Mara Appel Des Lauriers aka Hebrew Nugget hails from Portland, USA and runs the very fun, fabulous and freak-flag-flying zine ‘Little Obsessions.’ A deeply personal project for Mara, which she uses to explore and shine a light on interesting culture and people from around the globe.
When asked to describe her motivation for creating the zine and brand, Mara notes:
“I wanted to… make a thing – develop a space or miniworld – where things could go down differently in showing and talking about art, culture, and people.
I guess it’s important to me to empower weirdos past and present in a way that’s holistic yet exciting (not just in this zine but in my life).”
A sentiment we very much approve of!
In addition to her work with ‘Little Obsessions’ Mara is also a talented musician. Most notably as a member of dream pop band Candace. As well as being a highly talented artist. With her art and design often featuring in ‘Little Obsessions.’
Wanting to get to know all about her, we sent Mara some questions to answer over email.
Take a dive into Mara’s world below…
Name + D.O.B?
Mara Appel Des Lauriers.
October 2nd, 1989.
City, State and Country you currently call home?
Portland, OR USA.
City, State and Country you’re from?
Minneapolis, MN USA
Please describe some memories – such as writing, art, music, relationships, adventures, study, romance, politics, work, crime, religion… Anything really – from the stages of your life noted below:
* Age 5 – beginnings:
This would have been late 1994 into 1995. I was living in Minneapolis, MN with my mom in Uptown.
This was after my mom and dad divorced and before my stepdad Norbert entered the picture.
Mom had some weird boyfriends…
I can’t say I really remember much. I think I was kind of a devil during this time.
I was really cute, had an almost black bowl cut early on and my buttcrack was always sticking out of my sweatpants.
Was naked a lot, theatrical, bonkers.
* Age 10 – childhood:
1999/2000 My stepdad Norbert and my mom got hitched when I was 6… or 7.
My dad moved to New Jersey when I was 8 almost 9.
So by ten, I was going to Jersey fairly often to visit my dad and his husband.
I was really into the Spice Girls around this time, Titanic was a big deal, I was drawing a lot of Ewoks and fashion girls with my lifelong friend and talented artist Martzia, who lived down the block.
We watched The Point on repeat.
I remember I lied a lot at school at this age, and it would always blow up in my face because I suck at lying.
The millennium was impending/upon us.
I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I feel like I blocked a lot of this period of my life out for survival purposes.
Being a child is brutal and weird and I feel for all of them.
My elementary school was a mix of a few super well-off kids and kids whose siblings were in gangs, were living in danger, and had to grow up too fast.
Lots of fights and chaos on the playground, weirdly though, too, lots of joy, laughter, and dancing.
The summer of age ten I went to Italy with my mom, Norbert, and grandma Char.
Me and my grandma lodged together every step of the way and we became extremely bonded.
Italy was cool.
* Age 15 – teenage wasteland:
A lot happened this year.
I started the year off at a huge public high school in Minneapolis called South and was more or less kicked out – I got busted smoking weed at lunch with my best friend.
Shortly thereafter, I landed at an alternative school for wayward youth that saved my life and made it possible to graduate early, smoke cigarettes between every class and play SXSW very much as a minor.
I think this was the year where I really knew I was…on a different life path, I guess…
I rocked asymmetrical bowl cuts most of that year, got my first leather jacket, wore tiny dresses and began sneaking into bars to see shows and meet at-the-time relevant “rock ‘n’ roll types”. It was very exciting.
I got my first job at a high-end children’s shoe store called Shoe Zoo.
I joined my first band, started playing shows and doing drugs, of course.
I desperately wanted to be involved in cool things and take as many chances as possible and live a colorful, meaningful life.
I felt very misunderstood by my peers, but it didn’t bother me too much.
I was pretty hellbent yet still sweet, optimistic, brave, an open book – almost always a goofy bitch at the end of the day – even though I was often in danger.
* Age 20 – young adult:
This was one of the worst years of my life in a lot of ways. I had seen way too much between 15 and 20 and truly felt old.
I finally managed to mostly/barely separate myself from a really scary and destructive “first love” situation that began when I was 16.
Age 20 was hiding out at my friend’s apartment most of the year, drinking a million bottles of wine and smoking five million cigarettes – my own screaming and squawking a stark contrast to the dulcet tones of Leonard Cohen.
I was working at Target’s “FOOD AVENUE” in downtown Minneapolis – a bullseye embroidered black baseball cap always cocked to the side – slinging hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches, diet Coke, popcorn… pretzels with cheese. I actually saw someone on hard times get killed there – his head smashed in – by cops in the dining room on my shift.
It was the year I decided I had to get the hell out of Minneapolis and moved to Portland shortly after my 21st birthday.
Being 20 was just enormous amounts of heartbreak and having to dig deep and survive.
There were a few good road trips too, though… a trip out to Joshua Tree with my Is/Is pals smashed into a hot red Mini Cooper will always be a seminal voyage close to my heart.
There were blips of glory in late-night bike rides.
I don’t know if I was ever not running away from something the whole entire year.
I banged on my drums really drunk, I tried my best in a place that rejected me.
* Age 25 – meanderings:
This was a wild time.
On my 25th birthday I had a pretty crazy birthday party with a Warriors (1979) theme – it really kicked off this year in a psychotic way.
I can’t remember exactly when my Candace bandmates moved to Portland, but they were here by then, we were living all together in the apartment I still live at, and we were playing quite a bit.
I was also in another band with an ex-boyfriend, which I would leave that year.
I was working in pizza, which pizza place I don’t quite remember.
I had a lot of weird dalliances that year and the previous year.
Overall though I was pretty mad at men and went on what I called a “Dick Strike” but that, well, didn’t pan out.
This big chunk of my mid 20’s/almost my entire 20’s was mostly on the road, at the bar or in the practice space.
Summer of 25 is when I met boyfriend Marc. He was an incredible surprise in so many ways and still is.
25, I was firmly in the “rock-n-roll” lifestyle, and had been for quite some time by then, and would continue to be for some time. I’d take solo voyages to New York.
An exciting and weird age – a frenzy – lots of adventure – lots of explosive fun, love and expression and some meltdowns on my part.
* Age 30 – adult mode:
I was in lock down for about half of it, and on my 31st birthday 45 was diagnosed with COVID-19…
One thing that does separate this 30th year from the rest is that it was the first time maybe ever that I have been forced to slow down, take a look at myself – my life – and see what was what.
This was the first year I actually started to really escape into painting, the first year I wrote and recorded my own songs, and the year I started LITTLE OBSESSIONS.
Me and my boyfriend went to Thailand for almost a month in February of 2020, and got back to the US a week before everything shut down. Being over there was a dream come true and gave me a ton of perspective.
It was the year I made a pact with myself to blaze my own trail and try to build my own new and inclusive universe that actively encourages people to free themselves through expression and absurdity, and provide space within the pages of LITTLE OBSESSIONS to experiment and do that.
I was 30 when I started writing my pen pal Anthony who’s behind bars in Livingston, Texas.
30 was the last time I played live music with Candace.
30 was an almost rude amount of reflection on what I’ve been through, the sorrow and wonder of everything that’s led us to where we are, and where we might be headed.
As much as 30 was constructive for me in some ways, I was brave in some ways that surprised me, the implications of everything were hard not to be crushed by – the rise of white terrorism here and abroad, the crisis with our climate, really tough loses to suicide, COVID-19, murder, and more… yeah, but even still – solidarity, patience, courage, optimism, and gratitude coupled it all.
30 was unique.
Art, Writing and ‘Little Obsessions’ Questions
When and why did you first become interested in art, writing and everything creative?
… and any pivotal creative moments / influences?
I have no idea when or why I first became interested in all of this stuff, but I think my step dad Norbert was very influential as far as living creatively and seeking out strangeness when it comes to art and how to live.
If you had to explain your creative endeavours to some recently crash-landed aliens…
What would you tell them?
I would tell them to talk to my friend Fred about it.
Fred could do a much more comprehensive, entertaining and accurate job than I could about what I do.
Also I think Fred and I would really jive with the aliens.
What inspired you to create ‘Little Obsessions?’
This is a hard question to answer because there’s a lot to it.
LITTLE OBSESSIONS is an experiment in a lot of ways.
I wanted to see if I could make a thing – develop a space or miniworld – where things could go down differently in showing and talking about art, culture, and people. I guess it’s important to me to empower weirdos past and present in a way that’s holistic yet exciting (not just in this zine but in my life).
I don’t think I always nail it but that’s what I’m trying to do.
It’s an amazing excuse to meet, boost and learn from people who I admire very much and believe in.
Part of the reason I started it, too, was to create a place where I can show my paintings to people, because I didn’t see a direct way into someplace like a gallery – I don’t really have any connections or credentials.
It’s a place where I can flex my love of patterns, colors, flashy shit – something I also enjoy doing with the clothes I wear.
I make a lot of confessions in LITTLE OBSESSIONS which helps me heal, I’m thinking.
Another part of LITTLE OBSESSIONS that was important to me from the getgo was cultivating a space to talk about complex people, lives and art in a way that wasn’t too academic or judgey.
What’s funny about it too is that I don’t feel I am an authority on anything – but I don’t think you need to be an authority to have a point of view that’s valid and interesting. I don’t feign objectivity and I encourage subjectivity.
I’m also very interested in proving that goofy people can get shit done.
I didn’t want to be a martyr to forces that didn’t care about my wellbeing, humanity or growth ala most shitty jobs and bosses I’ve ever had.
Please describe your usual process for creating and curating an issue of ‘Little Obsessions’: From creation to eventual completion?
Well, I have a semi-chaotic list of all of the things I am hoping to eventually cover – people I’m hoping to talk to, artwork I’m hoping to showcase, etc. – that’s growing steadily.
I kind of plant the seeds and ask around throughout the month as ideas pop into my mind or I get the courage to reach out.
I cut out all the collage pieces throughout the zines and compile them, manipulate them, use them.
If there’s room, I like to throw one of my paintings in there.
Once I line up and confirm who my contributor(s) for the month might be, I get really pumped and it sends me down a path for what my feature might end up being.
What I cover/explore/write about each month usually has a thick cord connected to what I am going through personally or ruminating on/jazzed on at that point in time.
I spend half of the month really working my ass off on these magazines, and half of the month intentionally – passively – clearing my mind and making room for more surprises.
I decorate, stamp and address all the envelopes by hand – I think it adds to the experience and I suspect the US Postal Service is really over it by now.
I freak and tweak and layout everything on the computer, proofread, make promo materials, and check in with contributors, because I want to make sure everyone is feeling solid, stoked and well-represented.
Finally an issue is sent off to my printer, Impress, here in Portland.
I gather the pages, I fold every single page myself, bind each booklet myself, get on my knees and chop them all down to size.
This takes time, but I believe it’s worthwhile.
Pre-order opens on the first, the mutual aid donation goes out on the 10th, along with everyone’s magazines.
If people wanted to work with you or buy some of your art and wares – How should they get in touch and where should they visit?
Instagram is a good place to get acquainted with what I’m into, get updates on when issues launch and to see who I’m working with and featuring in the zine.
I gotta say though, the Instagram is nothing compared to the physical object and experience, which will never be available online/virtually.
If the page tickles you, you’re missing out on the zine and should grab an issue or get on board via >>>> www.littleobsessions.art
@little__obsessions //// all magazine related musings and updates, weirdo worship, art shit & inspiration.
@hebrew_nugget //// my paintings, music/bands i’m playing in, me often loving on my friends, many pictures of me.
To subscribe to LITTLE OBSESSIONS the monthly magazine, to grab a shirt or print or back issues… please visit www.littleobsessions.art // all materials & merchandise have SHIPPING AVAILABLE TO AUSTRALIA, USA, UK, MEXICO, HUNGARY, CANADA, JAPAN ////
PAINTING, DESIGN n’ DRAWING COMMISSIONS // I do ‘em.
DM me or email me about them >>> email@example.com
(Two recent illustrations by Mara.)
Any upcoming projects you would like to mention?
I just designed and released a new, ridiculously good shirt – printed here in Portland at Studio AYC.
These kinds of non-zine merchandise (be it shirts or posters, painting prints etc.) are essential to keeping this thing going.
LITTLE OBSESSIONS magazine donates to mutual aid organizations every month, and always will.
We’ve raised around $1000 for BUFU in New York City, and have donated to Hurricane Ida relief funds as well.
Pick up a shirt, it’s guaranteed to look hot on you and will spark good conversation, I’m guessing.
For the first time ever, I’m hosting my own radio show! LITTLE OBSESSIONS RADIO on FREEFORM PORTLAND kicked off October 13th and is on from 12AM – 2AM …. I will be archiving these shows on my mixcloud .. (a colorful, sonic escape into ornate and unusual worlds by way of lo-fi outsiders, the freaky and funky, moody crooners, cinematic nut jobs, authentic weirdos in folk and pop, sparkling international soul gems, overlooked rock n’ rollers and beyond!)
I have a few guests lined up to go to this zone with me in time, so tune into that via Freeform Portland or Mixcloud.
New issues of LITTLE OBSESSIONS come out every month, with pre-order kicking off on the first of each month.
If you’re subscribed you don’t have to worry about nabbing an issue, and you’ll be sent a renewal card upon receiving your last issue.
I also just recently reissued a slew of back issues, many of which only thirty copies were originally printed. These early issues are strong, honest, and raw in some ways.
The many types of contributions from others within them are exciting, dynamic and weird – from innovative oddballs all over the country.
Looking back has been a rewarding trip, so don’t sleep on those issues.
Odds and Ends
Who are some of your favourite artists, musicians and writers?
…and what is it about their works that so inspire and move you?
A super incomplete list, but I feel these artists, by being so authentic to themselves and their expression, become radical in a way that empowers the culture and society.
They aren’t just artists, they are something else.
They aren’t separate from their works.
They feel for humanity in a way that is supernatural, explosive, beautiful, and unique.
Radical tenderness, masters and trailblazers in their chosen medium.
Lately, these artists have just meant a lot to me personally.
They have radicalized me in many ways, but maybe most importantly to me they are an example of how unique and specific experiences we go through as individuals, our stories/tragedies/victories/mundanities, connect us to everything and everyone in a way we can’t fully comprehend.
That’s why expression is so important – it’s impossible to know the impact and it’s one of the most mysterious aspects of being a human, in my mind.
If you could live in any place, during any historical era – Where and when would that be?
…and why would you choose that time and place?
I’ve sort of stopped romanticizing the past super hard.
I’m curious about all of it, though, and I think if given the opportunity, I would love to visit so many places, events and eras to see a lot of things for myself.
I’d love to spend time in pre-colonial everywhere… I’d love to see the “old country”, to participate in the weird shit from back in the day that there may really be no record of, etc. etc. – but, I think I am alive at the appropriate time.
I don’t think my perceptions of “what it was like” are accurate.
Do I dream about certain eras, movements, cultures and geography? All the time.
I want to travel as much as I can – I’d love to live in a different country in this era and plan to one day, but as far as living a life, this is the hand.
What role did toys play in your childhood?
Not a huge one.
I remember really digging Bop It!, jumping rope, making string jewelry, biking around in circles, dancing, drawing whatever or whoever my current icons were, I watched TV a lot and liked to build forts…
I had Miss Cleo tarot cards, I had a deep bond with my first dog Zoltan and raised a lot of hell with my neighbor friend, Martzia.
I was naked a lot and kind of a ham as a kid.
Who was your 1st crush?
…and why were you so infatuated with them?
Hard to pin down but there was a boy I was really into in third grade named Romero.
He had great floppy black hair, gorgeous eyes, and beautiful honey brown skin.
I was infatuated with him because he was kind – kind and dreamy.
Does sex change everything?
I don’t think sex changes everything, but I think sexual violence does.
What are the top 3 items you own?
Hungarian Medal of Honor necklace given to me by my grandma Char.
Of everything you have done, what would you most like to be remembered for?
Being a good friend.
- Little Obsessions – Website
- Little Obsessions – Instagram
- Little Obsessions – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mara Appel Des Lauriers – Instagram
- Mara Appel Des Lauriers – Discogs entry
- Mara Appel Des Lauriers – email: email@example.com
- Candace (band) – Website
- Candace (band) – Facebook
- Candace (band) – Instagram
- Candace (band) – twitter