ISSUE SIXTEEN | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
Motion with Emotion MISTY BOYCE | JUKEBOX THE GHOST | KID ASTRAY BILL HAVERON | TYPEFACE | THAILAND’S WHITE TEMPLE
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
The Artist D MANAGING EDITOR
Paula Frank CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Ann Marie Papanagnostou CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Andrew Ashley MARKETING & PROMOTIONS
Felicia C. Waters SUBMISSIONS
Serena Butler WEB DEVELOPMENT
Rene Trejo, Jr. EDITORIAL
Christine Blythe Serena Butler Frank Cotolo Kathy Creighton Paul Davies Paula Frank Marguerite O’Connell Derek O’Neal Mark Sharpley Annie Shove Darya Teesewell Felicia C. Waters
© 2012-2015 Fourculture Magazine Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 2 www.fourculture.com
We create or we die.
ith the birth of each new year I hear over and over again that this last year was the worst year people could have ever had. They hope that this next year will be a good one, a better one. How many messages have you seen this year about giving 2014 the finger? I saw as many as last year. I even saw a few of the 2013 haters showing back up to hate 2014 and say that 2013 was so much better. I will preach the power of perception until the end of time. It’s not the year, it’s you. It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you make of it. With each passing year I have to wonder if it takes a bit of psychological malfunction in order to perceive goodness. Some pretty terrible things happen to us throughout the years and it takes a lot to convince yourself that it’s going to be just fine. That’s a true belief that everything is fine, but balanced carefully between a grasp on reality and just a touch of psychological imbalance. We live in a terrible world where people do horrible things. Every year in review shows us that. Yet those of us who survive the worst can come up with the best. It’s the people with their time snatched away from them that find more time to do what they love. It’s the down and out, the impoverished and unwell who will pull themselves from the bed and stick themselves in front of their chosen creation station. In Fourculture Magazine, on Fourculture.com and broadcasted via FC Radio we have found the best of the best from the underground. The pain is put aside to present our pleasure. We shall dance our dances. We shall paint our agony away. We will play our metal when the cluster of life’s ache agonizes. We will write our mercies and celebrations. Whether it be paid and when it is more than likely “another damn free gig,” the artists push themselves another step further towards the warm light. I’ve learned how to tear down the bearing wall and put a window where it ought to be. Most importantly above all else we, the artists of the underground, will do what we do because there is no choice. We create or we die. We express ourselves or repress to nothingness. Life on this planet gives no choices. Karma is but a laugh and a repetition that you realized after a couple of turns. The Earth spins and we swallow time. It’s how we perceive that time in which makes a creature prevail. Otherwise it’s nothing but another garbage pile. If it’s a new year or a new month you always have the choice to enjoy yourself no matter what may happen with each passing moment. The perception is yours because it emanates from your very own optical sensors. When madness seeps through every crack of your sphere you have the power to take two steps into insanity and smile wildly. Responsibility has always been a response to your ability.
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THE WHITE TEMPLE
features Misty Boyce........................ 6 Kid Astray..........................12 Fallen Angels Dance Theatre.................. 16 Jukebox The Ghost.......... 34 Typeface........................... 44 The White Temple............. 50 Bill Haveron...................... 68
regulars Mensah Demary................11 August Z. Drenna............. 31 Darya Teesewell............... 32 Frank Cotolo..................... 48 Adam D............................ 64
BY MARGUERITE O’CONNELL
isty Boyce possesses a powerful and soulful voice both, as a singer and as a lyricist. And The Life, her full-length album set to drop later this month, is a perfect showcase for her talent, highlighting her impressive vocal range, accessible lyrical style, and brilliant phrasing. A singer, songwriter, Jazz pianist, keyboard player and guitarist, Misty is an artist who fearlessly follows wherever her creative muse leads, often resulting in music that can’t easily be fit under just one genre label. She mixes melodic vocals with elements of folk, pop, rock, and electronica in unexpected ways, creating songs imbued with a fresh and modern vibe. She might pair a lively pop beat with sultry vocals and dark, provocative lyrics in one song, then offset her gritty, personal storytelling with layers of harmonic complexity and electronica, in another. And by weaving unabashed honesty into every song, Misty forges a powerful connection to the listener by creating a sense of shared experience. Songwriting came naturally to Misty. At the age of nine she was writing songs that to her mind, were perfect for Reba McEntire. She moved to New York City after college and began her career playing keyboards for the Naked Brothers Band, making her national television debut on The View and Today in 2008. She signed with a small record label and released her selftitled debut LP in 2010. Unfortunately, her label could not deliver on the many promises it made and a disillusioned Misty started to consider career paths outside music. Since the release of her debut album Misty’s had a lot going on in her life — she quit music, returned to music, called off her wedding, ended a longterm relationship, moved across country from New York City to Los Angeles to start over, played with Ingrid Michaelson on The Kelly Ripa Show, and toured twice with Grammy-nominated, Sara Bareilles — to name just a few. Although these last few years have brought her a number of difficult experiences, Misty persevered through it all and emerged a stronger, more confident artist with a successful career. Misty spent most of 2013-2014 on tour and making her second full-length LP. With the release of The Life this month, she plans to be back out on tour early this year to support her album. During one of her rare breaks, Misty took some time to talk to me about her career, her music and her plans for the New Year.
Tell me briefly about your how you got your start in music. I started playing piano when I was five years old and somewhere around age nine I realized that this was the thing for me. I really got into Country music and I think I saw a movie called The Thing Called Love — about a woman songwriter who moved to Nashville to make it in the industry -— and for whatever reason it really resonated with me [laughs]. I knew I wanted to write songs and sing. At nine years old you knew you wanted to write and perform? Yes. I was actually already writing songs that I imagined were for Reba McEntire [laughs]. I eventually went to the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and studied Jazz piano. By the end of college I knew I wanted to make a go of it as a singer/songwriter so I moved to New York and kind of started off on that path. I had the skills to play keyboard and sing for other people so my day job for most of my life has been supporting other artists and performing and writing on my own on the side. This past year while I was playing on tour with Sara Bareilles, I was also getting to do my own thing on breaks. It was such a good job and I was really able to live in the best of both worlds, in a really cool way. During breaks on her tour I wrote and recorded my own stuff and also played shows. And I was doing it in a way that was really comfortable instead of...well, making a living in music had been kind of a grind before then, money wise [laughs].
understand it, you could write anything. But that when you started writing songs again after college, it was almost like you had to 'unlearn' everything or strip it all back. What did you mean? Yeah, it actually did feel like an unlearning completely because once you have so much complexity in your vocabulary it takes a bit to get back to the point of it all [laughs]. I wasn't listening to my instincts as much anymore. I was thinking about things too much and overcomplicating everything. Jazz uses a completely different musical vocabulary; it’s a totally different skill set. And while I learned a lot of theory about how to learn about music and how to listen to music, I felt like I had to go back to school — sitting alone in my bedroom — and teach myself songwriting again. I had to distill my musical instincts down to their very basics; something I maybe had naturally at age nine, but had unlearned along the way.
So I have to ask you about playing with the Naked Brothers Band. How did you get that gig and what was it like touring with them? I didn't play on the TV show. Nat and Alex Wolff, who starred on the television show The Naked Brothers Band (Nickelodeon), were going on tour to support their new album and needed an adult backing band because the kids on the show weren't actually musicians. They were looking specifically for a female keyboard player who could sing because there were a lot of harmonies that were too high for men. I auditioned, got the gig, and I toured with them, on and off, for about a year and a half. I read that you chose to study Jazz piano It was a really interesting experience being because you felt if you could play and the only girl in a band of two coming-of-age
boys and three of-age boys [laughs]. I enjoyed it, but the waters were a little bit tricky to navigate. Was that your first real experience with touring? That was my first tour of that scale where we had a bus and proper pay. I had done some touring before that with an indie artist named Tim Williams. It was a lot rougher on that tour, though. We travelled in a van and had one hotel room for five guys and me [laughs]. You put out your debut full-length LP in 2010. When did you have time to record an album? Everything kind of happened at the same time. I was on the road with The Naked Brothers Band while I was making that album. And then once touring slowed down with them I actually released it. I was on a small label at the time and I had kind of a sour experience — they made promises they couldn’t keep. The whole thing left me in a weird place, so I took a little bit of a break from music. I thought maybe I should try to find something else to do. I worked in a restaurant and trained as a yoga teacher trying to find another path, but I was even more miserable. So after a year or so I decided I needed to go back to writing and playing music. I quit the restaurant and immediately got a gig playing with Ingrid Michaelson on The Kelly Ripa Show. It sort of felt like the Universe giving me a sign, saying: "Yeah, you're doing the right thing. Don't give up yet" [laughs]. But then it was months of sort of rebuilding after that. I did another tour with a Canadian artist, Alexz Johnson, ended a long term relationship, and then Alexz offered me another tour where I would be opening for her. I had been writing a lot of songs — especially going through the break up — and I knew I really needed to have something to sell on tour if I was going to open for Alexz. She has such a loyal, rabid fan base and I really wanted something that her fans could go home with. So I got it together and recorded the Tough Love EP. I feel like that tour was a really pivotal moment for me because I got some really 'life long' dedicated fans through that tour who have stuck with me, supported me, and kind of egged me on these last few years, even when I felt a bit disheartened. And now through Sara my fan base is growing more. Tell me about touring with Sara Bareilles in support of her Grammy nominated album, The Blessed Unrest. What was it like and would you do it again? When she moved out to NY from L.A., Sara decided to bring in a new band. The gentleman that she hired as her musical director, Chris Morrissey, is a friend of mine.
Sara hoped to have more females in the band on this tour, as the album is pretty vocal-heavy, and I was one of the only female keyboard players Chris knew that could also sing and program a synthesizer. I played with her on the Today Show when she released "Brave," and we just really clicked. When they offered me the tour I had to learn a whole new skill set to play a pop gig of that scale [laughs]. It was a really sharp learning curve for me and took me completely out of my comfort zone, but I grew so much playing with her. And it was the time of my life. It was just so fun. I don't have one bad thing to say about anybody involved in the whole crew. It was just a dream experience. And I would definitely tour with her again, given the opportunity.
In general, what do you like best about touring? What do you find most challenging about it? To be honest, I love pretty much everything about touring. With that said, you do get worn out by the end of a tour; you don't get a ton of sleep sometimes, and the traveling can be wearying. By the time this interview comes out it in January 2015, you will be about to release your new album, The Life. How did you decide to launch a PledgeMusic Campaign to produce the album and was this your first experience using a crowdfunding platform? Yes, it was. I had finished recording the
album and I decided to launch a PledgeMusic Campaign to help out with some of the postproduction expenses like getting the album mixed and mastered, printing copies, and getting the videos made. The music industry has undergone tremendous changes and more artists are choosing to independently release their music. From your own experience, what are the pros and cons of a crowdfunding campaign? I think the pros are that it allows your fans to feel like they are part of the process. As a fan of music, to me that is a cool thing â€” like getting inside scoops, or getting little extra deals, or feeling like my help as a fan made this possible. I think that is just a www.fourculture.com 9
Is writing about an experience cathartic for you? In other words, does writing about a something that happened help you work through and process any negative or painful feelings attached to it? Yes. At least I hope so [laughs]. To be honest, I have wondered whether it is a cathartic process or if I am perpetuating some sadness or negative habits by singing about them all the time. Not to compare myself to Amy Winehouse, but when she passed I went back and looked at her songs more carefully and noticed that everything she wrote was, "I'm no good," "I'm a terrible person," "I'm a mess and an addict." And she ended up living out those words in a really dark way. It made me think about the way I write and I’m trying to be more mindful of what I'm saying so I don’t perpetuate sadness and negativity [laughs]. But then What are your thoughts on social media again, sometimes that's just what wants to and indie artists? Do you find it helpful? come out. I'm not all dark and gloomy. I can I think it is a curse and a blessing. It con- be funny and light and happy, too. nects you with your fans directly and that is so great because I think people stick around Do you think it is the intent that gives the longer and are more patient with you if you lyrics the power to perpetuate the negaengage them on sites like Twitter and Face- tive, instead of heal? With your feeling book. On the other hand, I feel like I can't that performing is more of an offering ever stop and that makes me feel crazy than a confession, the intent of a perfor[laughs]. I am a very private person and I mance would be more to share a kind of need breaks from it because I can get super universal truth with the audience than to overwhelmed. But then I feel guilty if I do say, “Hey, let me tell you about me.” But take a break, and I don't like that [laughs]. for someone caught in an addictive cycle, who is unable to get out the intent of their That brings up something I have always performance may very well be descripwondered about: Your music is so per- tive, as though to say: "This is me. Right sonal and you put so much of yourself now, I’m a mess and I’m stuck.” And so into it – including some of your more maybe they do perpetuate the negative? painful experiences. When you perform Yes. Exactly. At least I hope so. [laughs] a song night after night, how do you protect yourself from repeatedly revisiting How would you describe your music the painful memories? style or genre to someone who is attendThat's a great question. I feel like writ- ing a show for the first time? ing is the place where I want to be the most This is a really hard question to answer. honest and vulnerable and put it all out I think my music is influenced by what I listhere. It's easy for me to be honest in the ten to and what I've been listening to in the writing because for whatever reason, I'm re- last two to five years is a lot of Elliot Smith, ally not afraid to put myself out there. And Emily Haines from Metric, and Gillian Welch. while performing — at least most of the time And on this record I was going for a kind of — I feel almost like something takes over marriage of those influences: a little bit of and it is out of my hands. Not to say that I'm the electronic-y side of a band like Metric, detached, but more that it feels like the song along with some of the harmonic complexity is an offering to the audience rather than a of Elliot Smith, and the raw sounding vocals confessional thing. It’s like I'm saying to the and storytelling of Gillian. Stylistically I don't audience: "I'm sharing this piece of me, but know what to call it. I've been using alternanow it's kind of yours to do with it what you tive/indie/rock, but I feel like that isn't really want." It's not mine personally at that point. the best descriptor. I don't really know how There are nights where I might relate to to pinpoint my style [laughs]. what I'm singing and think, "Oh yeah, that hurt" [laughs] or whatever. But honestly, it I actually hear that a lot [laughs]. I think mostly feels like the writing and the perform- that the indie, crowdfunding developments in the industry have brought ing are two totally separate things. a kind of freedom for artists to step really cool idea. The cons? I think it is really hard to do alone. I felt like I needed a team to not only think of cool incentives, but also to get them done, get them out, and to help with the videos. It is basically like you’re doing your own PR and media campaign and I fell ill equipped. I treated the campaign as a job in a way that I don't usually treat my music — just because I don't like thinking of music that way. But it was helpful to have deadlines, and to tell myself, "Okay, these are the things I have to get done today." It made me feel like I was being proactive in getting this record out. Still most days I felt like, "I need a manager; someone who has cool ideas outside of the music part of things because I can't think of anything outside the music part [laughs]." I have a very one-track mind in that way.
outside the industry created boxes and not limit themselves to one rigidly defined style of music – definitions demanded by big recording labels that promote mass marketed, radio friendly, pop singles. It seems that indie artists just keeps adding hyphens or slashes [laughs]. The slashes! I know. I saw one of my favorite bands, Over the Rhine, describe their sound as “indie/art/folk/pop/rock/…” they had something like seven descriptors, with slashes [laughs]. And I thought it was great because I totally see it. They are all of those things! What is your favorite type of venue to play: Large capacity venues like you played on tour with Sara or smaller, more intimate venues? Well, we were playing venues with 2,000 - 7,000 seat capacity with Sara and when I'm doing my thing, it's like anywhere from 20 - 200 capacity. But the ironic thing about music is that I get as much of a high playing Radio City Music Hall with Sara as I do playing a successful solo show to 50 people who want two encores — because yeah, that is a thrill. My dream career would be going around the country/world playing 200-300 seat theaters. If I could do that the rest of my life I would be so happy. At that size you get to keep the connection with the audience that you tend to lose with larger crowds. Bigger venues can get a little impersonal and I feel like I would really miss that. How do you relax? One of my favorite things to do is listen to podcasts. I also love to watch Top Chef and do yoga. I love to have a small get-together with friends; cook dinner, drink wine, sit, and laugh. What's next for you? What can your fans expect from you in the next year? Well the album, The Life, is being released in January. And we have a couple videos coming out to support the singles. And I'm hoping to be going on tour with another artist in early 2015, but it hasn't been confirmed yet. I want to tour as an opener for another band to support The Life, rather than just go out on the road by myself. I've done that before and it feels a little like spinning my wheels. Finally, what are your four favorite things – the four things you couldn’t (or just don’t want to) live without? Comedians. Musicians. Red wine. Lemons.
HOW YOU RECOGNIZED MERCY BY M ENSA H DEM A RY
t started with memory. Let’s assume it was a childhood memory, maybe from days in the South before Jim Crow was hanged in a town square somewhere in North Carolina. There was never much talk about what happened back then. There was history, sure, yet your mother never felt compelled to share it with you. Like sex education and money management, she left it up to the schools to color in the lines. Or something more recent — a memory shared far too often. Toward the end of a triple shift, fragmented by two-hour naps every eight hours: the life of a nurse in a down-and-out hospital. Something about a syringe. Something about administering some CCs of a painkiller. She drew back the plunger, the cylinder filled with fluid and she nodded off. On her feet. For a second, maybe two. In went the syringe. Convulsions. Defibrillation. There was a flatline. Code blue. A consortium of doctors rushed the room and filled out reports. They held a tribunal, called a Morbidity & Mortality, and she sat under the spotlight. Their fingers pointed. “Lawsuit,” they screamed. “Liability. Insurance Premiums. Through the roof.” There was an affinity for green, tubular glass — a cocktail after dinner. Just one. And enjoyed slowly. She was set aflame like a yuletide log on channel eleven. And she smiled, which was rare. Rarer since your father left. And who were you to judge? Let her live. She killed a man. Let her live, you said to yourself. But that was then, when you still lived at home. No checks, no balances. Over time, a week or two, the drink came earlier. Before dinner, before Oprah, before a nap, before lunch, breakfast, brushing of teeth and hair, before a shower, before the crud was wiped from her eyes. The bottle was on her nightstand, in her hand, on the coffee table, the dinner table, in her hand, to her lips, again and again. Your mother was a happy drunk, then a sullen louse, locked in her bedroom for her a
day. After that, there was bitterness. “He left me,” you heard her say. “Fuck him.” From there, inconsolable regret, the guilt only a trained man of God could decode. “I killed. Oh Jesus, help me, I killed him, please forgive me I was so sleepy and they refused to hire new nurses or temps or Mexicans off the street God please forgive me.” Something like that. In the past, you caught her: setting pictures on fire; writing on walls; praying naked in the bathroom; naked in the bathroom (not praying, but face down, asleep); whipping your sister with a wire hanger. Only a genuine heart would find it prudent to participate in self-destruction. Heartfelt as your theory was, it never explained why you and your sister caught the worst of it. Some of this you know firsthand, some came from your sister, the rest is conjecture. Here are the truths. You blamed her for your dropping out of college; for giving your father cause to start a new family, a better one. Though you protected your sister, whatever warped sense of self, of womanhood, she’d come to believe, you would blame your mother for that, too. There were boxes. Money saved. Deposit plus one month’s rent. A couple of bucks and a spare key to your sister. “Guard this shit with your life,” you told her. In your mind, you had plans. A little more money needed—that was your excuse—to get your sister out, to finish raising her. You’ll never know why your mother climbed into the car, why she made your sister ride shotgun. But you remember two bodies, two sets of feminine feet, one smaller than the other, jutted from under the sheets. Blank manilla tags dangled from their left big toes. Behind the glass, you forgot yourself, your plans, and wept. You banged on the glass. “Hurry the fuck up,” you said. On the other side of the glass, a nurse in white scrubs nodded. She pulled back the sheets— both — at the same time. www.fourculture.com 11
BY SERENA BUTLER
hen you think of Scandinavia what comes to mind? Vikings? IKEA? How about music? In my eyes, the best thing about Scandinavia is the pop music. The truth is you can’t think of the region without thinking about Abba, A-ha, and even Aqua. Recently there’s been a new influx of Scandipop invading the airwaves. For this issue of Fourculture, it’s no different. Scandinavia dominates the pop scene AGAIN. Today, our focus is on Norway’s up and coming indie pop band, Kid Astray. Since schoolmates Benjamin Giørtz (lead vocals/piano), Elizabeth Wu (synths/vocals), Even Steine (guitar), Alex Meek (guitar), Håkon Carlin (bass/synth) and Jakob Bechmann (drums/vocals) formed Kid Astray in 2010 the momentum has not stopped. The band had been gaining the attention of local ears when their song entitled “The Mess”, written only in six hours, earned them airplay on NRK Urørt (or NRK Untouched). These airplays lead to the chance to play one of the biggest venues in Oslo as well as a few slots in many Scandinavian festivals. With the 2013 debut EP release Easily Lead Astray the blogosphere quickly caught wind. Kid Astray had something special that the world needed to know about. The band would exit 2014 with the release of their second EP, Taking You with Me, to again massive blog attention. We had the chance to talk with Kid Astray about the formation of the debut LP with an expected 2015 release, what it’s like to be a Scandinavian pop band, their unique taste in photography and much more. So sit back on your IKEA chair with your Viking helmet on. It’s time for Scandinavia to show the world how pop is done.
Your Facebook bio states that you guys came up with the name Kid Astray after hearing a random song lyric. What was that song? What about hearing the word “Astray” caused you to want to stick with it as your band name? Jakob: The lyric came from the song “The Mouse and the Bear” by Sassybeat, some friends of us from our school. We actually didn’t know what the word meant, so we had to look it up. Håkon: At that point we were in the middle of changing the direction we wanted to go musically, so we were struggling to find a name that both sounded good and could fit with this new sound. We just threw a “Kid” in there and the vibe of the name felt right.
weeks in high school. The dreams of making it were there, but the original plan was really just having fun playing together. Jakob: We actually played our first show only three weeks after we all had met! The band has been releasing videos under your “Meet Kid Astray” series. This is quite a unique endeavor. What was the catalyst to release videos to introduce the band aside from just releasing the music? Håkon: Well, we thought it would be nice to let people get to know us! There are six of us, and getting all of our lovely personalities through to fans can be a challenge. And exploring new ways to use the internet to connect with people is exciting.
is pointed out. What goes down in the writing room? Håkon: It’s the one room we have entirely for ourself, so pretty much everything happens there. We write new songs, record demos, store equipment, discuss, debate, spread gossip, hire and fire people in there. At the moment we’re sitting in here answering this interview. Speaking of writing, the biggest subject that you cover throughout your music is love. What makes it such a favorite theme for you? Jakob: It’s indeed the biggest subject. We often write about love because it’s relevant for all of us. We’re all young and (cheese-alert) love is exciting! [laughs] In the video where we meet your guitarist Alex, we’re introduced to the “Kid Astray sound” in which the quick reverb from the guitar is shown as an example. What defines the Kid Astray sound from other electro pop outfits? Håkon: The guitars are perhaps what makes us stick out the most, as other electro pop acts really doesn’t use guitars as extensively and the way we do. We have these two cool guitarists, and both are vital to how we sound. Our sound is quite organic though, contantly expanding and changing as we implement stuff we find fitting and cool, so who knows how we’ll sound in five years. December 15 brings the release of your final EP prior to the debut release. What can you tell us about this release? How do you feel this EP might serve as a lead in/introduction to your full length? Håkon: Though we recorded most of the album in Manchester, we also recorded some singles in Liverpool last year. On this EP you sort of get a taste of the joining of these two sessions, and a taste of some of the variety one can expect from the full length. A small appetizer. What makes a Kid Astray show special? What can the audience expect at a Kid Astray show? Jakob: We always get great feedback when we've done a show. You should come sometime, you'll see.
First of all, I’m completely in love with your video for “Back to the Ordinary.” How did the concept for the video come together? Håkon: The concept was something You guys came together in high school. Petter Holmsen, the director, came up with At what point did you decide that you be- In the Meet Kid Astray videos you in- after hearing what direction we wanted to troduce us to your studio in Sandvika. go visually. It ended up…developing unlong in a band together? Håkon: We got together one of the first In one segment, the “writing room” derway though. Originally we weren’t sup-
As a product of the full time music education in Norway, how do you feel this affected your development as a band? Do you feel that this education had an influence on your sound? Håkon: One of the best things about studying music was having the opportunity to play and hang around with so many different and talented people. Getting some Elizabeth, there is a sea of boys around knowledge about music didn’t make things you. What is it like to be the only girl in worse either. It have made us very critical to the band? Are there any brotherly/sis- music in general though. terly fights? How does this affect the dynamic of the band? It is no secret that Scandinavia is a domElizabeth: It is actually very nice! It re- inate powerhouse in pop. How has the sults in a lot of junk food (especially kebab) music coming from the region inspired and guy humor, which I've gotten used to by and/or affected the music of Kid Astray? now. And I've discovered a lot of guy probHåkon: Oh, tricky. It’s hard to say if mulems that I never knew about before. Did sic from this region has affected our music you know that beards are itchy? I had no generally, but it’s definitely very inspiring idea until I played in a band with five guys. that so many acts have made success out Aside from that there are a lot of privileges in the world. of being the only girl. I always get my own hotel room and I never have to carry the In Jakob’s “Meet Kid Astray” video, heaviest equipment. Yay. And since I'm a we learned that you guys like to buy girl, I'm allowed to be totally starstruck at pictures in frames and hang them in meeting Imagine Dragons backstage when the studio. What would you say is the we support them. Especially when Ben most obscure/odd/strange photo you’ve McKee (the bassist) says that he likes our framed? Why? sound. AAAAH! posed to be completely covered in makeup, but it had been a long day of filming, we were tired, the kids were bored and impatient. When Petter instructed them to start putting makeup on us and each other it didn’t take long until everything was complete mayhem. They simply revolted. And it was perfect.
Håkon: [laughs] We bought an old family photo at a flea market from like…the early 20th century-ish. Some of the kids in the photo look like they might have been sick with tuberculosis. Jeez. We had to add some pictures of puppies and cats just to make up for the extreme creepiness. Finally, Fourculture wants to know: What are your four favorite things – the four things you couldn’t (or just don’t want to) live without? Jakob: Oxygen never gets the credit it deserves! Oxygen is the best thing in the whole world! Though when it’s gone, people suddenly think it’s real fucking important getting some. People these days...So yeah - oxygen, good food, Norwegian water and at this time of the year, Christmas. And speaking of Christmas! Have a merry one!
www.kidastray.com www.fourculture.com 15
Motion with Emotion BY PAUL DAV I ES PH OTOG R A PH Y BY BR I A N SL ATER A ND A NDR E W M I LLER www.fourculture.com 17
Fallen Angels Dance Theatre â€œexists to break down barriers and change perceptions of what live theatre can beâ€?. The stage is occupied by former addicts, each with their own recovery story portrayed through their movements but these are non-dancers, with no theatrical background, so how can this work? This is the challenge for founder and choreographer, Paul Bayes Kitcher. In the last year the group has gone from performing at small, local showcase events to full houses at established venues like The Lowry, Salford and the Royal Opera House, London. They were even asked personally to perform at the book launch of Russell Brand. The group is not all about the big performances though. They have recently become a charity due to the primary participatory work they do with people in the local community, specifically in addiction and recovery. They also work with a focus on young people and prisons. I caught up with Paul to talk about the group and its impressive recent achievements...
allen Angels is all about stories and Paul’s own background sets the scene for how the group came about. He trained at The Royal Ballet school, went to Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and had his first professional job with Scottish Ballet. “Yeah, I danced for four years all over the world. I danced with Peter Darrell, a fantastic director and was fortunate enough to audition for Royal Ballet and then worked there for eight years. I became a soloist and worked with some amazing choreographers, Sir Kenneth McMillan, David Bintley, Sir Peter Wright... “ Despite this promise his own addiction meant that Paul became, in his words, ‘a stray’. “After that I ended up in treatment/rehab and after two years of leaving my ballet career it was so painful for me to even look at dance I couldn’t even...you know what I mean? I was kind of at the jumping off point, that kind of desperation. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t stop using. “Fortunately I got into recovery and found I still really loved dance. I started teaching little bits a couple of years into sobriety and started experimenting with bits of choreography and then a few years
later on it just felt right that I put the two together — passionate about recovery and passionate about dance. And recovery is all about kind of getting ‘out of self’ and helping people and about passing on what you know so I could pass on the tools of recovery, the gifts of recovery, but also the tools I had learned as a dancer as well and then it kind of went from there really. It’s strange how it has snowballed into this quite, you know, (laughs) this thing, Fallen Angels. The places we have been and stuff like that, it’s pretty mad that, you know...little ideas? But my goal wasn’t to do all that, it’s kind of happened organically.” Ironically it was a period when he seemed to have hit a creative block when the group started to show the potential it could have: “We had some funding from the Arts Council in 2011 and we were exploring themes of recovery and dance theatre and the ideas weren’t flowing. I came home in the night you know and thinking something’s not working. “Anyway I was teaching movement in the rehab the next day. There was a guy called Jason who had just got out of prison, 19 years armed robbery, heroin addiction, and I looked at him and thought ‘Oh God’, you know, he’s quite an intimidating
character, skinhead and everything. In the break he showed me this picture on his phone, this painting, and I was like ‘what’s that?’ and he said, ‘Oh I painted that in prison.’ I was like, wow, it was absolutely stunning. I could really relate to it from my personal journey of recovery because it showed the darkness, the suffering and the pain but also the rebirth, the enlightenment and the spiritual growth. So we did some creative writing around it and I was really inspired. It was one of those sessions where I came out like, wow, just like goose bumps, like this guy has just really inspired me, you know, and I never thought...in the most unlikely place, you know what I mean, just bang like that! “So the next day I was in the studio and we started to work from the painting he had shown me and the ideas just started to flow, the creativity just came. We created this beautiful duet called ‘Sacrifice’, named after his painting. It was a duet about heroin addiction, about the loss and the disruption but also there was light in it as well. It was beautiful and it was ugly at the same time kind of a bit like addiction. And I took this footage back to him a week later and this guy had never been in a theatre before and I showed him the footage. I mean a week ago he was bouncing off the walls, quite
“SACRIFICE” BY JASON FERRIS 22 www.fourculture.com
intimidating, and he looked at the screen and he just couldn’t speak and he just broke down in tears and I was like, wow, that’s really got me, and from that moment I thought well maybe we’ve got something here. “A lot of people from maybe working class backgrounds or people in addiction, they don’t get the opportunity to go to theatres, never mind relate to it, so the fact he could relate to it on a personal level was really powerful and so that was the birth of the creativity and it kind of went from strength to strength. “He came to see the last performance at The Lowry actually, he was sitting behind me and it was really nice to have him there, you know, three years later on. It was a good connection and he’s doing really well now, totally different to what he was like, a really calm person.’ Fallen Angels Dance Theatre has three groups in North-West England (Liverpool, Chester and Wigan) focusing on recovery through dance. Paul describes the dance as ‘exploring and creating authenticity of movement in people’s recovery stories.’ After six weeks, if they want to continue on with it then they join ‘Risen’ (a group within Fallen Angels) and go on to do the actual performances. They have to be at the abstinence stage in recovery and become an advocate for recovery. “The groups I was teaching in rehab wanted to start performing as well so we started doing small performances. I will choreograph now but I direct more. I’m really interested in how our non-dancers make these kind of shapes, having never been trained before, because they’ve obviously lived it, so they create this incredible movement that a trained dancer wouldn’t necessarily have come up with. “We have recently gone on to have professional dancers and our non-professional, recovery dancers in the same space together and this created a fantastic energy. The recovery dancers have authentic shapes and this honest movement, and the professionals have the know how to hold themselves, the technique, and how to breathe and project on stage so everybody was kind of learning from each other. Everybody felt valued, everybody had a voice, and once you try and create that environment in rehearsal space, everyone has this mutual trust for each other and then you just take it on a journey and then the creativity goes from strength to strength which is pretty powerful.” The work that the professional dancers did alongside the recovery dancers is captured beautifully in the short film ‘Upon Awakening’ by Badkamra TV. The recent theatre performances however have been split between pieces from the Risen ‘non dancers’ followed by pieces from profes-
sional dancers. “The first big one we did at The Lowry, I wasn’t too sure what the audience reaction would be as we’d never done anything like that before. Coming from a pro background I thought the professional dancers were going to get the emotion out of the audience. It wasn’t until after ‘Risen’ had done their second piece, I remember standing at the interval and there was this lady who came up to one of the guys, one of the recovery dancers who’d been on stage, and just out of blue she threw her arms around him and just broke down in tears. I’ve seen lots of different dance performances as well and I had never seen that reaction, you know, coming out crying but really moved. Maybe for some people it gave hope, some people could think, you know, maybe it could have been my son who could have been affected by the issue. It got quite deep with people. I was really shocked by the impact it had. Obviously the professionals are fantastic because they portray it in a different way, but it always surprises me that it’s the non-dancers that get the...even the last performance at the Royal Opera House, there was a review that pointed out the nondancers, and the Chief Executive of the place said he was in tears watching it.’ Like any charity, the group faces many
challenges but often the idea of Fallen Angels itself is not one that people can easily grasp or relate to “Sometimes when we do presentations to people who haven’t seen us it is difficult to explain to people as they can’t see how dance can impact someone’s life who hasn’t danced before. It’s like, ‘no, get them growing vegetables in an allotment, that will help’. And I can see their point, as being a dancer myself I would have thought the same. It is not until you see it visually in the studio or as a performance that people realise it is pretty powerful. “What it does is kind of filter off into other areas of their lives. Getting up on stage helps their self-confidence and connecting again with people. I know my first seven months in recovery I found it difficult to speak to people. I was sat on my hands looking at the floor, my head was that shot. It was like someone had a noose around my neck, I couldn’t actually get it off because of the fear. Some people act differently when you get them to do creative writing or movement generally and once they start doing that it branches out to other areas of their life. So I get a lot of reactions like ‘Dance? No, that’s not gonna work.’ They look at you as if you are mad.” It is clear that the group is not just www.fourculture.com 23
about the dance. Paul speaks of the group as being like a big family. It is a large support network where there is total trust with each other. Group sessions might start with some meditation or even with a ‘check in’ where people can express feelings as well. “Coming from a dance background like ballet, you are told what to do, when to do it, and it doesn’t matter about your emotional state, you will do it no matter what, so this is really like the other side of it so it’s nice to connect with it. Once you nurture that as well then everybody feels like they have got something. “When I was at the school it was like being in the army. It was hell, the few years I had in the school. It’s not like that anymore though. It probably did a lot of damage. It got results but when you are away from home when you’re that young it can have quite a significant psychological effect on people. That’s why it’s nice for me to come back to dance in a more holistic way, like seeing how people move and nurturing that rather than it being competitive. Here there
is no competition or hierarchy.” Despite Paul’s dance background, you can see that the performances are just the icing on the cake and it is the development of the individuals within the group and their progress that is the real motivation. People may get referred to them through recovery agencies but they do a lot of work in recovery hubs and gain a lot of dancers through word of mouth. Earlier in the day he had worked with two homeless people in Liverpool, one who had been on the streets from the age of 12 and today had danced in front of people for the first time since she was 4 years old. “People come along and see the performances, which are fantastic, but what really inspires me is the journey that the people take that the audience doesn’t see which we try and capture on film. Everybody we work with has a story. “One guy, Pat, he came in and he won’t mind me saying this, but looked like he was on his last legs. Here he was, 60 years of age, a methadone/heroin addict and he looked bad. You shouldn’t judge, but I
looked at him and thought ‘he’s not coming back next week’. “A week later, he was back and he is still with us now. We can’t get rid of him. (laughs) No – he is amazing and he’s got this...he moves like a classical ballet dancer. It’s weird because when he’s on stage he’s just got this amazing presence and it’s a gift. You know, he stands on stage and he just commands it, it’s just phenomenal, this spirit inside him. I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like it to be honest. His Key Worker said that two weeks into the project he bought a clean white t-shirt because he wanted to start...he was starting to respect the way he was looking, like coming off his script. There was one service who had tried to engage him for a long time but couldn’t and it is only through dance, and this guy has never danced before in his life....and it’s always the most unlikely people. “The stories of individuals keep the momentum going. Just seeing them on stage and doing their stuff and I know their barriers that they have to go through to get up there and do it. As a performer, you get www.fourculture.com 25
The more you let go of fear, the more you let go of ego and the more you let go of your ‘self’ then you start to connect with something deeper than that and your body just starts moving naturally in this really amazing way, you know, an amazing quality comes out of it.
adrenalin and fear that can paralyse you. For these people who have mental health, who have never performed before, I have total respect.” The stories and the movements of the recovery dancers are what makes the group unique and in an age where we categorise and label any art form for convenience it is refreshing to see something that transcends this. Paul describes the dance as ‘authentic somatic practice’: “It is just looking at an individual’s body, seeing how they would work choreographically and then how you would manipulate that to get the maximum impact that it would have on the person doing the dance, the connection from the soul, and once you connect with that then the projection from 26 www.fourculture.com
that will hit the audience. “A lot of people in recovery sometimes get a lot of fear and self-obsession and some of the improvisation tools that we do is kind of letting go of fear, which is why we do meditation in the beginning. The more you let go of fear, the more you let go of ego and the more you let go of your ‘self’ then you start to connect with something deeper than that and your body just starts moving naturally in this really amazing way, you know, an amazing quality comes out of it. However, the minute fear comes in then it gets restricted and you start to think, ‘oh, what do I look like? Do I look like a bit of a dick?’ you know, you get really self-conscious. It’s stripping that away. “It’s funny as ballet is very self-aware,
you are always looking at yourself in a mirror, correcting every single detail, striving for perfection but you can never perfect. It’s becoming quite athletic which is amazing, I really appreciate it. I think ballet is an amazing art form but it’s great to get away from that, and go back to something deeper — and I think that’s what comes across when the guys are performing. It’s something here... (gestures to heart area), rather than the shape you are making as once you are aware of the shape you are making it becomes false as you are looking at the line or whatever. If you feel it from here then it will come out anyway. “I always tell them when they’re on stage to connect with everybody else rather than thinking about themselves. I mean addicts
are very selfish during active addiction so the other side is letting go of that and it’s like selflessness and being part of the energy that is ‘everyone’ rather than the individual.” With the emphasis on feeling rather than line or form, does that mean there is an element of improvisation or unpredictability within the show? “There are certain people in recovery group who find it hard to cement movement down and likewise there are certain pro dancers who find it hard to improvise so these have to be shown a frame or a pathway, almost like a journey to work from. To get into specific detail and refine it would be too much. There is choreography and a frame but there are some that go off and are more like improvised. So you never know
what you are going to get, there can be slight differences. But there are key points, we say ‘this is the feeling to work from’, so it is going with the emotion then the physicality of it. Once you feel the connection then it’ll come out.” 2014 saw the group expand and perform at these high profile events and venues. How has the group managed to grow so much in a short period of time? “To be honest we live, eat, and sleep it. I get up at 7 o clock in the morning and there is always stuff to do. It’s quite overwhelming sometimes. I believe in spirituality and there have been people in our path at certain times that have helped us on this journey, really strange. Like Robert Fox, the film producer. I just went up to him at a conference, I gave him a card and he said to send an email. He said he’d love to be able to help, he’s in long-term recovery himself, he’d seen our video and was really moved, but didn’t know how. So I went down to London to meet him for a coffee last year. “So I’m sitting in Knightsbridge thinking what the hell am I doing here, and he comes in. He says ‘I don’t want to talk about me because it’s effing boring. Let’s talk about what you do,’ so he put me at rest straight away. I started talking about prison stuff, a few case studies and said I’d worked with Sir Kenneth McMillan before he died. His eyes lit up, he said ‘wait a minute’, he made a phone call and then he took me across the road to his office and I was walking up the stairs and there were all these posters of Royal Ballet, you know. (McMillan-choreographed) ‘Manon’, ‘Mayerling’... all on the walls. And I thought, this was strange, here’s this guy, this film producer I have come down to London to have a coffee with, and he’s only the agent for all the McMillan ballets! You know, it’s just weird...things like that. So he got on board with it, he came up to Liverpool and he helped us and was at the London event recently and there’s just some really beautiful people. It’s like Russell Brand coming on board, emailing us and asking if we wanted to do a book launch.’ Russell Brand had been invited to the Royal Opera House performance in London but couldn’t make it due to commitments in America at the time. As an actor/presenter turned political commentator he has undergone something of a rebirth himself and is an advocate for recovery. He invited the group to perform at his London book launch in October. “That was pretty surreal as well,” Paul recalls. “He’d hired this big warehouse and it was supposed to be an intimate event but it got tweeted about so there was about a thousand people there. It was quite full
on. I came away thinking it was great to be invited and really appreciated it but I still get more of a buzz being in the prison if you see what I mean. There was all this hype around it, you know, wow, Russell Brand! The performance was good and he tweeted about us which was really nice of him and that went out to 30 million or whatever it was which is insane and I really love Russell Brand as he’s doing a lot of really positive stuff, like saying recovery and people in addiction is an illness and they shouldn’t be thrown into jail, they should be rehabilitated. I love the guy to bits. “I sent him down the video of the promo of our film and he sent back a message: ‘really proud of what you are doing for the recovery community’. The highlight of an eventful 2014 though has to be the performance at the Royal Opera House in November. Their first major theatre performance outside of the North West, and for Paul it was a case of coming full circle to the place where he had once studied. “It was unbelievable to be there at such a prestigious place. What I loved about it was we had homeless charities from London there with their clients and people still struggling in addiction, and then we had MPs and directors of the Royal Ballet and a lot of their staff. There was such a mixture of people and they all connected with it. Robert Fox was there, Paul O’Grady and a few other high profile people were there. It was great, it went really smoothly and we’ve been invited back next year which is always a good sign. “Obviously I was at the school years ago so I was brought up through that and I danced with Kevin O’Hare who is now a director of Royal Ballet there so it was nice for him to see the work I am doing now because he saw me in the company when I was a bit of a stray. (laughs) It was almost like ‘coming back’. I was going to say something in the speech actually about thanks for allowing me back in the building. (laughs) It was so well-received and hopefully we can build a relationship with them and just having a photo of me and Damian, with his great mohawk and tattoos, alongside the director of ballet is great! “The feedback from the Royal Opera House staff was also great. They said we were the most amazing company in that we ‘don’t ask for much’. Well, we’re used to sleeping in bushes (laughs) so we’re not demanding dressing rooms or anything! “What is good is with these events is we’ve never had a presence in London before and what really helps is the planning that went into it. I’m just a dancer and an addict so I don’t know about strategic planning and all that, so there is a lot of work that goes on www.fourculture.com 27
behind the scenes, getting people there at the right time, technicians...it is full on. “Becoming a charity and having a Board to help has taken a lot of pressure off us. The recent performances have been a celebration of the launch of us as a charity really. These have seen us look for potential programmers and supporters to help us on the journey.” So what of 2015, what is in store for Fallen Angels Dance Theatre? “We are hoping to tour later next year from October. Hopefully we’ll be returning to Royal Opera House and The Lowry as they have always supported us. It would be nice to branch out a bit more. We have a strong following in the North West but we are having talks about a performance in Birmingham. That London event we just did means that people are starting to hear about us. “It’d also be a real dream of mine to do a piece that was totally integrated with the professional dancers and recovery dancers on at the same time. The thing is, we would need a longer rehearsal process to do this and would need to work with specific people separately. I am quite sensitive and people with these backgrounds are vulnerable and their feelings are more valuable than getting a piece on. It is being mindful of how it looks to be selecting certain people for specific work. Like saying ‘right you two people need to come in this week and you four aren’t’. “That idea would be another stumbling block. People will naturally say that it’s not going to work. Kate Flatt, my mentor, she choreographed Les Miserables, and does a lot of stuff with Royal Opera and she can see it....so I am going with that! She gets it, she really feels it. “Some people I think look at it more from a technical angle. When I go to a theatre I just want to be moved. I see dance that is very technical and I appreciate the time and energy put into it but I don’t think about it, it doesn’t stay with me. I would rather go to see something that is genuine and next morning I am still thinking about it. I think there is space for everybody.”
Click here to view the short documentary film ‘Upon Awakening’ www.fallenangelsdancetheatre.co.uk
ARE YOU LISTENING?
g the stew without feelings of discontent that while you operated within a condensed body you did not give in to the constrains around you that further condensed you
Don’t draw outside the lines, yet that’s the best place to draw. Follow the rules or you may lose your mind. L
THE INNER GALATIC CLIMB
BY AUGUST Z DR ENN A
he scratching and clawing of life from womb to tomb. I drink my orange juice each morning to embark upon endless contemplation of life. We’re on a journey, climbing out of the pit of human stupidity since birth. Yet, nobody wins. It’s been one stumbling block after another. We must first survive childhood and then overcome the pitfalls of growth. I feel cheated by my elders, because they were stupider than I was. I wonder what it’s like to be a child raised by smart people. I don’t mean to tell you that my parents were stupid. They were naive. Everyone around me was naive. Everyone around me is naive. People are clueless from one generation to the next, part stupidity and part a hopeful blindness to the truths. We are animals on this rock, you and I. There is no god; save the great expanses of primordial stew we are swirling in endless dance. A planet nestled in a solar system which is cradled in the galaxy that folds into a universe neighboring countless other universes. I sit upon a pebble within a large scale structure of the local universe and they want me to believe in a white-robed god. They raise us to think about Santa Clause, Easter Bunnies, Jesus Christs and to lay our trust at the feet of the Tooth Fairy. My mentors and lecturers would have me believe 2+2=4 and that Christopher Columbus discovered America. That taxes are real things while meditating on mountaintops haven’t a thing to do with the price of tea in China. This existence makes me feel like a bull in a China tea shop. I’ve been rattling and shaking the cage every step of the way. You’ve got to shake and you must rattle to loosen a grain of truth in this tightly knit ball of uptight lies. Lies from fear and fibs to keep the cannibalistic truths of our very humanity at bay. My parents weren’t dumb people. They just rambled along a rusty beaten path of a tribe who loved to strap their blinders on at any given opportunity. Let’s celebrate Christmas this year so we can celebrate it next year. Please do come over for dinner so we may have the same dinner again in another month. Let’s use this short time together to be bland and repetitive, over and over again. I sorted through a mass quantity of religions and non-religions. I weeded through government policies of here, there and somewhere else. My self-flogging has yet to stop, but I now beat myself for wasting time not reading enough books. Which is a much better place to be than killing myself over false doubt that I may be committing sins or conducting myself immorally. Don’t draw outside the lines, yet that’s the best place to draw. Follow the rules or you may lose your mind. Lose your mind and you may find you have a soul. Find your inner truth to be connected to a big swirling ball of cosmic soup that has no meaning and all the meaning rolled into one expanse. Get lost to get real and get real to get really lost. It’s about inner peace. It’s about entering the stew without feelings of discontent that while you operated within a condensed body you did not give in to the constrains around you that further condensed your body.
ose your mind and you may find you have a soul. Find your inner truth to be connected to a big swirling ball of cosmic soup that has no meaning and all the meanin
g rolled into one expanse. Get lost to get real and get real to get really lost. It’s about inner peace. It’s about enterin
hen I was managing the shop in Studio City, I never knew who would walk in through the door. I had regular customers as well as a constant flow of men who were taking their first trembling, awkward steps to affirming or exploring womanhood. A few hard core fetishists, gawkers and tranny chasers made my days interesting. I managed the Studio City, California branch of a national chain that sold products and services to the crossdressing and trans community, but my job entailed more. I was confessor, confidant, stylist, diplomat, dominatrix, facilitator, drag mother, shopgirl, makeup artist, and most often, the psychological equivalent of a Paramedic, handing out the numbers of the LA Gender Center and other reputable therapists to sobbing boys who were finally coming clean to Someone Who Understood. Studio City was an unlikely location for the shop. It is an upscale bedroom community for Film Industry types as well as other Mercedes Benz target consumers, but there we were, like an accepted eccentric family member. The shop was an historic relic of the days when it shared a parking lot with the Queen Mary Show lounge, the grand dame of all drag bars with a show in the front and a bar full of trans folk in the back. The shop had always been a hub for the transformation and makeover process, and now I was managing it for the new owner.
It was a slow Friday night in early winter, just before the Holidays. The door buzzer went off, and a small, slender woman wearing jeans and a blue peacoat walked in.The Valley was cold that night; down in the forties; she wore a knit lavender scarf and a cute knit beanie which she shyly took off before speaking. Her hair was a short, soft looking blonde fuzz. “HI, you sell wigs here, don’t you?” There were wigs all around us, on foam heads. “Yes!” I said, enthusiastically and affirmatively. I held out my hand; “I’m Darya; what can I help you with?” She took my hand in both of hers and a smile broke across her face.”So nice to meet you, Darya…My name is Julie.” she looked around the shop. “It looks like you have fun stuff here...” “Most of my clients are boys who want to become girls” I said,” so yes…we have lots of fun here.” Her face lit up even more.”Really? That’s so cool! You must have stories...” I told her I did. She paused for a moment, and stared off into space. She pulled a bottle of water from her large bag and took a long drink. “I’m recovering from breast cancer. The holidays were horrible last year.” She had beautiful light blue eyes I now saw for the first time, and they were looking deep within mine to find my reaction. “it was just a week ago that my results came back clean; I’m in
remission for now.” “Wow, I said…that’s great!” I honestly didn’t know what else to say. “Thank you”. She said it with a beautiful half-smile. I could tell she meant it. “I have two holiday parties to go to, and I want to celebrate. The high end wig shops I’ve gone to treat me like a patient and not a customer...almost like I’m not even a woman anymore...” Her eyes were tearing up and I gave her a tissue. She began to laugh. “I’m not crying because I’m sad, I’m crying because I’m really pissed off!” We both laughed together at that one; she grabbed my hand. “Honest to God...” she said “People are so weird about cancer...they forgot I was human, and start doing this weird patronizing shit…” she shook her head “...they tried sell me a goddamn thousand dollar wig, and all the time looking over anxiously at my husband for his approval, as though I was a goddamn invalid, as if I had no...” She looked up at me and didn’t finish her sentence. “I want to have fun, you know? I’m alive.” “Our most expensive wig costs a lot less than a thousand dollars…” I said, “...but I do kind of a hard sell.” She laughed again. I motioned for her to sit down in front of the makeup mirror in our well worn swivel stool with a chair back. “I’ve got this blue velvet dress for this one party. I want to look cute.” I grabbed a few of our best selling wigs
BY DARYA TEESEWELL
“I was confessor, confidant, stylist, diplomat, dominatrix, facilitator, drag mother, shopgirl, makeup artist, and most often, the psychological equivalent of a Paramedic...”
in different colors, and threw them on the counter. I fitted a wig cap over her soft fuzz. “Hold your finger here” I told her when I fitted the front part of the wig on her front hairline “and I’ll pull it onto your head.” I had started with a light blonde one, almost platinum; it was a sassy modern shag tribute to Jane Fonda’s hair style in Klute, and it looked fabulous on her, especially with her eye color. I brushed it into better shape, and spun her around to see. She laughed out loud and then got closer to the mirror “Wow. I look great, huh?” “With a blue dress? Please, you’ll look amazing.” I said. “How about one that’s a little closer to your natural color...or how about one that’s not even close?” She tried the same style on in a frosted dishwater blonde, then a red, then dark brown with blonde highlights. She loved the first one, and I agreed. I asked her if she wanted to try some other styles on too, for fun, if nothing else. “Can I?” she said. “I feel like I’m eleven years old.” I reached up on my wall and put a black feather boa around her neck. “Welcome to the playhouse…” I said. She tried on short ones, curly ones, and a long straight blonde one she liked enough to ask the price on. I told her it was ninetyfive bucks. “That goes in the keeper pile!” she said. She asked me to put some eyelashes on her and give her a tutorial, which I gladly did; bend them the way they curve, set
them on the inside close to the nose and set the whole lash down gently; she did the right side like an expert. “I love some of the shoes you have” she said, “got anything I can try on?” Most of the shoes in my shop ran from size nine US to size 15 US. I was skeptical. She was a size seven as it turned out, but fortunately, my boss was a genius at finding closeouts and I had a few shoes in size eight and one or two in size 7½. It turned out that one of the 7½s was a black patent platform with a five inch heel that her feet were destined to wear. She loved them and began to do catwalk poses for me until we both were reduced to tears of laughter. “I’m so glad I walked in here.” There was color in her face. “I’m going to blow their minds.” She had now decided she’d wear the light blonde shag, the blue dress, and the sexy shoes. I showed her once again how fit the wig snugly on her head. “You’ll need to punch up your eyes just a bit, though these eyelashes will get you pretty close to there…” I showed her a lipstick we carried that was a pale pink. “You’re already doing a bit of a 60’s retro look. This might pull it together.” She had another drink of water. Her lips were a little parched, but she let me paint some of the pink color on them with a brush. I spun her chair so she could see herself, and she smiled broadly and reached up and took my hand. She didn’t need to say
anything. We tried some sparkly rhinestone earrings on her; some small dangly ones had just the right blingfor her delicate face. As I was ringing her up she asked me about myself. She was a little surprised, but also pleased that I was married and had children. She didn’t envy how far I had to drive home. She looked up at me, then gave me a huge and lasting hug. “You’ve made me so happy’’’ she said. “I forgot what it was like to just have fun with a girlfriend.” She reached up and gave me a kiss on the lips. “I’ll never forget you. Thank you.” No one else came in the rest of the night. I stepped outside and sat down on the steps to smoke a cigarette. I couldn't help thinking about the transformative power of fake hair and some cheap sexy shoes. I saw it every day, but I saw it so clearly in her. The world had been defining her as “cancer”, “sick” and in whispered tones, I’m sure, “poor, brave, dear Julie”. If we had done our job correctly, the reaction would now be along the lines of “She had cancer?! The bitch looks better than I do!” The cold air was on my face; I felt grateful. This holiday season, Julie was a warrior battling to reclaim her power, her love and her life. I felt humble; I’d never forget her, either. Once in a while, when I least expected it, someone would walk in the front door and transform me. www.fourculture.com 33
Undeniable: Jukebox The Ghost BY KATHY CREIGHTON PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC RYAN ANDERSON
s it has been for the past half a century, mainstream music in the US consists mostly of pop music. However, most of today's great pop resides under the radar. Three of those great artists are Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel and Jesse Kristin. This trio came together at George Washington University in 2004 and began creating songs with a very unique sound and personality. They released their first LP, Let Live and Let Ghosts, in 2008. Since then they have toured relentlessly which has seen them as an opener for huge names such as Ben Folds and Barenaked Ladies. They released their fourth studio album in October of this year, a compilation of work that proves that Jukebox The Ghost is genuinely talented and in this for the long haul. Music has been their full-time job for the past FIVEyears. Introduced to Jukebox The Ghost in Bridgeport, Connecticut four years ago on the Barenaked Ladies tour, their impact was major. The ability to hold their own with such a blockbuster group was almost effortless. It became even more impressive when paired with it being their last night on the tour and having to deal with being pranked by Ed Robinson during the slowest love ballad of their set. Robinson danced around the stage in nothing but a towel as the band continued to maintain the emotion of the song without totally losing their composure. Jukebox The Ghost continued to impress with their response when invited to perform “Alcohol” with Barenaked Ladies during the encore and in turn took to their instruments clad in terrycloth. It was awesome to see these guys bring the headliners to their knees with laughter and was the perfect ending to an amazing concert by both bands. However, the absolute best part of the evening was learning that Jukebox The Ghost comes with a wonderful side effect that kicks in shortly after the show...an addiction to their ear-wormy, hooky, dancey, singey pop music for which they are not just totally unapologetic but own with the very core of their beings. Jukebox came together with an interesting combination of local influences. Ben is a native of Louisville, KY which he describes as “a culturally vibrant city. There are more chef-owned restaurants than anywhere else in the US per capita. It's this cool little liberal bubble. It's a kind of like Austin, TX. Surrounded by crazy people.” Tommy is from Richmond, VA and Jesse is “Boston Strong”. They continued to add to that mix in their moves since leaving GWU. The band migrated north to Philadelphia first. Recently, due to having made many friends 36 www.fourculture.com
along the way who were already based there, they continued up the coast and are residing in Brooklyn. In the most recent interview with Ben, he shared that all the members, are very family oriented. They were all making their Winter Holiday travel plans “even though we're all a little Jewish”. To be more specific, Ben has a Jewish grandfather, Tommy is Jewish and Jesse is half. “We are all a mess. Oh! And we're all atheists.” Still, there may be a “Mensch on The Bench” or “Elf on the Shelf” floating around. The decision to move to Philadelphia after college was mainly based on economics. At that time rents were very reasonable and there was a good music scene. They could tour a hundred and seventy shows a year and pay the rent. Thornewill joked that now with the move North to New York City that if they continue that migration pattern they will be in Newfoundland in a few years. One thing that is to be truly appreciated about Ben is his sarcasm. Especially being from south of the Mason-Dixon, he has acquired that definitive tri-state area trait and assimilated it well. Which probably comes in very handy now that the band has, as just mentioned, relocated to Brooklyn, NY. This move was kind of huge considering just the cost of living in the greater NYC area and being an indie pop band. But one of the reasons they chose it was the culture of work ethic. “It is so expensive here, almost prohibitively expensive here but that means everyone is working their asses off and I like be part of a community where people are hustling and can't afford to be complacent. I was just in Louisville for Thanksgiving and people were complaining about the cost of living and they are paying half of what I'm paying for rent in New York." Thornewill is the only member of Jukebox The Ghost with an explicit music degree. Tommy has a music minor. “I'm a classical piano kid. Real serious from age seven through high school. I was on track to do conservatory and see it through. But then I started writing music between 13 and 14. I didn't “get” my voice until around 15 and 16 so I didn't start singing until then. I credit everything with classic study and that school of thought.” Are there disadvantages to having formal music training and education? “I don't think there are disadvantages for me. I do think that the disadvantage for some people is the ability to switch out of everything being on the page and staying within confines and limitations that you were taught. There's no improvisation. There are specific chord patterns that don't exist in pop music. But the technique and the work ethic that's required that still plays in. I like to joke that I am completely over-qualified to play in this band.” www.fourculture.com 39
Probably the most signature thing about Jukebox songs is that they are incredibly “hooky”. Do they intentionally come into the writing process striving to maintain their unique sound or does it just come naturally? “The conscious part is crafting the song. It's not about knowing or guessing what's going to be catchy. If it gets stuck in my head then that's a good sign because I suffer what listeners suffer through. I go through the week of thinking about a song over and over again. I think that part of the craft of song-writing-the craft of pop, is paying attention to knowing when something is good and when it's going to catch and turn into that earworm.” Listening to Jukebox songs never get boring. It is impressive that they don't repeat riffs or lyrics, at least not noticeably. Is it vigilance at the core of that? “It is definitely an effort not to repeat things. Someone brought up the point that in “Somebody” (from the last album) there is the line “I don't want any more heartbreak. I'm tired of the sound it makes” and on this record we have “The Sound of A Broken Heart” which was totally unintentional. There are thematic things that happen but that is completely by acci-
dent. Though I was given credit for being clever , it was a total fluke. I think that writers have the tendency to hit the same topic or like certain words or sounds and that gets repeated. But if we have a moment of 'Ooh that sounds like this song' then we'll scrap it. As far as stylistically I think you just sound like yourself at the end of the day. So we know what fits in the “Jukebox” world and so we try to stay true to that.” The new record, while maintaining the Jukebox feel, is definitely, dare it be said?... more mature. How much of that is the result of just the members growing up versus trying to make it sound that way? “We made a conscious and concerted effort that would be an advancement of who we are and our style. We wanted to take some risks and be the next chapter, the next step in our story. That was the goal. To make a record that was different and changed but still be who we were. We wanted to make an unabashed pop record. We spent months and months picking the songs, curating the songs and then arranging them and getting them where they are so they made sense.” Jukebox The Ghost came out of the gate with the single“Great Unknown” which
was co-written by Ben and Greg Holden, who co-wrote "Home" for Phillip Phillips. What was it like to work with someone with that level of notoriety. “No big deal really. Greg is one of my closest friends. When we first became friends we talked about writing together but it took until now. We got together one afternoon and ended up writing that song in almost the completed form that it is on the record in one session. And it wasn't 'Let's write a song for Jukebox The Ghost'. We just wrote a song and then agreed it belonged on our record.” In the lead-up to the release of Jukebox the Ghost and continuing after the record dropped, the band posted written and video commentary on each track of the album. One of the most interesting was the story of “Hollywood”. The producer, Dan Romer, kept dropping comments about including Jesse on featured vocals in the song. The guys would just nod and smile, not taking him seriously. Until that morning that Jesse was told to step up to the mic. The result was an intro that is fun, funny and well... just kind of awesome. After hearing the final recording, everyone agreed that the song definitely had to be part of their live sets. They were right. Jesse connects with his inner-ham and as Ben says “Every single time we do Hollywood live I am thrilled by it. It is the best song of the set, crowd-pleasing wise every single time. It's incredible. Once we had it on the record and it was sounding great we knew we'd have him out to the front and there would be excitement and it would be successful. He is so good at hamming it up and being in the front. There is this fear... nervous energy from the audience of 'What is happening? Why does he have a microphone? Why is he at the front of the stage?' That's what is great about theater. You're scared that something horrible is going to happen and when it doesn't it makes the joy even more. Production masterpiece.” Last summer another artist noted that bands and solo musicians' popularity is regional. In the case of Jukebox The Ghost, they have a very strong fanbase on the US east coast. Ben explained that the popularity of the band has to do with limitations of touring. “At this point, the east coast is way better than the pacific northwest because it is much harder for us to get out there. We haven't done a lot of support shows out there. So on the east coast we can do a show and have 1000 people turn out but doing 100 in Portland, OR. That is a product of how many times we are able to get there. I think that internet culture changes that some what but so much of our fan base is made up of people who have seen us perform live. When we are not able to put in that face time we don't get the reach.” They have also gotten outside of the
U.S. A few times — about once a year and have small fanbase abroad. “It's most expats and a few who are crazy and obsessive enough to have heard of us.” With such talent and really radio-friendly music it seems like Jukebox The Ghost is yet another of those pop groups that is intentionally not allowed at the cool-kids table of mainstream pop. Do they feel that way? “It's funny. I don't think we are 'locked out'. I have a couple of thoughts. 1) you are playing to the lowest common denominator when in you are in the corporate world, mainstream Top 40. 2) I also think that some things hitting the top 40 right now are fantastic or well-written. It's just not...I love pop music and what's involved with that and I'm done with being butt-sore over about not being a top 40 band. Still waiting and hoping for it. We made this record hoping that it can make the next couple of jumps up the ladder and I think it's still possible. But there's a lot of luck involved and 'is this song right for where you are right now' and what the culture is doing right now. There's hope that bands like us will break though but there's only so much room and that's it.” However, in the meantime, Thornewill says that Jukebox is not going to give up on making music. As far as the evolution of the music industry, Ben says, “In the 90's Barenaked Ladies were playing Madison Square Garden as a Top 40 band. The 90's were a weird time for music. You don't see weird bands breaking through now. I think it got narrowed down but I think it is spreading out again. I think there is going to be more inclusion of bands from our world in the Top 40. Terrestrial radio is losing its power because if the internet. There is a greater division of wealth. There's the struggling musical middle class. The clear shot to the top is different. There is less focus on albums. It's weird. It's two-fold. There are more bands making a living than there were 15 year ago but it is that much harder to break through.” A question posed to one of Jukebox The Ghost's tourmates, Motion City Soundtrack, was if they think they will ever “run out” of lyrics or melodies? Ben, Tommy and Jesse are coming up on their 10-year anniversary and seem like this bottomless lake of music. “Run out of music? No. Sometimes you feel that way. Sometimes you sit down and you think 'There's nothing left to write about'. Then it comes around again. I have a grandfather who is an eccentric. He's a writer. He eats one meal a day. He's super
into Kafka. He's a poetry teacher in Boston. He is the most self-tortured artist and every time he writes something he truly believes it is the last thing he will ever write. It's so absurd and self-pitying and I'm not going down that path. I get that 'I'll never write again' feeling and yet it keeps happening. So all evidence points to there being another melody and more lyrics.” Jukebox has toured with some true 'road warriors'. In an past interview with Ben he had talked about lessons learned from Barenaked Ladies. What were the “take aways” from their time with Motion City? “We became great friends. They are very kind. This is how you can become a professional, long-time touring, headlining act and still look out for your openers. They would give us the bigger green room and they'd hang out on their bus. They were extremely warm. I've never written with any of them but we do stay in touch. They were ne of the nicest bands we've ever toured with. We aspire to be a band with touring longevity and do it in kindness and happiness and create a nice touring situation because touring is hard.” Of course, as many bands will admit if asked, living in close quarters for months at a time is a challenge especially if it is done over many years. Jukebox The Ghost has logged serious miles, usually in a van. How do they cope? “We all get close to killing each other but the law keeps us honest. We are lucky that we are all decent people. We like each other. We like what we do and you learn how not to kill each other. I think things have gotten better and better. I don't know how any band stays together. No one's gone off the deep end. I don't recommend being in a touring band. It's not as glamorous as it sounds.” Speaking about keeping busy on tour Tommy Siegel has developed his own interesting tour coping mechanism. While on the road, Tommy takes to Twitter asking fans for suggestions for cartoon doodles. They have been more than happy to accommodate the requests which have resulted in "pillows having people fights" and "Einstein taking selfies". As time has gone on, the fans have had a request of Tommy, that he compile the drawings into a book. In mid-December he announced that he had worked with Ashley Halsey and was launching a Kickstarter for "Van Doodles". Within a week pledges were more than twice the fundraising goal. Tommy hopes to be able to start shipments of the books before the
beginning of tour. The final portion of this conversation veered down an age road. It started with whether Ben considers himself an “old soul”. The entire band has very wide music tastes spanning many, many eras. “Yes. If I could be writing in the 40's I would be happy. That was a time of show tunes, simple beautiful melodies and jazz influences. I love much older music and classical music. I also like the youthful nature of music. Let's me stay weird and young. Not having to worry too much about the rest of my life...which I do all the time.” One thing that becomes apparent when joining the arts community is the disappearance of generational divinations. People from 12 to 102 can talk all on the same level. Thornewill's view on that? “Age stops mattering if you are doing artistic stuff. Touring with Barenaked Ladies who I was listening to as a child is a great example. At the end of the day we were friends. Generations stop being barriers.” So what about “old” people who feel that today's music sucks and their generation's was better? Maybe it's not a fear thing after all. “When you are young you have more time to listen to music. As you get older you have less and less free time, in theory, to sift through bands. It's a lot to get through and listen to. I feel that even as I have gotten into my late 20's that I don't go looking for new music.” Things wrapped up with those older folks, who do embrace current music. Ben says that he, personally, and the band, as a group, appreciate all their fans. He knows it takes some courage for the 40+ folks to come to their shows. The band always tries to put together sets that please everyone in the audience. They hope for connections with as many as possible and are pleasantly surprised with their ability to do so. In regards to Jukebox The Ghost’s main fan demographic, Thornewill jokes that “I feel old going to our shows.” Jukebox The Ghost heads into The Great Unknown. Their US headlining tour for the new album on January 13, starting in Grand Rapids, MI and completing in their former home venue, the 9:30 in Washington, DC on March 10. This is a band that is truly better live than they are recorded and genuinely mean it when they talk about face-time. Get out to one or more of their shows and make sure to talk to them if given the chance.
http://jukeboxtheghost.com/ www.fourculture.com 43
ON YOU R R A DA R
T Y P E FAC E BY M A RG U E R I T E O ’CO N N E LL
Typeface is an exciting new band with the kind of sound that makes you sit up and take notice at the first listen. An emerging, dark wave band based out of Jyväskylä, Finland, Typeface’s latest single has a polished, stadium-ready sound that few bands can pull off on early recordings; a time when most are still working out the kinks in their band dynamics. Formed in 2009 by friends Otto Piirilä (lead vocals and bass), Ossi Oikari (guitar and backing vocals), and Aku Oikari (drums), the band released their first EP, A Thousand Years, in 2013. The EP garnered the group attention from fans and critics alike when the track "My Life" quickly drew over 20,000 listeners on Spotify. One of those immediately drawn to Typeface’s music was Jaani Peuhu, founder and lead vocalist of the Finnish band Iconcrash. Peuhu contacted the group after seeing their video for “My Life” on YouTube. That initial conversation eventually led to new music from Typeface. In February of last year the band began recording at Sonic Pump studios in Helsinki, with Peuhu as their producer. And the band’s new single, "We Might Fall Asleep” is the first of the new recordings to be released; it’s an addicting track that starts with a haunting atmospheric vibe and flows into a gorgeous, soaring chorus. According to lead singer Piirilä, working with Peuhu has played an important role in the band’s developing sound: “Jaani taught us how to get our own feelings and memories, even the painful ones, recorded on tape. Our music is like therapy for us and our new songs give us consolation. I believe that our listeners feel that authenticity, too.” Typeface is from Middle-Finland and to date the majority of their shows have been played close to home. However, their increasing popularity has already led to gigs at larger venues such as The Circus in Helsinki and Pakkahuone in Tampere. And after hearing the group’s polished, hook-filled songs – featuring the warm, full vocals of Piirilä’s spinetingling tenor – it is easy to foresee a future where they will take bigger, more far-flung stages as effortlessly as Piirilä reaches those crystal clear high notes. Tell me about your background and how you got your start in music? Ossi originally played classical guitar in a musical-institute. After he was introduced to “shredding” on the guitar and to such guitar heroes as Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, he taught himself how to do so. (Luckily, Ossi’s guitar-hero-career has now ended.) The other members are mostly selftaught, although Otto did have some singing lessons back in high-school. How and when did the three of you decide to form Typeface? Are you planning to add additional band members? We first formed the band with another drummer. However, we consider the real birth of Typeface to be when Aku joined the band as our drummer in 2009. We were indeed looking for a keyboard-player, but solved the problem last summer when Ossi's brother agreed to take the job. When you first started Typeface, did you have a clear idea what type of sound you wanted the band to have or is the sound something that has evolved over time? Our sound is definitely the result of a continuing process. We’ve been playing together over five years now, so our sound has continued to grow and evolve over that time. For example, lately we have been experimenting with adding more electronic sounds in our songs.
If you could only choose three (3) words He challenged us to work harder and to dig to describe Typeface’s sound, what deep to find our own Typeface sound. words would you choose? Besides the new music, what can we Melancholic. Misty. Emotional. expect from Typeface in 2015? Will you When writing songs, do the three of you be releasing more music and videos? We will begin to film a new music video collaborate or does one of you write soon. It's going to be deeper and darker most of the band’s music? Usually Ossi, or sometimes Otto, has than "We Might Fall Asleep,” but we hope it an idea, a guitar-riff, a melody or something will be just as beautiful. like that we then toss around and jam on, trying to get inside the tune. Sometimes it is What bands and albums are on your almost like the song writes itself. But some- favorites playlist? There are some albums that will always times we have to leave it alone and wait for it to take shape in our mind before we can be on our favorites playlists, including: Depeche Mode – Songs Of Faith And finish it. Devotion, Jeff Buckley – Grace, Kate Bush Who are the artists who have most in- – Kick Inside, Radiohead – OK Computer, spired you, individually? What bands do Muse – Origin Of Symmetry, Joy Division – you look to for inspiration when writing Unknown Pleasures, Placebo – Meds, Coldplay – Rush of Blood to the Head, songs for the group? At first, the only common influence Pantera – Cowboys From Hell. between the three of us was Radiohead. Later, we all came to appreciate Depeche What do you like to do when you aren't Mode, Mew, Disco Ensemble, Alt-J, VAST, playing or writing music? Despite spending so much time togethJeff Buckley, Joy Division and The Smiths. er in rehearsals, we also hang out together On your new music you worked in the in our free time. Ossi is a great cook and he studio with Jaani Peuhu of Iconcrash. often makes really incredible dinners for us. How did you connect with Jaani and what has it been like to work with him? Finally, Fourculture wants to know: What Jaani found our music on-line and af- are your four favorite things — the four ter watching our music-video, he contacted things you couldn’t (or just don’t want to) us. We've been lucky to work with Jaani as live without? Corn Flakes. Irish Wolfhounds. Friends. he is an inspiration and role-model for us.
Dinner with the Donners PART ONE
By Frank Cotolo
The spoken history of my family in America goes back further than what immigration records or police registers document. The tenebrous accounts of the first Cotolos are attested in first-person diaries that begin at the turn of the 20th century. Yet, a tale of Augusto Cotolo from 1846 has been told to many in dark rooms of those daring to admit they share his bloodline. This could be because the story is of a heinous nature that surpasses the atrocious narratives that have stained the name through the century.
In our family there was a written-in-blood deposition that the story of Augusto Cotolo never be published. Now, however, with the peril of my life diminished (mostly due to the fact that the murderous strain of my family is either dead or scheduled to pass in the next few weeks while serving life sentences), I divulge the tale as it was told to me and sworn to be authentic. Augusto Cotolo was a 22-year-old from Italy when he snuck into America in 1845 by hiding in a huge crate of spurious Henry Model Navy flintlock pistols. He lived as a petty thief in New York City for a year before the police put him on the wanted list for being an accessory to a post-murder meal consisting of the victim. “I would have gotten away with it,” Augusto wrote in a diary, “but I asked for seconds and thirds. Because I had a full stomach I managed to escape the police raid that broke up the dinner.” By April of 1846, Augusto was on the lam. He moved to Ohio and befriended Lansford Hastings, a mapmaker. When Lansford told Augusto that rich people were paying lots of money for maps of specific routes to the west coast, Augusto told Lansford that he, too, was a mapmaker and had come to Ohio to publish new routes to California. “I knew the trip was long, so if people died on the way, no one would question a counterfeit map,” Augusto wrote, “and of course, I wouldn’t sign the thing, so they wouldn’t know I made it.” Lansford hired him. Augusto copied Lansford’s maps but drew shorter, random lines leading to the west coast. In a week, Lansford got notice from a George Donner of Illinois. Donner said he was “extremely interested in buying a map with the quickest route to California.” “This Donner fellow has eighty-nine people in his group,” Lansford told Augusto, “and will pay a lot of money for a route. “I’ll sell him my newest route.” “Are you sure about the route?” “Does the Pope crap in the woods?” Augusto said. “Why no. The Pope poops in the Vatican.” “I mean the route’s golden. It takes a thousand miles off any other route.” “A thousand miles?” “Give or take a few hundred, yeah.” Lansford put a high price on the map that was so high even George Donner and his rich brother Jacob questioned the price tag. Augusto sent a telegram to George Donner. ROUTE IS GUARANTEED STOP HAVE MAP WILL TRAVEL WITH GROUP IF TWICE PRICE PAID CASH IN LARGE BILLS ON MY ARRIVAL STOP THIS IS A COLLECT TELEGRAM STOP PLEASE PAY CASHIER WITH REPLY STOP Augusto thought he had the perfect
plan. He would deliver the map to the Donners in Illinois, get the cash, set out with the group and lose them. He lied to Lansford, promising to wire his share of the cash from California. The Donners were ecstatic to meet Augusto, who won them over immediately with his remarkable performance of an Italian mapmaker and his charming Italian accent. George and Jacob Donner handed the cash to Augusto, who quickly put it into his pockets. Then Augusto handed George the map. George unfolded it. “It is so big,” George said. “I will never be able to refold it.” “Just go west,” Augusto said. George motioned to the parade of wagons and the journey began as Augusto thought about where he could disappear. While scanning the area, Augusto’s eyes came upon a beautiful girl sitting next to a driver of a wagon. At the next water stop, Augusto approached the girl and began to talk to her. She said her name was Nell. “What is your name now?” Augusto said. “It’s still Nell.” She told him how excited she was to be going to California and how glad she was that there was a new, shorter route. Augusto realized then that everyone knew about his map. Soon, Augusto discovered that one of the other wagon leaders was not happy with the idea of taking a new route. Augusto talked with George and Jacob. “Buck is gonna take a few wagons the old way,” George said. “Buck is gonna take a few wagons the old way,” Jacob said. “So I hear.” Augusto decided that when the wagons split, he would disappear. But at the next water hole, Nell approached Augusto and the two talked. “Don’t tell me your age,” Augusto said, “unless you aren’t twenty yet.” “I was fifteen last week,” Nell said, her eyes sparkling. “How old are you now?” “I’m still fifteen.” Augusto had not planned on falling in love but there was Nell, young and beautiful, without hairs growing from beauty marks on her face. Augusto had never seen an Italian girl as gorgeous as Nell. Well, maybe once, but her mother was as fat as a one hundred layer lasagna from Bardolino and everyone knew the young beauty would duplicate her mother’s size as soon as she fell in love. Augusto was so taken by Nell that he kept putting off his disappearance from the wagon train and when the wagons split up, with Buck’s bunch going the original route and the Donners’ wagons going the new route, Augusto was with the Donners’ group, but spending much of his time with
Nell. What Augusto had not foreseen, though, was the treacherous winter of 1846. Augusto’s route was, of course, erroneous and the Donners’ wagons rode aimlessly, wasting time following it. After a long stop to retrieve two wagons that sunk while riding over a creek that Augusto lied about being shallow, it began to snow lightly, then harder. Augusto took Nell for long walks in the snow as it accumulated and the Donners did their best to weather their gear. Augusto taught Nell to make out. She like it, so he asked her if she could keep a secret. “Yes, I can keep a secret,” she said, “by not telling anyone else.” “That’s how it’s done, Nell,” Augusto said, petting her snow-soaked head. “Then tell me the secret Augusto,” Nell said. “It will be our secret, which means we cannot even tell it to one another, right?” “Yeah, right.” Augusto looked around as if to make sure no one was in earshot. Then he whispered into Nell’s ear, telling her that he was the King of Italy. “What are you now?” she said. “I’m still the King of Italy. I want to take you to Italy where you can be the Queen of Italy, though we’ll stay far from Bardolino, where they make that one hundred layer lasagna.” “But what about California?” she said. “We’ll have them ship it to us.” Nell’s palm covered her mouth and she gasped, holding perfectly still. “Yes, you like the secret. And what are you?” “Freezing.” Augusto carried Nell’s rigid body and carried her back to the wagons. The snow was coming down with blinding speed. George thought the wagons should turn back. So did Jacob. But Augusto convinced them that blizzards were rare in these parts, not knowing in what parts they were traveling. George motioned for the wagons to move and so did Jacob and as the snow continued to sweep through the inclined path into the mountains, Augusto realized he would have little chance of escaping down mountains that blanketed with snow. But he did not regret staying because he had found Nell and he knew he was cunning enough to find a way to disappear with her and the money. In the throes of that fierce weather, wagon wheels began to freeze, food became scarce and snowdrifts rose high and thick through the mountain pass. The Donners and their emigrant passengers looked grim. Nell clung to Augusto, who looked at his fake map, smiled and said, “Cheer up, it’s October already.” TO BE CONTINUED www.fourculture.com 49
THE WHITE TEMPLE PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Thailand’s Wat Rong Khun (“white temple”) is a privately owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. Designed to depict Nirvana, the structure and its surrounding areas was created by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a visual artist recognized for his use of Buddhist imagery in his art. The structure has been open to visitors since 1997 and additions are still being made to the white temple by Kositpipat and his team. He has committed to continue to build this complex for the rest of his life.
Machine's Eye View on:
CELEBRATIONS By Adam D
onday, November 3, 2014. “Can I have a Pumpkin Spice Latte please?” “Sorry sir. We don’t serve that anymore, it’s Christmas now.” I look around me. The store is festooned with holly, red and green colour scheme, baubles, sparkling stars, ribbons and generally Christmassy paraphernalia. It certainly looks like Christmas. But it’s very early in November. We’ve just had Halloween, so I guess the shops in the UK have nothing else between them and Christmas now. May as well hammer it home. I am no bah humbug. I love Christmas, but please let us for a moment observe the ludicrosity of this. And of that word. I just made it up. It works though, doesn't it? Besides, you didn't notice. This got me thinking. How times have changed in terms of when we celebrate the various holidays. But they can't take my Christmas spirit away. You see, I know the true meaning of Christmas. I know the true meaning of all the great and the good celebrations that we have during the year. Want to know what it is? Read a Harry Potter book, backwards. I mean, read on, dear reader, read on. Clearly there are several holidays that we don't celebrate in the UK that y'all do in the US of A. There's Thanksgiving, for starters. Well, depending on when you start looking. It's not on January 1, even I know that. But Thanksgiving just gives you all a warm-up for the Christmas spirit. The Thanksgiving Parade, making an occasion out of seeing balloons being inflated, good ol' Snoopy, and “all that”. When I went to see it up close one year, I overheard a policeman telling a driver to move his car. “Sir, come on. Don't make me give you a ticket now...on Thanksgiving”. No one wants to be a spoilsport on this givingest of thanky days. Here's a weird thing though. This year, pretty much for the first time in the UK, everyone went “Black Friday” cray cray. I've never experienced it in the UK before. I've had the pleasure of the real version. But this stinks, frankly. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Clearly we can't. It's nothing to do with us. So having Black Friday without Thanksgiving is like having Boxing Day without Christmas. You can't do it. Or, you shouldn't. Websites were crashing, queues were being formed, sales were had. It's just not cricket. We can't have everything, and we do just fine without this. Of course, Black Friday begat Cyber Monday. To which I offer this erudite and well thought out, erm, thought. What. The actual. Fuck? How many days are there in the year where we are forced to buy something at full price. Not many I'll wager. Can we all please just regain a little bit of sanity, and perhaps more importantly, dignity. And stop all this shit? Thanks (giving). The build up to Thanksgiving hot-tails
on the back of Halloween of course. This is, despite my annual Pumpkin Spice Latte addiction, a much, much bigger deal in the US than in the UK. So while your shelves are stocked full of candy cane (yum) and fake spider webs and witches hats and pumpkins, the UK has about a millionth of shop space held over for such stuff. We do celebrate Halloween, but these days it's pretty much just another night out for most people, only with more make up and bandages. What we have pretty much given up on over here is the “Penny for the Guy” routine. This was quite a big deal as a kid. Bonfire night, on the 5th of November (remember, remember?), was a proper occasion. Yes, the weird idea that we should celebrate a failed plot to blow up Parliament. “What's with the fireworks?” “Well, there was this one guy who really didn't think his plans through properly, and he thought he would row his little boat up to the houses of Parliament, and blow it up” “Why did he want to blow his own boat up?” “No, no. He wanted to blow up the houses of Parliament” “In a rowing boat?” “I think you're missing the point” “There's a point?” “Yes” “What is it?” “Erm...well, so, in order to remind ourselves just how close we were to seeing fireworks that night, we...” “Set off some fireworks?” “Now you're getting it!” “Aren't there even more fireworks on New Year's Eve though?” “Hmmm....now you come to mention it...” “So what happened on New Year's Eve then?” “What do you mean?” “Did he come back on a unicycle and have another go?” So, as long as we remember why we're celebrating something, even if that something never happened, then we're good. By the way, back in the '70's, it seemed we did things more properer. So if an event fell on an inconvenient day, aka a weekday, we didn't wait for the nearest weekend, we basically celebrated it where it fell. There weren't days on days of fireworks going off. It all happened on the 5th November and then didn't happen again. Not every day from the Friday before the 5th until the Sunday after. We don't celebrate Christmas on the nearest weekend to the 25th. Thanksgiving is always on the last Thursday of November. We just deal with it, not let the days of the week get involved in some strange www.fourculture.com 65
dance with our social calendars. Why are we so lazy these days? Anyway I digress. For once. Here in the UK then, Halloween just kind of gets in the way of an otherwise uninterrupted almost interminable run up to Christmas. I feel sorry for the children. Imagine having first site of Santa in early October. By the time December 25 comes around you're positively pissing yourself with over-hyped anticipation. “Is it time yet?” “No dear, only another 60 days though” “60 days?! That's...*starts counting on fingers.. that's, that's forEVER!” and off they go, crying and thrashing about. Still, parents everywhere can now guarantee three months of good behaviour I suppose. The threat of being overlooked by Santa just too easy a sword to dangle overhead. Maybe this is the secret. Years of campaigning by desperate parents who just want their little Jonny Joybundle to stop going disproportionately apeshit fucking cray cray every time they are given a drink with the 'wrong straw', or prevented from picking up and eating animal excrement on the street because it sure looked like a cookie. As a student, several millennia ago, I had a part time job in Toys R Us. Thank you for that America. I left there one evening in early October, with the TV-themetune-in-store-music repeating in my ears, and returned the very next day to see a giant Christmas tree in the main display, and “Deck The Halls...” playing on rotation, along with several 'classics' of the Christmas song genre. Let's face it, the only two great Christmas songs are Band Aid (the first one) and Mariah Carey's “All I Want For Christmas”. OK, maybe “Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time” and, OK then “Christmas In Hollis”. The piano-ballad version of Mad World, from the Donnie Darko soundtrack, was number one at Christmas one year. That was cool. But that, along with everything else I've said thus far, isn't the point. So we have Christmas in the UK, starting in October. We sort of half-heartedly pause for Halloween, then career full speed into another 8 weeks of making sure we don't forget to be somewhere on December 25, to celebrate the birth of the anniversary of the youngest child in the extended family (in my case, currently my 6 year old nephew) opening his 700th present and yelling “why doesn't anyone ever get me what I want!” As long as we remember the true meaning, we'll be fine. So, how do we celebrate it? In other words, what is it really a 'time' for? Well, it's about getting together. Your family, your friends, your loved ones, should you be lucky enough to have any. Don't ever take that for granted. It's a truly wonderful time because we can all forget just for one day or even a few days all the stuff that gets us 66 www.fourculture.com
all so annoyed over the course of the year. We are all children again. Innocent and excitable. I think no matter who you are, if you 'celebrate' Christmas, that's part of what you do. It may physically manifest itself in lots of eating, some arguing, and falling asleep mid afternoon, but it's love, people, and it's all around. Bathe in it, and let it wash over you as long as you can. Oh sure, we all like to moan and roll our eyes and kick up a fuss at the very thought of having to travel to our parents' house or inviting long-lost Uncle War Stories to the house. He gets drunk and slips into a vegetative state only slightly before everyone else, but not before reminding everyone how hard Christmas was in his day. Wearing hardship like a medal. This year, at my sister's house in Sheffield (not in the grim Full Monty part, but a rather lovely wooded bit — Sheffield has more trees than people, by the way) we all gathered from Christmas Eve and got massively excited. This is not just because we're reliving Christmas through the eyes of the 6 year old, but because it's just one of those happy occasions. When does the family all get together like this? For a big Birthday, or otherwise for some family tragedy. So forget all that, this is happy hour. These are happy hours. Actually, on Christmas Eve, that satellite flew overhead, and so we all told the kid it was Santa. He swore he could see the reins on the sleigh. Lying little bastard. Santa doesn't like liars. So there were several days of congeniality, of laughter, games, occasional arguments, always about something trivial, and of course the annual chorus of 'where's your
father' as we're serving out the food, and he takes the opportunity to go to the loo just because he can guarantee some quiet time. We were blessed with snow this year. Not on Christmas Day, but late on Boxing Day. Lots of it. I don't know why it's important to see snow at this time of year. It's a huge pain in the arse of course. Sheffield is very hilly, so all those people with shiny new rear wheel drive Mercs were fish tailing all over the place as I sat smugly in my 4 wheel drive Audi and stayed out of their way. I would have helped but there were already several locals happily shovelling snow out the way so these morons could continue on their journeys to the next hill where they would slip and slide all over again. People like to help people, especially at Christmas. Yes, it's a shame we don't automatically do it all year round, but let's face it, being benevolent is bloody knackering. So this is what it is about. I mean, when did you last wake up on the 25th, spring out of bed and say “Happy Birthday Jesus!” Poor kid. Imagine being born on Christmas day. You only get one set of presents... Let's face it, when it comes to holidays, Christmas is the daddy. The father, if you will. Step forward, Father Christmas. AKA Santa Claus. Is there some kind of irony that more people believe in, basically, a big ol' bear, dressed in red velvet and leather boots, than Jesus at Christmas? Before we leave Christmas, and this will not be universally agreed I am sure, is it me or is it about as far away from religion as it can get these days? In America, where people who work in shops are forced to say “Happy Holidays” lest someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas takes offence (and, “why?” is the simple question I would ask there), you're over-sensitive to all this I think. Basically, anyone who isn't a devout follower of any other religion, celebrates Christmas. I am not religious. I would never not celebrate it. If you come up to me and wish me Eid Mubarak during Eid, I will not reel away in horror and call you the devil incarnate. I will wish you it back. After all, when it's someone else's Birthday, you can wish them a Happy Birthday without it also being your Birthday, can't you? Get. Fucking. Over. Yourselves. Ok, that's Christmas wrapped up, crap pun intended. Into the New Year we spin. New Year’s Eve is huge. Both sides of the Atlantic huge. So when I spent last year writing 'An Evening Out' as I sat all on my own, I had no regrets, no great desire to be somewhere else. I don't need that any more. Besides, when everyone you know is doing something else anyway, what's the point in joining a crowd just to realise how on your own you are. Not alone. On my own. By choice. If I get invited to something, I'll happily go.
I spent one fabulous New Year’s Eve in a swanky Manhattan restaurant, enjoying ridiculously expensive and tasty food. At about 11.45 the place suddenly went all 'party hats and streamers' and everyone joined in. I am pretty sure I was the youngest person there at the time, barring my ex, by several decades. Yet everyone got their 'child at heart' back and blew on those whizzy things and popped streamers and had heart attacks and everything. Lovely stuff. You will all watch the big ball drop and we will listen to Big Ben chime, then there will be fireworks. Loads and loads of fireworks. Then? Well, then we all go home and spend January 1 tip-toeing around and breaking our resolutions before they get in the way of enjoying the year. I've seen quite a lot of anti 'new year, new me' sentiments recently. Why should we wait until the advent of a new year before we resolve to improve something about ourselves? Well? Why not? It's a pretty memorable date, after all. “How long have you been on a pair of stilts/flying a kite/sober?” 1st of January is an easy one to remember. 3 weeks last Saturday...or was it Sunday...no, Thursday, is a lot harder. But whatever. Then January comes and everyone thinks 'well this stinks, what can we do to break the monotony?' Not much, unless you know someone with a January Birthday (I know 3). So February delivers Valentines Day. Except, not really. We try, America. We really do try. Shops start selling chocolate hearts and heart-shaped balloons and the card shops go into overdrive because they all nearly went bust in January. But it's a bit of an outlier this one. It doesn't feel like a real 'thing'. Maybe that's just me, but once again America, you go bigger on this one. You are bigger, after all. Mothers' day for us comes next, in March. Now, growing up, we always celebrated Mother’s Day, but when it came to Father’s Day, we weren't allowed. Mum used to say 'it's just Americanised rubbish'. Is she right? Well, I can't help noticing Mothers' Day is far bigger over here. Fathers' Day feels like an add on, and is characterised by a greater frequency of Gillette and Wilkinson's Sword adverts on tv, because nothing says 'I love you, Dad' like buying him a disposable razor. These days, dad is likely sporting a beard, so you'll have to buy him a tie, except he doesn't work in an office, so you get him something for the garden, but you live in a flat with no balcony, so you have to get him some 'technology' but he's 81and his fingers are huge so when he tries to use most modern phones he hits 4 numbers at once and anyway he doesn't want a gadget, so you go for chocolate. The
same thing you'd buy anyone at Valentines. Easter is a tricksy one. It moves around. I'm never sure why. “Easter is early/late this year”. When is Easter on time? It's a freak on the calendar. Shifting around like a shifting thing. The most important thing is, that Cadbury's Creme Eggs become available again. “How do you eat yours?” the advert asks. Greedily and all too quickly. My teeth sing with sugar beatings, but I won't stop. I know one of the superiors at Fourculture is something of a fan, too. We do chocolate so much better than you, America. Hands down. Your Hershey's Kisses actually taste of vomit. Just a little heads up for you there. You're welcome. So Easter gives us a chance to focus on our superior chocolate making, and eating, skills. It's another religious one that kind of loses its...religion, like Michael Stipe in a corner. It's also a time for a long weekend, and flipping pancakes. I think. I get a little lost around this time. Then there's 'Lent'. “What are you giving up for Lent?” Nothing. As usual. Why should I? Sacrilege, I know. In other news, who cares? So those are the biggies. I just called up a calendar of all the US 'other' holidays. Frankly, I don't know how you get any work done. I will stick to all the official 'National' ones, and I notice you have *deep breath: MLK on 19th January. Somewhat pointedly, a different celebration has been created in certain states for the same day. I make no comment on those states, or the state of them. But they are all pretty uniform in being in a bit of a state. President's Day on February 16. On March 2 I notice Texas celebrates its Independence Day. Erm. Are you going to tell them or shall I? Then you have to wait until Memorial Day on May 25. I've never heard of Juneteenth but it sounds made up and stupid, so I'm going to brush over it, as it's not a National Day anyway, and move on to good old Independence Day. Thanks to Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum we all know when that is and also what happened. It makes it extra special. That is a film based on true events, right? Labor Day is spelled incorrectly which has to be embarrassing for you all, but still, you get a holiday out of it, so, that's something about September you would otherwise miss. Columbus Day can't seem to make its mind up whether it is a National Day or not, so I will ignore it too, given that to say he “discovered” America is a tad of a fib. He may have made it's existence more widely known, but he kind of got over-excited. That said, we seem to have generally let him get
away with it all this time, so well done Chris, you little minx. In the UK we get the 4th May, 25th May and 31st August. You're welcome. These are 'bank holidays'. How British. We can't think of a reason, so we just close the banks. When the bank's go on holiday, we all decided we may as well too. Not as cool as your extra days, but everyone loves a long weekend, so whatever the reason, make sure you celebrate it. Except, I think we miss out here. We generally use these as excuses to go to the coast and pack out our beaches and get sunburn and basically spend 14 hours of the weekend stuck in our cars. I am pretty sure you use your holidays as reasons to catch up with the family again, and fill in the yawning gap between Christmas and...next Christmas, to get some quality family time under your belts. Am I right? Answers on a festive post card please. If you're a civil servant in the UK you are still allowed to have the Queen's Birthday off. She has 2. I have no idea why or how. There's an 'official' one, and the real one. Or maybe the official one is the real one. In which case, what's the other one? Maybe it's when she rose from the dead and pushed back the stone on her tomb and gave that rousing speech about stuff. She did that, right? What I really wanted to say is, that despite our differences in terms of our general capacity to over-indulge, the one thing about all these holidays is, we really should celebrate the time they offer us to get together, to be with our loved ones, and to be thankful for what we've got. By all means waste them pottering about in the yard, messing about on the beach, eating too much and generally enjoying not working. But never forget that time spent with the people we love, and who love us, is never wasted. That's what we should always celebrate. No matter who you are or what your beliefs, you can't really argue with that. Can you?
Follow Adam D and Photostat Machine: www.fourculture.com 67
BARD OF THE RAVEN CLAN BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N PHOTOG R A PH Y BY TO DO R A PHOTOG R A PH Y
ill Haveron has had his work shown in museums of the caliber of DeYoung Museum of Art in San Francisco and the Fort Worth Modern. High profile galleries such as Eugene Binder Gallery Dallas/Cologne, Gerald Peters Gallery/ Dallas and Horwich Lewallen Gallery in Santa Fe have also had his art grace their walls and floors. The most well known curator of any show he has been in is Susie Kalil. Famous and well-respected critics Susie Kalil, Charles Dee Mitchell, Grace Glueck and Jurgen Kisters have reviewed him. His name and shared bills with Jim Magee, James Surls, Vernon Fisher, David Bates, Robert Rauschenberg, Dan Rizzie, Julie Speed, Burt Long, Reverend Johnnie Swearingenâ€Śjust to name a few. To put it mildly, Bill Haveron has a very impressive and sometimes intimidating pedigree. But his position in the art world has been hard-earned. If one takes the time to knock on his door, they quickly learn that behind it is a humble, colorful and more than a little cynical soul.
When first introduced to Bill's art, the images were a bit scary in their depiction. It was quick to see that they did not tell stories with happy endings. In fact the majority of his tales are a bit dower. So it took some genuine courage to initiate a conversation with the Haveron patriarch. However, almost immediately, Bill proved any and all
fear completely unwarranted. Probably his most honorable trait is his honesty followed by his talents as a bard. Over the past two years, he has related the history of his life journey and the people who are part of it. With each conversation his art has become better understood and appreciated. Each painting, drawing and multi-media piece
is the raw emotion generated by a Texas honky-tonk upbringing and the continuing residence in an area that is relatively devoid of arts and culture. As the title says, Bill Haveron is truly the Bard of the Raven Clan. He explained, when discussing the source of the title of the first father-son show he did with Hans â€” 'Raven's Riddle', "Our last name means 'the Raven' in Czech. The name was Anglicized from the original Havron to Haveron upon immigration to Texas for reasons of which I remain unclear." It is best to let Haveron tell the story in his own words as to change them chips away that the heart of the man and his adventure. "Basically I was a sensitive, poetic, exotic looking, inwardly focused youth with a predilection for abstraction and iconoclasm. Not a recipe for instant popularity in a fear based culture (plus Catholics were viewed as second class citizens as well). Albeit this iconoclasm was not self-conscious or a fashion statement. I was raised in a community of people still tied to the old countries in the midst of White Trash, Hillbilly, and Redneck Hell. There were no museums or enrichment programs for children. Basic survival was the primary motivating factor for most people of
this brutish shire. The only art I was ever exposed to were the paintings, sculptures and stained glass windows of the Catholic churches I was raised in and the art of the Honky Tonks my family both owned and frequented. It was the Lives of the Saints narrated in pictures that really opened my mind up to the transformative power of art. Thus the spiritual and storytelling that drives and informs my work to this very day." Unlike son Hans, Bill is more interested in exploring the underbelly of this wild old life. "There is rich alluvial cultural soil from which to harvest...Yet ironically I am not inspired to create art unless I can get into some visual mischief, a souvenir from the backwoods beer joints." "I was far from being a cool kid in High School. I was neither athlete or bull rider, preppy or cowboy. There was no Gothic sensibility to tap into way back in those days of yore. Though I probably would have not taken to that aesthetic either since historically and traditionally I have never been a joiner or team player. 'Who you claimin’? 'Flash yo’ sign!' has bordered on absurdity to me here in Gangster’s Paradise. Who in the Hell cares what street you live on?" "Never was a gold star affixed to the 'works well with others' portion of my report card. Seeing my Mother deteriorate from blonde sex kitten into walking skeleton during my teenage years certainly did not breed a gregarious nature within one already much inclined to self mortifications and trending towards hikkikomori status. Nope my lens has always been focused inward as if by genetic predetermination." Hopefully by this point it is obvious that, for as well as Haveron creates visual stories with pen and brush, his word-pictures are equally if not more exciting. It may be that the words bring those pieces to a new life when the sharp edges are rounded by the explanation of their inspiration. By this point in this dance, this partner became more relaxed and hungry to learn more about this eclectic, hippie realist from Bryan, TX. To open the door fully on Bill Haveron, one also should see him as father. Followers of Fourculture are familiar with his eldest progeny, Hans, who introduced this writer to Bill prior to their first father-son gallery show in Dallas in February of 2013. Hans had left home after high school to establish his own career away from the well-known names of his father and other relatives high up the arts food-chain. Hans has a sister, Ulrikka who currently resides in OR and is the mother of Bill's adorable grand-daughter, Tallulah. Uli's DNA also includes the arts gene. She is currently a member of the performance team, Kazuum and is a former member of March Fourth Marching Band. Next in line is the Lady Charlotte. Charlotte
has lived with her father her whole life and has been raised with an expansive overview of life. She has traveled extensively and met numerous famous and infamous artists in all genres. Today she is a student at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Bill took a bit of a break from married life and procreation after Charlotte. His last two offspring are Master Thor, age 7 and his sister Astrid, age 5. Thor aspires to be a great scientist and is easily identifiable as a Haveron with his halo of platinum blond hair. Astrid has more of her mother's beauty but appears to be another artistic genetics heir. She has asked her father to give her drawing lessons. Another benefit of Bill's vocation is the chance to fill his workspaces with music. His tastes cover just about every genre. He's named his studio White Chapel at Four Winds and claimed the Fats Domino
song, "Let the Four Winds Blow" as its official theme song. Ultimately Haveron would love to find someone who could set it up so that whenever the studio door opens the song would begin to play. But for now, he listens to music all day long while he works. He has hundreds of CDs that include almost everything except for rap and jazz. " I keep trying to break the mental block I have regarding enjoying alien musical forms to my sensibilities. I did listen to Biggie Smalls the other day. Miles Davis too." There have been many conversations introducing each other to new music. There is always room to admit to things that just don't cut it. Deferring to cooking analogies when it comes to musical taste, in one conversation Bill was very literal in his response. "I still don't like Cilantro after years of trying to like it. Sometimes one just has to accept that you simply can’t stand some things." www.fourculture.com 73
Bill Haveron not only does not fit into any "box", he aspires never to do so. The root of his soul from which the art branches sprout are creating without consideration of acceptance, accolades or income. " I have never been motivated by money. Indeed to pander to fickle market forces and chase trends is anathema to my raison de etre. Long ago I understood the bogus nature of systemic sanction. Rugged individualism has always been the way I roll. My world is imploding and I would deign it prudent even necessary to shape and mold my art around 74 www.fourculture.com
the writings of some strangers from New York City chortling homogeneity from lofty towers? No Sir! Daddy Bill wags his own tail any damn way he pleases." "It makes it easier to blaze oneâ€™s own trail when winning a popularity contest or wanting people to accept or like me has never been the goal or impetus behind the work in the first place. Behold the Boo birds hiss and the rain of rotten eggs and tomatoes splattering the perimeter of the force field. For to dare to break away from the bleating herd will spook the others. Then
the Trail Bosses will try to rope throw and brand you for being a stray maverick." People need every little June bug and firefly alive on this teetering blue marble to be placed in a small box and labelled in big bold letters the precise binomial nomenclature under they can be classified and categorized. Anomalies and enigmas shall be dealt with by the neighborhood bullies. Straighten up and fly right or youâ€™ll cast out of the malt shop and stripped of season tickets to the rutting buck contests. Lick my boot or you will lose all of your friends. As a boy I dreamed of being a barefooted cobbler. So kowtowing to insecure cowards in hopes of hush puppies and dispensations for the delusional has never interested me. Thusly; here I am, far far away from that blood soaked arena. Thriving within the debris field of redneck capitalism. It is the previously mentioned mischief along with this unapologetic individualâ€™s that makes Haveron's work unique and original. Other artists have combined images that juxtapose. However, in most cases it feels forced - a sham for shock value. The true emotion is lacking. It is the weird combination of subject matter in Haveron's work that immediately screams the integrity of the sources and gives purpose to their being included on the same canvas or three-dimensional structure. Haveron doesn't care if the viewer is somehow shocked, he is just stating a point from his own mind and heart. If one cycles through Havron's work, it is easy to be intimidated by thoughts that this is the stuff that arts critics live for. To pick apart and spoon-feed their meanings to those who pour over the New York Times looking for the "in" artists with the most intellectual creations. It is an easy trap to fall into with surrealists but Bill cannot truly be categorized. As he has said, he comes to canvas or wood with thoughts and feelings and just puts them out there to get them out of his system. One must discipline oneself to shut off all the "tapes" of their upbringing, education and the media and just look and allow the images to bring emotions to the surface. These works are not to be picked apart but just to immerse oneself into and absorb them. Then one feels the inspiration of politics, the environment and the social condition. They become something unique to each individual. Bill completed his most recent show at the Kirk Hopper Gallery in Dallas on November 26, 2014. He shared the bill for "Monumental Works" with Bert Long, Jr. and Roger Winter. A self-proclaimed recluse Haveron does not participate in Internet social media or even maintain a website. However, a quick Google search will return results on all his exhibits and openings.
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
Art, music, literature and compelling societal views that live outside of the box.