Woman Crush Wednesday: Neha Chawla

Neha Chawla speaks softly in conversation, yet her creations are viscerally expressive. Despite her slight frame she looks tough, adorned in her trademark gothic face paint and a neck full of chains, swimming in a large black hoodie. Bleach spots draw the eye to her low-top Vans, sleeves and hair, all of which bear her fledgling fashion brand 2000zero’s distorted aesthetic. A lifelong painter with a keen sense of hustle, Chawla began customizing clothes for friends and acquaintances to fund the materials for the brand’s initial wave of releases not long ago. Though she will still take commissions personally (act fast, the price is only going up), she keeps the brand separate from her other endeavors, maintaining its lean, organized chaos, stylistic identity.

We meet on DePaul’s campus where Chawla studies psychology, which makes increasing sense as we talk; her mind is as analytical as it is creative. Along with her business partner Lupe, with whom she splits executive responsibility for 2000zero, Chawla has built the brand from a nostalgia-evoking concept.  Curating a collection of unique, hand-treated garments, that are sold more like art pieces than like typical apparel. In addition to creating 2000zero pieces, Chawla handles social media for the company and sources models for visual campaigns.

She is often appearing in them as well. The first two drops so far have featured a limited selection of one-off t-shirts, each designed using bleach as a primary medium. Through a proprietary and somewhat impulsive creative process, about which Chawla is careful not to say too much, every shirt has a completely irreplicable look. With distinct lines, shapes, shades and splatters they create a variety of striking visual effects.

Mastery of technique allows different styles to emerge with logically-assigned titles like THE GRID; criss-crossed by thick, industrial lines and washed out in the middle, resembling a decaying chain link fence. Somewhere between patterned and fully abstract, all the shirts in 2000zero’s current collection offer free-form explorations of texture grounded in (roughly) symmetry-minded sensibility. From the psychedelic, tie dye-inspired rifts of THE SUNSET to the bold pools and streaks of THE BLEEDER. The longer you look at one, the more detail you inevitably find yourself appreciating, not unlike staring at clouds.

Chawla believes the openness of her art to interpretation directly contributes to its impact, since more people can identify with less specificity. Intrigued by 2000zero’s product line and Chawla’s own artwork, I wanted to learn more straight from the triple threat artist, model and COO herself. This interview has been edited for style and clarity.

“How did you get involved in art and fashion design?”

“I’ve been doing art all my life but I just started this designing shit like five months ago. I’m from Maryland and no one really has their own style there They’re all kind of wearing the same things. Then I moved to Chicago and all of a sudden everyone is dressing different, so I was influenced by all the streetwear here. Growing up in the suburbs it’s hard to see a lot of individuality there. It’s easier in the city to stand out and be unique, especially when you know how to dress yourself.”

“Describe your personal style.”

“I try to have everything color-coordinated but not like I’m trying too hard, does that make sense? It really depends on how I’m feeling, but most of the time it’s pretty gothic; I like heavy chains, I like wearing black. I don’t necessarily want to label myself but I would say my style is mostly dark. Art is an expression of an emotion, so the way I dress and the way I make my art are the same.”

“Is there a different process to produce each design?”

“There is, but I can’t talk about it too much (laughs). My business partner and I both come up with ideas, but sometimes he’ll just throw the bleach and see what happens while I kind of have a little more planning to it. I really value having unique pieces because when something’s handmade and you can get it from the creators, themselves, it’s very personal. Like ‘here’s your pink shirt, you’re not gonna get that ever again,’ you know? We’re really all about being one-on-one.”

“So it’s not only a totally individual piece someone gets to own but also an individual connection to you guys as people, that’s awesome. Going back to the beginning, where did the 2000zero brand identity come from?”

“My business partner and I wanted to re-imagine the shitty style sense of the early 2000s by making clothes that would have been really cool back then. The early 2000s were such a mess bro, oh my God.”

“What does the immediate future of the brand look like?”

“We’re not gonna be bleaching anymore after the third drop. It’s gonna be completely different; A lot more eccentric, a lot of bright colors. You can expect that around December most likely. I eventually want to expand out of Chicago and grow national, still have each style be unique but have them in multiple sizes instead of literally just the one.”

“What else are you working on artistically right now?”

A lot of abstract painting, a lot of ink drawings and tattoo designs for people. I’m also doing some merch for an artist friend of mine. Lately it’s been explosions of emotion, a little bit all-over-the-place. I use different colors based on how I’m feeling and hopefully people will be able to see and feel those differences. I never have a plan for when I’m painting but when I do ink drawings, sometimes those are figures I see in my head. For example I did one drawing of a woman fading away and kind of unravelling into thread. I feel like a lot of my inspirations come from dreams.

“Thanks so much for your time, Neha.”

Neha Chawla | 2000zero

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Woman Crush Wednesday: DJ Squadooble

What is a party without the DJ? Even the live performing artist needs their go to DJ in between setups and songs to keep an audience amused. The radio DJ can make or break an artist. The best of them can traverse genres, no matter who is listening and make their body move. Some can even influence music cultures with their sound and style.

Many times in our publications we recognize the vocal or spotlight artist. Tonight however we highlight the DJ’s role in music through DJ Squadooble. Albeit a young artist she made her way into the nightlife industry with ease. To personal friends and acquaintances she is the life of the party, to her associates in music she is the controller of the party.

Introduced into house parties, she quickly becomes popular with local promoters. Her diverse genre base welcomed her to spin at popular local clubs and lounges such as Debonair, Lokal, Simones, Harbees and even made her way to local neighborhood festivals over a short period of time. With a variety of genres from latin influences to hip hop and dance music, if you are in the vicinity of her sound she will make your body move! Making a return to Simones in Pilsen this third weekend of September she will be a judge for a twerk contest under the Ever Evolved banner spinning alongside DJ Hunt, rocking the crowd and backing up features artists like ESSSE, T.Z. Duhh, I C Y and more.

The mix below is old news but the magic is in the present. Follow her pages below and get in tune with DJ Squadooble and catcher her spinnin live.

Dj Squadooble | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Jai The Artist

When it comes to comes to confidence this artist shines like her stage presence and her mic handling. Coming into the scene quite recently she has already made a big name for herself in a short period of time. Introduced to Ever Evolved she quickly rose to her role with no hesitation. With a seemingly natural ability on the mic, Jai the Artist easily takes the studio and the stage, opening up for established figure heads!

Jai the Artist gets on the mic and grabs your attention. Coming off strong debuting with ZEN, she quickly racked up her playlist and followed up with OJ, BOUNCE and GAWD. With this set she rocks crowds, recently opening up for Wu Tang‘s Method Man and Redman. Jai also had the opportunity to open of for Chicago’s Tink.

While Jai bounces around the the states performing in places like Florida, Indiana, Los Angeles to name a few, she is perfecting more songs. With her attitude and confidence on the mic, stage and the studio, she seems hungry for more and with her short but significant resume it looks like she is going far! You can catch her next performance at Safari Lounge in Chicago’s Rogers Park area on the 25th of August.

JaiTheArtist | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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BeatrixKiddo: Woman Crush Wednesday

Who has been putting in the work other than Emily Ramirez aka BeatrixKiddo, the fierce hard spitting fatale with a style reminiscent of early Eminem or Da Brat! She has dropped three visuals this year already, two of her own records, shot by CVO Films. She dropped STOGIE in mid January and she released BITCHES BE MAD in May. STOGIE is a well paced lyrical turn up track about how she gets down with the cannabis culture, while BITCHES BE MAD is about well, certain people being quite mad.

Both of these projects are a great display of her vocal prowess and edge she has over an instrumental. She is completely unique while leaving the listener in a position to desire more; her music, sound and style demands an increase in content. She also was featured on the Bombay Boyz record AFTER YOU, produced by Rhymster and Frekwenzy, which dropped in the middle of March. Her verse on that record hits hard but was still delivered with a smooth tone giving the track’s mix a lush blend. Its refreshing and inspiring to see more and more women being consistent in the Chicago scene with producing music.

Most recently BeatrixKiddo dropped her single Titled BACK AT IT. She goes bar for bar letting you know what she is capable of while detailing some of the admirable attributes of the Ever Evolved cohorts and affiliates. You can find this new single of hers on Spotify and Apple Music. As we continue to highlight and shine attention upon women in the scene that are simply put, killing it let us remember emcees like BeatrixKiddo. Emcees that are unafraid to portray a sort of feminine heroism that the hip hop industry largely ignores.

BeatrixKiddo | Soundcloud Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Mother Nature

Consisting of T.R.U.T.H. and Klevah Knox, this duo rising out of Chicago are a force on a mission. Mother Nature aims to inspire fearlessness through peace and love and help raise the frequencies of our collective conscious through thought provoking Hip Hop lyricism. Lending a powerful voice for Black Women, not only in music but politically as they raise awareness on social issues. With their attitude and style they got just enough flare to direct their message effectively.

The two pop into Chicago a few years back with their self titled debut album around 2015. Tracks like SAY HER NAME from that album screams out the oppressive nature toward women of color. Even tracks like MOTHER NATURE and TAKE IT FURTHER note the urgency to help society and earth itself from destruction. T.R.U.T.H. and Klavah Knox somehow place these ideas into party anthems, attractively disguising activism.

Fresh off a more recent release, Mother Nature is riding off the energy from their PRESSURE EP. Promoting the project strong pre release with a music video for SIMPLE, they are back again with more visuals. For the cover title track PRESSURE, they personify the weight of everyday hardships in life and how they push right back in their latest music video. Placing awareness onto law of attraction, relativity, cause and effect, ego, energy and more ideas, Mother Nature continues with their revolutionary ideas and lyricism over raw beats with this project. Follow these minds and be inspired!

Mother Nature | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Pauna

Digging deeper into the diversity of Chicago artists we find people from different genres, mediums, ethnicity’s and more. This week we highlight Pauna for Women Crush Wednesday following a music video release. Introduced to Pauna at an Ever Evolved Midnight Marauders Open Mic event, she signed up to present her music among other artists. With a very calm demeanor she steps onto the stage and explodes into hip hop verses, impressing the crowd with her speed and word choice.

Residing in Chicago Pauna frequents local shows to support her fellow music artists in her circle of creatives. Getting the chance to perform here and there she recently had events at Ate Music House and HVAC Pub, giving audiences a taste of her unique hip hop style. Every artist personalizes their music to be representation of themselves, differentiating from others. Pauna blends her hip hop with wordplay through languages.

Being from a Serbian background you can hear her mixing English with some Serbian dialect. Most notably in her music video for her single IDIOTI, her native language plays a big role in the track. In the music video you can see how she places her hip hop lyricism and production in a more gothic setting and fashion more attributed to European culture than hip hop. Her most recent music video release for THE WAY YOU TREATED ME AWOKE ME takes on a more natural setting as the beat is more slowed down. Taking on a more soulful R&B vibe, you can see how she can carry into different styles with ease adding to her potential to experiment with different sounds. Keep extra eyes and ears out for Pauna she just might surprise you!

Pauna | Facebook | Instagram

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