Tall was a play on my height and Tales was a play on the songs. As the band started to develop live, and transitioned into more a real band feel with mainstays in the lineup, I thought it would be cool to have a back up band name, like the E Street Band or something of that nature. I’ve always liked the idea of silver linings.

Poetically logical. I like it. We sadly first heard about you all just last year, when the record label arm of Other Music—my favorite record store of all time (RIP)—signed you guys. How did a southern California band get connected with a New York City mainstay like that?

We came into contact with Josh from Other through Domino Publishing. He flew out to see us play in Los Angeles, and shortly after that we decided to put out a record together.

I know Other’s label is still around, but were you as sad as I was when you heard they were closing?

We played at the record store on an East Coast trip in 2015. Everybody there was super cool! Totally a bummer, but I know they’ve got great things ahead of them collectively and individually.

It’s pretty well-ducmented and definitely very talked about at this point, but how do you think the music scene—both in terms of record-buying and in terms of being in a band—has changed for better and worse in the past few years?

It’s changed in different ways, but in many ways has stayed the same.

When I first started playing music 17 years ago as a 16-year-old kid I can’t even remember how we booked shows. I feel like people would call you on the phone or maybe you would see them at a party and they would say “Hey do you want to play on this date?” Now it’s all done through email. Been that way for at least 10 years or so (I got internet for the first time in ’09). I’m a late bloomer, so I’m kinda just catching up in many ways.

Maybe it’s always been like this, but it also seems like pretty much anybody can start a band these days. All you need is a name and an account on all the social media platforms and you’re good to go. It’s easy to have a fling with music, but you can still spot the lifers out there. I don’t think that is necessarily a new concept, or a bad thing, it just seems to be the times right now.

It’s also pretty hard to sell records. I know that this is not new information. Definitely got to play live and tour to get those records out there!!

People can find it for free somewhere out there on the Internet. It’s a double edged sword for sure. As an artist you want people to hear your music and appreciate it, so sometimes you’re willing to not put a price on it. Music can heal and the world needs it right now, but it takes time, soul, energy and of course money to make. It’s always nice to feel like the feeling and effort between you and the audience is mutual.

All true. And likewise, having played and toured with a band pre-Internet/-email myself, it’s crazy to think back to how we did things back then and how shows across the country even happened.

How did Tall Tales start in the first place?

Tall Tales started in Ventura California around 2007. I played bass in this band for many years up there, and was writing songs as well for that band, but more behind the curtain. I wanted to step out a little bit more and felt like the time was right. I started the band as a kind of solo project with my wife Tania getting my back on the recordings and live sometimes, but mostly myself. Then it just became an official band. It was fun times.

We really loved your sound. Having recently moved here from New York purely for the good vibes and lack of terrible winters, I felt like you all really gave us a soundscape for the feeling of California, if that makes any sense. The band’s music really so expertly captured the expansiveness and sense of scale of California’s natural landscape—I feel like that was even reflected in some of the album artwork. Is that sound something you tried to actively cultivate or was it just natural in the music and the way you all presented the band’s work?

Thanks again! Appreciate that. I’d be lying if I said at certain stages during Tall Tales it was not a conscious effort to be part of our identity. I definitely grew up listening to a lot of the 70s “California sound” bands, and then as a young adult rediscovering it through bands like Beachwood Sparks and Little Wings. Those bands felt like home.

Oh, yeah, Brent seems to be really be keeping the Beachwood sound alive with his new project, GospelbeacH too.  Who were some other musical influences for you?

So many! Everyone from Burt Bacharach to Tom Petty to Joni Mitchell.

Man, really hear the Petty influence in a great way too. But now, sadly, Tall Tales is no more—can you talk about what brought about the end of the band?

Basically, my best explanation is bands break up. Over time, so many factors play into it that it’s even really hard to pinpoint one. Ultimately, we tried to end it on a high note and with love instead of dragging the horse through the mud. We wanted to set the horse free!!

We last caught you up at a show at El Rancho Inn in Ojai (pictured below), one of a string of shows you announced as your final before the band officially called it quits. It was such an amazing, beautiful setting for a show—did you all enjoy it?

Love that place!! Ojai is kind of like a third or fourth home to Tania and I. I used to teach music at a school up there and every day the drive from Ventura to Ojai was like driving through God’s country. Very beautiful!


Yeah, my partner Katie + I totally love it there too, so much. That show also introduced us to Elisa Randazzo, who we really enjoyed. Do you all go way back?

Tania and I met Elisa in Big Sur at the Hipnic Festival about 6 years ago. We watched her set and were blown away. Afterwards we went up and said hi and she was talking to Neal Casal (who ended up eventually moving to Ventura and we would play shows and music together soon after). We all became friends from that day on. She and her family are some of our dearest friends.

And your final show was up at Hickey Fest, right? How was that?

The Hickey Fest show was really cool. We played at sunset. The crowd was really mellow. People were still showing up to the festival, but it was apropos. We went out the way we came in: In the woods, at sunset, amongst friends and family singing along.

Sounds like a fitting way to end things. So what are your plans now that Tall Tales is no more? Are they musical? Non-musical? Both?

Some of the folks are starting new rad projects and out playing shows already. Some are playing with the other bands/people they were already playing with, or they have joined other bands around the Los Angeles area. Tania and I are being parents, working, and enjoying this life. Exciting times for all!

Well thanks again for making the time to talk. I hope to hear from you again some time soon, man.

Peace and love always.

We’ll keep an eye out for new musical projects from Jimenez + co.; in the meantime, we’d recommend checking out Tall Tales’ back catalog via Other Music, iTunes, your local record store, or whatever you use to stream music.

Music can heal and the world needs it right now, but it takes time, soul, energy, and of course money to make. It's always nice to feel like the feeling and effort between you and the audience is mutual.
Trevor Beld Jimenez on the ever-changing economy of music.