Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Sophie Haber

A true free-spirit with a multitude of talents, Sophie Haber exemplifies "wanderlust" and what it means to trust the new experiences travel affords. I had the honor of interviewing her and hearing the beauty and depth of her perspective on her ever-shifting "home."

Leah Lou Style + Sophie Haber

Travel From Within with Sophie Haber

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

Each of us is multi-dimensional with stunning facets that reveal our depth, interests, personality, and values. For Sophie Haber, flowing with the nomadic lifestyle allows her to be photographer, model, collaborator, artist, leader, lover, and a strong community supporter, in any setting. She reveals how her path led by wanderlust has led her to live and love abundantly.

To travel, move, and love boundlessly requires a connection with oneself and to the world around you. According to Sophie, “our world is so vast with so many creative beings. We all came onto this earth for a reason and have a story to share with one another. Nobody is perfect and when we can let our “ego” go that is when you can be in tune with the harmony within. “

Sophie’s commitment to the stories and diversity of others has led her and partner Eliot, to build One Sky One People—a group of photographers who partner with artisans around the world to support their craft and empower one another. Sophie and Eliot’s like-minded community captures these cultural moments through the lens of their camera and the sharing of stories, creative experience, and global wares. “I believe community and collaboration go hand in hand. If you are immersed in a community you are already collaborating. I believe our future is community--we need to have a better connection with each other and learn from one another. It’s an amazing feeling being able to collaborate and share your visions with another person. This is the ultimate love,” she shares.

Their lust for travel has led them around the world with goals to begin deepening their roots in Australia. “Our journey is now within and manifesting a soulful life on this beautiful land.” Sophie considers herself both “a nester and a nomad.” She explains further, “comfort for me is home. I used to be a homebody and really needed that space to be able to feel this comfort, but as I started to fly and travel, It was just a feeling. Home is within, and that is something I think I will always be seeking.”

Wandering may seem out of reach for some, but anyone can take advantage of this expansiveness in their own unique lives, without leaving their city or town. As Sophie reminds us, “you can find freedom in the most chaotic cities, it all starts in your mind. By just going outside and finding a park, that’s all you need sometimes to fulfill this craving to wander!”

We can also fulfill our connection to community, as Sophie examines, by “gathering more, creating with each other more, and celebrating with one another. It’s ok to ask for help and speak out with each other, that is what we are all here for. We are all pure love and should spread that love to all.”

Disfunkshion Magazine

Sophie Haber's One Sky One People >>here<<

Leah Lou Style

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Dana Williams

Volume 24 of Disfunkshion Magazine has recently hit newsstands and it's chock full of my writing. I say this so boldly because I am deeply proud of these published works; both my interviews and free-form topics of my own musings. To have a beautiful, thought-provoking publication like Disfunkshion magazine support my creativity alongside empowering women all over the world, makes my heart burst. 

For this volume, I had the pleasure of interviewing singer/songwriter Dana Williams as she shared both love and loss threaded with hope and triumph, and what it means to contribute your art to the world. 

Leah Lou Style + Dana Williams
Leah Lou Style + Dana Williams Disfunkshion

The Wisdom of Dana Williams

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

From the first time you hear or see her perform, singer/songwriter Dana Williams will not only mesmerize you with her soulful voice, but hold you with her presence, her poise, and her depth. She is transfixed as she transfixes.

“For me, singing is very therapeutic. It takes me to a place of satisfaction and peace. No matter what is going on in my life, I can use singing as a release,” she explains. There is a consistent dynamism to her performance, made clear in both her stunning original tracks and her clever covers of more modern influence. As Dana describes, “I think the direction and vision that has always guided me is jazzy and retro, and I think moving forward I will continue to explore those styles.”

With inspiration drawn from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Carole King, Amy Winehouse, Sam Cooke and Patsy Cline (to name a few), Dana transports her listeners to a different place and time; perhaps, a dimly lit lounge where swirls of smoke envelope smartly-dressed guests poised atop velvet armchairs. Her vibe and vocals are romantic, dreamy, and give her obvious youth an “old-soul” quality. When you watch her get lost in the strings of her guitar, she comes across as a friend who will meet you where you are, while providing gentle wisdom and love to overcome any hardship. She is a confidant because she too has felt hurt and tragedy alongside hope and triumph.

Dana finds a release and a comfort in writing and singing about loss. “I think I, along with most people, have experienced loss to some capacity, losing my father was really hard for me.” The beauty of her exploring her talent and writing “for [herself] and anyone who can relate to what I’m going through” is that she is able to keep the memory and support of her father, living and breathing through melody and string. She explains, “Anytime he taught me a song or a riff he’d say, ‘practice this and make it your own.’ He taught me that individuality and authenticity were important and that finding your own voice is what sets you apart from the rest, so now anything I do I try to make it my own.” To this personal mantra Dana adds, “In a visual age where there is so much emphasis on imagery and beauty, it is important to know who you are, so that no one can tell you who you are and what you are capable of.”

Talented both in dreamlike vocals and seemingly effortless guitar rhythms, Dana supplements her original songs with equally captivating acoustic covers and delightful collaborations with other artists--most notably, is her duet with Leighton Meester, covering Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Nearing 4 million views on youtube, the women had not anticipated such a strong positive response to this recording, “so we decided to do it again. But [Meester] mostly is just really fun to collaborate with and it’s really cool how well our voices blend.”

Whether solo or supporting another artist, Dana Williams is inarguably magnetic. When she performs, “sometimes, my mind is entirely clear and the only thing I am thinking about is the story I’m telling, and other nights I spend much of it watching the audience to see their reactions.” To explore more of her talent, start with Dana’s single “Fooling Myself,” but don’t be surprised if you lose track of time and browse through any number of her videos, songs, and alluring stories. 

Learn more about Dana Williams >>here<<

Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

seriously....go get lost in the chill-inducing magic of her voice. You'll find a couple of my favorites below:

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Dumblonde

When Disfunkshion magazine requests an interview, I always "do my homework" on the subject. I browse the internet to see what I can learn about them, to ground myself in who they are and what to showcase, and to judge if I am connected to sharing their depth. It's google search & gut check!

Dumblonde presented a new challenge for me: an electro-dance/pop musical group. Plus, these women started their musical careers as members of P.Diddy's girl group "Danity Kane" from his show "Making the Band." They had since parted ways with the group and it's "old guard" and were committed to carving their own place in the industry, on their terms.

So long as I didn't have to mention ANY of that history, or pretend to have expertise on "electro-pop," I was willing to take the assignment. I began this interview with the desire to showcase who these women are TODAY, who they want to be for their audience, and who they are for one another. Plus according to videos online and radio interviews alike, they were constantly being asked about their past. If I was moving forward with such force and success (and a badass sisterhood), the last thing I would want, would be to continue to address what was behind me. 

Your Roots are Showing: A Closer Look at Dumblonde

by Leah "Lou" Zorn

With pure soul, depth, courage and trust in one another, the women behind the independent alternative Dance/Pop group, Dumblonde, are making music their way and unapologetically.

From initial idea and sound, to vision and artistry, the duo Aubrey O’Day and Shannon Bex are touching every part of the creative process and balancing each role effectively. As Shannon explains, the creative execution comes from “above all, staying true to your vision and not allowing complacency, negativity, others opinions, or being tired to rule the outcome.” Which may sound easy for some, but with 48+hour video shoots, city tours, practices and performances, these women choose to lean on one another and balance their strengths. For Aubrey, their partnership means “[they] each excel in what each other lacks; and because [they] are VERY smart blondes, [they] are always paying attention to how powerful that message is.”

The balance the pair achieves so brilliantly is attributed to two central themes the women shared separately: Passion and fearlessness. These elements drive who they are day-to-day and the bigger picture of their reach and influence. Shannon cultivates the desire to be, “remembered for my compassion and love. Nobody is perfect, [she] prays to be known for how [she] accepts others for how imperfect they are but true to their heart.” This compassion is exactly what Aubrey looks to Shannon for. “She taught me that unconditional love is real and reminds me daily of the patience that is required to achieve it.” As an artist who continues to evolve, Aubrey wants Dumblonde to be remembered for, “fearlessness to constantly overcome and reinvent professionally and personally, and being unafraid to step outside the box and take risks with our sound, brand, visuals and overall creativity.”

Their candid soul and drive for unadulterated artistry carve a point of view that transcends music alone. It is Aubrey’s hope that independent creators gain more opportunity and access in the music industry. Especially because for her, “The entire point of art is creation and exploration and stepping outside boxes. When the business becomes more important than the freedom of that, the art suffers…when the art suffers so do the people that are inspired by it.” The lesson she shares applies to anyone following the depths of their creativity and those who are then willing to support and empower others in doing the same. As Shannon aptly states it, “Just believe in your own beauty and light. What you bring nobody else can or ever will. There is power in that knowledge. Don’t get in your own way and always encourage your sister…your journeys are unique and your God given purpose is real.”

*The lovely ladies even indulged in some quick "fun facts" with me, at the conclusion of the interview.

Favorite Food/Drink  

  • Shannon: Really good Italian & a glass of wine
  • Aubrey: sushi and a moscow mule  

Favorite Guilty Pleasures

  • Shan: riding horses, vodka martinis straight up
  • Aubrey: Dog parks, vending machine snacks

Favorite Book

  • Aubrey: The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Shannon: Girl Boss (currently reading)

 Your Spirit Animal 

  • Shannon: I would have to say a horse. I’ve always been drawn to them in a deep way. To me they are regal, elegant full of strength and yet striking and full of grace. They are independent, trusting, loyal and can only be tamed as far as they allow. Forever wild at heart they are still humble and meek enough to serve others needs. 
  •  Aubrey: bird. They soar.. roam.. have a view of the overall picture more than the specifics. Are the link between heaven and earth.  

How would you describe your personal style?

  • Aubrey: constantly evolving, and I love taking risks. 
  • Shannon: Simple/Classic

Who wears the pants in the relationship?

  • Aubrey: Shan. Ewe I don't like pants. 
  • Shannon: depends on the day

Describe the other in one word.

  •  Shannon: She is “passionate”
  • Aubrey: she is "compassionate"

 

You can explore more of the talent and creativity of Dumblonde >>here<<

Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<

Interview Series for Disfunkshion Magazine: Cat Lee

At the end of 2015, I reached out to a magazine that I stumbled across on Instagram. They had a free-spirited vibe with loads of female empowerment undertones and used wildly vivid colors and energy (hell yeah!). As soon as I saw they had both a headquarters in Hawaii and Florida, I knew I had to reach out. 

I crafted an email sharing who I was, my website, and a selection of my writing. I offered to provide style &/or writing content, then took a deep breath and sent the email off into the hands of "the web." To my surprise and excitement, I quickly received an email back from the editor-in-chief herself; providing praise for my work and point-of-view, and the chance to share both through the magazine. We discussed potential writing options and the promise I would have "a go" at an article in the near future. Soon enough, I was given my first interview with a beautifully genuine Australian artist, Cat Lee.

I found something I connected to, took a risk for my creativity, and remain open to the diversity and adventure I gain through writing. 

Now on my tenth article for the magazine, and thriving in the variety through creativity, I am pleased to share that very first opportunity----my published work, my crafted words, and the magic of an interviewer and a subject who though miles apart, connected so quickly and effortlessly. 

&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

                                                     Disfunkshion Magazine, Volume 23

you can read her feature below:

Unbound Creative Visions with Cat Lee

by: Leah Lou

"the tallest poppy is the first to see the sunrise"

She spends her days immersed in nature and paying attention to its subtle movements; to the gifts and inspiration that come from meditation, creative play, and choosing each moment. From conceiving an idea to developing it in full fruition, Australian artist Cat Lee is living, examining, and constructing a creative life. 

To live a creative life requires finding your personal joy and having the confidence to go after it day, after day, after day. Like an artist with a unique point-of-view, you can curate a life that brings you vibrancy, an understanding of the world around you, and a respect for your unique role in it. Cat believes “we all are creating our life; our own future; by every choice. I know the life I’d like to live and the world I would like to live in, so, I use this as a guide to how I choose to act; how I choose to see; who I choose to spend time with; what I choose to think; what I choose to hear and what I choose to say.”

Through the use of rich color and a deep respect for nature, Cat Lee can create pieces with both vigor and extravagance while evoking a peaceful and relatable energy. From where she stands, “there is so much sadness in the world and I truly believe happiness is so important to lift our energy to enable us to create change.” She chooses to adorn each of her animal pieces to provide that gateway to happiness and reveal the essence of that animal, as well as to shape her audience’s connection to these feeling creatures. 

It is because of her connection and conviction that she is able to express herself so freely. When it comes to her art, “I find starting the hardest part and I realize it’s because the first step is totally up to me.  Once the foundation has been laid, I let go of all control and allow the artwork to tell me what it requires.”

The power and freedom of personal choice requires that same first step; placing trust in the work and committing to the beauty of the end result. When Cat begins a piece, she “makes a huge mess of the foundation and works to resolve it. Starting with mess is so much easier than perfection.” The same can be said of each of us who steps into each day with the history and mess of the weeks, months, and years before. The mess is what provides experience, character, and pure personality. As a single mother and former “9-to-5” worker, Lee puts a great amount of work into the direction her life is going now. She too is inspired by and “energized when I’m around others who recognize their true calling and are bravely living it.”

So how do we express ourselves freely and walk through our own lives with courage, choice, and artistry? We stand tall. We give voice and expression to our own truth. We become like poppies. Cat introduced the deeply rooted cultural and social term, “tall poppy syndrome; a tendency for Australian people to keep others small if they seem like they’re breaking out of what’s the norm.” For her, the term criticizes those individuals who want to showcase their talents, celebrate their own merits, and simply be their best selves, no matter how weird. To stunt the growth of one another and push for “normalcy” would mean we all stop growing, learning, and sharing from different vantage points. We shape one another best by being ourselves. In doing so, we give each other the safe space to create from our mess, layer our own canvas, and develop at our own pace. 

What does Cat Lee wish women would be more aware of? She mentions, “I absolutely hope the message comes across to other women; young and young at heart; that regardless of what anyone says, you must Be Yourself; build each other up and there’s no need to compete.  The people in the world who we look up to and who are inspiring others the most are those who are truly being themselves.” 

You can find more of Cat Lee's work >>here<< 

and view the work and spirit of Disfunkshion Magazine >>here<<

>>Leah Lou Style<<