Sam Axelrod ‘16 Performs with Brooklyn-Based Future of What

Future of What is made up of Max Kotelchuck, Sam Axelrod, and Blair Gimma. Photo Credit: Maia McDonald

Future of What is made up of Max Kotelchuck, Sam Axelrod, and Blair Gimma.
Photo Credit: Maia McDonald

Sam Axelrod (’16), who is often in the library’s quiet room during the school week when he is not in class, can also be found moonlighting in Brooklyn band Future of What, which recently put out their first album on Jan. 13. Pro Dreams, which debuted at #61 on the CMJ top 200, was streamed before its release on Consequence of Sound. Now, it is available on their Bandcamp, Spotify, and iTunes

Future of What is a trio comprised of Axelrod, Blair Gimma, and Max Kotelchuck, who have been performing together since 2012. Their sound is somewhere between dream pop, synth pop, and electro pop. When asked to describe it to someone who is both blind and deaf, Axelrod hesitatingly said the band tasted like “mango sorbet” or “maybe a piña colada.” The press release for Pro Dreams says the album is “for daytime and nighttime. It’s a makeout record and a breakup record. It’s headphone music for a walk or a train ride. It’s a getting-ready-for-work album as much as a getting-ready-to-go-out record. Casual enough to listen to while cleaning the house, yet emotional enough to die to.” 

Axelrod, who commutes to Sarah Lawrence from Brooklyn three times a week, came to SLC through the Center of Continuing Education in January of 2012.  Axelrod says, “2011 was the first year in my life I wasn’t playing in a band since about the mid-nineties.” Axelrod met Gimma through mutual friends after having liked her solo album from 2010, Die Young, which she made under the eponymously titled project, Blair. Kotelchuck, whom Axelrod knew through his sister, joined what was slowly becoming a group project soon after. 

Axelrod was previously in Chicago-based band The Narrator from 2002 until 2008. The two albums The Narrator put out, All That To The Wall (2007) and Such Triumph (2005), scored a 7.2 and a 7.5 on Pitchfork respectively. 

Axelrod says it was “the right time” to come to SLC in 2012. “I had been encouraged to check out the continuing education program. I wasn’t thinking like, ‘I am going back to school.’ I just was going to try it, so I went to the orientation in November, and by January I was enrolled in classes. It was right at the same time I started playing in Future of What.”

Though he takes primarily writing classes, Axelrod has also taken literature classes, history classes, and psychology classes. Pro Dreams’ opener, “The Rainbowed Air” is named after a line from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. “I tried to read Moby-Dick in 2007 when I was on tour in Japan with [The Narrator] and I just couldn’t get through it. I took a summer class with Ilja Wachs in CCE and I read Moby-Dick for conference.”  Axelrod says he is more of a stickler for song titles than his bandmates. “Songs go through various stages,” says Axelrod. “Some songs get names before they even necessarily deserve one. That can go on to dictate the lyrics or the vibe of the song.” 

Future of What also struggled to come up with a band name while recording their 2012 EP Moonstruck, very shortly after they had started playing. Axelrod says, “We couldn’t agree on anything and I was sitting there in the studio going through my iPod, looking for words and phrases I liked. I gave the ones I picked out to Blair, and Future of What was the one we picked.” 

Though they have a Blue Room show in the works, Future of What has played SLC before. In 2013, they played 4/20 Fest to “five people” on the South Lawn. “It was supposed to be on the North Lawn,” Axelrod explains, “but it was moved under a tent on the South Lawn because it was supposed to rain. But it turned out to be 72 and sunny and everyone hung out on the North Lawn and would only walk over when their friends played. We had no friends.” 

Future of What are expecting a bigger crowd at their album release party, which will be Feb. 8 at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

By Sarah McEachern ‘17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

MEET THE EDITORS: Who's Who on The Phoenix?


Wade Wallerstein (’17) is a 19-year-old sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College who is currently studying journalism and digital media. He is the Phoenix’s Editor-in-Chief.

This summer, Wade worked at the mall near his hometown of Los Gatos, CA, which is about 45 minutes south of San Francisco. He spent much time walking along the beach of Northern California, climbing trees, and watching bad movies on Netflix. For two weeks he went to Puerto Rico in efforts to get tan and instead just got burned.

This summer, Wade read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” which he finished quickly in order to start “A Storm of Swords,” the third book in George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” series (for those of you who don’t know, that means “Game of Thrones”).

In his spare time, Wade enjoys writing about rap music, laying in grassy areas, compulsively eBay-shopping, and watching videos of ocean creatures. You can follow him on Instagram: @boyratchet, and Twitter: @b0yratchet.





Julia Schur (’15) is an international student from Paris, France who moved to New York City in 2012. She is the Phoenix’s Managing Editor.

During the summer, Julia worked on a schizophrenic range of topics. Starting off in June she became an editor at RESPECT. Magazine, which led her to delve deeper into the hip-hop world. She also has been juggling studying for the LSAT. Traveling throughout the summer between Paris, Rhode Island, Boston and New York, her constant companion was “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton. You can follow Julia on Twitter: @juliahlna








Sarah McEachern (’17) is the Phoenix’s Print Managing Editor and hails from just near Minneapolis. Her midwestern accent means that she says ‘bag’ funny and calls soda-pop simply ‘pop.’

Sarah returned to Minneapolis over the summer and worked the entire time, with only a brief reprieve to go to the cabin. When she wasn’t working, she was reading. Some of the books Sarah read over the summer were “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “A Moveable Feast, Nine Stories, I Will Never Be Beautiful Enough to Make Us Beautiful Together, Norwegian Wood, The Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri, “Drown, Raise High the Roof beams Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction,” and “The Girl with Curious Hair.”








Nabila Wirakushmah (’17) is the Phoenix’s Web Editor.

She spent her summer in 10 cities and different countries before realizing she probably should have planned for a little more downtime. After spending barely four days at home in Hong Kong, she took off for SLC's Summer Arts in Berlin program where she studied drawing, art history and architectural theory. Once the program was over, she explored Brussels and Amsterdam before heading back to Hong Kong for two weeks to meet up with two of her best friends from SLC and show them around the city and its neighboring country, Macau.


The end of July marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and on the 28th Nabila and her family went to Jakarta to celebrate Idul Fitri. After all the celebrations, they traveled to Bali for three weeks of diving, taking several small trips to and from Lovina, Ubud and Gili Trawangan to experience the part of Indonesia they missed out on while living abroad.

At the start of the summer, Nabila had written out a whole reading list for herself. However, she regrettably only got ‘round to reading one book on the list: Chris Brogan's “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth.” The book is a guide to entrepreneurship for those who don't quite fit in. She also reread “Kitchen” by Banana Yoshimoto for the fourth time, even though it was not on her list.




Janaki Chadha (’17) is the Phoenix’s News Editor.

Over the summer, Janaki went back to her hometown of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. She interned with the NYC-based organization The Poetry Society of New York, where she mostly worked on social media outreach, and spent most of her free time reading, writing and eating home-cooked food.

During the summer, Janaki read a lot of different things. She read Junot Diaz's collection, “This is How You Lose Her," lots of Joan Didion, including “Play It As It Lays,” “Middlesex,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, “A Bend in the River” and “A House for Mr. Biswas” by V. S. Naipaul, and she finally finished Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.





MaryKatherine Michiels-Kibler (’17), or simply MK, is from San Francisco but also frequently finds herself in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She is the Phoenix’s Features Editor.

MK enjoyed cheering on team FURY at the World Championships of Ultimate Frisbee in Lecco, Italy over the summer. She also enjoyed exploring Berlin with her mom, flying airplanes upside down with her dad, and taking seven kids to Yosemite National Park with her friends.

MK enjoys reading The Week, a magazine that is essentially a cheat sheet to all politics, gossip and current events happening in the world. She finds it useful when wanting to sound like she read many articles when she really only read one.






Colette Harley (’17) is the Phoenix’s Sports Editor. She is made mostly of avocados, chlorine and caffeine.

This summer Colette read most of David Foster Wallace’s short essays, “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck, “Taipei” by Tao Lin, “I Love Dick” by Chris Kraus, and re-read “Catcher in the Rye.” Colette is currently working on understanding her feelings about Wallace and might just get around to reading “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville.

When she wasn’t hanging out in Connecticut, she was working in Bronxville. The most notable part of her summer was a pilgrimage to JD Salinger’s house in Cornish, New Hampshire with Print Editor Sarah McEachern (’17).

You can follow her on twitter @intensechoobism




Baldwin Virgin (’17) is from Montclair, New Jersey, where she resides with her parents, younger brother and poodle mix. She is the Phoenix’s Perspectives Editor.

Baldwin worked for Pixie Market as their lead social media intern this summer before continuing on to working for designer Prabal Gurung as a Public Relations intern.

Baldwin’s love of writing can most likely be attributed to her writer mother and literary namesake, James Baldwin. Her love for fashion has been with her since diaper days, but is probably due to the InStyle subscription she received on her eighth birthday.

Her favorite books include “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth, “Dirty Love” by Andre Dubus III, and “My Misspent Youth,” a collection of essays by Meghan Daum.

When she is not shopping her closet or gallivanting around the city, she can be found in her basement watching Sex and the City reruns. Baldwin hopes to be a fashion journalist one day and believes that any woman can conquer the world in a black tuxedo blazer.




Toya Singh (’15) grew up in New Delhi, India, Sydney, Australia,  and Manila, Philippines. She is the Phoenix’s Social Media Editor.

Most recently she shifted to Irving, Texas, where she spent her summer doing the classic American pastimes that are visiting the grocery store, pretending she would one day hit the gym, and going to that one mall again and again.

Over the summer, she read Haruki Murakami’s “The Windup Bird Chronicle” and J.D. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey. After discovering the “Irreverent” genre tag on Netflix, Toya is proud to say that she watched every single episode of every season of “Freaks and Geeks, “The Office,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Sex and the City,
“Louie,” “Parks and Recreation,” and “That 70’s Show.” She tried “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” but it just really, really, really wasn’t meant to be.





Julia Hodgkinson (‘15) is a senior from Vancouver, Canada. She studies largely in the Environmental Studies and Economics departments during her years at SLC, and she keeps up her Spanish too. She is the Phoenix’s Copy Editor.

This summer, Julia lived in Brooklyn and interned with the Climate Initiative at the Clinton Foundation. Her research focus there was largely on renewable energy development in island nations. On weekends, Julia could be found firmly planted with iced-coffee in Fort Greene Park reading the Economist, while most likely on the phone (with her mother). This summer she read “Hard Choices” by Hillary Clinton, and she re-read “Guns, Germs, and Steel” and “Collapse” by Jared Diamond.  Julia really enjoys eating, talking, and traveling, but she loves the ocean(s).






Kathy Wielgosz (’17) is a sophomore focusing on literature and she is interested in pursuing publishing after school. She is the Phoenix’s Copy Editor.

Kathy spent her summer working retail and volunteering at her local library in her hometown of Woodridge, Illinois, a small suburb of Chicago. During her free time, she re-read her favorite book, “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and finally started reading the “Lord of the Rings” series, which she admittedly should have read years ago.

She spent the last week of her summer break visiting Williamsburg, Virginia and Washington, D.C. before returning to Sarah Lawrence. She can often be found working at the SLC library or procrastinating by cross-stitching while watching Netflix. Her current binge show is “Arrow,” which she finds delightfully cheesy.






Shelby Krog (’17) is a sophomore focusing on a degree in both veterinary medicine as well as journalism. She has a focus to work for National Geographic and has been published in the New York Times as well as the Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. She is the Phoenix’s Copy Editor.

During the summer, Shelby spent her time between California (mostly San Francisco area) and South Florida, working both as a trainer and care taker at Barker’s Pet Resort  as an assistant to a marketing executive for Netflix and HBO-go.

In her free time, Shelby volunteers at pet shelters, writes poetry, and engages in fiery social and political conversations with her friends. She loves to read, and most recently finished “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. You can follow Shelby on Instagram: @skroggy.

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.

SLC History Professor Priscilla Murolo looks back on long relationship with the college

Murolo with Emma McCumber ('11) at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protests. Photo by Benjamin Chitty, Murolo's husband

Murolo with Emma McCumber ('11) at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan during the 2011 Occupy Wall Street Protests. Photo by Benjamin Chitty, Murolo's husband

Sarah Lawrence College owes Professor Priscilla Murolo exactly four hubcaps. “I wouldn’t park my car on the campus,” Murolo recalled about being a student here in the 1970s. “I parked on the street, and then I found out I could park on campus. The first day I parked on campus my hubcaps were stolen. Here I lived in the Bronx at the time, and it was the SLC parking lot where they were stolen.”

Murolo was 30 years-old when she earned her BA in history from SLC.  After graduating high school in Connecticut, Murolo attended Barnard College, where she was more invested in campus politics than academics, for a year before dropping out. In the ten years before attending SLC to obtain her degree, she lived in the West Bronx, working a series of jobs and engaging in activism. This experience gave her a different sort of education which informed her later academia.

“There are many, many other people from whom I learned during my nine years in the West Bronx:  tenant activists, members of the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee, my co-workers at a series of clerical jobs in Manhattan, people on strike at the phone company, the post office's bulk mail facility near Jersey City, the Harper and Row publishing company, various hospitals, and a host of factories (I visited lots of picket lines),”  said Murolo. “I also learned from neighborhood women who inducted me into networks where everyone looked out for each others' kids, lent each other money, and cleaned your apartment if you were sick or you had a baby or someone in your family died.  Along the way, I became a mother and a wife – that involved a lot of learning too.”.

When Murolo decided to return to college in 1977, there were a lot fewer paths for adult education than there are now. “I wanted to go to a good school,” said Murolo, “I didn’t want to go to just any school.” When Murolo inquired if she could return to Barnard, she was told there would be a gym requirement. At the time, Murolo had two small children – ages 1 and 3, and ran 40 miles a week regularly – but Barnard wouldn’t budge.

“I remembered SLC at that point. I lived in the Bronx, and I lived three or four miles away. I thought it was 50 miles upstate, so I telephoned and asked if they had a program for adult students. They were really the first in the country—typical of SLC—to have a whole Center for Continuing Education. It had originated to bring back SLC students who had left before finishing their degrees, often to become wives and mothers. I was very, very fortunate to find SLC for a number of reasons. It was welcoming to women returning to school,” Muralo said.

Murolo worked extremely hard to earn her degree at SLC. “I did my homework between loads of laundry, trips to the Pathmark, efforts to keep the apartment at least somewhat clean and do some special things with my sons,” Murolo recalled. “One year into this process, my marriage fell apart, and without my husband's income there seemed no possible way that I could stay in school, not at SLC anyway. But Barbara Kaplan, who was then Dean of Studies, came up with a plan. I'd work full time at the student services office, the college would let me take one course for free each term, and I'd pay for the rest with loans and state and federal grants. That's how I spent my last two years as an undergraduate here.”

Murolo worked as the Coordinator of Student Employment and as the Coordinator of College Events. They were both part-time positions at the time and together they gave Murolo full-time hours. The accommodations SLC made for Murolo helped her graduate on schedule, which made it possible for her to win the Danforth Scholarship the last year it was offered. The scholarship provided the means for her to attend Yale for graduate school.

After getting her doctorate in labor history, Murolo briefly taught at the State University of New York, but found it difficult to adapt to a more traditional academic system. When a position at SLC opened that was in her field, Murolo applied and taught as a guest professor for a few years before becoming a part of its regular faculty.

“My whole relationship with SLC is important,” Murolo explained. “My sons went to school here. I’ve been a parent, an alum, an administrator, a professor, I’ve given to the annual fund – I have a lot of different relationships with the college, so I feel affection for it.”

Murolo has taught for 26 years at SLC and is currently the head of the Women’s History program. She has been able to see the college grow, change, and stay the same. The biggest college changes, she says, have been a more diverse faculty and different buildings. The student body has also slowly come to be more diverse and the course offerings have expanded.

“The downside of growth,” said Murolo, “is that we’re so large now that we have many different communities on the campus. People don’t know each other as well as they did when it was 700 or 800 students. We’ve reached the critical mass where we have the filmmaking community, the dance community, the science community, and the students who gravitate to history or literature courses and so on. The different groups ran into each other more often when the place was smaller.”

Murolo is quick to point out that SLC is in many ways still a very strong community. “Years after you graduate, you will meet students and the first question they will ask is ‘who was your don?’” Through the many years Murolo has been with SLC in many different capacities, SLC’s unique system and the opportunities it makes have remained very much the same.

“Something that students often don’t understand,” explained Murolo, “is that the faculty members are generous people, but it is the educational structure of SLC which makes us teach generously. The things that go on in conference and how we know students – this is not because we’re extraordinary individuals. This is an extraordinary school that gives us room to do that. Whatever your desires are, no matter how generous you are, if you have gigantic classes and a few office hours a week, you just don’t develop the same relationships with students. People looking from the outside at the faculty may think we’re the kinds of individuals who would do this anywhere, but it’s the structure and the culture of the institution that make it possible.”

by Sarah McEachern '17
Print Editor


As told by Willa: the dance third experience at SLC

The MFA Thesis show for second year graduate dance students is Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12. Reserve tickets in the PAC.

Willa Bennett (’17) became completely obsessed with ballet in the fourth grade, straight down to the tutus and the pointe shoes. “It was my life goal to be a ballerina,” said Bennett. As a first year at Sarah Lawrence, Bennett’s emphasis on ballet has changed. Dancing at SLC has forged a deep connection between Bennett and the intrinsic beauty of human composition. “I do not see people as skinny or fat,” Bennett says. “I look at the shape of their bodies, and how they move through space even when they’re walking through Bates to get ice cream.”

In high school, Bennett performed with her high school’s dance company. One of only ten students, Bennett got in as a freshman. Her senior thesis was a music video exploring movement and dancers within a group and by themselves. When it came time to choose colleges, conservatoires did not offer enough academics, and Sarah Lawrence had the best dance program out of liberal arts choices.

“At Sarah Lawrence, the third program is unique,” says Bennett, “because you get to dance everyday without it being your ‘major.’ You take a technique class every morning, and additionally an academic and creative approach to movement.”

Dancers in SLC’s third program can also audition for a place in a graduate student’s choreographed projects. For Bennett, this is the most exciting part of being a dance third. It allows dancers to see differences in choreographers’ creative processes up close, dance next to many different skill levels, and be apart of a graduate’s thesis.

Bennett is dancing in Helen Hickey’s choreography this semester, where she plays the alter ego of another dancer. “Dancing for Helen is amazing because I get to dance in a way I never even thought existed,” says Bennett. “I get thrown around and I crawl up dancer’s bodies.”

Bennett’s first rehearsal with Hickey started with all the dancers moving across the room in the most disgusting way they could move. “I’ve never moved like that before,” says Bennett. “The human body [in Hickey’s piece] is seen as grotesque in the most artistic and thoughtful way. Helen has absolutely changed the way I view choreography. I really admire her as an artist.”

Like she wanted when she chose SLC to study dance, Bennett’s understanding of dance continues to change. “I think my relationship with dance has changed a lot at Sarah Lawrence,” Bennett says. “I used to have a greater emphasis on technique, and now I realize the most meaningful and successful dances come from the intention of the movement.”

“Each person is a product of all their dance training so it is hard to compare who is a good dancer and who is not. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses,” explains Bennett. “I think universally everyone has their own relationship with their body, whether they are doing pirouettes or just walking straight. Everyone responds in their own way. That is part of what makes dance so beautiful and unique. It really is a way to communicate. I always feel so close to everyone I dance with because we see each other in such a vulnerable way.”

While her understanding has changed, she says dance remains, for her, “a constantly expressive and cathartic process.” For Bennett the relationship between the dancer and dance is one of the most closely tied of artist/art connections. “When someone criticizes a painting, there is a detachment between the artist and the work. Criticism in dance rests your body. It is your leg that is not high enough or at the right angle. Your body is the medium, so at least for me, it is more personal.”

The biggest difference for Bennett between her previous training and SLC’s third program is the connection between dancer and mirror. “Before, it was all about the mirror and how your reflection looked,” explains Bennett. “At Sarah Lawrence the mirror helps us understand where we are going for, but our movement is from within.” Dance at SLC has the intention of artistry before anything else.

“I do not know how my relationship with dance will evolve after Sarah Lawrence,” Bennett admits. “I am really into science. Right now for my neuroscience class, I am making a conference project on how dance effects a person’s relationship with their body and self esteem. I hope to always dance though, in some capacity.”

As for her plans for her next three years at SLC, Bennett plans to study science, dance, and political science, working on their combined effect on the world around her. She would love to dance for a company again at some point of time. She is slowly finding SLC to have a common community for dancers, where they are encouraged to study other subjects of interest, allowing them to help continually shape their relationship to dance and what it means to the dancer.

by Sarah McEachern '17

SLC Phoenix

The Phoenix is a non-profit, student-run publication representing the voices and opinions of Sarah Lawrence College community members. Our print edition publishes bi-weekly on Tuesdays, and our online edition is updated multiple times per week. Anyone may attend our open meetings at 9:00 PM on Wednesday nights in the North Room of the Pub.