Interviews | Radio | Visual Arts

Creative Control

Ciera Mckissick talks the importance of space, connecting creatives, and how Chicago has unexpectedly become her home

Rene Naltsas

When we last profiled Ciera Mckissick, she was putting on fashion shows as part of her residency at the Chicago Art Department and editing AMFM, her online culture magazine, while harboring ambitions of opening an artist collective space in Pilsen. In the two and three-quarter years since then, she made that dream a reality, opening an AMFM storefront gallery on 21st Street that quickly garnered city-wide acclaim. Shortly after this interview aired on SSW Radio in August, Mckissick announced in a Facebook post that disputes with AMFM’s neighbors and landlords have resulted in the gallery being booted out of its space. True to form, it celebrated its tenure with a closing party, and has continued to put on outside events, like the close of its three-part West Side food and music festival FEAST. It has also raised over $1,400 in a fundraiser to secure a new physical space for the collective. This interview has been edited for length and clarity; listen to the full version of this interview that aired on SSW Radio, the Weekly’s radio show and podcast.

Justice | Radio

Class X: Who Gets a Second Chance in Our Criminal Justice System?

Nigel—Montgomery’s godbrother—at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation holding up pictures of Montgomery (Davon Clark)

Illinois has been making moves toward reducing incarceration, but there is a large group of people who are being left behind. People like twenty-one-year-old Joe Montgomery, who have been sentenced with Class X felonies, make up almost a third of Illinois’ prison population, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Some say these individuals who need the most help are instead left with few options but prison. City Bureau reporters Sajedah Al-khzaleh and Bia Medious spoke with Montgomery’s friends and family about the hole his absence means to his community.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Know His Roots

Matt Muse on his new project, Nappy Talk

Courtesy Matt Muse

When I meet Matt Muse on a bright August morning, the South Side-raised rapper is on top of his game. The night before our interview at WHPK 88.5 FM’s broadcast station in Hyde Park, he’d doubled as featured artist and host for Young Chicago Authors’ WordPlay, the city’s longest-running open mic. Earlier in the summer, he’d performed at Taste of Chicago and Fox 32’s Good Morning Chicago, and in the days to come, he’d head out to New York City for a sold-out performance with Sofar Sounds and to celebrate his twenty-sixth birthday.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Melkbelly: Living the Yard Sale

The Pilsen-based band on the success of their 2017 release Nothing Valley, touring with The Breeders, and the origins of the name Melkbelly.

Daniel Topete

Melkbelly—comprised of Miranda Winters (guitar and vocals), Bart Winters (also guitar, and Miranda’s husband), Liam Winters (a bassist and Bart’s brother), and James Wetzel (drums)—recently sat down with SSW Radio in its cozy practice space in East Garfield Park. Amongst Christmas lights, a number of effects pedals, and jamming from adjacent practice rooms, Melkbelly’s members shared their feelings about their recent tours—headlining in Europe and supporting bigger names like Protomartyr and The Breeders—and provided a new meaning to the term yard sale. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Singing Since She Can Remember

Jazz singer Tracye Eileen on her unusual career path

Senhyo

Tracye Eileen is living her dream. At eight years old, too shy to act in the school play, her teacher asked her to perform one of the play’s songs. From there, she caught the singing bug. Fast forward to today: Tracye has a label, Honey Crystal Records, and a residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends in the Loop, where she performs monthly jazz and blues sets. And last Sunday, she celebrated the release of her newest album, WHY DID I SAY YES. The Weekly sat down with Tracye Eileen to talk about her new music and career. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Interviews | Music | Radio

Know Me More

For artist-abolitionist Ric Wilson, Black art need not be bad or sad

Olivia Obineme

Before you heard Ric Wilson, you might have retweeted him. Last year, the twenty-two-year-old rapper, artist, and prison abolitionist posted a mash-up of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September” and Migos’s “Bad and Boujee,” set to footage from an old Soul Train performance. The result broke 2.8 million views on Twitter.