F L ESH & BON E
in the pursuit of artistic passion
M E RY L PATA K Y - B LO N D E D I A M O N D - Z AC H A RY R A B E R - E R R I C K E AST E R DAY 1
FLESH & BONE M A G A Z I N E
V O L . 3 1
Flesh & Bone Magazine is a quarterly creative arts publication produced by artists who are constantly inspired by other artists. Our goal is to share and introduce other people who are interested in art or in the pursuit of art to other creative individuals. Each volume highlights artists of any artistic medium, who they are, what they do, and their view points on the consistently growing artistic movement.
FOUNDER & EDITOR
BRANDYNN L POPE
BRANDYN L POPE
ABI SCOT T-REID
ASHELY ATLUS BRANDYNN L POPE JAMES LIAM WARD
ASHLEY ATLUS BRANDYNN L POPE
W W W.FLESHBONEMAGA ZINE.COM
A l l r i g hts r e s e r ve d. N o p a r ts of t h i s p u b lication may be reproduced in whole or in p a r t w i t h o u t p e r m i s s i o n f r o m t h e p u b l i s he r. T h e v i e w s ex p r e s s e d i n t h i s p u b l i c a t i o n d o n ot r ef l e c t F l e s h & B o n e a n d i t â€™s s t a f f b u t r et a i n to t h e i r r e s p e c t i ve c o nt r i b u to r s.
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FIND US ON Fa c e b o o k f a c e b o o k .c o m / f l e s h a n d b o n e m a g a z i n e Tw i t te r t w i t te r.c o m / f l e s h a n d b o n e m a g Instagram @fleshbonemaga zine S U B M I S S I O N S & A DV E R T I S I N G f l e s h b o n e m a g a z i n e @ g m a i l.c o m
TWO THOUSAND EIGHTEEN
THIRD QUARTER J U LY
After four years of working the back-bone of this on my own I am happy to introduce Abi to the production of it all. We will be going through lots of changes to this publication because of it and this will be the last offical titled “Flesh & Bone” release. We will be continuing under a new title + I cannot wait until you see the new ideas that we are bringing to the table. Thank you for sticking with us for such a long time + I hope to hear from you in the new title! BRANDYNN LP , EDITOR + HEAD PHOTOGRAPHER
This has been the first volume I have had the chance to work on. It has been a whirlwind of ideas and amazing artists. When I heard that Meryl Pataky had agreed to do an interview I definitely did a happy dance. I am enthralled with her and her work. Working with Flesh & Bone has also given me a place to find new artists like Zach Raber, who has amazing use of colour, and bands that I may not have found before, like the enchanting Blonde Diamond. I am excited to see where the next issue will take me. ABI SCOTT-REID , DESIGN + ILLUSTRATOR
IN THIS ISSUE AL B UMS I N R E VI E W 56
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WRIT JAMES LIAM WARD
AU R AL 06 MODERN COLOR
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE PHTG BRANDYNN L POPE
VI S UAL
16 THE NECTARS
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE PHTG BRANDYNN L POPE
30 BLONDE DIAMOND
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE PHTG BRANDYNN L POPE
10 ERRICK EASTERDAY
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE PORTRAIT PHTG BRANDYNN L POPE
20 ZACHARY RABER
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE
44 MERYL PATAKY
WRIT BRANDYNN L POPE
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I’m Vince Nguyen and I play drums in Modern Color. We’re from a big small area in the souther most part of LA county called the South Bay and we’re about to put out a new 7” on September 28th called Portuguese Bend through Indecision Records, Programme Sounds, and Other People Records. One of the songs from the record is out now, it’s called “Head Change.”
Tell us a little bit about the tracks on Portuguese Bend, both the music as well as the lyrical themes that you brought into it. The 7” is named after and inspired by a cliff side portion of the South Bay called Portuguese Bend, somewhere we spent a lot of time growing up. Pretty much all the MC videos/promos have been done there. It’s a beautiful place of natural wildlife and a secret energy that we’re still trying to capture.
When it comes to the body of work you created last year on Time Slips Between Us, how do you feel the new songs differ?
The production is definitely different. We eased up on the reverb and put vocals more upfront. I think the 7” is the first step towards a more refined sound for us. It’s musically and lyrically more straightforward, and it’s still very energetic and driven. But everything is more intentional.
What are some of your most common themes that you explore within your music? It’s a lot of self-reflection from Fleming and I on life and what it all might mean to us. Some are just about experiences that we’ve all had together. On the 7”, “Jacaranda” reflects on an intimate relationship and “Head Change” is about wanting to make a change but feeling stuck.
What is it about this particular style or genre of music that you find most satisfying to create?
It’s fun! And we feel like it gives us the freedom to be as expressive as we want. That’s pretty much music for all of us in general.
When it comes to design elements as a band, what do you particularly like your images to look like? Do you feel this pairs well with your music content as well?
Honestly, we love that cinematic, nostalgic feel, whatever the content may be. But a lot of the specific imagery is related to stuff that means a lot to us. For example, the covers of TSBU and the new 7” are both pictures of Portuguese Bend and the South Bay. I think it pairs with our music perfect because it’s mostly stuff that inspired the music in one way or another and vice versa.
How do you feel that creating music in your part of California has influenced your work? Where we live has directly influenced our work so much so that we’re naming releases after it! But besides that, being right around Los Angeles, we’re surrounded by a lot of bands and friends who are insanely talented, playing all styles of music and everyone still bringing their own perspective. It’s always pushing us to see what we can bring to Modern Color in every aspect.
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Whether it’s in a live performance or listening to the music online, what do you hope people get from experiencing your work?
In general, I hope people can relate or feel inspired in some way. A lot of my favorite music is shit that makes me think and feel, and having this outlet kept me out of a lot of trouble as a kid. In the live setting, I hope people can feel the energy. A lot of the time, there’s a level of that you can’t sense just by listening to a recording of the music. In the moment there’s an energy that everybody’s channeling, whether it’s just because we’re having fun or whether we’re letting things out.
After the release of Portuguese Bend what should people be expecting next from you?
A lot more touring while we continue to write. We’re working on hittin’ the rest of the spots around the US that we still haven’t really hit and maybe even getting out of the country… who knows. We have some cool ideas to do bigger and better than what we’ve been doing.
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Errick Easterday Walking into the venue I could see Errick Easterday setting up the Acacia Strain’s merch table. He had been on tour with them for the last couple of weeks across Canada and this meant that we were finally able to take some time to talk to him about his work in photography and video. In the background the band was doing sound check and the venue was quietly playing different songs over the speakers in the back, Through this noise Errick spoke up to say, “I like to think of myself as a content creature because I do more than one thing. I do photo and video, so I guess you could say I am a photographer and videographer,”s Errick had lightly started laughing for a moment at his own words.
lthough no longer situated there, Errick came from North-East Indiana, and more specifically a small town with essentially nothing but abandoned buildings and old farm land. It was here where him and four or five other people would come together and create band with one another and perform to each other where ever they could. “The music scene is and was essentially nonexistent,” He starts before detailing, “We would throw shows in anything we could find like weird abandoned buildings or behind weird businesses where we could pull power from. I think that DIY aspect really carried over to what I do now.” During his time in the small town he would play music and although that is something that Errick is interested in it has been pushed to the back burner for the time being, even going so far as to state that he wasn’t sure if it would ever see the light of day. That being said, this part of him has given him this specific edge as a photographer and his unique approach is a large part of what has shown off his unique set of images. “I always try to make myself a part of the
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show and a part of the crowd versus being a photographer. I feel like a lot of photographers take up a lot of room or get in the way. I remember when I first started shooting shows people would tell me that they didn’t notice me or if they did notice me it would be me having fun, running around while still shooting. I always thought that was nice,” He notes, looking up as the songs changed from the bar from Deftones to something else entirely. Errick commented on how he was disappointed in how quickly the song changed. Deftones is his favourite band and having this conversation while listening to them would have been a small satisfaction.
Errick had been going to college before he started touring with different artists, but his degree was for something unrelated to photography. “I could talk shit on myself and say I don’t know much about the formalities still,” he comments when asked about the time line of his venture into photography. “People kept wanting to take me on tour so I was like, ‘College is stupid, let’s go!’ That’s really when I was like I should probably take the time to push myself and learn more stuff and stop taking it as a hobby.” It was one thing to learn the different aspects of photography but once Errick started working with video he realized the learning curve for that form of editing as more steep and took time to become acquainted with. Even now he’s not full confident on his skills but comments that he is confident enough. “I know what my work is supposed to look like and I know how to achieve that now versus in the past where I had not known anything,” and I think that Errick’s work truly speaks to that in the fact that it’s easily recognizable to be his.
On top of the work that Errick posts online there is a hidden aspect to his work, something that you only see fragments of when creeping through his website and that is his 35mm film work. For years he has been scanning photos and keeps them in a dropbox, occasionally releasing them when he particularly is feeling the need to do so. From there he is compiling and collaborating these images into a zine with a band he’s been working with for quite some time, Varials. The film work is something that speaks a little more personally to Errick and often this is the camera that he carries on him when he feels no need to carry a bigger and heavier camera around. In other times film is purposeful in the sense where there’s a more interesting feeling that comes from, “Sometimes I will be in a situation where I think I’d much rather
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shoot this on film. A weird adventure or going to a party or something,” He goes on to state the feeling of the photos being edited digitally versus what comes out of the raw capture is something he is quite conscious over. His film work is still more than though, though, where often he will use the end of his developed rolls containing specks of dust or grain and overlay them with his digital images. There’s a lot of depth with Errick’s imagery and even when he doesn’t use his own film there is a texture pack that he will use from another photographer by the name Dave Mackinnon to create the effect that he wants in his work, “I feel like having depth in an image is really important, especially now.”
what the situation, Errick Easterday is a master of making moments feel like true moments in time.
Looking through the catalogue of Errick Easterday’s images you can see how relaxed people are in front of the camera with him. Even images of people who are a little more posed than the candids that you can see on his tour adventures hold this same quality to them. “I feel that having a normal adventure, even when I am taking senior photos and stuff, things that I don’t post, I try to just hang out with that person rather than having them pose or being so uptight and professional. I try to build a relationship where they are comfortable and capture them doing the things that they would be doing anyways.” He also takes note that there’s a lot of people that he documents quite regularly such as other photographers and people he’s had some kind of relationship with for a while before they actually take photos together. No matter
After a few years of consecutively touring, Errick is ready to take a break from it for a while. After this leg of the Acacia Strain tour he will have some time to himself at home and then will be finishing the next half of it noting that he will probably refrain from taking a lot of photos on his main camera and instead will take to creating a documentary with the band as well as using his 35mm film camera for the majority of his stills. This is perfect for him as he has been wanting to get a little more involved with video and it’s processes over photography. “I really like writing and directing and I just don’t get the chance to do that when I am out on the road,” he comments. Although, he does comment that it would be a dream to photograph and tour with bands like Deftones or Good Charlotte even if it seems unattainable for the time being. It’s expected by next year after his break he will go back into the swing of touring or even take a swing at making more music videos.
The Nectars 16
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Talk to us a little bit about your most recent release, Sci-Fi Television . What themes did you pursue on this album and how did you go about the recording process? The release is as much about escaping the past as it is about embracing the future. We suffered some serious tragedies from the onset of the band between losing family members, a devastating house fire, and the regular ups and downs of being self employed twenty somethings. Despite the odds we all pulled tighter together and wrote an album that fully explores the range of emotions we felt since starting the project. With a bunch of basement shows and a few club gigs in the city we refined the tunes into a cohesive project. The bulk of our recording was done with Brett “Rat” Romnes at Barber Shop Studios in Lake Hoptacong. We’ve always felt that this is our “Home” studio and get some really vibey recordings beside the lake. The exceptions are “Heaven” and “We Will Run” both of which we’re fleshed out at Brooklyn’s Studio G along side Chris Cubeta and Michael Grubbs. Those tunes we’re later mixed by Chris Sheldon of “Foo Fighters” & “Pixies” fame.
Generally speaking, what are some themes and subjects that are particularly important to you to present as a band? Inclusiveness is paramount. We want everyone to feel comfortable enough to be themselves at our shows no matter what that may be. We make punk rock music because it makes us feel good. It makes us feel alive. Everyone should be able to experience that. In what ways has creating music in New Jersey influenced you both in writing as well as in the community there? The New Jersey music scene is weirdly small and tight knit and we love it that way. Shows are always well supported and every weekend you know someone is throwing a house party. Having played many, we love our home states vibe and proudly carry it’s message world wide. What is it about the space aesthetic that you are so drawn to and like to have identify your band with? We’re all a little in our own heads and spacey so it always felt like a natural metaphor. The rockets escaping into space was really something we felt carried the message of renewal and rebirth. Your live shows are known to be particularly energetic. Tell us a bit about the energy that you channel on stage. What do you hope that people get out of your live performances? They have certainly been getting more and more raucous as of late. While in the U.K. we had some night time festival bills and ended up trashing a few drum kits thanks to Jon and Mikey. If you’re into jumping around and having a good ol’ time you’ll enjoy our show… haha.
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What do you think are some symbolic images or motifs that represent the Nectars? I guess like sticky honey and sap. Flowers. Buds. Good times. The open road. Space. Intergalactic highways. When making additional imagery such as music videos, do you find that the videos are made as their own separate piece of art or that they work in perfect cohesion to the song? How much control do you have over your videos? We write all our own music video ideas and shoot them with our best friend/videographer Wes Van Heest. We see all the music videos living in the same universe with some interconnected story lines becoming evident as we release more videos! Usually itâ€™s just whoever thinks up the best plot o`r video idea wins! What should people be expecting from you guys next? Another set of tour dates overseas!!! Woohoo! A bunch of new music videos and maybe a new single by Christmas if weâ€™re lucky! THANKS FOR LISTENING TO US!
Keep it Sticky
Zachary Raber I’m a Midwest-based fashion photographer. In an age where artists have a variety of platforms to easily share their work, it’s a challenge to stay ahead of the curve and remain individual. By leveraging nostalgia and incorporating dreamy atmospheres into my work, I continue to set myself apart from the natural Midwest style and instead give off a more “West Coast” feel. As I make my move to Chicago this month, I hope to continue to up my production value and experiment more with a striking, 80s influenced look.
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What is it about the world of fashion and portraiture that you are most drawn to? When you first started your photographic journey was this the first type of photography you tried to venture into or did it build from elsewhere? Fashion portraiture caught my interest because of its
Are you a formally trained photography or are you self-taught? At what point did you pick up a camera and start shooting beyond a hobby?
I’ve taken a variety of art classes (metalworking, painting, drawing, and sculpture) and have and studied under an impressionist-style fine art painter. My time working in these other art forms helped me to develop a more abstract approach to my work as well as a more in-depth understanding of colour theory.
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extreme production value. Every aspect of it is controlled: styling, makeup, lighting, and the models themselves. It isn’t just something you jump into, its complex and premeditated. This heightened production value allows the artist(s)at work to fully develop a concept and show their capabilities. At first, my work was very haphazard and didn’t tie into a greater theme. I wanted to produce something interesting that stood out, but didn’t have a specific style or concept I wanted to build upon. Fashion photography came later as I became more comfortable manipulating colours and taking more control of the subject matter I was working with.
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You have a very specific set of tones and colour pallets in your work. How did you discover these tones and come to decide that you wanted to keep going with them? Do you remember the specific image or feeling? Dreamy colour palates have always hit me. Capturing the subtleties of the colours became a sort of sport as it’s very difficult. My favourite colours aren’t single colours themselves but rather the complexities found in transition of one shade to another. Most of my work uses pinks and mauves. I enjoy working with warmer, rosier palates as they very rarely occur naturally. The mixing of natural and artificial light colours is also very unique.
You have described your work having a “West Coast” feeling even though you are in the MidWest. Do you feel misplaced or are you ever going to move out to the coast? How do you think that living and working in the Mid-West has ended up influencing your work?
Living in the Midwest has been crucial to my style. Most all of the photography based out of the Midwest has a very natural and simplistic look. It became my mission to break out of the norm and produce something with a heightened production value. I found that most of my clients were dissatisfied with the style of the area and were immediately drawn to the dreamy look I had developed because it offered something unique. Later this year, I’m moving to Chicago to progress toward a more mature editorial look, continuing to integrate fashion into my work.
What themes are you most attracted to and try to put into your imagery?
Anything that stirs up nostalgia has potential to show up in my work. Old motels and bathrooms are of heightened interest to me because of the potency of the atmosphere they provide. Marilyn Monroe references have slipped into a few of my photos as well. In addition to her iconic nature, she also brings themes of classic American entertainment and immortalized fame. Suburbia is another theme that I like to leverage. Box TVs glowing through windows, white bedsheets, floral wallpaper and white picket fences— all things we can relate to even if we haven’t directly experienced them. Nostalgia is a powerful tool, and I believe if leveraged properly, it can be used to make viewers feel like they’re connected to a past they’ve never actually lived.
What are some particular narratives that you have most enjoyed bringing to life?
Something about an intimate atmosphere, even bordering on loneliness, has always fascinated me. Generally, moodiness in photography comes off as aimless and inauthentic, so one of my personal challenges is to avoid that and maintain a genuine feel. Old motels, 80s elements and sleepy suburbia are all my favourite narratives to work with.
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What is something you have yet to try out but are really hoping to within the next year?
As I make my move to Chicago, I hope to work with more high-fashion looks. Theatrical style has always been important to me, but soon I will have the platform to produce content which fully explores that side of my work.
As a photographer, how do you feel you see the world differently than you had before you started? Photography has caused me to see everything as a potential narrative to capture. Iâ€™m constantly aware of textures, symbolism and colour palates that I could use in my next shoot. Over the past year, Iâ€™ve kept a notebook full of notes, paint swatches and magazine clippings that I use to construct concepts.
Who would you like to work with in the future? What has been your goal as a photographer?
My dream subjects are Lady Gaga, Linda Evangelista, and Sean O’Pry. I enjoy working with models with unique and distinguishable features. My goal is to continue to create increasingly accurate depictions of the concepts in my head. I’m achieving my goals as long as I continue to create interesting narratives and staying unique with what I produce.
Are there any specific projects that people should be expecting from you soon?
The next phase for me is planning and producing more ambitious scenes. Whether that’s by styling, makeup or complex sets, my next work will continue to leverage nostalgia in a more theatrical manner than ever.
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Blonde Diamond Stepping up to the back of the venue I found Alexis getting ready for the show. At the time she was putting on silver boots that contrasted her full suit of red. I had listened to Blonde Diamond multiple times but it was in that moment where I truly felt the sound, meeting vocalist or, â€œself-appointed Main Bitch.â€? We gathered the band, at least everyone but bassist, Pascal, into their van and sat around making idol conversation before really diving into discussing their music, including both their previous EP as well as their upcoming.
If you’re unfamiliar with the band you can find a description of their music, “What the 60s thought the future would sound like,” and there’s nothing more accurate than that statement. When I brought it up with the band Alexis pipped up to say that it was something that Malcolm had once said. “What did I say,” he inquired uncertain of if we were still talking about the same thing. “Yeah, when we were in Mexico and I was playing early demos to your parents and you were trying to describe it [to them]. You said, ‘Well, it’s kind of what the 60s thought the future would sound like’ and I immediately wrote that down.” Both of them smiled and Malcolm spoke while laughing a little, “I didn’t realize that! There’s so much shit that comes out of my mouth.” The whole van laughed for a moment before Alexis brought it back in to say, “I’ve always been really influenced by the aesthetic of the 60s both visually and sonically, so that just naturally came to play.” Looking through Blonde Diamond’s catalogue of imagery it’s easy to see this specific theme in their existence. “Well, I wasted many years of my life in art school,” Alexis laughs before correcting, “No, I studied graphic design and it actually came very much in handy. I feel like, naturally, the visuals are paired with music because it’s things I like in the visual and musical side so there’s a lot of cross over since the red thread is my brain.” Everyone nodded along as she continued about the importance of pairing music and the visuals. Alexis even went further to say, “It directs the music more accurately into what you’re trying to say. It’s kind of like a short cut instead of somebody listening to multiple songs to listen to what you are trying to do. When it’s paired with a visual it makes you get the idea faster. With everything, music videos, art work, things we post on social media, I think it’s really important to keep all of those things in line ... You try to keep a certain continuity.” It’s often that you do see smaller or new bands struggle with this. The design most certainly makes the artists look more put together and as if they are taking themselves seriously as a group.
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With Blonde Diamond’s music videos they have similar ideas that are particular and specific to what they are trying to represent. With Alexis’s design background she very much has a hands-on approach to it all, “Initially, with our first couple of music videos I went over board with the mood boards, this is hat the colour pallet is going to be, the make-up, the stage prop, everything was meticulously planned out and then for the last couple of videos, like for, “Better When You’re Close,” we were on tour so much that I didn’t have time to plan out all of these things. Jordy, we worked with them for the first video, “Feel Alright”, We really trusted him and I’ve seen his work, obviously, we really love his work so we were kind of like, ‘Run with it, this is what it should be,’ but generally speaking.” In the case of that music video it had been shot in the course of three days and all but one of those days Alexis was in town for, “We were playing Seattle. I came straight from the show in Seattle, went back straight to the video shoot, did that and the video turned out awesome ... Sometimes how someone else interprets you is better than you could have done it yourself. It’s such an interesting and unique thing where you’e like, ‘That’s really cool, I never thought of that.” Malcolm chimed in, “Lex is really good at producing and in many ways co-directing many of the other things. It does stand out in having a slightly different, one of these things is not like the other, way.” Although there was not a particularly re-occurring theme on Feel Alright, as a group they established different themes in their music videos. Thing like Obsession and Self-destruction tended to sneak their way into all of the narratives. “Everything always ends in chaos in my brain. Just like the “Feel Alright” video, everything is so nice at the beginning and then gets sabotaged at the end. “Better When You’re Close” has an element of chaos and paranoia to it. A lot of the lyrical content is about that.” It was through talking about these videos that Alexis also realized that thematically speaking they still were pretty consistent, especially with the vintage aesthetic that they carry with them throughout everything that they show off, “I think I really like to present things as beautiful and terrifying. Just like the whole smearing puked up glitter on my face at the end of “Better When You’re Close” ... I think I’m really drawn into contrasts.”
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A lot of Blonde Diamond’s first recordings were an exploration of what they could do together. Both Bruce, their keyboardist, and Alexis simply said that it was an exploration of tones and sound and most importantly, testing the waters. Now, the band has toured and had some of the unique experiences that they have had, they talked a lot about how the themes in their upcoming EP, Fantasy Love, revolve around their adventures of tour and are very much inspired by the feelings that they had while doing the different things that they have done together. “It’s a very cathartic record for me to write,” Alexis starts off, “So now that it’s done and recorded and I’m done that chapter of my life it’s kind of nice to know that I had gone through that and come out the other side and I hope other people can feel that as well. Feeling like it’s consuming you doesn’t lead to your self-destruction and you can come out the other side.” Louis, who had been quietly sitting in the front passenger seat spoke up, “You know what it does to me? I didn’t record on the record, I just play in the live band but I am very much a part o the process of it outside of recording. For me, being able to listen to it and have Lex come to the band with these songs and have them arranged live and having this EP recorded, to me I feel that this collection of work, whether it was intentional or pre-thought out, it all exists in the same space as far as mood,” He had to explain a little more of this pulling similarities to Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys and their newest record, “He wanted to feel like it all existed in this one hotel from the 70s and that when you listened to it you are transported to that location. I think that this body of songs has a cohesive space that it all exists in. To me, as a listener, it’s a moody desert highway with some hallucinogenics and some things running through your veins and the stars are blasting by you. I think that exists throughout all of the songs.”
Everyone nodded along to Louis and his feeling, also resonating with that sentiment, “It definitely, to me, feels like a good representation of the three years we just had,” Bruce explains that, “The first album ... The song were written and recorded and a lot of them bloomed after the recording where with the new one I feel like they came together because of all of that. There’s things that I remember of us, doing night drives and listening to the Drive soundtrack. Our single is definitely representative of that. When I recorded the guitar part of that I was like, Okay can I do something that is like M83 and we were listening to that in the van.” Bruce recalls several moments on their time spent on tour and in the van that ended up being some sort of inspiration for Fantasy Love including a song that revolves around the idea of falling in love with a stripper, “It reminds me of when we were playing in Rino and you guys went to the strip club before we went on stage. Our set got pushed to three or four in the morning so I was asleep in the van and had to get up and go do this. It feels like these truly lived moments. There’s another song called “Famous” an wanting to be famous and how i t’s not our fault and how we are all privileged young children of our parents that told us to live our dream. There’s a really good line in that” Alexis bumps in instantly knowing the line, “This is how they raised us, can you really blame us.” Bruce nods along and continues, “It’s something along a body of work and feels so honest and feels legit to exactly our lives. All these moments actually happened and I was there for all of them. It’s almost like a photo album.” With a playful tone in her voice Alexis says, “There’s been a lot of wild rides.” The van erupted into laughter and Bruce had to explain to me, “There’s a song called Wildest Ride.” Laughing along with their fun and pun nature they all went on to explain how they were truly proud of what came out of their experiences to write this EP.
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When seeing or listening to Blonde Diamond the goal is to have you feeling freaked out and a little turned on. This sentiment is certainly a tip of the hat to their experiences that they had that ended up leading them into this new record. Once Fantasy Love comes out they expect to be touring some more, or in the very least playing more shows, “If we get to do as many cool shows as we did last year I’d do it again,” Alexis smiles even bringing up the fact that they still have a little bit more time on their India visa but with how expensive and long it took to get there they most likely would not be able to do that. In the very least, they are just excited to keep up with their adventures and play music with one another and have as much fun while doing so that they possibly can.
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Meryl Pataky 44
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I am an artist and curator working predominantly in luminous tubing (neon). My work, as of late, is a study on process. I curate an all female traveling exhibition turned collective entitled SHE BENDS. As of late we feature 32 neon benders/artists from around the world. I also curate a quarterly exhibition project of neon art installations in Union Square windows of Hang Art Gallery in San Francisco.
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Before you moved to San Francisco to attend art school did you have any experience in sculpture? At what point did you realize you fell in love with the platform? I didn’t have any formal experience in sculpture, no. I thought I wanted to attend for painting or fashion. When I took a required 1st semester “Foundations” course in sculpture, I was amazed by my teacher, a ceramicist. While clay as a material didn’t suit me, although I learned quite a bit about ceramics in school, I’ve found that materials that give resistance are more my style (metal and glass). The building aspect of sculpture appealed to me and the direct contact between hand and raw material.
At what point did you take your studies of arts and integrate them into your knowledge with chemicals and gases?
I actually focused on small metals/silver smithing for quite a while in school before I became hooked on neon. It wasn’t until my last year that neon took over. It was then that I realized that my knowledge of sculptural material encompasses a whole lot of the Periodic Table. Silver, Gold, Copper, Carbon, Neon, Argon, Mercury, Helium, Ferric, Sodium, Silica, even Lead etc. I’ve always believed that materials speak their own language and have their own inherent messages they relay in certain contexts. I read a book called, “Periodic Tales” about the cultural history of the elements throughout history. They have their own characteristics and through working with them, they teach you different things about yourself because, after all, we are made of elements and so is our universe. It’s a level of awareness that can be gained through intimate physical and mental connection with them.
Tell us a little bit about your process in your studio space. Generally speaking, how long does it take for you to finish a project once you have created a basic outline for what you are doing? The time varies greatly depending on the project.
If I’m working on a show I usually work for at least a few months, depending on how big. The process is - basic sketch, full scale print, draft a pattern for all of your bends (like ablueprint) from the full scale print, bend on that pattern in a fire, process the unit through a crazy system of vacuum and current called “bombarding”, install it with high voltage/ low amperage equipment called transformers.
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You have stated that more recently your work has evolved to be about materialism and, as people, our relationships with materials. What are some aspects of this theme that you have been particularly interested in? Another book I read, “Shop class As Soul craft” talks about the narcissism related to not caring how things, artifacts, in this world are made. Throwing things away when they no longer work. Getting things to operate based on computer technology so we are no longer connected to even having the opportunity to work with our hands to fix something that we own. We are far removed from the artifacts of this world, in our modern time. So much so, that nobody even asks the question, “How was this made” about art. I was once asked, “Who makes your neon?” It sort of annoyed me because I realized that they must assume that the artist doesn’t. Most artists that feature neon in their work do not make it themselves. There should be distinction in the value difference here. In art, people should care who made it, or at least how it was made - if not for conceptual reasons than for the purpose of maintenance (with sculpture and with neon in particular) and the end goal of maintaining that original investment value and the value it accrues over time.
Talk a little bit about the self-aware proportion of your work. My material has gone through cyclical highs and lows throughout its cultural history. It’s seen itself in the spotlight and then suffered a demise many times over. This newest neon craze is getting a little silly and kitsch. As well, despite neon’s overwhelming popularity, we aren’t really seeing a palpable difference in the growth of the industry. Manufacturers of sign supplies are merging or going out of business, glass that used to be made is no longer fabricated or in stock, and 1-2 person shops still struggle to get by. My mentor once told me, “If you want to get rich, don’t make neon.” (They are full of idioms, or “neonisms”). This is because we are trying to compete in a market filled with design entrepreneurs getting in on the trend by selling cheap foreign made stuff, or worse “Led Neon” (which is an oxymoron and not a real thing). I feature my neon tubes with black resin drips that symbolize tar leaking all over them. The tar relates to the leaking tar of a neon transformer when it begins to go bad, and eventually die.
Is there something that you hope people get or feel when interacting with your work in person? How do you feel people would interact with them in an exhibit versus seeing it online?
Being in the presence of the light will always be a different experience. Always.
Do you think of the aesthetic form of your art before or after the concept?
This really depends on the piece. Most of the time it’s the concept first with my exhibition works. For commercial works it tends to be a bit more design focused.
You have integrated multiple elements with your sculptures, working the neon with metals, foliage, and cement to name a few. What are some of your favorite materials that you have used in your work?
Silver Nitrate is by far the coolest, used for silvering glass. Mercury is really neat (most neon you see isn’t actually neon. Neon is a red gas, always. Most of the colors you see are filled with Argon gas with a drop of mercury to make phosphor powders inside the glass glow certain colors) I really enjoy deer hide as well -it can be soaked for malleability and then dried to form. Silver is a wildly beautiful material with many deep spiritual and feminine qualities/meanings. The variety that silver gives you in it’s surfacing is incredible. It can be shiny and polished and also textured and oxidized. It’s beautifully diverse stuff.
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How often do you get commissions for your work? How do you find your commissions look in comparison to something that was completely based on your own ideas and terms? I have begun to decline sign-based commissions where people want exact phrasing. I know it sounds ungrateful but I’ve begun to get, we’ll say “confused”, when people tell me how much they love my work and within the same message ask me to make something that doesn’t align with my style or aesthetics, but rather a specific phrase. A couple of years ago, I was consumed by these sign-based jobs. The whole reason I took them was to pay for my artwork but I never ended up having time for my art. I began to ask, “Am I a sign-maker or an artist?” I made a choice. I started focusing on jobs that ask me to make work based on aesthetics I’ve recently made or am currently making. I don’t like to venture backwards in my process and I don’t think any artist should be asked to. It’s always a forward game and it’s also market rules. Of course, there are certain compromises you make with some commissions depending on the venue and the client but there needs to be compromise when hiring artists.
How often do you take people in for your neon workshops? How do you feel that you have benefited from these?
Oh my teaching skill has benefited greatly. I enjoy teaching in general very much (I teach middle schoolers during the school year) and I especially love educating people about the process of this work. I enjoy meeting new people and I’ve seen so much natural skill, it’s incredible. Depends on the month and what I have going on but I usually see more than a handful of one-on one students per month.
Tell us a little bit about your upcoming exhibitions?
I am currently working on a couple of pieces for a show with Pt. 2 Gallery in Oakland, September 15th. I have a two person exhibition with Pt. 2 and Brett Flanigan (painter) in the March of 2019. I have another She Bends show in the works for 2019, TBA. A number of public commissions are brewing for the remainder of the year.
AL B UMS I N RE VI E W
Deafheaven 04.17. 2018 6.6 Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (Anti)
Deafheaven are a metal band from California that fuses elements of traditionally harsh black metal, melodically progressive post-rock and shoegaze. The group’s monstrous and ambitious pieces are the main reason I enjoyed them so much initially, but I have lately found the band is inconsistent when it comes to writing amazing material from the start of a song’s runtime to the finish. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love opens with sullen pianos and a moody, twinkling guitar line. Acoustic guitars and a distant spoken word are introduced, which trade off with the band’s typical high-pitched shrieks and fairly simple, yet effective guitar melodies. It is definitely the most unexpected of Deafheaven openers, but far from the most impressive. “Honeycomb” is more business as usual for the band; choc full of propelling drum grooves and triumphantly melodic guitar passages. In my opinion, this is the most consistent track of the bunch, despite the fact that there are no surprises in the songwriting to be had. “Canary Yellow” begins blissfully psychedelic before kicking into an electrifyingly hypnotic and melodic performance. The end of this monster of a track also includes some ghostly sung vocals that actually fit the vibe of the ending quite well. This new experimentation with singing continues on the following “Near” interlude, a track so sweet on the ears that I occasionally end up tuning out by the end of its relatively short runtime. “Glint” picks up the pace with a more urgent instrumental, layered with melancholic guitar leads.
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The song eventually pans out into one of the most aggressive and exciting sections of the entire album, which leaves me wanting more in this vein on Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. I was particularly looking forward to hearing “Night People” because of the Chelsea Wolfe feature, but I was somewhat underwhelmed with the results; this could have been the wildly dark, doomy and experimental track that the album needed, and although Wolfe’s vocals are beautiful as always, the song ends up being pretty uneventful and predictable. The record ends on an average note, although I enjoy a few of the lead melodies, “Worthless Animal” concludes one of Deafheaven’s most inconsistent albums to date. A solid amount of fresh and exciting material is presented here, but with a few exceptions I have glaring issues with almost every song on “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love.” Best Track: Honeycomb Worst Track: You Without End
Boston Manor 09. 07. 2018 7.7 Welcome to the Neighborhood (Pure Noise)
Boston Manor is a British pop-punk band pushing past their genre and into new sonic territory on their sophomore LP, Welcome to the Neighborhood. The group entices with a driving groove and ethereal vibe on the introduction, but the hook and triplet flows are not as sticky as I was expecting for the album’s title track. “Flower In Your Dustbin” is a much more explosive cut, showcasing a pumping chorus filled with grimy bass lines and noisy guitar leads. The chorus on the lead single “Halo” is incredibly catchy, and I love the subtle electronics layered into the track to give the song even more texture. The sinister tone of “England’s Dreaming” and downright aggression on “Funeral Party” prove that Boston Manor is anything but a one trick pony - not even halfway into the album and every song the band has served up has a unique personality and vibe.
the lyrics holding the song back slightly; by this point in the record it also feels like the band doesn’t have nearly as much energy as they did on the first half of Welcome to the Neighborhood.“The Day I Ruined Your Life” closes out Welcome to the Neighborhood as the token acoustic ballad, and the song progresses into an explosive, almost psychedelic conclusion that I quite like. There is no denying the drop in quality and energy within the second half of this record, but I still love a lot of the material presented on Welcome to the Neighborhood. Boston Manor can be lacking somewhat lyrically, but I am excited to see how fans will react to the band’s undoubtedly exciting sonic progression. Best Track: Funeral Party Worst Track: Welcome to the Neighborhood
Boston Manor keeps the energy and quality up with tracks such as “Digital Ghost” and “Tunnel Vision”, although the chorus lyrics on the latter track are a bit vapid. I enjoy that the band takes their time getting into these songs, building up a certain vibe or emotion using ethereal production before the track really kicks in. “Bad Machine” sounds like the Boston Manor’s attempt at a mid-tempo radio rock song, and although the lyrics result in an eye roll or two, it is still a decent track. The instrumentation and chorus of “If I Can’t Have It, No One Can” is far from the strongest, but the swaggering, blatantly self-interested lyrics still give the song a sense of individuality. I like the falsetto vocals and ghostly tones on the pre-chorus of “Hate Me”, but again I find
Trash Boat 07.20. 2018 8.3 Crown Shyness (Hopeless)
Crown Shyness is the latest album from Trash Boat, a quintet from the United Kingdom that is blending pop punk and post-hardcore in an effectively refreshing way. The blazing “Inside Out” opens the album with a prominent snare and shots of thick electric guitar chords. The following track “Shade” displays Trash Boat’s ability to balance catchy vocal hooks with energetic screaming and heavy-yet melodic performances. The bouncy and more poppunk influenced “Nothing New” keeps the bar and energy high, while delivering an even stickier vocal hook; I do wish the band fleshed out this song’s ending though as it is a uniquely blissful moment on the album. “Old Soul” begins deceivingly mellow, before epically transitioning into a powerful ¾ ballad with an explosive and soaring chorus. “Controlled Burn” is one of the most uncompromisingly aggressive moments on Crown Shyness, and the heavier passages that carry the song between yet another solid chorus goes over without a hitch. I think the front man does a great job with both singing and screaming, carrying every song almost effortlessly, but I do wish there were more prominent harmonies on some of the more epic, half-timed passages of the album. I enjoy the lyrical imagery inspired by the melancholy title track, which is elevated further by the lush string sections and organic acoustic instrumentation backing the song, but I was hoping for a more cathartic ending to such a crucial point in the album.
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The groove-heavy “Silence” picks up the pace again with double timed verses and an open refrain that eventually transitions into a moody, piano laced outro. I love the melancholic guitar chords that follow the gentle introduction of the penultimate “Undermine”. The final track begins in a similar fashion and takes its time to build up the mood. It doesn’t result in the most spectacular of endings, but I like the surprisingly energetic drums that propel Crown Shyness towards its conclusion. Overall I was very impressed by the material presented by Trash Boat, and as far as pop-punk albums of the year, Crown Shyness will be difficult to top. Best Track: Nothing New Worst Track: Crown Shyness
Trophy Eyes 03. 08. 2018 7.5 The American Dream (Hopeless)
The American Dream marks a fundamental shift in Australian punk rock outfit Trophy Eyes sound. The introductory track “Autumn” establishes this change with a subdued and clever vocal hook, mid-paced tempo and lush string sections. The chanting gang vocals and instrumental dynamics make the chorus of “Something Bigger Than This” hit incredibly hard. I enjoy the blissful vibe and delayed guitars on “Friday Forever”, as well as the unique juxtaposition of melodic gang singing and screamed vocals on “More Like You”
and John Floreani’s lyricism is consistently sharp, impactful and genuinely humorous at times. However, I found their relative abandonment of genre experimentation to leave the album slightly one-dimensional. Best Track: You Can Count On Me Worst Track: Autumn
I love the sense of foreboding on the interlude “A Cotton Candy Sky”, which is only enhanced by the sparse pianos and rumbling storm samples. The startlingly self-aware lyrics on “You Can Count On Me” are downright hilarious at times, as the song is a message to how fickle and judgmental music fans can be; it is by far one of the most unique songs I have ever heard in this genre and not one I will forget anytime soon. “Tip Toe” is a beautiful acoustic and piano ballad that puts more of a spotlight on John Floreani’s voice, and the front man carries the song effortlessly. Floreani’s lyrics are both inspiring and uplifting on the upbeat “Lavender Bay”, contrasting the crushing lyricism on the following track. The screaming on the hulking closer “I Can Feel It Calling” is an effective and powerful way to conclude the album, albeit slightly long-winded. Overall The American Dream is a much more sonically focused project than its predecessor,
Albums in Review
Youth Fountain 07.18. 2018 6.4 Youth Fountain (EP) (Pure Noise)
Youth Fountain is a Vancouver emo band freshly signed to Pure Noise Records. The Canadian duo’s vocals trade off consistently throughout their debut EP, repeating and reinforcing one another effectively. I find myself gravitating much more to the anguished screams as opposed to the relatively uninspired singing, but both vocalists have solid chemistry on the debut single “Rose Coloured Glass”. The song concludes satisfyingly with a soaring ending layered with prominent vocal harmonies. “Worried” is the groovy standout of the project, whose sobering lyrics are delivered with deft and catchy flows. There is an undeniably potent sense of emotion on this project and this is felt particularly on the final moments of this track. “Complacent” keeps up the energy of the EP with a more progressive structure and decent hook, but I cannot help but feel that the band’s ideas are already being stretched thin. This feeling is reinforced by “Grinding Teeth” a track whose energy is held back by the somewhat vapid and repetitive lyrics. Fortunately, “Bloom” closes out the project very well; shots of drums and distorted guitars follow a tension filled, gentle introduction, and these passages open up into one of the heaver, more powerful moments on the record. I enjoyed a decent amount of the material on this EP but the lack of diversity, primarily with the singing, leaves me apprehensive but intrigued for a full-length project.
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Best Track: Worried Worst Track: Grinding Teeth
Nas 06. 15. 2018 8.2 NASIR (Mass Appeal)
One of hip-hop’s greatest has returned with a new album produced entirely by Kanye West, whose tight track list contains killer beats and sharp, conscious verses. The lavish “Not For Radio” opens the album with booming sub bass, epic choral vocals and a fitting appearance from 070 Shake to make for a solid opener. Nas dives into political bars almost immediately on this album, and continues the streak with “Cops Shot The Kid”; an insane banger with a looped vocal sample laced throughout the entire track. I love how Kanye West transforms this abrasive vocal snippet into a more melodic element as the song progresses, and his appearance on the microphone is uncharacteristically thoughtful; “Tell me who do we call to report crime when 911 doin’ the drive-by?”
“Everything” is the clear centerpiece of the record, and while I find the song to be both uplifting and gorgeous, its lengthy runtime does affect the momentum of the project. The blissful finale “Simple Things” closes out NASIR with more modern sounding production, and as much as I enjoy Nas on a song like this I am pleased he went with a more traditional direction for this album. Best Track: Adam and Eve Worst Track: Everything
West’s use of sampling is nothing short of genius on NASIR; I love the bright horn samples layered throughout “White Label” as well as the dusty piano that sounds straight out of a wild-west saloon on “Adam and Eve”. The Dream is featured prominently on this album and although I am not familiar with his solo material, I think he fits seamlessly within the project. His contributions to “Bonjour” and the afore mentioned “Adam and Eve” are nothing short of beautiful, and his singing with Kanye West on the hulking “Everything” is also stunning.
Albums in Review
Kids See Ghosts 06.08. 2018 7.9 Kids See Ghosts (G.O.O.D Music)
Kids See Ghosts is the highly anticipated, debut collaborative project between artists Kanye West and Kid Cudi. I personally find the former artist much more consistent and enjoyable than the latter, but I was surprised at how entertaining and unique these seven songs turned out. I admit the album starts off shaky with “Feel The Love”; Pusha-T’s verse is fantastic but I think Kid Cudi’s looped vocal line is annoyingly harsh, and I don’t find Kanye’s obnoxious ad-lib performance adding anything to the song either. Fire is a huge step up in quality and chemistry, seeing Kanye and Cudi delivering strong verses over a swaggering, bouncy beat layered with gentle woodwinds and steely guitars. I surprisingly enjoy Kid Cudi’s singing on this track, and the lonely, faint guitar ends the piece perfectly. “4th Dimension” is a trunk-knocking banger that extraordinarily samples an old Christmas song from the 1930’s. Kid Cudi delivers his best flows on this track and Kanye’s hilariously sexual lyrics and clever ending makes for his best verse as well. “Freee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)” is the insane sequel to “Ghost Town” off of Kanye West’s latest Ye, and is an explosive fusion of hip-hop and hard rock, whose bizarre title is easily justified by off-the-wall, layered vocal effects I initially thought “Reborn” was a long-winded lull in the track listing, and I didn’t find Kid Cudi’s offkey moaning to be very enjoyable, but I’ve come to appreciate the positive and hopeful vibe of the track. I also cannot deny that after multiple listens, Kid Cudi’s carefree hook became consistently
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stuck in my head. Overall I absolutely appreciate the uniquely bizarre vibe of this project, and its many strange quirks including the maniacal cackling on the ethereal, bass heavy title track. I wasn’t floored by the beginning or end of Kids See Ghosts but I firmly believe it is one of the more enjoyable albums that Kanye West has released this summer. Best Track: 4th Dimension Worst Track: Feel The Love
Chelsea Grin 07. 13. 2018 7.1 Eternal Nightmare (Rise)
Eternal Nightmare is the latest album from Salt Lake City deathcore outfit Chelsea Grin. I was initially indifferent towards the band’s sound, until I watched them live and witnessed the impressively muscular performance of their percussionist. The flagship single from this new record “Dead Rose” also caught my attention, not only with its blood-pumping aggression, but also with tight, melodic guitar riffs and a sharp vocal hook.
percussion on the hook of “See You Soon”. I think this is a very solid deathcore record, but still slightly suffers from the one-dimensional nature of the genre; the best moments on “Eternal Nightmare” are the strong hooks and melodic or sonic experiments within the instrumentation. Best Track: Hostage Worst Track: Outlier
Although I don’t find the majority of Eternal Nightmare to be as consistent as the singles, there are still plenty of heavy hitters on this record. “The Wolf” sees Chelsea Grin dipping their toes into some industrial and noise experimentation, while the melodic piano arpeggios and chorus on “Across The Earth” have a strange sense of universality for something so brutal. A lot of this album contains the same gurgling, dissonant and groovy guitar chugging that can get tiresome at times; so it is welcomed when the band takes a more riff or refrain heavy direction on tracks such as “9:30am” and “See You Soon” respectively. “Hostage” is a highlight for me with its bouncy grooves, tension-building bridge and brutally heavy conclusion, I also love the epic melodies and apocalyptic chants on the self-titled closer. As anticipated the drumming on this record is impeccably tight, with “Nobody Listened” being the most unbelievable double bass performance on the entire record. I enjoy the sparse sound experimentation Chelsea Grin uses on Eternal Nightmare, like the eerie electronics on the previously mention song or the rattling, synthetic
Albums in Review
F L ESH & BON E in the pursuit of artistic passion
in the pursuit of passion