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Vixen Guitarist Brittany Denaro Talks Songwriting, Gear and New Music

Photo by; Tammy Vega

After being discovered performing in an all-female Guns ‘N Roses tribute band, guitarist Brittany Denaro—or Britt Lightning—was invited to join the ranks of hard rockers Vixen.

Denaro’s impressive musical resume also includes performing alongside such artists as Alejandro Sanz, Rachel Platten and Jason Derulo as well as on television shows like Good Morning America and the finale of America’s Got Talent.

Vixen—which also consists of Janet Gardner (vocals/guitar), Share Ross (bass) and Roxy Petrucci (drums)—and whose hits include “Edge of A Broken Heart,” “Cryin’” and “Wrecking Ball,” is the only all-female hard rock band from the 80’s to sell more than a million albums. The band is currently in the studio working on a live project along with their first new music together in years.

Guitar World recently spoke to Denaro about her role in Vixen, gear, songwriting and more.

Above video by Rokken Randy

How did the gig with Vixen come about?

I was playing with an all-female Guns ‘N Roses tribute band at a pre-party for The Monsters of Rock Cruise. Coincidentally, the person who put it on also happened to be Vixen’s manager. He had known that there was some tension in the band and that they were looking for another guitar player.

After the show, he spoke to the girls and told them he thought I’d be a perfect fit. Ironically, around the same time Janet, Share and Roxy had been asking around and my name kept popping up, so they followed up. It was that simple.

What was it like for you getting together with them for the first time?

I was a bit nervous. Growing up, I had been in all-girl bands but there weren’t many of them to really look up to. I remember the first time I got together with them was without Janet. It was just the music and that took a little bit of the pressure off. Because everyone lived all over the country, the first time I actually met Janet was the night before we did a show together!

Read the rest of my
With Brittany Denaro Here

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Actress Nicole Pacent Talks Career, YouTube Channel and Upcoming Projects

Best known for her portrayal of Aster on the hit web-series, “Anyone But Me”, Nicole Pacent is forging her own path in the ever-changing world of Hollywood.

The beautiful, multi-taleneted actress/singer/producer has a rich resume of work in film and television that’s second only to her extensive theatrical background and infectious personality.

Pacent hosts a successful YouTube channel where she discusses topics that affect many people but ones that are often difficult to discuss due to fear or social stigma.

In addition to the channel, Pacent has several other projects in various stages of production, including a short film as well as an adaptation of Donald Margulies’ “Time Stand Still” – a powerful play about changing relationships and social issues that she plans to stage in the Spring of 2018.

I recently spoke with Nicole about her craft, projects and more in this exclusive new interview.

Was having a career in entertainment something you aspired to do?

Absolutely. From the time I could talk I was intent on being onstage. I grew up an hour outside of New York City, so Broadway and the stage was everything. I started out in musical theatre and even though I didn’t get into “non-musical” plays until high school, I knew I eventually wanted to be in film. I got a great education and then went on to NYU Tisch for Drama. It’s always been the goal for as long as I can remember. 

What brought you to Los Angeles?

It was a combination of things. Primarily, it was because I wanted to go into film and I knew there would be more work here. I remember coming out to L.A. for a trial period and being overwhelmed by the fact that the whole city was built around the entertainment industry. There was a momentous amount of opportunity. I fell in love with all of the things I’d heard about and seen in pictures and in movies. It was only a matter of time.

What attracts you most to a project?

It depends on the project. Sometimes it might be the creative team or someone I admire and want to work with. Other times, the project may have a message that feels very close to my heart and one where I’ll have a way to communicate that message in a creative and honest way. Primarily, it’s a good project with great writing and a team that can make it be a good experience.

What are some of the challenges or things you’ve learned as an actress?

Whenever you tell people that you want to be an actor you’re always going to be told what to expect. What’s surprised me though was something that occurred to me as part of maturing. When I was younger, I had this idea of having to package myself and style in a certain way, but that really has been turned on its head. My experience has been to express yourself genuinely and trust that it will be enough. It’s not so much about L.A. or the business as it is about coming into your own as a person.

Was creating a YouTube channel another way to express your creativity?

At first, I tried bringing characters into it and doing interviews. I had started the channel only a few months after my sister passed away, and because of where I was at the time the channel ended up becoming an outlet for me to express what I was thinking about and going through. I started talking about things that were on my mind and people really connected with it. The channel has since become a way for me to process what I’m going through but to also connect with people who may be going through the same thing. The thread that runs through the channel is something that I put into practice during acting school: If I speak the truth then it gives other people permission to feel and speak theirs.

Are there any projects you’re currently working on?

I have two things going on in the immediate future. I recently finished a short film called “Pagg” that’s currently awaiting film festival reaction. It’s the story about a Sikh-American man who goes about his day on the 4th of July with his American wife and child. A bunch of micro aggressions happen against him that culminates with a major aggression that comes his way in a manner that destroys a lot of the identity of his heritage. I feel very strongly about the content of the film and its relevance to what’s happening right now.  It was written and directed by a dear friend and is very poignant and diverse and I’m really excited about it.

The other thing I’m working on right now is a play that will launch in the spring in L.A. called “Time Stand Still”. It was written by Donald Margulies and is a wonderful and timely piece about a wartime photographer and a journalist who are long time partners. 

What excites you the most about this next phase of your career?

Getting out of the boxes that I’ve put myself into is what I’m most excited about. Opportunities I didn’t see coming and being able to spread my wings into other areas of film while wearing multiple hats. Instead of just focusing on one thing, embracing the multifaceted-ness of my own talent and what’s possible. It’s an exciting time. There are things I know that are happening and other things I’m not certain of yet but I’m ready.

Portugal. The Man Guitarist Eric Howk Discusses The Band’s New Album, ‘Woodstock’

Photo by Maclay Heroit

It’s been quite a year for Portland rockers Portugal. The Man.

Having spent the better part of three years working feverishly on a new album, the band abruptly decided to change direction and scrap everything after front man John Gourley paid a visit to his father in Alaska. The encounter led to the discovery of an original Woodstock music festival ticket and the realization that a pattern of events from that era was eerily similar to what’s going in the world today.

Led by the hugely successful “Feel It Still,” the band’s latest album—Woodstock—addresses those concerns and more. It’s also opened the door to cross-over appeal and a monster touring schedule, which will see them in places like Europe, the Dominican Republic and beyond.

I recently spoke with guitarist Eric Howk about the success of the Woodstockalbum, songwriting, gear and more in this new interview.

The band had been working on a new album for quite a while when they decided to scrap everything and start over. Having said that, how has the reaction been to Woodstock?

That happened right around the time I started touring with the band full time. When I came in, it was around the same time all of those other songs the band had written were going out. Ultimately, it was the right call. It’s a record with meaning and gravity and the songs are the best of the bunch. It was a good decision.

What prompted the sudden change in direction?

John Gourley’s father is a gruff, unsentimental Alaskan dude and one night when they were hanging out, John’s dad showed him an original ticket from Woodstock he thought he’d lost for forty years. That coalesced with the current American political climate that none of the previous songs addressed.

In a lot of ways, Woodstock was a reactionary event that came out of fear-based, xenophobic, Richard Nixon/McCarthyism, politically-driven America. It’s eerily similar to where we’re at now. It all panned out, so Woodstock it was.

What’s the band’s writing process?

The majority of the time it starts with a groove, but it’s really all about the feel and finding something in the pocket. Other times, there might be a lyric kicking around and you’ll try to find a way to shove that in. If we knew how the process works that would be great. “Feel it Still” came together in less than an hour while some of the other songs took seven or eight months.

You mentioned “Feel It Still”. Can you tell us how it came about?

We had been working on a completely different song when we took a break and John went in and started messing around with that bass line. It had a real Sixties, spy movie feel to it. Everyone thought it sounded cool so we threw a mic on the bass amp and recorded it. Pretty much an hour later all of the lyrics and everything else that you hear came together.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Eric Howk Here!

‘Peach’: Larkin Poe’s Megan and Rebecca Lovell Discuss New Album, Songwriting

What originally began as an album of all-original material from Larkin Poe (which consists of sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell) quickly took a turn when they began recording and posting traditional blues covers on various social media outlets.

The result was millions of views and an overwhelming demand for an album of traditional American roots music. This prompted Larkin Poe to return to the studio for Peach, a compilation of blues covers and original material that harkens towards their Southern musical heritage.

Tasty covers of songs like “Preachin’ Blues” (Son House) and “Black Betty” demonstrate reverence for the original versions but are fused with the ladies’ own unique style. The songs stand up equally against originals such as “Freedom”, “Wanted Woman” and “Pink & Red.”

The Lovell sisters are no strangers to musical attention having performed as part of the house band for the MusiCares 2017 “Person of The Year” event honoring Tom Petty and opening for the likes of Elvis Costello and Bob Seger. In short, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

I recently spoke with the duo about Peach, their songwriting process and their current setup.

Where did you draw inspiration for Peach?

Megan Lovell: We wanted to pay homage to music of the South and the Delta and make it into a very American roots rock record. It’s a culmination of all the Southern influences we’ve received over our lifetime.

Was there a certain theme you were going for when choosing covers for this album?

Megan Lovell: We’ve been making videos of covers for social media as a way to keep pushing ourselves and people have really responded to it. When the time came to make this record, there was a great demand for them, so we decided to choose our favorites from the videos. That’s what you get on the album.

Rebecca Lovell: We cover Sam House on the record [“Preachin’ Blues]. If you read the lyrics to the song written almost a century ago, they’re fantastic. It’s music that plays to a timeless human emotion. A raw questioning of soul and spirit.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Larkin Poe by Clicking Here!

Fozzy’s Rich “The Duke” Ward Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Judas’

Fozzy has always been a band focused on two things: a heavy groove and a good time. And when you have two high-energy performers like Rich “The Duke of Metal” Ward and Chris Jericho in the band, those grooves and good times come easy.

Ward is known for being one of the most prolific and underrated guitarists in rock and metal today. He’s created his own signature style of heavy riffs, melodic choruses and what’s become known as The Duke groove.

Fozzy’s new album, Judas—set for an October 13 release—is the follow-up to 2014’s Do You Wanna Start a War and reinforces the idea that the band is hitting its stride. Songs like the title track showcase Jericho’s enaging vocal delivery along with the infectiously familiar, in the pocket groove of Ward and drummer, Frank Fontsere.

Tracks like “Weight of My World” and the groovy “Drinkin With Jesus” follow a similar pattern, highlighted by the band’s inspiration and self-reflection.

I recently spoke with Rich Ward about the new Fozzy album, songwriting, gear and more.

How would you describe Judas in terms of its sound and how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?

I think the majority of people who hear it will see this as a big rock record with big guitar riffs and catchy melodies. The one strength about Fozzy is that we’re always able to stay relevant. We have an eclectic set of influences that make this band unique.

What was the writing process like?

We usually start with a blank sheet of paper and then Jericho starts sending us song title ideas followed by sheets of lyrics. I practice every day for a few hours and if I find something that seems interesting, I’ll record and catalog it based on something that would be influentially relevant to the sound I’m coming up with.

So, if Jericho sends me lyrics that have a dark, moody vibe I’ll go into my catalog to see if I can in a nice companion for it. Other times, it will be just us all in a room coming up with ideas collectively. A lot of stuff on this record was a real collaboration with our producer, Johnny Andrews.

We worked with him on a few songs on our last album. One of our goals going in was to have someone who was more involved in the process. Not just in creating sounds but also having a creative seat at the table. Johnny was the MVP of the studio.

Let’s discuss a few songs from the new album, starting with the title-track, “Judas”

That song has a great riff. As soon as I recorded it we all looked at ourselves and said if this comes off as good as it is right now, it will be the single of the record. It has such a classic, head banging groove and for us, that’s where we’re at our strongest. Our drummer, Frank Fontsere and I are at our best when we’re laying down pocket and that song plays right into the sweet spot.

Jericho really connected with the lyric in telling the story. The songs that stand the test of time are the ones where you hear an emotional connection in the delivery of a lyric. “Judas” is that song.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Rich Ward by Clicking Here!

‘Light In The Dark’: Doug Aldrich Talks New Revolution Saints Album

Photo by Johnny Pixel

For Light In The Dark, the sophomore album from monster trio Revolution Saints, we find Deen Castronovo (vocals/drums), Doug Aldrich (guitars) and Jack Blades (bass/vocals) once again teaming up with producer/songwriter Allesandro Del Vecchio for an infectious compilation of inspired songwriting and tasty guitar work, highlighted by Castronovo’s amazing vocal prowess.

Light In The Dark [which is set for an October 13 release] continues to build off the classic, melodic rock style of the band’s debut and their collective musical resumes (which includes Journey, Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, Dio and Whitesnake), but fans should also prepare for a more unique set of performances, as we all as a few surprises.

In this interview, I spoke to Aldrich about Revolution Saints, his gear and The Dead Daisies.

How does Light in The Dark compare to the band’s debut album?

It’s similar in that everything is representative. It’s a little bit heavier in some songs but it’s still got the melodic rock guitar sound and a real riff rock feel. Overall, it’s a little bit edgier.

I like it because we all had a chance to write on this one. I brought in a bunch of guitar parts and arrangements and Deen threw down an mp3 of him playing guitar that I got a few riffs out of as well. Jack also wrote on a few of the songs and Alessandro co-wrote pretty much everything except for one of the ballads.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from the new album, beginning with the title track.

That originally started out as a song that Allesandro had with simple, blocked down guitar parts, a verse and a chorus. I worked with him on an arrangement and started out by taking the guitars in one direction.

Once I got to Italy to record and started playing against the real drums I changed the riff a little bit to toughen it up. It’s right in the same vein of the last record and a good leadoff track.

What about “Freedom”?

I had brainstormed a song that was kind of our version of Phil Collins’ track, “In The Air Tonight.” That was the initial inspiration behind it. Deen had sent me an mp3 of a drop D riff he had recorded and I took a little piece of that and simplified it. In the end, it has a little flavor of “Separate Ways” by Journey with how the three of us played it.

“I Wouldn’t Change A Thing”?

That was a song written by Richard Page, the singer from Mister Mister. When I first heard it I was excited to see what I could do with it. Allesandro had done a rough demo where the guitar solo broke into a melody. I really liked it but when I picked up the guitar and started to play around it, I got a hit for a completely different melody that really set well with the vocal. I’m happy with how it turned out.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Doug Aldrich by Clicking Here!

Glenn Hughes Talks New Black Country Communion Album & Honoring Deep Purple’s Legacy

Photo by: Neil Zlozower

Black Country Communion, the Anglo-American rock group comprised of vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, Trapeze), drummer Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol) and blues-rock guitarist/vocalist Joe Bonamassa will release their highly anticipated (and long overdue) fourth album, BCCIV on September 22.

Like its three predecessors, BCCIV was overseen by producer Kevin Shirley, (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Journey, The Black Crowes) and expands upon the progression that took place between the first three album with an abundance of heavy riffs, hook-laden grooves and of course, the spiritual, soulful sound of Hughes’ powerful vocals.

I recently spoke with Hughes about BCCIV, his upcoming tour honoring the music of Deep Purple, gear and more.

It’s been nearly five years since the last Black Country Communion album. How did this reunion all come about?

This is the way I remember it. I was in New York being inducted with Deep Purple into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 when I got a call from Joe congratulating me. He was full of love for the fact that I was inducted and asked if I’d like to get together for dinner when I got back to L.A., which we did.

During dinner Joe said, “How would you feel about getting the band back together to make a great record?” I said that would be fantastic, but we had to make an epic record that was capable and worthy.

What was the writing process like?

On the first three records, Joe had come to my home a total of maybe eight times. On this one, he came eleven days and I had never seen him so committed to writing. It was a glorious moment for both of us. We literally sat a yard apart in my studio facing each other and these songs just came right out one after the other.

By the time we got to song three, “Wanderlust,” and took off on that chorus, I said “Oh my god! We’re touching on a little bit of Abbey Road here! We’ve got this amazing groove and guitar thing!” I was in heaven and that’s when I knew that everything was going to be ok.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from BCCIV starting with “Collide.”

Joe’s always on time and we always started off early in the day. One morning, I saw him pulling in and I was in the studio writing the riff. I remember he walked in and said, “What’s that?” I looked at him and said, “I don’t know”. He just plugged in and we started rocking.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Glenn Hughes by Clicking Here!

Guitarist Lindsay Ell Discusses Her New Album, ‘The Project,’ Touring with Keith Urban and Brad Paisley

Photo by: Ford Fairchild

Guitarist Lindsay Ell describes her debut album, The Project as what you get when you combine Sheryl Crow, John Mayer and Keith Urban into one musical blender, which isn’t all that hard to imagine.

While Ell’s vocal style is reminiscent of Crow’s, she’s toured extensively with Urban and even used Mayer’s album, Continuum as a starting point for recording the album. The result is a tasty collection of guitar wizardry, inspired songwriting and heartfelt emotion.

Produced by Grammy-winner Kristian Bush (Sugarland), The Project is also the first group of songs Ell’s recorded where she says she feels like herself. I recently spoke with Ell about The Project, songwriting, gear and more in this new interview.

What was it like working with Kristian Bush on The Project?

It was amazing to work with someone who’s already been the artist, songwriter and producer. He understands so many different sides. I called the record The Project because it actually felt like a science project in trying to discover my identity.

Tell me how you used John Mayer as a pre-requisite for this new album.

In one of our first meetings, Kristian asked me what my favorite record of all time was. After I told him Continuum by John Mayer he said, “Ok, perfect. I want you to go into the studio and record that whole album. The only rules are, you only have two weeks and you have to play all of the instruments yourself.” So, for the next 14 days I recorded Continuum.

In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing but had enough faith and trust in Kristian to know that there would always be a purpose behind it. After two weeks, I handed over the CD and told him how much I had learned about the way John played guitar, about how I play guitar and most importantly, how I’d love to hear a band recorded in the studio.

That’s when he said, “Well, now it’s time for us to go in and record your album.” It was a crazy thing but really laid the groundwork for us in finding the sound for The Project.

What’s your songwriting process like?

It depends. Every song is so different but the guitar is a huge part of who I am. I’m inspired a lot by a guitar riff or musical idea first and the rest of the song will usually grow from that.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Lindsay Ell by Clicking Here!

The Darkness’ Dan Hawkins Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Pinewood Smile’

Photo courtesy: Simon Emmett

Fresh off touring with Guns N’ Roses and headlining European summer festivals, The Darkness have returned with their fifth album, Pinewood Smile (set for release on October 6).

Produced by Adrian Bushby (Foo Fighters, Muse) the new album boasts glorious hard rock anthems like “All The Pretty Girls,” the emotional “Why Don’t The Beautiful Cry” and the groove-ridden “Solid Gold,” which finds The Darkness addressing the turbulent nature of the music industry and how they’ve enjoyed its flamboyant highs and spectacular lows.

In addition to the distinctive guitar tones of Dan Hawkins, Pinewood Smile also features the drumming and vocal talents of newest member, Rufus Tiger Taylor, the son of Queen legend, Roger Taylor.

I recently spoke with Hawkins about Pinewood Smile, songwriting, gear and more in this exclusive new interview.

How would you describe Pinewood Smile in terms of its sound and maybe how it relates to some of the band’s previous work?

I think it’s more urgent than some of the other albums and maybe a little bit edgier. It’s hard to sum up. It’s kind of like The Darkness on steroids.

What’s your writing process like? Does it begin with a melody? A hook? What inspires you when you write and create?

It depends and always comes in different ways. The first album was primarily written on acoustic where we’d be sitting around talking about things. Normally, I’d be in my own world making music and riffs and writing backing tracks while trying to pick up on the conversations that are going on in the room. This album was slightly different.

I wrote all of the music with Rufus in a rehearsal room at full volume. There are so many ways of getting around making noise these days with V drums and pods, and every fucker’s got their own studio these days. We wanted to get away from that and get back to it sounding good when you’re standing up playing it loudly. We wrote it in a very uncivilized way.

Let’s discuss a few tracks from Pinewood Smile, beginning with “All The Pretty Girls”

The backing track was written in London and me, Rufus and Frankie had it recorded and demoed. Then Justin came in with this idea based on a line about how all the pretty girls love me for who I am, but only when I’m selling out stadiums. Basically, if you’re just a tight-jeaned, long-haired, ugly mother fucker no one really cares. But the second you’re doing well it increases your beauty in the eyes of a lot of people. It’s a funny observation.

Read the rest of my
Interview with Dan Hawkins by Clicking Here!

‘Mental’: Actress Julie Lake and Shirin Najafi Discuss New Web Series

Julie Lake & Shirin Najafi

There’s always been an infectious, creative chemistry between “Mental” co-creators Julie Lake and Shirin Najafi. Whether it’s their natural way of playing off each other in roles loosely based on their own lives or the fact that they’ve been best friends since high school.

Many already know Lake for her role as the unstable meth-head, Angie Rice on the Netflix hit-series; “Orange is the New Black”, while Najafi has found success as a standup comic and for writing and directing videos that have been featured on websites like Funny or Die.

Najafi and Lake are now releasing more of their “Mental” passion project. A web series of shorts that takes a funny look inside the lives of two friends and their struggles with anxiety and mental instability. The insatiable series; produced, written, directed and starring both of these amazingly talented ladies is a testament to their natural charm and creative prowess.

I recently spoke with Julie Lake and Shrin Najafi about “Mental” and more in this exclusive new interview.

How did the “Mental” web series originate?

Julie Lake: Shirin and I have been pretty much bouncing around this idea our whole lives. We both went to high school together and have been friends forever but have also struggled with anxiety and depression. It’s something we bonded over and laughed about. So we decided to make a series about two friends who struggle with mental illness and the funny interactions they have that’s kind-of loosely based on our own lives and relationship. But we wanted to show it in a comedic way. That’s how “Mental” was born.

Where do ideas for episodes come from? Where do you draw your inspiration?

Shirin Najafi: The writing process usually begins from a dramatic point of view. Like our first episode, “Palm Springs”.  Julie and I both went there for a weekend but had difficulties falling asleep in the same hotel room. It wasn’t anything too crazy; just a two-minute exchange, like “Can we turn on the AC?” and “Am I going to hear the rain machine through my ear plugs?” We were going on what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation but ended up having this neurotic conversation. The next day, we both laughed about it. The irony of that situation made for a clear episode idea. Then what we’ll do is write and start talking out the dialogue, reliving the experience from the perspective of our made-up characters.

What can you tell me about the most recent episode, “Dr. Bleiffer is on Maternity Leave”?

Lake: There was a time where I had been on Klonopin as needed for anxiety. Klonopin is a symptom reliever and doesn’t really treat anxiety. But when I went to the doctor he wouldn’t give it to me because he said I wasn’t on an anti-depressant. Then when I went to Shirin’s house, I discovered she had been prescribed all of these pills. She told me that once you’re on an SSRI they’ll prescribe you anything. That led into this fantasy of what it would be like if Shirin went to the doctor [laughs].

Najafi: From a legal perspective, a psychiatrist has to be careful about issuing drugs. So if you come in and just have occasional anxiety they have to get you on a daily anti-depressant. But once you’re on one it’s no questions asked and you can get something else. The whole dichotomy is just ridiculous.

How about the episode, “Zoloft Brain”?

Lake: That’s another one that’s kind-of true to life. Shirin was on Zoloft and it was making her tired and forgetful. She really wanted to go off it but I was very alarmed, because I didn’t want to go back to the “Shirin before Zoloft” [laughs].

Najafi: A few years before I went on it I had been having this extreme, building anxiety that was getting worse and worse (which you see in the flashback scenes). There was even a time when Julie had to play a part-time therapist / caretaker. In the episode, my character forgets the code to her own building and in real life, I had once actually forgotten the code to the garage for my job. I drew a complete blank for something I use every day [laughs].. That’s when I texted Julie and told her I needed to get off Zoloft.

You both juggle so many hats with this series (writing, producing, directing, acting). What’s been the most challenging part?

Lake: There are so many pieces to the puzzle. It took a long time to do the editing, and then as we watched later we realized that we had to go through another round of edits. We had a super low budget and also had to produce, write, act and direct. We also had to move quickly, so it was a little stressful at times.

Najafi: The producing aspect was especially tough because of all the logistics. Especially when you’re trying to be creative and also having deal with lugging equipment, keeping track of when the sun goes down and wondering if everyone will be able to make it to the location on time. We had never done anything like it before.

What’s next for “Mental”?

Lake: We have two more episodes coming out. One is more like a short film and stars Emily Althaus, who plays Kukudio in “Orange Is The New Black”. She plays a crazy friend who comes into town from Orlando and is now a dominatrix. We also have another episode where Shrin and Julie are trying to pick a movie. Shirin wants to watch “Flight” with Denzel Washington and that triggers all of Julie’s anxieties about flying.

Did you both know that a career in entertainment would be your calling. Was it something you always aspired to do?

Lake: I always wanted to be an actress from the age of five. I initially started writing and creating as a vehicle for acting. Now, I really enjoy that part of it as well as directing.

Najafi: For me, I was doing a lot of writing and creating but ended up pursuing a few other things out of college. But then I realized that writing, directing and performing was in my blood, and something I’ve always wanted to do.

From a creative standpoint, what satisfies you the most about this series?

Lake: Just the fact that we did it. It’s hard to do something like this. It takes so much money, time and effort. I see a lot of people talking about what they’re working on and doing but they never seem to get it done. But we accomplished this huge undertaking with almost no experience.

Najafi: We’ve been talking about and actively writing scripts for a show like this since 2010. To finally make it all these years later was definitely an accomplishment. For me as a writer, being able to act was also an accomplishment. Acting is something I don’t do a lot of outside of “Mental”, but it’s a lot more fun!

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