7x7 sits down for candid conversations with the Bay Area's culture makers, trendsetters, and rule breakers. Join host Leilani Marie Labong for talks with chefs, actors, artists, winemakers, #vanlifers + more!
Wine Disruptor Kashy Khaledi: On going rogue in the Napa Valley
When Ashes & Diamonds first came onto the wine scene in late 2017, its singular modern architecture and rabble-rousing programming disrupted Napa's lineage of stodgy wineries, where your baby-boomer parents might feel at home drinking a big cabernet in a dated, amusement-park-like setting.
Such an eye for nonconformity may have been forged during proprietor Kashy Khaledi's coming-to-America era—his family immigrated from Iran at a particularly impressionable time during Khaledi's youth and, as a result, the now-40-something scion of the biz (his father is the founder of the well-respected Napa mainstay Darioush Winery) remains a die-hard fan of what his adopted hometown of Los Angeles offered—namely, punk music, skateboarding, and baseball.
Through the gaze of all that is perpetually cool in California, Khaledi has been able to bring a fresh (slangfully speaking) winery experience to the valley, making Gen Xers and Millennials feel more comfortable with the culture of wine, a historically intimidating potable.
For the sixth installment of 7x7's "People Will Talk," Khaledi sat down with us to chat about all the ripples he's set into motion to break up the "Napathy," with some pop-culture name-dropping—as only a former Capitol Records and MTV executive could effortlessly accomplish—thrown in for good measure.
Phenomenal Woman Meena Harris: On Feminism's Most Iconic Tee
As the little black dress was once fashion's unmistakeable emblem for contemporary femininity, a little gray tee is now our symbol for modern feminism. You may have seen founder Meena Harris' "Phenomenal Woman" T-shirts on the likes of America Ferrera and Alicia Keys on Instagram; or perhaps you caught the signatures of #1600Men in support of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in The New York Times—that was the work of Meena, too. What began as a simple project to celebrate Women's History Month has become a viable and ongoing political action campaign that's garnering attention from the national media as well as celebs. And it's no wonder, what with such excellent female political minds in Meena's family: Yes, she's that Harris, as in presidential hopeful Kamala Harris (her aunt) and as in Hillary Clinton campaign adviser Maya Harris (her mom). We sat down with the San Francisco–based entrepreneur (who's also a VP at Uber) to talk about this new age of feminism, the shortcomings of the tech industry, raising daughters, and how modern women can work with men to transcend the #MeToo era.
Photographer Tabitha Soren: On art and life after MTV
The '90s pop culture icon who rose to fame as an MTV news anchor thanks to her high-profile interviews with the likes of Tupac Shakur, Mariah Carey, and Hillary Clinton finds herself on the other side of the mic, talking with 7x7 about her second act—as a Berkeley-based photographer about to launch her first solo museum exhibition. The achievement, though, is a long time coming: For 15 years, she followed the lives of minor league draft picks for the Oakland As (a connection spurred by her husband, baseball superfan and Moneyball author Michael Lewis) for the series that would become Fantasy Life: Baseball and the American Dream, the images of which now hang in the private collections of museums including SFMOMA and LACMA. Her latest project, entitled Surface Tension, is on view at Wellesley College's Davis Museum through June 9, 2019.
Fiber Artist Windy Chien: Untangling life through knots
A recovering Apple employee and former owner of San Francisco's Aquarius Records, Windy Chien is now fully and unapologetically exploring her creativity as a full-time artist, transforming rope into mesmerizing art installations that both honor and elevate the utility of the material. It all started with a humble personal exercise in 2016: the now-iconic Year of Knots, in which she learned how to make a new knot each day. Many momentous accomplishments have surfaced in its wake: Chien recently exhibited at Art Basel Miami Beach and created a rope installation at National Geographic HQ in Washington, DC. Look for her forthcoming book, from Abrams, later this year.
'Blindspotting' writer/actor Rafael Casal is East Bay to the Bone
Berkeley-born Blindspotting writer/actor Rafael Casal isn't the first movie star we've interviewed—or the 10th, or even the 20th—but he is definitely the funniest, most insightful, and the easiest to talk to. The up-and-comer exists in that almost-famous limbo between being mostly unrecognizable on the street and being a legit paparazzi target—and let us tell you, Casal is lovably normal and Bay Area to the bone. Here we chat about his 2018 film (which got kudos from fellow Bay star Ali Wong), growing up in the East Bay, and collecting Bay people wherever the budding star may go.
Chef Samin Nosrat on her Netflix Debut of 'Salt Fat Acid Heat'
In October, 2018, Berkeley-based chef Samin Nosrat's series Salt Fat Acid Heat made its Netflix debut. Based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name, the show takes Nosrat around the world—from Mexico to Japan and Italy—to explore these basic tenets of cooking. Back in the Bay Area, the Chez Panisse alum and cooking teacher to Michael Pollan sits down for a candid chat with 7x7 about her Iranian upbringing, her evolution as a chef, cooking with intuition, Thanksgiving, comfort food, and more.
Such a fun podcast
I really like the host’s ease with her guests, as if she’s known them for a long time. Very conversant, light, and most of all relevant.
Keep it Comin’!
Loved the first two episodes. The banter is fun and witty, and I am loving learning about the Bay Area’s treasured artists. Excited to see who’s coming on next!
Thoughtfullness and authenticity
This podcast is solid. Listen if you dig the arts, if you dig thinking a bit deeper. It's obvious genuine care and thought are put into each episode, important for a hometown, Bay Area voice. I've listened to the first two, pumped to see what they have planned to come.