Beat From the Street (October 28, 2015)

Vaden Landers and Jessica Lloyd pose during a busking session in
downtown Asheville. 

Jessica Lloyd, hairstylist and busker from Ft. Lauderdale

Vaden Landers, musician from Knoxville

What do you like to do on the streets of Asheville?

Jessica: "Make music and make people happy."

How would you describe your look? Was it inspired by a certain person or movement?

Jessica: "Well, I was inspired by these lovely pants from H&M on sale for $20. I wear them all the time because you can make such cool outfits with them so I always base my outfits around the pants here lately. But this shirt, actually my boss has a line of clothing, and this is one of her shirts. I wanted to wear it out today because I knew we were going to be here and I wanted to wear her clothes."

What is the story behind your tattoos, like the scissors?

Jessica: "Yes, the scissors are for doing hair. These, I used to these as my makeup and I got tired of doing my makeup everyday so I just got 'em tattooed. This one, I want it to be kind of like an elf cloud. It's going to be more to come, kind of smaller up here coming down as a triangle. It's forming. It's in the works. I just need money. I want it to be like kind of a decorative headpiece."

What would you say inspires you in terms of art or music or any type of creativity?

Jessica: "Definitely my emotions. I would either have to be really, really, really happy to create something or super, super depressed. There's no in-between, it's always like an outpouring of emotion in one direction or the other. I mean, it's different for music inspiration rather than for hair inspiration. For hair inspiration, I go off with colors because I like bright, bold colors, disconnected haircuts. But for most people, they want something subtle and haircuts that blend and things like that, but I want the wow factor, something that will catch people's eye, and that's how you get your name out. If you do some bold piece, they're like, 'Dang, I've never seen anything like hat. Who did that? I have to go because if she can do something that awesome, she can probably do that with someone else.' But music-wise, it's sad to say, but I don't really get too much inspired by music anymore because I don't play as much and I've just started playing in a band with him. I'm just playing their songs, what I know, and just kind of rolling with it. Every once in a while, I'll get inspired and be like, 'Ooh, we should do this,' and then get caught up in life and forget."

What type of music do you guys play?

Jessica: "I would say just jug band--"

Vaden: "Early nineteenth century ragtime, juggling music, Delta Blues, folk and jazz."

Jessica: "See, he knows what."

If you were to say one thing that you love and one thing that you hate about Asheville, what would you say?

Jessica: "I love the openness to be creative and free and speak your mind and I hate--"

Vaden: "--how expensive it is to live here." 

Jessica: "How it's very hard to find housing, dealing with that right now. Recently our rent went up and we weren't able to find a house so it's been about a week now where we haven't had somewhere to live. We're just struggling because we have money and it's just about finding a place that allows a couple and animals. Also, I don't like the horse carriages. We can't escape the tourism. We thrive upon that but some way we can help it to where animals don't have to work in unfit conditions."

How did you end up in Asheville?

Vaden: "Oh my god. Okay, I spent a long time being homeless when I was an early teenager and then I got tired of that so I went to school online and then started train-hopping and then I came back to go to school. I finished at an alternative learning center and finished high school and then left town, saw 36 states through four years of riding freight trains and then lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then I came here. The music is what really kept me here. Yeah, just the good music scene, stellar."

What the story behind this outfit? Is it inspired by the music you're playing or do you dress like this normally?

Vaden: "I dress like this every day pretty much. It's like an inspiration from old '20s musicians. For them, it was a normal day, just kind of like I'm going to a jazz club or I'm going to rob your mom's house. I could be the nicest guy ever or I could have a tommy gun in my car."

What inspires you creatively?

Vaden: "Definitely people who are more talented than me. Anything that isn't, I don't know, normal. I don't know, people inspire me."

What was the strangest experience you've had train-hopping?

Vaden: "I don't know if I can tell you that, but I can tell you the funniest strange thing. One time I was playing banjo in a boxcar and I feel out."

Jessica: "That's not that funny. That sucks."

Vaden"--rolled all the way down a 30-foot hill and laughed the whole way down. I got up and I was so light-headed. I just like had scratches all over my arms. I got up and started walking and I was just like, 'Uuuuuuuuuugggghhhh.' I broke all my strings. The bridge snapped but that's like the simplest fix. I rolled on top of it. I used it as a blanket on the way down."

That's intense. 

Vaden: "Yeah, it was funny."

At least you didn't fall into the tracks, though.

Vaden: "Yeah."

What's one thing you like about Asheville and hate about Asheville?

Vaden: "The music scene, the busking scene is really cool and the one thing I hate? How many hippies there are. I wish there were no drum circles."

The drum circle is kind of bittersweet now because it used to be legit but now tourists are starting to come.

Vaden: "Yeah, I mean, I'm not prejudiced against hippies."

This column was originally published in The Blue Banner