Category Archive : Music

The thing about this business is sometimes you get an email asking if you’d like to speak to John Cale.

The answer is, of course, “Yes, I would like to speak to John Cale, the legendary artist, producer, and composer.” But if you’re me, you’re likely to be unprepared for the existential scurry to follow. Because where exactly are we to begin?

We could start in rural Wales when he picked up the viola and found himself entranced by the possibilities it unlocked. Or when he was pulled by the Bohemian winds across the Atlantic to the furnace of the ‘60s downtown avant-garde. There, he acquainted himself with John Cage, who introduced him to La Monte Young, the Fluxus composer whose contemplation of drones and harmonics became embedded in Cale’s next project, The Velvet Underground.

Yes, we could start there: at the album that changed the trajectory of popular music, when Cale and Lou Reed clashed in a glorious flurry to produce a body of work that was at once visceral and strange, poetic, yet unencumbered, with forever classics like “Sunday Morning,” “Femme Fatal,” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror.”

We could start at its iconic place in pop culture, cemented by its simple cover, a mere banana designed by Andy Warhol, who managed the band during a productive, ultimately messy affair that would rocket each of the Velvets’ members towards pop-culture shaping careers.

Or, we’d be well within our right to start right after. Though his time with The Velvet Underground ended abruptly, Cale never paused or “rested on his laurels,” a phrase he repeated throughout our conversation, invoking it like a grave sin. He continued to shape the sounds of popular music by splitting the difference between rock and the avant-garde, producing Patti Smith’s Horses, The Stooges’s self-titled debut and Nico’s perplexing, enchanting solo outing The Marble Index, among many others.

That’s to say nothing of his solo career which has careened between the novel and delectable, from the quaint Paris 1919 to the forever danceable Wrong Way Up with Brian Eno, to last year’s Mercy, which found the 82-year-old stalwart collaborating with contemporary favorites like Weyes Blood, Laurel Halo, Animal Collective and Tei Shei. Mercy, which was made during a time of deep productivity in the midst of the pandemic, was a welcome gift to Cale’s longtime fans, who hadn’t heard a new album from him since 2012’s Shift Adventures in Nookie Wood. But Mercy was just a taste of what was to come.

During that same period of creation, Cale also made POPtical Illusion, a collection of 13 songs that vibrate with a sense of wandering memory. On album-opener “God Make Me Do It (don’t ask me again),” Cale’s low warbling voice calls out, “There’s someone whispering in my ear tonight,” evoking those many colleagues, comrades and loved ones whose presence has shaped his output throughout the decades. Though a heaviness lurks, there’s also smirking humor here, both in its sonics — which hop between cinematic soundscapes, vast synth oceans, peppy pianos and trap drums.

From the beginning to this ever-productive now, I was struck by his complete and utter matt-of-factness as I paced Cale’s career with him. He is an artist with ambitious aims and ideas, but more so, he struck me as a practitioner. Maybe owing to a working-class, Welsh Protestant background, the simple act of work, of doing the thing and remaining humble and diligent, seems to be the thread that binds his legendary lifetime.

“I am working towards the same ends as when I started when I was 14 in Wales,” Cale tells me at the end of our interview. As someone who’s listened to Cale’s work myself since I was a young boy, I am thankful for his continued diligence.

This is your second album in quite a short period of time, after a long break from releasing before. What was your creative life like before the pandemic? And what was it about that moment that kind of sparked all of this momentum?

Well, it definitely was derived from the pandemic. That sort of shut all the doors. I don’t know why it happened other than that. It became a period of intense work. I was very intensely involved in writing and I was really happy with it. I got a lot done. It’s still going on, so I’m not shy about getting on with it. You know, when those things happen, you just scramble as fast as you can to take care of what you need to do. And you try not to lose sight of what your goals are with the music.

Certainly. I just wanted to go back for a moment. You came from Wales and quite quickly found yourself in the center of the New York avant-garde. It’s quite the leap. What do you think prepared you dispositionally to go headfirst into the New York avant-garde coming from a more provincial background?

Well, it didn’t take very long. From the time that I got the viola from the school orchestra, I moved along into different kinds of composition. It was a rough and tumble kind of period of moving from different styles of music. Once I’d gotten into grammar school and then on to Goldsmiths College, it was all very exciting.

I know that working with La Monte Young was a very influential period in your early career. I’m curious what about him and that music specifically resonated so deeply with you?

It began in London, where I got to know Cornelius Cardew there. I was aware of what [German composer Karlheinz] Stockhausen was doing, and it was very entertaining to hear what La Monte was doing in regards to Stockhausen because he was at odds with him. It was a period where there was a changing attitude towards tonality in Europe. He was really driving a different kind of perspective than Stockhausen. Stockhausen was hellbent on saying, “You’ve got to invest in new music.” In Europe, it was: you just make sure that you have a 12-tone scale, and if you don’t have a 12-tone scale, you can have a 12-tone instrumentation. It was a quick shift that was going on in Europe. La Monte was from the West Coast jazz groups, it was Terry Riley, Terry Jennings, etc. So when I got to New York, La Monte had already established himself. And John Cage was very generous with his recognition [in connecting us both].

I know La Monte’s music was infused with a sense of mysticism and spiritual ideals. Did you take to any of those ideas having come from a Presbyterian Welsh background?

That makes me laugh a bit. Anything Presbyterian and related to radical music was a strange world to inhabit in the ‘60s. But once you got into New York, that was what was there. The thing about the scene in New York was that with whatever La Monte was doing, he was also joined by other artists, painters, sculptors. I was really fascinated by the intellectual side of La Monte’s theories, because they covered a lot of ground. They weren’t really so much about music, but they were. He’d write pieces that were instructions for performers. He would have one instruction be “draw a straight line and follow it.” If you know his stuff, then you know there were two or three really important pieces like that.

I’m curious then about the transition towards music with lyrics and rock music, especially if you’re in this rarefied avant-garde space beyond words. How were you approaching that?

Well, the lyrics were there. I was really into improvisation. And a lot of the times that Lou and I sat down and threw some ideas around, it was really something that was not confined to just lyrics. It was part of the creative process with lyrics and music. So you start with music, or you start with lyrics, but what was important was that you got on with new things that came along. Lou was remarkable like that because he could, at the drop of the hat, just turn around and write lyrics about what happened that morning at breakfast. That spontaneity was very important.

So you didn’t see as much a distinction between the world of rock music and the world of ideas expressed in this downtown avant-garde composition scene?

I think it was all joined at the hip. You really got a lot out of the society that was in New York at the time: the musicians and the sculptors. It was a very exciting time.

The new album is called POPtical illusion, which evokes pop art and Warhol’s notion of mass culture. As someone heavily involved with Warhol’s factory, what did you take from his ideas?

I think what was memorable about it was the gentility of it all. It wasn’t all furious creativity. It was very gentle and very progressive. Whatever was going on in Germany was very different from what was going on in New York. I learned a lot from that, from the way that the styles changed between what was happening in New York or what was happening in LA and so on. We tried to blend as much of these ideas as possible.

Your career, more than anyone else’s, has tied the ideas of the avant-garde with commercial rock music. Many people would see those worlds as distinct and often at odds, but I don’t get the sense that you ever did.

No, you’re right. I didn’t see any of that as being contrary to everything else that was going on. If you wanted to get work done, [the factory] was a furnace to really live in for a while. And, there was no limit as to what you would start or end with. It was such a hard-working milieu that everybody was getting on with it. Andy and his gang, the Factory, were very productive. But it was not a ferocious existence. It was kind of fun and gentle.

I’m struck by the diversity of types of collaboration you’ve had, be they different musical artists or with different mediums. Do you have criteria for what you look for in collaborators? Is there some kind of universal quality that attracts you to creative partners?

I think my rulebook is about how much I can get done. I never sit still. I get on with it as much as I possibly can. All the people that I’ve been very fortunate to hang out with are very interesting musicians and sculptors and so on. It wasn’t meant to end. It still isn’t.

MERCY, your last record, featured such an exciting array of musicians that are so important today. Tell me a little bit about how you picked those collaborators?

I tried to combine as many different things as possible. The collaborations were sometimes a little fantastic, sometimes stylish and emotional. I just went with whatever was available, and I really enjoyed it.

Your last record was defined by that community of collaborators and this record was made by your creative partner, Nita Scott. How did you decide to embark on this one?

It was just looking at what the circumstances at the time were about and working it, pushing the edges again. I had a good time doing it. I wrote a lot of songs in that period and I was very happy about how it all proceeded. It was a hard road to charge down. I didn’t want to stop with one idea. I was really happy with how careful I was about not doing the same thing twice. That’s always important to me. Every day I would be in a studio doing a new song. Every time I got to the end of an idea, I would just go back to the drawing board and start again, and then have as many new ideas as I possibly could.

I know that hip-hop inspired you and factored into the production of this record. Do you remember when you first encountered hip-hop and what about it inspired you?

Yes it was, J Dilla. And later Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples. Finding out about these people and trying to understand what their appreciation of what they were doing was was very productive. I enjoyed listening to all those new rambunctious artists.

The musical process changed so much over the years with the advent of computers and software. When did you start working with computers and has that shaped your music?

Well, it started a long time ago. When you create, you run into the usual limitations. You’ve got a lot of ideas that you want to try, but you can’t really follow through on it every time. It’s not something that you call somebody up and say, “Hey, how’d you do this?” One way or another, I found a way to get through the density. The density is really half the battle.

One of the things about the avant-garde is that you really don’t want to use other people’s ideas. The period with La Monte, for instance, was two, three years and there was no such thing as “remedial” in that period. It was every day with Tony Conrad, with Marian [Zazeela] and La Monte. That was a lot of energy that went into that. It got to be really exciting.

Everything you’re saying seems imbued with this kind of unstoppable work ethic and an insistence that you won’t rest on your laurels.

I’m not trying to tell everybody that they should be doing the same. But I just found it to be really elevating.

It seems like you have a sort of enduring faith that music will maintain. Is that right?

Absolutely. There was nothing that really came my way that made me want to stop, or suggested that I should find another job. There were a lot of really creative people in the world, and I was impressed by it.

The circumstances in which I’m creating this stuff are something that keeps me going. I’m working towards the same end as when I started when I was 14 in Wales. It’s my instinct that makes me push in that direction. It could be much more complicated, I know, but I don’t really want to do that. I want to create as much variety as I can.

Photography: Madeline McManus

As soon as Egyptian-Sardinian musician Mahmood and Mexican-American designer Willy Chavarria enter the Zoom chat, the energy becomes magnetic. “Mahmood! How are you?” Chavarria bellows with enthusiasm. Mahmood, born Alessandro Mahmoud, the Eurovision star and four-time platinum artist for his single “Tuta Gold,” is running a bit behind. For a man who spends endless days grinding on choreography or fine-tuning his sound, it’s understandable. “I’m so sorry, I was running late from a rehearsal,” he acknowledges, though it’s clear there’s nothing but love and respect here.

Despite being two of the hottest talents in fashion and music, they remain grounded, laughing with childlike ease and affection. Perhaps it’s their shared love of making art, which could soften even the most rigid hearts, or their dedication to craft that introduces them like kindred souls destined to have crossed paths.

“It was really random,” Mahmood laughs, recalling their chance encounter on an impromptu shoot with photographers Luigi Murenu and Iango Henzi. “That day, I had to come back to Milan, but there was a fire at the airport, and all the flights were canceled. Luigi lived in New York at the time. He told me, ‘Don’t worry, babe, come here. We’ll do a shoot. We’ll have a party. We will have the hairdresser come.’ So I went there with my bags, and we started shooting. I had your outfit just because I was at your show the day before, but then you also ended up being there for the shoot. You know, I think random stuff like that is the best. I have beautiful memories of that day now,” he smiles.

Nearly a year later, at an old warehouse in Greenpoint, hordes of fashionable elite gathered to see Chavarria’s Fall 2024 collection. Julia Fox was poised between stylist Briana Andalore and model/photographer Richie Shazam — a few seats down sat nightlife queen Amanda Lepore and stage queen Sam Smith, all tinted blood-red from the lights that flooded the walls. Before the models had a chance to command the runway, Chavarria presented “Safe From Harm,” a short film centered on the politics of identity, overlaid with Chavarria’s traditional affinity for family.

While the casting featured key figures from Chavarria’s life, like Chachi Martinez and Elias Zepeda, both friends and collaborators of the brand, it was Mahmood who captured everyone’s attention in all of his sweaty glory.

In a room high above the ground of a convent, Mahmood bench-presses in a pair of custom “Willy” briefs, surrounded by a collection of studs in all their shapes and hues. He pauses for a moment, finishing a rep to adjust his underwear before leaning in to kiss dancer Leonardo Brito while “Love Changes” by MK slowly builds in the background. “I remember when you told me, ‘And now you have to kiss him on the sofa and then watch the window.’ I was thinking, ‘I’ve never kissed someone in front of a camera,’” Mahmood recalls with a smile.

“Well, that film, you know, is very sensitive and very passionate,” Chavarria explains. “I wanted somebody that had something of a queer identity, but was still able to deliver a level of masculinity in this particular film. And I wanted somebody who could tell a full story with their eyes. Alessandro’s eyes are like books, sad books.”

The two seem busier than ever, Chavarria finalizing details on his next venture and Mahmood taking only a short break before heading into his Italian arena tour, enjoying the release of his latest music video, “RA TA TA,” in the meantime. “You know, I’m really happy,” he elates. “I’m happy because I’m doing new stuff for the first time. I’m performing in New York, so I don’t think about the effort when there is exciting stuff to do like that. These tours are giving good vibes.”

As they segment time away to catch a quick breath, the two reminisce on their entwined lives, interrogate the idea of intimacy and pose the critical question: spit or lube? Perhaps this discussion will even foreshadow events to come as Chavarria and Mahmood trade secrets about the inner workings of their minds. Read their full conversation, below.

PAPER: Let’s start with identity. That’s a really pointed topic in both of your works.

Mahmood: It’s like, what is it? I’m looking for it.

Willy Chavarria: You’re looking for it? Me too!

Mahmood: My identity is in a state of evolution. I feel different from two years ago. Your experience could modify your identity. Also, traveling a lot and meeting new people sometimes helps me find my real identity.

Willy: I agree. Nobody ever truly knows their total identity because the journey of life is seeking identity, you know? And if you think you know your identity, it’s going to change. The only way to honestly know is to admit to yourself that you are constantly seeking to find your truest self. Even with God. It’s a constant search. “What is God? What does that mean?” It’s one and the same. It’s a beautiful thing that we’re always looking for.

Mahmood: Also, when we’re young, our parents try to make us like them. Then, in adolescence, we try to escape from this state. Now, at 31, I want to learn more, because I see the change that I made in those past two years. You will never find 100% of your identity. There is always something that is changing inside you.

Willy: I like that you mentioned when we’re children and our parents because as we learn how to express our identities — when we kind of get to know ourselves better — it’s important for us to share on our platforms. It’s okay to be in touch with certain identities. The most obvious example is queer identity, you know? One reason I was very attracted to you in the first place, to become friends, was the way that you interpret your own queer identity in your work. It’s not so much the focus of the work, but it just happens to be there.

When did you two formally meet? It sounds like there’s a lot of synergy.

Mahmood: Oh, my god. The first time was after your show.

Willy: I thought we met on Instagram.

Mahmood: Ah, yes. But I was thinking in person. It was for the Luigi and Iango shoot. You remember?

Willy: Oh, yeah!

Mahmood: I had the mustache with the red shirt and the hat. I love that shoot. And it was really random because, you know what happened? That day, I had to come back to Milan, but there was a fire at the airport, and all the flights were canceled. Luigi lived in New York at the time. He told me, “Don’t worry, babe, come here. We’ll do a shoot. We’ll have a party. We will have the hairdresser come.” So I went there with my bags, and we started shooting. I had your outfit just because I was at your show the day before, but then you also ended up being there at the shoot. You know, I think random stuff like that is the best. I have beautiful memories of that day now.

Willy: That photo is one of my favorite photos, with the match in the mouth…

Mahmood: Ah, yeah. With the match, yeah, yeah, yeah. There were some Grace Jones vibes.

Willy: So fierce.

How did this connection lead to you starring in “Safe From Harm,” and how did that film come together?

Willy: Well, that film, you know, is very sensitive and very passionate. I wanted somebody that had something of a queer identity, but was still able to deliver a level of masculinity in this particular film. And I wanted somebody who could tell a full story with their eyes. Alessandro’s eyes are like books, sad books.

Mahmood: Super sad books.

Willy: His eyes can give so much emotion and can be so powerful. I wanted that in the film. I also just wanted to work with him because I could tell there was something special. Then we were doing the film: it was so cold. It was New York, and it was snowing and disgusting…

Mahmood: But that day was sunny. Maybe the first day was snowing. But the second day I arrived, the sun was bright.

Willy: But it was cold as fuck.

Mahmood: When I went out to drink coffee, I was freezing. But I was so happy because it was the first job I ever did in America. So, for me, it was insane. It was a beautiful experience. Also, I never saw anything like that space, everything in just one place. You know, with the church, the rooms, with the kitchen — what was the building?

Willy: That was a convent. I can’t believe we found that building. It’s so incredible. That’s why it has a chapel there; the nuns would go to the chapel. You know, we brought in all the props that were there.

Mahmood: So it was totally empty?

Willy: Totally empty. The prop styling was amazing for that shoot. But Alessandro, you were so good. You are so professional and so serious about your work.

Mahmood: Because, in that case, it’s not just work. It’s just doing what you love, no? I feel happy when I’m inside that kind of environment. I’m inspired to do more and more. So, to be in that situation, I was super excited.

I remember when you told me, “And now you have to kiss him on the sofa and then watch the window.” I was thinking, “I’ve never kissed someone in front of a camera, but what the hell, let’s do it!” It was also an opportunity to learn more, something different. Italy has a different vibe from America. There is more freedom in the creativity here. There was a lot of freedom during the movie, and for part of the day, I really felt free. Totally free. It was weird, but at the same time, really peaceful.

Willy: There was a time that day when I got so excited, I felt almost crazy — like my spirit was gonna leave my body, and I had to go up to a room and tell all the PAs, “Don’t tell anyone where I am. Just say that I’m taking a break.” I sat down in this chair, and I was breathing like… I can’t even explain my energy, it was so intense. Then I looked up at the window, and there was a cross from the church. And I was like, “Oh my…”

Mahmood: Why did nobody think to film? This had to be part of the movie, babe!

Willy: I know, I know. It was insane!

Mahmood: The last scene, when we were seated in the church, for the first time, I was looking at every character of the movie, and everything looked perfect. Super random, but at the same time, perfect. I loved it at the end, you changed my outfit at the last moment. You saw another guy, and you said, “Give me your jacket.” I said, “Oh, my god, he knows it. He gets it.” I will remember this day, I think, forever.

Willy: It was so good. I want to do another one.

Mahmood: You need to put yourself in, too, babe, because you are super cinematographic.

Willy: I don’t know if I can act. All I can do is cry.

Mahmood: But it depends on how you cry, babe. If you cry in a cinematographic way, it’s art.

Willy: Maybe a horror film. I’ve always wanted to be in a horror film.

Mahmood: In a horror film?

Willy: Yeah, like someone is chasing me.

Mahmood: The problem is that I don’t like my scream. My scream is really bad. But maybe you? Yes, I think yes. Do you want to be the assassin or the victim?

Willy: I want to be chased… for a very long time. I’m running, and I’m terrified. I’m hiding, then I’m stabbed to death.

Mahmood: That’s not for me, no. I was a fan when I used to go to school. I don’t know if you have watched Scary Movie.

Willy: Oh, yeah.

Mahmood: I was obsessed. I wanted to be part of Scary Movie. I love it when they do the impression of The Ring, the girl from the well. Yes, I wanted to be her, with the long hair.

Willy: What’s your favorite movie?

Mahmood: My favorite movie? I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino. But, favorite movie? There is an Italian movie that I particularly love called La Pazza Gioia. It’s really sad, but at the same time, it gives you hope. I don’t know, it’s weird to explain, but I love the movie. And yours?

Willy: There is only one for me — The Exorcist. I love it. It’s so beautiful. The costumes, the color…

Mahmood: But just the first one, no?

Willy: Only the first one, yeah. When I was a little boy, I had a crush on that little girl in the movie, Linda Blair. I was obsessed with her. I was jealous of her.

Mahmood: You wanted to be her, or you wanted to be with her?

Willy: I wanted to be her. I was jealous she got possessed. She was also rich.

Mahmood: That’s really intense. So when you were a kid, you used to personify the character at home? Maybe I’m just going too deep…

Willy: No, no. It’s true! I used to personify her.

Mahmood: I knew it. I knew it!

Willy: I used to lay in bed and hope that I could levitate.

At one point, isn’t she strapped to the bed and flailing? All I can picture is you as a kid, strapping yourself to the bed, wriggling, trying to be possessed. Your parents were probably like, “What the f—”

Willy: I would! I used to think my bed was shaking, and I would lay there like, “Okay, concentrate.” I’d try to lift my body up so that I could levitate. Never happened.

Actually, that movie has been hugely influential on me. It’s beautiful because it is the story of good versus evil. It’s also a story about how the devil, or evil in general, wants us to see ourselves as ugly when we’re really not. I think I took that message with me forever. Anytime I see myself as bad, I remember that’s evil, you know. Especially when I was young. Anytime I would see myself as not worthy, or being of the devil, I would remind myself of that film. So, it had a positive impact.

I want to circle back a bit — when you were discussing Safe From Harm, there were touchpoints around the idea of intimacy, whether it’s the intimacy you have with a friend, a partner, or with family.

Willy: Ah, intimacy. I feel like all my work is intimate because, of course, it’s very personal and close to the heart. I like to connect with people in an intimate way. You know? I like to make them feel something within themselves so that they can think differently or feel differently. I usually approach everything I do from an intimate perspective.

Mahmood: You know, my mom always tells me when she listens to my music, she discovers new things about me. I have this problem with the people I love, because I don’t like to speak about my private life. But when I write songs, if I don’t put something about my private life, I’m losing an opportunity to create this intimacy between me and the people who listen to me. This last album, Nei letti degli altri, is the most intimate album I’ve ever produced, because I worked a lot on myself these last two years. Also, the way that I connect with new people is different. I understood that many sides of my behavior were bad, and I decided to work on that, not close my eyes and just try to go home.

For example, I have this ex who was my longest relationship for five years. Now we are friends, but I wrote this song that was 100% sincere. There is a part in it where I say, “More than be part of a threesome, I would like to have some flowers.” I understand that sometimes, the other person can feel attacked because certain things need to be private. But if I censored that story, I would lose an opportunity to connect with people.

Willy: Yeah. You know, for me, it’s different because you are yourself on stage. You are the vessel, whereas I’m behind the scenes. I create a message that goes out to be seen and heard, so I keep my private life very private. But intimacy is more through feeling, so I just let the feeling out.

Mahmood: There are a lot of ways in which we could share our intimacy. The lyrics could be just one of them, but there are a lot. Also, your intimacy — when you were speaking about The Exorcist — I saw a little bit of that in the PAPER shoot. I wore your white dress with the ribbon element. There is something there that was a link for me.

Willy: But also you with your voice. You could just be singing, and the sound of your voice could be very intimate.

Mahmood: At the beginning of my career, when I signed my first contract, the label didn’t have a lot of trust in my writing skills. They wanted me to sing other authors’ songs, which I didn’t like. When you’re on stage singing something that doesn’t represent you, it’s torture. So I decided to speak the truth in my songs just because I wanted to feel free, be sincere with myself and be 100% on stage.

Willy: It’s being a true artist. That’s what being a true artist is.

I think a lot of people are talking about heartbreak now more than ever. I’m curious how you imbue the feeling of heartbreak into your work.

Mahmood: Basically, all my albums talk about this. In the title track for Nei letti degli altri, there is this sentence in which I say, “Potremmo parlare anziché immaginarci nei letti degli altri per dimenticarci,” which means “We could talk instead of thinking about us being in other people’s bed.” This thought was really heavy for me because this used to happen in my past. Once you decide to trust someone, you can’t think about all the mechanisms inside the relationship, but I didn’t trust anybody. This part of me is getting better because I’m growing. But two years ago, I really didn’t trust anybody.

And maybe some of it is trauma. I basically grew up with my mom because my parents split up when I was five, and so perhaps I developed trust issues. But I exercise this inside the lyrics.

Willy: A broken heart is so hard. I often think a broken heart is worse than death. It can be so incredibly painful. I mean, I’ve been in a relationship with the same person for over 20 years now, and before that relationship, I had a broken heart several times. I also broke other people’s hearts, which is really terrible, too. I work very hard every day to build trust and be trustworthy because I haven’t always been the best person. There were times when I couldn’t be trusted. But now I’m older and have a different perspective on what’s valuable to me. I realized the value of trust, and I realized that is such a vital component of love. The healthiest way you can have love is if you also have trust, because if you have one without the other…

Mahmood: It doesn’t work.

Willy: Yeah, it doesn’t work.

Do you have tips for sustaining a 20-year relationship? Because that’s a huge accomplishment. If you were to talk about the economy of love today, you just became a billionaire.

Willy: Mental health and personal well-being. I think it’s important for both parties to be doing that and to have an interest in being good. You can only be as good to the other person as you are to yourself, you know? I think for us, we’re able to clear away all of the mess and noise that happens in day-to-day life. We can say, “Okay, at the base of this, we care about each other.” I want what’s best for this person, he wants what’s best for me, and as long as we make that the focus of our love, then we can get through anything, and that’s important. You know, life is very difficult. There’s always going to be some crazy thing that happens. So, it’s very important to make sure that we are clear about the foundation of the relationship.

Do you two have a worst date story?

Willy: You know, I was never the dating type.

Mahmood: Yeah, me neither.

Willy: I can remember being on a few that were so bad that I would leave in the middle of the date, saying, “I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

Oh, so you would just straight up tell them?

Willy: There was one when I did not tell him, I just went to the bathroom but actually left. I know it’s so bad, but I was young. I was troubled.

Mahmood: [Gasps] It’s like that!

Willy: I felt really bad about it at the time, but when I look back on it, I think, “Thank goodness I did that,” because I probably would have slept with the guy.

Both of you are between big events right now. Willy, you’re between shows. Mahmood, you’re ending the European tour and getting ready to play Italian festivals in July and arenas starting in August. What do those slow periods look like for you? What are you doing to relax?

Mahmood: This year was really tough because I’m working a lot. I checked how many days I have to rest, and it’s just two weeks. But you know, I’m really happy. I’m happy because I’m doing new stuff for the first time. I’m performing in New York, so I don’t think about the effort when there is exciting stuff to do like that. These tours are giving good vibes.

Willy: I do not rest. I haven’t rested in years. It’s just work, work, work, work…

Mahmood: The devil never rests!

Willy: I can’t rest.

Mahmood: My assistant sent me a question: this thing about spit or lube?

Oh yes, I’m curious! If you want to answer, I’m not going to say no!

Willy: I mean, definitely spit.

Mahmood: At first, I thought lube because I always like to stay comfortable. But spit will never let you down. It could work in every place. Yeah, spit for me, too.

Willy: It’s really accessible.

Mahmood: What a perfect end to the conversation.

Photography: Hannah Khymych
Styling: Marissa Pelly
Grooming: Francis Rodriguez
Makeup: Kauv Onazh

Photo assistant: Ian Rutter
Digitech: Antonella Alberti
Styling assistant: MJ Perez
Styling intern: Phoebe Davis

Editor-in-chief: Justin Moran
Managing editor: Matt Wille
Editorial producer: Angelina Cantú
Cover type: Jewel Baek
Story: Kyle Rice
Interview: Willy Chavarria
Publisher: Brian Calle
Location: Rein Studios

After four years, KP6 is finally coming.

It all started when the musician and American Idol judge teased a new era by changing her social media profile to “(KP)” in a futuristic and liquid metal font on a deep orange background. Then, last week, Perry posted photos of herself in a distressed leather KNWLS set looking very internet It-girl. And today, she finally announced the first single, called “Woman’s World.” “Sexy, confident,” Perry sings in the short clip. “So intelligent. She is heaven-sent. So soft, so strong.”

On the single cover, Perry stands in a victory pose with her hands teasing her hair up high in a white knit bikini, a heavy choker and muscular, alien-like, metal leg coverings. The metal legs are by Victor Clavelly, based in Montreuil, France, in the suburbs of Paris. Clavelly graduated from the Duperré School in 2020 and works with brands like Rick Owens, where he brings his expertise on prints, modeling parts and prototyping accessories in 3D, all while working on his eponymous brand.

The designer has quickly become known for deforming and transforming bodies, making them powerful and animal-like, using 3D design to make virtual extensions and prostheses. It is organic yet extraterrestrial all at once, hinting at what’s to come in Katy Perry’s new era.

“Woman’s World” comes out on July 11, followed by music video the next day.

Photography: Jack Bridgland

Broken ACs, hula hoops, backseat rendezvous, whipped cream and dog walks — Bronze Avery’s visuals for “HEATWAVE” are a summer-sanctioned hot-as-hell day come to life. Avery dropped the visuals along with a new album by the same name, which both see the LA-based artist, songwriter and producer soundtracking the queer experience. In the video, actors Zane Phillips and Fin Argus join Avery in choreography as he paints a vivid picture of summer.

“When people listen to HEATWAVE, I want them to move,” Avery tells PAPER. “I want them to sweat. I want them to kiss their crush. I want them to take a shot with their friends and spill it all over themselves. I want them to let go, dance like everyone’s watching and give them a motherfucking show. It should feel a little ridiculous and be a lot of fun.”

Below, Avery shares the inspiration behind HEATWAVE, what themes made their way into the album and what fans can expect next.

What was the initial inspiration for HEATWAVE?

I’m a big fan of a title track, so once most of the album was completed, I wanted to create a song that encapsulated all of the sounds and themes of the record into one singular sonic moment. It takes inspiration from the Euro-house and follows in the footsteps of Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson, who were my guiding lights as I was making this record.

How did you translate that inspiration into the music video?

The music video was the same way. I made it over the course of two weeks and put it together piece by piece. I directed, edited, produced, casted and colored this music video like I do for most of my visuals. My creative partner and DP Jussy was by my side at all times and really helped me execute my vision. Everyone in the video is an actual friend of mine, so it’s special watching it back and seeing our memories reflected in visual form.

What are some of the themes you dig into on HEATWAVE?

HEATWAVE the album was a bit unexpected. February 2023 I was in the middle of tour promoting my last album SOFTMETAL, which was very introspective and emotional. I flew back to Los Angeles and went on a party bus for my friend’s birthday. They took turns playing songs from my friends such as Slayyyter and Gia Woods who were present, but my songs never made the queue. I realized the music I was making wasn’t meant for partying and it really fucked with my head because I spent so many years crafting and studying pop songwriting and my heart was in dance music and my community (queers) hadn’t seen this side of me yet.

At that moment, I knew I had to make some music that would inspire people to dance, party, and let loose. I started with a couple songs, and originally called it a mixtape named “PREGAME PALACE”, then “100 DEGREES.” Once I made the first single, “THE ONE (IF YOU TOUCH ME),” I decided that it needed more love and attention than just a mixtape; it needed the full-on attention an album deserves.

I was doing research and found a book called “Spring Broke” by Nathaniel Welch. It was so inspiring visually and reminded me of how much joy came from my time off when I lived in Florida, which is where I’m from. The idea of hot sex, long nights, with emotional lust to fill the gaps became the soundtrack to my summer and the sonic and thematic base of the HEATWAVE you can hear today.

What are you most excited to share next with fans?

Next for me is going back to my roots and taking a deeper step into dance music. As I’ve been slowly drip-feeding HEATWAVE for the past year, I’ve also been writing and doing sessions with exciting partners to gear up for what’s next. I’m usually a very insular artist and do most things myself including writing, producing, mixing but I wanted to branch out and see what other sounds could come out of me if I worked with others. I had so much to prove as a multi-faceted artist and now I’m ready to live in the music and enjoy every second of it and invite people into that process.

After we wipe a bit of sweat off from HEATWAVE, we’ll be right back in the ringer with a healthy dose of collaborations. The party doesn’t stop, and that’s just how I like it.

Photography: Jussy

“I’ve always felt the most comfortable in my own skin in a queer crowd,” Tove Lo tells PAPER.

Pride celebrations have swept the country this month, and the hitmaker — with more queer anthems under her belt than most contemporaries — talks about the influence of her community on the music, the performance. “My stage presence has been heavily influenced by watching drag performers,” she says. “Bringing that kind of confidence and moments of humor to the stage has really elevated my performance. As my queer audience has grown I feel very inspired to keep creating a space where they can come and be completely themselves.”

Hot on the heels of her eagerly anticipated Heat EP with SG Lewis, Tove Lo has teamed up with Spotify’s groundbreaking global music program, GLOW. The program offers a platform for LGBTQIA+ musicians and creators to highlight their important, even foundational, contributions to the world of music. Podcasts and audiobooks, too! SG Lewis, who also sat down for the chat, says: “I have been privileged enough to be a guest in queer spaces when DJing at queer nights, and the freedom of expression I have witnessed has been massively inspiring as a musician.” He adds, importantly, that “dance music’s history is rooted entirely from its queer Black origins, and so it’s important to me to amplify the voices of the community with a project like this.”

To celebrate these contributions, year-round and for Pride, Spotify curates playlists and content from LGBTQIA+ artists around the world — over 10,200 in the lifetime of the program to date, which launched in January 2023. Previous artist collaborations include Arlo Parks, Villano Antillano and Troye Sivan, with spotlightartists this month including Orville Peck and Karin Ann. Some playlists have also been co-curated alongside the artists highlighted, like Club Resistance, from Tove Lo, Catz ‘n Dogz and SG Lewis.

Lisa Ritchey, Lead of Pop, Dance, and Indie Music Artists Partnerships at Spotify, told PAPER of GLOW and Tove Lo: “Tove has such a dedication to our community and was one of the first phone calls we made when launching GLOW as a program last year. We share a belief that music is a crucial part of liberation and freedom.” Ritchey also notes that “liberation also happens on the dance floor, and has historically.”

Ahead of CLUB HEAT at Heart WeHo in Los Angeles, read our full conversation with Tove Lo and SG Lewis below.

Spotify launched GLOW to celebrate the queer community’s impact on music, and uplift those contributions. How has your relationship to the community influenced your own music, or artistic process?

Tove Lo: Being part of the queer community myself, I’ve always felt the most comfortable in my own skin in a queer crowd. I definitely feel like my stage presence has been heavily influenced by watching drag performers — bringing that kind of confidence and moments of humor to the stage has really elevated my performance. As my queer audience has grown I feel very inspired to keep creating a space where they can come and be completely themselves.

SG Lewis: I have been privileged enough to be a guest in queer spaces when DJing at queer nights, and the freedom of expression I have witnessed has been massively inspiring as a musician. Dance music’s history is rooted entirely from its queer black origins, and so it’s important to me to amplify the voices of the community with a project like this.

So many of your songs have gone on to become bona fide queer anthems. My favorite being “disco tits.” When writing and working on them, do you ever write with the queer community in mind, or do you think that relationship happens more organically?

Tove: First of all, thank you! Makes me very happy to hear. I would say HEAT is the first project that has been intentionally for our queer fans. It’s kind of because of them demanding it from us that it’s even coming out haha! Sam and I share a lot of fans in this community and we wanted to make something to celebrate and thank them for all the sexy support and love they’ve given us. I think most of my songs have gay energy though. That’s just me.

As part of the GLOW Hub, you’re featured alongside other artists like Orville Peck, Arlo Parks, Troye Sivan, and more. Alongside and/or beyond them, what queer artists currently are you drawn to, or inspired by, or feel motivated by?

Tove: So many!!! One queer artist I have on repeat at the moment is Chappell Roan. Chappell coming out as the Statue of Liberty at her show – I will never get over it.

SG: There’s so many incredible queer electronic music artists dominating right now — I’ve been obsessed with jamesjamesjames’s production, and am a big fan of ABSOLUTE.’s sound.

What are you most excited for fans to hear from Heat, or take away from this collaboration?

Tove: The whole EP! Maybe the soundtrack to the night you fully got to be your real self for the first time. Spiritually, sexually and emotionally.

SG: I think it’s a dream for any DJ to be able to provide moments of euphoria and liberation, and I hope that the music can allow people to express themselves in their truest form.

You are also performing at Heart in WeHo for the release party. What do you look forward to most about performing in gay clubs, especially ones as iconic as Heart?

Tove: I love playing in places that carry a legacy as being where you go to liberate yourself and have the night of your life. I’m so looking forward to the sweaty chaotic happy place that is Club Heat!

SG: There’s a freedom of expression that is witnessed in queer nightlife that adds a layer of energy to the dance floor that can’t be found in straight clubs. Heart feels like the perfect place to launch the EP, and I’m so excited to see how the songs sound in there.

You two are also taking over Spotify’s “Club Resistance” playlist this month. What draws you to each other creatively, and why do you think you work so well together?

Tove: Me and Sam are really good friends but that doesn’t mean we automatically make great music together. But we have that rare connection, it’s a combination of being able to be completely vulnerable creatively with someone but still wanting to impress them.

SG: Our studio chemistry is really special — Tove is an expert song crafter and I know that whatever I bring to the table, she is going to be able to deliver the perfect counterpart. It makes for such a natural and exciting song writing process.

This article is a sponsored collaboration between Spotify and PAPER.

Photography: Dasha Gladkov

Anastasia Coope’s “Darning Woman,” the title track from her debut album, sounds like an echo from another time. The delivery, words and spaces in between mirror the type of folk song that could be passed down for generations. Even the backing instrumentation allows room for reverberation, her voice bouncing off the walls around her as she sings “Walk ahead, get thin” in a round.

“I remember that I wrote that song when I was sitting underneath a small table and it was very hot outside,” the songwriter tells PAPER. “It is one of the two or three tracks on the album that had pre-written lyrics. I wrote the lyrics as a poem a while before writing the melody, and then one day while reading my notebook, I decided to try singing the poem. The song is probably representative of walking forward and churning progress or something like that.”

Sonically, Darning Woman makes perfect sense. It was recorded in a relative’s vacant home in Beacon, New York, with Coope experimenting with recording software in an empty living room, embracing the process of creating music in an empty space. The process has resulted in songs that can be heard and felt, evidence of what Coope refers to as “proof of my own focused gaze.”

Below, the Brooklyn-based songwriter tells us about Darning Woman, working in different mediums and what she hopes people feel once they’ve heard her debut album.

Let’s talk Darning Woman. How does it feel to have your debut out in the world?

The record has been a strange center of my life for many years. The form it’s taken as time has gone on is very different than whatever it was to me at its creation. The release of it feels detached, but also offers me a sort of reintroduction between myself and my earlier recordings. I feel relieved that it’s out and feel freed up creatively.

How would you describe the overall energy or message of the album?

I try to focus my gaze on my surroundings and on recent personal happenings to extract a core. I suppose to me, the record serves as proof of my own focused gaze at a point in time.

Your first single, “He’s On His Way Home, We Don’t Live Together,” was released earlier this year. Why did you decide to lead with it? What was the inspiration for the track?

The song, being the first song on the album, felt like a fair introduction to what the project communicates. It also felt the most exciting to tackle cinematically, and making the video for it was important to me when visualizing the campaign of the record. The track was inspired by regal characters and maybe imagined movies about them.

You’re also a painter and illustrator. Why do you feel that making art in all its forms is necessary for you?

I like being able to move from one thing to another because it makes the process of making art easier and feel less pressured.

What do you hope people feel and walk away with once they’ve heard Darning Woman?

I hope they feel invigorated by the record and continue listening to it. And maybe after they listen I hope they want to watch a movie.

Photography: Will Lula

Ten years have passed since Sam Smith broke into music with their debut album, In the Lonely Hour, featuring major hits like “Stay With Me,” which was unavoidable on radio stations in 2014. Celebrating the album’s 10-year anniversary, Smith threw an intimate party with PAPER and Supergay Spirits to kick off Pride Month at Julius’, New York City’s oldest gay bar in Greenwich Village and, apparently, Smith’s go-to spot.

Drag legend Lady Bunny served as the night’s DJ and emcee, encouraging guests to do a little karaoke at the start of the night (despite their performances being in front of Smith, an absolute vocal powerhouse). “I don’t sing in the same room where Sam Smith sings,” Bunny teased, until finally getting a few takers to do Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.”

Julius’ is a tight space, so 100 VIPs were crammed in close quarters, snacking on the bar’s signature food, from classic sliders to chicken tenders and french fries. The bar offered no-frills cocktails named after In the Lonely Hour song titles, like the “Life Support,” a classic marg, and the “Good Thing,” a cosmo. Special Julius’ tees were handed out, with Smith’s name printed across the back to commemorate the occasion.

Smith drew in a crowd of celebrity friends to drink and dance. Kim Petras stopped by, wearing a barely-there Miu Miu look with new brunette hair, to see her “Unholy” collaborator. Then, there was Dylan Mulvaney, Ella Snyder, Nick Champa and Smith’s boyfriend, designer Christian Cowan. The sweat was dripping, cameras flashing and beverages pouring, as a beaming Smith mixed and mingled throughout the crowd — towering above everyone in massive platform heels and a plaid skirt.

Finally, Bunny brought out the party’s surprise performer late at night: Alicia Keys, who walked onto Julius’ ultra-small stage and got on the keyboard to sing “I’m Not the Only One” with Smith. The two traded verses, as the audience closely surrounded them, singing along with iPhones raised. “This is a dream come true,” Smith told Keys, who responded: “Can you believe we never did this before? Except for right now? That’s crazy.”

Bunny then dubbed them “the Queens of New York,” closing out the event and kickstarting a month of LGBTQ+ empowerment.

In The Lonely Hour (10th Anniversary Edition) is out August 2, featuring the album’s 10 original songs plus an exclusive new track “Little Sailor.”

Photos via BFA/Brendon Cook

On “Side By Side,” Logic1000 and Empress Of come together for a hypnotic meeting of the minds. It’s the inaugural song from the Berlin-based DJ/producer’s forthcoming EP, mother :;~ rebirth an addictive collection of remixes of songs from her 2024 album, Mother. Featuring shimmering synths and Empress Of’s always-emotive vocals, “Side By Side” is an apt display of both artists’ signature skills and styles. There’s Logic1000’s effortless production, which floats between pop delectability and dance floor delirium, and Empress Of’s always honest, yearning lyricism. “You could be the time and the place/ I just want to lose myself,” she sings, anointing that always needed cry in the club.

mother :;~ rebirth is a moving addition to our collective rotation. Exploring the senses and feelings evoked by the birth of her daughter, Genie, in October of 2021, mother :;~ rebirth is yet another chance to dance and feel within Logic1000’s expanding universe.

PAPER spoke with Logic1000 in the lead-up to the release of “Side by Side” (feat. Empress Of) to talk motherhood, collaboration and playing her new, very personal album.

Have you been able to Mother with your daughter and experience it together yet?

I have! We don’t play it often but it’s quite a surreal experience to have her listen and dance to the music that was inspired by her existence. When we put it on she asks: “That’s mummy and daddy working?”

You’re collaborating with some really amazing artists on mother :;~ rebirth. Tell me how you chose your collaborators and approached working with them on these remixes?

Yeah, I’m so pleased and very privileged to be able to work with such amazing talent. I wanted a really fresh feeling to rebirth so I felt as though VV Pete, Empress Of and Vagabon really brought that to the album. There are so many talented artists out there but I really feel like these three were the perfect trio. There’s a great dynamic between them in terms of their style.

Empress Of’s lyrics on “Side By Side” are so powerful and yearning. She’s writing lyrics on a song that was previously all instrumental. Tell me about how the song’s lyrical theme came together?

That was all Empress! When we work with artists who are vocalists and lyricists we like to give them full control of what they want to say. It wouldn’t feel right to me to insert our ideas on something like that, because it’s such an art form and skill that I feel should be left to the experts. But having said that, I’ve started writing freely lately and I would also love to start having regular singing lessons which may eventuate into something interesting, let’s see!

You’re due to start touring with this album, which is seems like your most personal. How has it been experiencing the album in a live setting so far?

I’m not touring the album in the classic sense, but definitely playing the songs out when I DJ. I always get a little nervous about playing my own songs. I don’t know why though, because everyone is always so supportive when I do. Maybe the nervousness is just excitement!

Photography: Kasia Kim-Zacharko

It’s impossible to be across all the new music out each Friday. Luckily, PAPER is here to help you out: each week, we round up 10 of our favorite new songs from artists — emerging and established — to soundtrack your life. From the surreal to the sublime, these songs cover every corner of the music world. The only criteria: they all have to absolutely rip.

Subscribe to our Sound Off Spotify playlist here and check out this week’s tracks, below.

This Is Lorelei – “An Extra Beat for You and Me”

Box for Buddy, Box for Star, the new album by Water From Your Eyes’ Nate Amos, is likely the best power-pop record you’ll hear all year, and “An Extra Beat for You and Me” is an openhearted, agonizingly open coda to the album’s come-to-Jesus bildungsroman, filled with simply-put meditations on survival and mortality.

Charli xcx – “Spring breakers”

There are few among us brave enough to re-up their most critically acclaimed album with a song about wanting to shoot up the Grammys, but as she’s proven time and time again, Charli is a different breed.

Normani, Starrah – “Big Boy”

Normani and Starrah, “Big Boy”

Normani opens her long-awaited debut album Dopamine with a dexterous rap song that makes all those years of waiting totally worth it, paying tribute to the southern artists she grew up on at the same time.

Tove Lo, SG Lewis – “HEAT”

Just in time for pride month, Tove Lo has returned with SG Lewis—and a shimmering, sweaty acid-house cut—in tow. I, personally, can’t take the heat!

Nilüfer Yanya – “Method Actor”

Nilufer Yanya follows up her sharp 2022 album Painless with this sinewy, hard-to-pin-down track that plays like a grunged-up take on exotica.

Tayla Parx, Tkay Maidza – “Era”

Tayla Parx adds texture to this cheeky, catchy R&B song with a restless baile funk beat and a serpentine verse from Tkay Maidza.

Wishy – “Triple Seven”

A sun-dappled return from Indiana duo Wishy, following up their 2023 debut Paradise with another smart, effortlessly cool piece of indie-pop.

Sam Morton – “Kaleidoscope”

XL owner Richard Russell and Oscar nominee Samantha Morton are an odd pair on paper, but their debut album, Daffodils and Dirt, is a masterful trip-hop experiment, and “Kaleidoscope” is one of the record’s most lucent, ingratiating ballads.

Toro y Moi – “Tuesday”

Toro Y Moi, “Tuesday”Chaz Bear continues to prove that he’s a more able producer than most others working, dipping into fuzzy post-punk with surprising ease.

Jensen McRae – “Massachusetts”

Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jensen McRae returns with “Massachusetts,” a swelling piece of post-Phoebe Bridgers pop-folk

Photography: Caity Krone

Though it was certainly not the first moment of gay resistance, the 1969 Stonewall Uprisings that occurred in New York City’s Greenwich Village took on new meaning when they were commemorated with the first Gay Pride Liberation March a year later. But what was it like to actually be at Stonewall Inn, then known as one of the largest and most popular gay bars in Manhattan, back in those days? When dancing amongst street queens, butch lesbians and trans women, what was the soundtrack? In a new short film from the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center and Amazon Music, in-demand award-winning DJ and producer Honey Dijon imagines just that.

“When I think of Stonewall, I think of liberation, rebellion and owning your own narrative,” Dijon, who co-produced tracks on Beyonce’s Renaissance in addition to releasing her own Black Girl Magic 15-track studio album in 2022, says of the project, unveiled today. “I wanted to contextualize what queer people experienced during the Stonewall Rebellion: the oppression, but also the hard-fought happiness and freedom. These queer people had the music and they had each other. These songs are a way for us to better understand their story.”

The short film is a look behind the process of a jukebox exhibit at Stonewall’s Visitor Center organized by Pride Live, a leading social advocacy and community engagement organization. It features a replica of the original jukebox that was playing the night of the June 28, 1969 police raid, as well as many other nights at the historic venue — the original equipment was destroyed in that seminal event. Two years in the making, the newly debuted replica includes music like Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which activist Marsha P. Johnson once said she got lost listening to at Stonewall.

“I got lost in the music and I couldn’t get out,” Johnson said in a 1991 interview that appears in the short film “Happy Birthday, Marsha!.” “Still can’t get out of the music.” For Dijon, Gaye’s song alludes to how much of queer life was underground: news traveled and connections were often made through whisper networks, while event producers like drag pageant organizer Flawless Sabrina set up elaborate phone trees to publicize their functions. This was necessary at a time when so much of queer life and existence was legislated against or socially stigmatized.

Other tracks like Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” offer slightly more explicit, while still coded, allusions to queer dance floors and sexuality — though the record says “Tutti frutti, oh rootie” today, the original song proclaimed “Tutti frutti, good booty, if it don’t fit, don’t force it, you can grease it, make it easy.” The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing,” pulled from Sony Music’s archives in mint-condition for the project, also nods to a spirit of freedom and independence that runs throughout the community.

In the spirit of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, the series also includes songs like Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” the soul song that became an unofficial anthem of the Black Civil Rights movement, providing a necessary counterbalance to the uptempo hits. It is one in a number of soul-stirring selections in the curation.

“I chose things that I thought would reflect the temperature of the time that have withstood the test of time,” Dijon says of the project. “I hope the visitors discover what liberation sounds like. I hope they discover what freedom sounds like. I hope they discover message music, conscious music, protest music.”

“You need to learn from the past: Like I said, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.”

Honey Dijon’s curated playlist is available to stream on Amazon Music. The Jukebox exhibit at Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center will open on Friday, June 28 and entry for the public is free of charge.

This article is a sponsored collaboration between Amazon Music and PAPER.