ROLLING STONE: The backstory of Ami Mills

The photoshopped Rolling Stone cover for Ami Mills. I shared this photo on Facebook before publishing the story. Nobody noticed that Ami Mills is the only celebrity listed on the cover who doesn't exist.

The photoshopped Rolling Stone cover for Ami Mills. I shared this photo on Facebook several hours before publishing the story. Nobody noticed that Ami Mills is the only celebrity listed on the cover who doesn’t exist.

To read the original piece, click here.

THE BACKSTORY

On October 24, 2014, I attended a concert in downtown Los Angeles to see Madi Diaz perform. I had been following her career since I met her back when I moved to Southern California in May 2012. It was at that time when I had just moved to this new place and I wanted to get an experience of Hollywood. One of my favorite artists Rachel Platten was doing a show in Hollywood and I bought a ticket to go see her perform. The opening act was Madi, a very sweet and funny performer with a great sound for music. I had never heard of her before that day. I got to meet Madi and Rachel after the show – the first time I ever got to meet established music artists – and at that point, I started to grow an interest in the lifestyle and travels of music artists.

To create someone magically out of thin air was tough. I resisted so hard to not make the characters of this story, especially Ami, to be so similar to any real music influences in my life. I’m not sure if I fully succeeded there. I had to think of a backstory for my character that was believable but also relatable. I even created her own Twitter account to help bring her to life. There wasn’t a set plan of how long the story would go or what kind of direction it would take. In fact, I didn’t even outline the premise of the story; it just came to me. I knew that I wanted to create an artist that was really down to earth (like what I read in a Taylor Swift article by Rolling Stone) but also someone that had a difficult past. After all, who doesn’t want to read a story of triumph?

I couldn’t shoot too far and make the artist a megastar, because then it would be too easy for me to create a story with that. Instead, I thought of a relative new face for the music industry. Ami wasn’t particularly new, but for the mainstream, she was. A backstory of a journey is usually what captivates my imagination whenever I read an article on a music star.

So in nine days, I created a music star out of thin air. The first eight days were dedicated mostly to crafting and writing the story. Today, the last day, was dedicated to finalizing the graphics package and putting it together online. Here are the cornerstones of the foundation of this story.

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THE INFLUENCE

On the faux cover of Rolling Stone magazine that accompanies this faux article, I wanted to share the different music artists that influenced my writing of this story. Each artist has one way or another impacted my passion for music:

PRINCE – One of the most important music artists ever to me. The best concert I ever attended was a Prince concert in 2011. He just released a new album and to this day, I am fascinated by his consistency in his career. A pure treasure for me.

KENDRICK LAMAR – I have never seen Kendrick perform live before and he is the one concert I want to go see next. He is the current King of the West Coast and we all should not sleep on him. My love for hip hop has grown a lot in recent years and Kendrick is one of the many reasons why.

TAYLOR SWIFT – I cannot name two songs by her. However, it was a recent article by Rolling Stone on her that I got to know her as a person and I think she’s very cool. In fact, it’s impossible to hate her because she’s too damn likable. The article also influenced a lot of the style and presentation of this article. If you’ve read the Swift piece in RS, you can pinpoint which parts of my story are picked up from it.

THE WHO – I bought tickets to see The Who perform in LA in August. Yes, I have tickets to a concert that’s about 10 months from now. Also bought a boatload of extra tickets and have them up on StubHub for profiting reasons. I grew up a huge fan of classic rock and this band has been really exciting for me for years. I am so excited to see them perform. Can you believe they’re turning 50 years old?

THE KILLERS – Very few current acts these days have caught my attention like this band. I first heard their music during my freshman year of college but it wasn’t until their second album came out did I really dig their sound. Their moonlight 1980s feel to their music along with an array of catchy tunes has captivated me since then. They are one of four music acts whom I have seen perform live on multiple occasions.

LORDE – I became a Lorde fan immediately after hearing “Royals” for the first time and was impressed by her debut album. In a recent feature article by Rolling Stone, I got to read about the humility of a teenage star. If I was a high schooler all over again, she’d be someone I’d like to be friends with. I look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

RICK ROSS – The first ever full-length Rolling Stone article I ever read was on Rick Ross. The feature article came out two years ago and I read it while on a bus to the airport. It was one of the best pieces of journalism I have ever read. It captured my imagination and I felt as if I had spent the day with the Teflon Don. The idea of “a day in the life of ____” came directly from this story. I also saw him perform in concert earlier this year. Amazing!

LANA DEL REY – Earlier this year I was listening to KCRW and I heard this song called “West Coast” play. I was immediately transfixed and when I learned it was Lana, I decided to listen to all her music on a binge on Spotify. Prior to that day, I had no idea what kind of music she performed. A recent article about her by Rolling Stone gave me a glimpse of her and I am even more fascinated by the world’s saddest, baddest diva. I wanted to write a story that would too fascinate the readers.

METALLICA – This is one band I would love to see live before they retire. I was a fan, but never a big one, until I saw their Through the Never concert movie at a screening. The IMAX 3D experience was amazing. They had a Q&A with Lars Ulrich before the screening and afterward, one with Robert Trujillo after the show. I even got to take a photo with Robert after the movie.

NIKKI LANE – Listening to KCRW one day, I heard a song that I really liked named “All Or Nothin’” and I would learn that it was by outlaw country star Nikki Lane. I never listen to country but this was the first time I actually enjoyed country. I see potential for her music to reach big heights soon. I will see her in concert later this month.

MADI DIAZ – As mentioned before, she is the primary influence for my decision to write this story. That show she did with Rachel Platten and the fact that they both were so easy to interact with after the show was huge for this story. I don’t know her entire music career journey as well, but imagining what it could be through this was very exciting to create and tell. She is currently my favorite artist right now. And if Ami Mills did exist, I’d like to think her sound would be like that of Madi.

KATHLEEN ROBERTSON aka AMI MILLS – When I wrote the story I didn’t have a set image of what the subject would look like. It didn’t come until I was looking on Google for pictures of cat selfies. I wanted to find a photo of someone in a blue hoodie (as mentioned in the story) and it was hard to find something so specific. I did stumble upon one picture and used it for the tweet. Now I had to start figuring out the rest of her image. I decided to just go on Google again and look for pictures of redhead models posing on a balcony. Soon enough through a lot more searching, I came across one photo which I ended up using as the cover. I did my research and found out that it was Kathleen Robertson of Beverly Hills 90210 fame. I totally forgot I saw her in one of the Scary Movie sequels back in high school. Wow, she is pretty. I had to focus on the photos of when she was in her mid-20s during the late 1990s to match my character and fortunately enough for me, I was able to find some shots from other shoots she had done. She’s 41 now but she still looks the same as she did back then; it made it easy for me in using her photos for this story since there really wasn’t much limitations there.

The alternate cover for Ami Mills' EP that was not used.

The alternate cover for Ami Mills’ EP which was not used for the story.

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THE LOCATIONS

All characters in this story are fictional and any similarities to real people are completely coincidental. The only character in this story who is real is Jason from IKON. IKON, formerly called DomeFits, is an urban skateboard shop in West Hollywood. I first met Jason in Alameda as he was balancing out three stores – the other in Berkeley. When I moved to Southern California, I visited DomeFits’ Hollywood location and befriended him and the IKON clothing brand. I have three IKON shirts and a custom Superman cap made by IKON. It’s a great brand and I remain loyal. And yes, Chris Brown did visit IKON when his newest album was released back in September. You can check out their site at http://www.ikonnewyork.com/

The Golden State Café is a real burger joint a few blocks away from IKON. I discovered this place when I saw a Zagat article talking about the best burger on the West Coast and I drove out to West Hollywood to try it. I will claim that I have never had a better burger anywhere else. The ingredients are fresh and the way they cook the burgers is nothing short of magical. Add on the sweet potato fries and the curry ketchup and you have a perfect meal. The photo used in the tweet for the story is a photo I took during one of my adventures out there. You can check out their site at http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com/

The Aqua Pacific Monarch Hotel is a hotel in Honolulu. I have never been there. I just Googled it. You can check out their site at http://www.aquapacificmonarch.com/

Centennial High School a real school in Champaign. You can check out their site at http://www.champaignschools.org/schools/home/?id=31

Where was the venue for the Rachel Platten and Madi Diaz concert I attended in 2012? It was at the Hotel Café. The entrance to the small place is actually in the back alley, but inside it’s gorgeous. There is a small staging area in the lobby next to a ticket booth. Through the glass doors is a real intimate room with a bar and a small stage. Many Indie music artists come here to perform and I felt that this was the perfect place for Ami Mills to have her party. In 2011, John Mayer did perform there. You can check out their site at https://www.hotelcafe.com/

I debated about whether to use the Hotel Café as the location for the release party or the Troubadour, another great Los Angeles venue where I saw Jackie Tohn (she’s real) perform one time. Ultimately I decided that the Troubadour wasn’t as intimate and proper for an album release party. I will be back at the Troubadour later this month to see Nikki Lane and a week after that, back to see Madi Diaz again. You can check out their site at http://www.troubadour.com/

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THE PHOTOGRAPHS

Did you notice the photographer’s name is Goog Le? Yeah, All the images I found for this piece was through the Google image search. I didn’t keep track of the images I used for the Twitter account but everything used for the article is listed here. These are listed in the order they appear in the article.

THE ROLLING STONE COVER – SOURCE

INVISIBLE NO MORE – SOURCE

FOLLOW ME – SOURCE

CAT SELFIE – SOURCE

THEN I LOSE MY DRIVE – SOURCE

BEACH SHOT – SOURCE

RECORDING SESSION – SOURCE

WITH ZOOEY DESCHANEL – SOURCE

BURGER – I took the photo myself during a lunch there

DEBUT ALBUM – SOURCE

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FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a fun process for me to create this story. I really pushed and challenged myself as a writer, especially my creative side. I have always wanted to write and tell stories whether it was about real people or if it was a part of things of my imagination. I remembered why I love to write and tell stories. This entire thing was a blast.

This might be the last time I do this. Or maybe I might be inspired later on and try it again. My goal remains to be published in a major magazine or possibly my own book. I seriously want that to be a lifetime goal of mine. This story was a test and reminded me that it isn’t easy to write and to tell a story. Respect to those who do this for a living. I know how difficult it is.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my story. If you liked this story, please share this and tell me your thoughts.

Samuel Lam (10/28/14 – 11/6/14)

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1 Comment

Filed under Magazines, Music, Writing

One response to “ROLLING STONE: The backstory of Ami Mills

  1. Pingback: ROLLING STONE: Ami Mills – Life Comes Around Full Circle | Write a blog on a log, Sam I am

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