I had no initial desire to write this story. When I first wrote the Ami Mills story, I was content with that being just that and I wouldn’t continue her story or any other character’s story. But always in the back of my mind, I wondered if the opportunity came, if I would actually go with it. I had scrapped two non-music stories during that time frame and really wanted to write another story but had no juice. The idea of writing about Krystaline (aka Pickles) actually came when I first wrote the Ami story when a few of the readers asked me about Pickles. I didn’t have an established identity for Pickles (except that she was a Polish brunette) when I first wrote the Ami story and if I knew I would be writing her story, then her characteristics in the original story would have been different.
But I sat there on New Year’s Eve wondering what kind of artist she would be. I had labeled her as an R&B star but I knew she wasn’t going to be like a Mya or Mary J. Blige type of R&B singer. My first thoughts were Alicia Keys and Janelle Monáe (the idea behind Michelle Edwards), both styles distinct but very marketable. Before I even considered writing the story, I thought about the graphics package. When I wrote the Ami story, I had the story mostly written before I even researched for a celebrity to use for the magazine cover. This time, I did the reverse. I started looking for the images before a story was even written. That actually made it a lot harder for me because I had to base my story on the photos I found. It gave me a boost in setting the parameters for the storytelling, but it limited where I wanted to go with the story.
Nevertheless, I worked with what I got and I came up with Krystaline. My first goal was to make her really different from Ami. Even though the two have been childhood friends, the reason why they split was because they were maturing and changing. I wanted to reflect that with Pickles’ character being a little out there to reflect that change. I had to take a lot of the characteristics of artists I have read about in previous Rolling Stone articles. One carryover from the Ami Mills influence was Lana Del Rey. A piece of her attitude, especially the complex diva aspect, was taken from her. The other influences are mentioned below.
This story took me two weeks to put together and the length is half of the first story. I didn’t want to make this a long story or a minute by minute account of the artist’s day. Instead, I wanted to focus on one evening and that only. And since it was based on a New Year’s Eve party, I had to quickly turn this story around before it became irrelevant. Like some of the articles I have read, one evening is all I need to understand the artist. Am I actually a fan of the artist I created? I am, but there are parts about her character that are puzzling and that was my intent. We can’t love everything about every artist we like and she is no different. That’s why she’s the enigmatic diva.
On the faux cover of Rolling Stone magazine that accompanies this faux article, I wanted to highlight some key influences in the storytelling or music artists that have been a major part of me recently. My goal was to also make the highlights as relevant as possible to what’s going on in the world. Here are the reasons why I chose each celebrity:
DAVID LETTERMAN – Dave has always been my favorite late night talk show host. I know that his kind of humor and style doesn’t match with people my age. But there is a distinct joy and quirkiness about his show. I am sad that he is retiring but he deserves after years of making me laugh.
KID ROCK – Devil Without a Cause is one of the most influential albums in my lifetime and at the time, I thought Kid Rock was the most awesome badass out there. He got rock and rap together and was really good with it. Now he’s gone country and I don’t dig it really. But I still respect the guy for being so influential to my music foundation.
‘AGENT CARTER’ – When I watched Captain America in theaters, I was like “oh hello” when Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) came on screen. I don’t know if it’s the British accent, but I was really liking her. With the new mini-series debuting last week, I was back into my happy world. I really like the show and I think Marvel hit a home run with this series.
RUN THE JEWELS – If you haven’t listened to their latest album, you are missing out. Many consider it the best hip hop album of 2014. These guys bring a fresh sound to hip hop and I was very impressed to have discovered a duo that really makes me bob my head. They are currently in the studio working on their third album. I can’t wait for it to come out. They are performing tomorrow in LA but the tickets were sold out within the hour they went on sale. Oh well, next time.
NICKI MINAJ – A lot of the ideas and influences of Pickles’ character came from a recent article by RS on on Minaj. I like how she was in her own world but she also was kind of a control freak. You can see that correlation in my story. Also, Minaj is a master lyricist and even though there are parts about her music and presentation I’m not fully on board with, she still has my respect.
CHARLI XCX – Would you believe my first idea for this story was to make her like Charli? After reading a piece about Charli, I felt convinced that my star was going to be this wild, carefree star. I toned down my ideas and went away from that. Still, the idea of starting a story with a late party came from Charli. I like her sound to be honest, but she’s kind of out there. There’s a little bit of Charli in Pickles in terms of her perception of the public.
TESS HENLEY – If you want to hear what Pickles’ music sounds like, then Tess is the artist you should look up. I actually didn’t even know who she was until one day, I saw that she followed me on Twitter. I had never heard of her before at the time but the fact that some singer followed me out of the blue got me curious and so I listened her sound. I really dig her. She’s interactive and fun on Twitter and I hope her career really skyrockets. I’m bummed that the last two times she had shows in LA, I missed them both. She will be performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live next Wednesday to promote her new EP.
RITA ORA – In order to create Pickles, I wanted to make her a little more pop and marketable. When looking for “Similar Artists” on Spotify after listening to Tove Lo for research, she came up as a suggestion. Most of her songs are very pop and great songs for radio or clubs. But it’s actually her acoustic Spotify Session and her ballads (listen to the song “Grateful”) that I really like. She’s big in the UK so that likely was the reason why I didn’t know anything about her. But her style and attitude heavily influenced my creation of the story.
JE SUIS CHARLIE – Let’s continue to pray for peace in Paris. The way I heard about the news is, you guessed it, through social media. Social media is a heavy influence in my life and this is my shout out to the tool that helps me stay in the loop with today’s biggest news.
KRYSTALINE aka WERONIKA ROSATI – As mentioned before, I started looking for the magazine cover before I even wrote the story. This was done because I had a certain look that I knew my character had to have. If I couldn’t find an image that I thought would match, then I would have scrapped the story. Thanks to Google, I looked up the most famous celebrities in Poland. Since Pickles was Polish, I thought this would help me. Plus, I wanted to use someone that the American public might not know as well. Weronika is a 30-year-old actress that has made some small appearance in Hollywood films but is a huge star in Poland. My hope was to find some professional shots of her so it would be easy for me to create the story. Without that one shot to create the cover, I couldn’t write the story. Fortunately, there was that one shot and I used it.
I created a Spotify playlist of artists, songs and sounds that influenced my idea of Krystaline. This isn’t to say that every song here is what she sounds like, but there are parts of every song and artist chosen that influenced the creation of this artist. Some songs capture her early works and some capture her current project. Other parts of this is an idea, a feeling of what she might want to create as an artist. But it’s really all in your own imagination of what kind of person and artist she really is.
Tess Henley (the sound), Rita Ora (the attitude) and Made in Heights (the lyrics) are heavy influences to my idea of her as an artist but also Quadron (the marketability) captures a sound I like as well. All artists are unique in their own style and great artists to listen to. Of course these are just ideas and the identity of Krystaline is whatever you want it to be from the story.
All characters in this story are fictional and any similarities to real people are completely coincidental. Chris Brown is the only person in this story that is real. (Rosati and Brown were in a film together.) He was also mentioned briefly in my first story. Garance Doré, Robert Downey Jr., Christopher Walken and Alicia Keys are real and are mentioned in the story by name only.
The story takes place at the W Hotel. I have never been to the hotel but I have parked my car next to it a few times. It looks like a real fancy Hollywood hotel and I can imagine it being pretty posh inside. I knew there was a rooftop pool but I didn’t really know the beauty of it until I went online to look at pictures. It was the perfect spot to tell my story. You can check out their site at http://www.whollywoodhotel.com/
The only other specific location I mentioned in the story is Tender Greens. It’s not a hole in the wall place. It’s actually a chain restaurant. The reason why I chose this place was because I ate at one outside Beverly Hills one time before a Madi Diaz concert at the Troubadour. This was the specific one I had in mind when writing this story. And while I was eating, Madi actually came in to eat. I got too nervous to talk to her. Besides, I knew I was going to see her after her show anyway so I just let it go by. I think I left my Oakley sunglasses there. I miss those sunglasses. You can check out their site at http://www.tendergreens.com/
Centennial High School a real school in Champaign. I mentioned it in the first story. You can check out their site at http://www.champaignschools.org/schools/home/?id=31
I didn’t use the photographer Goog Le this time (but I still used Google to find the pictures). The photographer I used is Ketie Z. Lukas. She’s made up. Her name is an anagram of the real photographer whose work I used for the story. Much credit to Łukasz Ziętek and Poland’s Maxim magazine for providing the cover and the American flag photo. These are listed in the order they appear in the article.
THE ROLLING STONE COVER – SOURCE
RARE JEWEL – SOURCE
AMERICAN FLAG – SOURCE
SHOWTIME – SOURCE
IF I LIKE YOU – SOURCE
PROMO SHOOT – SOURCE
WITH CHRISTOPHER WALKEN – SOURCE
WITH HER PARENTS (TERESA ROSATI, MARIUSZ MAX KOLONKO) – SOURCE
WITH CHRIS BROWN – SOURCE
The motivation and influence of this story is different from the first story and you can tell the style different. My motivation for this story was to challenge myself to see how far I can go with a little idea. I think I did pretty well on this one. I don’t think this is my best work and I still don’t know how much higher I can climb. But I am excited to see how my writing evolves over the years. This one to me was a true labor of my love of writing.
I think this story, even though it wasn’t as detailed as I would like it to be, still allowed me to imagine and create. And that’s the whole reason why I became a writer. There’s a story I want to tell and I want to practice my craft in writing it, presenting it and making it believable. This might be the last time I do a story like this. But much like the first time, never say never.
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 (12/31/14 – 1/13/15)