Nathan Ishar Name
phones) as i love to try out new stuff and challenge myself.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
Age 27 What is your current location? Cologne, Germany
The last year I had ongoing collaborations with fashion designstudent Joel Schumacher and some of my favourite projects come from that exchange of ideas and inspirations. What music do you listen to while working?
Where are you from?
When on location and when editing I listen to Ambientmusic/ Neoclassical Music, like Nils Frahm, , Soundtracks and Electro.
Where do you like to work?
What is your current occupation?
In a beautiful, calm minimalistic environment I feel comfortable taking photos.
My current occupation is, until I find a more “conservative job”, being a Photographer. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? Self-Taught. Never visited a workshop but did lots of online research before doing projects and never, even at the very beginning, put my SLR on automatic.
What is one of your earliest memories of making art? I remember painting animals when i was young, never got really into painting though even though now i love to look at some and find some inspiration there.
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? Films by Noé, Haneke, Kubrick and Aronofsky inspire my film and photography wise. As the importance in photography is most visible in war photography, I find James Nachtwey as a person, his achievements and documentary photography very inspiring. The works of Elliot Erwitt, Mario Gerth, HC-Bresson, are which probably had most impact on me as of lately. What materials do you like to work with? I use all media available to me, Film (35mm, 120mm and Polaroid), digital Sensor (Full-Format, APS-C and even mobile
Where To Find Them Websites: http://www.pramudiya.com/ Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHARD ALEXANDER HECKERT
Richard Alexander Heckert “Imagine that your brain is a defective archive and everything breaks down and gets confused. Movies, music, comics, art, literature and everyday life fall into a mental meltdown in which boundaries of the inside condition no longer be separated from outer life. A panopticon of superlatives in a fast world of moments, which is more fragile than we think. We live restless and without compromise and lose the sense of the essentials out of sight. That’s Pop Amok! The aesthetics of pop amok understands itself as contemporary art that deals with the speed with which the presence radically changed by technology. This art corresponds to the aesthetics of a new cosmopolitan generation - the generation of anti-pop ... My works interpret internal and external conditions of the modern world of superlatives. What looks funny and colorful, is depressing and frightening at second glance.” -Richard Alexander Heckert Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
Richard Alexander Heckert
I am inspired by many people, both still alive and already dead. I could name at this point my favorites people, my favorite book and my favorite movie but more important is that we get preferences and inspiration for us to find our own way. Everyone has these favorites and they are as individual as our fingerprint. Let us talk about art ...We love art!
Age I was born in 1973 What is your current location? Essen/ Rhineland / Germany Where are you from? Essen/Rhineland in Germany like Doris Day What is your current occupation? I am artist and work in different jobs to survive... Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I have completed an artistic education. I studied industrial design and art, but the really interesting things I have taught me autodidactically.
What materials do you like to work with? Cardboard and colored pencils and for the limited prints I use canvases. What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? With my art I try to convince the galleries in Germany, which is very difficult. This procedure can be summarized in one sentence, I’m trying to convince the audience of my work. What music do you listen to while working? Music is universal as painting and has infinitely many forms of expression. Therefore I have no favorites but I like to listen radio ...
Where do you like to work?
What is one of your earliest memories of making art?
It does not matter where. It is important that I can work as an artist and that is just as hard in New York as well as in Germany or anywhere else.
The coffee can of my parents. There displayed the work “Judith” of Gustav Klimt. When I was a child this work I always wanted to paint them - without success...Thats Pop Amok!
Where To Find Them Websites: heckertart.com Contact: email@example.com
Ebeneeza K. “‘If you have a cross to bear it’s only fair if you use it as a crutch.’ I often remember that lyric from one of my favourite songs when I try to make the best out of a miserable situation. Sometimes it´s hard and one is lucky to have someone who can relate what you are going through.In this case I pictured a boy and his dog, both invalid. They experienced a horrible accident, lost parts of their limbs and now are trying to get back to life. The drawing shows the struggle to get better and that a fellow sufferer who is also going through tough times, can help you to recover. I did the Illustration with copic fineliner, drew the Background separately and brought the drawings together in Photoshop where I added some vintage structures from my archive to give the illustration an ancient look.” -Ebeneeza K. Name
What is your current occupation?
Ebeneeza K. Age
I am working as a Freelance Illustrator and as a Graphic Designer for Packaging (Candy, Chocolate and Savoury Snacks) in an Advertising Agency.
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
What is your current location?
I am obsessed with Movies and TV-Shows that are dealing with anything than reality. My Parents let me watch a lot of Horror Classics when I was a kid and it influenced my drawings right away. When I was a teenager the thing that fascinated me the most was a, from today’s perspective, slightly corny Dracula Comic, painted by Fernando Fernandez, but I learned a lot from its style. Today I am always inspired by some Edward Gorey Books I have, or even browsing through my Pinterest.
I live in Hamburg, the second biggest but sometimes still feeling like a small Town in Germany, near the Elbe River and close to the North Sea. Where are you from? I was born and raised in Hamburg. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I visited Art School Alsterdamm for Graphics design and trained my Illustration Skills mainly by myself, but also took part at the art class of Painter Christian C. Friedmeyer, when I was in my teens.
What materials do you like to work with? I mainly use pencil for sketching and then trace it with copic fineliner. The thinner the better. In this case I drew the Background separately with Faber Castell Polychromos and merged the pieces in photoshop where I did the final “colorings”. What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? I am a member of the Art Collective GUiGUi - Muliartists On Su-
perfire consisting of around 6 - 7 Artists and Illustrators who are using various techniques and we are currently working on our new topic “Death of a Traveling Medium”. What music do you listen to while working? Since I am a huge film buff I often watch movies while I am sketching. But when I do the final colorings it ranges from Movie Scores, over New Wave to Indie, 80s and Alternative. But I also enjoy audiobooks and am currently listening to Authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King.
Where To Find Them Websites: www.ebeneeza-k.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you like to work? The most ideal place is on my Couch with my Snug Rug and reality is as far away as can be. It´s so nice when you can do that and be in your own world. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? Sitting in Kindergarten where I almost always drew with black pens and avoiding colour which led my kindergarten teacher to think: “Whats wrong with that kid?”. But I often found colours to be a waste of time, not improving my illustrations very much and in most cases I think so to this day.
Vivian Le “When we experience a traumatic event, parts of ourselves tend to linger and stay behind. We put on many faces to hide and cope with our pain. Sometimes, we lose those pieces and we must find them in order to fully heal. Trauma does not know age. This piece questions how a child would be expected to recover from something as emotionally and physically disturbing as sexual exploitation.” -Vivian Le Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
My biggest source of inspiration are always my artist friends! I also love James Jean, Hans Bellmer, Audrey Kawasaki, Mary Cassatt, Ghost in the Shell, anything by Hayao Miyazaki, Hideaki Sena’s Parasite Eve, Donna Haraway’s essay A Cyborg Manifesto and children’s books.
What is your current location?
What materials do you like to work with?
I love drawing with pen and painting with oils. Lately, I have mostly been working on my Intuos4. I always come back to using graphite no matter what I work with though. And paper. I absolutely love paper. I have gone around touching every type of available art paper at an art store in one visit multiple times for fun.
Where are you from? I was born in Chicago! What is your current occupation? I’m currently a staff artist at a start-up game company, Double Cluepon Studios and an arts administration intern at Woman Made Gallery. I’m also looking into freelancing and doing other odd jobs on the side. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I recently earned my BFA in Painting which included some formal training in drawing and sculpture as well. However, my professors did not teach me how to draw dolls or children haha. I think of art school as a tool for you to essentially learn how to discipline yourself in order to continue honing your visual practice after you leave.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? Nothing big at the present. I have several ideas frolicking in my head. I plan to start studying Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and the mother & child paintings of Mary Cassatt in preparation for separate series. I want to alter more children’s books and eventually build my own little handmade library in the future. I also want to get back into oil painting but I haven’t kicked myself enough times for that to happen yet. Oh and my friend and I are in an ongoing collaboration making freaky cat zines together! One of them is called Cooking with Cat and it’s been circulating around Tumblr somewhere.
What music do you listen to while working? I like to listen to anything atmospheric and preferably non-lyrical-- mostly video game/ film soundtracks, jazz, and occasionally electronica. Where do you like to work? I mostly work in my room at home. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? I vividly remember the first time I made a still life. I forgot my exact age when this happened but I should be no older than 3
Where To Find Them Websites: levivianart.tumblr.com Contact: email@example.com
or 4. After dinner during a family gathering at my parents’ apartment, I suddenly had this great idea. I went and fetched my parents’ wedding cake topper (which they saved and eventually ended up in my hoard of toys) and decided to draw it. As it sat on top of the sofa, I tried my hardest to draw its likeness on paper. Then my dad appeared behind me and said (in Cantonese): “Ha!? Are you drawing Mommy and Daddy? (laughs) That’s not what we look like!”. From what I can gather in my memory, the faces looked like two bug-eyed aliens. Haha, I remembered feeling surprised when my dad said that because I was so engrossed in my drawing. I stepped back to get a good look at it in comparison to the wedding topper and I thought to myself: “Oops, Daddy’s right, what am I even drawing?”
ANNE JOY LI
Anne Joy Li Name Anne Joy Li Age 19
I’m currently working on a body armor piece for a 3d class, working on editing two lookbooks I shot for Parsons seniors presenting their theses, and reconstructing a book for a drawing class. What music do you listen to while working?
What is your current location?
I listen to a huge range of stuff, electronic, hip hop, rock, alternative, R&B, never country though.
Manhattan, New York City
Where do you like to work?
Where are you from?
When I’m drawing I like to work in coffee shops with headphones on or on the floors of music rooms, and when I’m photographing I like walking around and shooting outdoors with my model on the go.
San Francisco, California What is your current occupation? Student/illustrator/artist/freelance photographer. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? Self taught.
What is one of your earliest memories of making art? Sitting at my little kiddie table and doing crayon drawings when I was around three - I don’t remember much of what the drawing was but I remember the feeling of seeing the colors appear on the paper and it’s been something I’ve loved doing ever since.
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? My friends, artists anywhere from Horiyoshi the Third to Egon Schiele, all sorts of photojournalists, the movie Kill Bill, but in general a lot of my art draws from my own experiences or whatever’s in my head. What materials do you like to work with? For drawing I like white paper and 0.3mm black ballpoint pen or watercolors, for photography I shoot with a Nikon D6210 with a 50mm 1.8 Lens. What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
Where To Find Them Website: photographybyanne-street.tumblr.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ignacio Rivas Name Ignacio Rivas
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
I do collage most of my time. But now I’m actually working in a project with the Californian artist Jim Goodrich. I made a collage intervention from some photos.Now we are going to show our artwork in Buenos Aires.
What is your current location?
What music do you listen to while working?
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Depends on my sense of humor. Actually im listening Starfucker, Eels, Sig Ragga, Cut Copy and many many others.
Where are you from? I live in Wilde, near to Capital Federal also known as the city of chaos ahah. What is your current occupation? Now, I’m working as a collage artist. Also I work as a waiter in a Pub. Hard times to live as an artist. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught?
Where do you like to work? At my studio in my bedroom. I haven’t got so much space, but I like is very comfortable. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? Don’t know if now im making real art ahaha but I guess that in my childhood. Great moments, I remember most of it. Back in this days I draw a lot. Today I keep a lot of these drawings.
Im a self taught, im from de D.I.Y culture I guess. What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? In my beginning as an artist, the film “Beautiful Losers” directed by Aaron Rose. Skateboarding and its culture influenced me a lot too. Also I can mention the writer Charles Bukowski, the musician Mark Everett from Eels and many classic and contemporary visual artists. What materials do you like to work with? To create my manual collage y use old magazines and books. I like the vintage aestethic.
Where To Find Them Websites: http://ignaciorivasart.tumblr.com/ Contact: email@example.com
Hana Mokonuma “This piece is about recovering from the funk that winter can get you in.”
supportive person I know and she’s killer with these in-depth email responses. My friend Lucie at Purchase started a band and her voice blows my brains out. My best friend Jacklyn is insanely good at pottery. My friends all rule. Nicki Minaj and Dwayne Johnson are huge inspirations too. .
What materials do you like to work with?
What is your current location?
I mostly draw on the sides of my lecture notes. I don’t know anything about actual art materials or good pens or markers. Right now, I use pens from Muji that my mom bought me before I left for school.
Name Hana Mokonuma
Geneseo, NY Where are you from? New York City What is your current occupation? Student! I also scan books at the school library.. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I never took any classes. My mom forced me to take piano lessons instead. I passively drew when I was younger but my aunts were crazy about my drawings. I think it stuck with me with me because I wanted other people to compliment me and affirm that I was good at something. I wanted attention!!! What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? My friends inspire me the most! They’re all really stylish and imaginative. We overhype each other and think we’re the hottest shit, even if we aren’t. I email some of my friends who go to schools far away from me just to stay in the loop with what’s going on. My friend Sam in Minnesota is the most thoughtful and
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? I’m trying to figure out how to paint. It’s all just wonky shapes on cardboard right now. I’d like to try out screen-printing or block printing so I can make shirts for my friends. What music do you listen to while working? I’ve been listening to Shonen Knife. If I were a superhero, I would have Shonen Knife play songs while I fly in with an outfit covered in rainbow pom-poms. I also always listen to Frankie Cosmos. Her songs remind me of NYC when I’m away at school. In high school, I used to walk home through Central Park with my best friend singing along to Frankie and we’d sneak out on school nights to go to her shows. Her music is great friendshipmusic and art-music.
Where do you like to work?
What is one of your earliest memories of making art?
I have the worst attention span so I usually draw when I’m supposed to be doing homework in the library. I sit in the little study cubbies in the upstairs quiet section pretending like I’m doing schoolwork. In the end I’m still productive!
I remember scribbling on the wall of my old apartment when I was probably 3 or 4. I had red and green markers and drew broccoli people.
Where To Find Them Websites: hanabutt.tumblr.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Orts “This piece started with a photograph which I took in Germany two summers ago at a classic motoring event. I saw an amazing late 60’s Porsche 911 and snapped a quick photo. When I was home later going through all of the pictures I took, I saw in the top left background there was an amazing part of this very photo. This very pleasant looking woman was leaning on her car with a great smile with her hand on her hip, taking the time to admire the amazing spectacle of a car in front of the two of us. It was so exciting too because out of all of the people at that moment, it was only her that was paying attention to the car along with me. I was so happy that I was able to capture this woman who I did not know, but who was sharing the same sort of joy and excitement I too was feeling behind the camera. In a way, she is almost an emotional reflection of me as I was gazing at the car shooting the photo. I cropped the Porsche out of the photo and concentrated it on her. I wanted to transfer the medium from a very literal photograph, to a more abstract painting. I found a scrap rough cut piece of plywood only about 1.5’ by 1’ in my basement, threw some layers of white paint on it and began mapping out the painting. While taking the more abstract approach, I was able to play with more surreal colors and try to create noise, people and moment behind the woman.” -Steven Orts Name
art you work in, or are you self taught?
I am self taught, I only started painting a few years ago. My work all began on the computer. I am extremely fascinated with cars and always quite enjoyed to play video games where you could modify them and spruce them up however you please. At about ten or eleven I remember my dad coming home with “Photoshop.” I loaded it up on the computer and started to google what it was all about. I saw how you could cut things, layer, stretch, resize. I just fiddled with it for years and started to get the hang of it.
Age 18 What is your current location? I live in Ossining, a town right on the Hudson river 40 miles north of New York City. Where are you from? I have lived in Ossining basically my whole life. What is your current occupation? I am a student at Parsons, I also work for our family business which is a flower shop. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? One of my favorite films of all time is Le Mans. The sights and sounds of the movie portray such beautiful marriage of man and machine in its most analog form. Often times to get inspiration for pieces, I watch old races from the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s just on youtube. The sound of the cars, commentators and spectators is very inspiring to me. What materials do you like to work with?
Anything I can get my hands on. As much as I love to sit at my computer and work at a digital project, or have a fresh canvas a pile of tubes of paint. I love being down in my basement (the workshop, the name I have given it) where I experiment with various tools my father owns or I have purchased over the years on metals, woods, and plastics. What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? I have recently been working on making my own hunting/survival knives. I had an epiphany one evening while working on a wooden sculpture, I stumbled upon a scrap bar of metal. I had the belt sander set up, so I started to just rock it back and forth until a very rough and rudimentary blade took shape. I realized, I donâ€™t need to be dependent on buying so many things in stores. I have all the tools and materials right here. I have worked on
Where To Find Them Websites: http://stevenorts.crevado.com Contact: email@example.com
wooden spoons am interested in making my own fishing lures this summer. What music do you listen to while working? Pink Floyd is my favorite, Outkast, Dela,Hippie Sabotage, Zero 7, Portishead, Massive Attack, Phantogram, Django Django, Al Green, Incubus, Interpol, RJD2, Rush and so on. Where do you like to work? If I am painting, drawing, or doing digital work I have to be at my desk. I cannot sit somewhere too comfortable like a couch or lay in bed and work on the computer because I get too distracted. If I am working on anything 3D, it is either the workshop, or outside when its nice out.
Kenneth Christian “I really wanted to illustrate the distressed look of addiction one can have in my piece. Recovery can be interpreted in many different ways, and I interpreted it as someone who is trying to get over a problem in their life. I’ve had many friends who were addicted to something in some way, and it wasn’t a pleasant sight at all. Therefore, I illustrated a pretty grotesque man who is trying not think about all the terrible things he was addicted to such as pills, heroine, and cigarettes. I also had some personal addiction problems, so I really related to this theme in my own way.” -Kenneth Christian Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
A few artists who inspire me would include Taylor McKimens, Killer Acid, the Quay Brothers, Neck Face, Rene Magritte, and Joan Cornella. Other people in my life would include my grandfather, Jade Bachman who is my girlfriend, my best friends Matthew James-Wilson, Benjamin Smith, John Erbach, and Max Tamarkin. Mac DeMarco is also a really big inspiration in my life currently, he has changed my life in so many ways.
Age 19 What is your current location?
Hoboken, New Jersey
Some of my favorite books are Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, and In Cold Blood. Some of my favorite films and shows include Clockwork Orange, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Blue Velvet, Dead Man, Donnie Darko, SuperJail, The Office, and Scooby Doo.
What is your current occupation?
What materials do you like to work with?
Full time college student at Parsons the New School for Design
I really enjoy working with pen and ink, colored pencils, and because of some recent experiments, I now enjoy working with gouache and water colors. I also really enjoy printmaking from dry point etchings to acid wash engravings; the process is always so intriguing.
New York, NY Where are you from?
Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I was enrolled in a studio art class throughout my high school career. I really focused on my drawing techniques and color theory with my instructors, but we studied a variety of things from sculpting to printmaking. They encouraged me to hone my illustration skills and go to art school and see what I can truly do with my creativity.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? Currently I am working on a small zine booklet for a friends band, Perennial Reel, which should be completed in late May. I am also working on a sculpture that will convey the use of plastic
in today’s society and how harmful it is to our planet. I am also working on a collaboration with one my good friends, Benjamin Smith. We are making a series of comic books/zines based on the daily life of a cigarette.
the lights off except for the desk lamp which gives off a soft yellow light that really relaxes me and helps me with my anxiety.
What music do you listen to while working?
I remember when I was really young and it was my first day of kindergarten and I was really anxious. I didn’t really talk to anyone because I was so nervous, so I spent my free time by myself drawing, with a black crayon, all the other kids around me. At that moment I just realized that drawing was fun, with or without anyone and I didn’t need friends. I think I still have that drawing.
While I am working I usually listen to Mac DeMarco, PORCHES., Elliot Smith, Animal Collective, Nirvana, and the Velvet Underground. Where do you like to work? I really feel comfortable working at my desk alone and with all
Where To Find Them Instagram: @pizzaisdabest Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is one of your earliest memories of making art?
FORGE. ISSUE 6: SERENDIPITY
SEAN JOSEPH KENNEDY
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Sean Kennedy is one of the most technically talented illustrators I’ve ever had the chance to
meet. I feel so lucky to have been able to become friends with him while we were both freshman at Parsons, and watch him grow and change throughout his formative years. In many ways, Sean’s greatest strengths lie where he feels least comfortable, and his work grown out of his own reinterpretation of the world around him. Few 19 year olds consider the direction their work and career are taking, as much as Sean does. But that’s not to say that Sean doesn’t employ the child like sense of humor and excitement towards everything he does from 6 ft pairings to homemade screen printed tee shirts that say “Fuck School” on them.
Where are you from and where do you live currently? Im from Rutherford New Jersey, and I’m currently living in Hoboken New Jersey. Are you currently in school? Yeah, I’m attending Parsons The New School for Design. How is going to school in NY impacted you? Well going to art school in the city is crazy because you meet so many people and half of those kids are doing something that you want to be a part of or are doing something you care about. All these kids have connections or are someone I would want to meet. Its super exciting to be where I am. What role did school play in your life before you came to art school for college? I hated going to school. High school seemed like the worst thing in the world and all the negative energy I got from going to class and failing tests and doing poorly became motivation for me to do something else with my life. So a lot of my art started out just because I didn’t want to focus in class and wanted to doodle and then the worse school got the more serious I took myself as an artist. Most of my education on art has just been form what i’ve seen or people have told me about and what i’ve learned to incorporate into my art has been pretty much dependent on myself and how I feel towards certain things. Were you’re parents and family supportive of your decision to study art? Did you encounter people who were unsupportive? I really just had support from my family throughout my life. Although I’ve had bad critiques and stuff like that, I just kind of block it out and encourage myself to do more and to do better. I feel very fortunate for that. If I didn’t have that I would still be painting and drawing and stuff, maybe not to the extent I’ve been able to, but I don’t think I could be so discouraged against painting. I can remember, it might have been before 1st grade or something like that,
and I was at dinner with my mom and I really wanted to draw a tank. Guns weren’t allowed at my house - which is a good thing - but I wanted to draw a tank because I thought army men were cool or something. I remember asking my mom if I could borrow a pen and then I asked her if I could draw a tank and she told me something along the lines of “you’re drawing it, you can draw whatever you want”. So that kind of stuck with me, that I had this freedom as an artist, so as a result a lot of my work has been provocative and deals with things I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying out loud or telling people. It all relates back to that one little story which I think is super cute. How has doing graffiti impacted your work? I got into graffiti around eighth grade maybe. I was just writing on things. There was just such power in drawing on things you’re not supposed to. And yeah, eighth grade is probably when I got into it and it stuck with me for a little bit. I think growing up, hanging out with kids and skateboarding with “delinquent kids” the idea of graffiti just comes up. Its one of those things you can do for fun. But it just stuck with me because theres so much influence behind it and power in it and the whole graffiti culture, especially in New York now is just ridiculously intense. Its definitely made my art more spur of the moment. It’s impulsive. When Im painting now, a lot of the symbols and characters that I draw will just be impulse or immediate decisions to put something somewhere and even if I don’t like it I’ll just paint over it or something like that. Its just constant feedback between me making an impulse mood and liking it or not liking it and the decision to keep it or work over it.
FORGE. ISSUE 6: SERENDIPITY
What’s the process for making one of your pieces like? I have canvases that i’ve had for years that I kept working on. I’ll paint something up on a canvas and just leave it there for a little bit if I’m not feeling like I want to change it. Once somethings there I will sit on it and wait until I don’t like it to change it. Many of my paintings have gone through many stages. I’m known for photographing them halfway through and then two weeks later i’ll paint over the whole thing. I’ve just been trying to use symbols and play with composition right now and what I’m working on right now is where to place something and what it means to have it there. So if I draw a hand, or a symbol of a hand, I want to be able to speak through all of my paintings so someone could read it or I could read it to them just on the symbols. You’ve sort of made this whole language of symbols with meaning that you incorporate into a lot of your pieces? What led to you creating that? Growing up I had a lot of trouble with teachers and school work. Through middle school I had teachers tell me I wasn’t trying hard enough and that I was lazy for not doing well on a test or something like that and I found out in eighth grade that I had dyslexia and it wasn’t necessarily my fault. But I think its been a strength in a way. When I first started reading texts in middle school I would start reading the white space instead of the black (lettering) and I eventually learned thats not the right way to read. Its just like when I get lazy thats my go to how I’m going to read. So I think not reading the way everyone else was reading or not reading correctly
definitely played a big part in my art and my style and I think a lot of my techniques that I use and certain ways that I play with composition kind of grew from my reading. I think my sloppy hand writing is a result of that too (laughs). I think I wanted to have symbols or little characters be a big part of my work because I grew up reading comic books. I think for me, being the kid that would skip over the speech bubbles and just look at the pictures, I could get so much from doing that without the text. So I would really enjoy for my viewers to get as much out of my work as any book would give them. I feel like a lot of my pieces do tell stories in themselves. They’re usually about something that happened in my life or even my day. Thinking back on it, so much of my influence has been on comic books and I would even say that more so than graffiti because comic books kind of mapped out how I wanted to do things. When I play with composition in my work I play with boxes and how to break out of those boxes and the negative space within a canvas. Its all things I got as a kid from reading comic books and all the times I looked at panels. It all goes back to comic books. Shoutout’s to Spiderman, Shoutout to Iron Man, too. What mediums do you like working in? It looks like you use a lot while working on a single piece. So when I’m working with my paintings, and especially on canvas or big wood kind of pieces, medium doesn’t really matter to an extent because of my fascination with impulse and what I’m gonna do if I don’t think about it. A lot of the time when I don’t think about it before I do it, it will mean so much more to me afterwards and I wont hate myself for doing it. Sometimes when you look back on a piece you kind of think “Damn, I cant believe I thought so hard about putting that there” and it ends up looking like garbage. So a lot of times I wont think about it when I do it. The same applies to when I use my mediums too. I’ll take anything from nice supplies to trash on the ground and I’ll find the middle ground between both of them and work through that to see what I can think to put in paintings and stuff like that. You often work in a huge range of styles and techniques? Do you have different goals for what you want to do for each style? Do you want people to look at each one differently? Well I think eventually I want all my styles and kind of everything i’ve developed to be on the same page and to be looked at the same way. I want them all to represent myself equally rather than just a part of me. I think when I make things that don’t look like my paintings or when I draw something that doesn’t look like something I would draw I think its just me trying to figure out how I can incorporate that into the stuff that looks like me or stuff that i’ve done. I think a lot of my work and where its been heading is towards more childish images and things that remind me of when I Was really young and I think I’m attracted to that style of work. I really appreciate the work of Cy Twombly and Harmony Corrine. I think those two are the most influential at least for me growing up, I just think there’s so much behind their work that I have kind of adopted the same ideas in a way where I want to make things that might not look like much but have way more behind them. Do you ever get stuck, or find yourself in a place where you can’t make work? I think the best thing for me to do when I’m stuck is to start a new sketchbook and go crazy in it, just because I learn a lot from that and since its a sketchbook and not a canvas i’ll be less overwhelmed. But, once I do that and kind of get all the shit out that I need to get out it really really just helps me and then I can just go back to my painting with a new frame of mind and
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a new approach to how I want to get something done. If I haven’t made anything in like two days or god forbid I haven’t make anything in a week, when I’m laying in bed that night my conscious just kind of gets at me because I want to get somewhere in my life. Its really motivating to keep making things and find things out about myself. So I haven’t really taken a break from my art since I got serious about it because I’ve been so eager to do something with it. You were in a band in High School, right? How has music had an impact on you? I think music is the best thing in the world! Its something that I wish I could be talented at. But I think punk music especially has been the most influential thing to me as a person, not even just my art. Just growing up listening to that type of music. Bands like Minor Threat and stuff. Punk music is so unhappy and it makes me so happy, so i’ve always been attracted to music with that kind of energy and rawness. Attitude in music and in bands like Minor Threat speaks to me so much and it has spoken to me all throughout middle and high school. Its something that I’d really like to develop and have be a part of my paintings. Loud music or tough music a lot of the time comes from a negative place and it has been so influential to me because I’ve been able to listen to someone yell about something and then feel good about it because I don’t feel so alone in feeling unhappy with everything. Its kind of calmed me down a little bit. I think thats what I want to do with my art; have it be able to speak to people in the same tone. Have it come from the same negative space. I want to be able to speak to people and have them feel the same feeling when I listen to punk music. Even just to be able to see a painting and have fun with not being happy, I think is a crazy experience. What do you think keeps people from putting out their work, or from continuing with their art? I think its a lack of believing in yourself to a certain extent that would stop a person from putting something out there. For me I’ve really wanted to make something and I’ve really wanted to talk to someone. It really didn’t matter who but if I was making a painting it felt like I was talking to someone. Or just the fact that it could be put up somewhere and people could interpret it. Because I want to speak to so many people with my art. I think that you kind of have to get over the initial fear of “what if someone doesn’t like it”. You’re going to get feedback, negative and positive no matter what, so if you believe that you can learn things by putting it out there you have nothing really to lose. I totally didn’t give a shit if someone didn’t like my art or if I was making bad art. It didn’t really matter to me. I kind of made myself feel important if I was putting something out and its only benefited me because even with the crappy shit i’ve put out I’ve been able to make better things afterwords. I think its one of the few things I’m comfortable doing - painting and being by myself. For the most part growing up I think I was a quiet kid. The quiet kids always think so much in their head (laughs). Im still a pretty quiet person but when I paint I don’t feel like I need to be quiet or restricted in anyway even if I’m painting for a teacher. All I want to do when I paint is learn things about myself or learn why I’m thinking certain things and stuff like that. Once I started painting seriously and making things seriously for myself I realized how much I could learn about myself and how deep I could dig and its infinitely deep. Its the most fun i’ve ever had, just painting and seeing what goes on up there. What do you hope to do with your art in the near future? What projects are you currently working on? Right now I am sort of in a weird time frame. I’m sort of just waiting for a chance to exhibit or waiting to host a show and since the winter i’ve just been developing my work and figuring
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things. I had my work shown earlier this year. I’m not sure if I was necessarily ready for it even though I wanted it to be up and I really wanted to have work in a gallery and I felt that after that experience and after I was so happy to have it up I felt like I wasn’t ready. i’ve been nervously preparing for the next time when I get a chance to show my work. So thats what i’ve been up to and what I’m still doing. Just painting and kind of restrict myself and my work and make myself make new things and develop my work. I think recently, especially going to fashion school and growing up with skaters, I’m really attracted to street wear and mens style. I use to make shirts for a band I was in in high school. I had been doing that and it was something I was interested in, having apparel with my stuff in it so I started making shirts for my band and its developed into me working with clothes and fashion as ideas in my paintings and kind of bringing drawings that i’ve done into shirts and hats and stuff like that. i’ve recently discovered that I really enjoy fashion. I think the coolest thing to me aside from showing in galleries and other fun things that fine artist do is getting the money to start up a shop to expose other artists that really mean something to me and haven’t been discovered yet.I think if I could own a store where cloths and art and skateboards could be in one place, that would be the coolest thing ever. But, just gotta get my bread up.
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
The first time I met Allyssa Yohana was last December as I was in the process of finishing issue 6. I became really inter-
ested in her body of work after seeing her name at the bottom of some of my favorite photo essays, music videos, and comics. Allyssa has worked in so many facets and mediums since she became one of the earliest hires on the Rookie Mag staff back in 2012, that I’m not really even sure I could trace back my first interaction with her work. The moment I realized who she was and that the same person who directed the music video for Mitski’s Townie, screen printed the cover of Florist/Eskimeaux’s spilt tape, and that the same person photographed the Spin City essay for Rookie, wrote and illustrated the incredibly endearing Dear Dairy comics, I just couldn’t believe it. It even got to the point that I started seeing her name popping up on the thank you lists of some of my favorite records and tapes from this past year like Quarterback’s Quarterboy. After this very sudden revelation, I decided she’d be a perfect person to reach out to about doing an interview, and sent her a very odd Facebook message, as it was the only contact information for her that I could track down. That night in December (only hours after sending the message) I saw her from across the room watching her best friend Greta preforming as Frankie Cosmos at a tiny show at the Wester Hall studio. Thankfully after Greta’s set, as the two were eating ice cream sandwiches together in the back of the venue, Greta formally introduced the two of us.
Although Allyssa works in such a variety of formats, with a wide range of tones in each, the one thing that really remains
true in all of her work is her huge belief in the cherishing of friendship, and how important the people around her are in her life. Today she keeps busy with combination of school work, Rookie pitches, personal work, and sending emails, but never turns down a chance to spend quality time with her best buds.
Where are you from and where do you live currently?
How has living in New York impacted your work?
Where I’m from is a very loaded question and I really hate that question. I was born in New Orleans, and then I lived in Texas, in the suburbs of Houston, then Puerto Rico, then San Francisco, where I graduated high school then a year off in Houston, Texas. Now I live in Brooklyn New York. Do you have any formal training in your art, or are you mostly self taught?
New York has definitely brought a group of people to me that I would have never worked with who are really excited to collaborate with, and that has affected my work a lot because my work definitely strongly relies on my relationships with people because that’s what its all about. I wouldn’t have met the artists that I know who have given me opportunities to collaborate with them which is what everything I do is, I don’t consider myself a solo-working artist really.
I’m currently in school at SVA for photography, so “trained”.
When did you first get interested in photography? Was it always the main medium you worked in?
How has going to SVA Impacted your work?
I actually started making art more as a painter when I was younger and then photography entered my life around my sophomore year of high school and I started buying snapshot cameras at thrift stores and started taking pictures of friends. On my year off my mom was really sick and I photographed her and documented her during that time and it made me really fall in love with taking pictures. It made me realize I can truly make some sort of object out of a relationship with someone
SVA has been really great. I have a professor who’s one of my heroes, her name is Tanyth Berkeley. I interned with her this past semester and she was a critique teacher of mine. But the facilities and having professors working in a way that’s challenging and really quite relevant and are into having an open dialogue because photography is such an ever-changing medium, is exciting. The fact that I have a chair who’s down for me to tell him that I want a class he doesn’t offer and then he’ll make it is very sick.
When did you first start working with Rookie? It was like a few months after it launched, almost four
years now, because that’s how old it is, which is really crazy to think! My friend Eleanor Hardwick, who shoots for Rookie was one of the original people who started it, came to New York and a group of friends and I went to Coney Island and took some snaps with her and we asked if we could send them to Tavi and that was it. They liked my work, and I’ve been indoctrinated. Friendship seems to be a really huge theme in your work. How do you approach building friendships and how do they play into your work? I guess I don’t really think much about how I “approach” friendships, I guess I try to be as earnest and caring as possible, and having that love that I have for those people makes a big impact on the type of work I make, and sort of my navigating that space of intimate relationships.
Did that change once you moved to New York? Did you make an effort to meet people since you knew you would be sticking around longer? I feel like I came from a totally weirdo place from my year off and had not been around people my own age for an entire year so I felt like a geezer coming into a bunch of twenty year olds and not understanding how to relate to them, so kind of thrusting myself into that by trying to go to shows and always having my camera with me made it easy. When did you first start directing music videos? I first started directing music videos last November, so about a year was my first video. I had seen Greta play and the first time I ever saw her play she made me cry and I thought she was just the most amazing musician
“New York has definitely brought a group of people to me that I would have never worked with who are really excited to collaborate, and that has affected my work a lot because my work definitely strongly relies on my relationships with people.”
“Its always very exciting to be at shows of friends and see teenage girls getting really excited over their music, because I’m glad that their as excited as I am.” and just a really amazing person, and I still stand by that. But, she invited me over to her house and we stayed in her house for 24 hours straight and just listened to a song, which was Buses. Her album wasn’t coming out for another six or seven months. We just drank a lot of Yoohoo and said “lets make a party where we drink a lot of Yoohoo!” and storyboarded it kind of, which we totally forgot at her house and then disregarded when we came to my house. I just pretended I was throwing a party and called a lot of people over and used my $25 budget on chocolate milk. It was really scary because its definitely much more of a production than my following videos because it was about corralling a bunch of people and hav-
ing a narrative, but it was fun. It wasn’t so different from choreographing a photo-shoot. How would you describe the over all aesthetic or tone of your work? I think I just try to be as earnest as possible and don’t try to grasp too hard on any other aesthetic. Because I am trained at an art school I’m not a stranger to having my work be kind of academic, but I really like that and really like to have photo and art history impact my work because I think its very important to at least be educated and have other people be educated.
How long did it take you to become comfortable with your photography?
Do you have plans to do more comics in the future or to expand upon them?
I don’t know if I’m even still comfortable. It’s such a goofy thing. It’s more of a comfort object than the act being comfortable. I think photography, for me at least, is closer to performance art because I put so much of myself in it and project myself onto the people or subjects that I’m photographing – so that’s always uncomfortable. It’s a comfort object in social situations such as having a teddy bear in my pocket.
I would love to do more with it, I’m starting to feel more confident with making comics and expressing myself that way. I hope to make some zines, and maybe some time in the future a full book! idk!!!
When did you start doing comics?
The way Rookie works is a month in advance we get an editors letter for the theme of every month and we send about three pictures in and we get a response of which ones we do. Sometimes if I have old work, I’ll pitch that in advance and send it over. But most of the time it’s making new things.
I’ve always done little doodles. I always have done little comics in my dairy. I’ve kept a diary since I was little but I always wrote “Dear Dairy”. So I started doing more specific comics in that and the only person I’d show was my best friend at the time. She has a really freaky shrine of them in her apartment. But I feel like its almost strictly journaling to me. You also drew the cover for the Eskimeaux/Florist split tape, right? Yeah, they really liked the way I draw so I drew them on a Victorian wall, and I was taking a silk screening class this summer and I had never really done it before and I told them I’d do their art and that was the first thing I ever screen printed. I hand wrote 90 tapes or whatever on the inside.
How do you plan out your photo essays for Rookie? Do you plan shoots far in advance, or do you pull a lot of the photos from shots you took in the past?
Do you have any plans to make a collection of the work you’ve been doing that you haven’t released yet? Oh yeah, that’s what my laptop is (laughs). Its filled to the brim with photos, I have all of the stuff from high school that’s never seen light and a lot of other stuff. I’m very secretive with my work. I really like putting together books and curating stuff – I actually curated one of my roommate’s shows, so eventually I’d like to put it all in its own.
“I’ve kept a diary since I was a little but I always wrote “Dear Dairy”. So I started doing more specific comics in that and the only person I’d show was my best friend at the time. She has a really freaky shrine of them in her apartment.”
What are your favorite cameras to shoot on? Most of the shooting I do is on a camera my dad bought me. my baby camera. I have a Contax G2 which is 35mm, which is mostly what I shoot. I also really like to shoot with a Mamiya 7 and then for Rookie a lot of times I actually shoot with a Instax wide because on deadlines its good to do that instant film. For videos I actually shoot a lot with mini-dv camcorders, just very cheap commercial camcorders that I just borrow from friends because I don’t have one. Does it feel weird to see so many of your friends and peers getting a lot of exposure or getting a bigger audience for their art or music? I don’t know, I feel like I’m not aware (laughs). But its always very exciting to be at shows of friends and see teenage girls getting really excited over their music, because I’m glad that their as excited as I am. Its always exciting to have friends works being praised because they all deserve it. You mentioned going to shows a lot earlier. How was it meeting people from different schools and backgrounds? Its so funny because around last year I went to one show where Jake Lazovick who’s a musician based out of Baltimore who was actually renting my room because he’s a friend, but I went to a show that was Frankie Cosmos, Jake Lazovick, Whatever Dad and Baby Mollusk and I met them all in one go and made all my friends (laughs). I think that people are a lot shyer than you think they are in those situations, so I think being kind and just saying “hello” , I know that I always feel scared and would much rather have someone approach me – makes it very easy. How do you feel the Internet has impacted the way you make art? Well, Rookie is an Internet based publication and I feel like that is the only place my work is on the Internet actually. I feel like it’s impacted me in that that platform exists and it’s exciting for me to have it there and to see people receive it. But outside of that I really get a little anxious about having my work being received in a billion different contexts because its impacted me in a way that I’m very much into having a physical presentation of my work to people versus in digital space. I think of something like Tumblr and if someone saw one photo of mine and then automatically related it to some stupid video they saw before it and some other song and then automatically those are all in one context to each other and then you scroll down one more and its in relation to that and everything that you’re seeing so rapidly is completely changing the meaning of the art that I made. So I try to have it exist in something like Rookie which is so tightly curated and I
can control and trust my editors and everyone else who works there to have a tight vision of how that image is being received. Beyond that its out of my control completely and I try not to think about it existing out of that space. Who are some contemporary artists who’ve impacted your work? I’m really inspired by my friend’s art, as well as photographers like Katie Grannan, & I’m also very much inspired in terms of my drawing style by the art is Shel Silverstein books, which I only recently started making that connection with! What other artists, films, books or music have impacted you? Wizard of Oz, that’s one, it was my moms favorite movie of all time and I watched it all the time growing up and that realm of fantasy and breaching onto that childlike excitement has always been really important to the work that I make. My youngest brother Aaron’s art is very important to me; I have his drawings on my walls. Just having the mind of a 10 year old or younger, I loved all of his paintings since he was younger. Robert Altman’s Three Women, also. What do you hope to accomplish with your work? I just hope that the people who view my work get a positive reaction because I try to implant as much love as I can into it and hope that that little bit of positivity travels to other people and that it can travel even further. Are there any projects that you would like to start but don’t have the money or time to? I’m really getting excited about making more music videos because its still a pretty recent thing, I would also really love to make a book or a few books but that’s such a daunting thing to think about. I feel like there are so many different mediums that are really exciting to really think about doing but I am far too scared to engage in. I think that I will always make work for myself and would be interested in working for other publications more and eventually would like to go to grad school and teach because I think that’s very important but that’s way later down the line.
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Nick Rattigan has experienced what it means to play music in the world of DIY from a range of experiences in three com-
pletely different contexts. Going from playing house shows in Reno, to playing The Smell in Los Angeles, to playing local venues in New York where he currently resides, Nick has grown enormously as a musician and performer from when he first started the band Surf Curse with his best friend since high school, Jacob Rubeck. Although the two have made music together long distance for the past couple of years, Nick’s current focus has been his solo project, the name of which he changed from TELE/VISIONS to Current Joys a few weeks after I met him and conducted this interview. Since moving to NY this past fall Nick has put out one of his most vulnerable and consistent albums yet, Me Oh My Mirror, and is now navigating where to go with new music in a new city with his new name.
Where are you from and where do you live currently? I am from Henderson, just outside Las Vegas, originally. But then I moved to Reno for school, And now I live in Brooklyn. Do you have any formal training in music, or are you self taught? When I was eight I started taking drum lessons because my brother was taking guitar lessons and I didn’t want to be like him. But then around like, high school I realized you cant write songs if you’re just playing drums all the time and everyone just wanted me to play drums in their band, so I started teaching myself guitar and I had a friend who taught me some stuff, But basically I just learned guitar myself over internet tabs. I learned through playing songs off Ultimate Guitar, so I never really learned how to read notes or anything but I just learned through reading tabs of a bunch of System of A Down and Flogging Molly songs because that’s what I was listening to at the time. So basically thanks to Flogging Molly and System of a Down I learned guitar (laughs). . How did growing up in Las Vegas affect your music? Oh man, it’s just a cultural hub of the world (laughs)! I still got influenced by all the same things I probably would have growing up in another city because me and my friends would just watch things on the internet and read interviews about all these others bands, so we pretty much lived in the same world except like miles away from it, or like 3 hours from LA and miles away from any other city were these things were actually happening. We would watch videos from The Smell and live performances from Glasslands and Cake Shop and all these places I would have loved to see. We’d read about bands and stuff, so I think the only way it affected our music negatively was none of that stuff was happening in our area.
Like, if Animal Collective came out, it would be the show of the year or the month and we’d all go, but there was no real music scene, so when we would start bands or want to play anywhere we didn’t really have anywhere to play. I had a band in high school and we would just play the worst places possible. There was one record store and we played there once and got heckled right in front of my parents by these really skeezy guys just awful, awful, Vegas people, so that was kind of a negative experience. I guess there was just nowhere to really express our own musical outlets. But we still got to take it all in. We got to take in different music scenes, we just didn’t get to create our own. It was just a lot of screamo and hardcore and stuff. After moving to Reno though, that’s when it all changed, because there was this place called The Holland Project which was an all ages DIY venue and art space so when we were creating things we could actually play live and do shows and have people come out, it was a whole different world. There was a scene there! In Vegas there wasn’t a scene. How did you meet Jacob Rubeck and how long was it before you started Surf Curse? We met in eight grade. I remember I thought he was insane. Well not insane. But the coolest kid, because he came up to our lunch table and was talking about all these movies and all this crazy stuff and kept saying “fuck fuck fuck” a lot he just talked really fast, and then I found his Myspace and he had the Velvet Underground as his background and I was so intimidated by how cool he was and stuff. Then we hung out through a mutual friend and we all formed a band together. But then Jacob got kicked out of the band on my birthday. It was my birthday party, and Jacob got kicked out of the band because this other guy said he couldn’t play bass, so Jacob got kicked out of the band but you know, we still hung out and were great friends because we’re both into the same music and movies. I think without Jacob I would have never gotten into any of the music I’m
“ I think without Jacob I would have never gotten into any of the music I’m into now, and the amount of music and pop culture things are all a direct result of him showing me so many things and exposing me to so many things.” into now, and the amount of music and pop culture things are all a direct result of him showing me so many things and exposing me to so many things and we’ve just always been close friends even though we went to different high schools. Then when we went up to school in Reno, he went up as well and so we stayed in friends in Reno. Then he moved back to Vegas and now we’re living in different cities. We’ve always been moving around but I don’t think its really affected our friendship at all. We’ve always had a really close bond, and then when we moved up to Reno that’s when we started Surf Curse. We were actually living together and then he moved out and we started a band and were playing for awhile in Reno and played a few shows in LA. I’m trying to think of it all in order, its all just going in and out of my mind (laughs). But yeah we started it in Reno. We had a band before called Buffalo 66. We started that on Thanksgiving I remember. We had just recorded some songs and started a band and we decided to be actually serious about it and do the whole band thing. Jacob wanted to change the name and that’s how Surf Curse started essentially. What was the experience like starting a band in Reno? Did it feel really forgiving and tight knit because it was so small or were you just constantly yearning to be
somewhere like Los Angeles or New York? Well we had started Surf Curse because we went to The Smells 14th year anniversary and we just saw all these bands and it was the coolest show. We were like “we gotta go play The Smell, we have to start a band so we can play The Smell!”. But I think that after playing different cities and stuff, it was more exciting making a band in Reno and more personal I guess? When you’re just writing songs for the sake of just writing songs you’re not writing for other people to hear or see them so they come out more genuine and when you do that in a place like Reno, you’re really just creating music for yourself and a few friends who come out to your shows and when you do it in a place that’s very on the map like LA or New York, I feel like it loses some of its authenticity. Is the right word? I don’t know. I loved that I’m from Reno and we started these projects in Reno because its just the last place someone would expect it to be done and I love Reno, I think it has a great music scene and it will probably be a big place one day, its definitely growing right now, but I think it’s a wonderful place to create and start a band and do anything creatively, like do films or anything, because its just a place people expect it the least.
How did you guys end up working with Big Joy Records?
What were some of your first shows and tours like,? Do any memories that stick out?
Michael Fierstein was a friend. That’s actually how Jacob found out about The Smell. He went to The Smell and met Michael Fierstein, and later Michael had asked to come down and play the last Peter Pants show with Lee as the drummer. I think we were trying to get signed to Burger Records. We were playing at Burger and we tried so hard, after our show we went up to Sean and the Burger people and were like “thank you so much for letting us play”’ and they were just like “yeah its cool” and we were like “man they sign everybody why wont they sign us!” (Laughs) As we were leaving they were like “lets put out your tape on big joy”. So we went down there and recorded everything in two days. All the music in one day and vocals in the next day and then after a few months of putting things together we finally got everything out and got the tape out. It was funny because that’s after I had gone to New York for a summer. That summer we released the tape I was living in New York, and I flew from New York and back just to play the release show for the album and then go back, and yeah so that’s how we basically got started with Big Joy, just through some mutual friends.
I don’t know if we’ve technically ever had a tour. We had one tour this summer where we would play in certain places we stopped. I do have my favorite shows in my head, like when we were first starting, all my favorite shows happened in living rooms instead of venues and bars. When you’re at a venue there’s so many social constrictions on how a show should actually happen, you know? There’s people standing and they feel obligated if there’s not enough people to nod their head or to dance if there’s a lot of people, and I feel like its such a shitty way to do a show (laughs) and I think it’s the worst. I hate it! Like going to shows now and feeling obligated to nod my head or stand up or anything. I just want to be able to experience it without any social faux pas happening or anything. It might just be because I’m such an anxious person and some of those situations make me nervous or feel weird, but some of my favorite shows have been in friends’ living rooms and stuff. We played this house show at a place in Reno called The Aviary and I remember my friend came up to me before the show and he was like “everyones on molly, there gonna love your show!” and it was just the most fun thing we had set up and everyone was dancing
“I still got influenced by all the same things I probably would have growing up in another city because me and my friends would just watch things on the internet and read interviews about all these others bands, so we pretty much lived in the same world except like miles away from it.”
and it just felt like this really great night and experience. Then later on that night the cops broke up the party and everyone scattered and it was crazy. So that was one of them and I guess more recently we had some pretty good shows. We just had a show back in Reno on New Years Eve which was pretty fun because it was just all of our old friends because we hadn’t played in Reno in so long so it just felt really good seeing everyone again and playing in a living room again. I think definitely just living room shows or basements or anywhere a person shouldn’t be playing a show is the best place to experience a show. I feel like the music you produce as a two-piece works especially well because you guys trade off the songwriting and your friendship really comes through in the music you guys make. What was the writing process for Surf Curse songs like? I think writing songs for Surf Curse came so easily and naturally because we would just sit down together and do it. We would have band practice in the basement we lived in and one of us would just write the guitar piece essentially because its just guitar and drums (laughs) not too much to it. But one of us would write the guitar piece and bring it to the other one and we would play and then ask “who’s singing this one?” or Jacob would write songs that he wanted me to sing or I would have songs I wanted Jacob to sing or we would have a medley for a song and we were like “alright if you’re singing it, you write the lyrics for it.” So it was pretty easy, its always been pretty smooth and thoughtless. I think that that’s the best way to write songs. If you think about it too much it becomes a whole thing, you have to think about it a little bit but not too much. You can tell when someone’s really trying to write a song and when it comes out naturally, but even recently we were down in Florida and practicing for that show because we hadn’t played in like three months or seen each other in a month and we were just sitting in a park playing and we wrote a song just sitting there, so I think we will always be able to write music together. It just comes together really naturally. Was writing music for two instruments ever difficult or was it exciting because you had to make as much sound with just two people to make it feel interesting? I mean we’ve kind of cheated a little bit, we add other instruments when we record but I think it can be stifling sometimes when you want to add another sound or something. I think it’s interesting to hear music that doesn’t need all those extra things. It’s a challenge but it makes it sound different from everything else, which is really polished and has a bunch of different things. I think it shines light on the vocals or what we’re trying to say rather than drown it [the vocals] out with a bunch of instruments.
What were you doing outside of making music before you moved here? I was going to school which made it difficult to go other places and tour and stuff and then finally when I graduated last may that was when it was like “alright lets go play all these places people have been asking us to play.” So we set up a little tour and right after that I wanted to move to New York, which was fine with Jacob. A lot of people think that means the band is over but I don’t really think that means anything. I mean we have lived in different cities pretty much as long as the band has existed and we still have a bunch of new songs and stuff, we’re just never together to record them or anything. But it still lives on. But yeah I was going to school and graduated, then moved here and have been working. Was there overlap between Surf Curse and TELE/VISIONS? I had always sort of been doing TELE/VISIONS. Before it was called the Nicholas Project (laughs)- a horrible name. But I started it when I was about 16 or 17 because I had just broken up from a band with all of my friends and it was a horrible experience. I decided I never wanted to be in a band again, so I bought a loop pedal and was just like “I’m going to figure out how to do it myself.” I think I had gotten an anonymous MySpace message from someone just after my high school band had broken up, and it said something along the lines of “you should make music by yourself and you’re really great.” It was just really inspiring and I was like “you know what, yeah I should!” and so ever since I’ve sort of tried to do that. That’s when I started the Nicholas Project and made music by myself. Everyone was like “you have to change that name its so fucking horrible” and so I was writing this song and my roommate had given me a drum machine, so I was like “This is perfect! I can start playing live shows!” and they were like “yeah but no one is going to book you with your name as the Nicholas Project” and they were right. I think I played one show as the Nicholas Project on Halloween, and I covered myself with dried blood and stuff and played with the drum machine and everything and it was so weird. It was in this weird hardcore house that did a bunch of hardcore shows and that was the first show as the Nicholas Project and then when I changed it to TELE/VISIONS that’s when people started actually booking me for shows and stuff. I changed it to that [TELE/VISIONS] because I was writing this song and I had just watched Video Drone and there was thing that was like “and I’m having Televisions” and I thought “that’s such a good name, I’ll change it to that!” Then people were telling me “You cant name it TELE/VISIONS! There’s already Television, the infamous rock band” and I was like “whatever, its fine, its plural!” and so then I’ve tried so hard to differentiate myself, I’ve put the slash in it, but its still such a problem. I’m playing this show at Baby’s All Right and it says that ‘Television’ is playing a show at Baby’s All Right like the band, so that’s
going to be interesting, like on songkick it says Television is playing Baby’s on April 4th (laughs) so I’m probably going to change it again pretty soon. But yeah, I’ve been playing under the moniker for a while now. How do you feel the website Bandcamp has affected you or other musicians? Oh I love Bandcamp! Bandcamp’s the best! But I think that it markets to a really niche audience. Now everyone listens to Spotify. I don’t know a lot of people with music on their phone anymore, and I’m one of them. I still haven’t converted to Spotify yet, but I’m sure I will in like a few weeks because it’s just gonna happen. Its getting so hard to download music and do all that stuff. But Bandcamp is amazing because I was on Myspace for a long time and then Jacob was like “You gotta get Bandcamp! What are you doing?!” and its really helped me put my music out there. I don’t think I would be able to put out all the stuff we’ve done as Surf Curse or TELE/VISIONS without the help of Bandcamp. Its really great for artists and everyone but its still very stifling because not everyone knows what Bandcamp is. I mean a lot of people know what Bandcamp is but its still a very niche audience and I think if you want to get your music out to everybody you have to get it onto Spotify and Itunes and all that junk and have a YouTube channel and basically get it out everywhere. But Bandcamp I think as a website and as a creative force is one of the best sites for music in my opinion. What’s your favorite equipment to use? I love using my Jamman, my Digitech Jamman 5000, I love that it’s a 5000, but my loop pedal is my favorite piece of equipment, and my guitar, I don’t actually know what kind of guitar it is, but I know that guitar so well because it’s a piece of shit (laughs). I bought it about three years ago in a used guitar store in Los Angeles when we were going to The Smell’s 14th anniversary reunion because before that I’ve always had Guitar Center guitars. Always like a white Ibanez because I don’t really know what I’m doing with musical equipment because but I picked up this guitar and it just felt so natural. Funny side story - when we walked into that guitar shop, me and Jacob, the band Spoon was there getting their guitars tuned up, and when they walked out Jacob asked “Was that Spoon?” and the guy was like “Yeah! I fix up all sorts of big music people” and so I picked up this guitar and he was like “Ah, I just put Stephen Malkmus’s tuning pegs on this guitar” so that’s kind of cool, its got a little bit of history with it. But its such a shitty guitar, I can throw it on stage and break it and its so easy to fix, I just need some screwdrivers and a soldering iron. But its so easy to play with that guitar, I know all the sounds I can make with it and using the loop pedal is great because it can make a solo performance sound so full and engaging.
So what led to you moving to New York? Man, I came here two years ago for an internship I did with Noisey and I just loved the city so much. I loved that I didn’t have to drive anywhere. I’m just very romantic about the city I guess. I’ve always thought that New York is a place I want to be at least for sometime in my life. After doing nothing after graduating I knew I had no responsibilities and that it was the best time to try something new so I just decided to go live in New York. It’s definitely very tough, you have to work a lot. It’s harder than living in Reno, but I still think there’s that romantic aspect to it and you can get a feeling when you walk around that’s very inspiring. What releases have you made since coming here? Has living here made an impact on the stuff you’ve made recently? I think it definitely has! Because I don’t have the gear that I used to have, I just have a small practice amp and I don’t have a drum set or anything like that, so pretty much all the music I make and play is all in headphones or I can go to a practice space about twenty minutes awaY and pay about 12 bucks an hour to play it all out. I think the city itself is very challenging and demanding that its affected the way I make music and I think that’s affected the way the music sounds. Especially going through a winter, because you get the New York winter depression so its made songs a bit sadder. But going to shows here and stuff there’s a lot I get really inspired by and just walking around the city. The most recent release I did, Me Oh My Mirror, I had been writing that from when I was in Reno to traveling around the country to being in Los Angeles for a bit and then going to Vegas and then moving here so it was very much an album I wrote traveling around so some of those songs were recorded earlier and then transitioned out. But I think you can tell which songs were written here and there and it’s a good encapsulating of how my music has changed or how I want it to sound now. I don’t know. I definitely think I’m trying to go a different way, when I started TELE/VISIONS I was like “This is gonna be great, it’s gonna be ‘80s dance music! I’m gonna play these shows and everyone’s gonna dance and its gonna be awesome!” Then I realized no one dances anymore and if you’re just one person they don’t really care to dance and that kind of bummed me out so then I started making stuff that I do now which is all very influenced from my performance. I just want it to be a very emotional and cathartic experience for me and bringing in the audience. I basically just want everyone in the room to cry. Have you noticed a difference between west coast DIY and east coast DIY? There’s definitely a difference. But I feel like there’s a lot of similarities as well. I don’t know if I can give any big examples but its all pretty much just playing everywhere
and doing what you can and getting your music out there. It’s really tough for new musicians, especially in New York because every media conglomerate is proclaiming that New York DIY is dead. But if you actually live here you can totally see that’s it not. There’s so many people that want to create and keep it alive. It’s just not being reported on or seen. But in the west coast DIY I don’t know if its as similar of a situation because no ones reporting that Los Angeles scene is dead or anything. There’s also not really a lot of attention to the Los Angeles DIY scene either. I was just talking to someone the other day about The Smell
and I was saying “yeah my band plays a lot of shows at The Smell” and they were like “oh I haven’t heard about The Smell since No Age.” Even though there’s still a lot of stuff happening at that venue and its still a very important venue even. But no one reports on it anymore and the world doesn’t see it for what it is even though its still a pivotal place for DIY in Los Angeles. But that’s where I see the difference is, there’s a lot of changes happening in New York whereas LA is pretty consistent on its DIY scene.
“I don’t think I would be able to put out all the stuff we’ve done as Surf Curse or TELE/VISIONS without the help of Bandcamp and its really great for artists and everyone but its still very stifling because not everyone knows what Bandcamp is.”
Who are some contemporary bands that have had an affect on you or you have become friends with? I don’t know how many I’ve become friends with (laughs). But there’s definitely a lot of contemporary bands that have been very influential. Women, for one, and all their new stuff as Viet Cong, which is amazing. So good... I think that they are one of the best bands that’s still pushing forward the capabilities and sound of rock music. King Krule as well, one of the best song writers, just doing really interesting stuff. But I haven’t met them or become friends with any of them (laughs.) But I have met a lot of people making really great things. Lauren Early. We’ve played a lot of shows together and she just makes these really great songs and does all of her shows just by herself and I think there’s something really important about that and to be able to play such a good show and get rid of the tropes of a band or not need a band with you to still make and express yourself. Girlpool puts on an amazing show like that. They make amazing songs and they sort of defy what you really need to be a band, you don’t need four people anymore, I think the four people, guitar, drums, bass and a singer is just so boring and I’m sick of seeing it (laughs) so its great to see people pushing forward the aspects of a live performance. What films or books have had a big impact on you? A lot of films! Hmm. A few books that I’ve read recently. I just read City of Night, which is the book that My Own Private Idaho is slightly based off of. Its about this guy who moved from El Paso and travels around, he goes to New York City and goes to Los Angeles and New Orleans and basically just prostitutes himself the entire time to get by and I think that book is very poetic in the way it describes humanity and the nature of human life just living in its most struggling aspect and how someone could just go through something like that. It’s just a really amazing story and it’s inspired me a lot. Obviously I haven’t gone through any struggle like that (laughs), but just to be traveling around the same time while reading that book is very influential. Then, while I was traveling I had also read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I had read before, everything but the ending of the book which is actually the best part. That book is just so incredible on a story telling level and philosophical level. I also just started reading this book called The Gift where this writer takes the study of gift exchange and relates it to art as an expressive force, and how basically it should be treated as a trade commodity – like a gift that is given unto the world but we live in such a commercial society that it kind of hinders how we express ourselves or the art that we try to create because it has to be sold, so it loses value intrinsically which really influences the music I’m trying to create. With movies, I go to a movie every week, and every time I see a new movie it changes how I see everything, and it becomes my favorite movie. The last movie I saw was Possession, which is this horror movie from the
80s which is just so amazing. Everything about that movie is so crazy, its about this couples relationship that’s falling apart and as it falls apart everyone in the movie kind of goes insane, and its because there’s this sort of demonic force that’s causing the wife to cheat on the husband and she feeds her lovers to this demonic force and she’s possessed basically by this thing (laughs). It’s just really cool. Do you have any big plans for TELE/VISIONS in the near future? Yeah, I just released an album and I already started writing another one, because I worked on the last one for like a year and just finally put it out and am done with it. I’m probably going to change my name soon (laughs). Its starting to just become such a huge issue and I don’t think the name matches the music anymore but I don’t think the name change would be such a bad thing. It’s just me growing older and starting a new phase of the project, Nicholas Project was me in high school, Televisions was in college and now im out of college and it can be something else. I might also re-release the new album under that name, which is exciting, it’s a very big step in change but I think it will be good creatively for the future and for everything that I want to put out. But I’m playing a lot of shows and I’m always trying out different things at shows because I’m trying to perfect being a one-person thing. I’m still hoping I don’t have to get a band or anything. I want to prove everyone wrong in saying that I need four people to play the music I want to play. Hopefully with Surf Curse stuff we can get some of those new songs recorded soon, I don’t know when, but hopefully soon because people keep writing to me asking “What happened to Surf Curse” – Nothing, it’s fine! (laughs). But yeah, I’ve written a few new songs and I’m really excited to put them out, lots of exciting stuff in the future. Do you have any possible names you’ve been thinking about? Yeah, I have a few ideas but every time I tell them to someone they’re like “No, don’t do that” (laughs). Jacob came up with Surf Curse, everyone loves that. I’m just so bad at naming things. I’m trying to make it not be a movie reference or anything, just something that’s my own, so I might just start going by my own name. I don’t know why we have to go under band names anymore when all the band names already exist and we could just go under something our parents gave us. Writers and artists go under their own name so I don’t get why musicians or bands cant do that.
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Desert Island has meant so much more to me, and countless others from around and outside of New York, than just a
small independent bookstore. If you go up to the counter and ask Gabe Fowler, the store’s owner, what it is that Desert Island specializes in, he’ll probably enthusiastically tell you that they specialize in selling a wide range of comics, zines, kids books, and art prints. But I believe what the store truly specializes in is exposing people to the work that is waiting to leave an impact on them and giving people the confidence and platform to continue making art themselves. In the short 7 or so years since Gabe Fowler first rented the former desolate T-Mobile that he turned into the book store he’d only dreamed of having, Desert Island has served as one of the best art commerce environments in all of New York City, exposing people to artists and publishers both new and old. In addition to running the store, Gabe also runs the newsprint comic publication Smoke Signal as well as the free-to-attend independent convention Comic Arts Brooklyn.
Where are you from and where do you live currently?
What led to your interest in comics?
I spent most of my life in Florida. I moved there when I was six, from Connecticut. So I’ve lived in a bunch of different places. But most of it was down there, including college. And then I had to get out of there (laughs) so I came to New York about 11 years ago now, after a stint in grad school in Chicago. I live in Bed-Stuy now.
The very first comic I ever received, my mother bought for me on a road trip when I was probably eight years old and it was a MAD magazine. Well there was a MAD magazine and a Cracked magazine, both of which are humor publications, though Cracked no longer exists. I think I was young enough to where I preferred Cracked because it was a little more stupid. MAD was more collegiate in its humor but of course I came to that later. It’s a winding path as far as my interest in comics. I went away from it, I was hardcore into music for about eight years. Then in college I came back to comics partly because of a 90’s revolution for indie stuff; Fantagraphics and Daniel Clowes, things like that.
When did you first get interested in art? Did you study it at all in school? The first thing for me was music, because my whole family is interested in music and I started playing at a pretty young age. But that evolved into an interest in art and that became more serious and I studied art in school. But before that, I was making art in my garage for my own entertainment and trying to have shows in Orlando, Florida when I was a teenager and not realizing that Orlando did not support that sort of activity at all, especially my teenage angst expressionist work. What music were you into growing up? What was the scene in Florida like? In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a college radio station there, and that was enlightening because prior to that it was just my dad’s music. Hearing college radio in 1988, you know, things were a little more restricted in that day in age, there was no internet stuff of course and learning about weird stuff you had to know someone who would tell you or go to a record store that had that stuff. Anyway, Rollins College radio opened a door because I had never heard of any of those songs. I would tape it, I would tape the radio onto a cassette and listen to it over and over again. And then I learned I liked particular DJ’s and stuff like that
Were zines like a cross over of both of your interests in art and music while you were growing up? There weren’t a lot of zines in Orlando, Florida. The only place to find any zines was at the one cool record store called Murmur. I remember finding “Murder Can Be Fun” zine at Murmur, and it was shocking that they had that. The only reason they had that is because the record distributor must have had that zine only, or like Rollerderby, some of the more classic 90’s zines that were more widely distributed through record distributors. And similar to the college radio thing, I later discovered an older issue of Factsheet Five and that blew my mind. For people that don’t know, Factsheet Five was basically a zine that was a list of other zines. And that list would have a brief description and an address and maybe mail order information. “Send 3 dollars and a self addressed stamped envelope to this guy and he’ll send you a zine” stuff like that. But I got this issue of Factsheet Five and it was already an old issue, so I didn’t know. I was a kid, so I didn’t have any money, three dollars was like my lunch money! Really, I would have to not eat lunch at school in the hopes that maybe in two months I would get a zine from this random person and I didn’t even know what the
zine was. If I’m nostalgic at all, its for that type of mystery, because that type of mystery is gone now, and it really is something. The idea of sending your money to a stranger, even a little bit of money, and not knowing what you’re going to get and having to wait, when you finally receive it, even if it sucks you’ll still look at it! You’ll still give it that time because you’re still invested a little bit in it, and I miss that. When did you move to New York? I moved from Chicago to New York to pursue my art career. I started working as an art handler, building crates for expensive paintings. I ultimately started working at art galleries. I started working at a David Zwirner gallery, and that was a gallery that actually showed artwork that I liked. While I worked there they started showing Robert Crumb, they were already showing Raymond Pettibon, and a couple other illustration- or comics-related artists, and non-comics related artists who were simply good. So that was kind of an inspiring place to work even though they kept me in a windowless room in the back with the other dudes. I couldn’t keep doing that kind of work forever. I started thinking into what I could do that would be a contribution instead of just suffering, just like everyone in New York (laughs).
How long was it until you opened up Desert Island? I always wanted to do something like Desert Island but I never thought I would be able to do something like this. It seemed like an impossible thing to me basically. I don’t come from money, and I wasn’t very good at saving money, but I slowly saved a little bit and started looking for a place to rent. In New York that is a nightmare, whether it is a residential place or commercial place or whatever. And through a series of lucky events I found this particular storefront and the landlord was an artist and was sympathetic to the business idea, and then it was on! He didn’t really charge me too much to get in here, I just paid first and last and that was it. So this place was a T-Mobile cellphone store, and I don’t really know what happened with them, but they took away the cellphones and abandoned the store in tact. I was waiting and hoping to sign the lease and had made the decision not to go home for the holidays that year because it seemed like something was going to happen, and then literally on Christmas day they were like “you can come sign this lease.” Which I still think is pretty weird, even if you’re non-religious - which I am - who does business on Christmas day? I was depressed. I was home alone and not with my family so it was actually amazing, I went and signed the lease and jumped for joy, it was awesome. I
“The hardest part was spreading the word that we have an open door policy for artists just letting people know that they can bring their stuff here. Because so many places in New York do not do that, or if they do, they’re jerks about it. I still get that vibe, people expect me to be a jerk about it because so many other people act that way. ”
started demolishing the T-Mobile store that day, Christmas day, for lack of anything else to do. So that was a month and a half project of ripping the old store apart. You always see these huge dumpsters on the side of the road where someone’s doing a commercial thing, I learned that to rent one of those dumpsters is an insane amount of money and I had to get rid of this T-Mobile store. So not only did I have to dismantle it, but I chopped it all into little pieces so I could put it in bags and put the bags out one at a time, and there were like 75 bags of trash. I hope the police don’t see this, but I think it was long enough that they won’t care (laughs). Where there other stores or experiences that you thought of when you were figuring out what you wanted the store to be like? The idea for the store in the first place was to celebrate printed art books and comics together in the same place and to show work that I think is underrepresented or not easy to find. Partly because I was looking for it! Before Desert Island existed, I was the guy who was out wondering where that material was in New York, it seemed like there should be more of it in New York. In Chicago, where I had gone to grad school there was a place called Quimby’s, and their whole goal was to have every independent publication that exists, whether it was a comic or a magazine about UFOs. They really have a larger vision than I have. Because I have a pretty small space here I decided to focus on illustrated books. Before even opening I knew I wanted to invite anyone to bring in their self-published work, and we would accept that work for the store without judgment. Just giving artists a place to show and sell their work was a goal. Back in the indie music days it was cool to know that there was a record store who would take your homemade cassette, because through the store you’re communicating with people you haven’t met yet. Was your open door policy with selling books and zines that people brought into the store something you intended from when you first thought of opening up Desert Island? Yes. The hardest part was spreading the word that we have an open door policy for artists - just letting people know that they can bring their stuff here. Because so many places in New York do not do that, or if they do, they’re jerks about it. I still get that vibe, people expect me to be a jerk about it because so many other people act that way. I mean honestly people do bring self published things in here that aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, but I want to celebrate that too! It’s not about me. That’s important, because people think it is about me and my taste, which it is to some extent, but opening that up is super important, and it randomizes the content as far as just straight up inventory. It helps bring in material which I would never know existed. That’s how I first met Simon Hanselmann! He came here in 2009, and was real shy and had made a
zine called Girl Mountain and had two copies. Now he’s a well-known guy with a New York Times bestselling book. I never anticipated that would happen for him and I’m glad it did! The lesson is that content wins. Getting the right eyeballs on that content is the endless journey, which is partly what art-making is about. Anyone can sit in a room and make a thing, but getting that to communicate with the right person is a challenge. I’m essentially here to help with that. This is, for me, an intended corrective to the art gallery situation too. Because you can not walk into an art gallery with your artwork and say “here, check this out, here’s the art I made!” No one ever accepts that, even the coolest gallery will give you the hairy eyeball. Part of it is being a frustrated consumer prior to the existence of this store, wanting to find this material in one place and not being able to find it. Another aspect is me being inspired by stores that were important to me as cultural places, at least as much as art galleries in the past, growing up. Also just going to rock shows and the experience of after the show everyone has the merch table where the person who just finished playing a song is selling you their record, and it’s just very direct. We try to simulate a version of that. Comics people are a little more closed off than music people, because comics is a more solitary creative activity as opposed to music which is usually collaborative. I think musicians are just a little more socialized, but anyways we have a lot of book parties and stuff in here, so it’s a sort of forced socialization of cartoonists (laughs). How did you start publishing Smoke Signal? Smoke Signal was another project that seemed impossible to do, and other people basically started encouraging me to make some sort of publication out of the store and it snowballed into a situation where we had a fundraising concert, which makes all the sense in the world to me because I’m a music person. And we made enough money at the concert to print something! So I had to start beating the drum to get content for the publication. That was in 2009 when the store had been open for about a year. In retrospect that seems pretty quick to me. Smoke Signal has kept the same format since the beginning: it’s a newspaper with comics and illustration only, and its free. I edit it and pay the printing bill and give it away. If anything has changed about it, the contributors have become a little less New York focused and a little more International, which I think is a good thing. There’s still plenty of New York artists in it but it’s not a locals-only publication. And I never wanted it to be locals only; I wanted it to be international, so that’s cool. It’s become a little more widely available and the print quantity has gone way up. We started out making 2000, and now we make about 8 to 10,000 each time. There’s something cool about that quantity, because then it just lives in the world, it’s not a rarified thing.
When did you first start Comic Arts Brooklyn (CAB)? The first of anything is always the hardest. When I wanted to start a festival I asked Dan Nadel from PictureBox if he wanted to be involved and he was like “sure that sounds great!” He was immediately into the idea, so that was awesome and that kicked me in the ass a little bit. He knows a lot of artists, I was meeting a lot of artists, he was already more established than I was, I had only been here for a little over a year, but the two of us together were able to approach individuals and ask if they would be interested in doing this thing. There’s certain expenses involved in running a festival, we had to charge for these tables but we kept it as low as we could keep it, so that was enticing to some artists. It was a curated show for lack of any other option. We basically approached people we liked until the show was full, and later other people started calling it a “curated” show (laughs) but it really was a little more loose than that.
The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which was the original title, was pretty small at first. There were about 40 exhibitors the first year, and it was horribly nasty weather. It was a one day show, but people still came and loved it. So that was pretty inspiring, you know. If nobody had came that day it would have been the end of it. But it was like a party, it was awesome. So we trudged on. Bill Kartalopoulos came on to run the programming and do some talks and interviews. Bill is really great at doing that, and later on when Bill was no longer involved in the festival I started working with Paul Karasik. He’s a comics historian and has lately been running that aspect of the festival. Basically there’s been some behind-the-scenes changes, but in the public eye it’s essentially much the same show. The show preparation is more work for me now because I work alone without my original partners, but you know, as you continue to do projects you gain confidence. I know how to do it now. The most important part is that it’s a free fun festival for the public to come
“ The first of anything is always the hardest.”
celebrate this material in a larger context. How do you approach situations where people are unresponsive or drop out at the last minute? My whole thing is about commitment, so if I want to do something such as trying to publish an issue of Smoke Signal, and I approach a favorite artist to do something for it, they may say no, they may not respond, they may say “maybe later” or they may say yes! I’ve just had to teach myself to not take that hard in any way. If I want to get a favorite publisher to exhibit at the festival and they don’t respond or they say no, my duty is to continue anyway, and make it as a good as I can possibly make it with or without them, and hopefully they’ll eventually want to be involved. For myself, it’s the intense commitment that is the most important and hardest part. Because, for example, Smoke Signal is a money-losing project, but continuing to relentlessly produce it has helped my dreams to come true. How do you feel the internet has impacted art? I think prior to the Internet explosion, lots of people were making zines that were produced as cheaply as humanly possible and it was about communication only, and you can do that on the internet. It’s cheaper! With the internet you can say whatever you want to say for free, and then give that away for free of course. The effect that that situation has had on production standards even for zines is interesting. People know that if you’re going to bother to make a printed object that it should be worthy of your attention that it should be nicely made; a good package for those ideas. People seem to think about that more, just in general. So that’s cool. The books got nicer! I think they also got a little more expensive, so that’s kind of a drag, But that’s the polarity of it now. You have free information on the Internet and you have nicely crafted objects that cost a little more money. People have been saying that print is dead for a long time, and they’re right! It is, you know? The functionality of print has changed, so that to me is totally liberating. That opens up an area for experimentation and that is a good thing! That is the material that I’m interested in. Now, if you’re a mainstream novel publisher for example, your life is over! Because the idea of exchanging a physical embodiment of words on paper for a fixed price – that’s over! I think for books that are text only, that world has changed. Artists’ books, zines, and comics have always been marginalized in the culture, and have become possibly even more marginalized due to the advent of he internet. It’s almost as if print is turning back into a subculture. When print was new, the idea of a subculture didn’t exist, but that’s what it was, because it was rarified. If you wanted a Gutenberg bible, you had to be wealthy, and it was not for the common man. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it basically was a subculture.
The art versus commerce situation exists in art galleries too, but galleries never ever talk about that. There’s a sort of across-the-board art world denial of that issue. A gallery is a store that sells artwork, that’s what a gallery is. But it’s distasteful to talk or think about that, and I don’t know who decided that was distasteful. I mean obviously you want to focus on the ideas and the content of the artwork, whether it’s an art gallery or an art book. But I think its liberating to just call it a store and have the things be affordable to average people, and it’s a store that sells ideas in the form of publications, that’s what I’m into. How do you feel the internet has impacted print in particular? How has that affected what you do with Desert Island? My business is involved in selling printed objects to people, and the selling of those objects is what I use to pay my rent and publish a free newspaper and so forth and so on. Now, nobody owes me that, and I can’t care about that, you know what I mean? So this is an issue that I think about all the time. I want people to care about this material and I want people to think that it’s worth their money. But I can’t force that to exist, and I don’t want to champion something that has become culturally irrelevant. But I don’t think that it is irrelevant, so there’s a dichotomy between freely available information on the Internet versus a private experience with an artwork, and I think books offer a private experience with an artwork that the internet can never offer. Looking at the internet can be private, but its not intimate. I guess if I have a fear as someone who’s basically just getting older it’s that a younger generation will be totally fine with coldness of the internet, and to me is alienating about culture. I don’t want culture to be cold. I want culture to be warm. I want it to be about human interaction. So my self-imposed duty is to champion that (laughs). And it’s not to the exclusion of the Internet stuff, I use it and look at it, that’s how I find out about many artists. But the internet to me is often second hand information.
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Nothing is done by BJ Rubin without the utmost enthusiasm, effort, and (positive) energy, which is entirely noticeable in
each of the projects he’s done since moving to New York in 1999. BJ Is probably most well know for his cult status public access show, The BJ Rubin Show, but has been propelling several music and art projects for over 16 years. Each episode of The BJ Rubin Show is made up of live performances in front of a green screen, which BJ takes months to shoot and edit while still maintaining his current job at the United Nations. But whether it’s through starting his own free downloadable archive of his CD collection (Pukekos), or starting his own record record label to put out the music he believes in (Dick Move Records), everything BJ does is in a effort is to expose people to musicians and artists he feels more people deserve to hear. I truly admire everything BJ’s done, and have really tried to model what I hope to do with this magazine off of the same intentions and goals. The man’s life is a huge cluster of productivity and strangeness. But he gets to wake up every morning, across the hall from his 94 year old roommate in their home on the upper west side, knowing he’s living his dream of having his own television show and is able to share it with anyone who’s willing to watch and listen.
Where are you from and where do you live currently I was born in Thousand Oaks, California, August 13th 1978. Current I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. What is your primary training or background in? How has that affected what you do now? I studied film at UC Berkeley where I graduated in 1999. I suppose I’ve always been an artist. My mother has Spiderman comics I drew when I was a little kid. I sort of wish I did more drawing but I joined my first band when I was 18. IT was a hardcore band called the Angel Assassins, we toured the west and put out a 7 inch so it was pretty cool. I put on gigs at my house in Oakland when I was in college. I moved to New York in 1999 and was a part of the scene I guess for a long time. It was about five years ago maybe that I got the idea that I should do a cable access TV show and it took awhile to get started. I had to do the training when I was living in Brooklyn and I started at BCAT and I shot the first season of the show at BCAT and then I moved to Manhattan and have been shooting at MNM ever since. I also have a music website that I’ve done. I started it in 2008, and its called Pukekos. I have a record label called Dick Move Records. There’s also a magazine that I haven’t done in awhile but I will do another issue eventually called the Modern Man Manual. Did you have a specific goal when you moved to New York or what led to your decision to move here? Fame and fortune! I mean what else brings you to New York City? I was 20 years old and I had spent my entire life in California. I was about to graduate from college and decided I wanted to try something new. I didn’t want
to just stay in the Bay Area and live the rest of my days in California without having experienced anything else, and I had been to New York a few times and I thought why not give it a shot? So, right after I turned 21 I got on a plane and moved to New York. I had a place to crash in Harlem for a week, and no job. By the end of the week I had a found a place to stay and I was working as a transcriber at the Merrill Lynch Video Network, where I had to get in at 7am every day and transcribe interviews with analysts from the floor. Eventually I became a video editor there. So that was my first job in New York. I moved to New York in ’99 and since I had been doing shows and playing in bands in California I just started doing the same thing here in New York. I went to shows and met people and I lived with Andrew Bottomley for a while who did Skyscraper Magazine. He did it from our house when we were living together and I helped write reviews for it. I guess I’ve always just been really interested in music, I started collecting CDs when I was young and just never really stopped. I’m just really passionate about it, I still put on shows occasionally all though not as often as I used to, because doing this cable access show is a lot like doing a show. I have to get a band and get a date. I feel like these DIY shows are so ephemeral which is part of what’s so exciting about them but then this TV show is not, it’s the opposite, in hundred years, people will still be able to watch it I hope, I don’t know if they will but maybe some of the bands people will have an interest and it will probably not be the ones people expect because that’s usually the way it goes.
“For me, it’s a great outlet. I don’t know where I would be without, I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here in the Upper West Side, having this interview with you. It’s such a great feeling to go to the studio and work with these artists and musicians and whoever that I respect or that I want to know more about” When you first started doing shows here, were there specific venues that you helped out with?
Honestly, putting on shows has never been my main focus. Its been something I’ve done occasionally, I would put on shows for bands who wouldn’t get a show otherwise, like Love of Diagrams, were a band that I was friends with from Austrailia and they were coming to town and they couldn’t get a show so I put on their show. That’s kind of the way it worked, I wouldn’t do it all the time. So I mean I was more involved in the DIY scene as going to a lot of shows and I was friends with a lot of bands but I wouldn’t put on the shows. I would help out at the shows because I knew some of the promoters, so I would help wrap cables and would suggest bands but wouldn’t necessarily put them on myself. When did you first get the idea to do The BJ Rubin Show? So it was when I was working at the Daily Show when I had the idea that I should do my own cable access TV show, that that would be a good outlet for me. Originally I thought I was going to call it New York, New York and I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, it took me awhile to develop the show, I mean coming up with the format for a TV show isn’t something that happens over night. I took some time and thought about it and started taking the classes at Brooklyn Cable Access (BCAT) and it was during these classes that it occurred to me that I should
just call the show the BJ Rubin show. The teacher of the class, her name was Bernice Brooks and she’s somewhat of a local legend in Brooklyn Cable Access and her show was the Bernice Brooks Show. At the same time I was watching the Richard Pyror show and I thought that this is classic television to just name the show after yourself. IT made sense because if I called it something else people might be confused as to what it was or who was making it and I thought, look, this is going to be me, its mostly going to be me. I will get input from other people but most of the effort is going to come from me so I may as well call it the BJ Rubin Show because that will make more sense to everyone I think. It certainly has progressed quite a bit since I’ve done it. The first episode – “Pilot” I shot in about three hours because that’s the way that most Cable Access Shows are produced. I got in there and it was the American Liberty League and Sexy Thoughts and it was a total mess and I learned a lot from it and I’m glad I did. Its funny to go back and look at it now because there were so many mistakes but that’s kind of what’s so exciting about it, cable access allows you do things like that. There are audio mistakes and video mistakes and that’s all a part of the process. The more I’ve been doing it, or the longer I’ve been doing it, the more and more energy and people I’ve tried to put into each episode and the better I’ve been able to book guests, and you know, it takes time to book guests. Black Dice for instance, it took almost a a year from when I first asked them to come to when they actually came. And there are artists that I’ve been working on for longer that who still haven’t come
and maybe will never come but you can’t ever give up. If you give up they’ll never come, you just have to keep going and you cant take it personally when people say no or they cancel at the last minute for no reason, these things happen. For me, it’s a great outlet. I don’t know where I would be without, I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here in the Upper West Side, having this interview with you. It’s such a great feeling to go to the studio and work with these artists and musicians and whoever that I respect or that I want to know more about. Like for this episode that’s coming up in April, I interviewed my director who was a Nigerian diplomat who worked with Nelson Mandela on the elections in South Africa and I talked with him about that. Its an honor for me to get to work with these people and then I get to come home and laboriously edit all these segments so it’s like a time suck. It’s like what do you do with your time? Some people watch TV, some people go to shows, some people watch movies, I go to the TV Studio and then I come home and edit my show. I don’t know what I would be doing without it actually; sometimes I think that it’s saved my life. Without this show I would be dead or miserable or something like that. Not living the fabulous life on the Upper West Side anyway.
What was the contrast of working in a really professional and curated situation like The Daily Show to having your own public access show? From the very beginning I wanted to produce my show the same way that Jon produces the Daily Show. But, I don’t have access to the same resources that he has, and I don’t have the respect that he has. So for me it’s been baby steps, building and building. The longer that I do the show the greater resources I’ve found that I have and the more respect that I found I have and the more able I am to fully realize my vision for the show. I certainly benefited quite a bit from having worked at a place like the Daily Show because its an Emmy award winning television show. It’s one of the best shows on television. So I was able from behind the scenes to observe how a show like that was produced. It’s not rocket science, you just try to get the best possible people that you can to fill every single role and because the show is what it is, its super competitive and they are able to get the best and the brightest to be producers and writers. I started out in the tape library and then I was promoted to associate producer by the time I left. It was a great place to work, I’m blessed, very lucky that I was able to spend any time there, I mean I got to shake hands with a lot of really interesting, I got to sit in a room with Jon on more than one occasion. And he is, by the way, one of the coolest people I’ve ever got-
“I’ve been really lucky to have Greta come and do the show. She’s been in every single episode of the show this season and she’s great. It’s been really great to watch her grow as a performer and songwriter; I think some of her new songs are some of the best songs that she’s ever written and I’m really excited to hear her new album”
“I have become quite close with Owen, I would say he is one of my best friends, and he is quite the character I will say.” ten to shake hands with, without a doubt. Merrill Lynch, I guess you asked about that too because I used to be an editor there, but I don’t remember my time there was fondly. Although my boss at the time, Ed Sproul was quite the character. I remember one day I was messing with the mixing board, getting feed back from the board because I had a little free time. He came over and was like “Are you making music? Are you making music with that? That’s so cool!” and then my favorite quote from him, I don’t even remember what he was talking about but he said “Man, I can see the music!” and it was great. I still say that sometimes. I can see the music. Did anything in particular draw you to the public access format? Obviously TV Party is probably one of the most famous cable access shows that people are familiar with and I had seen it before I started my show so it was an influence. I just thought it was a great resource, because I didn’t have a camera or any of the things I needed to make a show and it seemed like here is this place that exists that will help me do exactly what I want to do which is produce a half hour television show. I didn’t know if I was going to be good at it, I had never done it before, but here was a place that I could go and they will help me do it and this will be a good environment for me rather than trying to buy a camera, buy microphones, buy lights, and then you have to take them around. It’s a location that people can go to where they have all the cameras and the lights, all the microphones, there’s staff there to help you, it just seemed like a good way to go and I mean I have no regrets. I love it. It’s probably the best decision I ever made, making this TV Show. Totally honestly, one of the most
rewarding things I’ve gotten to do. How did you go about finding people you wanted to include on the show?
Most of the guests on the show are people that I know personally. Or, bands that I’ve gone to see because a few people recommended and I liked them. Most of the bands are bands that I’m familiar with through personally knowing member. Because honestly its really difficult to get guests, particular if you don’t know them, getting a stranger to do the show is not easy. So you have more leverage with people if you already know them. For me its really personal, it’s the BJ Rubin Show, and I don’t want to put people on the show that I don’t care about because I’m going to have to spend hours editing the segment, so I don’t want to spend that much time on something that I don’t feel passionately about. Most of the bands I love or have a strong personal connection with, and a lot of the other guests are my friends. I do bumpers and interviews and most of those people are from my personal life. Two of your more consistent guests have been Frankie Cosmos and her brother Owen Kline. How did you first meet them and what has that relationship been like? So I met the Kline’s through my close friend and confidant, Lauren Martin. She went to high school with Owen and that was how I met them originally. I have become quite close with Owen, I would say he is one of my best friends, and he is quite the character I will say. Greta I am also close with, I have had the good fortune of working with her. One of her first appearances she ever gave as a performer was on my television show. I released the
CD-R for her, we did a run of 50, it was called “Frankie Goes to France”, she played a gig and Paris and made a CD and she made like 5 of them that she took to Paris with her. When she came back we did 50 and we did artwork for them. I printed all of them and burned the CDs and then she did the hand writing on the CDs and those went pretty quickly. I also did the CD version of her Zentropy album which was great, that was on my Dick Move label. The CD-R was on the Pukekos label, its nice having these different names you can put on things, its fun for me. But yeah, I’ve been really lucky to have Greta come and do the show. She’s been in every single episode of the show this season and she’s great. It’s been really great to watch her grow as a performer and songwriter; I think some of her new songs are some of the best songs that she’s ever written and I’m really excited to hear her new album. I wont be releasing it unfortunately, she’s already gotten too big for me, but that’s fine, that’s life in the big city! It doesn’t matter because she still comes and plays my show which is what I’m interested in. Honestly I love doing the record label but its much more expensive to do and then you have to worry about getting CDs in the stores and you have to try to sell them and I just don’t care. But Owen, is also quite the character, I think I said that already, he doesn’t do as much acting these days. He’s more into directing and being behind the scenes but he’s in the show quite a bit, there was a scene that he wrote in the “It’s a Barnum Bailey World” episode that’s pretty dark, we both have a dark sense of humor. He does the voice of the Howdy Doody puppet, when you see the Howdy Doody puppet he’s usually screaming, I mean Owen is kind of off putting sometimes to some people and I mean its because he’s so loud, but that’s one of the things I like about him because I’m also very loud. We’ll just start screaming at each other and that’s just kind of the relationship we have and its actually quite fun and we like a lot of the same music and the same movies so we see each other pretty regularly. He’s one of the few people that I call and talk to on the phone, not everyone likes to talk on the phone but for some reason Owen and I – I’m old school I guess compared to you guys, you guys are teenagers and I’m 36 so I grew up on talking on the phone all the time and we didn’t have caller ID either so you would just answer the phone whenever it rang because you didn’t know who it was going to be or who it was going to be for. So everyone wanted to get a phone call and so I guess I still remember those days and he is not like everyone else and he likes talking on the phone, so we talk on the phone with each other. But I’m lucky to have them and Lauren Martin in my life.
One of the most admirable things about your show is that you’ve really given a platform to a lot of people who normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to showcase their work to an audience. Was that your main goal when you first started the show or did it become more of a focus as you went along? Honestly if people have the opportunity to be on television they probably wouldn’t have wanted to come on my show because they have other venues to be on television so for me it was more a matter of getting people that I could get, like, this was something that would appeal to them because they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to be on TV. So my show was an outlet for them, and as time has gone on I’ve been able to get bigger artists, I haven’t gotten anyone who also appeared on the Tonight Show yet I’m sorry, maybe in the future I’ll be able to do that. For me, it’s interesting, a lot of these acts are acts I actually genuinely like and have seen and there should be some kind of document, theres so many videos being made of so many bands but somehow theres still all these great things that aren’t being recorded, so, that’s what I’m doing. Finding a venue for them and also trying to mix it in with artists that people have heard of so maybe it will bring some exposure to these acts that probably no one would hear of otherwise. Honestly, David Earl Buddin is the example I’ll give, he is a genius, he is like one of the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, he has a PHD in music. His modern compositions I think are beautiful, his band, The American Liberty League I think is great, but for some reason no one has heard of him and I think its because he’s this cooky old guy, he’s from South Carolina and has this really thick southern accent. People are afraid of him I’ve noticed when their in the same room with him but he’s also the nicest guy, you don’t need to be scared of him, he just is a big personality, a really big personality, the way I think of it is he smells very strong. We all give off pheromones all the time and his pheromones are overpowering for most people, but that’s just him being him and if you can get past that, I mean his music is beautiful. I think he should be famous, so I use him in every single episode of my show, and I will continue to do so as long as I can. What circumstances led you to meet and work with all of these people? I think it’s just my passion for music and my interest in finding things that I haven’t heard before and experiencing things that I haven’t experienced before. When someone invites me to do something I try to say yes, I don’t know if I should be admitting that but I try to say yes to everything, that’s my goal in life. To be able to say yes to as many things as possible. Realistically, I cant say yes to everything, I have a full time job, this television show which takes up a huge amount of time, but if someone invites me to go check out a new group, I try to go to check them out. If someone sends me a link to watch one of their
videos, I try to find the time to watch their video, that’s what I’m here for. As a producer I feel like its my job to be aware of all of these things because it will make my work stronger if I am. I could just sit and only read one website and nothing which is how I think a lot of people live their lives and they live them happily, but if my phone rings I answer it unless I am fully occupied with something else. Most of the time I answer the phone every time it rings, if someone texts me I try to reply quickly, if someone emails me I try to reply quickly because that’s what I like. I like it when I call someone and they pick up the phone, I like when I text someone and they reply quickly. That’s how I try to live my life, and I found that through this I’ve gotten to meet some really interesting people, I’ve gotten to do some really exciting things. It’s not easy, but what fun would It be otherwise? What’s the process of making one of your episodes like? Every episode is different, its difficult to say exactly when production starts and ends because – well for instance in the “It’s a Barnum and Bailey” world episode Black Dice came and did the show, and I’ve had a relationship with them for many years. I first saw Black Dice in 1998 in Oakland, California on their first tour. It was nearly a fist fight between the band and the crowd because it was a bunch of punks in Oakland and they were throwing shit at the crowd. I’ve spoken to them about that gig afterward so they definitely remember it (laughs), when I moved to New York I used to see Black Dice a lot, they were one of the best bands in town for a long time. IT was great going because they were a ‘cool’ band but then they would play and everyone would leave. People wanted to be at their shows but they didn’t actually like to listen to the music (laughs), it was actually really funny, I loved the music so I thought it was great, they would clear the room of a show they were headlining. So, when did I start producing that segment? I started producing in 1998 when I saw them, if I didn’t have that relationship with them there would have been no way they would have ever come and done the show. But I mean more like, speaking in more concrete terms, that episode I Started shooting in December of 2013 and it aired in May of 2014. So, that one actually was a pretty quick turnaround considering, the current episode I’m working on I started shooting in July of 2014 and I just finished shooting about a week ago. I shot the last scene on Monday, and this is March of 2015 now, so about nine months of production that went into this single episode. I had 31 separate shoots and the whole thing is two and a half hours long so quite a bit of time, considering the amount of time I spend emailing the guests back and froth, Moon Duo is one of the guests in this show, they flew in for CMJ but required a back-line, they only had guitars and keyboards, so I had to rent a back-line for them which required finding someplace that would rent it to me, picking it up and dropping it off and I don’t own a car so this was a huge amount of production but they’re
great in the show, it was totally worth it. The second episode I ever did I am wearing a Moon Duo T-shirt, I feel like I’ve come full circle with the show now that I’ve gotten them to come play the show. There’s also the hours and hours and hours of editing, sometimes I want to beat my head against the wall because I’ll watch a segment that I’ve edited and then I’ll find another thing that can be tightened and I’ll have to edit again and again and again. Its just not possible because the way I shoot, I shoot 3 to 4 different takes and they’re all live and most bands don’t play the song the same way every time, because their just people not machines so getting the lips and drums to sync up, its not always the same so you drive yourself crazy trying to get it right. And then theres stuff you just cant control, the way we do the green screen stuff is live in the studio and it just comes off a Mac, so I’ll have the image up and sometimes in preview on Mac and if you move the mouse the launch bar will come up. Just yesterday I was watching through one of the new episodes, I saw in the middle of an interview, in the background someone hit the mouse so the thing came up and theres no way to fix that, nothing I can do now, its just a part of the episode. But you just accept that as a part of life, nothing is perfect, nothing will ever be perfect. IF you’re waiting for something perfect to come along you will die waiting, because it just is never going to happen. So what I have tried to do is just accept that this is a part of life and move on and find something else to get obsessed with because that’s what I do. That’s the only the way this show gets done, because I am obsessive about it, it’s just too much work otherwise. Its a lot of fun and I really enjoy it, but, if I weren’t obsessively working on it all the time I would never have episodes on the air, unless I did it like how most people do cable access shows which is just live call in. I’ve never done that. I’d like to do one, that’s the typical cable access show, most people get as many shows as they can in one studio booking. They’ll either do one hour and do a half hour show, or if its on tape they will book the studio for two hours and do two episodes. Where as I’ll book the studio for five hours and come out with five minutes. So my methods are a little bit different than most peoples, but for me its like I’m shooting a film, that’s the way that I see it. Bunuel is one of my favorite filmmakers, and he is a huge influence on me so I imagine him shooting Belle De Jour but instead of Belle De Jour I’m shooting the BJ Rubin Show. How has the show changed since you first started it? Is there a direction you want to take it in the future? The longer I’ve done the show, the more bigger guests I’ve been able to get and the more behind the scenes artists that I’ve been able to get to participate in it and the more interest from viewers I’ve gotten and going forward I just want to do more of the same. I want to get more artists that people have heard of and more artists that people haven’t heard of and I would love to get more directors involved, and have people direct segments, not have me
direct every segment, maybe someone else could produce a segment. I mean come I am writing and directing and producing pretty much every single thing you see, occasionally I’ll have an outside writer help or an outside director help, I try to get cartoons in some episodes which I don’t do but I’m producing them because 9 times out of 10 I’m paying the cartoonist to produce this cartoon or whatever so I would like to get more people involved, instead of it just being the BJ Rubin Show, more people can feel like its their show too. It can just keep going, but the thing is even if it stays at the level its at now, that’s great, I’m super happy right now, I love my life, I love my apartment, my job, I love the show, if I’m stuck here forever, there are much worse places to be stuck. When did you first start doing Pukekos and Dick Move Records? So Pukekos started because I am an obsessive collector and I had this huge record collection that I wasn’t spending nearly enough time listening to it and that if I was going to listen to it I should digitize it while I listen to it and then I could share those MP3s with anyone else who might interested in hearing these records. A lot of the stuff is vinyl only that hasn’t been reissues and I decided that the only way I was going to do it regularly was if I was going to do it every day, so I just decided to do it every day, Saturdays and Sundays included, seven days a week for the first year, I did it every single day. And so I would come home from work, this is when I was at the daily show, I would come home and sit down and I’d drop the needle on a record and I’d listen to it and then I would cut up the MP3s and scan the art, and write something about my experience with the band or the record or whatever it made me think about. After doing it for a little while I realized I was gaining an audience and people were actually reading my blog and getting into it. So I started trying to involve the artists more directly if possible, and I had some success! The VSS was one of my favorite bands when I was in college and I still think they are a band more people should hear, not enough people are familiar with, so I contacted the singer, Sonny K, who I knew, my band in college, the Angel Assassins, played a show with VSS and I knew him from around, so he said he’d be more than happy to do an interview with me and participate and he’d be fine with me posting the VSS singles and I also recorded some soundboard recordings from their gigs at Gilman when I was in college. So that for me was really exciting when I got to do that VSS story, they were always one of my favorites. I really enjoyed it, it was a lot of fun and through doing that I’d always kind of wanted to do a record label and so I was going or coming from a gig with These Are Powers* who are a great band from New York that I don’t think enough people had heard. They were close friends with mine and we were talking about a record label and how I should be doing one. I didn’t want to name it, I thought it would be cool to not have a name for the label but then I was thinking about it and I
thought if I had to name the label I would name it Dick Move and they all thought it was a great idea. So I spoke to one of my favorite bands at the time, Knyfe Hyts, about doing a twelve inch for them and so we eventually did it after much bothering of them by me they submitted a CD and I had it mastered and pressed onto vinyl and Zach silkscreened up some covers and we did a release party and because the band was called Knyfe Hyts we did it on April 20th and we charged $4.20 to get into the gig and it was awesome. The second release I had was by an up and coming band at the time called Teengirl Fantasy and I did a 12 inch single for them and we did a hundred copies and all the records were hand painted, every single album cover is different and in my opinion they are all beautiful. We did a show in New York where they were all up on the wall and you could see them and then the release show was actually in Amsterdam where they were studying at the time which was funny because no one in Amsterdam collected vinyl so I didn’t sell a single copy of the album at the release party. In fact I still have most of the copies right now, I haven’t sold them because that’s not the most exciting part of doing the record label for me. I like making the things more than I like selling them, and they’re all just so beautiful I have a hard time letting them go. Plus it’s kind of like, I see them going for $50 now, when I put them out they were $20. So I think if maybe I hold onto them a little longer I’ll be able to sell them and I’ll put out an album for the American Liberty League which honestly no one is going to buy so the money has to come from somewhere so maybe they’ll come from these Teengirl Fantasy 12 inches I’ve never sold. It’s a great record, you can download it for free on my website so its not like people haven’t heard it. Which is kind of why I do that, I’m not that interested in the commerce aspect of it, I mean I know its essential and money is necessary in modern society but for me that is not what I am excited about. I don’t care about the money, and theres so many labels having such a hard time making ends meet, why do I want to enter into that crowded field? I would much rather work my day job at the UN, which is great and I love it, and use the money that I get from that to put into my show and to put into my website and record label or whatever. And then if an artist doesn’t sell then so what? Maybe the next one will sell or none of them will sell, its about having new music to listen to and getting excited about something more than having it in stores and having people buy it because most people don’t care about that stuff anymore. Honestly, I collect CDs, I buy a lot of CD’s, I don’t collect vinyl, I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan I don’t have much space. Vinyl takes a lot of space, CD’s are much more portable, they’re easier to listen to, if I buy an old record it doesn’t come with MP3s. If I buy a used CD it absolutely does, and right now no one is buying CDs, everyone thinks they’re garbage so I’m buying them up super cheap and when people realize the mistake they’ve made it will be too late for them and I’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Most of these CD’s I listen to on my phone or Ipod when I’m walking around and they sound
great because they’re high quality rips that I did myself and I scan the covers so the artwork looks really nice, its not someone else’s CD that im listening to its my CD. Like I said though, I’m obsessive, so whatever, this is me. What can you tell us about the most recent episode of the BJ Rubin Show and what you’re planning for the future? The latest episode of the BJ Rubin Show which will be airing in April, maybe around the time you’re reading this, April 2015. But the new episode is called A Night at the Met 2, it’s a sequel to an episode from the first season called “A Night At the Met” behind all the performers are paintings from the metropolitan museum of art which is right across Central Park and I did an episode like that in the first season and I thought it worked really well so I wanted to do another one. I really like sequels, I think sequels are funny, the idea of having a sequel episode I thought is a joke, the show is supposed to be funny sometimes. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, maybe they have and I just don’t know about it, but anyway, I’ve got a lot of really cool guests for this one, I’m really excited about it. I got Jeffrey Lewis to come play which was cool, I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, we met recently, I went to see Bob Dylan and Jeffrey Lewis was there, so I introduced myself to him and asked him to come play my show and low and behold, he was super easy to book, he didn’t make it difficult, he came, he was great. So Jeffrey, if you’re watching this, thank you so much, you will definitely be in the show. Moon Duo is a group I’ve been trying to get and I was able to get them. Frankie Cosmos of course, she’s in every episode this season, so she’ll be in it, and one of her performances will feature a special appearance by Marnie the Dog, who also came, I had to get special permission, dogs are not allowed in the TV studio, so this actually took months of preparation to have them allow the dog to come be on the show. My director, who is a diplomat from Nigeria, now he is the director of the Africa 1 Division, political affairs at the United Nations, he came and spoke about his work with Nelson Mandela in South Africa. I have Linda Haygood who is a friend of mine who is backed up by Alice Cohen who is a regular on the show and David Earl Buddin who is a regular on the show, doesn’t preform music. He wrote the theme song so his music is in every episode. I do an extended interview with him which I think is hilarious because he’s super funny. Creep Highway from Canada, they were great, I really enjoyed working with them and People, People came, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, their last album got a rave review in the New York Times, Kevin Shea is a regular on the show, we have a band together called Puttin’ on the Ritz which doesn’t preform as much as it used to do but were still close so he comes and does the show all the time. Other acts you might not have heard of like Ethan Smith, he’s from Texas, friend of mine, he did an episode in the
first season so when he comes to town he asks me if he can do the show and honestly I like that, some people think its rude to invite yourself over to someone else’s house but for me I think its funny, I will accommodate them if I can and I really like Ethan so I’m glad he could make it. For the next episode, which will be the Season 2 finale, thank god, I’m excited to have finally gotten here, I’ve been working on Season 2 for the past two years and it’s been a great time but I’m looking forward to season 3 or working on Pukekos TV which is another show that I do that I haven’t had time to do because I’ve been so busy producing the BJ Rubin Show and taking French and everything else that I do but the season finale of season 2 is called Into the Void 2, its another sequel, the finale of season 1 was called Into the Void, which was named after the Black Sabbath song. So, Into the Void typically takes place at the center of a black hole, so this is what happens somehow the cast and the crew of the BJ Rubin Show has been sucked into a black hole and this is what were doing to entertain ourselves. So its been shot piecemeal over the past two years, every time I’ve had a guest I’ve shot an extra scene with them that you haven’t seen that’s been sucked into the void. In September, I hope, all though who knows what will happen between now and then, we will get to see what happens when the cast of the BJ Rubin Show gets sucked into the center of a black hole. I think we’ll be alive, we look alive on screen, but we have yet to see what happens in the end. The familiar faces are there, if you watch the show you will recognize the people on the show. I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’d love to direct a feature science fiction film, but I mean these are things that I will do in the future I think. I want to do a sitcom based on my life called “Being BJ” I think it would be pretty fun. Right now, my life is being BJ. I’m watching a show as I walk around or right now as I sit here looking at the lens of this camera, this is an episode of being BJ, this is my life. But I think it might be interesting to put it on television, I think people would probably like to see what its like to live with a 94 year old woman and what its like to work at the UN and what its like to have your own cable access TV show, its definitely never dull. It is often stressful, but, that’s life, life is stressful. So you just accept that and move on and try to find ways to relieve the stress, lately I’ve been doing the seven minute work out, I do that every day if I can, and that’s been a great way to relieve stress. I feel like I’m in better shape, my bowel movements are more regular, I have more energy, I’m staying up later, so I recommend that to you. I don’t know if that’s a future project that I’m going to embark, its something I’m currently doing that anyone can do, you don’t even need money. But yeah, those all sound fun, is there anything else, what do you think I should do?
Photography by Matthew James-Wilson
A new column by Ben Smith that explores DIY in the New York landscape Illustrations by Sean Joseph Kennedy Edited by Matthew James-Wilson
The Supposed Death of DIY: A Conversation with Mark Fletcher B Y
B E N
ne of the first New York DIY shows I ever attended was Porches at Shea Stadium. For the years leading up to that day, growing up in Richmond, Virginia, I had been involved in the local DIY music scene that existed in the houses and basements of some of my best friends at the time. Music played an important role in my life as a frustrated teenager growing up in the south, due to the fact that it seemed to be the only thing that allowed me to relate to others outside of my immediate surroundings. For a period of time, because of how I was feeling and the overall alienating nature of the south, I thought that I was crazy or fucked up because of how I felt, but, with the furthering of my love for music I began to find artists who I related to and that's when I realized that what I was experiencing was not uncommon and that there were other people who felt the same ways that I did. Obviously though, growing up with the Internet, several small bands outside of Richmond were extremely important to me as I spent hours reading blogs and scoured bandcamp for new music to listen to. Online and through some of the people that I knew, I kept hearing about several venues in New York such as Shea Stadium and Death
S M I T H
by Audio and dreamed of the day that I would be able to attend shows at these venues. In August, I moved to New York to start college and on my first day in New York I attended a show at Death by Audio for one of my favorite musicians, Jeff Rosenstock, and immediately fell in love with the venue but also the community. The next day, as I was smoking a cigarette outside of my dorm, a kid I kept seeing around, Kenny, who would later become one of my closest friends, asked me if I would like to go see a show at Shea with him. I happily agreed to go this show and met with a few people who would later become my best friends, including Matthew (who asked me to start this column), to see Porches at Shea Stadium. This show really made me fall in love with Shea but also the community again as I felt that there was an immense understood respect between everyone. Before going to this show I was a little worried as I felt that I was not cool enough or that these venues were a tight knit community of friends not open to outsiders as that was how things operated in Virginia during my childhood. This show served as a catalyst for me, I began going to shows every week and meeting new people after it.
Over the next few months I kept going to as many shows as I could afford to attend. Several of these shows were at Death by Audio and Shea, solidifying the two as my favorite venues in New York. In September I received a Facebook notification on my walk back from class notifying me of Death by Audios impending closure. There was an immediate reaction from my friends and everyone else who had spent any amount of time at Death by Audio of grief. Life however, went on as normal, shows still happened everywhere, including at Death by Audio. As the reality
of DBAs closing set in for everyone though, a new wave emerged online and in the media discussing the supposed death of DIY in New York City, specifically in Brooklyn. As time got closer and closer to Death by Audio's final secret show, the amount of stories being posted online and occasionally appearing in the New York Times would lead someone outside of New York to believe that all hope was lost for DIY in New York. However, after the closing show in which 700+ people attended, and as the torn up issues of VICE were swept up from DBA's floor and the venue gradually
â€œAttending any show at Silent Barn or Shea Stadium on a weekend night should be a revelation to anyone doubting the life of DIY in New York.â€?
moved out of the space, I realized that DIY was not in anyway dead or dying. Shows were still happening, new venues were opening and brand new projects were starting. Over this time I had also grown closer to the members of Heeney from attending shows and in February sat down with Mark Fletcher to discuss DIY culture for a journalism class I was taking. Mark welcomed me into his home for this interview
and is one of the people that I'm the most grateful for meeting in New York. This column would not be happening without him agreeing to help me out with a class project, which I will be forever grateful for. After speaking with Mark I had a stronger appreciation for the venues that I already loved but also a strong feeling that New York DIY was definitely anything but dead.
“The point is that these venues are supposed to be safe areas of trust for everyone and it's a total failure of the DIY ethos when there's misogyny or racism.” - Mark Fletcher Being from New York, do you feel you have a unique perspective on the DIY scene? Of course, my feelings vary, sometimes it feels as if I'm surrounded by impostors or that I am an impostor myself, sometimes I feel like the scene is mine and there's a sense of ownership, other times I just feel like giving it all up and moving away. Is that related to a large amount of the “Brooklyn DIY” bands not actually being from New York? Definitely, however, I feel that diversity is really important to the scene and to the city itself in order to sustain itself. New York as I see it is about people coming here and its important to have everyone here, and everyone being able to make their own offers in their own way based on their backgrounds. There have been a lot of discussions about underlying issues and failures of the DIY scenes all across the country specifically with racism and sexism. Have you had any personal experiences with this? In regards to misogyny and racism these are still issues we deal with, but definitely not as bad as in other places like down south. We had an issue at a show I was putting on at Shea not too long ago where some guys got too aggressive at a punk show and were overly aggressive towards a girl in the audience. Me and everyone else working intervened and kept everything safe, but it highlighted the issue for us. The point is that these venues are supposed to be safe areas of trust for everyone and it's a total failure of the DIY ethos when there's misogyny or racism. In 2014 we saw several of the long standing DIY venues such as Death by Audio and Glasslands close after being bought by VICE for office space. How did these closures affect you? Well, a big part of the DIY music scene is transient by nature; its just part of the nature of Do-it-yourself venues. However, these were all venues that I had been going to shows at since I was a teenager and somewhat felt like I grew up in their walls so I was definitely saddened by the closing of Death by Audio. And while yeah sure, fuck Shane Smith and fuck VICE, if it wasn't going to be them it would have been someone else. All of the experiences I've had going to shows, meeting people and even just hanging out with friends have taught me that the DIY scene in New York is not dying nor endangered really. New venues have opened, coming up soon in April will be Palisades BK's 1 year anniversary, Aviv, an all ages warehouse space opened up in November and has had crazy attendance numbers for some shows. Alongside to this, DIY labels and bands keep popping up. Attending any show at Silent Barn or Shea Stadium on a weekend night should be a revelation to anyone doubting the life of DIY in New York. The scene is vibrant and diverse, with musicians of different styles and from different backgrounds all playing in the same venues, the ethos of DIY is still incredibly relevant, as opposed to claims by the media conglomerates of the east coast proclaiming the “death” of DIY. While I don't wish to claim any belonging to a place that I am not originally from, these experiences that I've had in these past few months have really left me with a feeling of belonging somewhere for the first time in my life.
Instead of the alienating and constantly anxious feeling that I grappled with for much of my youth, I now have found a community of people, who share similar values and want to see others succeed. This is why it is important that when discussing DIY, we need to make sure we are not just looking at the past and the nostalgia of the good ol' days. We need to make sure that these spaces continue to exist and that we continue to run all ages DIY shows whatever way possible, whether its from starting our own venues or hosting our own house shows. At one point we were all angsty teenagers looking for something that gave us a sense of belonging. For many of us going to punk shows and DIY shows was how we found a sense of belonging. It is imperative to the culture of DIY that we allow this to continue for the next generations of kids who feel lost and alienated.
Swans @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg
LVL UP @ Shea Stadium
Adult Mom @ Silent Barn
Told Slant @ Silent Barn
Eskimeaux @ Silent Barn
Quarterbacks @ Silent Barn
Girlpool @ Silent Barn
Teen Suicide @ Palisades
Alex G @ Palisades
Krill @ The Bowery Ballroom
Frankie Cosmos @ The Bowery Ballroom
PORCHES @ The Bowery Ballroom
Audience @ DBTS
Yowler @ DBTS
Nice Try @ Silent Barn
Radiator Hospital @ Silent Barn
Painted Zeros @ DBTS
Bellows @ DBTS
Trace Mountains @ Silent Barn
LVL UP @ Silent Barn
Frankie Cosmos @ Silent Barn
Krill @ Silent Barn
Best Shows By Matthew James-Wilson
January 9th @ The Silent Barn
Crying/Painted Zeros/Glueboy/The Empty Gestures January 13th @ The Silent Barn
Quarterbacks/Long Beard/Sitcom/The Realbads January 18th @ The Silent Barn
Eskimeaux (VIDEO SHOOT)/Adult Mom/ Free Cake For Every Creature/Harpoon Forever for reasons the eskimeaux video shoot was one of the brightest few hours on one of the darker days in my life this winter. i feel are probably inappropriate to go into in the section, i was feeling really low. to the point where i was almost planning on skipping the show altogether. but at the last minute i decided to go to the show by myself. this one single show really reinforced everything i had previously believed about the diy scene here. the whole night everyone was so kind to all of the friends and strangers around them, all in an effort the have a good time and help make a successful music video for eskimeaux.
January 28th @ The Silent Barn
Girlpool/Told Slant/Fraternal Twin i went to this show with two of my roommates at the time, on one of the most horribly cold days this winter in brooklyn. the three of us took the l train from union square to morgan, and carefully walked along the side walks completely covered in sheets of ice in front of all the empty lots in bushwick on the way to the silent barn. if i’m remembering it correctly, this show was the first time i ever arrived at silent barn where there was a line down the block to get tickets. i had a lot of anticipation for the show, since so many people had told me about how incredible girlpool was and i was really excited to see them for the first time, so the massive turn out didn’t come as a huge surprise. once we got in, we weaved our way to the very front of the crowd. by the time all three bands had gone on, i was completely floored. every performance was so mesmerizing and moving that i still to this day have very vivid memories of moments during fraternal twin, told slant, and girlpool’s performances.
February 5th @ Palisades
Alex G/Teen Suicide/Eskimeaux/Sam Cohen i had been anticipating this show for months leading up to the actual night me and kira went to palisades to see it. the whole attitude inside the venue totally shifted from how it felt going to most shows in new york, which i suppose makes sense considering the two main headliners, alex g and teen suicide, were from philadelphia and baltimore respectively. it really felt like one of the first times i ever felt like i was missing out on music that was happening outside of new york, and it almost made the whole crowd seem like a bunch of kids living in a small town waiting for a band to come play and change all of their lives. i know this was a lot for all of the bands to live up to, but alex g and teen suicides well surpassed all of my hopes for the show. by the time i was waiting for the train to go home, i had no voice and sweat freezing on my forehead.
February 6th @ The Bowery Ballroom
Porches./Frankie Cosmos/Krill/Sheer Mag this was one of the few shows i went to this winter that was at a legitimate venue, which i was able to get free tickets to through doing some design work for the bower y presents. the entire night really felt like this huge achievement, and realization of how far all of these bands had come. as someone who’s only been living here for a matter of months, and has their best to catch up to ever yone who’s been active in this scene for years, it was really illuminating to hear jonah from krill, greta from frankie comsos, and aarron from porches all express how incredible it felt to be able to play a show together at a place as big as the bower y ballroom, and sell out the show no less. at one point during her bands set, greta stopped and felt it was worth mentioning an anecdote about the first time she had ever played a show with krill, where the entire audience was made up of just the members in the bands that were
playing, the person hosting the house show, and her cousin. but over all, the feeling that really set in after the show was over was that, having the opportunity to know each other and being able to share their music with anyone who was willing to listened, was really all that was important to ever yone that played that night, regardless of the space they were playing or the number of people that were there.
February 10th @ Cooler Ranch (New Brunswick, NJ)
Quarterbacks (RECORD RELEASE SHOW) /Girlpool/Free Cake For Every Creature i went to this show entirely on a whim, after allyssa yohana invited me to take the train with her to new brunswick to see a bunch of her friends play in a basement. it was a tuesday and I had a 9 am class the following day, so my immediate response to the invitation was no. but then after much encouragement, and reflection on how important it is to grasp as many influential experiences that i can in college, i eventually agreed to join her. the two of us were set to meet at penn station. but instead of just simply meeting up and boarding the train, i ended up getting lost trying to find her, mere minutes before our train was leaving. We both frantically scrambled to find each other, as allyssa’s phone was at 1% battery life and before it was too late for us to even go. Eventually we found each other, and ran to the train, just in time. the show that followed our arrival in new jersey was one of the most wonderful and heartwarming shows i’ve ever gone to. everyone was there to support their friends in bands and celebrate the release of quarterback’s new record. so many of the people dean had written songs on the album about were surrounding me in the audience. i never experienced anything like that before that night, and i’m not sure when i’ll ever be able to experience something like that again in the near future.
February 28th @ Shea Stadium
Liam Betson/LVL UP/Slight/Doubting Thomas Cruise Control March 13th @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
Yowler/Told Slant/Painted Zeros/Florist david blaine’s the steakhouse is the most warm and inviting venue i’ve ever been lucky enough to attend a show at. with in just one visit to dbts, i became a firm believer in everything that the venue and the individuals that reside in the apartment where it’s held stand for. dbts is an improvement to both the house show and diy venue models and completely reflects the attitude of the scene it was born out of. my first experience at the steakhouse was at the yowler/told slant/painted zeros/florist show this past march, and at this single show i met six new people and saw a few of the friends i hadn’t seen in a long time. dbts inspires friendship and welcomes everyone who can actually find the door in its loving meat claws.
March 14th @ The Silent Barn
Krill/Frankie Cosmos/LVL UP/Cloud Becomes Your Hand
one of the best shows i’ve ever been to in my entire life. i can’t really even put it into any other words.
March 21st @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
Japanese Breakfast/Bellows/Normal Person/Pocket Hercules March 22nd @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg
Swans/Little Annie March 24th @ Silent Barn
Radiator Hospital/Nice Try/Trace Mountains/The Meltaways
Shows I Wish I Had Gone To February 19th @ The Film Society of Lincoln Center
“THE EPOCH” with performances by Bellows/Florist/ Eskimeaux FORGEARTMAG.COM 77
You Should Check Out... By Matthew James-Wilson
each krill show i’ve ever been to has been a monumental event in my mind, and i’ve left each one repeating to the friends i’ve gone with “that was one of the greatest shows i’ve ever gone to in my entire life”. i’m not sure how they manage to create as much sound and complexity as they do with just the three of them, but together they’ve put out some of the most memorable and ernest albums of the past three years. this february krill put out a distant fist unclenching, with the help of exploding in sound records. the entire album packed with some of the most powerful and vulnerable songs they’ve written, with similar self reflective lessons and mantras that string together in their past releases.
my first interaction with listening to quarterbacks, was stumbling upon a copy quarterboy at the goodwill on 6th ave and 8th street last fall. i somehow recognized the endearing photo of a boy with a leaf on his head on the cover of the tape behind the glass at the checkout counter, and naively purchased it for 79 cents. once i got home i searched the tape online and realized i had recognized it from the bandcamp of double double whammy (a label who had put out some of the albums that will be forever burned into my memories of college). that night, i put the cassette in my tape deck, pressed play, and then spent the next few hours just listening to side a, flipping it over, listening to side b, and then flipping it back, over and over again. although quarterboy was primarily intended as a tape of demos for the other album they put out in 2014, sportscenter, i was completely astounded by how far and preciously dean engle took the act of writing sincere songs of heartbreak and friendship. once i had the chance to see quarterbacks play live in january, i was amazed to hear all of my favorite songs from quarterboy, arranged twice as fast played by the three piece band. this past winter, quarterbacks put out their first proper full length on team love records, with a total of 19 songs (half new and half old) just barely surpassing 20 minutes in length. it’s beautiful, and free to download on their bandcamp. plus it’s also out on vinyl, which is well worth your money.
Angle Town II
this january orchid tapes put out the follow up to 2013’s angeltown for free on the label’s bandcamp. the compilation was originally release as a tape sold at the orchid tapes showcase in los angeles this past summer, and includes some incredible contributions from a handful of my favorite bands and individuals on the label such as alex g, r.l. kelly, elvis depressedly, and the bilinda butchers. both angletown and angeltown II are solid samplers and are perfect for anyone who’s new to the prolific library of music orchid tapes has release in past five years.
Stay Rad Vol.01
one of my favorite people in the world is artist, designer, and co-founder of the savannah, ga label furious hooves, ryan mccarlde. and i seriously mean that. i haven’t had the pleasure of meeting ryan in person yet, but about a year ago i interviewed him for issue four of the magazine and was met with some of the most outstanding respect and kindness i’ve ever received from another human being. i’d like to think that i’m relatively high up on the ryan mccardle fan club, but i’m sure the club is overwhelming with members. recently while going though furious hooves’ discography, i stumbled upon the stay rad vol.01 compilation released a couple of years ago. it has quickly become one of my favorite samplers, spreading positive vibes very characteristic of both the label and ryan himself.
The BJ Rubin Show
the bj rubin show is one of the most sincerely odd and unexpectedly heartwarming television shows i’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. in-between awkward vignettes and colorful animations by lauren martin, are performances by a huge array of eccentric bands and musicians, many of which reoccur on the show. i’m so grateful for all of the acts and people this show has brought my attention, and although there’s often a several month stretch in between the release of each episode, the wait is well worth it. if you don’t have any means of watching new york public access television, don’t fret, because every episode can easily be found online at pukekos.org!
THANK YOU: KENDRA YEE BEN SMITH VIVIAN LE RICHARD ALEXANDER HECKET NATHAN ISHAR EBENEEZA K. ANNE JOY LI IGNACIO RIVAS HANA MOKONUMA KENNETH CHRISTIAN STEVEN ORTS ALLYSSA YOHANA SEAN JOSEPH KENNEDY NICK RATTIGAN GABE FOWLER BJ RUBIN MARK FLETCHER KIRA ASZMAN JADE BACHMAN GRETA KLINE JONATHAN MARTY DYLAN KENNEDY NOEL CLARO PATRICK KYLE PIPER AUSTIN KSENIYA YAROSH MATT CARMAN LUCAS JOLIVET EMMA HAMILTON COLIN MANJONEY SOPHIA BENNETT HOLMES JAMIE PERRY SONIA, SYMON, AND DAVID JAMES-WILSON... DEAN ENGLE THOMAS PYNCHON SANDY KIM HELEN JO COLIN ALEXANDER HAZEL CILLS HEATHER BENJAMIN RICHARD LINKLATER CALVIN JOHNSON LAUREN MARTIN TOM CHRISTIE NICK CORBO JACKOB RUBECK JONAH FURMAN ANNIE KOYAMA R.L. KELLY STEPHANIE MAURICE GRAHAM HOBBES GINSBERG MINNA GILLIGAN KILLER ACID MATT GROENING MARYN JONES DAWN CLEMENTS MADELINE AVA HOPE SANDOVAL ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY TAVI GEVINSON
E D I T E D BY M AT T H E W JA M E S -W I L S O N
Published on Apr 22, 2015
Published on Apr 22, 2015
FORGE. is a quarterly submission based art magazine, with the sole purpose of showcasing the work of different artists on the internet and a...