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Jessica Risker, licensed counselor, singer-songwriter, and host of Music Therapy

Jessica Risker is an experimental singer-songwriter and a licensed clinical counselor. After the COVID-19 pandemic sent Chicago into lockdown in March 2020, Risker merged those pursuits for a podcast called Music Therapy, where she speaks to artists, industry professionals, and fellow therapists about their work, creativity, and mental health. She initially imagined the podcast as […]

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Sam Thousand, Chicago soul Renaissance man

Multi-instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist Sam Thousand moved to Chicago from Texas in 2009, and within a year he’d joined hip-hop fusion outfit Sidewalk Chalk. He’s since become deeply embedded in several overlapping arts communities, gaining increased visibility under his previous stage name, Sam Trump—I first saw him perform solo in 2018, during a cross-genre Steppenwolf […]

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Paul Natkin, concert photographer

Chicago native Paul Natkin is a prolific concert and portrait photographer who’s shot more than 4,300 musicians and celebrities since he started his career in 1975. He’s also worked as road manager for the likes of Brian Wilson and Alice Peacock and tour photographer for the Rolling Stones. His images have appeared in so many […]

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Angel Day, aka producer and vocalist Yesterdayneverhappened and Daybreak party promoter

Angel Day, 23, is a visual artist, pop musician, and show promoter. They make eclectic underground tracks that draw from experimental dance and hip-hop, using the name Yesterdayneverhappened; they also organize a party called Daybreak, which showcases Black and Black trans artists. In January the Empty Bottle hosted the most recent Daybreak, titled “Frostbite,” whose […]

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Karen Valencia, aka Karennoid of reggaeton DJ collective Agua de Rosas

DJ collective Agua de Rosas spread the gospel of reggaeton, and though they’re based in Milwaukee, they have an evangelist in Chicago too: Karen Valencia, better known as Karennoid. In November, the trio (Valencia, Julio Cordova, and Gabriela “Chanchita” Riveros) played their first Chicago gig at emerging underground dance haunt Podlasie Club. They opened for […]

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Aline Kaze, aka DJ Bonita Appleblunt

Aline Kaze is a freelance audio engineer and DJ affiliated with multidisciplinary arts platform AMFM. Kaze, who performs as DJ Bonita Appleblunt, has spun records around the city with the likes of EvieTheCool, DJ Skoli, Ron Trent, Duane Powell, and Ryan, the Person. Earlier this year Ace Hotel Chicago booked Kaze for a monthly residency; […]