Lauren Martin “I was having a hard time thinking of what to submit for this issue of Forge. I was looking through some photographs for inspiration and I saw a photo I took of Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) with Marnie the dog. I thought she looked so happy and beautiful so I started sketching her and came up with the idea to do these overlapping portraits of my closest friends. I guess it’s a drawing about friendship!” -Lauren Martin
I love Miyazaki movies, Ralph Bakshi and R. Crumb. And of course I’m always inspired by my friends, who are all such talented artists! The list could go on and on...
What materials do you like to work with?
It varies depending on the project. These days I screen print a lot so I start out doing the drawing digitally and then shooting it to a screen to print. I like working with gouache, dyes, pen and ink etc. I enjoy oil painting but it’s kind of a pain in the butt so I don’t do it as often these days. I also sew and knit and make most of the clothes I wear. I love weaving too! I wish I had my own loom!
What is your current location? New York City Where are you from? New York City! Upper West Side to be specific. What is your current occupation? I’m a full time student at FIT but I also am an animator for The BJ Rubin Show and I design the merch for Frankie Cosmos. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught?
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? Right now I’m designing a United Nations Sanctions Manual drawing graphs, maps and charts and trying to really simplify the content so it’s easy to understand. I’m always doing stuff for Frankie Cosmos and next we’re printing tote bags! What music do you listen to while working?
Well right now I’m studying textile design and before that I studied to be a portrait painter.
Brian Eno, Cluster, Orange Juice, The Move, Bee Gees, Kevin Ayers, Dolly Mixture etc.
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
Where do you like to work?
Ahh so many! I love the work of Annie and Josef Albers and Gunta Stölzl and I often use them as inspiration for my textile designs. I’m also really inspired by classical portraiture by JeanAuguste-Dominique Ingres and Hans Holbein the Younger.
I always work in my bedroom. It’s so cozy!
What is one of your earliest memories of making art? My parents had me enrolled in art classes since before I can even remember! One funny memory I have is from a class I took at the Art Student’s League when I was about six. The assignment was to create a mask from this giant box of materials. I had finished painting the face (green) and I was trying to figure
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out what to make the hair out of and I saw a ball of blue yarn. Instead of cutting strands of yarn to make the hair, I just glued the entire ball of yarn to the mask. I saw the teacher approaching me and I got nervous thinking I would get in trouble for using the entire ball of yarn but she picked up the mask, looked at in for a second and exclaimed “GENIUS!”. I was so proud of myself that day! I think that’s when I peaked.
Suzanne Brown Name
What materials do you like to work with?
I primarily work with cameras-digital, 35mm, disposable-pretty much whatever is available. I also like to play with processing and paint.
Age 22 What is your current location?
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
Where are you from?
Right now, I’m mostly just focusing on trying to get my work into galleries. In my free time, though, I’m trying to learn how to collage and paint.
What music do you listen to while working?
What is your current occupation?
I usually put my ipod on shuffle, but lately I’ve been stuck on this playlist that has a lot of King Krule, Elvis, Cat Power, and James Blake (and others!) on it.
I’m currently a full-time student, but I try to take on as many odd/ freelance jobs as possible to survive. In the summertime, I work as a dental assistant and play with teeth. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I’m actually working towards my BFA in photography, but I’m a transfer student and this is my first year taking any “real” art classes. Before that, I just experimented with art as a way to stay sane while studying Chinese intelligence. What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
Where do you like to work? Anywhere with some nice light and without distractions. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? I don’t know how old I was, but I remember I had this world mythology book with a ton of gorgeous illustrations. I used to park myself on our front porch for hours and try to draw its scenes over and over.
I know this sounds corny, but my biggest source of inspiration is my grandfather, who was an all-around artsy, open-minded, and incredibly compassionate person. I’m also a sucker for all things Stephen King, Led Zeppelin, and basically anything that can make me cry.
Where To Find Them Websites: suzannebrownphotography.com Contact: email@example.com
Colleen Tighe “Sincerity, to me, reminds me of so many emotions I had as a teenager, especially love. I think when you’re a teenager and you’re just head over heels with someone, and how you believe they will be yours forever and ever even though everyone around you knows that’s not true, that’s one of the most sincere emotions you’ll have. It’s complete sincerity born out of ignorance. I wanted to capture that first rapturous experience of being in loooove with no past bad experiences and being touched by another human who also likes you, which in five million years you never thought would happen, and it’s the best thing that’s happened in your whole life.” -Colleen Tighe
are also making things all the time. The people I met in school inspire me constantly. It’s super exciting to see what your friends are working on and to be like, I gotta keep up with them. Books probably make up the largest chunk of my inspiration though. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid and while visual mediums definitely inspire me and I’ll take certain things from them, tonally and subject-wise I take most things from literature. Probably the most formative people to me, for art reasons, were authors like Raymond Carver, Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath, Shirley Jackson, and Virginia Woolf. I just finished Melissa Broder’s “Scarecrone” and that has been endlessly inspiring.
Where are you from?
What materials do you like to work with?
One of the many sprawling suburbs of New Jersey.
I basically do digital collage at this point, where I make a bunch of textures out of watercolor or pencil or whatever in the real world, and then assemble it in Photoshop. I really like working digitally because it’s super hard for me to get everything right the first time. The freedom to make one part of the drawing really huge halfway through making it, or move it to the other side of the canvas, etc, fits with my workflow much better than meticulously planning out where everything will go. All my work looks dead when I do that, I’m very type A so I will plan things to death. Having the freedom of Photoshop makes it much easier for me to be spontaneous.
Name Colleen Tighe Age 22 What is your current location?
What is your current occupation? Professional Negative Nancy and part time something that involves a lot of smiling and pretending to like people. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I do! I went to college for illustration at the School of Visual Arts, and took a bunch of art classes in and out of school in high school. What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? One of the best parts of art school is all the people you meet who
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? Right now I’m working on two zines, one that’s like a wordless comic, and one that’s sort of gonna be sort of half image and
half prose and dealing with weird body stuff. I haven’t worked on an actual zine since school, so it’s exciting to try to be putting together a project rather than a single image, although we will see what sort of mess I have after I’m done. What music do you listen to while working? It depends on the week, or the day. I listen to a ton of music. When I’m trying to come up with ideas I get distracted easily, so that’s when I’ll listen to more orchestral or ambient music. Once I’m working on stuff I like anything, according to my last.fm this week I’ve been listening to a lot of Jawbreaker, Girlpool, Mannequin Pussy, Charli XCX, Eskimeaux, White Lung and Drake, so ??? If I get bored of music I switch to podcasts, usually history ones.
Where To Find Them Websites: colleentigheart.com Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you like to work? I like working in my apartment. I have a little office area and a dog and a cat I hang out with. I hate having people see me work. Drawing in public is an absolute nightmare for me. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? I’m not sure if this is a real memory or one of those ones I made up because I saw a picture of me doing it, but we had this blue plastic fisher price easel when I was young and you could pull down big sheets of paper and then tear it off when you were done. It came with red, yellow and blue finger paint, and I remember just smearing paint all over the paper and my plastic crinkly apron and my face.
Brie Moreno “The piece I submitted entitled “Happy Album” and is about expressing genuine emotions in the comfort of ones own bedroom or personal space. Whenever I’m feeling upset or anxious I always look through a folder on my iPhone’s camera roll that if filled with a bunch of pictures that instantly bring my happiness. The physical album that the character in the piece is holding up is representative of the process I go through to make myself feel restored in periods of desolation. ” -Brie Moreno
from Florida, satin bikinis, and visors. I’m a big fan of really cheesy horror movies with lots of blood and guts and bad dialogue as well as anything by Todd Solondz and John Waters.
What materials do you like to work with?
I’m the most comfortable with ink and nibs or brushes, as well as gouache and watercolours. Lately I’ve been working with transfer images so I’ve been using a lot of blending markers and acetone.
What is your current location? Toronto, Ontario Where are you from? Ottawa, Ontario What is your current occupation? I design t-shirts for the HYV shop and create zines and comics that I sell in my online shop. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I attended the University of Ottawa’s visual arts program for a year then transferred to OCAD University’s illustration program. What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? Do mannequins count as people? Ebay is one of my favourite places to look for inspiration and photo references. My “go to” searches are wholey old t-shirts, airbrushed t-shirts, souvenirs
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? There are a lot of zine fairs going on this summer in Toronto so I’ve been working on more narrative comics and zines to sell. I’m currently working on a full colour zine since all of my previous zines have been in black and white. I also have been trying out screen printing and hope to produce more work that way. What music do you listen to while working? It’s constantly changing since I feel like I can listen to just about anything when I’m working. Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of compilation albums like Cambodian Rocks, Thai Beats A GoGo and Girls in the Garage. I also like listening to Death Grips, Santo & Johnny, Kendrick Lamar, Shonen Knife and Prince. Where do you like to work? I almost always work at my desk.
What is one of your earliest memories of making art? When I was really little my mom used to run a daycare and I
Where To Find Them Websites: Boogerbrie.tumblr.com Contact: email@example.com
remember this girl my mom was watching tried to come over and take some of my markers while I was colouring so I drew on her forehead- although Iâ€™m not sure what I drew.
Maria Torres “This image origins from a desire to be open and honest about the experience of abortion. The drawing represents the tensions that arise for a woman due to unplanned parenthood: the challenge of not wanting to be a parent, change, fear of pain, scrutinising your partnership, awareness on ageing, blood! Making this image was an exercise to step towards sincerity and openness on a subject that is too often perceived as a stigma. Also, Its a really intense experience and i kind of wanted to make a big joke about it too.” -Maria Torres Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
Anyone with the courage to be playful and honest with their work, regardless of it being music or drawing or film or food.
Age 29 years old
What materials do you like to work with?
Where are you from?
Still to this day the classic pencil is my choice of preference. I love how subtly it responds to pressure and angle towards the paper. I have used it a lot and have therefore tried to balance it by pushing myself to use other materials, last few years I have done more colour, ink and oil painting as a result..Truth is nothing makes me happier than an 8B pencil.
I was born in Almería, a small town on the south of Spain by the Mediterranean Sea.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
What is your current occupation?
Im preparing an exhibition in Berlin together with artist and filmmaker Ainize Sarasola.
What is your current location? Berlin.
I work as a freelance Illustrator. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I attended an art school in my tiny hometown for 2 years and then enrolled in a Fine Arts University in a bigger town for 4 years. The cultural scene in these cities was still not attractive to me and so I moved to Berlin, where I studied in the painting department at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee. It was great fun and also really stressful. I actually never enjoyed being an art student, I very rarely looked forward to going to class or sharing my work with teachers or students.
Also pushing a few collaborations with musicians, making artwork for records and videoclips where I can explore some animation techniques I want to try. There´s a really interesting project in early stages happening as well. I am a committed meditator and am very interested on the benefits of this practice for life and health, this project will specifically look at the relationship between meditation and creativity, both through theoretical exploration and workshops.
What music do you listen to while working?
What is one of your earliest memories of making art?
If I’m at a stage of non-conceptual thinking, finishing a piece or adding detail, I will be driven to light, energetic music. These days that will be Bruce Haack. But usually I need the logic mind active and focus to take decisions on composition etc... so I will play instrumental, such as classical music or Brian Eno, Xenakis.
Drawing naked girls a la carte for school mates. They would tell me hair type, face description etc and I would do my best to deliver to them their ideal type, usually naked.
Where do you like to work? Alone in a big bright room, not too clean not too chaotic. I don´t really like sharing studio.
Where To Find Them Website: www.mariatorres.net Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I think about it now I was basically creating porn for pre-teens. I was mostly unaware of this but 20% of my 12 year old brain knew they probably were using them to masturbate. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable and somehow lucky. I knew that I had a privilege position with the boys where they trusted me enough to share this. No girl ever asked for a naked drawing.
Kos Queer “This photo is untitled, I took it in April 2015. I went for a walk in an area my family and I used to stroll around when I was a child, when we were more like a conventional family, with a paternal figure and all that. It’s not far from my home but it seems like an entirely new different world, with a bluer sky and a lot of memories. I don’t know, walking through that area is like a reunion with my childhood.” -Kos Queer Name
What materials do you like to work with?
I almost always shoot film.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
23 What is your current location? Gijon, Asturias Where are you from? Spain What is your current occupation? I’m currently studying web design, although my thing is printable design.
I’m helping my girlfriend finishing his Crisalida project (you can check it in Shoulder Magazine), and finishing the second issue of fanzine Kos, my personal zine. Where do you like to work? Any foreign city. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? As a child, i loved to draw manga. Lol.
Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I did a small photolab assistant course, that’s where I learned to use the camera, to develop film... but i’m no expert What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most? I find teenager movies of all times very inspiring. I really like Pecker (John Waters) and Slums of Beverly Hills (Tamara Jenkins).
Where To Find Them Websites: kosqueer.tumblr.com Contact: email@example.com
Meghan Farbridge “I like to incorporate the definition of words into my illustrations, because when the literal meaning becomes my imagery it totally changes. Interpretation is a great power because it can make one object become a million. So I interpreted the literal definition of sincere to unravel it into abstract symbols for my drawing. The definition of sincere is: free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings. It’s wholehearted, that’s where I got the heart imagery. I also took the “sin” from sincere and decided the hearts can symbolize lust, and that she’d wear something (sort of) sexual to suggest sexual desire or promiscuity. “You’re really pretty you know?” Could be said earnestly or by a random asshole on the street so this is a compliment by the absence or presence of sincerity. The fact that it can be thrown around makes me wonder how genuine anything really is or if we have too much in excess; gluttony, greed, envy, pride. Green and pink is also a great colour combo, and I was watching the I Am Your Leader video by Nicki Minaj while I was drawing this.” -Meghan Farbridge Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
There’s a very cool young art community in Toronto who have great individual online presences, like Kendra Yee and Brie Moreno. I’m also a fan of Julia Pott’s illustrations and David Shrigley is hilarious; I’ve got pieces of his pinned up on my wall. Aidan Koch’s stuff is stunning too. I’m an illustrator but I wish I could be a photographer and I find a lot of my inspiration in fashion magazines, the good ones like I-D and Dazed and Lula. Their photographs have great compositions. Molly Matalon is a beautiful photographer too. I read a lot of DC comics for ideas of interesting panelling. Batman is my favourite; I love gore. I watch cartoons for the colour schemes, like Over the Garden Wall and Adventure Time. Plus those have the weirdest story lines and my favourite kind of art is the kind that seems like a non sequitur. I’ve never cried at art but I do love it when I’m like “what the hell just happened”
Age I’m 16 What is your current location? Toronto Where are you from? I’m a Torontonian by birth. What is your current occupation? I haven’t got a job but I’d like to work at an art supply shop for the discounts. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? I go to an arts high school, if that counts as formal training. I’ve been taking art classes and workshops around the city since I was 4.
What materials do you like to work with? I am basically alive only for Copic markers. They are so pigmented and easy to blend, but I also love ink and graphite. Watercolours are nice too. I can’t tell the difference between shitty and high quality brands, just colour variation. I love to draw an outline and fill it with smudges of colour and then go over it with details and clean lines.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on?
also really like sad music like Neutral Milk Hotel. My music taste range is super broad.
I draw every day and complete illustrations in about two or three days. I’ve been drawing on different surfaces and learning to sew and I’d like to make a piece that uses textiles.
Where do you like to work?
What music do you listen to while working? Music that’s easy to listen to (early 2000s and 2009 pop, Lana Del Rey, Nelly, the Pharcyde, radio indie music and that sort of stuff), or electronic stuff without really any lyrics (FKA Twigs, Ava Luna, Broken Social Scene, Bjork, Grimes, Purity Ring). I
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I’ll work anywhere but my room is best because it’s cosy and safe and no one ever bothers me. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? When I was about 2 I got ahold of a sharpie and drew moose all over my grandmother’s leather furniture. I’m sure they were great renditions, but she was furious.
John Erbach “In an increasingly documented and archived world the sincerity of a photos have been slipping through the cracks. Nowhere is this as evident then in the increase of documenting the every day on your phone, wether it is for your own reasons or more probably for Instagram and Facebook, people take an exorbitant amount of photos. This series deals with how to reclaim that sincerity using older technology mixed with iphonography. At the same time I also to try to discuss how the rampant use of this new technology affects nostalgia and memory by providing an instant documentation of that event or place giving little or no time for that person to experience it without documenting it.” -John Erbach Name
What people, books, films, (etc…) inspire you the most?
John Erbach Age
Films are super important and the list goes on but I would say that Hitchcock and Fellini films and for books Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series and Catch-22..
What materials do you like to work with?
What is your current location?
In my photography practice I use black and white fiber paper and if I’m using film I prefer.
San Francisco Where are you from? Jersey City What is your current occupation? Full time student and Art Director of Mulberry Sound Recordings. Do you have any training or formal education in the field of art you work in, or are you self taught? For the first few years I was exclusively self taught teaching myself the basics of how a camera functions. then took classes at F.I.T. to learn dark room techniques. I am now enrolled in San Francisco Art Institute going into my second year.
What pieces, projects, or collaborations are you currently working on? I am in a little bit of a lull because most of my time was being consumed with planning and running a music festival in New Brunswick, NJ called Sound Of Spring that was being run by the label I am part of called Mulberry Sound Recordings. In addition to that I have been working on album art for Perennial Reel’s sophomore album which will be coming out this summer. What music do you listen to while working? I’m all over the place sometimes with my music choices while making art but I would say that if I had to pick a few bands that I listen to it would be Animal Collective albums straight through, especially Sung Tongs and Feels, as well as Hissing Fauna by Of Montreal. I also enjoy some soul like Jackie Wilson and Otis Redding and when I’m alone in the darkroom, especially when I have some speakers, I really enjoy listening to symphonies.
There are many more bands I like to listen to but these are these ones that donâ€™t fail me. Where do you like to work? I really enjoy going on long walks (minimum three miles) with my camera and a note book or sometimes without either if I am having trouble with a project. It can help me clear my head or get me started on my next project as well as a good way to stay
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fit and healthy. But maybe equally as much as walking I enjoy the darkroom since I am primarily trained as a photographer, its nice and cool place to work and there is always such satisfaction to getting a good silver print. What is one of your earliest memories of making art? Making monster drawings and using them to fight in 1st grade.
FORGE. ISSUE 6: SERENDIPITY
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
There must have been about a hundred opportunities for me to meet Jonathan Marty before
I finally went up to him and said hello at a show back in March. I probably saw Jonathan in the crowed at more that half of the shows I’ve gone to since living in New York for the past year. After I first saw his band Glueboy open up for Crying at The Silent Barn, and then later found him running the door at one of my favorite venues David Blaine’s The Steakhouse, I began to realize he was much more than a fixture in the audience.
Once I got to know Jonathan more, it became entirely apparent that he is essentially what
every music community hopes to find in order to make everything possible. So I immediately jumped at the opportunity to include him in this section of the magazine. Beyond being an incredibly skillful musician and songwriter, Jonathan has made an enormous effort to help make DIY shows and music possible, whether it’s though booking shows at The Silent Barn, volunteering at the now extinct Emet and ShowPaper, or interning for Double Double Whammy. For the past two or so years Jonathan has made all of this possible, while remaining a high school student living in the Suburbs of New York. Since meeting Jonathan, he’s been a huge inspiration on me personally, and exemplifies what’s truly possible if you care about something enough. Now as he prepares for his freshman year at NYU he looks forward to what he is bound to accomplish once he’ll actually be residing within the city limits.
Where are you from and where do you live currently? I’m from, and currently live in Pelham, New York which is a small suburb that’s the first town north of the city. You can see the bronx from my roof. Are you currently in school? I just graduated high school, and I’m going to NYU this Fall. Do you have any training in music or are you primarily self taught? I’ve been taking guitar lessons for a really long time, probably since I was in third grade. My guitar teacher was very interesting. He never sat down and was like “You’re going to learn scales” or “You’re going to learn how to play this song.” It was more like “Oh you like this Ramones song? I’ll teach you how to play this Ramones song. Just practice it.” After a while my lessons with him just kind of became us bouncing ideas off of each other, which is kind of what helped me write music. I have a lot of friends who are much more technically talented musicians. They know a lot about music theory and they can read music. I don’t know anything about music theory, and I can’t read music. But I feel like sometimes with those people, they’ve mastered music to the point where it doesn’t really interest them, so they don’t write any songs. I have fun not really
knowing what I’m doing. Primal is the wrong word, but I feel like you can write songs more naturally as apposed to them being like a math equation. What was your first experience in the DIY music scene in New York and what kind of impression did it leave on you? What I actually wrote my college essay about was going to see the band Iceage at 285 Kent, and that was technically my first DIY experience and that night was insane. But kind of in retrospect, I feel like that wasn’t really my first DIY experience. I feel like my first true DIY experience was when I went to go see Grand Rapids, LVL UP, Diarrhea Planet, and The So So Glos at Shea Stadium. I just remember that night being the craziest night I’d ever had. That night truly changed my life. Shea Stadium, for those who haven’t been there, feels like it’s on the edge of the earth if you don’t really know where you are. It’s like “Oh, I just took the L train out to this weird transitional neighborhood and I’m just in the middle of this odd industrial wasteland.” I guess it’s not really a wasteland, but you’re just way out there. Then you walk into this weird building with no sign and you go up (the stairs) and there’s just all of this amazing music.
What misconceptions did you have when you first started going to shows and how do you feel about going to shows now? Well it was different then becasue I remember I would just go off to shows at Shea alone. I would take the train in from Westchester and just go out there. It was always kind of fun cause I would feel like “Oh I have this secret little life off in the city, and I’m going off to this weird place.” But that’s the thing, I went to Shea Stadium alone for so long. It was this place that only I went to — other people went to it but I didn’t go with my friends — and eventually I started bringing my friends, and eventually I started getting to know the people who worked there. So now it’s just funny to my that I could have just walk into Shea Stadium and just kind of not know anyone, but now with in five seconds of entering I could say “Hey” “Hey” “What’s up?” Do you think that that’s more a testament to your ability to go up and talk to people, or the wider sense of community with in the music scene? Probably both. I think, like everyone who’s new to the DIY scene especially in Brooklyn, I though that DIY venues were very much cool kids clubs. Like “THEY WILL KICK YOU OUT IF YOU ARE NOT COOL ENOUGH!” And that’s so not true. I feel like everyone who works at DIY venues is super awkward and humble and down-to-earth. If you go to anyplace long enough some one will probably recognize you and be like “ Hey, I’ve seen you here before!” It’s very easy to make friends and talk to people. I think R.J. (Gordon) was the first guy at Shea Stadium who was like “Hey man, how are you doing? I haven’t seen you in a while.” I think those figures are very important in making people comfortable. How long was it before you made an effort to be active in the community and try to take in as much or contribute as much as you could? Probably about four months of going to shows I’d say. I remember in early 2014 was the first time I ever “got involved” with the scene. I probably sent an email to every venue at a certain point just being like “Hey, can I help out?” I emailed 285 Kent (when it was still open), The Silent Barn, Death By Audio, etc… There were some complications there but the first time I succeeded in taking part of the DIY scene was I went to a show at Emet, which does not exist anymore. It was run by the people who currently run Aviv, and they had a little loft in the 538 Johnson building. I just remember going there and thinking “This is awesome. This is a really cool place.” In retrospect this was very bold and naive of me, but I just sent them this message on Facebook that said “Hey do you guys need any help?” But Stuart (Solomon), who ran that place and currently runs Aviv, was like “Yeah! We do need help!” So I went and did door for a show, which was there last show, becasue it got shut down that night. What turned you from a kid who was going to a few shows at Shea into someone who knew about all of the venues in the DIY scene and contacted all of the people who ran them? Was there something about you that made you want to learn as much about them as possible? I think at the time I didn’t understand the scene as much, or the fact that it was a scene or this interconnected universe of people throwing these shows. I guess I was more interested in these individual music venues. In retrospect it is kind of odd, and really not the direction my life seemed to be heading in at the time, but I don’t know. I feel like at DIY venues you can attain this sort of freedom, or simulation of freedom, that you can’t get anywhere else. Not in the sense that it’s true freedom, but you just feel like “We’re breaking the rules to a certain extent, and most of the world isn’t actually this awesome.” As anyone who’s ever been to a show can attest, there’s great vibes at these places, you meet nice people, and you see really
FORGE. ISSUE 6: SERENDIPITY
amazing music by people who are not unapproachable at all. You see music by people that look like they could be in high school, or in college, or just out of college. If you go to Terminal 5 or something they’re “on a stage” and there’s a security guard in between you two. At a DIY show it’s like “Oh, I could probably be on that stage too!” Was there a specific point when you realized it was possible for you to play at these types of shows? I don’t know if there’s a single moment when that happened. There was a moment when I was like “I want to do this.” And then me and my fiend Coby (Chafets) were like “We’re going to actively seek out a way to do this.” We met this kid named Anders (Edwards) who was a drummer which was really exciting for us becasue through out our whole lives we’ve been trying to be in a band. Glueboy, our band, actually formed at the Silent Barn in the little treehouse outside. We thought “What if we did this, what if we started a band.” and that’s kind of how it all started. How long had you been making music before starting the band Glueboy with Coby Chafets? I’ve been playing music for a long time, and there’s a big difference between playing and writing music. I probably started writing songs once I started going to DIY shows. Especially at The Silent Barn. Whenever I go to The Silent Barn I leave just wanting to go make something. You’re just around so many creations, and everything there is the work of some creative mind which is very inspiring to me. But yeah, I didn’t have very much material prior to Glueboy. Had you and Coby made music together in the past? We would always jam, when he lived in Pelham. We would always play music at his house together. That was kind of what our whole friendship was based around. In third grade I think, I had this weird idea right after Hurricane Katrina which was “What if we threw a benefit concert at the school.” And we did. It was just Coby and I playing guitar. We raised a bunch of money. That was the first ever show we played, but it was all just covers of Green Day songs and stuff. How hard was it beginning to play shows in a scene that meant so much to you? Was it ever intimidating? I’ve never found it hard to play shows. I don’t know… New York City is amazing cause there’s so many stages and there are so many places where people will not only let you, but want you to play music at there place. Some times becasue they really like music or because they need to sell drinks or whatever, but either way, there are infinite options. With the specific scene I’ve never found it too hard to play. At the beginning we would just email people. We emailed The Silent Barn and our first show was there. Now we’re mostly asked to play at places. But to anyone who asks about playing at places I say “You totally can! Email people and ask. If they don’t respond the first time, ask again. That’s literally the only option when you’re starting out. Do you ever get nervous playing shows with bands you’ve been really into or who you’ve looked up to for a while? That is difficult to get use to. I think I’ve never really been that confident in that regard. We played with Krill, and Krill was and is one of my favorite bands if not my favorite band. I just remember being like “Uuuhhhh, hey” and just feeling extremely nervous. It’s so humanizing, the whole thing, cause if you spend any time with anyone you’ll realize that they’re just people in a
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mildly successful band that I and a lot of other people happen to really like. I mean there aren’t really any prima donnas in this scene. I’m sure there are but I haven’t met any of them. It’s odd. We’re friends with certain bands that I’m like “Aww, it’s so cool that they like us! That’s insane!” When did you start working at ShowPaper? I started working at ShowPaper right after Emet was shut down. That was a crazy story. It was in a loft building, and this dude came in and flipped over my table (at the door) and went in and said “Everyone turn this music off!” Emet at the time was kind of like the official ShowPaper headquarters. That’s where they started with all of the distribution. So the guys who ran Emet did this thing called Emet in Exile where they threw shows at Trans Pecos, I guess in the hopes that they would raise enough money to find a new space which would eventually be Aviv. So I was working one of those shows at Trans Pecos and Zack Wheeler who was always around helping out with the shows and who ran ShowPaper at the time said “Hey man, do you want to get involved with ShowPaper?” cause he had seen me at enough shows. I was like “Yeah, Absolutely!” cause I though show paper was the coolest thing in the world. So I hopped right into that, and it was fun. It entailed a lot of the same things; working door at Trans Pecos, doing all of the social media stuff. Yeah, it was a great experience. What did learn about how DIY groups function after ShowPaper eventually had to shut down? Well I think from ShowPaper itself I just learned how there is literally no money involved in the scene. ShowPaper was kind of a money-pit, people use to call it that. All of the money we ever made at benefits didn’t go to bands, it didn’t go to the venue, it went to printing the paper cause it was very expensive. You’d have to print thousands in full color. I realized that none of this stuff runs on money, or any otherworldly forces, it relies on people who care. None of this stuff would exist if people didn’t truly care about it. I remember seeing an interview with Todd P, who arguably created the Brooklyn music scene and created ShowPaper too, at The New School where he was talking about all ages and why that’s important. While hearing him talk I just thought “This person is very intelligent and could probably make a ton of money as a business person in a lucrative business, but instead he’s decided, because it’s his passion, to throw concerts that kids can go to inexpensively.” He wouldn’t do that if he truly didn’t care about it. And with show paper I leaned that that’s what these things run on. It’s people working really really hard, devoting a lot of their time, and not getting paid for it, but that being okay becasue it’s what they want to do. Also becasue of the demise of ShowPaper I realized how transient the culture of DIY is. With Emet and that, all of the stuff is kind of born to die eventually. But that’s fine. Whatever. Find the next thing. How did realizing that things were very transient effect how you felt about the scene? Did it make things feel more special, or did it make things feel more disposable? Well I feel like, not doing something becasue it’s not going to last is kind of like not doing things becasue they’re not going to make money. And not to say that fighting for sustainability is wrong — becasue it’s not, it’s awesome, it’s a great thing! — but becasue of the nature of these things most of this stuff isn’t sustainable. That’s just how this stuff works. You have to have a lot of people who are like “Yeah I’ll come and bartend at this music venue ever single night and mop up and leave at one in the morning and not get paid for it. That’s fine cause I really believe in this thing we’re doing and I want it to continue and I want other people to have the opportunity to come here.” How have you been able to manage your time enough to do all of this, while also being
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a teenager who doesn’t even live in New York? I just kind of developed practices that worked for me. I realize after trying to do my homework before a show at Palisades or bringing a textbook to Trans Pecos when I’m doing door, that that doesn’t really work. You’re not going to devote your full attention to work. My thing was always: get home and spend two to two and a half hours just working working working working working, and then you can go off to the city guilt free. But in terms of difficulty, yeah it was annoying to not be able to partake in things as much as I would like to be and coming into the city meant I had to spend a bunch of money and a bunch of time. But it’s fine. I’m in a very fortunate place where my parents really support me and they’ve been like “Yeah if you want to do this, you can do it.” I don’t think a lot of people are that fortunate. Living in the city next year is very exciting to me, cause it’s just going to be $2.75 to get to where ever I want and not sitting in stand still traffic on the B.Q.E. anymore. When did you start working as the intern for Double Double Whammy? I started working at Double Double Whammy pretty recently. I remember at one of the ShowPaper benefits at Trans Pecos, I met Greg Rutkin, who plays drums in the band LVL UP and like every other band; he’s on tour with Elvis Depressedly this summer and he also plays in Downies and Normal Person. I met him and we sort of bonded because he’s from one town over from Pelham, New Rochelle. At the time LVL UP were my favorite band — still maybe are my favorite band, but it’s a little different now — so I was like “Oh my god, you’re from Westchester? That’s insane!” That happened, and I think two days before that or after that I randomly messaged David Blaine’s The Steakhouse doing a similar thing I had done to all of the other venues. They didn’t respond for a while, but after I talked to Greg and a few months past, Greg and Nick Corbo came up to me at Shea and were like “Hey we’re going to have this show for a new artist called Ronnie Stone and The Lonely Riders. Do you want to come do door for it at The Steakhouse?” And I was like “Yeah!” That was amazing. Ronnie Stone and The Lonely Riders is amazing. I was dressed in leather. It was just this great experience at this crazy, weird, insane, brilliant art school kid sort of experience. I just loved watching this really really intensely creative group of people working on something, once again, becasue they wanted to not becasue they would make a lot of money from it. So eventually I became “The Steakhouse Intern” and I guess I still am that. Although they said they’ve promoted me to “friend” which is great. Love it. So I kind of just started working door at David Blaine’s The Steakhouse a lot. The people who live at The Steakhouse are all people who live in prominent bands in the scene. Greg and Nick who I already mentioned play in LVL UP, Cameron Wisch who plays in the bands Porches and Downies, Jim Hill from the bands Trace Mountains and Painted Zeros, Dave Medina who plays in Downies and Normal Person and Adam from House Of Nod all live there and were really nice to me. Just thinking about that bunch of people makes me smile. They’ve been extremely nice to me and one of the things that I’m eternally grateful of David Blaine’s is that by being their intern I’ve met Pile, I’ve met Ovlov, I’ve met Krill, I’ve met LVL UP, Crying, Girlpool, Bethlehem Steel, Painted Zeros and Mitski and all those people, which was and is my favorite music. Through that I met Dave Benton and Michael Caridi who are in LVL UP and run Double Double Whammy. I guess they were looking for an intern, and one day I woke up really late on a Saturday morning. Just a very normal day. I checked my phone, and Dave Benton who’s one of my musical heroes — Dave and Mike and Nick are some of my favorite song writers and I’m still very like “Uuuhhhh” around them — I look at my phone and it just says “Hey Jonathan, this is Dave Benton. Do you want to come and intern for your favorite record label?” He didn’t say that but it is my favorite record label, so I was like “Yes… I will do… Yes…” That was really
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awesome. At what point did you take what you were doing really seriously? A lot of people are like “How did you do that?” and seem to think that I have some master plan, as though I’m just sitting there think “Okay I’m going to do this, and then I’m going to meet this person, and then they’re going to show me this.” The truth is that I was just a big fan of all this stuff and people reached out to me and offered me opportunities to help out and I immediately sprung to them becasue that’s what I wanted to do. In terms of taking things seriously, I just realized you don’t get good at stuff unless you do it a million times and it doesn’t really feel like you’re doing it until you’re always doing it. I still keep asking the people at Aviv — shout outs to Olivia and Stuart and Zack — I’ll ask them pretty regularly if I can work the door at shows. With the band, I know we have to practice this amount of times and I’m going to try to get us as many shows as humanly possible and just constantly emailing people. But I don’t know if there was a moment when I decided to take this seriously. There was a moment though, where I kind of realized this was my life now. I’ve found that people have adapted to that pretty well, and I think a lot of my friends are now interested in the DIY scene and they’ll come see shows. It’s great, I love it! What do you think keeps people from putting out their own work? I think musically the one thing that obviously holds everyone back is fear of looking stupid. And yeah that’s valid some times. But most people don’t really care… Like when was the last
time you went on Bandcamp and you picked through someones lyrics and you thought “That’s so stupid!” or you analyzed them? No one is as critical as people think they are. So I think that holds people back from being creative. Also it’s hard to be creative! It’s a lot of work, and it’s strenuous. I just find it really grating, the creative process. From putting out their own stuff, I think it’s a lot of what I said before. People think that the scene is a bunch of cool kids who are way too cool for everyone else. That’s really not the case, and I really can’t stress that enough. Don’t avoid do things because you don’t think you’re cool enough. Just the fact that you want to do those things means you’re cool enough. It’s a meritocracy in that sense. I guess you meet a lot of people who are “cool” who, you know, wear cool clothing and live in Bushwhick and their whole aesthetic is “I like punk shows and I like indie rock.” But eventually with those people you realize “Oh, you don’t actually care about this. I mean you probably care about it a little bit. But I feel like a lot of this is fabricated and you’re just incorporating this culture into your aesthetic.” But if you actually care about stuff and you know what you’re talking about, there’s part of you that’s like “I don’t care that I’m not going to make money off this, and I don’t care that I’m not going to get college credit. I care about this and I will devote myself to this whole heartedly.” then people will except you. And if you’re looking for something, just ask! If you’re at a place and you’d like to help out there, you probably can. You can volunteer at The Silent Barn, you can intern at Shea Stadium, you can help out at house shows. If you care about it, and you know what you’re talking about, and you’re genuinely into these things, then people will except you. I promise. What projects are you currently working on? We’re writing a new Glueboy album. I’m working on some new solo songs. I’m booking a few shows over the summer — we’re playing with Romp who’s this awesome new band from New Jersey and Bruise, who’s this awesome new band from Purchase, at 603^ August 14th. I just released a little zine. It’s a book of micro-fiction which is a funny concept, but yeah I put that out. I’d like to write more stuff. I wrote this big long short story that I’ll probably publish sometime soon. I’m always looking for new projects, but right now I’m mostly just trying to write some more music. Are there projects you want to start or work on, but that you don’t have the time or money for right now? I’d like to play guitar on a Prince album. I’m just joking… I mean I would like to do that — Prince if you’re reading this. I don’t know, that’s a really good questions. I’d like to become really good at sound. I’d like to learn how to use a P.A. I also want to learn how to make coffee really well. I want to learn how to make little cafe leafs and stuff. That’s not really a project… You know, in my life, I would like to write and direct a movie. I’m less into movies than I use to be as a kid but that is a thing I’d like to do in my life. I’m not very good at managing people, but you know what, who cares. I would like to direct a movie one day… I’d like to write a whole album. I’d like to try to do some more sort of experimental music. At NYU next year, I have this idea of doing this radio show where I’ll play local or DIY bands from New York and outside of the city. I think I’m going to call it All Ages, No Jerks. So that’ll be cool. Also with going to NYU, I’d like to throw DIY shows in Manhattan. I want to find weird little spaces where you can get away with doing that, like it’s the seventies again. But I’d also like to operate my own DIY venue at some point. I’d like to live at a place and run it Steakhousestyle or similar to Big Snow.
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by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Nick Corbo’s wisdom far exceeds the years he’s been active as a drummer, bassist, and song writer in an array of bands
over the past few years. Nick Corbo is among the many individuals who’ve come out of the tight knit music community at SUNY Purchase that went on to create some of the best music released on influential indie labels like Father Daughter Records, Miscreant Records and of course Double Double Whammy. From his early days at college making solo records, to meeting Dave Benton and totally changing his mind about the music he wanted to play and hear, to now living in New York and simultaneously playing in the bands LVL UP, Crying, and Normal Person, Nick has amassed a kinship and mutual appreciation for those making music around him. In addition to the many pies Nick has had his fingers in, he also does beautifully intricate illustrations for the custom pedal company he himself started, Totally Ruined, as well for album covers and t-shits for several different bands.
The first time I met Nick Corbo was on the roof of the apartment where he and his several roommates throw elaborate
house shows, known as David Blaine’s The Steakhouse. He greeted me with the same warmth that everyone at DBTS expresses to those that come to their shows. Through regularly going to shows at David Blaine’s, conducting this interview, and seeing how Nick lives and operates with his friends, I was exposed to the strongest and most endearing sense of community I’ve ever seen amongst a group of artists or friends. It’s incredibly easy to enjoy and care heavily about the music Nick has been involved with creating, becasue it’s very clear that he and everyone else making music around him care so much about what they’re making themselves.
Where are you from and where do you live currently? I’m from Torrington Connecticut, which is like two and a half hours north of here (New York). So I don’t go there very often. But right now I live in Brooklyn, New York. Are you formally trained in music or art, or are you primarily self taught? I am formally trained actually. Which is kind of crazy. I just remember every now and then that it happened. I took every possible music class that I could take in high school, which was cool to a certain extent, but not necessarily what I was super interested in. I took lessons on the side, and then I went to music college for song writing. So yeah, I’ve had some formal training. What first lead to your interest in music? On an infant level, I don’t know. There were musicians in the house. My dad was a musician, my uncle was a musician, and there was music lovers in the family. Actually my uncle was like, “You should learn the piano.” I remember being very small and sitting on his lap and playing the piano as a baby. I don’t play the piano, so that didn’t stick. But I guess there was music stuff going on when I was a kid. Then in high school, when kids were playing music, and it was actually fun and interesting, that’s when I was like
“Yeah… I would like to do that.” and I wanted to go to shows. At that point it was just shitty punk shows though. What kind of music were you into when you first started going to shows in high school? Uh, this is getting dark. I was like 14 so it was like the worst time of all time, and I was coming out of my nu metal interests, entering into my mall punk interests. But I mean, everyone listens to weird freaky shit when they’re 14. I just started listening to Nirvana I guess, which was maybe one of the first cool things I was listening to. But mostly like mall shit and Hot Topic bands, just because there wasn’t cool things going on. What was going on in the community was all pretty bro-y punk and hardcore bands. I was in a punk band that was on the sillier side, similar to Dead Kennedys type of goofing around. I wasn’t like a tough kid in high school by any means, becasue I’m a baby, but the other guys in the band were. I was just talking to Adam (Kolodny) about this actually. The band I was in was called Bomb Death, and it was like breakdown music. So those were the shows that I went to, becasue they were loud and crazy and weird and I liked the music to a certain extent. And then those shows got really screwed up becasue a lot of the people in my town and in my community and in the neighboring towns were hyper violent. They got really pumped up when they were hearing the shit go down, cause it was metal, and they were like “I’m going to kill everyone!” It was crazy and a lot of people got seriously seriously hurt
at punk and hardcore shows in my town. The shows were at VFW’s and Knights of Columbus’ and the cops would have to come becasue someone was having to get hospitalized for getting the crap kicked out of them. The old Italian dudes in our neighborhood were like “You’re never ever coming back here ever again.” Could you imagine letting a shitty 16 year old kid book a punk or hardcore show in your VFW where these Italian dudes are hanging out and smoking cigars and shit, and then somebodies head gets busted open? So there were no shows after that… Ever. What was the experience of going to college at SUNY Purchase like? What kind of impact did it have on you? A very breathtaking and eyeopening experience. Everything got really heavy and sort of went down with the shows in high school when I was a junior or a sophomore. So I had about two years of wanting to play shows, and nothing happening. I started playing acoustic guitar and cutesy stuff at coffee shops in my town, where like two of my friends would show up. So that was going on for about two years. Then I went to SUNY Purchase and it was like “This week there’s a show every single day!” and I was like “I’m obviously going to all of them.” Having The STOOD (SUNY Purchase’s student center) and having a place where your band could practice was crazy. Having a place where I could go and play piano and sing to myself and be totally alone was really cool. Plus having multiple places to play shows as a band that has been together for two weeks. It was like, you’re hanging out with your friends and doing this thing, and next week you’re like “Oh, can I play at the student center?” and they’re like “Yes, totally. Go for it.” Was that something that seemed particularly unique about the environment at Purchase? Obviously, a lot of the Brooklyn music scene is directly tied to that school, so was there anything about Purchase that seemed to encourage students to do what they were doing? I think a lot of other schools have the same interests and the same drive. Like when I go to Bard or New Paltz for example, there’s definitely kids there who want to do music stuff. But I think that we were really lucky at Purchase becasue we had facilities to enhance that, like the student center. We didn’t have to go off campus and play at a bar and get screwed to have a show. There was nothing to lose. The worst possible thing that could possible happen was if nobody came, and you lugged all of your shit over there form across the parking lot. I’ve never worked with pay to play shit, becasue I didn’t have to, because I was at Purchase. There were facilities for us, so I think that was the big difference.
What was your relationship to Shack Attack Records? What was that motherfuckers name… Sam Schachter was a kid at school who was interested in starting a record label, and talked to me about it. So that was a crazy thing for me becasue I was like “There’s no way anyone I know could do it.” and this kid was just doing it. He was like Dave-and-Mike-ing-it (Dave Benton and Mike Caridi of Double Double Whammy) but way worse. But anyone expressing interest in something I was doing and recording was so sick. It was my first time experiencing a “connections” thing, where he hooked me up with a guy that he knew who could record me really well, so I wouldn’t have to do it in my house. That was really nice. But mostly he just sort of facilitated this thing, and he got the ball rolling on me recording an album. He was like “I’ll make CD’s.” and I was like “Wow! That’s crazy! No way!” They were just blank CD’s… That we made on the computer… But Purchase has a print shop which was cool, becasue we made it look way better than if I had just ordered some of the cheapest possible CD’s you could possibly order online. So everything was hand screen printed which I really liked. I didn’t realize it at the time but, buying CD’s online costs like 60 bucks. I totally could have done it (myself). But it ended up not working out, and he didn’t give me any money back from it, cause he sold them all and split… What was the process like making your first couple solo records? The first one, which was the one I did with Sam, was really cool. He hooked me up with this guy named Josh (Kirby) who recorded it really nicely. I had been recording everything in my room by myself up until then, and he had really nice digital equipment and recorded it really well. My friend Melissa played piano and sang on it, and she has a really beautiful voice. It was fun. But I don’t like those songs. I can’t relate to them at all. They’re all like cringeing-ly cute, and I can’t get into them right now for some reason. The second one I recorded was all done by myself, with a full band, and it took me two years. There’s like upright bass and shit on it, and every song is like a million tracks. It was very very over the top, and still very cute. But it was something I wanted to make, and I did it, and as soon as I was done with it, I didn’t give a shit about it at all. It was weird. What did you take away from that experience, despite your distaste for the album? Did you try to take the next thing you did more seriously? Yeah I learned a lot from it. It’s not that I didn’t take it seriously. I took it hyper seriously. But it was nice to have something in front of me where I was like “This thing is cool, it’s cool that it exists. But these are the parts that I
“Dave (Benton) was just making the kind of music I wanted to make and hear and listen to. He’s a huge influence on me.”
don’t like about it so I’m going to cut those out, and not do that again… I don’t think I want group chanting and these cute ass ‘I love you’ vocals. That’s not something that I want.” So I didn’t do it again. It’s like hearing a recording of yourself talking. You can say this thing over and over again so many times, but hearing it makes you think “Whoa, I’m never saying that again.” How did you start playing in the band Spook Houses? I went through my whole freshman year and was just super wide eyed thinking “Oh my god, this is awesome!” and played a bunch of shows and stuff with this band
Weird Korea that I was in. But then the next year a whole group of kids came in and they were equally as wide eyed and mesmerized by the whole thing. That group included Kyle Seely and Alkis (Meimaris) and Dave (Benton) and eventually Mike (Caridi) and Greg (Rutkin) — so all of my friends. And they were really really good! At first I was like “Oh my god this is so funny. This is just like the next shipment of kids that came in, and they’re all awesome.” They were in a really funny band called Sports with our friend Jake, and it was like the first math band I had ever heard, which is such a college thing. Sports was Alkis, Kyle, Dave, and our friend Jake, and they were such a math-y band. I wasn’t in that band, but that was
how I met Dave for the first time. Spook Houses started in New Jersey. It was Dave’s band from high school. At first it was Dave and Colin (Alexander), this guy Andrew (Wade), and this guy Dan (Sohval). Dan played bass and Andrew played drums. But then when Dave and Colin went to college in different places they started multiple Spook Houseses. So there was a Purchase Spook Houses and there was a New Jersey Spook Houses, but there wasn’t a Baltimore Spook Houses becasue Colin didn’t start anything up there. The Purchase version was Dave singing, me sining a little bit and playing drums, our friend Bob (Raymonda) played bass, and Alkis played guitar. Then eventually when shows were getting good enough, and we could get everyone together, and Bob stopped playing with us, Alkis switched to bass and Colin came in. That became Spook Houses for a while, and that’s how we recorded the full length, Trying. So yeah, it was just from meeting Dave and being like “I need you to work with me please.” What was it like meeting all of these kids who were making music you were excited about all at once? Everyone was figuring out the kind of music they wanted to make and the kind of music that they wanted to hear and listen to. Dave was just making the kind of music I wanted to make and hear and listen to. He’s a huge influence on me. So yeah, LVL UP was still a distant thing,
but I thought “Man these Spook Houses songs are fucking awesome… I’m going to go home and listen to this.” It wasn’t my band so I was still fanning out really hard. I loved it, so I loved being in the band and I thought it was really cool. We went on a big tour which was fun, and then we made that record, and that was really fun. Eventually I couldn’t play as much for some reason — I can’t remember — but if I couldn’t come Jake, who I mentioned before, would play drums. Then with the 7” everyone was just making recordings with out drums. We played a couple shows where I played the drums, but then we kind of just stopped. Colin was in Baltimore, and started doing Flashlight O stuff, LVL UP had started, so it was time to fade it out. How did the transition to starting LVL UP happen? I love the switch. Dave was my roommate in college for two years. The first of those two years, I was a junior and we were in freshman housing in a suite. It was just me and Justin Jurgens of Sirs living in this apartment with all of these sophomores. It was really funny being older, and being juniors living in this freshman space. Mike (Caridi) would come over a lot. He started recording with Dave, and hanging out and going to the STOOD together. I had been working on stuff the summer before that at my parents house. I was really grossed out by the record that I did, and I stopped and didn’t want to write songs anymore. But I had a couple that were okay. Then I made one that was good that I liked. Then I made two that were really good, so I thought “ Okay maybe I could put out
“The songs were not that similar, but they were not that far off from each other. So we just combined them, and that is Space Brothers. ”
like a Nick Corbo tape again.” But I didn’t want it to be Nick Corbo. I wanted to have a band. I had all of these ideas of who to ask, but I didn’t know who to ask. I had also did it one time, where I started a band for my music, called Animal Names, and I hated being the person that was in charge. It was just like “Hey, we’re all here to play your songs, so what should we do?” and I just couldn’t deal with it. I was just bad at it I think, and was like “Never mind! I don’t want to do this.” So I made these few songs for myself. And Dave and Mike made a couple songs for themselves. Originally LVL UP was just going to be them. I asked them “Would you guys want to do a split thing where your songs are on this side, and my songs are on that side? I don’t know what the hell else to do with them, so maybe we could put them on a tape or something. If I split it with you guys, it’ll cost me $20!” And then we were like “We should just combine all of the shit! Just make it one weirdo band.” The songs were not that similar, but they were not that far off from each other. So we just combined them, and that is Space Brothers. How did you guys release the first album, Space Brothers? We had all of the demos, and we made that decision, so we rerecorded a bunch of Mike and Dave’s songs. I had already had a bunch of recordings done, so we just tweaked a few of my songs. Then we mixed it a little bit, and worked it out with Mike Ditrio who mastered it and fixed it, and then it came out on a tape. DDW 001. Mike and Dave just bought a bunch of tape and wrote on them with a marker and printed the cover out. So then we had this tape. Was that essentially how Double Double Whammy started? That was it! Dave was an arts management major, so part of his senior project was a blog called Double Double Whammy. He had to make a twitter and stuff, and he was bummed out about it, so he tried to make it as cool as possible. Then he was like “We should make a tape.” So we made that tape (Space Brothers) and then he started making tapes for other people. And now it’s like a cool thing! When did Crying start? Crying started when I was, I think, a senior in college. My girlfriend at the time knew Ryan (Galloway) and knew that Ryan really wanted to make a band for a really really long time. So she was like “You gotta play with Ryan!” So I was like “Yeah I’ll play with Ryan! It’ll be really cool” He showed me the songs, and I thought “Oh… This is going to be really cool…” I was in Spook Houses and LVL UP at the time, so I thought I was going to be really really busy. So I was like “I’ll make recordings with you, but I can’t be in the band.” And then we hung out and played the
songs, and I was like “I really like this a lot…” Then Elaiza (Santos) started coming. At first, we didn’t have a singer — I mean like for the first week or two. So Ryan started messaging with Elaiza. I knew Elaiza a little bit then, just becasue I was really into Whatever, Dad a lot. She also sang on some LVL UP songs around the same time. We were friendly, but I didn’t know that much about her. I was really psyched to get a chance to hang out with her. When she came to play with us, it was awesome! When I heard her vocals on the demos I was like ”Oh man. This is actually going to be cool.” So I kind of abandoned the thought of not playing shows with them becasue as soon as we got a show offer, we played it, and it was really fun. Then Spook Houses ended up fading out anyways, so it was fine. Crying was sort of like an explosive start and then bit of a taper down. We put out Get Olde and everyone was super psyched about it. Then we got this crazy record deal with Run For Cover that we wanted to do. That was awesome, and they gave us money to record, so we recorded it at this nice spot. So we put out the double guy, Get Olde and Second Wind, on vinyl. We keep talking about why it’s just not the same response that Get Olde got. I don’t know why necessarily. I love the songs, so I don’t care. I think they’re awesome and I really like playing them live. I do think people like them. The people that like us like them. But it wasn’t the same sort of “buzz-y” thing going on. I don’t know why. But we’re working on this new LP, and I think it’s going to be good. The thing that I didn’t love about the double EP thing was that it was a double EP, instead of packaged as an LP. The new one is going to be like, an LP, with themes and motifs. So I think that’ll be cool. It’s going to sound a lot different. Music review people are super annoying when in comes to Crying for some reason. I really hate it. What was it like working with different labels simultaneously with each of the bands you were playing with? It’s really cool working with different labels. None of us are working with anybody who’s hyper exclusive. I know people who are, and it’s kind of scary sounding. It’s like “You can’t put out a song on something else. No way.” None of the labels we work with or are apart of do that, so it’s fine. Run For Cover told Crying that we’re going to make these records with them, but they were like “If you want to put out a 7” on Double Double Whammy or whatever, go for it! We’ll pay for it!” which was really cool. Dan (Goldin) from Exploding in Sound is the chillest guy who would never ever tell someone they couldn’t put stuff out. Cross contamination is encouraged. Double Double Whammy is just Mike and Dave so we do whatever we want. It’s weird that one of the labels is like the in house label, so theres no sweat there what so ever.
What changes occurred as you left Purchase and eventually moved to New York?
When did you start your pedal company Totally Ruined?
It’s very similar in certain ways. I’ve only been here for about a year, but I graduated like 3 years ago. I waited around Westchester, New York for everyone to graduate, becasue I sort of graduated by myself. I lived in Port Chester, New York with some homies, which was really cool. I lived with Mike Ditrio who mixes all of the LVL UP records. Living with him was insanely great. I had a very good time there. But the last year has been so weird… I moved to Hartsdale, New York, and then very abruptly stopped living in Hartsdale, and didn’t have a place to live. Then Greg had me here (David Blaine’s The Steakhouse). Then a room opened up here, and now I live here.
When I was a senior in college I took a class on doing that kind of stuff, and got really into it. I wanted to start making pedals, and the parts were really cheap to get. I was like “Oh I can buy all of this stuff. These things cost like ten cents.” So I’ve been doing it since then. I just started out screwing around, but then I found out people would buy them if I made them, so I started doing that.
They had been living in this house since August, and I was sleeping on the couch in February. They had already established the venue, and built two rooms. I was in Hartsdale, and I wasn’t really digging it. I wasn’t having a very good time, and I wasn’t in a space where I could make music. I was working shitty jobs and I was really broke and bummed out, while Greg was living in New York City where it was really cool. I really couldn’t get out of Hartsdale at all, and then this abrupt change happened that made me need to get out of there, which became the perfect opportunity to come and hang out with Greg.
It’s one at a time, it’s small, it’s slow, and I have no interest in expanding. I’ve been doing it for like two or three years, and it’s a lot of work, but with an emotional and financial pay off afterwords. I take the emotion pay off into account very much. Some times I just want to destroy everything cause it’s a big source of stress and I can’t deal with anything. I like making stuff and love the knowledge I get from making it. It makes me more knowledgeable about sound stuff and music gear and how to repair stuff. I’m definitely into learning how to do those things. But theres a difference between “Yeah I know how to fix this pedal. I’ll fix my friends pedal.” and “I have a store online where I fix your pedal.” I’s just something that I’m not interested in doing. You do all of the art on the pedals too, right? How long have you been illustrating? Yeah, that’s the part I really like actually. I’ve been drawing for a really long time, and I did it a lot as a kid. I went
“I’ve been doing it for like two or three years, and it’s a lot of work, but with an emotional and financial pay off afterwords. I take the emotion pay off into account very much.”
to an arts school, so I could take art classes there. I just really like doing it. A lot of it sucks and I cheat a lot. A lot goes into it. I trace everything that goes onto the pedals. It’s like a tattoo. I guess it’s not cheating, but it’s not like eyeballing the whole thing or painting the shit out of some guys face. Sometimes I trace lines on the computer. A lot of the times its like “Can I have a picture of my dog?” I can’t draw your dog looking exactly like your dog! But I can trace it. Plus it’s on this weird metal box with holes on it. It’s crazy. It smudges so easily. So I mean yeah, I’m going to trace the photo. You also did a recent Eskimeaux shirt design. What other designs have you done for bands? I’ve been doing t-shirt designs for a while. I don’t know how to use the computer — well I know how to use the computer — I just don’t know how to use photoshop. So I always draw something and then scan it. I did that crying t-shirt a long time ago. People have asked me to do album art stuff. I did the LVL UP stuff. The other day Joe (Galarraga) asked me to draw him and iguana wearing glasses. So I was like “Yeah totally. Can I borrow your car this weekend?” And he was like “Yes!” so I drew an iguana wearing glasses and I borrowed his car. I like trading. That’s so funny! It seems like theres a big spirit of “I want this and you want that. Let’s figure out how to help each other out.” with bands and venues here. Do you think that thats something that is specific to your friends, or is that unique to the music scene here as well? There is a lot of that! It’s a big part or my friends, I think. I mean if somebody asks me for help to do something skill based then I’ll be like “Absolutely, I’ll totally help you!” I mean, I want something back, but I don’t want it to be money. I want it to be like “Lets make dinner tonight.” I’m recording Mike’s record with him, and he’s going to help me make this table into a better table. I love that one! That’s a really good trade. I do want to get payed when I play music. By all means, pay me please. But with that kind of stuff I want to have this web of “I’m going to this thing for you. I’m going to do this thing for you. I’m going to do this thing for this guy.” How do you feel economics and having an outside job play into the DIY scene? More than I think people admit. There’s a weird stigma about money, that I try to loosen up on. There’s also a weird stigma about “being an artist” and being embarrassed by that. Mostly from older people. All of the older people in my life are very supportive and I love them. But some older people are like “When are you going to get a real job!?!” which I know is like a trope but it hurts your feeling a lot. I just got to the point now where I don’t have to work at a stupid bar. I had a good time working at a
stupid bar, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do and it took up a lot of time and it made me tired and sad. Now I just barely got to the point where I don’t have to do that, and it’s really nice. I feel really good and I have a lot of time to do absolutely nothing — which is really scary — but I have a lot of time to do the things I love to do. It’s affected my mind space, so it’s definitely affected what I make art about. It’s affected my mood and personality and the things that I think about. You have to make a complete lifestyle change though. You have to be really frugal. I don’t spend money on stuff, cause I can’t. Which is fine, I like it. It’s like a freelance-y thing and a lot of us do it here (David Blaine’s The Steakhouse). Adam (Kolodny) does it better than I do. Adam is a freelance filmmaker. Being surrounded by people who do it and make it work and are good at it is so inspiring. Even people who aren’t musicians, people who freelance in general. When I moved here I met people who were getting paid to do what they actually want. I was like “It’s possible! Go for it. You can do it!” But you’ve got to be ready to see $4 when you go on your chase app, you know. How did David Blaine’s The Steakhouse start? That is not a question for me. That is so not a question for me! I’m trying to think of how I want to approach this… I’m just a stray that they let in. (Nick invites Dave Medina and Adam Kolodny to come over and answer the question) DM: David Blaine’s The Steakhouse started when me, Greg Rutkin, Adam… Who else? AK: Cameron Wisch, Brian Bishop, Sergio Tchaikovsky, and Jake Benhabib. DM: Yeah. We were looking for an apartment, and Adam’s brother Rob lives next door, so he hooked us up with this place. Very affordable. We all like putting shows together, so we just sort of started doing that. The name David Blaine’s The Steakhouse… Should I say it? AK: Well it was thrust upon us. We had our first show here which was Frankie Cosmos and Porches and Krill. Somebody else? I don’t know if there were more. Anyways, Frankie has this song where she mentions David Blaine called On The Lips. DM: Greg was working at a steakhouse called Morton’s The Steakhouse. AK: It kind of all just got slammed together. There was some kind of joking conversation about it. DM: Then someone posted a video on vimeo and it was titled… AK: Frankie Cosmos Live At David Blaine’s The Steakhouse. DM: Yeah! Then after that it was too late and we had to keep it. We had no choice in the matter at all. NC: Wait, you guys are saying you didn’t even name it? AK: We didn’t name it, no. There was this brief period of
“Nothing is ever going to happen to this place and it’s going to live forever and nothing bad ever happens ever.”
time where we were like “Are we going to keep that?” DM: I didn’t like it at first. I though it was stupid! AK: Then Brooklyn Vegan posted this thing about this New Years Eve Massacre that was happening at this apartment with Liam Betson and Spook Houses and Crying and all of the best bands of all time. Then it was just all over the internet and it got posted everywhere, and we couldn’t take it back. DM: We didn’t ask for Blaine. He came to us. AK: The true answer is, Blaine is god.
of wood and stuff. I can’t do that. There’s no way. There’s a lot of that kind of stuff. I want to live in the woods. I want to build something that’s tiled. I want a compost pile. I can’t do it, but I’ll do it some time. All of the stuff I really really want to do, I can do. There’s stuff that I want to do that I don’t have time for but am doing anyways. Me and Dave (Medina) just started a new band together called Normal Person.
If circumstances change with the current location of the venue, do you guys plan to replicate it somewhere else?
We’re recording the LVL UP LP this fall and the Crying LP this fall. I’m looking forward to it very much. LVL UP has a 7” that’s coming out before we go on this big U.S. tour in July. Crying is probably going to be touring in the fall. The LVL UP record is probably coming out in the spring, and the Crying record is probably coming out in the spring. So next year is going to be cool. And then I guess if those records do well then “Goodbye everybody” I’m going to be on tour.
Ooo… Spooky Question… Nothing is ever going to happen to this place and it’s going to live forever and nothing bad ever happens ever. Bad things don’t happen to good people… I’m just going to skip this question… I don’t know. I think we’re probably going to keep living here. The answer if yes. Are there any projects that you’d like to do that you just don’t have the time or money for at the moment? Yeah, there are so many things. I want to build a house out
What releases do you have planned for the future?
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON, additional photos by ANGELA LEWIS
Talullah Fontaine is one of the many illustrators who’s work is not bound by her location. As Talullah has moved from
Edmunton, AB to Montreal, QC to her current location in Los Angeles, CA, Tallulah has navigated the worlds of both client work and personal work, all the while making sure she is always got a project to work on with friends. Since moving to the west coast, Tallulah has started doing more work as an editorial illustrator, but her main focus for a while has been zine making. One of the biggest zines she’s taken on was a collaboration she started with Australian illustrator, Carla McRea, entitled Home Zine. Although the two have never met in person, Tallulah and Carla curated volume two together this past spring, and divide the production of the beautiful physical zines in both their parts of the world.
Although Tallulah’s been keeping busy with work, she took a brief break this summer to go on tour with her long time
friends and collaborators, Purity Ring, who’s first two album covers she illustrated. Becasue of the diversity of Tallulah’s work, its unclear what projects she might be starting next. But it seems pretty certain that she definitely won’t be doing it alone!
Where are you from, and where do you live currently? I’m from Edmonton, Alberta. Then I lived in Montreal for several years. These days I’ve been hanging in LA but its not quite home yet. Do you have any formal education in the field you work in, or are you primarily self taught? I didn’t go to school, no. I moved out young and just de-
cided to work and travel. Always learning more along the way. What were the art scenes like in Montreal and Edmonton while you were active in them? How did living in both cities impact your work? I’ve never really been apart of any art scene in either cities, maybe because i didn’t go to school. I was and still am so lucky to have been surrounded by musicians. Lo-
“Tallulah Fontaine is a nickname from this fake band I made in junior high with my friend Emma. We called her Bullet Fontaine.”
cal shows in Edmonton were really important to me growing up. I can’t believe how many talented musicians there are in my hometown.
When did you meet Carla McRea, and when did you start working together?
What was the transition like moving to Los Angeles, and what affect has that had on you?
Carla and I met over the internet a few years back over out mutual appreciation of each others work. We’ve actually never met in person since we live a world apart. I really wanted to collaborate with her in some form and so we came up with the idea for Home zine, a zine collective we curate and publish featuring art by some of our favorite illustrators. She produces half of them in Melbourne and I make the rest here in LA.
LA is still a big experiment for me. I decided to follow some friends there, mostly because I need to be more adventurous. The biggest change is that I decided to do art full time. Everything feels different because of that. Also the food is dope.
That’s so cool that you guys have accomplished a lot together, with out ever meeting. But I guess that’s pretty common these days, right? Do you ever feel like you lose anything from your process working together when that relationship is entirely online?
When did you start making work under the moniker Tallulah Fontaine?
Maybe we lose something but I’ve never made art in front of others so the creative part doesn’t feel too different. I would like to meet her in person though. I bet you she smells good, maybe like flowers.
I started making art in Montreal and the city certainly influenced me. Its a wonderful city but I used to get really depressed in the winter. That’s when I started making my first zines.
It all happened by accident really. Tallulah Fontaine is a nickname from this fake band I made in junior high with my friend Emma. We called her Bullet Fontaine. I started using it for social media several years ago and now its just become my name. Maybe one day I will legally change it Has water color always been the primary medium you work in? Lately it has been, yes. I started out just using the leftover ink I had from this calligraphy set I won in high school. I used to hang out around this stationary store by my mom’s work who did monthly contests. I bought watercolors and gouache when those ran out. I really don’t know how to use watercolors tho and think all the time about taking a class. I want to learn how to paint proper flowers with old ladies. I’ve been doing a lot more drawings on my computer these past few months. Collaging little painted elements and pencil drawings. What are you favorite materials to work with? I don’t know if we’ve technically ever had a tour. We I really like Payne’s Gray watercolor and Arches paper. At what point did you start doing editorial illustration? How different is that work from the zines that you produce and how do you approach each type of work?
How do you feel the internet has impacted the way we look at art? Everything just becomes so immediate and we consume it all the time. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. When did you start working with Purity Ring? What has it been like to join them on tour? I started working for them when they needed art for their first 7”. They’re old friends and are the reason I started making art again, so I’m forever grateful. I did all the merch for this tour and decided to come along and sell it.. It’s really fun to get people honest reactions to the work you make without them knowing that i’m the artist. It’s all pretty positive too and i’m always surprised how awesome their fans are. That they want to buy the weird t-shirts I make or get giant tattoos of the album art on their ribs. Touring is so different for me but its been amazing to travel with such good friends. We’re also with my best Alberta buddies Born Gold and Braids who I’ve known forever. On our days off we go adventuring, like swimming in Crater Lake or hiking in Zion National Park.
I started doing editorial illustration around the time I moved to LA. It’s fun and I like working on something with a story.
Is friendship a big part of what leads you to work with certain people on projects?
I haven’t made any zines in quite a while and I miss it. I need them to express the things I can’t seem to say so much with words. The process of making them is an important release for me.
Definitely! There’s something so intimate and lovely about making art with friends. I’m always honored when one of them wants to work with me.
“There’s something so intimate and lovely about making art with friends. I’m always honored when one of them wants to work with me.” Who have been some of your favorite artists to collaborate with?
Are there any clients or people you would like to do work for in the future?
Maddy Young and I made some moth pins together and that was super cute. Also Kaye Blegvad asked me to contribute to Horizontal Press which was very flattering. I met her maybe a year ago on a New York trip. She’s hilarious and I really admire her little sinister drawings.
There’s a few bands and magazines I would definitely love to work with. In the near future though I would love to start making clothes with my friend Megan. She’s an excellent seamstress and we have some ideas in the works for a small line.
Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists working today?
Are there any projects you would like to start, but that you just don’t have the time or funding to?
Kiki Smith is my Genevieve.
There are so many! Making clothing, the 3rd issue of Home zine, learning ceramics. Money and time is such a hard thing to balance.
What zines do you have planned for the future? I have one I want to make as soon as I get home about visiting my grandma in Winnipeg. I knew it might be one of the last times I see her and so I wrote down a lot of the things we talked about. I hoping by the time I can work on it I’ll be able to remember just how her hands looked.
I recently got an invitation from my friend’s parents to live and work in their home in Pender Island. Hopefully this fall I can make it out there to work on some larger projects I have in mind.
MATT VAN ASSELT
by MATTHEW JAMES-WILSON
Mt. Home Arts as a label, publisher, and artistic endeavor reflects a lot of the world it was born out of. Matt Van Asselt,
along with Elise Granata, originally started the project in an effort to bring a more fine art aspect to the shows he and his friends were playing on campus. With a combination of time, effort, and school resources Mt. Home Arts quickly became an effective platform to release and support the music and art Matt and his friends were producing while at school. Since Mt. Home Arts started back in 2011, Matt and Elise put out some of the most beautifully put together tapes, prints, and zines far exceeding the expectation one would have for such an object.
At the moment Matt Van Asselt is at a clear turning point in his focuses with the project. Now that Matt is a couple years
out of school and runs and produces everything for Mt. Home Arts entirely on his own, he has a greater understanding of what it means to truly “Do-It-Yourself” and the misconceptions people often have with operating in that way.
Where are you from and where do you live currently?
What made you decide to study there in particular?
I was born in New York City and grew up just up state a little bit in Ossining New York. Then I went to school at SUNY Purchase which is even closer to here. Now I live in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn.
Financial reasons, primarily. It’s a state school so its very affordable for New York residents. I had wanted to go to SMFA in Boston but it would have meant being in a lot of debt, so I made the choice not to do that. It was definitely the right decision. I studied art, so I was doing that, but I also had access to this incredible music scene, which was really amazing for me. I wouldn’t have had that at a dedicated fine arts school. In the end I always felt kind of left out because I didn’t have the time to really dedicate to playing music the way that other people did, because I was very focused on the printmaking thing. Music always had to be an afterthought. Well, not an afterthought, but I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to it as I would have liked to. That’s true now too, but that’s how it goes. You can only do so much.
Are you trained at all in your field of art or are you primarily self taught? I went to SUNY Purchase and studied printmaking there, so I am trained. I am sort of self-taught in music but I have taken a couple theory classes here and there which were fun. What was the experience like going to SUNY Purchase? Why do you think so many musicians and artists who are active in New York right now came out of Purchase? It was just a really strong community - lots of people engaged in making good work. The school has all these resources, like the student center, and positions where the school pays you to book bands or host events, so it really caters to the people who have that energy and want to use those resources. There are practice spaces and show spaces, a school full of musicians, and a school full of artists. There is time to dedicate to personal projects and money from the school to support them. So there are a lot of factors that come together to make Purchase what it is. It’s also close to the city, so it was relatively easy to bridge that gap. There were students in the classes above mine who had made the move and had opened a venue called Big Snow, so we had a tie to that space, and then it began to spread.
When did you start Mt. Home Arts? I don’t have a date for you but it would have been maybe when I was a sophomore or junior in college. It had sort of grown out of a couple different ideas. At first we had a sort of group with a bunch of friends that would like make some work and set up little stands at shows and stuff and travel around displaying and distributing that stuff. But I was more interested in the publishing thing so me and my friend Elise Granata, who no longer lives on the east coast, started it. We kind of formalized Mt. Home and the publishing model and that just sort of evolved into what it is now. Elise has now moved to Santa Cruz where she works at the Museum of Art and History and runs a blog about DIY/Independent arts+action organizations called Grasstronaut. So now Mt. Home has become just me, with a little help from a friend.
Did giving what you were doing a name cause you to take it more seriously? Yeah I mean giving it a name and an identity is definitely a very big step in formalizing an endeavor. I think I am fine with it. We wanted to kind of not brand ourselves too heavily and do a lot of different things. That’s what I feel like we’ve been doing, so yeah I think it is an ok name and identity. Did you have a specific goal for what you wanted to do with Mt. Home when you first started it? No, I don’t think there was ever a specific goal or mission. It was just like, lets make work with our friends who we are interested in making work with, and that’s still what it is. You’ve made some of the most beautiful and tactile tape releases since the reemergence of cassette culture in the past 5 or 10 years! What led to your decision to start making tapes on top of the screen printing work you were already doing? I was always interested in printmaking and the fine art side of things, and there’s not really a strong bridge between fine art and music, because why should there be? I mean, fine art is elite and inaccessible, and music is very accessible. So I think I was interested in finding a way to engage the music community with, I don’t know.. I don’t
want to say fine art because that’s not really important. I just wanted to make something that I felt was well done but that I could distribute to the music community as opposed to the fine arts community, because they are really my peers. But you know, I’d be happy to have some art collectors buy stuff too. What has it been like making physical products for people on your own or without a lot of outside help? How have you been able to finance Mt. Home? Mt. Home doesn’t make money. I personally also never make money from Mt. Home, but Mt. Home makes enough to be able to produce more stuff. It’s mostly just a time commitment. You spend a little bit of money, but since I’m doing as much as I can myself instead of paying to send the work out, it’s really just time. So if you’re willing to put in the time you can do it. I don’t need Mt. Home to be lucrative, it’s more just a personal project. How did you do production when you were starting out? Were you using resources that Purchase was providing? I was using school resources. I mean we had an incredible printshop and all the materials and stuff were there, so all I needed to buy up front was paper. I did some custom dye cutting which is expensive. The very first project that Mt. Home did formally was probably The Act of Estimat-
“I just wanted to make something that I felt was well done but that I could be able to market and distribute to the music community as opposed to the fine art community.”
“I feel like there’s still a strong interest in physicality. I feel like people still crave objects. I mean digital is great, and I’m happy to embrace digital media as a consumer, but I also still want ‘things’ now and then.”
ing cassette — the first one — which we did with Double Double Whammy and they gave me some money and I paid for the rest myself.
What have been some of the projects you’ve done with Mt.Home? Well the first things I worked on were my own first two records - the first two The Act of Estimating as Worthless records. We made a zine with Chris Zizzamia earlier on too. We made a tape with Sarah Winchester, whose music I really love, but was someone I didn’t know personally, which was exciting. She was the first and only jump out of the comfort zone, so far. We’ve also done a tape with Baby Mollusk, we just did an Eskimeaux tape, and we did a tape with Elaiza (Santos) which was a cool lunch box thing. That one was fun. We’ve published a handful of prints, too. Were most of the people you collaborated on projects with friends? Were there any people that were suggested to you? Mostly friends. Each project is kind of so hard or just so time consuming, and because theres no financial incentive really, it’s always just been our friends who we want to work with and have fun with. I don’t think we will jump outside of that. I think I’m starting to hold back a little with
Mt. Home and it will probably just be smaller runs with only just friends and nicer things. What was the transition like doing it in College to doing it after school? It was hard just because I was not in one place for awhile, so it was kind of like just on hold for a long time. When I was in Vancouver I was working in a shop there for a residency, so that’s where I made most of the stuff for Sarah Winchester’s tape and where we started working on Megan’s zine. I finished working on the Baby Mollusk tape, but then coming back to New York I guess is when we did Elaiza’s. When I was working on Elaiza’s I had just come back from Vancouver and had graduated from school, but was going up to Purchase at night to work on stuff there. So that was kind of a mess. Now I’m more settled and I have space to work so it’s more fluid now. How many projects do you have going on at a time? I personally have a lot of projects going on at once, but with Mt. Home I now definitely try to do one thing at a time and give it two or three months of cushion. Sometimes things happen faster. It’s easier making just prints. So we did a print with Alex Krokus while I was working on this Eskimeaux tape which I haven’t had a chance to put up yet. But that will be the next thing that goes up. I think from
here on out, one thing at a time and give it two to three months alone. I get my feet in a few things at the same time and it gets to be too much.
I also still want “things” now and then. I’ve always made things and it’s always felt like natural to me, and I think its something that people are still interested in.
What other projects have you been working on outside of Mt. Home?
It almost seems as though people have more of a desire in their lives for physical things because of the internet, and that when we do buy things that are physical we want them to be particularly special or nicely made.
Well I make my own artwork, and that has been pushed to the back, but I would like to spend more time on that. I also make and play music with a band called Real Life Buildings and I am slowly starting to try to re-introduce the The Act of Estimating into the world. And then you know, jobs. I work for an artist and then sometimes I just do freelance work printing for people. Right now I’m doing this color separation job for a publisher of prints and stuff like that. When did you first start your band Real Life Buildings? When The Act of Estimating was going to stop being a band I was still writing music and I had a bunch of just demos of this and that that I didn’t really know what to do with. They were kind of all over the place like how they sounded. But after getting back from Vancouver, it felt kind of cohesive with what I had, so me and my friend Mike Ditrio went up to a family friends house in Maine for four days and just recorded everything. Then we came back and it was like “Ok, heres a band.” and it was called Real Life Buildings. I had made these zines with that name so I just carried the name over. I think when we left to go to Maine, I was picking Mike up from a friends house and our friend Felix (Walworth) was there and I just asked if they wanted to play drums in this band when we make it a band. They were like “Yeah sure” and so we had a drummer. Gabby (smith) started playing bass somehow. What was the recording process like for your album It Snowed? We had set up all of our shit and I would tell Mike — Mike plays drums and does the engineering stuff — “Ok, here’s how the song goes” and then he would learn it and we would record it. Then we would learn the next one. So we just did everything by learning it, recording it, one song at a time. And then coming back from recording it was just like “Ok well I can now play these songs for people and they can learn the parts or make up new parts.” It was not a very smooth transition. I wouldn’t recommend making your record before you have a band. But also sitting on songs for too long is not fun. How do you approach making physical goods in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital? I feel like there’s still a strong interest in physicality. I feel like people still crave objects. I mean digital is great, and I’m happy to embrace digital media as a consumer, but
Yeah it’s almost like a political idea in itself, which is interesting. I think, I’m less likely to buy a regular old tape now because I could just download it, you know? I want something that makes me want to own it. And I think that’s what I’m interested in doing. The process for me is working with people who want to really create a full piece. I think, while the audio is the focus for musicians, having a home for it in a fully cohesive experiential thing is important for people, and those are the people I’m interested in working with. People who just want to see through the logic all the way to make this fully cohesive thing that just feels like a complete whole. But not every record needs that, a lot of records don’t need that I think. What do you think of the current climate of DIY art and music in New York right now? I think the DIY scene is incredibly strong right now, and full of a lot of good people doing good things! People love to throw around the “is DIY dying?” question, but that has never made sense to me. Even with the landmark closing of Death By Audio, I don’t think “Is DIY dying?” has ever really been a question. The degree to which the neighborhood surrounding DBA has changed since I began going to shows there is staggering, and it was surprising that DBA lasted there as long as it did, let alone chose to stay. DIY moves around and shape shifts but will always be alive and evolving with each new generation of kids who need to make a place for themselves. I think a more critical question about the perpetuation of DIY is “How can I as an individual (a) pursue my creative practice and (b) make it sustainable?” I think the (a) part of that is what leads a lot of us to DIY. There is always a need for a mode of creation and community outside of mainstream channels, and those who feel that need seem to be pretty good at making it happen. Making it sustainable, though, is the part of the question that I struggle with. Do you think sustainability is an important factor of DIY continuing, or do you think a part of DIY is having a general lack of sustainability? I think that DIY, given the greater context, is inherently not sustainable because it is about operating outside of the capitalist mode, and capitalism is what sets the pace for sustainability, at least on an economic level. So no, I
don’t think the sustainability of any particular piece of the DIY puzzle is important to the perpetuation of DIY overall. Maybe we can that DIY is both created and destroyed by capitalism. So for a lot of folks my age its an interesting time: we’ve graduated college, we’ve moved to Brooklyn, and we’ve played and set up DIY shows, and we need keep up with the cost of living while pursuing creative practices. A lot of friends, in part because of the strength of the community here, are beginning to sort of “graduate from DIY” and embrace the music industry as a way to let playing or participating in music become a full-time and sustainable gig. That is really exciting to see, and the energy that comes back to the DIY community is strong and positive. By opening up their homes for shows, by playing local DIY shows, and even just by sharing their friends’ music publicly. The folks that begin to go this route are integral parts of the community here. And we’re talking not just about musicians, but all music related fields — promoters, journalists.. Another effective way of staying afloat is getting a day job! This is much worse for having time to work on your art, but as the tautology goes, “You have to work until you don’t have to…” This is the route I am currently going, and right now it is working for me. I’ve stumbled in to a good job - it’s fun, its doing something I like to do, it’s with good people, it’s good hours, it’s good pay, it’s flexible, sort of the best of all words when it comes to a job. Still though, there are days and there are weeks when I have zero time to work on my own stuff. This can be very hard, especially while watching my friends around me pursuing their music or their art full time. But for the moment, working a day job provides me with the resources that I need to do what I want to do. Do you make an effort for sustainability within your own practices? Do you ever worry about getting bigger? Mt. Home has always been a project that was sort of on the back-burner, or at least the side burner.. definitely not the front burner. At school I was primarily focused on my class work (which was making artwork…) and both playing music and doing Mt. Home were side projects. Since school, I have tried to strike a balance between Mt. Home, playing music, and making art, but unfortunately that means there isn’t all that much time for any one thing. Meanwhile, there is always a pressure to try to keep up with those around me, to try to make Mt. Home more “real,” for lack of a better word. To complete more projects more consistently, to do more press, to be on social media more, sell more, reach more people, so on and so forth. After a brief period of trying to do exactly that, I have realized that what is important to me and what I want is the opposite of that. One of Mt. Home’s biggest virtues has always been that I don’t have a schedule or a profit mar-
gin to maintain, that I am free to do whatever I want with it . I think it’s important for me to not lose sight of that, and rather to embrace that freedom. Mt. Home will probably never be sustainable on its own, just due to the nature of the projects and the amount of work that goes into them, and maybe that is all the better. I never intended Mt. Home to be a record label and it’s felt important reassert that to myself recently. I’ve got some exciting projects on the horizon and am looking forward to carrying them out in the least practical way possible. What is it that keeps you excited about making things and putting work out, despite the amount of people that are seeing it, or the acclaim that it gets? I think it’s just the thing itself. I like making the things and having made the things is an affirmation of that. I am happy doing it. So, I think that’s it, really. Are there any projects you’re currently starting or that you want to do in the future? Do you have any big plans for Mt. Home? I think from here on out, Mt. Home will probably only focus on music. Maybe just cassettes. Records are fun, but it’s a whole other thing. Maybe just music and probably not trying to market myself at all. Something that I’ve been thinking about is that Mt. Home and Double Double Whammy became a thing at the same time and at the same space so there’s always been a sort of working off of each other. For me I’ve always looked at Double Double Whammy as a model and they’re doing fantastic work. But they’re also trying to be real. Being part of this world, you have this idea that whatever you do has to be real and sustainable and have to expand and get bigger and I think that I need to just realize with Mt. Home that that’s not true and actually keeping it small and keeping it outside of that world is what is important for me. So just focusing on smaller runs and nice projects that are more carefully thought through with people that I’m close with. Just not trying to make it some huge thing. Is there anything you want to do that you just don’t have the time or money for? There are things, yeah. There’s a lot one can do and it costs money. I’ve had some ideas of subscription based things, but asking someone to spend one hundred dollars upfront to get some big promises is hard and it would be a lot of work making it. I don’t know. I think I’m interested in just keeping it small and specific right now and to just try to establish that and just make that work while making my own art work work and music. Just Being able to balance everything. Right now I can only really do one thing at a time. When I’m doing a Mt. Home project, that’s what I’m doing, and when I’m doing a print, that’s what I’m doing. It would be nice to have everything kind of work together a little more.
Photography by Matthew James-Wilson
Scott C. @ MoCCA Festival
Kendra Yee @ The Brooklyn Zine Fest
Kendra Yee @ The Brooklyn Zine Fest
Krill @ The Bowery Ballroom
Perfect Pussy @ Baby’s All Right
Girlpool @ DBTS
Frankie Cosmos @ DBTS
Frankie Cosmos @ DBTS
Warehouse @ Palisades
PWR BTTM @ Palisades
LVL UP @ Shea Stadium
LVL UP @ Shea Stadium
Greys @ Shea Stadium
BIG UPS @ Palisades
TONSTARTSSBANDHT @ Aviv
TURBOSLEAZE @ DBTS
Ronald Paris @ Shea Stadium
Current Joys @ Palisades
Vagabon @ Shea Stadium
Stove @ DBTS
Rick from Pile @ DBTS
Audience @ DBTS
Quarterbacks @ Palisades
Quarterbacks @ Palisades
Stuartâ€™s Birthday @ Aviv
Frankie Cosmos Merch-Ladder @ Brooklyn Bow Wow
Frankie Cosmos @ Brooklyn Bow Wow
Yours Are The Only Ears @ Shea Stadium
Baked @ Shea Stadium
Palm @ DBTS
Glueboy @ DBTS
Glueboy @ DBTS
Bellows @ Palisades
Mitski @ The Bowery Ballroom
Speedy Ortiz @ The Bowery Ballroom
Sunflower Bean @ Aviv
Krill @ Palisades
Glocca Morra @ Shea Stadium
Best Shows By Matthew James-Wilson
April 4th @ Baby’s All Right
Perfect Pussy/So Stressed/Wreck And Reference/Laced this show was exhaustingly fun and entertaining. my friend ben and i went to two consecutive shows that day at baby’s all right, an early show that our friend nick rattigan (aka current joys) was playing and then this late show which perfect pussy’s meredeth graves put together through her publisher and record label, honor press. i had long awaited to see dustin payseur’s new band, laced, and was really into the post punk vibes that he brought to a lot of the similar songwriting he’s know for with beach fossils. like most shows where i’ve seen a captured tracks bands play at baby’s all right, the audience was packed with tons of members of captured tracks bands and people who work for the label supporting their friends, which was really heartwarming to watch. once perfect pussy came on towards the end of the night everyone in the front began tossing each other around, never staying in one place for more than a couple seconds. it had been so long since i’d been to a hardcore show, and never have i been to one with so many smiling faces. this was truly one of the most fun shows to be in the crowd for that i’ve been to all year.
April 10th @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
Girlpool/Frankie Cosmos/Trace Mountains/Alice
every aspect of this show made me think “whoa, this may never happen again.”
April 30th @ Aviv
Yonatan Gat/TONSTARTSSBANDHT/Sunflower Bean/Pill one of the going to this show with my roommate kenneth was an incredibly last minute decision. tonstartssbandht was very first bands we had gotten into together, and it felt really important to us to neglect all of the work we had to do for class the next day, to make a the trek over to aviv. the show happened right around the time long term construction was happening on the l train, where essentially trains would stop running back to manhattan after a certain hour, so we went into the show not really having a concrete plan for getting back. the performances by tonstartssbanht, sunflower bean and pill were all well worth the effort. tonstartssbandht’s set felt particularly meditative and hypnotizing with the visuals done by star garden light show and the over all atmosphere at aviv that night.
May 1st @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
Rick From Pile/Stove/Normal Person/Slight I remember meeting up with my friend jonathan at little skips a couple hours before this show. it was one of the very first times we ever hung out, and i just remember really vividly being incredibly amazing by all of the shit he was telling me he was working on and helping out with for diy shows. we got to the dbts pretty early, becasue jonathan was working the door, and it was really odd to climbing up the stairs of the apartment while it was transitioning from household set up to the venue set up for the show that night. all of the anxiety i had about arriving super early to this house, where all of these musicians and artists i admired where throwing shows that meant so much to me, completely washed away after we walked through the doorway and greg from lvl up gave me this big and introduced me to some people there. for the rest of the time before the show started, jonathan and i quietly sat on one of the couches, getting up every few minutes to shake hands and say hi to someone who came into the room, and then giggling about how amazing that person’s music is. at one point i remember jonathan saying “its like we’re in a room the best of bandcamp.” once the show started, actually getting to see stove and rick (from the band pile) perform was really unforgettable.
May 9th @ Aviv
Stuart’s B-Day Show: Painted Zeros/Glueboy/ Bloc Nation/King Baby/DJ Aaron Tripp May 11th @ Palisades
Quarterbacks/Fred Thomas/Fraternal Twin/Generifus i got the very first quarterback self titled tape ever sold at this show, and dean wouldn’t even let me give him money for it!
May 17th @ Brooklyn Bow Wow
Frankie Cosmos/Gingerlys/Lostboy?/Doss this was i think the first show i went to after finally moving into my new apartment. my now roommate ben and i had just come back from a really hellish trip driving a u-haul truck from upstate new york back to brooklyn. but theres nothing like hanging out in a back yard full of dogs running around, talking to greta about her new record, and seeing an incredibly intimate frankie cosmos show, to bring up your spirits for summer break.
May 21st @ Palisades
Krill/Big Ups/Warehouse/Downies May 22nd @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
Purchase Party Celebration: Nine Of Swords/ Adult Mom/Pupppy/Peaer/Bruise/100% (Surprise Set) i’ve never felt so sentimental for a school i’ve never attended. regardless of what ever relationship anyone had at this show to suny purchase, everyone seemed to have a certain level of gratitude and appreciation for the music community that suny purchase has provided us all with. i didn’t really realize the full extent at which this one state school meant to so many people until going to this show. seeing all of these incredible bands and musicians that have been fostered by the school was so special, and it made me realize how much i probably missed out on by not going there and at the same time how much i get to be a part of by actually living in the city now.
May 29th @ Shea Stadium
Glocca Morra/LVL UP/Greys/Socialite June 6th @ David Blaine’s The Stakehouse
TURBOSLEAZE + The Drinkers Themselves (EP Release)/Northern Spies/Glueboy June 9th @ Shea Stadium
Small Wonder/Bethlehem Steel/Ronald Paris/Vagabon June 16th @ Palisades
The Cradle/Current Joys/Bruise/Warbles June 18th @ Shea Stadium
Baked/Battle Ave./Trace Mountains (Solo Set)/ Yours Are The Only Ears (Solo Set)
Shows I Wish I Had Gone To May 2nd-3rd @ 603^
Silent Barn Residents Present: “The 24 Hour Show” June 19th @ Shea Stadium
Ovlov (Farewell Show) Bluffing/Hellrazor/Spook The Herd/Very Fresh FORGEARTMAG.COM
You Should Check Out... By Matthew James-Wilson
girlpool deserves every aspect of the enormously positive reception and acclaim they’ve amassed in the mere two years or so they’ve been a band. from starting out in the los angels diy scene, to evetually moving to philly this past winter, girlpool has fully embraced the communities and bands of each of the scenes the’ve come to. and not surprisingly girlpool has been equally welcomed into those communities and scenes. although girlpool’s success and admiration has come incredibly swiftly, it seems as though cleo and harmony have made a huge effort to support and collaborate with so many of the artists and musicians they’ve come in contact with. just this year i’ve had the amazing opportunity to whiteness girlpool perform at tiny house shows at cooler ranch and david blaines the steakhouse, and at huge venues like music hall of williamsburg, the latter of which was a show they headlined and invited their favorite diy bands from philly and new york to play. this spring girlpool put out their debut full length lp, before the world was big. never have i ever listened to an album that so accurately reflects the atmosphere and intensity of a bands live performance. the recording and mixing of the album, done by kyle gilbride of swearn’, is so atmospheric that you can feel the hairs on the back of your neck lifting up while listening to the album, the same way they would if you were standing in the audience at one of their shows.
this past spring fraternal twin, the solo project of quarterback’s tom christie, released its first full length tape, skin gets hot. from my first reaction to the initial single, to hearing the album in it’s entirety, it was incredibly clear that skin gets hot was a huge departure from the previous recordings tom has put out. most of the tracks on the album were originally released on a split tom did with long beard last june. but along with the help of several studio musicians including leslie bear of long beard and aaron maine of porches, each of the tracks take on an entirely new shape ranging from moodier tracks like shadowgoing to consistent grooves like the album’s title track. despite some of the darker tones, tom is one of the most kind and gentle people i’ve ever met and i’m so incredibly excited to see what he puts out next.
The Dead Horse Sampler
the dead horse sampler is a compilation that was put out last september by the relatively prolific southern california label, danger collective records. danger collective is primarily run by a group of high schoolers who’ve been active in the los angeles diy scene, as well as one member who’s currently a college student in new york, and has put out about 30 albums within just over two years. in addition to releasing their friend’s music, danger collective is responsible for booking a huge amount of the diy shows around los angeles. this past month danger collective put together the impressively curated runaway festival included over 40 acts across one day at los globos in silverlake.
Mt. Home Arts Discography
although mt. home arts’ main focus is on creating beautifully hand-made cassette releases, they’re also responsible for putting out a lot of the incredible music within the tapes. mt. home’s bandcamp (mt.homearts.bandcamp.com) has “name your price” downloads of six of the albums they’ve released. the founder and current operator, matt van asselt, has two of his own music projects, the act of estimating as worthless and real life buildings, which both have releases on the bandcamp. the debut album by real life buildings is one of my favorite things matt has ever done. whatever, dad’s album 100% take home! + grade pending is also a hugely important album to me that mt. home arts released, and for a while, their bandcamp was the only place you could still find the full album online.
i first met quinn moreland at this year’s brooklyn zine fest, where i greeted her as someone i had recognized from a lot shows in new york. little did i know at the time, quinn is actually one of the youngest and brightest music journalists covering bands and musicians in and around new york. in the past quinn helped put together shows at bard’s smog and has written for the le sigh. now, through her work as associate editor at impose magazine, she’s written some of the most memorable pieces on the site including “is it o.k.?” and “zen and the art of flashlight o” to name a few. quinn also recently released a stunning zine which she curated, made up of several self portraits by a range of women artists and musicians including personal favorites hellen jo, brie moreno, and allyssa yohana entitled i object.
THANK YOU: KENDRA YEE LAUREN MARTIN SUZANNE BROWN BRIE MORENO BEN SMITH COLLEEN TIGHE KOS QUEER JOHN ERBACH MEGHAN FARBRIDGE JONATHAN MARTY NICK CORBO MATT VAN ASSELT TALLULAH FONTAINE KIRA ASZMAN ADAM KOLODNY KENNTH CHRISTIAN DAVE MEDINA BJ RUBIN GRETA KLINE NOEL CLARO ANGELA LEWIS DAVID YEE KATHLEEN FOLEY RHEA YEE TOM CHRISTIE ALLYSSA YONAHA OLIVIA BEE MATT CARMAN KSENIYA YAROSH DEAN ENGEL PATRICK KYLE TAVI GEVINSON MAXINE CRUMP MATT SPARKS MADELINE AVA NICK RATTIGAN SONIA JAMES-WILSON... LORELY RODRIGUEZ COLIN ALEXANDER REED KANTER INDIA MENUEZ GABBY SMITH ELIAZA SANTOS TOVA BENJAMIN JONATHAN KATZ SEAN HENRY HEATHER BENJAMIN CLEO TUCKER HARMONY LEBEL-TAVIDAD HTML FLOWERS JONAH FURMAN RASHIDA JONES VASHTI BUNYAN GINNETTE LAPALME DAN GOLDIN STEPH KNIPE TINA LUGO QUINN MORELAND JILLIAN TAMAKI SAM ALDEN CARLA MCRAE SUE JEAN KO AMANDLA STENBERG ALEX ZHANG HUNGTAI
E D I T E D BY M AT T H E W JA M E S -W I L S O N
FORGE. is a quarterly submission based art magazine, with the sole purpose of showcasing the work of different artists on the internet and a...
Published on Jul 23, 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...