I’m currently based in…
Los Angeles, CA, USA
And my day job is…
Brand Strategist/Market Researcher/University Lecturer
So tell us Stylés, what are you passionate about?
I produce a variety of material but my primary work at the moment focuses on a children’s entertainment line I created called the Mighty Mighty SnackBox Brigade. It includes books, comics, animation, music, and branded merchandise.
I compose in all genres and the inspiration behind the SnackBox was to fill a void by creating high quality children’s songs that adults can enjoy—because most children’s music sounds like nursery rhymes that kids appreciate, but as a kid I liked listening to the music on the radio as well, though I didn’t always understand its meaning. There are children’s songs that sound like mainstream pop music but these are all either youth vocal covers of pop hits as in Razor & Tie’s Kidz Bop series, or mediocre pastiche of commercial pop.
The idea behind my project is to have a virtual band of animated characters singing creatively informed, original compositions for kids that any adult can fully appreciate without missing a beat.
It was a bit of a challenge getting there, but once I got the hang of it—in writing the stories, developing the characters and merchandise, and composing the music—it has become one of the most enriching experiences of my life and the defining work of my creative career.
I’m really passionate about producing work that children can enjoy because in my understanding we’re all still really just children inside.
You grow out of it in character, but it never escapes you deep down, because being a child means being in a stage in life where you’re constantly vulnerable and dependent on others. When we become adults we may seem as though we’re invulnerable and that we are self sufficient, but on a societal level we always encounter these precarious conditions, and in this way we see that our social engagement is constantly driven by childlike ambitions such as cooperation, which constitutes depending on others, or the need for security—economically, politically, environmentally, etc., i.e. a sanctuary from our vulnerabilities.
In addition to this, I created the Youthful Offender Clothing line, which can be described by the following:
Youthful Offender is an ode to the misguided ambitions of the forgotten adolescents of every era. Outcasts on the fringe of social acceptability, they find refuge in the reckless abandonment of juvenile mischief and the delinquent antics of a heart spirited by the freedom to be young and wild amidst a world full of rules and boundaries. Youthful Offender celebrates those of all ages who resist the oppression of the status quo in the constant struggle for progressive change in the name of justice and equality.
Youthful Offender – IVVENILIS REVS T-Shirt
Youthful Offender – Handcuff Schematic T-Shirt
Youthful Offender – Basic T-Shirt
I’m also in the process of finalizing a short documentary that I produced from my dissertation work at USC, which I directed, produced, and composed the musical score and soundtrack for. It’s called Project Designer ID and it looks at the influences that brands and consumers can have on our perceived social identity of one another using the T-Shirt as the medium of communication.
Project Designer ID Movie Poster
Project Designer ID Book
What keeps you busy at the moment?
After one year of lecturing, this year I started a marketing services agency by taking the most elite graduate students I’ve taught in the USC Annenberg Master of Communication Management (MCM) program, and creating an opportunity for them to gain professional experience and build portfolios with their own business enterprises through an organization I called The Annie Agency, LLC.
The organization’s first initiative is its altruistic promotion of equality and justice, used to empower those who have been left behind and forgotten by the modern work economy.
It has accomplished this by establishing an egalitarian business model where every agent is compensated equally with the lion’s share of the earnings from their labor—from the newest hire to the CEO.
At the same time we maintain an unparalleled ability to perform in the market using these same philosophical principles of Positive Deviance to collect information, analyse its meaning, and draw rational conclusions in ways that no-one else is doing.
The company’s core values are using PURE INGENUITY to create something from nothing. And to be A NEW KIND OF AGENCY with A NEW BUSINESS MODEL, and A NEW WAY OF THINKING.
It’s mission is to change the way people see the world by asking the questions no one is asking and finding the answers.
We know everyone’s working process is different. We also know you can learn a lot from the experiences of others so share yours below.
When are you most productive/creative? How do you get into the flow?
I’m most product/creative when I’m alone, often late at night. I get into that flow by meditating either on the now and how I feel in the present, or on the past by conjuring up some momentous emotion I’ve felt before. This drives me to create, to scribble things in notepads in a frenzy, to stop the world around me while I work to achieve my goals. It is a form of inspiration, but more so it is a form of desperation in the desire to complete what is unfinished.
Show us a picture of your favourite working spot.
What playlist is on in the background and why?
The Mighty SnackBox Brigade plays nonstop in this space, because this is the home of the SnackBox. This is where it’s all made.
Tell us a bit about the place you’re living right now. Where is home at the moment?
I currently live in Los Angeles, California, on the west coast of the United States.
What do you love about this place? Is there anything you feel makes it unique?
I love the weather of Los Angeles. It’s always sunny and warm. I also love the diversity of this city. There is a very cosmopolitan mixture here that isn’t rigidly siloed off but instead is often heavily integrated. This town is driven by the culture of the entertainment industry and is arguably the global capital of that business. Those things combined with the weather make it a place where anything can happen at any time, and it usually does…for better or for worse. The excitement of that unpredictability and uncertainty make it adventurous to live in LA. A lot of trends in the recent past have started here and expanded from here. It’s fun to see those cultural constructs develop on the streets of Los Angeles and trickle their way out to the national and even global masses.
Tell us about the hidden gems that you’d take your visitors/friends to where you live and why you chose them?
When friends come to town I like to take them to the Pacific Palisades where you can hike up oceanside mountain trails and see the city and the sea horizons all at once from the tops of the cliffs.
The Pacific Palisades
Everybody wants In N’ Out Burger but I like to take people to this former illegal, underground spot that was selling burgers out of the founder’s backyard called Burgers Never Say Die. They recently went legit and opened an official restaurant space in the neighborhood of Eagle Rock. They serve insane smash burgers on a minimalist menu with the most delicious fries.
Burgers Never Say Die
If it’s summer time I’d also take them to see jazz for free in the outdoor court of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) on Fridays.
I could support others in the Network by…
… constantly scanning the cultural landscape for insights into the current momentum of the zeitgeist. Sharing those insights in the form of snackable nuggets of data and informational resources. And building bridges between myself and others where we could have opportunities to collaborate and make interesting findings together, comparatively between our distinct markets and in the global market at large.
I’d like to collaborate with Sensers that would like to…
… understand the world we live in and change it for the better.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David once wrote that, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”
While I concur with this sentiment, there are many that may argue that the notion of love in all its forms—Eros, Philos, and Agape—is little more than a psychological reflex that evolved in humans and other animals and prevailed through natural selection in order to help our species survive by stimulating our ability to reproduce, and our desire to remain in family units while providing a selfless degree of protection and assistance for our offspring, partners, and close kinship networks. These are the same endocrine driven phenomena that cause the tendency for us to have a naturally higher affinity for people that look like us, sound like us, or people who look or sound similar people we like or admire. In short, they can be deduced to visceral chemical reactions in the brain and body that lead us to certain affective and cognitive states from whence a socially desirable set of behaviors is most likely to occur.
I propose that what the world needs now more than ever is EMPATHY. Empathy is closest in form to love as Agape, and is not contingent upon a prior relation or any preferential biases for its activation. However, even Agape is predicated on a chemically driven, reflexively induced, uncontrolled internal mind state that stimulates the desire to be compassionate. Empathy by contrast is a rational disposition contingent upon self-reflection and the ability to share in the external mind states of others such that one gains the understanding that, “If it were me, this is how I would feel, this is what I would want, and this is what I would not want.” This, we often call The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That is empathy, and that is the basis of a productive society that works. Empathy, by all means, could still be reduced to innate psychological processes that have advanced through evolution due to its benefits for species survival. However, empathy can be argued to be dictated by higher order cognitive thinking as opposed to the base, visceral, affects that guide the behavior controlled by love.
The lack of empathy can be legitimately argued to be the cause of nearly all of the tragedy in the world from wars, to plastic in the ocean and nuclear proliferation. All of this and beyond is brought about by a lack of empathy. If we had empathy this would all disappear and we could focus solely on fighting unpreventable disease and natural disasters. So if I could change the world I would build systems of communication that constantly reinforce the idea that empathy should dominate the reasoning behind every part of every action that we commit. And I would help our global cultures evolve so that a lack of empathy is not only deeply frowned upon, but it is wholly rejected by the society.
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