ISSUE 92 | FEB 2019
ELEVEN VOLUME8,8,ISSUE ISSUE58 ELEVENPDX PDXMAGAZINE MAGAZINE -- VOLUME
INSIDE: WEEED | CAROLINE ROSE | CHERRY GLAZERR NONAME | SOPHIA SHALMIYEV | RYAN PIERCE
2 | ELEVEN PDX
ELEVEN PDX MAGAZINE VOLUME 8 ◊ ISSUE No. 8
February 2019 THE USUAL 4 Letter from the Editor 4 Staff Credits
COLUMNS 5 Aural Fix
Drama Noname Mike Krol Caroline Rose
FEATURES Local Feature 14 WEEED
Cover Feature 18
COMMUNITY Meet Your Maker 24
NEW MUSIC 8 Short List 8 Album Reviews Cass McCombs Feels Homeshake Cherry Glazerr
Literary Arts 26
Visual Arts 28
LIVE MUSIC 12 Musicalendar An encompassing overview of concerts in PDX for the upcoming month. But that’s
not all–the Musicalendar is complete with
a venue map to help get you around town.
MORE ONLINE AT ELEVENPDX.COM SOCIALS @ELEVENPDX
EXECUTIVE STAFF EDITOR IN CHIEF Ryan Dornfeld (firstname.lastname@example.org)
With a heavy heart I must announce that this will be my final correspondence with you as the Managing Editor of ELEVEN. It has been an honor and a genuine pleasure to be at the helm of these past 26 issues, offering a glimpse into my musical psyche. This magazine is an exceptional resource for Portland artists, creators, musicians and enthusiasts alike, and I do not take stepping away from this passion project lightly. But alas, it is time fo this little birdie to step out of the nest in pursuit of the next great adventure.
MANAGING EDITORS Eirinn Gragson (email@example.com) Travis Leipzig (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Take comfort, however, as I leave you in the extraordinarily talented and capable hands of Eirinn Gragson—a musician, photographer and active member of Portland’s creative community—who is taking over as Managing Editor. I will continue to be involved with the ELEVEN family as a board member, and I look forward to seeing the magazine grow throughout 2019 and beyond. I’ll leave you with this: there is a great deal that needs fixing in this world, but if we treat each other with love, and pursue what makes us happy, hopefully in the end it will all be worth it.
SECTION EDITORS LITERARY ARTS: Scott McHale VISUAL ARTS: Mercy McNab COVER DESIGN Katie Silver CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kelly Kovl, Cassi Blum, Ellis Samsara, Eric Swanson, Matt Carter, Liz Garcia, Anthony King, Charles Trowbridge, Laurel Bonfiglio PHOTOGRAPHERS Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, Molly Macapline, Katie Summer, Todd Walberg KING TUFF STUDIO PHOTOS Olivia Bee
ONLINE Michael Reiersgaard Kim Lawson Chance Solem-Pfeifer FIND US ONLINE www.elevenpdx.com social channels: @elevenpdx GENERAL INQUIRIES email@example.com ADVERTISING firstname.lastname@example.org ELEVEN WEST MEDIA GROUP, LLC SPECIAL THANKS To all of our friends and family that make this project possible, and thank you to our outgoing managing editor Travis Leipzig for his hard work and leadership in the past two and a half years.
KING TUFF LIVE PHOTOS Todd Walberg
- Travis Leipzig, Managing Editor
Y LA BAM BA
Out now—at all our locations! Bridgeport Village · Hawthorne NW 23rd · Portland Airport · West End tlerecords.com
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columns aural fix
up and coming music from the national scene
1 DRAMA FEBRUARY 09 | WONDER BALLROOM
Just when you think there can’t possibly be another way to make music about unrequited love, Na’el Shehade and Lluvia Rosa Vela do just that. The Chicagoans, known together as DRAMA, talk to each other through “happy” synths and dance beats and “sad” lyrics like, “Every girl dreams of a prince/and here you stand/the perfect man/I’ll push you away…” Most people can relate because they have experienced that agonizing torture that ending a relationship can bring. It’s easy to drown in sorrowful music that you ugly cry to. But as you grieve, every once in a while, a feeling of hope breaks through, reminding you that you won’t die from this. DRAMA can induce that glimpse; you don’t have to wait for it. The upbeat notes contrast starkly to the lyrics, but it makes you feel like everything might end up okay, even if it’s just for the length of the song. The two come from very different backgrounds. Vela, who performs as Via Rosa, grew up with touring musician parents. She’s lived on Indian reservations and pursued a career in culinary arts. That ended when her musical gigs were more lucrative. Na’el Shehade is an entrepreneur raised in a more conservative, Muslim
Photo by Lillie Eiger
household. The singer and producer vibe off one another so well that it’s not 1+1=2, it’s 1+1=100. First listen had me thinking about The xx, a perfectly moody voice over just the right electronics, blending a little indie, a little pop, a little R&B. With an album, a few EPs and some new music coming in 2019, a solid following and a refreshing excitement and connection between the two, they are being catapulted to notoriety. Their ability to work at their own pace and on their own terms allows the creative process to fully mature. While humans will never stop singing about love or lack thereof, I can’t help but wonder what happens to the music when Rose or Shehade find lasting love themselves? » – Kelly Kovl
at rap. Collaborating with artists like Ravyn Lenae, Chance the Rapper, Mick Jenkins, and a collection of others helped provide more visibility as she built a noticeable fanbase and a place in her scene. Softer in delivery, the power in her words comes from honesty in speaking from her own experiences. It’s catchy and poetic, bouncing over the beat in a way that feels effortless. Everything in her tracks has its own space, something she is very intentional about. Her music consists mostly of live instrumentation, blending genres and maintaining a minimal, spacious groove to let her verses float in between. Noname gives her art time to become what it needs to be. A good two years after the release of 2016 debut mixtape, Telefone,
2 NONAME MARCH 13 | CRYSTAL BALLROOM
Noname’s story begins as a slam poetry loving teen in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. She became a creative force in a small community of artists found through a digital learning space, YOUmedia; that’s when Fatimah Warner tried her hand
Fatimah released Room 25 with the help of Phoelix. True to the DIY culture, her music has become a self-sustaining cycle. She’s funded and released everything independently using money made from tours and royalties, preferring to have creative control of her music. Even as her career continues to grow, Noname hasn’t made a music video. She’s not fond of photoshoots, not into being told what to do, and just wants to explore her intuition to the fullest extent, and she’s better for it. » – Cassi Blum
elevenpdx.com | 5
columns aural fix
2/1 THE MOTHER HIPS LEWI LONGMIRE AND THE LEFT COAST ROASTERS 2/2, 2/3 & 2/5 REVEREND HORTON HEAT SOLD 1ST SHOW OUT BIG SANDY VOODOO GLOW SKULLS THE DELTA BOMBERS 2/7 FIR !MINDPARADE DANNY DELEGATO & THE CUDDLEZ THE MACKS
2/14 ALEX CAMERON ROY MOLLOY TWO SHOWS! LOLA KIRKE 2/15 THUMPASAURUS
2/8 EZZA ROSE GENDERS PROLLY KNOT 2/9 COVER YOUR HEARTS LAEL ALDERMAN UHF CAMP CRUSH BILLIE GALE RISLEY THE FREQUENCE 2/10 FREE MUSIC BUSINESS FORUM ALL AGES - 1 PM 2/10 RON GALLO POST ANIMAL STUYEDEYED 2/12 TANGERINE WET DREAM 2/13 5TH ANNUAL “UNDER THE COVERS” THE MOODY DUDES MELVILLE SKULL DIVER THE BREAKING
2/10 & 3/10 UNCLOUDY SUNDAYS EVERY 2ND SUNDAY BRUNCH WITH DJ BLIND BARTIMAEUS
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2/24 HALF WAIF WHITNEY BALLEN 2/25 SAVES THE DAY REMO DRIVE MIGHTY 2/26 JUSTIN NOZUKA CRAIG CARDIFF 2/28 BAILEN
(503) 231-WOOD ALL SHOWS 21+ 830 E. BURNSIDE SERVING BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER & LATE NIGHT HAPPY HOUR 3-6 EVERYDAY & 10PM-12AM SUN-THURS TICKETS AND MORE INFO AT DOUGFIRLOUNGE.COM
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Photo by Brian Guido
3 MIKE KROL FEBRUARY 22 | MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS Mike Krol has been bludgeoning the indie/punk rock scene with tales of heartache, relentless self torture and repressed teenage angst since his 2012 debut I Hate Jazz. After working with Counter Culture Records for his first two records and Merge Records for his latest two, Krol has been featured on the popular and clever Cartoon Network show Steven Universe as well as making his presence known in the scene and on the road. After four major records in the last eight years, the power and restlessness that Krol has seemed to master continues to expand with his current release Power Chords, out last month. Merge Records has attributed Krol’s style to an influential mixture of bands like The Strokes, Misfits and early Weezer. Although this seems like a broad generalization, this is an extremely accurate depiction of Mike Krol’s music. His obsession with self-loathing and heartache displayed throughout his booming career as well as his latest record shares a kinship with the tears that Rivers Cuomo has been crying for over two decades, while the swaggering vocals accentuated with slight distortion conjurs the lounge lizard status that Julian Casablancas wields, while at the same time rigorous downstroking power chords carry this mix, screaming from the depths of hell at an excruciating and psychologically unsettling pace. At certain points in his four records it sounds and feels like Krol has picked up where Pinkerton left off, never to return. Krol has an authentic sincerity that is undeniably recognized in his music. The embarrassing honesty of his lyrics mixed with the maniacal precision of the instrumental composition places him on a level of originality and musical integrity that the scene warmly welcomes. This whirlwind of emotion and raging excitement will be landing down and blowing up the 22nd of this month at Mississippi Studios with the inertia of the new record. Mike Krol is coming to town with the intention to wield selfloathing, heartache, psychosis and catharsis and it looks as if he is on track to hit the bullseye. » – Ellis Samsara
columns aural fix
Photo by CJ Harvey
4 CAROLINE ROSE FEBRUARY 23 | DOUG FIR Judging by the glorious indie-synth and guitar pop of her latest album LONER, one might be surprised to learn Caroline Rose began her musical career as an Americana and folk artist. But despite the radical genre leap, the musical metamorphosis is a natural fit. Rose—or her current red tracksuit-garbed persona— seems to feed off the energy and possibilities of her new sonic surroundings. In a recent interview, Caroline attributes her artistic growth to a conscious effort to hold things less sacred. While you wouldn’t know it by the meticulously crafted songs of recent release, there is a palpable sense of freedom that shines through the self-aware lyrics and creative studio arrangements of Rose’s new music. It’s a style she has dubbed “schizodrift”. As the name implies, there’s a fluidity to Rose’s material that mixes and matches elements of surf, rockabilly, and ‘70s punk with power pop and top-40 sensibilities. Of course, Rose’s charisma and strength as a frontwoman/performer is the secret ingredient that alchemizes everything. It takes a lot of confidence to walk away from an established sound, and it’s clear from the sheer amount of musical exploration that Rose is more interested in following her bliss and growing as an artist than following trends. Plus, it all makes for a hell of a live show that’s not to be missed. Because chances are, we’ll be meeting a completely different Caroline Rose the next time around. » – Eric Swanson
Imagine if all your self-doubts formed a successful band and then wrote a rockingly depressing song about how none of your dreams will come true, and it somehow ends up being legit personal theme song material.
A lone paranoid synth blossoms into a haunting ballad that feels equal parts Arctic Monkeys’ AM, a James Bond title theme, and an unsettling horoscope reading.
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new music album reviews
of the most well-received rock albums of that year. It’s a different world since 2016, but McCombs’ latest, Tip of the
THIS MONTH’S BEST
L LOCAL RELEASE
Girlpool What Chaos is Imaginary Le Butcherettes bi/MENTAL Y La Bamba Mujeres Jessica Pratt Quiet Signs Panda Bear Buoys Xiu Xiu Girl With Basket Of Fruit Methyl Ethyl Triage Drenge Strange Creatures Du Blonde Lung Bread For Daddy Julia Jacklin Crushing Avril Lavigne Head Above Water Telekinesis Effluxion
Cass McCombs Tip of the Spear ANTI- Records Since signing to ANTI-Records, Cass McCombs’ albums have considerably downsized from the sprawling tracklist of 2013’s Big Wheel and Others. Going from nineteen tracks on Big Wheel to eleven tracks on 2016’s Mangy Love left a lot on the cutting room floor, but what remained was one
Feels Post Earth Wichita Recordings
Disagree? Scold us: @ELEVENPDX
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Post Earth, the sophomore album from FEELS, is true to the LA garage/ psych rock band’s name. Whether it be about the state of our society or about life on the road, the revolving themes are emotion, thought, and yes, all the feels, in a raw form. “Deconstructed” sounds exactly like the title. It’s a song made up of choppy
Sphere, stays the course with his lyrical brand of Americana truth-seeking. Tip of the Sphere both begins and ends with the soul of a 1970s ramblin’ man. The opening track “I Followed the River South To What” stretches seven minutes, while the closing “Rounder” is a ten-minute meander of alt country riffs and a jammy instrumental outro. The in-between offers McCombs’ usual foray into various indeliberate genre choices that employ his writing voice. “Sidewalk Bop After Suicide” is a straight-forward blues rock ditty, but McCombs then gives us a psychedelic monologue à la Jackson Browne-meets-Rodriguez on “American Canyon Sutra.” Lyrics about reincarnation, poverty, and Armageddon all seem like comfortable concepts, proving that while McCombs isn’t any closer to what he is searching for, that may be a good thing. » – Matt Carter
sound waves and conversation fragments. The shortest track on the album, at just under the 1:30 mark, someone is yelling about breakfast as dueling guitars rev up at the end. It’s sonically chaotic in the best way possible. Opening with lyrics, “It’s crazy being alive today,” “Find A Way” is the kind of song that encompasses the repressed angst that comes with living in the modern world. “Last Chance” stands out because for most of this track, guitar shredding holds the spotlight. After pouring everything out, Post Earth ends on a bittersweet note. “Flowers” is their way of leaving listeners with a bouquet of roses, some thorns still intact, all the while then getting a couple more things out of their subconcious. Post Earth is a must for fans of Cherry Glazerr, Bleached, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. » – Liz Garcia
new music album reviews
Homeshake Helium Sinderlyn Records Peter Sagar’s fourth LP under the Homeshake moniker, Helium finds the Montréal-based artist at his most adrift. Largely replacing the playful guitar work of past releases with ethereal synthesizer beats and musings, Helium exudes a warm, textured, and unbodied feeling perhaps best captured by the album’s artwork. Recorded entirely in Sagar’s apartment (a new process for him), the
Cherry Glazerr Stuffed & Ready Secretly Canadian Following their explosively clamorous 2017 album, Apocalipstick, Los Angeles garage pop trio Cherry Glazerr’s propulsive fourth album, Stuffed & Ready, takes a more introspective turn. That stands in contrast to the band’s earlier, carefree recordings while tackling a heady range of subjects including sexism, isolation, and self-doubt. Stuffed & Ready bristles with lead singer, guitarist, and founding member
album plays like a stranger’s dream journal might read. Though it feels like you’re up close to an extremely personal set of songs, there’s an inherent murkiness to the whole affair—from the desolate soundscapes to the pitch-shifted vocals and abstract interludes—that keeps the listener an arm’s length away from grasping Sagar’s emotional state. Instrumental opener “Early” starts off with what appears to be a distant dawn chorus of birds. However, as soon as a meandering and spacey synth appears, you’re hit with the idea that it’s an “I-can’t-sleep-at-2AM-early and not sunrise”. It’s a fitting start, given that most of the songs tread the line between daydream and insomniatic thought. Lead single “Like Mariah” features a procedural legal drama bassline with Sagar switching between taffy-laden vocals and leaping falsetto describing how nice it would be if he had Mariah Carey’s singing talents. The self-aware song seamlessly spacewalks its way to verse, chorus, and back again before dissolving into the brief synthesizer
Clementine Creevy’s observational and astute lyrics. There is a refreshing, uncompromising boldness to these songs and the way they channel Creevy’s frustrations, both personal and political. “I am alone a lot / I see this as my weakness,” reveals Creevy in the aptly titled “Self Explained”, her ethereal vocals floating over the walking rhythm provided by bandmates Devin O’Brien on bass and Tabor Allen on drums. “I am embarrassed of my solo/I don’t know why I don’t want people to know how much time I spend alone.” “Stupid Fish” explodes with bombastic, chunky power chords, while “Wasted Nun” and “That’s Not My Real Life (feat. Delicate Steve)” burst at the seams with Allen’s Mjölnir-wielding percussion and Creevy’s winding guitar work, alternating between grunge and shoegaze raucousness. The torch song-esque “Isolation” finds its smolder quickly, igniting into a wildfire by the first chorus. Credit Grammy-winning producer Carlos de la Garza – who has also worked on albums with M83, Tegan and Sara, YACHT, and previously with Cherry Glazerr for Apocalipstick – whose frenetic, yet crisp production permeates every nook
interlude No. 2: “Heartburn”. Upon first listen, the inclusion of the purely instrumental tracks seems superfluous to the final album, especially since the rest of the tracklist can stand on its own. However, the instrumentals do serve as behind-the-scenes looks into Sagar’s creative process for the album, which is certainly something longtime fans will enjoy. Helium really hits its stride with the one-two punch of “Just Like My” and “Nothing Could Be Better”. The former opens with chimes and melting synth melody before Sagar relates the forgetfulness that isolation can bring to his grandmother’s fading memory. “I could have sworn it was a Sunday, but I still don’t wanna / I can’t remember any damn things / I’m just like my Oma.” The latter opens and closes with an angelic chorus but takes an abrupt detour through a seemingly free-form R&B love number. Of course, it’s only a matter of time until a new daydream crosses Sagar’s mind and we find ourselves swept elsewhere.. » – Eric Swanson and cranny of the album, spiking the band’s anthemic songs with electronic flourishes. The blistering “Daddi” (the album’s second single after “Juicy Socks”) is a stand-out track, confronting sexism and toxic masculinity with satirical barbs. “Where should I go, Daddi? / What should I say? / Where should I go? / Is it okay with you? / Who should I fuck, Daddi? / Is it you?” Creevy echoes over concentric guitar pings and a Ritalin-deprived drum machine before exploding into the song’s chorus. “Daddi” is fraught with tension and anxiety, offering the listener no easy answers but plenty of catharsis. With Stuffed & Ready, Clementine Creevy has crafted an album that is at once powerful and vulnerable; wryly confrontational and deeply personal; fearful and fearless. She doesn’t have all the answers to what troubles the world or herself, and that’s OK. But she’s started a conversation, and it’s enough to acknowledge that nobody is alone in feeling angry, isolated and alienated in this warped and weary world of ours. » – Anthony King
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by Henry Whittier-Ferguson
riving uptown through the clearing rain to the house where WEEED lives, I have some thoughts. Weeed’s 2016 album, META , which they recorded to tape almost entirely in one improvised marathon session, is on the stereo. The thoughts go like this: stoner rock is a form of meditation, like driving in light rain at night, or chopping vegetables, or staring at a blank page, waiting for the words to come.
WEEED’s house is surprisingly tidy for a group whose name is a riff on the drug, who play psychedelic rock, and have reportedly lived out of a fairly legendary customized box truck while on tour. Then again, things are changing for the band. They’ve recently reconvened here in Portland, putting an end to a several-year diaspora that saw drummer John Goodhue flying cross-country to practice before tours. With their newfound proximity has come a radiant energy. Guitarist and vocalist Mitch Fosnaugh, a new father, jokes that their new album, You Are The Sk y, could be called “psychedelic dad rock.” The guys laugh at this distinction, but they’ve come a long way since their Bainbridge Island beginnings ten-odd years ago, when they mostly just wanted to rock out like Sabbath. Beneath the heavy facade of noise that seems to come along with the genre WEEED occupies, there’s a tender spiritual current that seems to bubble up more and more as they continue to grow as musicians, and which becomes readily apparent when you sit down and talk with them. ELEVEN: For our readers who aren’t familiar, can you guys just go around and introduce yourself, and say what all you contribute to the band? Evan Franz: I’m Evan Franz, I play drums and some auxiliary percussion, but mostly I’m just holding it down on the right-handed drum kit.
Mitch Fosnaugh: My name is Mitch, I play guitar and sing and play the harmonica and a little bit of synth. EF: He plays some flute, too. MF: Yeah, some flute. John Goodhue: I’m John, I mostly play the left-handed drums. I’ve been messing around with some synth lately, and other percussion, but mostly drums. Gabe Seaver: I’m Gabriel Seaver, I’m the leader of the band (laughs). 11: Is that disputed?
JG: That was a totally different time. It felt like at that point we had founded this band that was really based on a few particular influences: Black Sabbath, Sleep, BORIS, Electric Wizard... We were kinda paying homage to those bands more directly. That was how we knew how to write songs. GS: Mitch and I had had a number of bands before that. We’ve been writing and playing music together, growing and sharing and discovering music together for a long time, so I think that was a big part of the foundation we had when we started as WEEED. 11: How have you found Portland so far?
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EF: Yeah, it’s widely disputed. GS: I write all the songs, that’s why I go last. MF: Gabe, the deal was to not talk about that! GS: It’s kinda a secret. 11: You guys are originally from Bainbridge Island up in Washington, and you all started playing together up there? How long have you been playing as WEEED? MF: Ten years, just about. Yeah, we started playing together in high school.
GS: It’s been good. I think all of us came to the decision that we wanted to work on this music on a deeper level. We’ve been really active playing and touring and writing a lot, but we’ve all been traveling and living in different places, so part of all of us moving to Portland was about dedicating and committing ourselves to the music. It’s been really powerful to have that, working on our music regularly, and having a rhythm with that. It’s been much easier to make the music and to do the organization that goes along with it. It’s been great to be able to have the momentum of working together, so that’s been the big focus.
... we’ve all been “traveling and living
in different places, so part of all of us moving to Portland was about dedicating and committing ourselves to the music.
11: How would you say your style and approach to music has changed after almost a decade? The earliest record I found was The Garden of Weeden , was that 2013?
JG: The Garden of Weeden is actually even older than that. It said 2013 because that’s when we uploaded it, but that was recorded around 20082009. That was a slightly different configuration. Evan wasn’t playing with us then, and Mitch and Gabe were both playing guitar. GS: I mostly play bass now, sing, and a play a little keys.
MF: Yeah, Portland has been a really supportive place for doing what we’re doing. We have a studio where we’ve been working and it’s been nice to play there and feel supported by the community around us. 11: So, speaking of studios and recording; the last interview I found with you guys was right after you had released META , and you were talking about how that whole project was recorded in one session. Is that something that you brought to This, your most recent release, and your upcoming release You Are The Sky ?
8 NE KILLINGSWORTH
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features FEBRUARY ALADDIN THEATER
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HOLLYWOOD THEATRE A not-for-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the art of film while preserving an historic Portland landmark.
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GS: We’ve taken a mix of approaches to recording. Over the years, I think we’ve focused a lot more on our live playing. Lots of our earlier albums were just trying to capture how we sounded live. META was all improvised music, so that’s a whole ‘nother aspect to the live thing -- all of us just improvising with a common intention -- so that was really different than all the other albums we’d put out. This really inspired us to get more into the production side of music, recording, and trying to visualize and craft exactly how we wanted it to sound, beyond how we could even play it. But all of the songs on This were recorded live, in particular the first song, “Haze 2,” is mostly improvisation. 11: Back to playing live for a minute, I’ve found that there’s something mediative about the way you guys play, and some of your songs even get at that with the title, like “Morning Prayer” or “Rainbow Amp Worship.” How do you view the overlap between music and spirituality, particularly in the live context? MF: I feel like writing songs is a way to suss out the spiritual path. It’s that process for me. Writing songs is very meditative and helps me work out ideas that I have about life and self and truth. It’s a way to kind of distill
that process of learning about being a human, human struggles, and a way to hold these big esoteric ideas in a way that’s manageable and that you can share with people. GS: Playing music is definitely a spiritual act and a process, in that you’re bringing ideas and cosmic energy to the physical plane through the vibrations and connecting with people on this subtle invisible realm. Communicating things that transcend words. The process of writing and learning to play and communicate with each other, and then communicate with the audience on that same level involves so much vulnerability and brings up so many challenging aspects of the self, the ego. So music is really the ultimate medium as far as ways of expanding your awareness, opening your heart, and having love and compassion for people. 11: You guys were on tour with Kikagaku Moyo, and you’ve got a couple shows coming up with them as well. What are those dudes like? GS: It was really inspiring playing with them. They play a lot, they’re always touring, and it was exciting to see the energy they’ve got, how they’re very calm and steady and equanimous throughout the day.
features EF: Yeah, even after they’d be packing up, they’d still be playing around, showing each other songs, just so involved in the music. It was so special to them, you could just tell. Every time they’d finish their set, it gives me shivers thinking about it, just their smiles. It’s crazy the work they’ve put in to be where they’re at while still holding on to the soul of the music. Using music as a business but also keeping that heart. 11: And the shows you’ve got booked for next month are all with them? JG: Yeah, five of the six shows we’re doing are with them and we’ve got one more on the way back, here in Portland.
EF: That’s gonna be our record release show on the 28th, for our new record that’s coming out. This record too, we started writing it over a year ago and we ended up having to re-record due to some files that went missing, but it was really a hidden blessing to have had to do that. We incorporated another drummer, a third percussionist, and we got to share the music with him. We’ve been growing musically together, so we’re all really excited about where this new record is at. MF: Yeah, we actually got some of the final mixes back today and it feels like this big weight has been lifted off of us. We put so much energy into recording this album. It’s called You Are The Sky, and I’m just really stoked to share it. »
in the light of the calm before the storm. The album is a meditative experience, best enjoyed in its entirety, a book read cover to cover. “Opening” builds slowly, starting out light and airy into the heart of a spiritual awakening. Ethereal sounds, light guitar riffs, and a slow, steady rhythm bring forth peace and mindfulness. “Where Did You Go” crawls out of a delightful wall of sound, light-hearted and dance-y.
WEEED You Are The Sky Halfshell Records WEEED’s music will leave anyone feeling much like their namesake: wrapped in a blanket of deep dreamy sound, drifting off to sleep in an intricate room of doom. Utilizing sounds akin to didgeridoo and sitar, WEEED draws influence from ‘70s Indonesian style psych rock, adding contemporary heavy riffs that create their unique, self-proclaimed sound of “hippy metal”.
You Are The Sky, the newest release by the Pacific Northwest quartet, takes a step back to walk
True to WEEED’s hippypsych form, “Open Door” plays ritualistically with what sounds like didgeridoo alongside abstract conga drum beats. While the tracks run between five and twelve minutes a piece, they put the listener in a blissful psychedelic trance. By the end of this journey, the album’s title track rolls out full force into a kaleidoscope of rock and roll legacy. Fast beats, Sabbath-like guitar tone, and bass forward rock anthem sucks the listener into all the ups and downs of a soul-searching journey. » – Eirinn Gragson
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by Charles Trowbridge photos by Olivia Bae (studio) and Todd Walberg (live)
When we last checked in with Kyle Thomas a.k.a. King Tuff, we reviewed his funky, expansive 2018 release, The Other. The album took a departure from his more recognized sound, the fuzzy, guitar-driven rock and roll that defined his rise. The selfexploratory theme grew out of introspective lyrics and a desire to find a sound that felt closer to the more experimental elements that had come to define his musical interest. Following the release of the album, Thomas toured with Father John Misty around the country, embracing the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;weird.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; One of the things that makes Thomasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; music immediately interesting is the feeling of looseness that, with a closer listen, is deceptive. He uses thoughtful interplay between instrumentals, and the careful application of distortion to shove riffs or motifs to the forefront before dropping them into the background to let the song paint a bigger picture. Part of this structural detail lies in the creative process. Although he prefers to let lyrics lead the genesis of a song, his push into more groove-based music forced a reconsideration of the complementary elements highlighted on The Other. We caught up with Thomas in the lobby of a Holiday Inn in Athens, Georgia, as he prepared to embark on the third tour in support of The Other. He let us into his thought process behind the creation of The Other, the struggle to maintain artistic integrity, and his time on the road with Father John Misty.
ELEVEN: How’s the tour going so far? Your publicist said you’d had some brutal drives. Kyle Thomas: Yeah, we’ve only done about four shows so far–we’ve just started. Basically, the tour was supposed to start here, in Athens, and I was like, we might as well play a few shows on the way out. It’s been few and far between. 11: A lot of car time… KT: Ohhh yeah. 11: Other musicians I’ve talked to have said that they typically start out these long car tours with a bunch of playlists and a gameplan for passing the time, but by the end, they’re just listening to the radio because they’re so sick of their music. What’s your drive style look like? KT: Definitely get some of that, but I don’t think we ever resort to the radio because that’s just… so dark. Sometimes you can get cool college stations, but I don’t know–I’m always exploring new music and downloading new stuff, so I don’t really ever run out of stuff to listen to. I feel like stuff I listen to is kind of the weirder, more experimental stuff. Stuff you don’t get sick of because you don’t remember it exactly every time, so I listen to a lot of jazz and stuff like that. More out there stuff. 11: What’s got your ear right now? KT: We’ve definitely been jamming some Sun Ra–a lot of Captain Beefheart so far, actually–it’s good desert music. We’ve been seeing a lot of desert so far. Just getting’ weird. Getting’ free. 11: I wanted to ask about touring with Father John Misty. What did that look like? KT: I’d toured with him previously a couple albums back, and he’s a friend of mine, so it wasn’t, like, that weird. And we knew– on the first tour we did it was kind of one of these things where we were asking, ‘is that going to work?’ And then it did, so it was like, of course we’ll do it again. His crowd is just really receptive to me, and much larger stages, but I don’t know, it was a pretty good time. It’s just easy. I really like being the opening band
because you can, like, go to bed earlier. You just do your thing and go home… it’s a lot less pressure. 11: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say that before. There are some stylistic elements that cross over between your guys’ music – like how big the sound can be sometimes and how different it can be from other stuff that’s out there. But when you’re out there with other bands, how cognizant are you of the what the different audiences might be receptive to? Is it something you put a lot of thought into, or are you sometimes like, ‘fuck it, let’s go!’? KT: I mean, sometimes you end up on bills with people that just make no sense at all, and then it feels more like a festival or something where there’s just, like, every kind of music. And then you’re just thinking, ‘Some people are going to like this, and some aren’t, and I’m just going to do my thing.’ I think it works with Misty because we’re both. Songwriting is the basis of our music. We’re both really into songs. He likes to tell stories with his music; I like to do that with mine. He also said on stage, ‘Just two guys that decided to give themselves weird names!’ So… 11: So, for your sets right now, are you playing most from The Other [released in 2018], or are you mixing in a lot of stuff from the catalogue? KT: Well, we’ve been touring The Other for the past year. This is the third US tour we’ve done, and we’ve been playing the full album. But this tour I decided to bring in a lot more of the old material, so it’s kind of been a much more rockin’ set. Because the older stuff is more straightforward rock music. So we’ve been bringing back a lot of the older stuff, and still doing new stuff too. But it’s kind of been changing every night… I don’t know where it’s going to be when we get to Portland. I know I’ll be wearing a cape… I know that! 11: That’s interesting. We wrote about The Other last year when it came out, and it seemed like the way you went about it – the self-producing, the new sounds that came out on that album – they were noticeably different from the stuff
“Some people are going to like this, and some aren’t, and I’m just going to do my thing.”
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on the older albums, and it seemed like you were looking for a departure from the old sound and a refresher. Now you’re touring and playing stuff from the older albums again. What’s that transition been like, both directions? KT: I mean, I’m definitely still looking toward the future and the newer sounds. I guess we were throwing some of the old stuff into the tour earlier this year, and when people hear the old stuff, they get really excited, it actually does something to the set. It propels the set. I’m still much more focused on the new stuff and moving forward, though. I still would like to go even further away from the old sound. 11: What do you think that looks like? There are more funk sounds, jazzier sounds, on The Other, but what does that ‘further away’ look like? KT: Just experimenting more. Not relying on electric guitars so much. Using them in the right place, because it is such a powerful instrument, but I just think there are creative ways to use them that people aren’t doing that I would like to explore more. Definitely the groove element–making sort of hypnotic music. I can talk about it a lot, but when I actually get into the studio, something totally different comes out, so I don’t even know what that will be. I tend to let it go where it goes. 11: I did read that you had said you wanted to re-think the use of electric guitars, and I was curious about it. In most contemporary music, it’s either rhythm guitar or riffs, so when you say ‘experiment,’ where does your mind go? KT: I guess it’s more of a–I guess I don’t know [laughs]. I guess in my personal playing it would be less total fuzz and distortion and more interesting melodic playing, sparser. I think it’s just ‘less.’ I think space is what I’m looking for in my music. 11: When you say that, it makes me think about how the piano is used in jazz trios. Even though it can technically be driving the music forward, melodically, there can still be a lot of space in there for other sounds. KT: Right, yeah–or just like little blips of it or something. I don’t know… I don’t need the guitar blaring at me the whole time. I want to use it more to complement the vocals–more like horns or something. 11: Listening to The Other, and then going back and listening to the older stuff, I think you can hear some of those sounds emerging already. I have a few more questions about The Other. So, besides the recording process, what was the biggest difference going into recording that album versus your approach to your other ones? KT: I guess just that I was making it for myself. I think the last few records I did before that I was making something that I thought the fans wanted. I thought they just wanted rock music to just party to, which was fun, but in the end I didn’t really feel fulfilled by that. I knew I had to just do it for myself and make music that I wanted to hear and that excited me. 11: How do you even get into that headspace? How do you shed what you think your listeners want to hear and dive in to what you want to make? Was it hard to separate those things? KT: I really just tried not to think about it. For a lot of it, I just imagined I wasn’t making a King Tuff record. I was like, ‘I don’t even know if this is King Tuff–I’m just making music.’ I was just making music go where I wanted it to and not thinking it was for
anything specific. It’s been cool because a lot of the fans have been like, ‘This is my favorite one.’ So, you never really know what people are going to connect with. It just inspires me to just be myself and be free with it. 11: Do you encounter that when you’re touring or performing with other musicians? Is that a common theme you encounter? The idea that they need to get back to themselves or find their sound again. Or is it less of a conversation than you might expect? KT: I think most of my friends deal with that. Bands that have gotten themselves into a sort of sound over the years and feel like they can’t do anything else because their fans won’t react to it. I think that’s a very real thing that a lot of musicians face. Pretty much everyone I know deals with it. Some people just say, ‘Fuck it,’ and others just kind of fall into that. But, you know … the brand. It ends up becoming a brand. But you don’t want to have a ‘new Coke’ or Pepsi, or whatever it was, disaster. I don’t know. It’s really disgusting to look at your music as a brand. It feels really capitalistic, like you’re making a product. Which it ends up being, in a way, but that’s not what I’m thinking about when I’m writing. 11: I guess you read about that with a lot of artists in almost any medium: where do you draw the line between the ‘brand’ and the art that is fulfilling as an artist. KT: Yeah. But I always just look to people like Bowie and Beatles, and the bands that just changed over time. They lost people, they gained people–you just can’t please everyone all the time. You gotta please yourself. 11: What sounds right now are the most interesting to you, in terms of wanting to explore when you get back into your studio? You already mentioned wanting to look at the guitar differently, but are there other instruments or recording methods that you are interested in? KT: I’d like to use any kind of found sound, field recordings–I might make something that’s just entirely experimental. But who knows if I’d put that out, or what name it would be under. I did buy a saxophone. I used horns for the first time on the new record. Mikal Cronin played the sax. I just loved working with it and writing the parts. And then I just decided that I would like to be able to do it by myself. I did buy a sax, and I took some lessons… [laughs] 11: How’s that going? KT: I had to stop when we started the tour, but man, you wouldn’t believe what kind of noise that can come out of there when I get my lips around it! [laughs]
“I knew I had to just do it for myself and make music that I wanted to hear and that excited me.”
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11: That’s not an easy one to just pick up and learn… KT: Yeah, it’s not, for sure. I did pick it up and could get some sound out of it… definitely not in any kind of right way, but I was getting notes right off the [bat]. So, I felt like, maybe I’m a natural? But I definitely need to practice! 11: You mentioned earlier about your songwriting style, telling stories. What comes first for you? Do you write the lyrics first, or do you have something you’re noodling on? What does that look like? KT: It’s always different. I do have a book that I just write lyrics in without a song, and then I’ll get an idea for a song and flip through and see if anything fits. I prefer that method because the lyrics are by far the hardest part for me, and a lot of people I know. So, if you already have something that says something that I want to say, you can just pop it in there, and it’s so much easier. But if you have a song and you have the cadence of the melody, but you don’t have the words, then you’re just sitting there trying to fit words to it. It’s nearly impossible because then you’re just like, ‘Well, it could say anything.’ It’s much harder to write things that way I find. 11: What do you do? When you reach a point where you’re
like, ‘Damn, this is happening backwards,’ where’s your break? KT: Those are the songs that just usually take forever. You just kind of work on them over time. That style is much harder for me, but I do find myself having to do that more because I’ve started building the instrumental tracks first, and I guess that’s the way, when I’ve been doing the more groove-based songs, I would just be building those in the studio. I’d be getting the groove going and not thinking about the actual songs, which ended up being fine, but it just took longer. 11: Have you ever had a eureka moment where a spigot turns on, and you just make a ton of stuff? Or are you more of a ‘one at a time’ creator? KT: Usually it does happen with every album, but I have to get at least three songs first. Like, on this album, I had “The Other,” and I had, “Through the Cracks.” I had some of the more folky ones, and once I finished those I had a moment where I knew I needed to write some more upbeat stuff. And then it was like, it all happened at once, and it was easy. There’s always an initial wall that I have to bust through, and it can take months and is extremely frustrating. [laughs] But I just have to work through it. I can’t have anything on the schedule; I just have to be in the zone. 11: Where did “Raindrop Blue” fall in? KT: That was definitely in the second half when I had already kind of gotten those first few songs down. I did “Raindrop Blue,” “Psycho Star,” “Neverending Sunshine,” “Ultraviolet,” all those ones kind of came in the second half when I had gotten some under my belt and could kind of start to see the full picture, what it was lacking. 11: Is that the closest you’re going to come to writing a true love song? KT: That song?! No, I’ve got a lot more love in me. In some ways, there are other songs on the record that even more love song-y than that one. That one, I was actually on acid when I wrote that. I’ve only taken acid twice in my life, and that was one of them. 11: Anything else come out of that? Did you have any grand realizations? KT: No… my brain just felt really fizzy for a couple months after. I’m much more of a mushroom man. 11: We’re super excited for you to come back through Portland – can’t wait for the show. KT: Hell yeah! You guys got oatmeal there? I’m an oatmeal addict. 11: I think we could probably round up some artisan oatmeal for you. KT: That’s what I’m looking for! I want the fanciest oatmeal they got. 11: Do you have it on your tour rider? KT: That’s a really good point; I’m going to put it on there. »
“There’s always an initial wall that I have to bust through, and it can take months and is extremely frustrating. But I just have to work through it.” 22 | ELEVEN PDX
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MEET YOUR MAKER Jeanine Gaitán by Eric Swanson Photos by Mercy McNab
Jeanine Gaitán remembers the precise moment she fell in love with sewing: a mom-assigned middle school sewing project for her and her sisters. She still has the “ridiculous” garment she created around the turn of the millennium—a flattering A-line skirt, bias cut—and can nostalgically recall the difficulties involved in detail. It was love at first stitch and the planting of the seed that eventually became Jeanine Gaitán Designs—a completely custom-tailored women’s clothing company. Majoring in marketing and entrepreneurial studies in college, Jeanine briefly enrolled in New York’s Fashion Institute of before realizing that the school’s sewing and design philosophies were different from hers. “It was very much catered towards fads and also catering towards specific size range and look and an economic bracket that frankly I’m not a part myself. That’s not why I got into sewing. I got into sewing because I wanted to create clothes that fit me and fit me properly,” says Jeanine. It was goodbye New York and hello Portland—and for a while it was hello service industry too. But it was in an effort to get around her restaurant’s strict dress code that Jeanie developed what is now her core line. In her words: “I secretly wanted to wear ‘at leisure’ but there was no way I could get around wearing sweat pants every day at work. The idea was to make items that looked a lot more glamorous but still were as comfortable.”
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After people asked her about the who, what, and where of her clothing on a nightly basis, epiphany struck and Jeanine was able to transform her capital “F” fashion misgivings into a mission statement and business plan. Her philosophy: “You shouldn’t change to fit clothing, clothing should change in order to fit you. I make clothing by hand for a person, not a size, and we are all unique.”
“I want to get the idea out there that you don’t have to necessarily find all your clothing at a fashion store or a clothing store. There is a plethora of materials and clothing out there that you can get tailored for yourself or that can fit you properly. Trying to fit into something just because that’s how it was made isn’t the way that people should go about the world,” she says. »
To this day, Jeanine doesn’t sell her clothing in stores. “I would have to have a set size and then it wouldn’t fit properly and then what’s the point?” she says. Tailored items from her core line can be ordered online at JeanineGaitan.com (which includes a step-by-step home measurement guide) but you can also schedule an in-person appointment for all of your other wardrobe dreams too, (wedding dresses, jackets, shirts, etc.). In her addition to making clothes, about every month Jeanine also teaches a very popular starter sewing class based off of “100 Acts of Sewing” at Modern Domestic. Future classes on the ‘Alder shirtdress’ and woven jackets are already in the works for 2019 too.
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community literary arts
LITERARY ARTS Sophia Shalmiyev by Scott McHale
s a child of 1980s Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Sophia Shalmiyev lived in a communal flat with her young father, who was “dependable as the dawn” while longing for her absent mother, who she describes in her memoir Mother Winter as a “mythical beached mermaid swimming home from the bar in the dark.” Shalmiyev tells her life’s story in lyrical vignettes that depict a mother she loved deeply but was forbidden to see, close to her heart but completely lost, deemed unfit, and cast off because of her alcoholic lifestyle.
Mother Winter is a heartbreakingly honest account of growing up in the former Soviet Union. While the memoir marks a debut for Shalmiyev, it reads as though from a seasoned writer and has already been featured as a staff pick by The Paris Review and made The Millions’ list of Most Anticipated Books of 2019. I met up with Shalmiyev to discuss her upbringing as detailed in Mother Winter, her mother and own motherhood, and her interests in numerology and bunnies. The author launches Mother Winter at Powell’s City of Book on Tuesday, Feb. 12, with an after-party at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop. ELEVEN: So how did this book come to be? Sophia Shalmiyev: While I was doing my second round of graduate school, I sort of went into this wormhole. I realized I had been parenting as though I’m holding my breath. I had been parenting from this enormous intense lack, and I had been doing everything in such a solitary way. I had been doing everything myself, and I had been so hard on myself that my body was breaking down, and everything was breaking down. The only thing that I could do was make art about it. I wanted to write a feminist book. Specifically a book that was not in the feminist section. It’s a book that you just pick up as pure literature, but it is straightforwardly feminist without any apologies. That was my initial interest, but as I was holding this tiny four-month-old baby that I was bringing to workshops and class with me I think that it all seeped in. Who was I as a woman to this girl? What was I giving her? I felt so depleted and didn’t know where that came from. 11: There’s a scene in the book where you have to decide how much of a portion of food you can split with your father, but at the same time, you were going to boarding school. Can you explain this dichotomy? That would probably never happen here.
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SS: Totally. That’s a foreign concept; no pun intended. My dad did have to work really hard and pull strings, but boarding school was free as is most education in Russia, but who gets into what has a lot to do with connections. A boarding school in Russia is different also because you get to come home on weekends, and the boarding school could also be a day school for people. My boarding school was as far as Astoria would be from here. My dad got me into it after he tried to get me into a Hindu boarding school…the idea was that everybody was trying to get their children to learn a foreign language or study foreign cultures so maybe they could get out and be diplomats or translators. The feeling at the time was that if things collapsed, we’d need that as a backup, and the exotic West was just calling to everybody. Anyway, I didn’t get into the Hindu one, or the Japanese one. I didn’t get into any of them, and this was my dad’s last-ditch effort. In this school, they started to teach you really terrible English, like at a second grade level. I only lasted there until fifth grade, and by the time I got here, I could say something like, “Breakfast is at half past six” in a bad British accent.
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just kind of gave in or went limp before my destiny, as it were. I didn’t feel like I was making the decision; I feel like I was just really tired of pretending it wasn’t happening. So to go back to see her, yeah, I was definitely numb throughout the whole process. It didn’t help me at all, in the end. 11: Can you talk about how numerology relates to Russian culture? You go into it a bit in the beginning of the book, especially the number four.
11: You write in the book that “we all have a propensity for false pattern recognition, to look for meaning, a belief system when my story is too anxious of a box to contain us — a story that can signify a completeness we have only felt in the darkness of our mother.” What made you go back to Russia to find her? SS: Children who have been traumatized and displaced, like refugee children, have the resignation syndrome. What I wanted to say about having to look for my mom is that I think that the way trauma works, neurologically in your brain, the way a human being disassociates…that is how I made the decision. There was a series of times where I was really checked out and really not in my body. I did not have self-agency a lot of times. It didn’t feel like it was really up to me. It felt like enough seemingly normal people in my life — nice, sweet, adjusted American people — have asked me the question: “Are you spending the holidays with your mom?” And so many times you either choose to not answer the question, or come up with something. You start to realize to yourself how crazy it is. I had so many years of pretending to be brave or pretending to be OK with it where at some point it was all just sinking me. I had a best friend and a boyfriend both of whom were really just interested in this thing happening. In a way, I
SS: In Eastern Orthodox Church it is important, but the reason it became important to me is that while I was in Hebrew Academy, we learned the name for God is this unutterable four-letter word. It’s unutterable for many reasons, the first being that you’re not supposed to take the Lord’s name in vain. There’s a way you say the word for God when you’re just talking conversationally, and then you have it for prayer. But then, there’s another word that’s not translatable and has four letters. It’s a multi-syllabic word that’s unpronounceable because if you try to pronounce all of it, you’re gasping for air. The idea is that every breath you take, God is with you. It’s a very old thing that people are now disputing and lots of rabbinical scholars are taking a look at. To me, it appealed because I when I kind of came to…figure out where I’m at and what’s going on in my life toward the end of Yeshiva, and hearing that said about an invisible, unutterable, worshipful presence and my Mom, this absent unspoken about, unutterable person, it just stuck with me forever. I think superstitions also work to organize unmanageable lives in Russian culture. I look for patterns in life, so I became interested in stability. The number four is a vehicle to organize some your thoughts and family history over time. I listen for it everywhere. It was a great way to corral the unmanageable and arrange things. The book has its own logic and numerology is one way to do it, but there are other animalistic, occult ways. All those things go together for me. 11: Is there a specific animal that is meaningful to you? SS: Bunnies, horses, rhinos. I talk toward the end how a bunny mothers, how there are so many different kinds of mothers in the mammalian kingdom and how there are many different mothers in our culture. The way the bunny mother works is that she’ll give birth to this litter, she’ll make a hole for them, a burrow. Then, she will come to them only when her teets are so full, as full as bursting grapes, and she’ll lay over the hole, feed them and then run away again because she doesn’t want any predators to see them. That reminded me of my Mom: just doing the bare minimum, but maybe she was protecting me from her, being both the predator and the nurturer. »
Ryan Pierce by Laurel Bonfiglio
ELEVEN: The inspiration of ecology in your work is paramount. How does your perspective of ecology, specifically living in the Pacific Northwest, influence your work? Ryan Pierce: My perspective on ecology is shaped by firsthand observations from my time hiking and camping all over the American West. I’m a wilderness guide with Signal Fire (signalfirearts. org), a group I co-founded with activist Amy Harwood ten years ago to get artists of all kinds— including writers, performers, visual artists, musicians, researchers, and activists— into wild places on public land. We want them to be inspired by, and fall in love with, those places, and to advocate for public lands through their artwork. We lead backpacking artist residencies, sponsor artists to work on staff with environmental groups, and increasingly situate our work at the nexus of ecology and cultural history, connecting artists to issues of Indigenous land sovereignty, hidden histories of the West, and the ways public lands are being exploited by the rich and powerful. The imagery in my work is all linked to these concerns. 11: From where did this fascination with ecology and the natural world stem? RP: I grew up in Mendocino County during the environmental protest movement known as Redwood Summer. It’s a rural area with a lot of intact natural beauty, but also has suffered the economic fallout from decades of predatory logging and land mismanagement. When I came to Portland 20 years ago, I became more involved with direct action environmental defense, learning from local groups like Bark, which defends Mt. Hood National Forest from the very kinds of unsustainable use that I’d seen growing up. Now I live outside at least three months a year, immersed in the very fascination you mention. 11: There is almost an apocalyptic, or even dystopian feeling to some of your work. How are these pieces conceptualized, and from what are they based? RP: My paintings depict a version of our world experiencing dramatic climate change. Since I
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Photo by Mercy McNab Art photos by Dan Kvitka All work courtesy of Ryan Pierce and Elizabeth Leach Gallery
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started this project twelve years ago, climate change reality has caught up quite a bit, I’m afraid. There’s a darkness to the work—floods and droughts, human industry in disrepair—that I think of as “climate noir.” My own outlook, however, is rather hopeful, and I believe in the resilience of our species. It’s just that our survival is going to mean that many other species are diminished or extinct. I’m also concerned about how climate refugees face xenophobia and persecution from the global north. I don’t situate my work as apocalyptic, because the apocalypse is an idea I associate with Christian fundamentalists who believe that, rather than dealing with the problems we’ve made for ourselves, we get to fly away into the sky. If this were the case, I wish they’d all do that tomorrow. Mike Pence can go first. 11: There is an appreciable layering of subject matter in much of your work. How do the dynamics between the elements come to be? RP: I have a restless curiosity that draws associations between visually disparate things. I work my paintings up from
full-scale drawings, so when I’m at the drawing stage, there is some fairly frenetic, whimsical world-making going on. The imagery comes from a mix of research and imagination, as well as formal improvisation, and my graphic and arduous way of working gives it sort of an urgent specificity that is not always easy to look at. Other times, I try to tell a story through the objects I depict. From the Pockets of the Wanderer, for example, alludes to the life of conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who shipwrecked in the New World and became a wandering faith healer, eating grubs and rats while traversing what is now the Southwest. 11: You cite literature as being a well from which you draw inspiration. Is there a recent piece that has been of great creative influence? RP: I could go on forever here. Eduardo Galeano’s Memory of Fire trilogy, which is a sweeping history of the Americas told in short passages and from a Latin American perspective, was the impetus for my last series, Terra Incognita . The books
Revisionist History, 2016 Flashe and spray paint on canvas over panel. 72 x 96 inches
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community visual arts
are vivid and unsparing, and encyclopedic in their scope. I also enjoy reading fiction about resistance movements, living underground, and the toll of political repression on the life of the mind. Roberto Bolaño and Margaret Atwood are perhaps my most beloved writers, and lately, I’ve been dwelling in the literature of underground resistance movements, occupied Europe, and anything that attempts to describe the impact of state repression on the creative spirit.
11: What draws you to create such large-scale pieces? RP: Working large is fun and feels physically satisfying. 11: Where can our readers see some of your art locally? RP: I have work at the Portland Art Museum, in a show called The Map is Not the Territory, February 9- May 5, 2019. It’s the first in series of triennial surveys of Northwest Art, curated by Grace Kook-Anderson. My work can also be found at Elizabeth Leach Gallery; my next solo show is scheduled for September. Lastly, I have an illustrated artist book buried in component parts in parks and forests all over the region. So, you know, dig around (details on my website: ryanpierce.net). » Image in Table of Contents (p.3): Sun Scorched, 2011 Flashe, ink, acrylic, and soot on canvas over panel. 47 x 34 inches
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Ryan Pierce Finder / Keeper, 2019
Flashe & spray paint on canvas over panel. 72 x 72 inches See Visual Arts on page 28 for more
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