conversations i’ve had with awesome people

Yoli Lara

Yoli Lara (@theyolimarlara) is a 24 year old model, actress, and muse. Recently, she participated in Miss Universe Puerto Rico where she made it to the top ten finalists. She grew up in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico and at age 17 made her transition to Los Angeles where she is now based.


What is one of the most beautiful things that you’ve witnessed or experienced?

It would be the time that I was in Rio. Coming from an island, being an Aquarius, everything that has to do with nature and water really calls to me. Every single time that I'm near a beach, being in the presence of the ocean is the most magical thing. The beach and sand is a good connection for me.


What does beauty mean for you? What is beauty?

Beauty is defined in your own special way. Seeing myself as a muse, one day I may feel tomboyish so I would wear my sneakers and shoes. Other days I may want to be girly, so I’ll put on makeup. I think beauty could be defined as being yourself, however you’re feeling that day. Any day could be a parade, any day could be an amazing day.


How do you keep focused?

I feel like routines work really well for me. My morning routine is meditating, eating breakfast, usually fruit or oatmeal followed by hitting the gym. I feel that grounds me and puts me in a conquering mode for the day. If my body feels amazing, then I can feel amazing.


What type of meditations do you practice?

I've always been super positive and I've always wanted to surround myself with people who are positive. I practice mindfulness meditation with words of affirmation. Speaking into existence, unto the universe of what I want and what my goals are has really helped me. It inspires and makes me feel like I'm getting closer each day.

When and why did you start your practice?

A year-and-a-half ago I had a break down where everything was going wrong including my family, work, and personal life. I came to the conclusion that if my body or mind isn’t right, I could not progress. If something or someone is not positive, I don't want it in my life. I’ve learned that you just have to keep at it, and everything else will be fine.


What do you think your purpose here on Earth is?

To make people happy. I think my happiness will always be second place and I'm okay with that. Nothing gives me greater joy than putting a smile on someone else's face. That could be through my work, through my acting, through every day interactions with people. It brings me happiness to bring other people happiness and that's why I love my craft so much, because I'm able to do that through my art.

Where did that desire come from?

I had a really hard childhood, so for me it was fun to grow from that. I vowed that I was always going to be happy no matter what. People die, you could be here today here and gone tomorrow so why not live your best life.


Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @theyolimarlara

Twitter: @itsyolimar

casen ruizYoli Lara
Apphia Rayne

Apphia “Phi” Rayne (@phiphibb) is a 25 year old marketing + social media consultant, business owner, DJ, and model + influencer. Her passions include her dog Jaxon, traveling, and carbs. She grew up in Orange County, and is now based in Los Angeles. 


How does technology work for you?

Technology complicates yet also solves a lot of my issues, I feel it’s necessary for the work that I do. But I also wish I didn’t need it as much as I do.

Has the thought of taking a sabbatical from social media crossed your mind?

Oh, 100%! I never have but I've always wanted to. Social media can be really overwhelming for a lot of people especially for someone like me who has anxiety and weird things, it’s not always fun.


What is one of the most beautiful things that you’ve witnessed or experienced? 

The first time my dog actually cuddled me. Being from the shelter, he took a very long time (9 months) to actually bond with me. The minute he was actually welcoming and loving towards me was really a beautiful thing for me to experience. I’ll always cherish it forever and never forget that.


How important is it to adopt vs purchase your pet?

It’s extremely important to me. There's a lot of cats and dogs that need homes that are constantly being killed in the thousands per month in certain counties. If I'm not mistaken, Los Angeles County has 9000 cats and dogs that are euthanized every month because of overpopulation. I feel like if you want to get an animal, I highly recommend getting one from those places. And if you really want to get a pet from a breeder, please try to donate to the other animals that aren't so lucky. 


How do you keep focused? 

I exercise a lot! I try to hike with my dog as often as I can because that brings me a sense of happiness to see him so excited about something that we take for granted. I also like relaxing in the bath and going to bed early now, I feel that keeps me focused and happy.


Do you have a morning routine?

My morning routine for the last two months now has been: 1. Waking up at 7:00am (during the week) 2. Having a protein shake 3. Walking my dog 4. Attending my circuit training class. After that I’ll typically go to work, if I don't have work that day I'll just hang out at my house and finish off the things I can do at home.

Is there a certain protein shake that you like? 

I have been using Detox Organics which is a detoxing product. But I’ll add two scoops of chocolate protein powder from MorelliFit and sometimes I’ll add peanut butter + almond milk. As a vegetarian with horrible eating habits, it helps me get protein in my diet. 


Is fate real? And if so, how have you experienced fate in your life? 

I feel like we're all destined to do things. I got into social media accidentally… Instagram was fairly new when I was around 19 years old (I'm 25 now) and I started to see that it clicked for me - I just didn't know that it could be a job later on in my life. But I think I was destined to do it, it's kind of like fate that I figured it out on my own. I didn't finish college, but I now have a fun desk job that I actually love! It's in marketing and has been great!


What do you think your purpose here on Earth is?

It’s so cliche, but I just try to be a good person, be nice to those around me, and speak for things that mean a lot to me. I'm working on a hair product line which is exciting! I love being creative and teaching people things that I have always known or things that have always circled in my life.


Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @phiphibb
Twitter: @phiphibb
b.phinom: @b.phinom

casen ruiz

Abraham “Abe" Laguna (Ookay) is a 26 year old musician, singer, and songwriter. He was born and raised in Chula Vista, California following a move to Los Angeles four years ago and has been following his passions since. Abe began producing electronic dance tracks in his early twenties while attending community college. He has performed all across the globe at events like EDC, Electric Zoo, Red Rocks, and TomorrowLand. He currently is focusing on his live performance sets, following an immediate tour. 


Do you believe psychedelics could be used for benefit? And if you’ve tried them before, what has your experience been with them?

Yes I do, I made my hit song on psychedelics. But with any kind of medicine, it should be controlled. I wrote Thief after doing acid at Coachella. It was my first time doing acid at a festival, my first time doing acid period. The one thing I took from it was, to make a number one song the first moment should be the most impactful, which is something I did with Thief.


Do you think by taking acid it changed your perspective on life?

Yes it has, with life and art. I’ve learned to think outside the box, to think about outside perspectives, to think about my vision from a different point of view. And every time I've done it, I've been in a healthy mental state. I think being with the right people, in the right environment, all plays into account for a great experience.


What do you think your purpose here on Earth is? And how does that affect your life?

My purpose here is to be a role model for people that don't have one. I want to be someone that people can look up to, and to impact them by the way I live, the music that I make, and my lifestyle choices. I always want to be that example for other people who don't have it.


Who is that example for you?

My father, he played huge part in teaching respect, love, forgiveness and patience. I also have role models like Prince and Michael Jackson that I look up to musically… Obama taught me how to be a family man in the public eye. Those are my heroes, that's why I'm trying to be that person for someone else.


How do you do your best work? 

I usually work better alone, and once my apartment is fully clean haha I try to organize everything and keep things neat and tidy because it just helps me not have to worry about those chores so I can fully focus on what I have to do. 


Where did that desire for cleanliness come from?

My mother taught me how to clean, organize and to pick up after yourself. I was at a point where I was coming home from tour, dropping shit on the floor and I started to realize the emotional impact it had on me… it really just made life harder. Once I eliminated the sloppiness, it made everything easier… clearing mental space so I can just make music. 


What is one of the most beautiful things that you’ve witnessed or experienced? 

A huge gothic church in Cologne, Germany. That was one of the most breathtaking things I've ever seen. The Colosseum was beautiful too, basically Rome in general, it was one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been.


What does Beauty mean for you? What is beauty? 

Beauty is history to me, I personally attach to history. I find beauty in the arts, anything that’s man made and beyond it’s years. Things that have sentimental value beyond the people who created it. It's what I want for my music, for it to overpass my lifetime. 


What are you most excited about in your career right now? 

Finishing this album, and the live show Part II. There's so much depth into creating a live show, starting with the album… creating a stage that fits the aesthetic of the music that's being played, performing it, and tying them all together to make a show. Doing all of this at once is exciting yet stressful, but it's good because I feel like I’m doing something productive.




Do you have any requests from the audience?

Enjoy it! Just dance! I don’t expect applause, I don’t expect cameras out. I just want people to enjoy it. If you don't know who I am and you're at a festival near me, stick around, you might like what you hear.  


Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @ookayx

Twitter: @ookay

Spotify + Apple Music

casen ruizookay
Taylor Allard


Taylor Allard

What’s your profession / line of work / passion?

Directing and writing

Why did you write your book?

I went through shitty relationships, and was like fuck it I might as well do something with all of this writing that I have. And I started posting it on Twitter, and people seemed very interested in it. My book isn’t just poetry, it’s an art book as well. It has a bunch of scans of my journal in it.

Is this book for a certain person in particular?

Honestly I did it for myself, I was creating and I wanted to do something with this.

How's the response been so far?

The people that have actually purchased it and read it, love it. I've gotten really good feedback from people, it’s very personal and people really like that I shared so much of myself I guess.

What have they been telling you that it's doing for them?

I feel like a lot of people relate to it. I was having this discussion actually about art and making art relatable or making it for yourself. And I definitely make all of my art for myself. Me and my friend were talking and thinking about when you make art for yourself, it’s actually more relatable because it's so personal.

Did you have any difficulties if any when you were going through the writing process of the book?

I struggle with being comfortable enough to share so much of myself for sure. But other than that, I argued with Amazon a lot.


Do you remember the moment, where you said I have to do this and it needs to be in a tangible form?

I do, when I was living with my ex he sarcastically said to me something about writing a book and then I was like ya I should write a book, you’re right. And then I contacted my friend Max who is a graphic designer. I told him I was writing a book, and he was like what?! And I was like ya!

So your ex’s sarcasm actually turned into an idea?

Ya, my ex being a fucking douchebag.

Did you have a support system throughout this process?

I had a girl from Twitter who edited it. Bree did all the grammar and stuff and then my friend Max is the person who put it in Indesign and then my friend Benji made the cover. My friends are very supportive, they’re pretty much the only reason why this worked out because they've been helping me.

You’re lucky to have a good core group of friends that you can count on for something like this.

Ya my friends are amazing.

Now that you’re 20, reflecting on your teen years, are there any lessons that you've learned that you'll apply moving forward to the rest of your life?

Honestly I don’t feel that much different. I feel a little different because I'm not a teenager anymore but other than that I don’t feel different.


What difficulties do you face today that some people are unaware of? Or things that people may have preconceived notions about you?

I feel that with my book it’s pretty evident, I came out with a lot of stuff if you read into it a little bit deeper. You know, there's there's some heavy meaning behind the things that I say. If you think about how I write, you can definitely see it. I'm your average 20 year old with fucking clinical depression and anxiety.

You've said that when you shaved your head it helped you with your anxiety a lot. But now that you're growing your hair again, what are you doing now to help battle your anxieties?

I just went to therapy honestly, and I take medication. I spend a lot of time reading and stuff too, it helps me chill out. I really enjoy reading.

What are your favorite authors or books?

I really like Charles Bukowski, he’s one of my favorites. But my favorite book is American Psycho just because how ambiguous it is. That’s my favorite form of writing, when people write super ambiguous. I’m reading the Bluest Eye and Trainspotting right now.

Did your experience at NYFW give or provide anything for you?

I got to do this short film in Paris after that which was really tight. And I also shot with Mario Testino after that. But I don’t know if NYFW really did much for me to be completely honest. I didn't do it this year, it's so stressful honestly. There was this casting that I went to, it was so shitty. They put me in a swimsuit and then made me feel bad about my body, it was shitty.


Do you believe that everyone should receive credit for the work they do regardless of their social currency or clout? Or do some people deserve credit for the work they do and others don’t?

Ya of course everyone deserves credit for what they do. Honestly I'm really bad about it on Twitter because some people don’t have their “add to photos” on. But on Instagram I tag people on everything, it doesn’t matter. It’s so weird that people care about that, about tagging someone in a photo.

Why do you think that is?

I don’t know, I think people are really greedy with followers a lot of the time i’ve noticed. Like, they won’t tag people in things.

What warrants that decision? Say you worked with a person, then the decision is made not to give them credit?

If someone was shitty to me, I wouldn’t even post the thing that they did no matter how good it was you know what I mean?

A caption on Instagram from December 15, 2017 reads - "yes hello. i actually identify as half skirt half pant now so if you could put some Respecc in my pronouns I appreciate it. I know I recently came out but just think of this as Coming Out 2: You Thought It Was Over.” For everyone out there can you clarify this? What is your preferred pronoun?

They/Them. That’s my identity obviously but also, I don't want it to only be the only thing that defines me if that makes sense? I don’t ever put it on social media or anything because it’s just social media. I’ve been non-binary for a long time before I even knew what it was.


What has time taught you?

I feel like a lot of people that I'm "friends with”, I'm not actually friends with. That's what I learned from growing up or whatever. I just realized that I have two or three friends and that’s it. I don’t need to trust everyone, I need to learn that I don't have to be so close with every single person that I meet, I need to be more selective with who I spend my time with.

Do you think that someone can learn how to be empathetic?

I think that you either have empathy or you don’t, and if you don’t you’re a fucking sociopath.

What is a luxury for you?

Coffee and reading, those are my favorite things to do.

What do you believe there needs to be more of?

As corny as it sounds, just love. I need love, everyone needs love.

Do you have any goals or things you want to accomplish this year?

I’m writing a second book. I might just make it poetry, i’m not positive yet. I may include stories in it of things that have happened to me, because I have a very strange life. I want to get a job that I enjoy, and I want fall in love this year, like genuine love.


In your opinion what is a problem that needs to be solved?


Are there any must-see movies that you recommend?

You have to see The Shape of Water if you haven’t seen it, oh my God. It was so good! It’s really one of the greatest movies i’ve ever seen. I was fucking balling my eyes out!

Ratatouille or Spirited Away?

Oh shit, that’s fucking hard! Those are my two favorite movies! I can’t decide, ah Ratatouille!

Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @tay.all
Twitter: @tayallard
Book: Buy Here

casen ruizTaylor Allard
Death By Romy


My name is Romy, Romy Flores to be exact.

What’s your profession / line of work / passion?

I’m a singer and a rapper and the only way I'm making money right now is through my modeling, but hopefully it's going to be my music real soon.

Where are you originally from?

Mid-City LA actually, I'm born and raised right off Washington and Crenshaw.

Are you still there?

Ya my whole life, all 18 years.

What's your heritage? 

I'm half Mexican and half European.


When did your interest and love of MMA begin?

I wish I could tell you why i’m dark as fuck, but I was born this way and I've always had a really dark sense of humor. I’ve been into horror films since I was a small child and I don't know why. I've always been interested in murders and murderers and I can't tell you why to be honest. I think they're fascinating. To me weapons are super cool but I have no desire to hurt anybody, I think they're tight. Boxing is the most fun workout. I only just got into that but it's dope as fuck, nothing has ever made me want to work out more than boxing.

Is it more of an outlet for you?

It is an outlet and it’s a whole body workout too which you wouldn’t expect. You have to duck and shit so you feel it in your ass, legs, arms, stomach, and everything. 


When it comes to your work, what primes you to be in a flow state? What elements do you need to do your best work?

With my music I used to only write alone in my room or come up with ideas whenever I was alone. But now I'm inspired by everything that surrounds me honestly, I feel like I can write a song anywhere I go and I'll get inspiration. Say that green tape over there, I’ll start thinking of green glass windows and shit and I just come up with anything anywhere I go. I've gotten really comfortable in my body and I feel like I can create everywhere I go.

Do you think that constitutes you to be able to make good decisions? When you find that moment, you're able to zone in and execute?

If I come up with an idea, say right now when I’m sitting with you I’ll be like hold up, I have a song idea and I’ll put it in my phone and save it for later and then I can go back and write a song about it or go back and have that as an idea for a freestyle.


Do you have principles that you guide your life by? 

I always trust my gut, my mom always taught me to follow my heart. I trust myself more than anyone always. If someone tells me that they don't think something would be good for me that I disagree with, I'll usually try to argue that and just go for it myself. I kind of had an issue with authority but it's not as big of an issue now. I also believe in prayer. I don't believe in any sort of religion or anything. I was actually converted to Buddhism when I was 9 years old on my own, I was the only one in my family and that shit still gets me, I follow those beliefs. I don't practice regularly but, I like to live the Buddhist lifestyle.

Do you meditate?

I do, I practice transcendental meditation and I chant as well. Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, it's a Buddhist chant and it’s to bring you whatever you want in life, to bring in the energy you desire. I believe in witchcraft as well. 


It seems that you have a strong mental property, you’re really positive and you really truly believe in yourself.

I got sent away to a farm in Hawaii when I was extremely suicidal which is the complete opposite of how I am now. Someone told me that you have to believe in yourself because you can't sell a product that you don't believe in. So everyday I started to believe in myself, I told myself that “I got this” and I believe in the power of manifestation as well. There’s no point in being negative. The more negative you are, the more bad shit happens to you, that’s what I saw in my life. When I was sad and getting bullied and being down about it instead of choosing to overcome it, I had all this bad stuff happening to me. I had no money and the second I started being more positive I started getting every job I would apply for and I started getting more and more modeling jobs. My whole life has turned around.

And that change occurred at the farm?

Yeah, at the farm in Hawaii.

How old were you were when you went to the farm?

I was 16, about 2 years ago.

And you got sent there?

Ya I got sent there, I ran away from home for 2 weeks so I stole the car and they were freaking out. They didn't know what to do, they thought that I escaped with with my ex to go to a suicide pact and yeah I just needed a lot of help. I was not in the right mind space, I was emotionally unstable as fuck and that's the best way to put it. I learned how to deal with everything on my own, you don't need anyone but your mind. It's mind over matter and that’s the truest fucking shit I can tell anybody.


Is there anyone's music that you couldn't live without?

The Beatles, Björk, and my music. That shit sounds cocky as fuck but that shit inspires me more than anything now.

What would you consider a luxury for yourself?

A luxury for myself is my home and my parents still supporting me how they can. I just turned 18, but from a very early age, I’ve been working since I was 10. My parents taught me that I had to work for what I wanted. They would supply all my essentials, but when I started wanting to dress extra I had to go buy my own clothes and make my own money, baby-sitting and shit ever since I was little. The fact that my parents are still there for me is probably my biggest luxury and a roof over my head that I don’t have to pay for. 

And that provided structure for you?

Yeah, just a place to be. I have my own space, a room in the back now and a creative space to do what I want. They taught me to never give up, that nothing is handed to you and you got to fucking work your ass off for what you want and that you can make it happen.


Is there anything that you value most?

My parents and how hard they work. My family started in a one-bedroom apartment and now we live in a two story house with a pool and that’s all because of how hard they worked to make a better life for their kids than what they had.

What it was a problem that you think exists and if you have any solutions to the problem, what would that be?

People’s mindset, what they're taught in school, and what they’re taught by their parents. I love telling some of my younger fans that their parents don't know shit. I’ve had fans come up to me telling me that parents think they're lying about them being suicidal. Your parents don't know shit and don't know how you feel. I want to change how everyone thinks about how you have to think. You don't have to overthink anything, you don't have to let anything affect you. You can be perfectly lucid and be happy within yourself without anything in the world swaying you in any way. I learned that in Hawaii actually, you don't have to take anything personally. It is literally mind over matter, what you choose to ingest out of what you hear is all in your control and has nothing to do with anyone else. That's what I want to change, I want everyone to realize that, and I want everyone that I can touch with my music to know that's what I want them to do.

Where can people find you online?

Instagram: @deathbyromyy
Twitter: @deathbyromy

casen ruiz
Honor Hamilton


Honor Hamilton

What is your profession / line of work / passion: 

Wardrobe Stylist & Vintage Curator

Where are you from?

Los Angeles, CA


Where are you at right now?

North Hollywood, CA

What’s your heritage?

Half Korean, Half White


Whose music couldn’t you live without?

Creedence Clearwater Revival

What is a luxury for you?

Being without my cell phone


How important is social interaction to you? Both IRL and URL.

Real life interaction is more important than URL. It’s easy to put a priority on URL, but nothing is better for the soul than some good old fashion conversation with your IRL friends and you can never reap the benefits of those interactions from the internet.

What do you value most?

My free time and family


What do you believe there needs to be more of?

Compassion for human beings. The holidays have really brought out some selfish and grouchy people, if everyone were positive and understanding for one day on the planet, everyone’s perspective would change.

Do you have any goals or resolutions for this upcoming year?

My number one goal for 2018 is to take better care of myself in all aspects. The older I get, I can feel my body and mind aren’t as sharp or healthy as I was before, so overall wellness is my goal for next year.


Where can people find you online? 

Instagram: @hondawgg
Vintage: @shirtparty Web:

casen ruizHonor Hamilton


Damian Borja

What is your profession / line of work / passion:

I'm a photographer/singer on the rise to fame. jk haha wait am i jk?

Where are you from?

I'm from this little town called Auburn up in Northern California


Where are you at right now?

I'm based in LA and sometimes head to NY when work is there.

What’s your heritage?

I'm Native American, Latin, and Chamorro from Guam.


Whose music couldn’t you live without?

Rihanna and my own because I'm rising to fame.

What is a luxury for you?

All of my faux furs and luxurious rosé bottles. 


How important is social interaction to you? Both IRL and URL.

I'd rather check in to a chic hotel with a friend and put on a robe and never leave. But, in this business it's crucial to meet others that you can trust and can give reciprocity to. So a mixture of both is always healthy.

What do you value most?

I value myself. I think as an artist you have to appreciate yourself and all you put into what you do, otherwise you'll create a pattern of doubting everything you do.


Do you have any goals or resolutions for this upcoming year?

To start creating new music and hopefully come out with a new ep :P


In your opinion, what is a problem that needs to be solved? And do you have any solutions for that problem?

Mental health needs to be talked about more. I try to use my outlets to spread awareness of mental disorders. I battle with some and I think it's so great to talk about that with people who may love my work. I want to help out my community and give advice on what I do with my battle. The essential goal is to make people feel accepted and to know that mental disorders can be used in a positive way towards creativity.

Where can people find you online? 

IG @kombucci

and my website is

casen ruizDamian Borja, kombucci