10 Holiday Gifts For Boyfriends Who ~Surprisingly~ Wait Until Last Minute

Let’s start off with this… no, this post is not for my boyfriend. We’ve already picked our gifts, so this is for the boys and girls out there who haven’t gotten their stuff together yet. Just wanted to fill you all in!


With many holidays unfolding right in front of us, it’s beginning to be too late to order too many things online or be put on a waiting list for the sold out items. Because of this, I’m here to save the day. I spend hours per day on Pinterest and Instagram, especially on sites where any 20-something year old woman would genuinely appreciate. Trust me, I’ve been a woman all my life. I know this shit.

  1. Literally any Lush product, especially the bath bombs. Have you ever walked into Lush and literally spent an hour smelling everything in the store? It makes the experience extremely satisfying but the checking out process way too overwhelming. Some items that any girl would like would be the Mask of Magnaminty face and body cleanser ($28.95, 11.1 oz.) because it’s built for so many skin types and can be used anywhere on your body. I would definitely recommend that or the Star Light Star Bright bath bomb ($8.95, 3.5 oz.), but only if the person you’re shopping for has a tub.
  2. The extra long Apple IPhone charger. This is easily a no-brainer because who wouldn’t want to enjoy a nice, long charger? Say goodbye to tugging on your footlong charging cord which rips off of your wall in seconds. You can find it on the Apple store here, and they hardly ever run out.
  3. Any Glam Glow face mask, ever. Hardly ever do I run into a female who disagrees with the statement, Face masks are the best thing in the world. After trying countless masks for a countless number of facial problems, GlamGlow takes the Top 3 in terms of best face masks. You can find them at your local Sephora or even order it off of their main site.
  4. One of those glass Starbucks tumblers that are WAY too overpriced but look AMAZING. Have you ever stared at the tumblers in line to get your Starbucks drink and thought to yourself, Man, I wish I had one of those and still the same amount of money in my pocket. Me too, hun. Me too. In case someone wants to get one for you **cough cough**, feel free to check out some amazing designs here.
  5. Checkered Vans. Enough said. Just get them. If you don’t believe me, check any college-aged woman’s Instagram in America and ask me again what they like these days. You’re welcome.
  6. Brandy Melville sweaters! One thing that is great about Brandy Melville is how simple their clothing is. The person who you’re shopping for doesn’t need to have a particular style, because everything they sell conforms to the already-existing style. Check out items like this Joy Division Band Tee ($28) or the Anne Bodysuit ($24).
  7. Brush sets from Sephora. Nothing says “I have my life together like you wouldn’t believe” like a fully stocked brush set. You can find pretty ones here for a higher budget or lower budget ones here!
  8. A gift card to a restaurant that sells pizza. Lots of pizza. Why wouldn’t you? If you’re in Connecticut, consider places like Savoy Pizzeria or even Cheesecake Factory. (Have you tried their flatbreads?!)
  9. Get her a monthly makeup subscription box! If you don’t know about this already, it’s like getting a subscription for wine or steak. But, this time around, it’s makeup. Companies like Birchbox or Ipsy are built to give you several samplers of high-end brands every month for you to try!
  10. Or just get her the damn puppy already. Consider Pet Finder your best friend, folks.


If you have any other suggestions for what you should get a 20-something year old woman for the holiday season, make sure to comment below! Lastly, make sure to follow me on Instagram at @CassidyKotyla. Until then, xoxo.


— Cass


I Decided To Leave College… Let Me Explain.

While stitting at my hometown Starbucks, it occurred to me that I’ll literally never take a full class at my old university again. I’ll never have another late-night dining hall date where I eat Chinese food at an uncontrollable rate, trying to scarf down food while talking to friends. I will never be able to say that I went to a full sorority chapter meeting (okay, that one doesn’t sound as painful as the others to part ways with). I will never swipe into Berkshire Dining Hall in order to get unlimited soup and grilled cheese (however, I might still do this when I come to visit). Needless to say, it’s official--I’m no longer a “normal college student.” 

The title of this post is quite literal–let me explain. So many people have been coming up and asking why I did what I did and honestly, I’m not entirely sure I could give you a definite answer. College, in its totality, was never really for me and I truly loved my experience, but it was time that I moved onto bigger and better things. This isn’t to say that I didn’t meet amazing people there, because I did. But at some point, the negatives of staying outweighed the positives, and I couldn’t bare another minute of it. I was sick of sitting in a classroom where teachers would preach things I already knew, test me on pointless material, and question my own life goals when I knew them before I even enrolled in the course.

Growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see the other kids who were interested in a profession that required you to travel elect to go to community college, or even online school. That route was never an option for me as I was labeled as a first generation student, and the profession I wanted to go into at the time, psychology, was not something I could just pursue online (lol at that major, #journalism all the way). In essence, I chose UMass Amherst, the holy grail of random house parties miles away from your dorm, fraternities who struggle to stay afloat because of the most stupid reasons, professors who are ~way~ too eccentric to be in a major city so they instead live in Northampton, Massachusetts, and an expectation to succeed until your hair literally begins to fall out (**cough cough personal experiences**). Welcome to Western Massachusetts, everybody.

College began as it usually does for many–you begin drinking until the sun comes up, you nearly fail a class, and then you realize that your priorities are all out of whack. Suddenly your world is spinning so fast you can’t catch up, and you start to lose sight of the true reason why you ended up there in the first place. My time in college was bombarded with incredible times where friends would make my entire month with just one funny joke or old story time, but it was also clouded with unneeded stress, drama between friends, and the burning desire to make money while I was stuck in my residence hall solving pointless calculus problems.

So, I left.

To preface, I am not dropping out of college. My mentality would never lie with dropping out a semester before I was on track to graduate. In all honesty, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Instead, I elected to finish the few classes I had online, and focus on the things that truly mattered to me–making long-lasting connections, friendships that are worth well past college years, and a strong focus on my career. All in all, I found myself happier, mentally capable to take on the world, and a stronger sense of self.


So, why am I pouring out my heart to all of you? First off, I want to encourage you to look deep within yourself to see if what you’re doing is worth while. Do you feel yourself getting anywhere in life? Do you find yourself studying something that you know you don’t want to do? I always considered the worst fear in life to spend it doing something incredibly pointless.

I would like to leave you with this: If the thing that you’re doing doesn’t make you happy, don’t feel as if you’re tied down. Life is full of surprises, and even if you don’t like the thought of changing up your existing lifestyle to pursue your dreams, it might be the best decision you made. I will go into much more detail on this in a YouTube video one day, but I just wanted to touch on a few points to clear the air. Until then, xoxo.




Every Hipster’s Dream Closet For The New School Year

Alright, I think it’s definitely clear by my multitude of posts as well as my personality that I’m not known as the “preppy” girl. If by preppy, you mean I sport a black Anne Klein bag wherever I go, then you’re spot on. However, when it comes to my choice of wardrobe, black is always the answer. I constantly find myself turning to Tumblr and Pinterest for inspiration, whereas others guide themselves towards the trendiest preppy brands like Vineyard Vines, Southern Tide, and Chubbies. Don’t get me wrong–I love those brands–but they just don’t suit me like other brands can.

I decided to compile an entire list of clothing stores that you could potentially fall in love with if you have either a hipster, tribal, or edgier style choice. These stores all come with links and reviews of their own, so don’t be shy.

Urban Outfitters

Of course I had to list Urban on here. It wouldn’t be hipster clothing if Urban Outfitters wasn’t involved. One of the best hidden tips and tricks I’ve acquired along the way is to pump up your sewing skills and buy off some of your local Urban’s ripped clothing. I recently got a dress that had been marked down from $128 to $9 because of one slight tear, and they ended up selling it to me for $4.50. All along, I had a sewing kit in my apartment waiting for me, and I was able to patch it up and have it look brand new.

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UO Bezel Print Wrap Belted Jumpsuit – $79

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Grateful Dead ’65 Tye-Die Tee – $29

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Kimchi Blue Tie-Front Cut-Out Romper – $59

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BDG Mom Jean by Rebel Rebel – $69 (Buy One Get One 1/2 Off Deal!)

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Vans Retro Sport Old Skool Sneaker – $60 (Available on the Website as well!)



This company is something that recently caught my eye for its unique garments and edgy taste. If you’re looking for something that will stand out in a crowd or party clothes that resemble that of Topshop, you should definitely consider shopping here. They also constantly have sales that you can take advantage of, so don’t worry about the prices being a little steep.

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Therapy Fiction Boot (In Black) – $63.38
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Saratoga Playsuit (In Mustard Floral) – $47.52
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Nirali Dress (In Black) – $43.56
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ABrand A High Relaxed Short (In Salty Blue) – $63.38


Verge Girl

VergeGirl is one of those websites that originally you don’t think you can trust, but after you receive a few items, you’ll be convinced that the products are legit. You’re instantly floored with the “VergeGirl” staple items, ones that the company pushes in their look book each season. My advice? Shop around for a little while and you’ll really find some hidden treasures.

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Ziggy Star Mesh Top (In Black) – $46.75
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Break Free Dungarees – $59.42
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VG Dancing On The Rooftops Tie Dress (In Black) – $46.75
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VG Give Me Thrills Boob Tube (In White) – $27.73



I’m not sure about you, but this store was originally known in my hometown as the store where all teenagers used to drag their parents in solely for their credit card. However, it’s recently stepped up its game and offered some pretty competitive pricing in comparison to its big department store competitors. You’ll see they do a surplus of graphic tees to cater to those who are living off of their Christmas money, but more than enough product from different brands (i.e. Brandy Melville, Kendall & Kylie) to go around.

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LA Hearts Women Do It Better T-Shirt – $26.95

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Me To We Marley Tank Top – $19.95
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Kendall & Kylie Ringmaster Denim Mom Jeans – $69.95

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Adidas Mini Backpack – $65






My Top Picks From The Nordstrom Fall 2017 Release

Fall is in full swing, and we all know that means a release on fall fashion! Although I normally don’t post about fashion, I thought this would be fitting since I constantly receive feedback on certain outfits that I purchase from Nordstrom. This store has every style and every major brand you can think of, from edgy to preppy to workout clothes to formalwear. I am definitely one to stay on the edgier side, so stay tuned with my top picks from the Nordstrom Fall 2017 list!


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Levi’s© 501 Floral Embroidered Crop Taper Jeans – $128

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Topshop Soul/Sister Faux Leather Biker Jacket – $110

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rag & bone Dylan Shirt – $395

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FRAME ‘Le Original’ Jeans – $275

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Champion Crewneck Sweatshirt – $40


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Polaroid Zip Instant Mobile Printer – $129.99

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Alexander Wang Broken Link Earrings – $325

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Body Rags Clothing Co. InstaFamous Baseball Cap – $29


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MAC Girls Basic Bitch Eyeshadow Palette – $39.50 ($160 Value)


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Nike Classic Tennis Sneaker (White/Palm Tree) – $79.95

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Steve Madden Glitzy Slip-On Sneaker – $89.95


Lifestyle, Photography, Video

Six YouTubers Who Will Give You A Different Outlook on Vlogging

It’s no surprise that YouTube vloggers are essentially taking up the entirety of the internet these days. YouTube, known as the main video sharing platform in the world, holds more than one billion users per month as well as generates more than 300 hours of uploads per minute. However, while it’s amazing to see bloggers advancing to YouTube to create video content, it becomes extremely hard to filter through what you might find appealing and what others might find “viral” or “worthy” of your time. It’s important to find users or bloggers who do not have millions of subscribers, but rather focus on bloggers who hone in on important and viral topics without being so famous already, and join their following as you watch them gain more experience in content creation. Being that I spend hours a day on my laptop, I fortunately have the luxury to peruse through users’ profiles and find what appeals to me. Though I have dozens of favorites, I compiled a list of six people that I really thought would be the “‘best” users out there, without listing those who have millions of followers already.

  1. Peter Mckinnon – Photography/Tutorials

Based out of Canada, McKinnon has more than 900,000 subscribers on YouTube (which, in retrospect, is not that much for a decently good YouTuber these days). He attributes most to all of his videos to building up one’s photography skills, editing skills, and what equipment to consider buying. I would definitely check this guy out if you’re considering purchasing a camera, even if you’re just starting within the realm of photography. In addition, his Instagram account is filled to the brim with amazing pictures, all of which he has taken.

2.  Chris Klemens – Comedy, Daily Vlogging

Klemens has not only followed in the footsteps of major YouTube celebrities such as David Dobrik and Elijah & Christine, but he has also added a sarcastic twist to his content, making it incredibly funny and witty. His website in which he constantly advertises, sells merchandise that sends its profit to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and more, making it all that more enjoyable to partake in. Known primarily for recording a video hating on famous YouTuber Jake Paul, Klemens enjoys poking fun at some of the biggest failures of YouTube’s history.

3.  Justin Escalona – Short Films, Daily Vlogging

Originally from the outskirts of Chicago but a student at the University of Southern California Film School, Escalona built up his reputation as a filmmaker while still studying in college. His channel, which features his “Daily Docs” (daily episodes that feature his friends, surroundings, and everyday struggles as a teenager in the heart of Los Angeles), has attracted more than 250,000 followers on YouTube alone. Most recently, Escalona began directing and producing short films, mainly since he earned his title as a filmmaker and a founder of the clothing brand ‘1340 Collective Co.’. Escalona is very active on his Instagram story and is constantly reaching out to his fans for inspiration on videos, selling equipment, or inviting them to his apartment in Los Angeles or meet ups or the chance to hang out.

4.  Shannon Beveridge – Relationships/LGBTQ Community

Most widely known for her presence on Tumblr, Shannon, also known as ‘NowThisIsLiving’, has been featured as one of the most prominent members of the LGBTQ community on YouTube. From most recently breaking up with her girlfriend, who also happened to be a YouTube star, Shannon has devoted several vlog posts to helping individuals overcome struggles as a member of the LGBTQ community. Shannon also hangs out with Chris Klemens (See #2), especially in videos which were dedicated to making sarcastic comments about Jake Paul and his behavior in the media.

5.  Monica Church – Daily Vlogging/Travel

Most commonly known as one of the ‘Church Twins’, Monica’s channel is dedicated to her life of travel, mostly on the West Coast between her home in Washington and Los Angeles. Being friends with other YouTuber’s like Justin Escalona, you can see Church featured in other people’s videos from time to time. I would suggest watching a few of Church’s videos if you’re looking for some travel inspiration or if you enjoy binge-watching some daily vloggers in their everyday lives.

6.  Lucie Fink – Tips/Tricks/Life-Hacks

I first met Lucie during the HerCampus HerConference 2017 in New York City. After learning about how she’s a producer at Refinery 29, I decided to give her videos a try and watch them….all. Wow. Originally known for making stop-motion videos on her Instagram, Fink had curated the ‘Living With Lucie’ series on the Refinery 29 channel. With this channel, Fink posts mainly “I Tried…” posts which are suggested by fans, in which she’ll try something that fans are curious or skeptical about. Definitely take a look at her posts about healthy eating, no social media for a week, or going on a cleanse!


Music, Photography, Travel, Video

Eight MUST HAVE’s When Traveling to a Music Festival

As a lot of you might know, I’ve spent the summer going to music festivals and doing various shoots with artists. Depending on the festival, you might not be allowed to bring all the things you’d want, since some of the smallest things could be considered ‘banned items’. I wanted to make this post for all of you in case you were planning on going to any future festivals, or anybody who wanted to inquire on which festivals enforce which policies. Enjoy!

  1. Sunscreen – Make sure that you always bring the smallest amount/bottle you can find. When it comes to music festivals (especially ones with huge headliners), they’re a lot like airports. The risk management teams and security at the festivals will inevitably make you throw out your tubes of sunscreen if it isn’t small enough. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bring any! Avoid tan lines and sunburns by carrying around sunscreen. Also, it never hurts to make a friend by offering them some sunscreen on a hot day!3FE67385-7FB6-46BA-AA0B-DBC5C2342B60   (I would recommend using the Avene Ultra-Ligh Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion as it has broad spectrum SPF 50+ and it’s water resistant! You can either get the sunscreen through the link above on Amazon or get it through the Summer FabFitFun box! Use the code ‘UMASS’ to get $10 off your purchase!)
  2. Portable Chargers – Although this might be more important for people who make an attempt at a press pass, portable chargers are extremely useful and can prevent you not being able to reach your friends at a time where you all split up. One of the biggest pluses to having a portable charger is that some of them have a storage compartment on the back of your phone, useful when you’re storing your I.D., passes, or credit cards. The worst thing is having to dig through a huge backpack of excess items while you’re trying to pay for a drink. (I personally use the Morphie IPhone 6 Portable Charger, but I do believe Amazon and Best Buy have other awesome brands to choose from)
  3. Earplugs – This thought came to me when I was front row at a Dillon Francis concert. If you’re like me, you probably might want to get as close to the artist as possible, even if it means you’re going to be face-to-face with the artist’s speakers. It’s all about the experience, right? However, when I started shooting photos for artists that these festivals, seasoned pros would hang me some earplugs to keep your ears from ringing after the performance. Honestly, it’s probably one of the better ideas since the beginning of music festivals. You can still enjoy your concert experience, just take out the traumatic aftermath of not being able to hear anything afterwards.
  4. Tylenol – Obviously, skip this if you are totally fine and live in a region of the world where the combination of loud noises and heat don’t get you worked up. However, coming from Connecticut, we don’t do well when working in heat. Therefore, when you might get a headache, try taking a couple of tylenol. **Disclaimer: I would NOT go drinking at a festival after having Tylenol as it can cause liver damage… Just trying to keep y’all safe**
  5. Hammock – I know this is weird, but trust me. When I went to Firefly Music Festival in Delaware this year, a lot of the campers placed their hammocks in trees that were near the stages they wanted. Sure, you might not be front row, but at least  you get to relax by the stage and still listen to some of your favorite artists.
  6. Business Cards – Yes, I know this seems strange. Normally, I would say ‘screw it’ and just not bring anything business-related to a music festival. However, if you’re a social media influencer, tech savvy person, video producer, or just a guy who is trying to dabble in music production, keep some business cards on you. A lot of artist management hangs out in either VIP or General Admission areas, and it never hurts to give them your information. If you happen to have a Press or Photo pass, this is also a sweet way to end up being invited to more festivals under the affiliation of a cool company. You never know! (I personally use Moo business cards, but Vistaprint is also a good choice!)
  7. Your Planner – With a lot of artists, means a lot of running around. Similar to #6, I’m not a huge fan of walking around with business materials during a time where I’m supposed to focus on having fun. However, if you’re running around trying to capture the performances of 12 artists in one day, you need to be alert to when you need to be there, whether or not you have time to visit certain stations, and when those artists might be doing meet and greets/signings.1631FFC3-00A6-419E-B73A-ED220827E0DA(On the left, Horacio Printing Student Planner 2017-2018. On the right, Kate Spade 2018 Student Planner)
  8. Lastly, of course, you have to bring some of your closest friends – I always look back at my experiences working for festivals with a smile on my face, because a friend of mine (usually who also dabbled in film/photo) also joined me for the ride. It’s always a nice feeling to know that you can see some of your favorite artists with friends and enjoy yourself while working. Also, with such large festivals these days, you start to have trouble finding certain entrances, and a friend can always be the second pair of eyes for you when you’re under some stress.


I hope you all enjoyed my eight things you’ll need to bring when you head to your next music festival! If you have any ideas of what I should write about, e-mail or just follow me on Instagram at @CasElizabethCecilia and comment your idea on one of my latest photos!

Until next time, xoxo.

Music, Travel

Michael Blume Q & A–Emerging Artists Without Genre Borders

Michael Blume is an artist celebrating all good things happening in the music industry right now–free forms of expression, interesting development of artistic concepts, and thinking outside the box when it comes to attracting viewers. I did a quick Q&A with him to see what his thoughts were on being an emerging artist, being invited to a big festival such as Firefly, and the more intimate parts to his music.

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘It’s nice to have a chance to sit down with you, Michael. To start, what gets you the most excited before you perform?’

Michael Blume: ‘I think just being with my band, and kind of thinking about the music and how hard we’ve worked to get the opportunities we’ve had… we think about it as just like one big, long journey.’

CasElizabethCecilia: ‘So after listening to some of your songs, your style is kind of eclectic–to me, it doesn’t necessarily fit into one genre. What would you classify your particular genre or style as?’

Michael Blume: ‘I would agree that it doesn’t fit in one genre neatly. It’s not trendy, it’s a new blend. My quick elevator answer is sometimes ‘progressive R&B’, which I don’t love. It’s like R&B and pop mixed into one. It’s really honest, vulnerable, story-telling. It’s kind of a mix of those elements.’

C: ‘So which artists do you look up to the most?’

M: ‘Wow, there are so many. When I think about the musical artists that really inspire me, it’s definitely people who have created their own universe. You know, people who imagined their own universe with their own rules–Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Beyonce, Michael Jackson, James Brown. To me, there’s really two types of music–good music and bad music. I’m learning a lot about the visual arts and visual world, too. I’ve been thinking a lot about the period of Picasso where the faces are all disjointed and stuff. He took something where you expected to see something but distorted it and made it uncomfortable. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do in my music right now.’

C: ‘Would you say you’d like to add more of an avant-garde element to your music?’

M: ‘Sure, there’s definitely an avant-garde element to it. I think, essentially what my work is trying to do is ask questions that aren’t necessarily being asked. You know, we’re all following so many rules regarding social constructs and behavior and action, and I want to shine a light on all of this.’

C: ‘Are there any groups or people that you look up to or would like to collaborate with in the future?’

M: ‘So many. I mean, all of the ones I just said. When I think of it, I think the headliners like Chance The Rapper–so inspiring. I think Chance would f**k with what I’m doing. I know this is lofty and kind of cliche, but definitely Beyonce. I think she is the artist of my lifetime. She’s just…she curates everything so beautifully–the music, the looks, the dance moves, the choreography, the vision–she creates this universe so that it’s not just what her music sounds like; it’s what it feels like, it’s what it tastes like, it’s what you take away from it.

C: ‘That’s awesome. So, a lot of your songs are pretty personal and revolve around relationships. Is there anybody special in your life right now?’

M: ‘Well, you’re special. Everybody’s special. I don’t believe in traditional ideals of relationships. If you’re question is if I have anybody special in my life, yes. If you’re question is if I’m f**king anybody, no, I’m not. But, I’m looking for that.’

C: ‘I was going to say, are there any specific individuals behind your songs.’

M: ‘Good question. On the EP…yep. Yep, yep. There are. On some of the songs it’s just one person, but then the rest of the song I’ll kind of exaggerate it. Or, someone will inspire multiple songs.’

C: ‘Describe the song, ‘Relationship‘, to me as a story.’

M: ‘That one is about a relationship with myself. You know, I’m confident that I’m going to blow up one day. And it means that I have less time to do stuff, like see friends. I’m less available to make a call. I’m missing a family thing right now; yesterday’s my grandma’s 85th birthday, I’m missing it by being here. Relationships, I recently found out, are one of the hardest things. It’s so hard because my professional life is my personal life. It’s from the moment that I wake up to the moment that I go to bed.’

C: ‘So, I’m going to change the topic a little bit. Can we be expecting some new songs in the near future?’

M: ‘Oh, yes. We’re finishing an album right now. We’ve got a lot of songs…’

C: ‘Fifteen plus hopefully?’

M: ‘Definitely fifteen plus. We’ve got to narrow it down, though. They won’t all make them on the album. The first single is going to come out next month. It’s been a long time coming; I haven’t released music in about a year.’

C: ‘Awesome. Where was your favorite place to perform and why?’

M: ‘Well, we played at Governor’s Ball a couple weeks ago and that was my first festival gig. They were so excited and super into it.’

C: ‘Alright, so we have one more question. Are you a cat or dog person?’

M: ‘Dog.’

C: ‘Oh, thank god.’


Thank you so much to Michael Blume and his management team for coming down to Firefly. Stay tuned for his new single coming out in July and for his future performances!