We were pushed into the dimly lit bedroom; “Welcome,” pronounced a lady lounging on the bed in lingerie, “There are a few rules here: no photography, no name-dropping and no neon drinks. Have fun.” We barely had time to recover before the bed slid back to reveal a staircase.

This was our first experience of one of the Houston Brothers’ bars, No Vacancy, a 1920s-style speakeasy in an old Victorian house in Hollywood. Waiters serve punch bowls rather than bottles to guests settled into red velvet loungers or sitting at wrought-iron tables in the vine-covered courtyard outside. A DJ spins a great selection of oldies for the mass of bodies on the dance floor, who will only stop to watch the burlesque performers or the tightrope walkers precariously tiptoeing above them.

Seven hours later we were back in the club interviewing the business partners, who have so far opened a total of six bars and one restaurant, with new projects at The Line Hotel in Koreatown and one in Austin also on the horizon. We wanted to hear more about the concept behind their speakeasy enterprises – all of which are completely different, with each entrance proving even more interesting than the last. Most importantly, we wanted to find out more about their role in giving the L.A. nightlife scene a much-needed revamp...


For the full article get issue 10 here.

you can check out No Vacancy here, and keep up with the brothers here.

words: Serena Guen // photos: Olivia Seally


It’s 5PM and I’m wandering through Silver Lake in Los Angeles with a pixie-like figure as the sun goes down. We’ve moved from sipping mint tea and chicken broth at Café Casbah and are making our way to House of Intuition to shop for crystals. Passing natural birthing centres, juice bars and restaurants with names like ‘Forage’, the east of L.A. feels different, a welcome respite from the flash and fortune of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. People are rambling through the streets rather than rolling to the next stop, and there’s even talk of going paddle boating in Echo Park nearby.

Said pixie is Bianca Quiñones – the L.A.-born half Mexican, half Puerto Rican singer ‘Quiñ’. To the average listener, Quiñ’s music is a modern twist on R&B, her voice sweet like Cassie but hypnotic like FKA Twigs when layered over distorted backing vocals and electronic synth. Her own description, however, captures the essence of Quiñ far better. Wrinkling her freckled nose so her septum ring shimmers and scrunching her blonde curls on top of her head, she explains: “It’s called fantasy soul, as my music comes from a little fantasy world in my head. It is kind of like my higher self is writing my songs for me.”

Like Silver Lake, Quiñ is the antithesis of Hollywood; she proved this when she gave the finger to her first label after they told her to take out her septum nose ring: “I said no because they didn’t realise that none of that shit matters. If I took it out it would have defeated my whole purpose on earth, which is showing that it doesn’t matter – these beauty ideals – none of it matters. How am I supposed to change the world if I am dumbing myself down for a world I don’t believe in?”

She is now making music on her own and is in control of her own image and message, releasing dreamy, all-encompassing tracks like The Cure and Dragging Me Down while gigging around L.A. at Whisky a Go Go, On The Rox and The Roxy. Her show later that night at The Lyric with Mindfield is sold out and the opening of her new music and performance night No Service at The Standard reached capacity last week. Her latest project is called Nine Lives and is coming out in chapters of three. It’s about her on a dead planet where the only way to escape is through her dreams. She laughs, “The dream world is a whole other thing though,” and we decide, for today, to stick to Silver Lake.



for the full article get issue 10 here.

you can check out QUIÑ'S music here, and follow her on instagram.

words: Serena Guen // photos: Olivia Seally


Once known as Vybz Kartel's protégé, Popcaan is now a boss in his own right. And with his powerful debut album, he's out to prove that he's more than just a raving king.

This past Easter the diminutive dancehall star Popcaan turned up at an outdoor stage show in Ocho Rios and drove the crowd wild singing hits like "Unruly Rave," “Party Shot,” and “Only Man She Want.” Then his DJ dropped "Everything Nice," the first single from his debut album Where We Come From, due to be released June 10th on Brooklyn-based Mixpak Records.

The slow-burner, produced by New York DJ and beatmaker Dubbel Dutch, was a marked contrast to the more uptempo tracks that have made Popcaan a huge star in Jamaica since his former mentor Vybz Kartel was jailed for murder charges in 2011. Kartel made Popcaan (born Andre Sutherland in 1988) a household name by making him part of his Portmore Empire crew and including him on the 2009 worldwide smash "Clarks." But much has changed since then.

Back in Ochi, Popcaan sings only the first line of his introspective new song and then dashes off the stage, leaving the crowd to finish singing each and every word of the tune. "That's one of the biggest songs in Jamaica," he says later, decked out (of course) in some custom Clarks Desert Boots. "And it's not even on the chart. When people see them thing there them just say, 'Yo, why them fight Popcaan so much?'"

William Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he wrote "Uneasy is the head that wears the crown." Stepping out from under Kartel's wing hasn't been easy. Although he bigs up the "World Boss" every time he steps on stage, some have accused Papi of disloyalty for linking with former Kartel rival Mavado, collaborating with Snoop and Pusha T, or politicking with Drake and the OVO crew—as if a youth from a place called Gangster City should not make a better life for himself and his family.

Like many Jamaican artists before him, Popcaan's experiencing some tension between his local fans and a newfound international audience. But his debut album is a powerful piece of work that might just bridge that gap, even as it presents a whole different side of the artist formerly known as "The Raving King." In his first major interview for the record, Popcaan talks about Where We Come From, and where he's going. Here comes the Unruly Boss, straight up—or as he would put it, "traight."

For the full article click here.

you can check out Popcaan's music here, and follow him on instagram.

words: Reshma B // photos: Olivia Seally