Atwood Magazine issue 7 // N o s t a l g i a
Masthead Editor-in-Chief & Founder Liza Pittard Creative Director Maddy Mallory Music Director Nitesh Gupta Literary Editor Jeannine Erasmus Interviewers Abigail Agius, Molly Golski, Cristina Good, Elisa Routa, Annie StokeS Photographers Franziska Ambach, courtney Chavanell,, Elizabeth Foster, Julie Michelet, Camille Richez Literary Adefisayo D. Adeyeye, Simon Betsalel, Eli Neuman-Hammond
Fe a t u re s art Melissa Zexter Margaux Arramon-Tucoo Joshua Dildine Jwan Yosef Alexandra Levasseur Naomi Okubo
Cover by Franziska Ambach
music Icona Pop Julianna Barwick Girls in Hawaii Zee Avi STRANGE NAMES
Some have told me that I’m a chronic nostalgiac. I am constantly finding myself returning to old memories, past moments. Songs carry bits of nostalgia with them. Photographs act as vessels for times gone. Nostalgia is a very personal and deep phenomenon. It exists at the root of artistic expression. I have found when talking to artists about their creative process that many draw inspiration from memories. This inherently creates a deep, instrinsic connection to their art; it acts as the founding skeleton for the work, whatever that work may be. Issue 7 explores this notion of longing for a past moment as it exists in art and music. For many of the editorials in this issue, we have included a statement from the photographer explaining how nostalgia plays a role in their photographs because it’s different for each individual. For some, it is the feeling of happiness. For others, it is haunting. It is complicated and, often, beautiful. Nostalgia is writing on the floggy glass. It’s 4 A.M. and I don’t want to close my eyes. Nostalgia is waking up early to see the sunrise—an excuse to enjoy the silence with my father.
I hope you enjoy issue 7 and I thank you for your continued support of Atwood Magazine. I’d also like to acknowledge my incredible team of truly talented and inspiring individuals. Without them, Atwood would still be a far-off dream.
Editor-in-Chief & Founder
letter from the editor
Photographer: Julie Michelet Model: Sixtine Make-up: Virginie Hullaert Hair: Cherry CROWN by Lorna Clothes: Krist Ashford Jewelry: Absainte, Kairos
Interview by Cristina Good Photos by fredrik etoall
Coming all the way from Sweden, Carolina and Aino make up the beloved band known as Icona Pop. Already making a name for themselves with their new album, they have recently joined Miley Cyrus on her world tour. These girls are not only extremely excited for their futures, but particularly thankful to their fans who have supported them throughout their journey. With electronic undertones and intense message-bearing lyrics, their music stands out from the rest of the current hits—certainly worthy of a listen.
Just to give our readers a visual: where are you both right now? In a hotel room in San Diego and we are about to leave after this phone call for the show tonight with Miley Cyrus. Were you nervous at all before the opening show? Yes, of course, but when you get nervous like that, which you always do, you kind of forget everything that you were thinking about before. You live in the moment. I would say it’s overwhelming because the audience is standing there with open arms, dancing from first song to last song. But it was something that was magical.
Has this tour been different than headlining your own tour? It’s always different, and you don’t really know before because you have to see and read the crowd, but this feels to us like such a perfect mix because Miley’s crowd is there to party and we’re very good at creating a party. It feels very, very good. And, of course, it’s different, [and] I thought it was going to be more different than our shows, but her crowd feels a lot like the crowd we perform in front of for our own tours, so we feel very comfortable on stage. It’s like a big love fest. Of course, it’s harder because this is a 20,000 person venue, which is a lot larger than playing in front of smaller crowds of 3,000 people. We try to keep it very much the same though, [by] keeping it personal and just connecting with individual people. That’s important to us. 21
Are you able to do that on this tour? Yeah. It is harder when it’s a larger crowd, but when you do connect to everyone like that, it’s hard to explain the feeling, but it is just so incredible, like we said, a love fest. So you would say that your personalities do compliment this tour well? Yeah! It’s a big girl-power tour. It’s really an honor to be on it and Miley’s show is fucking amazing. It feels really, really good. We couldn’t be more excited for this tour actually. Have you had any unique reactions so far to the tour? There has just all-around very good feedback, which makes us super happy, but it’s only been two shows so far. We still have 40 more shows to go and a lot will happen along the way. It will be a long journey. How do you think your music will grow from this experience? Obviously our music develops through life experience, and this will give us fresh ideas. It is definitely something new in our lives: to connect with people like this. We have so much new stuff going on right now, so we actually just started to write our second album. There are a lot of interesting things we’re writing down right now.
Is there any emotional feeling that you want your listeners to feel when hearing your music? I think one word that describes our music is bitter sweet. Also, we want people to feel alive. We really just want people to feel. How would you say your album breaks the mold of other pop albums? Our pop album is very inspired by indie music. We come from Sweden where indie pop rock is the biggest genre of music, and when comparing it to other pop music, you can hear our Swedish twist to it, adding a different kind of pop. When you listen to our album, you won’t listen to ten songs that sound like “I Love It”. There is something for everyone in there. Do you have a particularly favorite song on your new album? It’s always different, but a very important song is “It’s Just Another Night”. It’s a slow song, and it’s our new single. It kind of shows another side of Icona Pop. It’s not just all about partying. Usually we can describe our heartbreak stories in a “party track”, but this is one of our more personal heartbreak songs. Are these songs generally based off your experiences or others? Unfortunately we can both relate very strongly to first-handed heartbreaks. [The duo laughs] “Oh love…”
Can we expect any shifts in your music? We want to keep growing as artists [and] keep moving forward. We get inspired by songs and by our travels. We hope our songs will be different, if not that would be boring. We are in the making of it, so we will see. We are very, very curious how it will end up, but, for now, we have very promising stuff in our future. Do you have an ultimate goal with your music? Of course, ideally, we will want to headline our own world-tour and that is a goal, but the main thing is to just keep doing what we’re doing right now: traveling all around the world, soaking in all the lovely and amazing support that we have. We definitely are gifted with [the] fans that we have who are probably the best fans in the world. We want to keep doing what we’re doing just on a bigger scale.
“...we want people to feel alive.” 24
Have you had any particular instances where a fan has reached out to you that really sticks out in your mind? Yea! My mom found this letter and it was a woman in her sixties who got sick. She had a brain tumor and her daughter gave her our song “I Love It” to listen to and because the woman became so inspired by it, she decided to listen to it throughout the whole surgery procedure that she was going through. She had the tumor removed and she’s better now. So she wrote us a letter expressing love and explaining how much energy the song gave her. I mean, it’s so beautiful. She took her time to just tell us that and how we are a big part of her life. I know that when you go through something like heartbreak or sickness you have those songs that really empower you and give you that extra energy to make you feel stronger. For us to be able to do that for someone else means the world. Are there any particular artists or songs that do the same for you? “Helping hand,” “C’est la vie” is great, Kate Bush’s “running up that hill” and a lot of Radiohead songs. Is there anything else that you would want our readers to know? We just wanted to thank them all for this amazing support that we’ve had so far. We’re a little band from Sweden, and now we are living our dream because of all the fans out there. So, a big thank you is due. So please, if we’re ever in [your] town, come down to us. That would be really cool.
melissa zexter Interview by Molly Golski
Melissa Zexter is an artist based out of Brooklyn, NY who integrates embroidery with photography. Melissa weaves a preexisting story into a new one and the results are absolutely phenomenal. What drove you to mix these very different mediums (embroidery and photography) together? I have a background in photography, but also have always loved hands-on art making techniquesâ€”drawing, painting, mosaic making. Many years ago, quite by accident, I began to combine sewing with my photography. I was at an artistsâ€™ residency program in the Catskill Mountains of New York where a fellow artist in residence taught me to make handmade paper. I went to the hardware store in town and discovered a sewing section where there was a large selection of threads. I bought some thread and a needle and began to sew pictures onto the handmade paper. I had never really sewn before. The sewn drawings were of anonymous figures. I also made pillows and sewed images onto them. Soon after, I began to incorporate sewing into my larger scale photographs. The photographs were also of anonymous figures and the sewing acted as a map or grid over the figures. For me, sewing was another way to build up a surface and to build upon the content of my photographs. I had never sewn before and loved the meditative processâ€”it was in such contrast to the technologically more immediate art of photography. I was also interested in how thread blended in and reacted to the photographs. The combination of sewing and photography brought together two very different processes that I love. The use of embroidery is a reaction to the photographs and is a process that aids in the transformation of identity of the person or place being photographed. When modifying photographs with the embroidery, what is the first part of your process? I take the photographs first, and then decide how I am going to change them with the addition of embroidery. I select my photographs carefully and study them for a long time before coming up with a method of sewing. I have an approximate idea of how I will alter my photographs, but the sewing grows and changes once I get involved in the process. I improvise a lot along the way. Not knowing how something will look when completed adds to the challenge of making a successful piece.
â€œI always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present.â€? 29
What are people’s reactions when you photograph them in their natural settings? For the photographs used in my embroidered photographs series, the majority of people in my pictures that I sew on are friends and family members. For other series, I take many pictures of people I don’t know. I have been taking pictures for so many years, that I approach strangers and friends in the same way. I know how to make people feel comfortable and I have pretty good intuition. I do what I have to do to get the photo that I need. Which collection of yours is your favorite, and what is its significance? I have an ongoing embroidered portraits series that I’m fond of as well as my “Maps and Memories” series. Many of my recent portraits (such as Girl with Bow, Cardinal, Veil) employ much looser, abstract stitching which encourages further reflection upon the combination of the divergent mediums. Recently I find myself being more interested in making 3 dimensional art, and when I layer the sewing or use a looser sewing method it seems to add a more multi layered effect to looking at the photograph. The finished photographs from my “Maps” series (Brooklyn Bus Map, Japan Swirl, Color Eye Chart, etc.) are more carefully planned out than are my more recent portraits.
A lot of your work deals with femininity and identity. How do you depict this and what sort of messages are you trying to portray to your audience? Honestly, an audience is the last thing I think of when I am working. I’m not out to send messages to anyone. In my mind, my work best fits in the category of photographic portraiture. Or at least that is what I am most interested in. I am very interested in the relationship between photography and memory. The embroidery on my photographs is a way to add an intimacy of touch to the photographs. I am also interested in the combination of heart/ mind/ machine/hand—a machine (the camera) records the image, it is made permanent, but it is the hand/ the thread that transforms the photograph. The addition of embroidery brings the photograph that was taken in the past back into the present. Although I have a few pieces that include a male in my images, I prefer to photograph women. I connect more with a female sensibility and what it is to be a female. Does “nostalgia” play a role in your artwork? If so, how? For me, photographs serve as a record of a time that has already passed…and as a collection of memories. The thread acts as a connection between the person and myself or place that I have photographed. I always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present. The thread makes the photograph more personal to me and allows me to meditate on the image. Combining the two mediums (photography and sewing) allows me to reinvent the photograph—to visually react to a person or a place. What is something that no one would ever guess about you? I am a self-taught sewer.
NOSTALGIAC “Nostalgiac is a story about dark memories. I wanted to focus of the shadowy part of nostalgia that we often forget. We tend to burry what hurt us, looking back at our past and remembering and what we have done wrong, wishing so badly to have done it another way. We are full of regrets, or remorses. For this shoot, I wanted to lean on a particularly dark and unpleasant personal memory. I wanted to tell the story of a girl who takes time to look back and focus on what she has done and had let behind her. She sees the memories coming back at her at once and become surrounded with black and sad ones, like tortured.” -Camille Richez
Photographer: Camille Richez Model : Garance Rochoux-Moreau Stylist : Amany Behounna MUA + hair : Eleonore Mixay (Clothing Credits in back of issue)
i can tell you that there are whole days i am unhappy. i can tell you that today was monday and i did not laugh. i bit the inside of my lip all afternoon hoping that nobody would ask me how are you? extra shot of espresso? do you have the time? i stared at the blue wall of my bedroom for an hour and 24 minutes thinking of nothing but the blue wall. the inside of my lip is sore and bruised and hurts when i move my tongue over it. when i was a child i had lots of friends. when i was a child i played hide and go seek, with marbles, with barbies, with toy cars, with my little brother, with the neighbor, in the garden, in the pool, on the kitchen floor. i do not remember a sad day in my childhood. i have known and left so many people i have been fond of and i have been in love with places, with cities, with a page of a book, with cafes, with a red bicycle, and there are entire nights i carry with me. this go and come back and go again has me broken and put back together with my toes and ears and heart in all places but the right ones. Jeannine Erasmus 44
Paris I look back to you, Your skin brown and dry Laying in the covers Laying in your arms. Safe Still As the rain fell And heels clicked on the cobblestone. In the hours we spent Gazing at digital eyes I knew love. It lingers in my mind, The hallowed place Where I was home. Now, the ocean is real And your words spare. I pull your teeth between the smiles And watch the minutes grow. I hope that you are happy, Have found a real face to hold. Lips, and stubble, and limbs. Iâ€™ll always know that feeling Of warmth Of winter Of you.
Simon Betsalel 45
julianna barwick Interview by Nitesh Gupta Photos by Shawn Brackbill
Listening to Julianna Barwick’s music is like immersing yourself into an entire new world. It’s not the type to listen from a distance, distilling and picking apart every melody. Nor is it the type that sends a clear emotional message. Rather than hitting you in one single spot, her music slowly envelops and surrounds your entire being, nurturing, beckoning, and calling for the more tender parts of your soul. Using a loop station pedal — the Boss RC-50, to be specific — she layers melodies and harmonies until they achieve this wholesome effect. Her music is meditative, introspective, powerful. Her latest album Nepenthe received its name from an ancient drug—a “drug of forgetfulness”—in ancient Greek mythology. And yet her music feels anything but forgetful.
Nitesh: Tell me about yourself. Julianna: I’m a happy, easy-going musician that lives in Brooklyn. Nitesh: When did you start making music? Julianna: I’ve always made music, ever since I was a little kid. I always made melodies and songs and little things. I guess I started recording things after high school, and the the more loopbased things in 2005. So that’s really when I started getting more serious about recording stuff.
Nitesh: When did you get your first loop station pedal? Did you always use the Boss RC-50? Julianna: The first one that I played around with was my friend’s and it was a guitar digital delay pedal. And then I bought myself the Boss RC-50 back in 2006, and I’ve had the same one ever since. Nitesh: Without using genre names, how would you describe your music? Julianna: With genres, I would say like somewhere between experimental and classical. Without, I would say very spontaneous, improvisational, and emotional recordings that I later add.
Nitesh: I heard you recorded your last album in Iceland? What brought you there? Julianna: Alex Somers asked me to work with him. Then we decided that he would produce my next solo record, and we decided to do it in Iceland.
Nitesh: Your work has been compared to Sigur Ros, not necessarily in sound, but in general atmosphere and feeling. How did it feel going on tour with them? Julianna: It was the best month of my life. It was wonderful. They are one of my favorite bands and I got to watch them 20 times in a row; it was great. Nitesh: Favorite moments? Julianna: The song, Brennisteinn. It was just wonderful hearing them play music every night. Jonsi has one of my favorite voices of all time. Orri, one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. They’re just perfect. We did a show in Nashville outside in the woods and it was just totally dreamy.
Nitesh: Our theme for this issue is NOSTALGIA. What does nostalgia mean to you? Julianna: Nostalgia, for me, means just not even like a memory that you can put your finger on, but a feeling of familiarity. It can be triggered by smell or sound or a dream, a re-occurring dream. Also, for me, it’s emotional attachment to things, particularly from your past that are again triggered by any number of things—smell, sounds, a piece of clothing. Nitesh: Is there a song of yours that evokes that feeling? Julianna: I think that the Harbinger definitely does. I think that’s the one that Alex and I took the most time with. It was just always my favorite one. It’s really just a feeling from that time when I was working with Alex in Iceland and what the weather was like and the things that I was doing in that time period. Nitesh: That sounds wonderful. What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever witnessed? Julianna: I went to a village in Gayana once and all the kids there were extremely cute. We walked down a path filled with flowers and little insects and things that I had never seen before. And that lead to a beautiful lake that was really, really red. And it was just unreal. Nitesh: What is one thing people would never expect about you? Julianna: I watch a lot of “Keeping up with the Kardashians.”
“[Nostalgia] can be triggered by smell or sound or a dream, a re-occurring dream. Also, for me, it’s emotional attachment to things, particularly from your past that are again triggered by any number of things—smell, sounds, a piece of clothing.” 51
Margaux Arramon -Tucoo Interview and Photograhy by Elisa Routa
You work in a small workshop up your street, can you describe it? It is supposed to be my father’s garage. He works on his old cars there. But I made myself a little art room upstairs. It smells like petroleum and hard work. Everybody here gets dirty, but for different activities. When did you start making drawings? I would say, like everybody, when I was a little creature. Then, it never stopped and I feel like I still am a little creature. Ask me again in ten years... How would you describe yourself to someone who doesn’t know anything about you? I belong to the other part. The one that thinks with its left brain. I have paint all over me and I don’t brush my hair. My right brain makes me put my pencils parallel and roll up my sleeves before I start working. Can you describe the place you live? I think everyone has his own garden. If it’s not concrete, it is grass or made of fields. Mine is water and liquid. So I’d rather have something that floats or be able to swim [and] play in it. You see where the water surrounds the castle? This is where the most fun slides are created.
Does your career as a pro fee surfer gives inspiration to your artwork? Yes and no. I don’t want myself to mix both too much. Nowadays, I have the impression that surf[ing] and art get too mixed up, and I dont want to be categorized as a surfer that does “surf art”. That’s not what I’m doing actually. I mean not to. I surf for my own good since forever and my job now is to be an artist. Of course, I travel and, of course, traveling opens your mind. But, I practice both activities in different ways now, and I [have] never felt that as much as [I do] today. I have two lines going parallels, but not crossing each other so they keep on going as fast as they want to. We are speaking about two different sort[s] of creativity. I think I opened my mind when I came to that stage, when I realized I could do both separately. Is being a free surfer and the global notion of freedom important to you? It is. I can wake up one morning and buy a plane ticket that will lead me to warm waters, to different cultures and I can expand my surfing. But, I can also buy a plane ticket and say I’ll go surf and end up doing art. This is freedom because I do it my own way.
Can you tell us a bit more about your collaboration with RVCA? It’s been four years now that I [have been] involved with RVCA They support me as an advocate. I do what I want as long as it is creative. I can surf; I can paint, I can explore and they support the projects I give birth to. RVCA is an awesome community [that] unites a handful of amazing talented humans. I have met people I looked up to. Painters, gliders... To me, RVCA is like a central point in my motivation. I know that what I’ll do will get appreciated by them, will help me to believe and keep on going further because [my art] is seen by people through their own popularity. Having a sponsor is not only having free items or being popular in some ways. It is having a family that supports me—what they do best! “Make it happen”. A lot of your work seems to focus on Mandalas and geometry. Can you explain the reason behind this? My childhood was a lot of trips to Northern Africa, Morroco. My mother [did] mosaics and I would see those circular stuff all over the walls in Maghreb. I also really got into learning things about geometry and I think it holds what the world is made of. It is very interesting and you understand a lot of things about the shape of anything in life, anything you find on Earth .
Do you have any favourite drawings? Every time I start doing something new, I have one piece or two [in] a series I want to hide in a closet and keep it for myself because I have feelings for my drawings sometimes and never want to see them go. You also draw and paint with watercolors on portraits which gives a mystical effect to your art. Is there any nostalgia in the fact of painting faces of old friends who live far away? I assume the fact of drawing a lot of women faces. They intrigue me. Gender of my kind, being a lady, has always been mysterious to me. They live the same way, but not really because everyone is different. I do draw them and fill them with beautiful flowers and bright or soft colors. I think I am still looking for my own self in them in some ways. When you’re creating a drawing, do you have some images of what you want to draw or do you draw instinctively? When I want to go and work, I already know what I want to draw. It is usually a combination of ideas I thought about for days or weeks and I can make a few drawings out of it. Then, from that, it comes instinctively—the colors, the forms, the way the eyes will glance, and the mood I am in. Beginning a drawing means beginning another line of ideas. Aside from drawing, what do you do in your spare time? I walk a lot. I spend some time in the ocean and I travel. I also find myself into art books a lot. I love art books.
You’re always traveling around the world, surfing, drawing, painting. Which parts of the globe are the most special to you? Home, of course, will always be THE place. But Morroco has begun to put a spell on me, particularly [in the] last year. I’ve been going there [for] over ten years now, but I have grown and can appreciate it differently today. There is also California, where I have made amazing relationships. It’s kind of [a] ghost life that I live when I go there. It is an exciting part of my year. Other places would be the wild countries, where only trees and the sand are part of the environment. I went to Mexico recently and it made me feel like I need[ed] to have my own time to live in the forest and eat fruits once in a while. Who are your biggest influences? I am very admiring of all kinds of artistic movements and disciplines. I love musicians, film directors, and painters. In every century, there is always a few that blow my mind with what they do and the evolution they make in their own discipline. These days, I’ve been influenced by abstract art and all the painters that knew how to make women look beautiful, such as Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Odilon Redon… with flowers, pastels, and beautiful ladies. If you can collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be? Above all, I would choose Frida Kahlo. I would do anything to spend a day with her. I am passionate about her life, her revolutionary ideas, and decisions in life. She was strong, very talented, and humble. But, she believed in herself until the end of her life and was a romantic character.
Could you tell me something about you that nobody knows? I often would like to be different as I see myself. What’s a typical day when your name is Margaux Arramon-Tucoo? If I end my day after a work out of [my] brain, I take a walk and a drive, and if I have time to finish some work after that, I will be happy at dinner. I try not to be frustrated by empty days. The theme of this issue 7 is “Nostalgia”. What would you draw to represent nostalgia? I would draw someone walking far away from me, towards this way. I would draw fields of fresh flowers and towards my way, a few other roads to take one more time with raw seeds. What’s on your playlist these days? Warpaint , Esp 627, James Vincent McMorrow, The Smiths, Marvin Gaye, Mac Demarco. You’re heading to Australia in few days, what will you do there? I am just going there to surf. I have a few little projects with friends and, as for my work as a surfer, I have to bring back images of perfect waves. I think there are worse jobs in life, aren’t [there]? What are your plans for 2014? There are many plans for 2014, [but] I don’t want to talk about [them] because I heard it’s bad karma..
“Don’t Flip Your Lid, 2013, acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas, 72”x61”
Interview by Abigail Agius 58
Created from old photos, Joshua Dildine’s unique artworks are equal parts spontaneous, bizarre and beautiful. A self-proclaimed sports nut, he shares with us his thoughts on the significance of Jurassic Park, looking at the glass half full, and being the exception to the rule. At what age did you discover your love for art, and how have you grown as an artist since then? I started at a pretty young age. My grandmother is an artist and spent a lot of time with me when I was younger, teaching me how to draw and watercolor. I was pretty hooked from the beginning. I come from an athletic family: I’m 1 of 5 brothers, and there were plenty of sporting events to go around. But the athletic genes were not as heavy in my favor, and I often spent time on the sidelines, cheering and drawing. My brothers reciprocated that support and were very encouraging with my art. My parents were continually supportive throughout my childhood. Looking back now, a collection of life experience has pushed me to this point (I guess anyone in the world can say that). I went through a time when I would create art to get the same reaction from my parents as my other brothers would do through sports. I was motivated by encouragement. So, naturally, I was making art that was meant to please others. At some point along the way, I started to lose steam and realized that to have sustainability as an artist, I must make work for myself and not worry about approval. If I have learned anything about my family over the years, it’s that they were pretty persistent in supporting me no matter what, even if the work was terrible (and often times it was)....
In the early stages, what kept you believing that you could make it as an artist? I don’t know if I ever fully believed I could make it as an artist. I feel like I am still trying. I was always told by random people that I could never make a living being an artist. “It’s the worst major to choose in college!” and “You want to be a starving artist?!” were the common reactions. I guess I didn’t care about that. There is always an exception to the rule. I am a sports nut, and I always like a good underdog story. How do you typically create a painting? It all starts with the family photograph. When selecting an image, I often choose awkward photos (because I have a lot of them) with funny faces and interesting colors or patterns, mostly because I think they will be fun to paint. I then scan the photo and reprint on a larger scale, and paint over, around, and into them. I like using photographs for several reasons: the visual contrast with the paint, my private connection to the subject matter, and especially the emotions that these pieces can evoke from the painted-over subjects and the viewers. There’s an interesting discomfort that arises from that disturbance of familiarity.
Special is Putting it Mildly, 2013 / acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas / 72 x 96 inches
What inspires you and what drives you to create? That is usually a difficult question. It is like asking me, “What do I eat?” You could say that my inspiration “diet” involves less art and more life experiences at the present moment. My wife and son are huge inspirations, as well as running, hiking, teaching, etc, etc, etc. Do you plan your pieces or do you just paint spontaneously? A mixture of both. I want to be calculated and make intentional marks because the photograph calls for it. But if I am too calculated, I feel like it’s too much in service of, or in consciousness of, the image of my family. As far as spontaneity, I enjoy letting go, but I can’t let it take over the painting. I need a healthy balance. Bold and blurred lines seem to be a consistent quality in your paintings, like a massive burst of emotion. What led you to thinking of expressing yourself in this way? They do come at moments of emotion, but that “visual effect” is one way that I connect the painting to the photographic presence of the piece. In some ways, I am changing the depth of field in the abstract space.
Do you think that you’re a ‘glass half empty’ or ‘glass half full’ kind of person, and how does this affect your perspective on the world and how do you convey it in art? I am definitely a “glass half full” type, maybe to the extent that I am thankful to even have a glass. This perspective helps me to enjoy the relationships with people around me and enjoy being present in the moment. To convey this in my work is one of the challenges that keeps me engaged with my work. The photographs certainly will convey this joy I have, but as soon as I deface and paint over the image, I then work to make the paintings less pessimistic. The process compels me to re-find the light or joy.
I think that a lot of artists have trouble getting their work ‘out there’, especially because it’s so easy to get buried in the competition. How did you do it? Did the attention come on it’s own or did you share it around a lot? I worked on the art first, and when I felt it was good enough to be out there, I worked on my interactions with people and galleries. In the mean time, I made a website and I let the tumblr, twitter, and social media monsters pass along my work. It is important to be present and available. Talk with people, have studio visits, be friends with artists, have mentors, have studio mates. These are all things that have helped me along the way.
On a Limb, 2013 / acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas / 72 x 96 inches
This issue’s theme is NOSTALGIA. Art related or not, at what point in life did you realize that you were no longer a child? I think when I realized that my students were not alive when Jurassic Park came out. In other words, this year. If there was one thing that you wish that people could take from your pieces, what would it be? I want people to enjoy the excavation, forget gravity, and have a sense of humor. Sorry, that was three things.
Win the Day, 2013, acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas, 60”x66””s
Sweet to the Core, 2013 / acrylic, spray paint, and oil on canvas / 72 x 60 inches
Gilding The Lily Photographer: courtney chavanell Stylist: Shari Gerstenberger Wardrobe: Charm School Vintage Model: Lily
“The pastime of looking at photographs to recall a time and place is something that is universally relatable. Photography has the power to evoke memories and a pleasurable yearning that is referred to as nostalgia. In this series, Shari Gerstenberger (Charm School Vintage), and I created images that were influenced by the recollections of our lucid dreams. We recalled on the moment after waking up after a vivid dream, struggling to fall back asleep, into the fantasy of our subconscious. “Gilding the Lily,” is our visual interpretation of stimulating experiences that occur involuntarily during the stages of sleep. “Gilding the Lily” is a Shakespearian term that means to embellish something that is already beautiful. We chose to incorporate paint and mixed-media into these photographs to elaborate upon the surreal and ambiguous nature of dreams. Unconsciously, the mind is capable of rendering a narrative that is often bizarre and inexplainable. With this work, we are inviting the viewer to reminisce on past moments when describing a dream with only words, proved impossible.” -Courtney Chavanell
Girls in Hawaii Interview by Nitesh Gupta Photos by Olivier Donnet
When thinking of the artists for the theme of nostalgia, I immediately thought of Girls in Hawaii. Nostalgia can be a warm memory of a past love or a wonderful time in life that makes you smile every time you think of it, but nostalgia can also have a dark side. In 2010, the band confronted the death of their dear friend and drummer, Denis. It took them a couple years to be able to make music again, and their song “Misses” off their newest album, with aching lyrics—(There is always a fall / but it happened too soon)—is just one of the songs influenced by their tragedies. Besides changing their lives in ways I can only imagine, the tragedy completely changed their music. Plan Your Escape, released in 2008, felt, despite some melancholic moments, like a feel-good, indie pop album. Their most recent album, Everest, despite some louder moments, feels quiet, introspective and reflective. With a title like “Everest,” it’s difficult not to think of the mountain as a metaphor for overcoming personal struggles. In a particularly poignant song on the record, they pay homage to mountain climber, George Mallory, lost for seventy-five years after being seen just 800 feet from the summit of the tallest mountain in the world. “Did you reach the top?” they ask in the final words of the song.
Nitesh: Without using genre names, how would you describe your music? Antoine: Melodic and carefully crafted but sometimes loud and dirty. Nitesh: Your band name is “Girls in Hawaii” but you are all from Belgium. How did you come up with the name? Antoine: I guess we wanted a name that did not reflect who we are in real life... it’s an invitation to travel, to escape from your daily routine. Nitesh: How do you think being from Belgium has influenced your music? Antoine: Belgium is at the crossroad of many different cultures. So I guess we sometimes mix and match things that you would not think of in the first place. And that becomes an influence. Nitesh: What brought you to Iceland to record some of your music? Antoine: We just love Iceland. Such an amazing country. There’s no words to describe its magic. We felt we needed to be there. Nitesh: Our theme for this issue is NOSTALGIA. What does nostalgia mean to you? Antoine: Trying to hold on to what is left of something that’s gone. Hold on to it and give it a second chance, a second life, and a new meaning in the present.
Nitesh: I love your song “Summer Storm” and it always evokes a strong feeling of nostalgia in me. Can you tell me the story behind the song? Antoine: It’s a song Lionel wrote the night after breaking up with a girl he had been with for a long time. It was a horrible moment for him, but his love was gone. So he just needed to write a song about it. Nitesh: I understand that as a band, you’ve been through some extremely rough times, notably with the death of a band member. Would you say your music has helped you heal? Antoine: Yes we did. I think we needed to go through the grieving process before we were able to start making music again. Our music did not really help much. I would say it made things more difficult in the first place. Then we learned to be a band again. But for a long time there was nothing but pain and grief. Nitesh: Are there any particular songs that evoke the feeling of nostalgia for you? What do they make you think of ? Antoine: I think “Misses” is a good example. It’s obviously a song about Denis, our lost friend. It’s a nostalgic song, but I think we avoided the pitfall of self-pity, which is a good thing. We miss him but we also decided to move forward because that’s the only thing you could do.
Nitesh: What’s the most powerful song to you on your most recent album? Antoine: That’s difficult to say because we are six and I guess everybody would pick a different one. But I would say “Wars”; it’s very mysterious and intriguing. Powerful in a particular way. Nitesh: What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever witnessed? Antoine: It’s difficult to pick one moment and define it as the most beautiful thing ever. I would say it’s more important to try and create a state of mind where you are able to witness beauty in the things that flow around you. Nitesh: What’s something people would never expect about you? Antoine: I don’t know, singing in French maybe :)
jwan yosef Interview by Cristina Good
Jwan Yosef grew up and was artistically trained in Stockholm, Sweden, receiving a degree in Fine Arts from Kontsfack University College of Arts. His unique painting technique, characterized by the panning illusion, evolved from his initial interest of video work. By delivering his pieces in series, Yosef captures the progression of human emotion. Yosef has been fortunate and talented enough to make a career out of creating art; his work has been featured in numerous galleries all throughout London.
What led you to pursue art? I started painting since day one really, growing up in a family that naturally supported my interest from the beginning totally helped. There was no question once I started art school and got in the frame of mind of working with art full time, it was clear as glass to me. I think in general a very supportive surrounding will get you a very long way. What attracted you to the blurred line technique that characterizes your art? My initial process always involved video work, so when I ventured on to painting on Perspex. I initially wanted to imitate a constant panning. It feels like a very natural way of working on Perspex once you scrape layer upon layer on the slippery surface. It’s very different from canvas painting; somehow you need to adapt to the surface and respect that it won’t react in the same way you’re trained to believe, as in canvas painting. Which human emotion do you most often try to convey in your pieces? It’s hard to say really, I would like to say ‘fear of death’ but I think its more the relation between death and sexuality/sex, where I truly find there being a strong bond. Also, I have a genuine fear of rejection, which I feel oozes in my painting. Ha ha, general complexes really… Many of your works come in multiples. Explain what goes through your head when you are creating the second or third piece. Well for me they all kind of happen in the same time. The following pieces are like an extension of the first one, but in my mind they are all one. That’s why it’s so important for me to work in series, to be able to create a motion in what’s naturally a rigid object. I generally think in motion and try to adapt that imagery to painting.
Summarize your process of completing a work. Additionally, explain the setting that you like to work in (i.e. quiet, loud, somber, etc.) It’s all very quick really; since I rely on the paint to be wet while working on it I work out an image and then paint it (mirrored) on the transparent surface. Once the painting is ready I flip it to showcase the unpainted transparent surface. It’s really painting in reverse, which gets confusing once I try to paint on canvas since I don’t have to think in a backward manner. I share my studio with several other artists which leads to a pretty dynamic environment. I’m mostly alone in the space, but still it’s always good having people surrounding you when you need to work out ideas and such. I noticed that you completed your first piece called “Initiation” in 2011 and then added to this piece this year (2014). Was there a particular reason for this? Well this very much goes back to my process of working in series, it spans over years and it helps me build a deeper understanding in my own work. By going back and reusing my previous imagery I feel I develop them into something new. I never feel that a painting is finished; however, instead of not ever finishing one piece, I pass it on into newer work. To go along with our theme of NOSTALGIA, what is the earliest piece of art that you can remember creating? This can go as far back as finger-painting in elementary school. I remember as a kid (probably 5 years old) I used to draw anything, whether it was dinosaurs or unicorns. Kids around me would pretty much demand me to recreate the same drawing for them to keep. So I think one of my earliest memories of painting would be me in kindergarten recreating original work I would do in order to give them to my friends. There might be a link to my current work after all, ha ha.
If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing either art related or not, what would it be? ‘Oh boy you’re up for a rollercoaster ride.’ What do you hope to achieve with your art? And what can we expect of you next? I think in many ways I have a very selfish purpose to creating art. It’s very much my need to pass on a heritage, I think. Some people make babies, others make money; I make art. Fortunately, I’ve been able to make it a profession, which goes back to pure determination. I’m very much in a twilight zone at the moment in my work; I’m experimenting with different materials and finding myself going back to working on canvas, actually portraying my reluctance to working on canvas. I’m finding it very evolving and I’m looking forward to a different branch to my previous work.
â€œI think, some people make babies, others make money; I make art.â€?
Time Goes By â€œTime Goes By is, in essence, the embodiment of my nostalgia for something I never had. As a teenager I always looked up to the characters in films like Clueless. They were confident, fashionable, and not afraid to speak their minds. As someone who struggled with social anxiety, this seemed unattainable to me. In this editorial, Julia plays out that role for me. An alter ego, if you will. Everything I always wanted to be as a teenager, but was too afraid to.â€? -Elizabeth Foster
Photographer: Elizabeth Foster Model: Julia Cumming Hair/MUA: Christopher Marcum Wardrobe Stylist: Sam Bates (Clothing Credits in Back of issue)
help my little bird body be close to you I am the tinniest watchman in your pocket the way the smallest things and the largest are the same. The hammer headed sharks bashing holes in your dads SUV we never found, never let go of. The quarters rumbling inside our cheeks, pressed together, cold and wet and sorry sorry sorry. The way whales wonâ€™t even cry when people leave fingerprints all over their tombstones. The way we snuck beer in your little brothers sippy cups. Took turns tasting things in the backseat. The way you pulled the quarters out of my lips and put them into separate piggy banks. The way you said you would save them all for a rainy day. Adefisayo D. Adeyeye
In a quiet wood she pricked her finger. The pain shot through her maze-covered skin and she turned her face towards me. Something of shock haunted those dark eyes, something of vacancy and beauty filled her air. Sudden and soft, I wrapped my hand around her bloody finger and kissed it better again. In silence, we embraced. Eli Neuman-Hammond
Zee Avi interview by Nitesh Gupta
There’s something incredibly soothing, comforting, and pure about Zee Avi’s voice, as a singer and as a human being. It’s no wonder she’s coming out with a children’s album in the next few weeks—an album full of songs that provide the magic to calm a little child. She’s the kind of musician that allows you to spend hours on YouTube searching for different live, acoustic performances of her songs. And she’s done them everywhere—including basements and rooftops. Zee is a singer, a fashion designer, a guitarist, a visual artist, but more than anything else, she’s a story-teller. For Zee, every song is a story, and when she sings, she transports herself right back to the place where she wrote the song. In that way, every song—no matter how heavy the story is—feels warmly nostalgic. A few weeks ago, Zee and I spoke about music, storytelling, nature, food, and memories.
Nitesh: Tell me about yourself. Zee: I think I’m a storyteller with melodies. At the same time, I’m just someone who realized that there’s a purpose when it comes to doing what I do. And that’s to help people feel. But other than that, on the more linear side of things, I’m Zee Avi. I was born in a really small town in Borneo Island, the third largest island in the world. It’s very tribal based. It’s one of the paradise destinations in the world. After traveling a lot you have some sort of connection with your home. Nitesh: You mentioned you write music that helps people feel. What music did you really connect to as a little kid? Zee: I grew up listening to my karaoke jam when I was 6 years old. It was “Yesterday Once More” by the Carpenters. I’ve always felt a connection to ballads and songs that bring you on a journey. I was too young at the time to know what the song was about, but music gets you here [points to heart]. Nitesh: Do you know what the song is about now? Zee: It’s about the nostalgic feeling that songs can bring you. It’s a paradox of emotions as well. The ending of the chorus—“When they get to the part / Where he’s breaking her heart / It can really make me cry / Just like before / It’s yesterday once more”—it’s melancholy, but it’s whimsical at the same time. There are always so many different ways of delivering an emotion. I guess I’m attracted to people like Harriet Nelson and Joni Mitchell—they all have this quality that is really sincere and simple in the way they deliver their melodies and their stories. Even if it’s a really heavy story, they seem to be able to deliver it with a bright outlook. It’s a light tone for something that is heavy for your heart. A song can do that.
Nitesh: Earlier you were describing the Carpenters song as nostalgic. I’m not sure if you know this, but our theme for this issue is nostalgia. Zee: Oh really? Brain waves are real! Nitesh: Definitely! So on that realm, what does nostalgia mean to you? Zee: Well, here’s my favorite quote: “Yesterday was history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is the present, so enjoy the gift.” Even though I try to keep that in mind, I like to revisit a lot of my past memories. For me, the feeling of nostalgia is the feeling of comfort. It’s just this feeling that makes you feel so secure and safe. You know that you were once at this place that made you feel really nice. And I feel I get to revisit this when I hear a lot of old music—anything before 1979. Nitesh: At the same time, isn’t it painful to know that you aren’t there anymore? Zee: It’s in no way painful! Just because you want your emotions to sustain, doesn’t mean the world is going to stop moving. You, as a person, grow every second. Time moves on and you create new memories that you feel nostalgic about.
“...there’s a purpose when it comes to doing what I do. And that’s to help people feel.”
Nitesh: That’s a beautiful way of looking at it. Do any of the songs you’ve written give you that feeling of nostalgia? Zee: All of them I think. When I perform them, you have to be in that space—coming back to me being a storyteller even more than musician—you have to be able to transport the people you are singing to back into this space where you were when you lived it — you kind of have to relive it all the time. Sometimes when I’m singing a song, in the hype of performing, I get so touched, almost on the verge of tearing up a little bit because I’m transported into this zone of how I felt when I had to write that song. And I guess that transcends into where emotion lies in terms of creativity. But the song that gives me a nostalgic feeling in a very, very nice vibrant way is my song—“Honeybee”. Nitesh: I love that song! Zee: I know, me too! Sometimes I listen to that and I’m like, did I write this? I wrote this! Nitesh: Is there a particular story behind the song? Zee: That’s actually the first love song that I’ve ever written. That’s huge for me as someone who would write songs on the daily. The one thing I remember about writing that song is making a stand and just having a friend believe it was right, and just kind of standing my ground. Basically, I was really young when I wrote it—I was about 20-21. I still had a lot of my rebellious side making cameos here and there. The song is written to a nonconformist who is finding love. Mostly, it’s about not conforming to what other people feel is right at the time. It wasn’t about anyone doing anything harmful or bad—it’s just a matter of someone saying—you’re not making the right choice. I took it in at the time and I let it sink in, but I found that I was going to weigh out what everyone was saying, but I wasn’t going to listen to it because this was my path and this was what I was going through. And I’m glad I went through with it, because a song came out of it! I don’t think I can ever write a song like that. It’s one of a kind. The song became larger than itself when I started touring and had all these meet-and-greets. People will come up to me after the show and say, ”you have no idea how that song has helped me.” I have the whole song tattooed on my back. [starts singing] “I’ll come save you even if it means I’d have to face the queen.” Nitesh: What’s the queen in the song? Zee: The main source of your fear that you don’t want to step on, that you don’t want to face. With love, there’s no such thing as defeat. At the time, it’s what I really wanted to fight for and I didn’t care whether I had to face my biggest fear or biggest worry in order to have love in my life. Nitesh: And it worked out well? Zee: It worked out quite well! It was a really good experience for everyone who gave inspiration to that song.
Nitesh: Tell me about your upcoming album Nightlight. It’s an album of covers for children? Zee: The album is also just a collection of songs that I hope for now I’ve curated for the whole family to enjoy. It’s not just lullabies, it’s songs I enjoy and would have enjoyed as a child. And most of them I did enjoy as a child.
Nitesh: Which songs in there did you hear a lot as a child? Zee: There’s a medley in there in English and Malaysian “Lagu tiga kupang” and “Air Pasang Malam” and maybe one more—that my grandma used to sing to my cousins and I. And those are songs that I would sing to calm a child. I had a brother after being an only child for 17 years. It was Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game.” That was the go-to song for him. That would always work. The cover art for Nightlight was done by an 8-year-old girl and she doesn’t know yet. I keep in touch with her mom and her. She, her mom, and her friends—they all came to a show and they had the lyrics to my song printed on a t-shirt and that girl —she was just the sweetest little ball of sunshine, such a delightful human being. And so they’ve been really supportive of my journey. They are always on the front-line when it comes to supporting me. So I asked her mom, can McKinsey draw me a picture of a nightlight? And she gave me three options. Nitesh: That’s amazing, I can’t wait for her to see it on your album! What else do you have planned for the future? Zee: Things are definitely going to be on the positive side of things this year. With my Nightlight album coming out, I’m going to be on tour in Asia for ten days. After that, I might be doing an East Coast tour for the Nightlight album. And after that, I’m concentrating on finishing my third album.
Alexandra Levasseur Interview by Liza Pittard
What is your “story”? Where have you been and where do you intend to go? I was born in 1982 in Shawinigan, Québec, Canada and I left my hometown at the age of 18 to move to Costa Rica. I stayed in Costa Rica for years, did my BA in Fine Arts, and got jobs as art director for advertising agencies. In 2008, I took a year off and went back to school in Barcelona where I did a postgraduate in Illustration, then I came back to Costa Rica for one more year, and moved back to Montreal in 2010. Since then, I’ve worked as a freelance illustrator, film director, and visual artist. I don’t have plans to move from Montreal in a near future, but anything can happen…! How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it before? My work is oneiric and poetic. It puts into scene tormented feminine figures in dreamlike landscapes. Over the last years it has been portraying the loneliness of the human state of existence, and the unquietness of the mind no matter the comfort of the body. Your work features lots of female subjects and florals. What is the significance of your subject choices? I believe woman still remains the symbol for the expression of universal emotions such as: love, fear, anguish, death, sexual awakening, and unrequited desire, which are the central themes for my art. The flowers come from the floral wall papers my grandmother used to have.
Does ‘nostalgia’ play a role in your work? Definitely! Nostagia plays a role in my work because I often try to recreate memories and sensations from the past. What is your favorite of the works you’ve created? Why? I really like “Camouflage” (pictured left). You’ve said that your work comes from worlds you created when you were a child. Can you tell us about this world? I don’t really have words to describe them; they’re more like flash-images or sensations, memories coming from random places, scents, or music, that I associate with specific moment and emotions. Those flashes can be very inspiring! Describe a memory that has impacted your work. The floral wallpapers of my grandma! Why do you create? It’s my way of exploring and questioning life. It’s therapeutic.
“Summer Games III” (right); “The Mountain” (left)
STRANGE NAMES Interview by Annie Stokes
STANGE NAMES, the Minneapolis-based pop duo comprised of the strangely-named Liam Benzvi and Francis Jimenez, is anything but your average electronic act. While many similar-sounding bands rely on studio tricks to create their aesthetic, Benzvi and Jimenez got their start performing live. STRANGE NAMES itself was born largely of a desire to connect with a live audience, and in speaking with both musicians, it’s clear that the passion and artistry of being onstage is the soul behind their eclectic and infectious sound. How did you come up with your band name? Francis: We were throwing around nouns and adjectives one day and we got to STRANGE NAMES and thought that was a pretty fitting title. What’s the backstory of STRANGE NAMES and how the band came together? Liam: We were both in our own respective bands while we were in college. We started sending each other songs and realized we had a common aesthetic for straightforward pop songs. We just started building those together. Then, in 2012, we really decided that we wanted to put something together live. We’ve been playing live since March 2012, so almost two years. That’s been the trajectory of it all. So, releasing EPs, and we did a single 7” with White Iris in LA, but mostly now, we’ve been playing live and recording our debut LP here. And kind of using the Minneapolis music scene as a breeding ground for what we want to do live and what the art and audience relationship is on stage.
You were in bands prior to STRANGE NAMES. What was your prior involvement in music before you guys met? Francis: I started taking lessons in classical guitar when I was like 9, and did music throughout high school and eventually when I was 15 or 16 I started playing in my first band. And I did a couple things throughout high school, and then when I moved out to Minneapolis, I started another rock band. And Liam also had one too. We were friends so we decided to play together and had our own “mini” scene for a little bit before we decided to start making music together. Liam: I was actually in acting school, so I had kind of a theater background, so I was performing on that level. And forming a band while I was in theater school was kind of a release for me to explore performing in a musical way. I always was a huge music fan, so to be able to make music and apply what I had already known to something creative was very rewarding and continues to be.
photo by Chris Heidman
Did you finish acting school? Liam: Yes, I did. We both graduated college. Do you still act? Liam: Uh yeah, I just did a film called “Four”, and I did some stage acting in Chicago and Minneapolis. I was just kind of bred into performing arts school. I went to a performing arts school in Manhattan, so I just kind of continued with that. You guys have a very unique sound; I can tell it’s the result of a lot of influences. How did your aesthetic evolve and how did you arrive at your genre? Francis: When Liam and I first got together I was showing him all this music – and we both really dig music from the same time period, the late seventies an early eighties–I was showing him some music like Elvis Costello or something like that, really guitar-driven music from that period, and Liam would come in and show me more electronic songs from that period. And somewhere between my punk-rock and his crowd-rock, whatever you want to call it, we found this middle ground that eventually we turned into our sound.
photo by Charlotte Ferguson & James Dolence
Liam: I think what we both had in common was that all of the artists we really appreciated all had really strong vocals attached to the songs and there was a very strong artistic identity with all these artists. I think that’s why when we were asked to wonder what genre we are as a band we’re usually kind of at a loss because there are so many different identities of different schools that we listen to, so we put it into a big mix bag. So yeah, everything from the moroseness of Morrissey and The Smiths to the fun, punkiness of Siouxsie and the Banshees to the blue-eyed soul of Hall and Oates and Elvis Costello and the Motown sound influences on top of all that. I’m always interested to hear about the creative processes of duos and bands. What role do each of you play in the songwriting process? Francis: When we first started making music, we were living in different places, split between Minneapolis and New York. So we did a lot of things over email. And, as a result, sometimes one of us would write an entire song and another one would add a little bit, or we’d write a song fifty-fifty, but it would all be over this email correspondence. Now, we’ve just been in the same location for a good period of time, so our songwriting now is half and half. We’ll just sit down in a room and write whatever comes to mind. It’s a really fun and easy way to write songs. Liam: Yeah, I feel like the way people write songs these days with the advent of computers–at least how I do it, because I’m not a guitar player–I usually start really rhythmically, as far as percussion goes, and as far as computer percussion goes in a way–just the way you can jot down ideas and record them is just an instant gratification. To be able to lay down a beat and then a bass line and have the more spontaneous guitar licks be added when I bring something to Francis, and then explore vocals–having a home studio, the ideas can pop out much faster. That’s been good for us, on top of the fact that we now have a rehearsal space where we can craft things in the moment. So we have a lot of awesome examples of other artists who inspire your music aesthetically, but what inspires your music in terms of personal experiences? What drives the lyrics? Francis: Well, there’s a lot of–I guess you can call it college angst?–it sounds silly, but just the experience of living on your own away from your family and being in this purgatory of not being able to work or trying to work and going to school and picking classes and having those really crazy intense relationships. Most of our lyrics are–I mean, occasionally we’ll sit down and really craft a song lyrically, but a lot of times it’s sort of stream of consciousness. And then after the song is written we’ll zoom out and say, whoa, that’s what we were writing about. But a lot of our songs come from that place. Early twenties. Liam: I feel like, as far as the artists we look up to, I really gravitate towards–not necessarily as extreme as melodrama, but when artists aren’t afraid to be dramatic in their lyrics. When there are commands instead of just phrases. Oftentimes with our stream of consciousness lyrics…there are a lot of exclamatory remarks. What Francis was saying about youth and being away from home–I feel like youth is a big theme. And finding yourself.
photo by Red Bull Sound Select
You mentioned that performing live together was the moment that you decided to pursue STRANGE NAMES. What are your memories of your first show together? Liam: We played this venue called 400 Bar, which is now no more. And we played as a fivepiece. Because we thought we were putting out this project and we didn’t know how to achieve it, just the two of us on stage, so we recruited three of our friends to help us do it and it ended up being kind of disastrous. Then, we kind of thinned it down to four of us, and now we continue to play as a four piece live to increase the dynamic nature of how a performance goes. Francis: It was crazy because we hadn’t played before and we weren’t really a tight band yet, but somehow we got just every single person we knew to show up and just pack the place. What projects are you working on right now? You mentioned you were working on a debut LP. Francis: Yup. We are working on a couple music videos, one for “Ricochet”, which is a single we just put out, and we’re hoping to have that out soon. Other than that… Liam: We’re just finishing up our record, called “Common Attraction.” Working title. Instead of a “coming attraction”, it’s a “common attraction”. Going back to the lyrics, when I try to listen to it as a whole product, it’s just–everyday interactions can humble us. So a common attraction is when you see miraculous things happen every single day. In a non-cheesy way, just kind of weird life things. So we’re working on that, and it’ll be released sometime when the weather gets warmer. What is your favorite memory from your experience thus far? Francis: Last year we went down and played SXSW for the first time, and it was the first time any of us had been there as a musician who was performing. And it was such a crazy, stressful experience but it was also incredibly fun and I think, after that entire trip, after getting back to my apartment and just being like, whoa, I can count that as one of the coolest, best learning experiences of my career so far. Liam: I would agree. Any time we were traveling gave us a really cool experience. Or, when we were recording in California, that was also really exciting because we felt like a band. And all the work you put in, you get rewarded. What are your goals for the future of STRANGE NAMES? Where do you see your sound going? Francis: We’d love to tour, first of all. Our sound in general we’d like to keep evolving. Now we have sort of a cohesive sound but we still have musical ideas we’d like to explore. In the future we’d like to work with a few different producers and record at different studios. Liam: I’d love to collaborate with different people, people who can teach us to better ourselves but also give us a nice safe place to expand what we’re already doing.
dream girls “I wanted to create photos which don’t really look like photos, more like old paintings, dreams, or imaginations. I love creating a dreamy and surreal atmosphere. The models seem to be behind something; I created a world for them out of light and colours. Although I took all of them inside it seems like another world rather than just a studio. All of the models close their eyes or look away which also reminds me of a dream. I love creating surreal worlds which can not exist in real life. Fairy tales, dreams, nature, and paintings have been part of my inspiration.” -Franziska
Photos by Franziska Ambach
Naomi Okubo Interview by Liza Pittard
What is your story? Who is Naomi Okubo? I was born in Toyko, Japan and still live there. I’m 29 years old and have been dreaming to be an artist since I was little. My mother was a painter, so I was very influenced by her. I made drawings and collages with her when I was a child. I’m very interested in fashion and its meaning—both social and private. Where are you as your answer these questions? I’m staying in New York now. I’m not exhibiting here, but I’m painting and visiting galleries and museums. New York has a huge art world; it’s so exciting. How do you create your identity as an artist? I don’t know; I try to look at many works of art. I also try to pay attention to my experience and inferiority complex.
Your work has a surrealist quality to it. How did you develop this style? What influenced this choice? I want to express my work’s world using realistic images, but these images depend on the individual person. Each artist has their own realistic images. I want to depict realistic images that can be easily understood by people who are not artists. What inspires you? I am inspired by lots of things: art, fashion, social issues, global news, world history. I’m particularly influenced by Henri Matisse’s paintings. His work creates a new relation between person and background, color, composition, decorative motifs. So amazing. Much of your work comments of issues between the individual and society through fashion. How does fashion play a part in portraying these messages? I use some images from magazine and other media.When I paint, I think of which clothes are fit for images. Media’s images become ideal images for people, but if people want to change their own images, they will have inconsistencies. I think these inconsistencies make social problems.
The theme for issue 7 is NOSTALGIA. What is a memory from your past that has greatly influenced you in the present? My work’s concept is made from my inferiority complex. I’ve been interested in fashion since I was a little girl. I have firsthand experience with fashion. I couldn’t make a good relationship with my friend when I was a high school student, but I changed my fashion style when I started another school. I made really good friends at that school. I know that when people change their clothes, their character doesn’t really change, but I feel like fashion has power and appearance is a form of communication. If you could give one piece of advice for an aspiring artist, what would you say? I can’t give somebody an advice yet, because I’m still looking for my originality and clearly concept for my paintings. I always try to understand the world. What do you wish to achieve through your art? It is my dream that more people see my works. I want to have a relationship with the world.
â€œThere are things coming to eat us but they are wonderful thingsâ€? I sold my body to science. Science sold it to someone I went to high school with. I lost fifteen teeth in the orgasm. She picked her jacket off the floor, said something to rip the white open. I chewed the rain until it became a little kinder, a tiny china doll to crawl out from beneath the covers to kiss my elbows & just to be there. A forsaken beach boy. Someone to take care of me when I am the only illegitimate thing, someone to coddle you when you are beaten & immense. I will deflate all the air out of you so you will not have to suffer all the breathing. I will break open into a thousand paper cranes. I will become the most cynical part of everything.
Adefisayo D. Adeyeye 130
Wardrobe Credits Nostalgiac: Camille Richez pages 33, 43 Vest: Forever 21 panties: Triumph Bracelet: Forever21 earings: Forever21 pages 37, 40 dress : Melanie Ledig shoes: New Look pages 38-39 top: La petite Poupée Noire pants: H&M shoes : H&M Bracelet: Forever21 earings: H&M pages 36, 41 dress: La petite Poupée Noire earings: Forever21 necklace: Ithemba Bracelet: H&M hair clip: Mademoiselle Vegas page 42 dress: Emilie Renard necklace: H&M Bracelets: Forever21 ring: H&M flower: Mademoiselle Vegas earings : Forever21 pages 34-35 panties: Triumph pants: Escada necklace: Ithemba
Time Goes By: Elizabeth Foster pages 87-88 top, button up, pants: Mango Socks: Hue Backpack: Osklen page 93 Vest: D-ID Jeans Plaid suit: Richard Chai Love Necklace: Bar III Neon sweater: Maison Jules Shoes: Zara Necklace: Bar III Shoes: Zara pages 89-90 Socks and tights: Hue Bag: Osklen Shoes: INC pages 94-95 socks and tights: Hue Crop top and jacket: LEILA Shams Dress and vest: LEILA Necklace: Bar III Shams tights and socks: Hue Orange shirt: Osklen Shoes: inc Bracelets: Bar III Skirt: Olsken page 91 Bag: Vintage Juicy Couture Skirt: Isklen Tee: LEILA Shams Pink button-up: Marissa Webb Socks and tights: Hue Shoes: Mango Earrings: Bat III Sunglasses: vintage Sweater: Maison Jules page 94 Skirt: Osklen Bralet: LEILA shams Tee and shoes: Mango Under shirt: Osklen Tights and socks: Hue Necklace: Bar III Bucket hat: vintage
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