#MusicMonday: Interview with Ellis Ludwig-Leone from San Fermin

When we visited Texas last month for Austin City Limits, we met up with San Fermin. And now, we’re excited to collaborate with San Fermin this holiday season on a holiday inspired playlist, which you can hear in stores from 11.21-12.1 and on Spotify. Want to see San Fermin play live in New York City? Enter our AEO x San Fermin Sweepstakes! Check out the Official Rules to win a pair of tickets for their December 17, 18 or 19 show.

We loved talking with San Fermin so much that we extended the conversation later with Ellis Ludwig-Leone, keyboardist and founding member of the band. We talked about everything from the inspiration behind their newest song, “No Devil,” to the band’s most embarrassing moment on tour. Check out our interview with Ellis below.

Ellis/San Fermin

Ellis on the keys during a show.

AEO: You’re embarking on your next European Tour soon, but by the time this publishes you’ll have finished it. What are you most looking forward to during that tour? 
Ellis: It’s our fifth or sixth European tour, so we kind of know what to expect when we get there. One of the things that’s so great about going to Europe is that there’s a sense of history there. Every venue you play is historic in some way. Every city you go to, you’ve heard about. That’s a thrill. It’s a real cultural experience. In particular, I always love when we play France. France is my favorite country to play outside of the U.S. We always get really good crowds there & the food is great.

AEO: So France is your favorite international country, but what is your favorite U.S. city to play?
Ellis: It’s hard to compete with New York because that’s where we’re from. We’ve played some really memorable shows there. I guess if I had to choose somewhere outside of New York… I really like playing San Francisco. That’s been a great place for us.  I love being in the city.

San Fermin

AEO: We met you & the band at Austin City Limits this year. How was your time in Austin? 
Ellis: Austin is definitely one of my favorite cities to play, although it’s actually funny because we’ve now been to Austin five times, and every single time, it’s been for a festival. We’ve never done a headline show there. This time we were touring with Alt-J, so we played ACL Fest, and that night we played a show with them at Austin Music Hall, which was one of the last show’s they’ll ever have at that venue. It actually might have been my favorite show we’ve ever played.

AEO: You mentioned you love playing in NYC a lot, so we’re wondering what makes a show there more memorable for you?
Ellis: One thing that makes NYC different is that our friends & family are there, so it really is a different energy when you there are people who you love and care about are going to be there. Because we started here, we’ve played here more than other places. We have more of a track record here. We’ve done some really cool shows. We’ve played with St.Vincent at Prospect Park, which was awesome because I live across from Prospect Park.

AEO: Is there a certain place or festival you dream of performing?
Ellis: I’d love to play Primavera Sound in Spain. That festival is sort of known as one of the most fun places to play. In terms of a headline show but Barclay’s Center or Madison Square Garden would be a real thrill. Maybe someday!

San Fermin

AEO: You’ve toured with and played with other big names like the Arctic Monkeys. What are some things you take away from playing with or opening for other bands?
Ellis: When I started the band, I wasn’t even thinking about it being a touring band. I really just wanted to make a record. It’s been a cool and unexpected thing that now that we tour all the time, we get to see all these bands up close and play with them. I found my musical influences have really opened up. I know contemporary music a lot better than when I started the band. After playing with Alt-J, I basically have all of their music memorized. Stuff sort of seeps in here and there, when you pick up a nice harmonic motion or an interesting live thing that they’ll do. You pick those things up along the way, and that’s what makes you a complete and professional band.


AEO: Considering now that you’re an eight-piece, touring band, it’s interesting that you only wanted to make an album when you first started. How did you get to where you are now as an ensemble?
Ellis: When I wrote the first record, because I wasn’t thinking of it as a touring band, I basically just wrote for whatever I wanted. I’d have, like, all these horns and strings. My background is in writing instrumental music. I studied classical music in college, so I knew how to do that stuff. Our label said I had to figure out how to make this thing work on the road. From there, I whittled it down from twenty-two musicians to eight, which is still a huge band, but it’s the minimal number of instruments you can bring and still make this music sound big and lush. That process was when it turned from a solo project to a real band.

AEO: Is there anyone you’d love to perform or collaborate with in the future?
Ellis: If we’re talking pipe dreams, I’d love to play with Paul Simon. He’s always been someone I’ve looked up to. It would be cool not only from a personal standpoint but also an historical standpoint. I’d be playing with someone who’s really done so much for music.

San Fermin

AEO: Were you friends with the other band members before this?
Ellis: Allen, who sings lead guy vocals, and I have been really close since we were fifteen. We met at a summer songwriting/music camp at Berklee College of Music, actually. The brass players I knew from college, and everyone else I recruited when I got to New York.

AEO: When you’re creating music now, do you write as a whole band or are you still mainly doing the writing?
Ellis: I still do all the writing because it’s sort of how we started. There’s a little more room in the live show for people taking liberties. Everyone kind of knows the structure of the band, and it kind of eliminates that drama where everyone has a song.

San Fermin

AEO: Do you know you want to feature a specific instrument or does that happen organically for you?
Ellis: At this point I know the musical personalities of all these people. Often we’ll be learning and practicing a new song, and I’ll just be like, “Hey Steve (who’s the sax player), I’m thinking of extending this part a little bit, could you do something like a low growl?” and then it develops into a groove. That’s how the second half of our song Parasites was born.

AEO: Could you speak to how you feel San Fermin is different from other bands?
Ellis: One thing that really makes us stand out is that I write the parts but I don’t sing. That’s kind of weird in the indie world. People are used to staring at the singer thinking they wrote the songs. Because I write the songs and stand off to the side by the keyboard, audiences are little more interested in watching the whole thing. It’s a little more equal that way.

AEO: Speaking of forming the band, how did you come up with the name San Fermin?
Ellis: It’s actually the name of the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona. I like the image of running from something, it resonates with me, especially when you’re running from something that you put yourself in the way of. You’re running from something just because you want to.

San Fermin

AEO: What inspired you to be a musician?
Ellis: When I was in high school, I had a string of very unsuccessful bands – a metal band, a cover band. I played classical piano on the side but I didn’t tell any of my friends because I thought it was kind of nerdy. When I got to college I tried to put that stuff together. I started writing arrangements for my bands and use my skills as a musician with my desire to write songs. That’s when I thought I could do this as a real job.

AEO: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to get into music?
Ellis: Treat music like it is your job, not something you do after whatever it is you do to make money. When I was in school, I would write music before I would do my homework. Think of it as your profession even before you’re making money doing that, because otherwise it can take a backseat to whatever else you’re doing, and suddenly you’ll have missed your shot.

San Fermin

AEO: Are you starting to work on your next album now as you’re touring?
Ellis: I’m actually waiting on purpose. I’ll probably start writing in the spring. In the meantime, I’ve been writing other music like orchestra pieces and ballets. When I come back to the band, I’ll have a fresh slate.

AEO: The band recently released “No Devil.” Tell us more about the inspiration behind the song.
Ellis: That’s the one song I’ve written since the last album came out. We were on the road, and that song sort of has a road feeling to it. Whenever I’m gone on tour, I find that I start feeling guilty about being away from home. It’s about thinking I’m running from some demon but it’s alright, it’s okay to be doing what I’m doing.

San Fermin

AEO: Do you have a funny or embarrassing moment on tour?
Ellis: I hold this moment very dear to my heart. We were playing in Paris, and we walked on stage and our trumpet player John had a habit of raising his arms as we walked on stage. He was one of the first guys on stage as we walked out, immediately tripped on a monitor and went sprawling across the stage. He landed on all the guitar equipment. It was truly horrendous. We couldn’t start the show for at least a minute because we were all laughing.

AEO: How would you describe your on-stage presence?
Ellis: If you’ve only hear the recordings, the live show is surprisingly active. It’s a really energetic show. The brass players are jumping around and going out into the audience. It’s engaging and complicated because there’s always something going on. I try to stay to the side and let the live show be a moment for everyone else in the band. I like to think of myself as Larry from School of Rock. The shy keyboardist. That’s me.

San Fermin

AEO: Can you describe the band’s everyday #AEOSTYLE?
Ellis: It’s definitely evolved. When we first started the only word you could give it is “scattered.” Everyone came into it with their own look. At this point, we generally wear dark colors, a lot of black. Some navy and dark greens. The girls tend to be more adventurous. Charlene wears a lot of jumpsuits. Rebekah has some really cool leather dresses. Allen has a lot of very small patterned t-shirts and denim overshirts. I generally wear a black denim jacket, a black t-shirt and black skinny jeans. When you’re on the road it helps to have layers.

Don’t forget to check out San Fermin’s Holiday Playlist online & listen for their picks in stores! Let us know your favorite San Fermin song in the comments below.

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Real Talk With Katie Berger, Swim Buyer

It may be getting colder outside, but our buyers are already thinking spring! Get REAL with Katie Berger, #AerieSWIM Buyer! Read on to learn more about how she helps to plan Aerie’s line each season, her forecast for spring swim and what #AerieREAL means to her.

Real Talk With Katie Berger, Swim Buyer

What are the responsibilities of a buyer? 
A buyer is responsible for strategizing the number of styles we can have in the store and online, along with the types of silhouettes and fits we would like to offer. Buyers work hand-in-hand with a design team that is specific to swim (though they dabble in other areas as well), who designs into our style requests. We then collectively build an assortment that we believe our customer will have to have in her closet (or swim drawer!).

Buyers track the sales trends of the business from week-to-week (and on occasion, day-to-day) to give us insight for future deliveries – if the customer doesn’t love it today, will she love something similar in a few months? A lot of the job comes from instinct, and knowing what your sales history tells you along with new trends you see coming our way! This job uses both sides of the brain… and I LOVE it!

What trends are you forecasting for swim in ’16?
We are still in love with strappy swim, but we also LOVE the 70’s vibes in swim – ruffles and crochet, one-pieces, crops and teeny tiny bottoms. I want to wear a one-piece with AEO denim shorts, head to the beach, and be ready for dinner in a snap!

We can’t WAIT for swim! Let’s talk about our current collection…what’s your favorite item for Holiday?
I love the fun accessories, including our gifting ‘grab and go’ collection! Great for gifting your friends, sisters or yourself! But really the bralettes are GORGEOUS. The laces are so feminine and the stylings are so great for any day of the week. I already bought 5 of them! And wait until you see the PJ pants…they are so cozy and cute! My Christmas morning look = aerie PJ’s.

Real Talk With Katie Berger, Swim Buyer

Love Katie’s look? Shop her blanket scarf here.

Are you an early riser or a night owl?
Neither?! I can get up consistently early on the weekends, but why can’t I get up during the week? I could say I’m definitely a napper!

What is your favorite city that you’ve either traveled to or want to travel to?
In February I went to Tulum in Mexico, and I have to say it is easily my favorite place I’ve ever been. The relaxed, non-commercial vibe is perfect for a getaway in the sunshine. We stayed at the Hotel Mezzanine, where they brought you coffee to your door every morning, and you could take the basket out to a hammock and enjoy your coffee while looking at the ocean. I have never been so relaxed in my life! I loved it so much, I’m going back in December. Next stop, I’m thinking Iceland! Have you seen the pictures of that island? It looks so beautiful.

We’re so jealous! That sounds amazing. What’s 1 item you can’t live without?
Chapstick (and Spotify). Oh, and actually a hair tie. Yep, definitely a hair tie too.

What does #AerieREAL mean to you?
I think this can mean so many different things to different girls. For me it means being and loving yourself and not apologizing for it. We recently talked as a buying team about how girls apologize constantly when speaking their minds, and I think that’s part of what this is about – learning how to stop apologizing for who you are or what you think and embracing and owning it!

We love that! Thank you Katie for sitting down with us!

Tune in to our Snapchat today (handle: aerie) as Katie gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her day at Aerie!

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Follow Her Friday: The Curvy Blogger

This week we’re inspired by blogger, photographer and model, Mandy Holesh from The Curvy Blogger. We sat down with her to talk about blogging, style and learning to love your curves. Read on to learn more about this bold and beautiful powerhouse.

We love your blog! What inspired you to start the Curvy Blogger? 
“I stand for style at all sizes, when I started my blog in 2010 there weren’t many bloggers who were in between straight and plus sizes. So my goal was to inspire girls who were a bit curvier to wear what they want and disobey the rules.”

Your style is so fun! What three words would you use to describe it?
“Eclectic, bold, fun.”

Follow Her Friday: The Curvy Blogger

You have been very open about past insecurities and learning to love your curves. What advice would you give to girls who are struggling with body image?
“Ignore what everyone else is saying. I know, easier said than done. Many people will try to make you feel bad about how you look or who you are, and 95% of the time it is because they have no confidence in themselves. I find that liking the way you look is sort of a rebellious thing to do, which is the best way to be a rebel in my opinion.”

Follow Her Friday: The Curvy Blogger

Do you have a favorite quote or motto that inspires you? 
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” -Maya Angelou

What does being #AerieREAL mean to you?
“It means to be fearless, to be who you are and not apologize for it. Be you.”

Follow Her Friday: The Curvy Blogger

 Thank you, Mandy! Be sure to check out her blog and follow along on Instagram.



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Real Talk with Ban.do

When we set out to bring you some of the cutest gifts around, there was no question that Ban.do was a perfect match! Between their fun, cheery products and positive message, it’s no secret why we’re obsessed with this LA-based powerhouse. We sat down with our friends at Ban.do to talk inspiration, staying organized and what it means to be #AerieREAL.

Aerie: Tell us about Ban.do! How did the company get started?

Ban.do: We started making one-of-a-kind hair accessories (think: flower crowns before they were a trend) that sold out pretty much immediately. The thing is, since they were one-of-a-kind, once they sold they were gone. So we began to make things in multiples, which allowed us to create accessible price points for every girl, and ban.do was born! We’ve evolved a lot since the beginning, but we’ve always been built on strong branding and the desire to bring fun products to all girls everywhere. We’ve always been very serious about fun!

Real Talk with Ban.do

Aerie: We’re obsessed with ban.do’s bright, fun aesthetic. What inspires the team on a daily basis?

Ban.do: Why, thank you! We find inspiration in a lot of places: Pinterest, Instagram, and our spectacular ban.do girl gang, to name a few. Connecting and collaborating with artists is one of our favorite things. We’re also inspired by our Los Angeles office, a.k.a The Ban.do Party House! There’s a disco ball wall, glitter wallpaper, and a pop up shop in the back: major creative fuel. When we’re not at the office, we love to explore LA by checking out museum exhibits, catching a movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, or treasure hunting at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

Real Talk with Ban.do

Aerie: Staying organized can be tough at times! Do you have any tips for how to step up your desk game?

Ban.do: Totally! Our latest product line is all about creating the ultimate dream desk. The goal is to make your desk a place that totally works for you AND that you love looking at. Because if you’re not inspired, what’s the point? We love putting the “fun” in functional with cute desk accessories like pretty file folders and notebooks, bright markers and washi tape, and extras like colorful prints and tiny disco balls. Disco balls definitely increase productivity. Or at least remind you to have regular dance parties.

Real Talk with Ban.do

Aerie: Our ban.do collection is amazing! We know it’s hard to choose, but is there one product you’re REALLY excited about?

Ban.do: You guys, that’s basically impossible. But OK! We’re super excited about the I Am Very Busy Agenda, which is packed with magical things like compliments, stickers, a secret code language, and fun, weekly to-dos. People are obsessing over our agendas and interacting with them in really cool ways (see: #omgbandoagenda on Instagram), and we want to pop champagne and jump up and down about the whole thing!

Real Talk with Ban.do

Aerie: It’s no secret we’re excited to partner with a REAL company like ban.do! What does being #AerieREAL mean to you?

Ban.do: To us, being #AerieREAL means being who you are without apology and with a lot of celebrating and confetti-throwing. One of the phrases in our agenda is “Do whatever, be weird, it’s OK!” and we pretty much live by that. We can’t get enough of the individuality of our customers, who are sparkly, edgy, preppy, and everything in between. We’re all about inclusion, because that’s what makes things fun. And we just really want to be friends with everybody.

Show us your favorite Ban.do products with #AerieREAL on Instagram and Twitter for a chance to be featured on our Style Gallery! xo

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Follow Her Friday: Rachel Hollis

This week we’re inspired by the courageous, career-driven, body-loving blogger, Rachel Hollis! Her proud bikini photo received tons of media buzz and we couldn’t help but want to learn more about this beautiful, mother of three.

Aerie: We love your body positive message – what inspired you to share this photo with your readers?

Rachel: So many reporters asked me this and the answer is kind of silly. I theme my Instagram every month to a color and that month’s color was orange… the exact shade of my cute new bikini top. We were in Cancun and I thought it would be a cute picture and so I had hubs snap a bunch. I am no kind of model and being in a swimsuit feels especially awkward so the one I chose is the one where I’m laughing at how silly I felt. When I saw it I noticed my stretch marks right away but I figured plenty of my followers are moms and have them too so I just decided to post it anyway. I couldn’t have anticipated what would happen with that picture, it still blows my mind.

Aerie Follow Her Friday: Rachel Hollis - Body Positive message

Aerie: How did you get started with The Chic Site?

Rachel: I was an event planner for ten years in Los Angeles and initially I started The Chic Site as a virtual way to house all my ideas. At the time I thought people would want to see pictures from fancy parties but what I quickly learned was that they were much more interested in recipes and parties from my own real life. When I started to focus on my personal style (down home with a little fancy thrown in) that’s when the site really started to gain a following.

Aerie: What’s your favorite part about running a lifestyle website?

Rachel: There are a lot of things to love. I’m my own boss, which is a great feeling. And I work with an incredibly talented group of people that I got to hand pick. In the words of Confucius, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Also, I truly love the idea that we’re being helpful to women who read our site. Whether it’s a recipe, a makeup tip or a tutorial on how to decorate your bedroom I want our readers to come away feeling inspired and encouraged.

Aerie: Do you have any advice you would give to girls interested in starting their own blog or business?

Rachel: Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. Seriously, there are so many businesses and blogs out there and the only way you’re going to make a splash is with a genuine message that is authentically you. Also, if you want to start a business you can’t treat it as a hobby. A lot of new bloggers decide to throw up a post here or there without structure behind it. Build an editorial calendar, collaborate with people smarter than you, take yourself seriously and others will to.

Aerie: Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

Rachel: There is no such thing as luck, there is only preparation meeting opportunity at a moment in time.

Aerie: What’s your favorite Aerie product?

Rachel: I love a great t-shirt but I am such a sucker for a summer sweater! Haha, only in LA would someone consider the term summer sweater but it’s a real thing! You know the kind with a loose weave or the ones that are so light it’s like wearing cotton? I love them! It’s a way to feel cozy even if the weather is warm.

Follow Her Friday: Rachel Hollis

Aerie: What does being #AerieREAL mean to you?

Rachel: #AerieREAL is the idea of not just being comfortable with but grateful for who you are today. I love the idea of wanting to better your self, to become a better person inside and out. But that doesn’t mean that who you are right now (at this exact weight, with that exact hair, with your nose and your smile) isn’t awesome. Celebrate where you are, the real you because the real you is fabulous!

 Thank you, Rachel! Be sure to check out The Chic Site and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!



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Real Talk With Sun Bum

We can’t get enough of Sun Bum, suncare made from the best ingredients under the sun. Our team had a chance to sit down with Bryan W., one of the coolest guys from the Sun Bum team to learn a bit more about the newest collection now at Aerie, the need-to-know facts about skincare and most importantly, the story behind their funky logo.


Aerie: Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you get started working with Sun Bum?

Bryan: It was 2011 and I was at a trade show in Florida. I happened to walk by the Sun Bum booth. It was full of action, tons of people were crowding around to see what this new brand was all about. I made my way through the crowd and was Instantly drawn in by the Ape and all the wood grain bottles. I asked the guy working the booth what’s Sun Bum he replied Sun Care.  It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.  I knew sun care to be a medicine looking bottle like the one my parents forced on me as a child but this was the total opposite.  I knew at that moment this was a company I wanted to be a part of.

Aerie: We love your logo! What’s the story behind the monkey?

Bryan: We got lucky with the logo, people love it. No meaning, we just wanted a big, strong but relaxed character to represent the brand.


Aerie: What is a common misconception about sunscreen?

Bryan: Once you put it on your covered all day. No matter what your doing it’s super important to reapply regularly.

Aerie: We really want a tan this summer…is that a big no-no?

Bryan: Hey we like being tan too, but you just gotta take is slow. Use an SPF 15 or higher, you’ll still get color but without the burn.

Aerie: What’s the difference between SPF 15, SPF 30, and SPF 50? Which is a girl to use?

Bryan: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Below is the approximate percentage of UVB rays blocked depending on SPF rating. The difference is surprisingly small. A higher SPF helps if you are fair skinned or have history of skin cancer. Remember, no sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.

SPF 15 = 93% Coverage

SPF 30 = 97% Coverage

SPF 50 = 98% Coverage

SPF 70 = 98.5% Coverage

SPF 100 = 99% Coverage

The main thing that affects protection level is applying it correctly. Dermatologists recommend using 3 tablespoons of sunscreen to protect your whole body. SPF ratings are significantly decreased if you don’t apply enough. Most people only apply 1/3 of the sunscreen they need. Make sure you use enough and don’t neglect hard to reach and easily forgotten places like your ears, feet and upper back.

Aerie: When is the best time to apply sunscreen?

Bryan: Anytime your out in the sun is a good time to apply sunscreen, but again, don’t forget to reapply every few hours.

Shop the Sun Bum collection now at Aerie and at Aerie.com!

Aerie: Why is using SPF lip balm important?

Bryan: Your lips get burn in the same way your skin gets burnt. So why wouldn’t you want to protect your kisser

Aerie: Which Sun Bum product is your favorite?

Bryan: I love my SPF 30 Face Stick. It’s easy to use goes on clear and is travel friendly.

 Thanks for the inside scoop, Bryan!

Be sure to pick up and pack this surf-ready SPF
so you can keep the fun going all day long!



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