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Portfolio

An ever-evolving portfolio of all my non-fiction work, including journal articles, copywriting, essays, etc.

Punkaganda Press

Since 2017, the entity that is Riley! has been making waves and riding their momentum from their hometown in Texas to across the United States and the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. They have played on bills alongside artists such as Camping in Alaska, Michael Cera Palin, Your Arms Are My Cocoon, and festivals such as Fauxchella and Sophomore Slump. From the very beginning, they came in hot and with full momentum, and have yet to show any signs of slowing down.

The trio Stars Hollow was founded in 2015 at Iowa State University with their debut EP I’m Really Not Upset About It making an appearance the following year. Since then, the band has released a handful of singles, a second EP, and their first full-length album I Want to Live My Life in 2021. Now, nearly three years since their latest release, the band has finally returned with their newest single “Acne Scars” from their upcoming EP In the Flowerbead, which is set to release on April 5th via Acrobat Unstable Records.

There’s that old saying about “saving the best for last”, and in terms of music releases, the year 2023 has done just that. The Singapore–based band Blush has established itself as the sound-hear-round-the-world with the release of its debut album “Supercrush”. The band announced their signing to No Sleep Records in June, along with their music video for their single “All I Wanna Do.” Their succeeding single “Crush” was released months later in September, and both tracks left listeners in a dream-like state of wanting more. Now, with the release of their debut album, Blush’s trajectory will no doubt end up being one of succeeding success and growth.

Since 2014, the Dallas-based UnityTX has been creating and cultivating a sound that is uniquely theirs: seven-string-sheen and new-age metal core in works with metalcore hip-hop—a cohesive melody of swagger, rock, and, of course, ferality. Now, the quarter—comprised of vocalist Jay Webster, guitarist Ricky Cova, bassist Kendrick Nicholson, and drummer Jonathan Flores—have released their awaited album FERALITY with Pure Noise Records. As the title suggests, the band shows their teeth, claws, and growls with this release, and we are left speechless at their bark being just as powerful as their bite.

Pop-Punk is here to stay with the help of Long Island’s From States Away. Since 2015, the band has put out multiple singles and EPs showcasing their upbeat energy and finger-pointing sound. Now, with their long-awaited debut album–Sun in My Eyes–the band continues to create a sound reminiscent of nostalgic Warped Tour-era bands with enough experimentation to keep you on your toes.

In the Summer, there is no lack of music events and concerts in Austin, Texas. Aptly named “the live music capital of the world”, there is never an opportunity for music lovers and enthusiasts to be bored in the city. From country music to rock and every genre in between, Austin is the place for musical entertainment. For electronic music fans, the Parish was recently the place to be for a fun night.

In a recent interview, I spoke with the band CHOOSE YR WEAPON from Boston, Massachusetts about their newest single, “Twenties”, the band’s history, and picked the members' brains. In 20221, amidst the pandemic, CHOOSE YR WEAPON was formed through social media and the Internet by vocalist Marge, guitarist Gihanah, and bassist AJ. The namesake of the band comes from the album of the same name by the group Hiatus Kaiyote, explains Marge, but has taken on both changes in grammar and meaning. “Your voice, your choice, your weapon” became the band’s motto, states Marge, whose weapon of choice is words. With this message in mind, the band has set out to pay homage to the rebellious spirit of punk music while simultaneously pulling from a wide range of influences from Paramore, to classical music, and even Japanese Rock.

If anybody understands the trials and tribulations of growing older and finding your way in life, it’s Arrows in Action. Since 2017, the trio–composed of vocalist and guitarist Victor Viramontes-Pattinson, guitarist Matt Fowler, and drummer Jesse Frimmel–has risen to the top through an EP and many singles. The band is known for both their sound, which is a mix of the electric of the 80s, indie-rock, and alt-pop and their personal lyrics and resonating messages about the coming-of-age experience. Now, the band has released Built to Last: their long-awaited debut album, which serves as the soundtrack for growing up and new beginnings.

In the Summer, there is no lack of music events and concerts in Austin, Texas. Aptly named “the live music capital of the world”, there is never an opportunity for music lovers and enthusiasts to be bored in the city. From country music to rock and every genre in between, Austin is the place for musical entertainment. For electronic music fans, the Parish was recently the place to be for a fun night.

For the fans of bands such as Weakened Friends, Puppy Angst, and Venus Twins—the list could go on—we here at Punkaganda have a new artist recommendation for you. Shangrila is a band from both Baltimore and Philadelphia whose members like to describe their music as “aggressively dreamy,” and accurately so. Today, the band has gifted everyone with a new track to add to your weekend playlists with their newest single “Popinjay.”

The Tulsa-based CLIFFDIVER–aka your favorite elevator emo pop band–gave a high energy performance at a festival in Buda, Texas this past weekend. The band is currently touring the US alongside Doll Skin, both groups supporting co-headliners Less than Jake and Bowling for Soup. On July 30th, the tour package played Pop Punk’s Not Dead Festival in Buda, Texas. While the Tulsa septet may have failed to beat the Texas heat, they did succeed in bringing the heat, both metaphorically and physically.

 

Hayat Life Magazine

In an interview with Hayat’s editor-in-chief, Firangiz Gasimova, Walla Elsheikh discusses her journey of reconciling her multicultural identity and how it led to her founding the Birthright AFRICA organization. 

Interview transcription and editing by Amarys Dejai.

Candace — known across the internet as @theblondemuslim — always kept her religious faith in her back pocket. Though born and raised as a Christian, she found and converted to Islam at a young age after meeting a fellow Muslim and finding comfort and familiarity in Islam. Years later, she has been documenting and sharing her journey of identity and faith through social media. 

Profile and research by Amarys Dejai.

Blair Imani is an American author, historian, and activist — just to name a few. As a queer, Black, and Muslim woman, she has taken on the admirable and laboring work of educating others about a range of polarizing topics, including race and racism, intersectionality, gender, sociology, and U.S. history. She does all this, and more, with elegance, vibrancy, and a perky disposition.

Profile and research by Amarys Dejai.

Bilal Haider is a director, writer, and filmmaker. After graduating from UT Austin, Haider went on to direct his award-winning short film “The Prisoner’s Song.”

Hayat Life Managing Editor Maha Qadri spoke with Haider about his inspiration behind the film and upcoming projects. 

Interview and transcription by Amarys Dejai.

Hena Doba is a Pakistani journalist. After discovering her love for storytelling during her college years, Doba has risen to the ranks from working at small TV stations to those more renowned, including CBS and Cheddar. 

Hayat Life Editor-in-Chief Fira Gasimova talked with Doba about her journalism career. 

Interview transcription and editing by Amarys Dejai.

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