ISSUE TEN | JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014
CALLING ALL ARTISTS
THE HAWK IN PARIS
VALQUIRE VELJKOVIC & ALEXANDER WEBER POLAR CAPS
THE SERAPHIM RISING
SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES
The Artist D MANAGING EDITOR
Paula Frank CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Ann Marie Papanagnostou CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Doug Seymour MARKETING & PROMOTIONS
Felicia C. Waters SUBMISSIONS
WANDER & WONDER: A CONVERSATION WITH DESSA
Serena Butler WEB DEVELOPMENT
Rene Trejo, Jr. EDITORIAL
Christine Blythe Simone Brown Serena Butler Kathy Creighton Paula Frank Marguerite O’Connell Derek O’Neal Mark Sharpley Annie Shove Aaron Wallace Felicia C. Waters
THE HAWK IN PARIS: SHOW US YOUR FREAK
HANGING IN BALANCE
THE STORYTELLING WALLS OF
COVER IMAGE: NINETEEN THIRTEEN photograph by DOUG SEYMOUR
© 2014 Fourculture Magazine Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 2 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
VALQUIRE VELJKOVIC & ALEXANDER WEBER
BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS, TALENT: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF
WHO SAYS TOYS ARE JUST FOR KIDS?
THE DIRTY BOULEVARD
BUILDING MODERN MUSIC ON A CLASSICAL FOUNDATION
THE SERAPHIM RISING
ALL I NEED IS THE AIR THAT I BREATHE
POLAR CAPS ALRIGHT ALRIGHT
BRINGING THE HEAT
DRUNK DIALING VAMPIRES
who we are THE ARTIST D The Artist D has been performing online since the mid 1990s; a relic from the cam show age before social networking was a network, advocate for the rights of the underground, author, painter, columnist, raconteur, provocateur and host of The Fabulous D Show, a radio show broadcast weekly for anybody with a brain in their head. Catering to the freaks, geeks and black sheep of society, he makes the extraterrestrials of culture feel right at home on planet Earth. PAULA FRANK Writer, painter, music lover, dreamer; Paula’s ever-changing Pisces spirit rolls with whatever the tides bring her. Constantly in pursuit of the beauty of art in all its forms, she pours her love for human connections into everything she does, be it writing fiction, interviewing her favorite musicians and artists, painting an emotion, or sharing time with the people she loves. This small town girl has great big dreams and strives to make them reality. She is thrilled to offer them to you, the readers and fellow dreamers. After all, what good are dreams with no one to share them? ANN MARIE PAPANAGNOSTOU Ann Marie likes to make things pretty. This award-winning designer loves to lose herself in the creative process and is psyched to work alongside amazing individuals who fuel her artistic fire and tolerate her fierce coffee addiction. She is most content with a beverage in one hand and a mouse in the other. ADAM D Adam is approximately one half of Photostat Machine. They are a synthpop duo hailing from York, England. When not working on devastatingly handsome pop tunes with his creative other half, @ nik_krudeshaw, you can find him hunkered over a cup of coffee. He likes to smile but isn’t that fond of talking about himself in the third person. “So I’ll stop there,” he added. PAUL B. BLUES Paul B Blues is one half of the duo who host one of the most listened to Blues shows on the internet, The Blues Connection on OnAirTunes.com. His mantra is “Blues music is a healer” and he thrives on promoting the artists who are making strides in the genre. If you need some healing of the soul, then tune into The Blues Connection. Be prepared to lose yourself in the ultimate Blues listening experience and enjoy the ride. SERENA BUTLER Serena “Rena” Butler marches to the beat of a Linn LM-1 Drum Computer. Currently, she remains in a virtual time warp looking to hit that day where replicating a DeLorean time machine becomes reality. Sadly, it has yet to occur; she remains in the current year here to bring you the latest noise making waves in the four pillars of culture. When not working on the magic behind these pages you can find her rummaging the local independent record shops for CDs and vinyl, trying to get past the second level in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker game for Sega Genesis, or mastering The Force just from watching the Star Wars trilogy. FRANK COTOLO Known for his comedic acumen, Cotolo has made his living as a writer and a performer all of his life and during the lives of others. He is the author of the novel License To Skill and has co-authored its screenplay version, Molotov Memoirs, a collection of short stories, The Complete and Unabridged History of Japan, an epic novel, and a serious novella, Sweet Shepherd. Cotolo, born in Brooklyn in 1950, has worked in broadcasting, film, theater, music and television. KATHY CREIGHTON Kathy Creighton, a.k.a. Mama Kath, is on a magical mystery tour of current fine, literary, and performance art and wants to bring you along for the ride. How? Besides watching, reading and listening, Kathy sits down with these creators and discusses everything from what inspires them to where their journeys began to how to fix the current A&E industry. She asks the questions you’ve been waiting for someone to ask. SYLVIE HILL Sylvie Hill is known in Canada’s Capital City for writing a provocative life/culture column called “Shotgun” in Ottawa’s hip arts/entertainment newspaper weekly. Print dies, she goes on-line contributing about bands, books and babes. She’s a spoken-word poet and author of Hoxton Square Circles: Starfucking tales of sexless onenight stands. Find her at www.sylviehill.com and @SylvieHill.
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MARGUERITE O’CONNELL Writer, attorney, wife, and mother of three boys in a bicultural interfaith family, Marguerite isn’t one to shy away from a challenge or decline an adventure. A semester in London studying art history and Shakespeare sparked her life-long passion for music and all things art and law school sharpened her natural abilities for research and communicating. Hoping to show her boys how it’s done, Marguerite has set out to use the things she’s good at, to communicate about the subjects that fuel her passions. For the reader, that might mean interviews with awesome indie artists one month and reviews of their latest works the next. For Marguerite it means lots of words, art, solitude and coffee. And happiness. DEREK O’NEAL “You have to hear this song” is a phrase you’ll often hear from Derek. His fierce music obsession began at a young age, an age when playlists were captured on cassette off the radio with TLC and Soul Asylum in heavy rotation. As a writer, Derek has been sharing his stories since he was old enough to hold a pencil, which is a big deal since he really dislikes pencils. Derek now educates the masses with a combination of things he loves most: music and writing. Today, you can find Derek scouring the web for fresh sounds that both inspire and entertain. Sometimes he takes breaks for coffee and sleep. PRODUCER MARK Producer Mark can be found at www.OnAirTunes.com, specifically The Indie Show, playing some of the best rock, goth and alternative music there is. His hunger for fresh, new talent is almost as intense as his love of crisps. Salt and vinegar, please. DOUG SEYMOUR Doug Seymour is a featured photographer with Paste, Pollstar, Billboard and now Fourculture. Over the past several years, his work has graced sixteen magazine covers, dozens of album & DVD covers, tour posters, countless published photos and even a book cover. He has also been the recipient of four Independent Music Awards for his photography. In his spare time, Doug is an avid collector of rare vinyl LP’s (and loves to get them autographed too). MARK SHARPLEY English writer Mark Sharpley brings a view from the other side of the Atlantic. A former bass player and drummer, he now concentrates on giving his two cents on all things musical. A huge lifelong fan of The Smiths, anything to do with them will always be a biased affair but don’t worry, he doesn’t come equipped with a Morrissey style quiff... DARYA TEESEWELL Darya Teesewell has been a lot of things, often simultaneously. She’s spent years working in the velvet prison of the Los Angeles movie biz, but nothing is below her line, because she hates lines. Darya travels freely from gender to gender and had made her living as a cinematographer, a writer, a teacher, a shop girl, a union organizer, and she’s ridden in Angelyne’s pink corvette; oh, does she have a tale to tell. AARON WALLACE Aaron Curtis Wallace spreads his time between tending to a jungle of houseplants and cats, performing as a damn good female impersonator, and supporting various charities, as a board member, founder, or fundraiser. When he’s not out passionately trying to make the world a better place, he is following his other passion by writing amazing reviews for Fourculture magazine. Friend him at facebook.com/ aaron.c.wallace.3 and follow him @aaronforever87. FELICIA C. WATERS Born and raised in NYC, she began her lifelong love affair with music the moment she first heard T Rex. Throughout her life music has always been there...the steadfast friend with no judgment, always accepting. It nourishes, it angers, it heals and it makes you feel embraced. It is a part of her just as a limb or a lung. If she can bring any of those feelings to people through her writing, not only does she feel she’s done her job, she feels like she’s given them a gift.
Last night I had a dream about artists and regrets that involved regretful artists. The world is full of cliques talking about having no regrets. You only live once, wink wink. The tough stuff about being an artist is being placed time and time again into regretful situations. Yet among all others it would seem those who are creators of their perceptions, dreams and inhibitions shed regret the best. Being an artist is all about taking chances. When humans take chances they are taught by society to regret their decisions. No matter how good or bad things turn out we could have always done it differently and made it better. The smallest stumble and the average meat sack on the street is moaning about how they wished it was different. No matter what art you produce it comes with chances. Whether you’re writing that book, drawing the cartoon or taking the one in a million photograph it’s all about putting it on the line. The producers of internal vision to the outward world know all about taking chances. To think the things I passed by because I wanted to be an individual. The opportunities I missed all in the name of art. It leads on from an artistic teen to being possessed by the artist profession nearing a needed exorcism. I walked right by opportunity others would have regretted. The jobs, promotions and pay raises that I waived away in lieu of packing the car with canvas and running. All encased in another society favorite called “selling out.” I never bought what they were selling (for long). Socially too! Many of us know all too well being so wrapped up in the creation process to get to Happy Hour. Being a slave to the need to make instead of be made. Laying on the floor covered in paint, mind buzzing on a full canvas with an empty bottle of something. Lost in a complete sacrifice of some common satisfactions. These are the things others would jump to regret over. But I’m not unhappy when I look back at all the roads I chose over the other roads more traveled. I’m not rich, well off or anywhere stable from most of my choices. I’m in no condition to say it paid off so fiddle-dee-dew on you. Oh no, quite the contrary yet no regrets to be had. Perhaps artists aren’t regretful because they’re proud of taking the other road. Whether it paid off or killed them they still got to be themselves. Change the way to perceive and change ALL memory. The depth of perception shall change all. Make the choice from your true self and perhaps your false sensibilities will not be so fueled with that of regretful natures. Fourculture Magazine stands firmly as a totem for artistic freedom of the underground. Some artists may have a stab of regret here and there but it’s safe to say the things we’re producing gives us nothing but pure pleasure. And there’s no better pleasure than living art on the underground. Follow The Artist D on Twitter: @theArtistD
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Wander & Wonder: a Conversation with BY DER EK O’NE A L PH OTOG R A PH Y BY BI LL PH ELPS
almost missed the opportunity to chat on the phone with Dessa over a minor misunderstanding of time zones. At first – I’m not going to lie – I thought that I was being blown off, or that she had simply forgotten about me. As it turns out, I had misinterpreted the difference in time zones and she was running a little behind due to a prior interview. Incidentally, with the release of her newest poetry book, A Pound Of Steam, and starting her fall tour mere days after a slew of poetry readings, book signings, and interviews, Dessa was quite busy. Thankfully, time zone disaster aside, the interview was a success and we covered everything from writing influences to our mutual love of Lauryn Hill. For those unfamiliar, Dessa (also known as Dessa Darling) is an indie hip-hop singer/songwriter and spoken word artist from Minneapolis. She is one seventh of the indie hip-hop collective known as Doomtree. Based in the same city, Doomtree is currently comprised of seven members including Dessa, Cecil Otter, P.O.S., Sims, Mike Mictlan, Paper Tiger, and Lazerbeak. According to member P.O.S., “Doomtree” is a made up word that does not have a meaning and describes the group’s formation as a gradual process. Doomtree has been classified as hip-hop, but their music also contains elements of jazz, punk rock, blues, rock, pop, and soul. The collective represents several unique musical influences and is known for having temperamental beats and original, intellectually poetic lyrics. Between the individual artist’s solo endeavors, Doomtree has released several EPs, along with mixtapes, remix records, a documentary film, and two official full-length albums. Each December, starting in 2005, Doomtree holds their annual group shows ("Blowouts”) at local Minneapolis venues. In 2013, Blowout 9 spanned four nights. The first night (December 12th) was held at the Triple Rock Social Club while the last three nights (December 13th-15th) were held at the First Avenue Mainroom. Blowout 9 included special guest artists Aby Wolf, Crescent Moon, I Self Devine, Har Mar Superstar, Greg Grease, and Astronautalis. Outside of the collective, Dessa has released one EP and three albums to date: False Hopes (2005), A Badly Broken Code (2010), Castor, the Twin (2011), and Parts of Speech (2013) respectively. She has also released four books: Spiral Bound (2009), a collection of poetry and fiction; Sleeping With Nikki (2011), a thirty-two page short story; Are You Handsome? (2013), a miniature fifty page book of dialogue; and her newest book of poetry, A Pound Of Steam (2013). It is evident in her poetry, prose, and music that Dessa has a love for words. She was the valedictorian of Southwest High School in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota a year early with a philosophy degree. Before pursuing her artistic career full-time, she waitressed and worked as a technical writer for a medical manufacturer, writing reference manuals used by doctors in the implantation of pacemakers. In her free time, when she is not busy creating and writing, she spends her time brushing up on classic novels and poetry. It is no wonder that one of Dessa’s favorite things is the printing press.
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How did you come up with the stage name Dessa? Is it a family name? Is it short for Odessa? My last name is Wander and that’s Dessa in Greek. I’ve been using it since I was just a teenager when I was singing illegally in karaoke bars.
Speaking of poetry, your new book was just released not long ago, a book of poetry called a Pound of Steam. Tell us a little about it. Yeah, this is the first book that I’ve published in partnership with a legitimate publisher. You know, my previous projects have all essentially been self-published. On this one, I worked with Rain Taxi For those who don’t know, you’re part of a collective of seven from Minneapolis Prospective Press. I was really excited to have solo artists who release music under the name Doomtree. that kind of editorial extension that I haven’t had in past projects. You’re also co-owners of the record label of the same name. Describe your working relationship with the collective. For your newest album, Parts of Speech, you collaborated Yeah, I met the guys first as a fan. A friend had given me a CD partially with Doomtree and partially with a live band. You said of theirs and I thought it was incredible . . . and I thought “where are this was the first time you’ve recorded with a live band. Did it these guys from? Are they from the Pacific Northwest?” My friend add any new elements to the way you record? said “No, those are the dudes that live next Yeah, I think when you’re working with door!” a great hip-hop producer you start with a I met the Doomtree guys when they great beat . . . and when you’re working were at my neighbor’s in Minneapolis. I was with a great band you start with full silence. a fan, and then a friend, and then eventuIt’s a daunting amount of choice and an ally I was asked to join into the collective. exciting amount of choice. Since that moment it was told to me, in no uncertain terms, that it was friendship first, I’m pretty sure I heard you played the music second and money third. And that’s piano on the album is that true? Do you the way it stays. play any instruments? I play the piano incredibly badly and, I read that you became acquainted with yes, I did play it on that record. them through poetry slams. Is that where you passed off your CD? That’s how I am. I think all I can play is Actually, I had been doing slams with Chopsticks . . . a friend for a while who gave me their CD. It took me a really long time but I wantThat was initially how I first got exposed to ed to perform that one myself! them and the hip-hop scene in Minneapolis . . . and then Doomtree. Nice. So how exactly does a Dessa song come about? What’s your creative Can you describe what it’s like to be the process? only female member of Doomtree? Is it Throughout the course of most days ever strange? Are you just like one of I’m on the lookout for snippets of lanthe guys? How is that? guage that might catch my ear, you know? Whether that’s a bit I think that if there was any novelty about being the only woman of overheard conversation or something you hear . . . I generin this crew it probably would have worn off a couple of years in! It’s ally jot all of that down. Later when it’s time to write a full lyric, like being a sister with a lot of brothers. It’s just normal, you know? I I’ll consult my notebook which is now full of those little snippets think about it most probably when being asked by reporters! and make a mosaic out of those that then becomes a coherent cohesive song. You’ve identified as a writer since a young age. Who were some of your early influences? Who inspired you to become So I had read that or heard in another interview that for a few a writer? songs you would get a beat from like Laserbeak or something I like people like Dave Sedaris, Dave Eggers . . . I like Nathanial like that and you would then write the lyrics. Do you write your Hawthorne and T.S. Elliott . . . older stuff. A lot of favorites are from songs with a tune in mind or do you write them after you get a my parents’ generation. beat or is it just kind of touch and go? I’ll catch the little snippets of language all day long. When it Yeah, one of the only Sedaris books I’ve read is Me Talk Pretty comes to writing a complete song, I’ll always do so to a beat. One Day and it was really good I’m hoping to read a few more of his. You’ve made one music video so far for the new album - “Call Yeah, totally. Off Your Ghost” - and I saw there was also a lyric video for “Skeleton Key.” I saw the other day that you had posted that On the same page, you’re also into poetry and you’ve also re- you were pondering things for the next video. Do you know leased some of your own. Who were some of your influences which song will get the video next? in the realm of poetry? Who are some of your favorite poets? Let’s see . . . the first video we did was a lyric video for “WarI would say I’m still busy reading some of the classics, but I do saw” and then we did “Call Off Your Ghosts” and “Skeleton Key.” I like T.S. Elliott, as I mentioned . . . I like Mary Oliver and I recently think we are considering doing one for “Skeleton Key” so I’m in the discovered Gary Snyder, who I think is awesome too. process of trying to pull it together now.
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don’t know her and I don’t want to presume that – I don’t know that I’d have anything of interest to her! But I certainly admire her work . . . I guess it’s coffee or bust! I’m not sure I’d wanna fan out on Lauryn Hill and embarrass myself! Yeah I don’t know that I would wanna fan boy it up on Lauryn Hill... [laughs] Yeah! You know what I mean? I’d be kinda scared and maybe a little intimidated! Sure! I also heard that you were an outspoken fan of Jeff Buckley. Oh, sure. A few of my favorites of his are “So Real,” “The Sky is a Landfill” and all of his Nina Simone covers. What are some of your favorite Jeff Buckley songs? My favorite performance of all time from Jeff Buckley is his cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” That song has been covered a lot live sometimes, too.
Yeah, that will be a good one. I also saw that you were selling skeleton keys on your website, which are obviously inspired by the song. Do you have a thing for skeleton keys? That’s a good question. I mean, for me, it felt like a really rich metaphor for the song so I was attracted to them that way. I don’t like have a drawer full of skeleton keys or anything! But I’m drawn to the idea . . . and I like the aesthetic because of the antique look.
I probably just won’t unpack my bag. I’ll try and sleep for a couple of hours in between.
Now I just have a couple of really random questions. I actually was watching some of your other interviews and I learned that you’re favorite female hiphop artist was Lauryn Hill and that your favorite song of hers was “To Zion.” Actually, that song along with “Tell Him” have been two of my personal favorites since they were released back in ‘98. Really? Yeah... It looks like they sell out pretty fast so everyone else might have a thing for Those two songs are amazing. She’s reskeleton keys as well. mained mostly underground for many Yeah. [laughs] years. If you could say one thing to her what would you say? What do you do to prepare for a tour You know . . . I don’t know if I would! If mentally and physically? I had the opportunity . . . no, I’ve admired Yeah, you know we’ve been touring her work for so much that I don’t know that enough this year so I feel like most of what I would, like, sully our perfect relationship. we need to do to get back out on the road Yeah, if we could kick it and have a conwe haven’t undone since last time! We’re versation that she were interested in havon the road now doing some music con- ing, I’d love that, of course . . . but if I had certs in BC so when I get home, I’ll be home the chance to grab Lauryn Hill’s hand and for like sixteen hours before I take off again! say one thing I don’t know that I would. I
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Yeah, his is actually my favorite cover of that song . . . Yeah . . . His, in my opinion, is one of the pinnacles of vocal performance. I think his cover is just heart rending . . . I played it for my dad and I remember him at one point saying “I want you to turn it off. It’s just too much!” Like “No man!” That song really brings me to my knees. Yeah, I almost wonder where he would be today musically if he hadn’t passed back in ’97. Yeah, totally. Nice! I want to thank you for your time today! I appreciate your saintly patience today. No problem! [laughs] I thought I’d screwed everything up with the time zones today. [laughs] Awesome! Well, thank you so much for your time. If people wanna check out the music or the videos they can do so at doomtree.net/dessa and then I do all the social stuff so find me as @dessadarling on twitter. We’ll be sure to plug it all! I appreciate that. Take it easy and thank you so much again.
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Sunday Noisy Sunday is a one hour musical journey, from noise to neo-classical, from wild rock to warm electronic music. This show is curated by Grégoire Fray (THOT).
With interesting guests and commentary, The Artist D tries desperately to display the realty of the moment. The Fabulous D Show is for anyone with a brain in their head. New shows every Sunday! Previous episodes are revisited each Tuesday at 9 PM EST.
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BY PAUL A FR A NK
In 2009, three college friends reunited, bringing their collective musical talents and influences with them. Jeremy Bose and Matt Bronleewe had successful careers in music production while Dan Haseltine had gone on as the lead singer/songwriter for the highly successful band Jars of Clay. What they became was The Hawk in Paris. With no plans, other than to write a few pop songs, based on their 80â€™s/90â€™s influences, they found themselves creating something new, free, and unbound. While the music holds pop sensibilities, the lyrics touch on emotionally charged places inside of each of us that we barely remembered we had. Their new album, Freaks, is a showcase of what these guys can do together and what they have created is the delicious appetizer, leaving us hungry for more. I had the chance to chat with Dan, Matt, and Jeremy to talk about The Hawk in Paris and the journey to embracing Freaks and beyond.
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You all knew each other for a while before getting together for The Hawk in Paris. You put out an EP, a single, and now the full length album, Freaks. Is it a surprise to you that you’ve reached this point? Did you ever think it would go this far? Matt: One of the things that brought about the full length album was really just people requesting it. We kind of jumped into it thinking that maybe albums had kind of faded a bit and that maybe we would be doing more EPs and singles and things like that. But lo and behold after putting out a few things we had so many people emailing and messaging asking when the full length would be coming out so we realized that was something we’d need to put together. It really wasn’t on our radar until people started asking for it. I think now that we’ve done it and put together a full length 12 songs that all fit together, I think we do understand better the importance of that and I definitely think as we look to the future we definitely want to do more full pictures and not just little snippets of things but full bodies of work. I think people still really resonate with that idea. Dan: I think we were a little bit shocked. Everything you hear about the industry is that people are consuming music in smaller amounts and it’s a singles driven community these days. It was sort of shocking to us when people then started asking, “Well, when’s the full length coming out?” I think that sort of showed us that all of the technological predictions haven’t settled entirely into the consumer market yet. People still enjoy listening to an album from front to back and still like that experience which I think is a good thing for us, for people who enjoy making music that way and putting together a whole project and feeling like every song can matter and there’s a contour there. I’m just thinking of your comment on everyone downloading singles and stuff now and I’m wondering do you think it has something to do with the content of the album? I mean, there are people out there that put an album out of 12 songs together that have nothing to do with each other and you might like one, you might not like another and you would buy that single. Even when the His and Hers EP came out, to me it felt like it was a story, like you needed more to finish the story. It’s such a comprehensive, cohesive album. So, do you think it matters with the content of the album whether people go looking for more to that story or if they’re just happy with one song? Jeremy: I guess you can see, if the lyrical content of songs offers very little I think that would make sense. People would download it in smaller chunks. But I feel like 16 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
Dan’s lyrics and this music really does kind of tell a bigger picture. It makes sense that there would be a full album of this. Matt: It does seem right now that there are artists falling into 2 distinctive camps. You’ll find the artists that are very single driven, people like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, where it seems like every bit of marketing is centered around one song and maybe that’s all the bandwidth there is in order to get that song to do as well as it can. So it’s kind of song by song by song by song. That’s maybe a different story than this project. We’re trying to tell a different story or show a few different facets of the same thing and there definitely is a theme. Dan’s been diving so hard into this kind of heart-breaking thing. I don’t know what it is but every time Jeremy and I will be working on some music and all we hear is clicking in the back of the room on the laptop and Dan will be like “What about this?” and it will be some kind of heartbreaking tale and touch some kind of place. Maybe this isn’t the kind of thing that would resonate on radio for 3 minutes but across an album, across multiple songs, I feel like it’s just a different type of artistry. There are plenty of artists out there too now that are more about that, more about the album and a longer story. Maybe it’s the novelist versus the article. A different length is required for a different type of artistry. You guys, collectively, have a lot of time wrapped up in the industry between you. The Hawk in Paris was sort of a chance for each of you to let that go and come together to do something that was a clean slate with no stigma behind it, no expectations around it, anything like that. What has that felt like for you guys to be starting over a bit with this? Dan: It felt really good for me. It was really freeing from the moment we started writing. I knew I was writing from a different character space than what I would normally be writing if I were doing, say, a Jars of Clay record. It felt like it was kind of an exhale. Great! I get to write some stuff that I wouldn’t write for Jars based on what the Jars audience is or the market where it exists. Also, again, when we first started we didn’t know that we were going to be taking this as far as we’ve gone, but the more now I’m seeing when people are reviewing the record or they’re making comments on the songs, it isn’t wrapped up in someone’s baggage about whether it’s religion or their own life. I felt with Jars that the story was oftentimes that you would read a review and you’d wonder, “Where’s the music in this review? They haven’t even brought up the music yet. They’ve just sort of made some snappy quip about religion or something.”
In a way, for me, seeing reviews that are actually based on music and the merits of a song and people listening without those prejudices has been a wonderful experience. I think that’s what I had always hoped for in my musical career, even as a kid. If people were ever going to talk about my music, I had hoped they would talk about my music and not everything that surrounded it. So, from my perspective, it was really nice to see people critiquing music. I’m glad that you are finally feeling some of that freedom. Dan: I think there’s a way that you can either embrace what you’ve known and what you’ve learned from those experiences as an artist and keep evolving or you can fight the ghosts of your past. I don’t feel like I have to fight those. I think the Hawk in Paris has just been a great way to engage with other talented people and make some really amazing music together and that’s been an amazing thing in and of itself. Jeremy and Matt, with you two coming from more production backgrounds, not necessarily on the front lines like Dan has been, how has it been for you guys and what have you learned about yourselves in stepping out of those background positions and that box of
what your career has been and into what you’re doing with The Hawk in Paris? Jeremy: I guess the difference is when I’ve been in a production role and I’m trying to help another artist get what they want into their recording and guiding that process, it’s not about what I want. I really enjoy helping people do that. It’s what I love about production, but it’s been super fun doing Hawk stuff. If I want to do a synthesizer part, I just do it and it’s really what I want to do. Obviously Matt and Dan have to like it too, but it’s not about figuring out they want. It’s what we all resonate with. It’s more personally expressive which is not always the case in production. As much joy and satisfaction as that has been, it’s just a totally different experience and now musically, at the end of the day, it’s what I want to say. I think that’s been the biggest surprise and the most fun for me. Matt: I would say mine is very similar. I think over the years I’ve discovered that my best production work comes from when the project is closest to what I love. What’s difficult in production is that you have so many “nos” along the way. You’ll present an idea…“No.” You’ll present an idea…“No” and then finally, maybe, you’ll find something. It may be the thing that you loved or it may be some second cousin of that idea. I feel like with The Hawk in Paris we’re all
“And maybe that’s what art does anyway. It takes us to a place where we can have conversations we might not have had. It engages us. It shows us a view of the world we couldn’t see from our vantage point.”
able to put our best foot forward and have it be accepted, and not just accepted but made better by the other two people. For me, I trust Jeremy and Dan so much that I feel like I can throw out a ton of different ideas, all things that I love, and they help me figure out which ones resonate the most. Hopefully we all do that for each other. We maybe came into the industry at the same time. We all grew up with similar influences and I think that really helped. It amazes me how many times we’re in the studio and somebody brings up an idea and the other two in the room are like “Yeah! Let’s chase that!” There’s just so much support and encouragement and that is a distinct difference from what Jeremy and I experience in the production world which is just the nature of fulfilling somebody else’s dream and somebody else’s art rather than your own. It’s been a unique and encouraging process through The Hawk in Paris. Do you guys think that you all sort of needed that history behind you to make something like The Hawk work now? Could this have happened, say, 10 years ago or did you all need to grow in what you were doing to get to this place now? Dan: I would say that there was definitely some gravity at work in drawing us all back together, but in the sense that it was the right time for the three of us to reconnect and start doing some writing. I think the musical landscape now kind of allowed it. I’ve always kind of looked at the relationship in a way that artists give other artists permission to do things because there’s always someone to push the boundary or go beyond what people thought they could do and then others start going “Oh, we can go there too!” Art evolves and gets better and more adventurous. It was a good musical landscape for us to step into this project with and feel like we’ve got a lot of tools in our belt now to work with and to be able to take influences that we’ve all had and bring them to the table where we couldn’t before in our other artistic adventures. There are certain things I could do with the band (Jars of Clay) but some projects can die under the weight of influences if you try to cram them in there. I didn‘t want to have my 80’s influences weighing down a folk ensemble. So I felt like the three of us as a trio all had these influences that were dying to get out. The project was just that kind of perfect moment to say “Hey, let’s make music to draw this out and let’s put these influences out there that we don’t get to exploit very often and let’s see what we come up with.” Jeremy: Do you guys think if we had tried to start a band 10 years ago, we would have tried to start a boy band? (laughter) ISSUE TEN
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not Mark Hammill. He was Luke Skywalker and that’s what made me believe in Star Wars. There’s now an element of cinema, an element of magic that you lose because of the way the culture has kind of shifted and wanted to pull that veil back on the artists. You see far fewer examples of where an artist gets to be theatrical that way or take on the role of a character and present themselves in a controlled way for any extended period of time. I think we’ve been trying to do that a bit with The Hawk and just trying to keep an aesthetic to it that allows us not to pull that veil back 100% on all of the personal relationships. I think it will end up happening anyway because the internet does exist. For me, though, I sometimes mourn the loss of that sense of character and theatrics that the music world used to have a lot more of.
Let me ask then, how are your dance moves? Dan: It is possible. I had a breakdancing career when I was in junior high. I’ll pull those moves back out. Again with your history, how easy or how difficult have you all found it to start rolling with the tides in the way the music industry has changed? Now you’ve done a PledgeMusic campaign forwhich crowd funding is relatively new, downloading, etc. How have you learned to change with that and are you enjoying this more collaborative relationship that goes on between the musicians and the fans? Matt: I think it’s both refreshing and daunting. This type of environment is very noisy. It’s very hard to cut through the noise and get people’s attention. Everyone is broadcasting everything they do. And everyone has the attention span of gnats. Matt: That’s very true. We’re all suspect in that and there are great things in that. It’s great to be able to just jump from one thing to the next and to be able to consume so many things across a broad spectrum. The fact that we can even do a PledgeMusic 18 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
campaign to allow a much broader base is cool. The minute we started that campaign we knew that it’s not just us anymore. I think we’re closing in on 500 people that have jumped in with us to make this new record. That’s so cool to me that people enter in at that intimate of a level. It’s like 500 people saying “we’re dying to hear this.” We’re dying to get this music out there and we want to help in any way we can. That’s really amazing. That’s not something that was around back then. There’s this group of people who really care about what you’re doing and that’s a really powerful thing. Dan: Sort of to play the opposite approach to it, I think one of the challenges of the fan/artist relationship now is that there’s far less room for theatrics, for being a character. I think back to artists like Depeche Mode. They had kind of a persona and it wasn’t based off of what kind of toothpaste they used or what kind of cereal they ate in the morning. You didn’t know that about artists you loved. There was a bit of mystique. I think part of what makes it challenging is that you look at someone like Lady Gaga who has this incredibly outlandish persona, but we’ve kind of dug through it. We’ve kind of pulled the veil back even on her and so everybody kind of knows that they’re just real people. When I was a kid, Luke Skywalker was
I understand what you mean. There was a sense of wonder and of awe and as a listener I can totally see your point. I think about the musicians I loved way back when, and there are still a few who have managed to keep under the radar, but not very many. It gets difficult to look at that person you admire so much as an artist and then you follow them on twitter and they’re spewing everything. Dan: Yep. They become a little too human. You want those artists and the people that you get your entertainment from to be a piece removed from you. You want them to have something different. You want a little mystique and we keep pulling that veil. On the other side of the coin though, it is enjoyable too at times to as a listener to have that contact. I know in the past, Dan, I’ve had interactions with you on twitter when you’ve made social commentary on different things and it’s kind of fun as a fan to have that dialogue with an artist you admire. Dan: And I think that is good. That’s why it’s a source of tension because there are some incredibly good things that happen. As Matt said, just a connection to a fan base or a group of people is a great thing. I don’t even like saying fan base really. I think that people who support artists are patrons nowadays. They’re not simply making posters out of puffy paint and putting it on their wall. They’re doing more to engage with the artists and the culture that they’re trying to create. But there is that element of it. I don’t want to be too egotistical about it but I think there are some conversations that I start with people in earshot of me, whether it’s on twitter or facebook, that wouldn’t engage that conversation otherwise. I get to be a catalyst for some of that. I get to be the provocation that maybe some people need
to think more broadly about the world they live in. And maybe that’s what art does anyway. It takes us to a place where we can have conversations we might not have had. It engages us. It shows us a view of the world we couldn’t see from our vantage point. It illuminates certain holes in our theories and confronts us with them and when we do that, that’s when art is at its best, when it can provoke us that way. So if the artist gets to do that even further in conversation with the people that are following them in these social spheres, then I guess it’s just an extension of the art in some fashion. I want to go into the new album, Freaks. Most of the songs we hear these days, especially those about love and relationships, are one of two extremes. Either the “OMG, I’m so in love and I can’t think about anything except this person,” or the “my heart is broken and I hate them” songs. Part of what I really love about the songs on the album is that they touch more on the in-betweens which are really the things that most of us feel most of the time anyway; those little seeds of doubt or those awkward not knowing what to do moments or those little periods of really great joy, the moments that we actually live. What attracted you to writing songs about those in-betweens? Dan: Probably a couple of things. I think Springsteen said “write what you know” and it seemed like a good songwriting tip. You write about the experiences you’ve had or the way that you see the world and that’s the best place to write from. Most of the music that I listened to growing up kind of lived in that space. It was bands like The Cure and Morrisey and certainly Depeche Mode and New Order. All these bands gravitated more toward the tension of love so I think that kind of just comes honestly. As we started settling into the work that we were going to create, it seems that those were the things that were going to come out. Luckily for me, I was that broken hearted little junior higher. I never broke up with a girl. They always broke up with me so I think there was that element of writing about love that I thought let’s kind of stick with this and see how far we can kind of play with this idea. So far, I haven’t gotten tired of it. The Hawk has probably got about 6 or 7 more records in us that we’ll carry on those themes. Jeremy: Well, Dan writes all the lyrics but I love the way it always seems to be about those in-betweens. I like that observation and that is something I’ve always liked about Dan’s lyrics for sure. Matt: One thing I think that’s been really interesting about this process is the interplay between lyric and music and a number of these songs have arrived at that place of heartbreak and melancholy and whatever
that place is that’s in-between as you so well put earlier. That’s been an intermarriage between the lyric and the music, whether that’s the music playing off of what Dan’s saying or Dan playing off of what the music is suggesting. Dan had said earlier with the quote “write what you know” and I’ve heard an author say, maybe even better, is to write what you love. I think there’s a part of each of us that loves that place; loves the heartbreak, loves that kind of in-between space and it’s so unexplored in the music of today. Like you said, it’s usually one extreme or the other, either the height of heights or the depths of despair. This in-between place where maybe you’re with somebody or you’re still unsure or unsettled, Dan has just found this place that is so unique and I think it’s really inspired the music to continue to go to that place and I think that, in turn, pushes him to continue that journey lyrically. I think it’s been something really unexpected for us to have stumbled upon. When you guys are putting together a song, sometimes those places can be really morose and depressing, but you guys have managed to not make the album something you want to dress in black to with your little candle and the tears rolling down your face.
Matt: We haven’t done our job then. Oh man, is that what you were going for? I totally missed the mark then! Jeremy: I’d love to be able to sell the album with an accompanying mourning candle. Are you guys fairly conscious of that? How do you make the music something that is so incredibly enjoyable while still touching on some of these rather heavy emotional things in the lyrics? Dan: I think that’s all in trusting each other. We’ve made music long enough and I think we’ve grown out of that space where we’re still tunnel-visioned to only be able to see this dark piece and get only that message across. Rather, we can play off of each other and know that those experiences of love and tension don’t happen in a vacuum. I think we all knew we wanted to hit on the melancholy side of love but we didn’t want to make it morose. There have been moments, certainly, when Matt or Jeremy would go “Oh wow, that’s a little dark. Maybe change a couple things.” There are definitely times we’ve had to kind of massage the lyric a little bit and pull it out of the deep darkness and I think maybe that was just it; three guys that have some fairly
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strong pop sensabilites being able to step in and feel that we have a strong sense of what people can ingest and also what we can ingest and make believable. We’re working in a genre that we absolutely love and it’s a genre where it’s hard to be believable. We didn’t want to mock our influences and we didn’t want to create a caricature of a kind of record. We wanted to make a record that is believable and says interesting things, so there were some of those guard rails on it.
Matt: I think what’s so great is what you said. We all relate to that looking back but I think everyone wants to deny the fact that we still feel like that now. I think that what you said is what we’ve been hearing from lots of people and what we’ve found ourselves is that you never quite lose that. There’s some part of you that always stays a little freakish. Everybody’s still looking for acceptance. Everybody’s still looking for a way to fit in and I think that song just completely speaks to that emotion.
I have to say that I also appreciate the honesty, Dan, that you put forth in your lyrics. You’ve done it with Jars of Clay and now with The Hawk as well where it just comes from a very honest place. Do you ever find it difficult to put that honesty out there and say “This is what I’m feeling?” Dan: It’s never been a difficult thing because what I recognize is that songwriting is writing about moments. It’s a single moment, a single emotion, a single idea. Songs very rarely encompass a vast amount of space, time, and story. When you’re able to take a song and just provide glimpses or small fragments of a certain idea, that’s what people connect with. If you told the entire story people wouldn’t connect with it in the same way as a song where I’m digging into a certain kind of emotion. They can grab that and apply it to their own life. They can recognize that they’ve had that same feeling and resonate with it, but it’s never the whole story. There are a lot of parts of my story that do come out in the music. You can’t help but do that, but there’s also not enough of it that comes out that people would get the whole picture of it. When I write, it’s an outlet so typically for me it’s not an outlet to express how happy I am. It’s an outlet that’s therapy when I’m not feeling exceptionally excited or happy. I guess all that is to say, since it’s not the full picture of my life, I’m not putting my whole family and everybody that I know on the chopping block or throwing anyone under the bus, I’m ok with it.
So which of you is the biggest freak? Dan: I think we’re all freaks in different ways. Matt: Yeah. Dan: I immediately think Jeremy is, just because he’s such a musical genius. I think about the way he creates and composes things and it always amazes me. He’s sort of that quiet mad scientist.
I’m sort of, maybe, just a little bit obsessed with the song “Freaks.” I have taken that as the theme song for my life I think. It takes you back to that time of feeling like such a freak. We all did and we all do! I always call to mind the singer Amanda Palmer who talked about the fraud police coming to arrest her for being a fake adult. I don’t know that we ever completely get over that, so have you all come to make peace with your inner freakiness? Jeremy: I don’t acknowledge mine.
Any rebuttal Jeremy? Jeremy: Not really, no. (laughs) I just have great respect for Matt and Dan and I love that we all have that respect for each other and it makes The Hawk what it is. We can all throw our freaky ideas into the ring and everyone is equally trusted to speak to it. I love it. These guys are great and we are equally freaks. I don’t have to ask if we’re going to have more albums since you already said there will be at least 6 or 7 more so it was recorded and I’m holding you to it. (laughter) The thing I will ask is that you got the push for the full length album, so is there a push now for live shows? Do you think you’ll put something together and if you do, what would a Hawk in Paris show look like? Dan: We can’t comment at this time. (laughs) Matt: We really are focusing firstly just on the music and creating in the studio. We love that environment and the flexibility it provides. We definitely have heard from a lot of people on that side of things and it’s something we’ll continue to talk about. I think part of what we’ve realized is that with the music being a boundary pushing thing that if we ever did a live thing it would need to live up to that. We’ve looked at a lot of interesting ways to do that. Will we ever go there? I don’t know. It’s something we’ll continue to talk about. It’s not the first thing we talk about but it’s there on the table. I think that’s kind of our line is that it would have to be great. It can’t be anything less than awesome if we’re going to do it.
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I E L WA P L E S BY M A RGUER ITE M . O’CO NNELL
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS COVE
aniel Waples is known internationally for his phenomenal performances on the Hand Pan. The dreadlock-wearing busker has traveled all over the world introducing many in his audiences to his unusual instrument while sharing his passion for playing it. Seeing the disc-shaped metal Hand Pan for the first time is as apt to bring flying saucers to mind as music. And indeed such imagery is not amiss, as the sound this instrument makes in Daniel’s hands is nothing short of otherworldly. Combining the hard edge of a metal drum with the warmth and resonance more commonly associated with a wooden flute, Daniel makes music that is truly extraordinary. Also known as a “metal sound sculpture,” the Hand Pan is a distant relative of the Caribbean steel drum. It’s unique design was inspired by the Trinidadian Steel Pan and the African Udo, as well as a bevy of Gongs, Drums, Bells and Wind Chimes from around the world. The first Hand Pan, called the HANG, was developed in Switzerland in the year 2000. Held in the lap and played by hand it is a thoroughly modern creation that refuses to be easily fit into any one defined instrument category. Similarly difficult to fit into one music genre or artistic type, Daniel is a bit of an enigma. Considered one of the world’s foremost HandPan players, he was 21 years old and at a music festival in Lincolnshire the first time he ever saw or heard it played. Daniel taught himself to play the Hand Pan while working and travelling on the summer music festival circuit. He later took to the road, busking with his Hand Pan, and never looked back. The talented musician and YouTube sensation has performed not only on street corners around the globe, but also on some of the world’s more prestigious stages — winning hearts and new fans at every stop along the way. Fourculture was fortunate to catch up with Daniel during his recent travels to New York City.
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I want to ask just a few questions about your background so our readers have a better idea of your path to becoming one of the most travelled Hang Drum/HandPan performers in the world. So what was your first musical instrument and how old were you when you started playing? When I was 11, I saw a strange box in the front room at my friend’s house. I asked what was inside. He opened the box, slung a strap over his shoulder, and hoisted up a drum. He then took up a pair of sticks and began to make such a noise that I can still remember the feeling in my ears. That was the first time I saw a military snare drum being played. He invited me to join him the next evening at band practice. Obviously I went. Once there, I witnessed for the first time a 60-piece military marching band. I was hooked right then and there. That evening I became a snare drummer in a military marching band and around a year later, mainly due to my height and build, I was moved to the bass drum. For the next three years, I travelled to Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, and all across the UK to perform. I performed for the Queen of England a few times and was on a whole host of TV shows. We also came in 2nd (Twice) in the UK’s Under 19’s Military Marching Band Tattoo, which was hosted at the Royal Albert Hall. Can you tell me a little bit more about your musical background such as other instruments you play or if you ever undertook a course of study related to music while in school? My father and all of my uncles had guitars around their houses as I was growing up, but I would say that I never tried to 26 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
play the guitar until I was in my early teens. When I was 13, I took half-hour lessons every week after school. This went on for around a year before I moved schools. The standard music lessons I was receiving throughout school consisted mostly of around 30 kids hitting the ‘demo’ buttons on crappy Casio keyboards. When I was 15, I joined some bands and began to play a few local venues. It was with one of these bands I first went into a professional recording studio and cut three tracks. When I was 16, I left school and enrolled on a two-year course in ‘Popular Music’ at the Sam Newsom Music Centre in Lincolnshire. It was here that I began to realize that I didn’t wish to make my way in life playing guitar for a living and covering songs written by artists I loved to listen to, although I did love the idea of working somewhere in the music industry and by chance had begun to repair guitars. So I then studied ‘Stringed Musical Instrument Technology’ at the Leeds College of Music. Then when I was around 21, I went to a music festival and played an African Djembe. Again I felt that same feeling I had when I saw the snare drum being played 10 years before and that was it. I was playing drum again. The Hang Drum is a fairly new musical instrument first developed in Switzerland around the year 2000 and similar instruments known as HandPans have since become available. How would you describe these instruments to someone unfamiliar with them? How do HandPans differ from the Hang Drum? Recently I have started to joke around when people ask. If I say ‘Hand Pan’ or
‘Hang Drum,’ it leads to further questions. If I say “Piano Bongo,” people seem satisfied. By definition the Hang Drum is a Hand Pan. Hand Pan is the classification that is given now to any percussive instrument that is made from metal and played by hand. How did you first learn of the Hang Drum? What intrigued you about it and made you think, “I’ve got to play that?” When and how did you actually learn to play it? I was invited to buy my first Hang in 2006 after a lengthy wait. I can proudly say that I taught myself how to play. In those early days, there was no YouTube to watch and even if there was I was living in a van so I had no internet access. I had spent the summer on the festival circuit, travelling and working at a Café/Drum/Incense shop where part of my job was to play African Percussion, mostly Djembe. So energetically that is really quite powerful, and after playing I was always hyped up so I wanted to play Hang to balance myself. At some point after obtaining your first Hang Drum you decided to follow your passion and play music full time. What prompted you to decide that the moment was right to do so? Was it always your plan to travel the world while busking for a living? What was the first country you travelled to after leaving England and why? I was working in the construction industry, mostly on renovations, and my boss at the time brought a hammer down onto one of my fingers. He broke it. It took months to heal properly and during that time I decided that I was going to follow my passion for
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“I think the first time someone came up to me to tell me that they recognized me was in a crowded train during rush hour in the London Underground. It was quite surreal, but I think my instrument on my back gave it away a little.” travel and to fund it as I went as opposed to I think I will always keep some albums chasing a weekly paycheck and then going. following the gift economy concept. When it comes to iTunes and other online music You are now a veteran international distributors, I do not get to set a price. I love street and stage performer. About how the idea of keeping that ‘street spirit’ when it many countries have you performed in comes to the internet. As with street perforon the Hang Drum and/or HandPan and mance, there is no set fee. People pay as does that number surprise you? Among they wish. Unfortunately, by far the majority all the places you’ve performed, where of people who download do so without leaving a tip. So right now I’m still undecided as is your favorite? I’ve performed in around 40 countries to how to release my future albums. date and I have a few more on the cards for these coming months. In the past six How do you think the development of and social media has affectmonths alone I have performed in 16 coun- technology ed your ability to be successful and earn tries. I have played in some really presti- a living as a street performer? gious locations and some rather strange Well, as far as publicity goes, it has been ones. For instance, last year I played in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in a precedent to bring me where I am today. London. I had to take my passport and get Everyone watches YouTube it seems and government clearance to enter the building. I love how I can stay in touch with people Another time, I was in Geneva and on Facebook, Instagram, and the likes. played in the Large Hadron Collider. I’ve When someone sees something new that been surprised a few times when emails they like, they tend to instantly pull out their come in asking for a performance, like smart phone and begin to film. Sometimes when I was asked to perform as part of a I think I should wear my website on my tfor this reason. A lot of people don’t Burlesque show. I never thought of combin- shirt want to buy physical CDs from me when ing my playing with a Burlesque event, but they see me play. They want to find me on it must have worked out well because they iTunes later when they get home of which invited me back again. I earn a tiny percentage in comparison to If you had to choose, would you rather buying a physical CD. perform on a street corner, festival stage, What is the longest length of time you or at a small private event and why? have lived without a fixed permanent adI love the direct contact I have with dress over the last ten years? What do people when playing on the streets and the you miss most when you are travelling for idea that everyone giving a little adds as op- months on end? Conversely, when you posed to one payment being delivered. I are in the studio recording or otherwise used to really enjoy that. If I’m really honest, decide to settle in one place for a length of I prefer to get my travel, accommodation, time, what is the hardest thing to get used and a fee for my performance paid to me by to about living in one place again? whoever invites me. Then I can go to play The longest duration I have lived with no the streets for the love of doing so and not fixed abode in the past 10 years is around have to worry about the financial part. six years. Then I rented an apartment on the outskirts of London for 2 years and now Why did you decide to make your music I have been nowhere for longer than a few available by donation on your website weeks at a time for the past 2 years again. rather than sell it for a set price? Do you I miss being close to my family on their think you will continue to do so in the birthdays the most and seeing my brother’s future? child grow up. ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
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When it comes to staying still, I guess it’s the mindset that I get when I travel that I miss. There is a special frame of mind that you slip into when you are moving from one place to another on public transport or taking a flight. I guess I do also miss routine also as much as I hate to admit that. ;) When you first started busking, did you ever dream you would be in YouTube videos with millions of views, so well known that strangers on the street would recognize you and those who saw you on video would book you to play corporate and private events? By the way, do you remember the first time a fan recognized you from YouTube? I had no idea of the potential and I honestly was quite shocked to see my videos taking off like they did, especially since I never uploaded any videos myself from those first years that I began to play out. People would see me in public, take out their smart phones or cameras and watch me on their screens. Like I said, I wish I had worn a t-shirt with my name or used a banner back in those early days. I think the first time someone came up to me to tell me that they recognized me was in a crowded train during rush hour in the “HANGING OUT ON TOP OF A BOSNIAN MOUNTAIN...” London Underground. It was quite surreal, but I think my instrument on my back gave it away a little. tions with the exception to the last track, the best place for fans to watch for upwhich is a track by Baka dates to your schedule? Who would you say are the three musi- “Shoheem,” Beyond I’m featured on. I’m currently in New York! I arrived at the cians and/or bands that have had the end of November and I’m here indefinitely. most influence on you? You posted the first track of the upcom- So…My Facebook page is my main hub. I Jeff Beck: He has reinvented himself so ing album and a snippet of the second how direct it is and I man it myself. I get many times over the years and is always for your fans to hear. Now that we know love to read EVERY word that people write to me, breaking down boundaries. how awesome Lisn’ is going to be, when but I cannot promise to reply to all! Baka Beyond: They blend rhythms and can we expect it to be released? Will I will be touring as many states as I am melodies that I find super exciting. there be any more teasers posted before invited to perform in so if you want me to Nikola Tesla: I know he isn’t a musician, the album drops. come visit your town/wedding/festival/corbut hey, he deserves to be here! Now! Check out my BandCamp and porate event, lets connect and arrange for donation! I believe in the gift something! You have been in the studio working on download economy and people to pay as much a new album, Lisn’. How will this album as they wish allow for my work just like in the Last question: How many hand pans can be different from your previous albums street people can flick me a coin or drop me you fit in your luggage? and EPs? Are the songs for this album a note when they like what they see/hear. Last flight I took, I checked in two. A your own original compositions or is this (It’s nice to be nice!) company in Italy that makes flight cases album the result of collaboration with now endorses me so now I can check them other artists? A recent status update on Facebook in! In the past, I have had to buy seats for Lisn’ is my first studio album where I stated that you had purchased a plane so I can look after them onboard. have called the musicians in one-by-one ticket to New York. Will you tour while in themSometimes it is cheaper in Europe to and asked them to play ‘sessions.’ the States? If so, are there any plans, buy extra seats than to check them in! All the tracks are my original composi- cities or dates, you can share? Where is
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You walk into the local club. On stage sits a cello, made glorious with age, and on either side are drums. Sound like nonsense? Not to the people that have discovered Nineteen Thirteen. Comprised of Janet Schiff on cello, accompanied by Scott Johnson and well-known drummer Victor DeLorenzo (founding member of the Violent Femmes), this trio triumphantly mixes the past and the present. Using current technology, this century old cello is layered to create a larger than life sound and, accompanied my two master percussionists, they create a heady cocktail that will surprise and delight even the most cynical of listeners. This is music that goes beyond Bach, beyond what we know of music, to take us somewhere new and that is always a journey worth taking. I love your story of how you guys got started but I really want to hear it from your own words about that first night of how it actually came to be and what it was really like to just all of a sudden one night get together on stage and start playing. Janet: Well, I had, of course, listened to Victors’ music earlier on but then we put on a few experimental music projects together and I was actually in front of him playing once. I noticed I could see his drum sticks in my peripheral vision and I just started looping my bow to match his hits on the drum and I just thought we just might play well together. Eventually I asked if I could call him sometime because I frequently used drummers. With Scott, I saw him perform with a vocalist. I thought he followed her very well. I thought maybe he would work with his sensibility on percussion. I thought he would possibly work for the idea I had of a cello with the looping pedals or samplers and 2 percussionists. I didn’t want to sit on stage with just one other person. I felt like I needed 2 other people up there with me and so I called them both and we had a magical evening, didn’t we guys? Victor: I received a call from Janet and thought it was probably going to be an enjoyable evening because I liked the way Janet played and I didn’t know who Scott was at that time. I showed up at this little club at the River West district here in Milwaukee, a place called "The Circle A", and I showed up with just a snare drum and a cymbal. Scott had a full sit down drum set. We just introduced ourselves to one another
and we started joining in playing with Janet. I was under the assumption that Scott had already played with Janet but what I found out after the fact is that it was the first night for Scott too so he and I were going through the ring of fire at the exact same moment. To our credit and also, I guess, kismet, everything just worked out fabulously as far as the way we played together, the way we played against one another, the way we totally disregarded the time some times and we incorporated free playing. Janet was such a breeze to play with because her songs were very well written and fun to play. After we finished that first show we decided that this was too good of a thing to let go and wanted to continue on with it. Scott: The way that I got the invite to the show was that Janet had dropped off a CD of some of her solo work in a cello string case with a little note on it inviting me to play at the Circle A. Like Victor, I also thought that Victor was playing with her in the past and it’s just that sense of improvisation we’ve stuck with that throughout the whole process. Even if we continue to play songs that are already established every night we like to approach it like it’s the first time. We continue to try to push through and find new things in each song. Victor: You know the one thing that was apparent from the very first meeting on was that we had an individual, very unique sound with the three of us and its continued to this day. Obviously it’s been more and more refined because the more we play the more we get to know each other’s ways of interpreting music. But it ISSUE TEN
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was very encouraging just from that first show that this could really go someplace. There was a little bit of a question mark in my mind because the idea of trying to get across strictly instrumental music in this day and age seemed to be a little bit of a challenge, even though now the way I feel about it is completely different than the way I felt about it three years ago. Now I think it’s a very viable thing and I think people are really excited about it. Once they get over the fact that when they look at our stage set up and see a cello and two drum systems i'ts like is that gonna work? Am I gonna enjoy it? But we found from playing at punk rock clubs to theaters to galleries, no matter where the show is, it seems to really come across to people for a number of varied
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reasons, all good ones. Scott: In that way, it’s very accessible. You know one of the main comments that we continue to hear is that it evokes imagery in people who hear it and that it’s so suggestive of music for film and television which is one direction that we're pursuing. I can absolutely see that. It is very emotional. I had wanted to ask if people thought you were crazy using only a cello and two drummers, but I'm glad it's working out. The more I talk to people, the more it seems people are opening up to music that isn't your normal Top 40 that they are forced to hear. Victor: It’s a little more accepted now
to see groupings of musicians than you would probably expect 5 or 10 years ago. I think the whole influence of World Music has really permeated our culture here in America and I think that’s to our advantage. We could take a really good look at all these different contributions we're fielding from all over the world. I know Janet is into different music as well in her writing, from the tango to the doing covers of Kraftwerk material to also writing. Janet: There’s an Asian flair and an Arabic flair. Victor: There are all sorts of different flavors that are starting to seep in. We certainly welcome that and I think it is because the culture right now is accustomed to that. It doesn’t seem like such a strange thing anymore. I remember when I started off with the Femmes a long time ago the idea of showing up with a snare drum, playing it with brushes and then a garbage can, people didn’t know what to think of that. Thirty years ago it was like, "What is this?" but now almost any new band that you see, is on stage and they've got auxiliary percussion. It’s an accepted thing now. I was in the forefront of that when I was doing it. I was being laughed at or that was the reason I couldn’t play in regular rock clubs, because it wasn’t an accepted format. Our music of Nineteen Thirteen maybe wouldn’t have been an accepted format in years previous, but now, now people can understand this and don’t have to be scared of it. Scott: With the instrumentation of Janet, the phrase sampler creating an orchestral sound, plus the percussion, that alone evokes classical music where you have almost the full symphonic instrumentations. I think a lot of people can get into just how familiar that arrangement is. That’s definitely another element to it. Janet: Because there’s no words, I feel like I’m singing the words through the cello and therefore the challenge of taking the subjectivity out of the music once you add words and a vocalist it makes the music... Victor: Well it confines it, and it defines it too much I should say also. Janet: This way the audience can make up a story and have those images that they need. Scott: It gives more freedom to the listeners to explore their own ideas. Victor: What I like, too, is that we’re not using text or words or collections of words trying to get across those ideas that a lot of singer/songwriters try to express which is usually a pretty selfish vision of the world. I feel like we’re a lot more worldly in what we have to offer because we are dealing with the universal language of pure music. Our band is also unique in that the cello is the featured instrument. The cello hasn’t just been added on because it’s de rigueur for
the day. Like Janet has mentioned, in the 80’s if you wanted to have a sex scene well then you would have a saxophone playing and if you want to evoke some classical music nowadays , not to take away anything from the Avett Brothers, but you have a cello on stage. In our group the cello is the main instrument and that is the impetus of what we do so there’s nothing added on. It's all principle and primary expression. And as you’re working together creating a piece, do each of you then still come up with your own interpretation? Even though you’ve kind of discussed it , kind of know where you’re trying to head with it, are you leaving it open for yourselves as well then? Janet: Yes we have a structure. I usually come up with some kind of structure; a bass line, a harmony line, a melody line and I share it with my percussionists. Having them then play with me frees me up a little bit and then they can compose their part. I’ll work on mine and together we just find cycles through the piece or sections even within the composition. There’s structure that is the framework that we improvise off of, so there’s both the elements of composition and improvisation.
Scott: There are so many different approaches that we find ourselves working with. Sometimes we’ll kind of separate it so each of us has half of it if you will so that way together we create the entire pattern and beat rather than one drummer creating the entire thing on his own. With our stage setup we’re left and right of Janet so that there’s just kind of a stereo percussion sound so within that beat that we create there’s also a little bit of a stereo pan to it that the listener can also hear going back and forth. We try to interpret it at times like that as well. Victor: Scott and I have figured out different approaches in that sometimes we support what Janet is doing, and we play together as one drummer, which is usually what happens when you have a number of drummers and percussionists. They all try to perform as one. It’s certainly in our vocabulary, but other times we go totally against one another and sometimes one or the other will stop and let the other one play. There are all different approaches that we’re still discovering even after 3 years on how to interpret this music and make a difference because we don’t want to run into that danger of having things sound too similar from piece to piece. Scott: There’s so much potential to it. There are so many things we can still devel-
op which is very engaging as we continue. Janet: The compositions have evolved over 3 years, and the new ones also, but the ones we started playing have definitely evolved as all of us have gotten to know each other, become friends, and played gigs. It kind of comes down to a matter of trust also, especially when you are doing some of the improv stuff, doesn't it? It just always amazes me how improvisation doesn't sound a complete mess. Victor: It’s another language that you learn to converse in. It’s like stage acting. The best actors don’t try and do anything. They react to what’s going on around them, and I think we’re in that kind of category as versatile jazz/actor/musicians in that we’re always aware of what’s going around us. That certainly is in our minds and it allows you to figure out and discover things more about your own playing when you kind of surrender yourself to the others. With our backgrounds, we invite situations that we’re maybe not comfortable in. We know we can rely on our technique which is having a vocabulary for improvisation. Scott: There's something to be said about the chemistry too. I think there’s an element of the chemistry as well as our own ISSUE TEN
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sensibility and taste in music that we seem to have in common. Janet: I need these 2 percussionists but not only for rhythm. I need to be able to look at either of them and I need to trust what I hear and what I see sometimes. I’ll watch their sticks or brushes just like a hawk and they know it. I need them to establish my first layer and if I meet eyes with either of them, they always encourage me to keep going and keep with the rhythm even if I feel that I’m faltering. They are my beats. They’re my heartbeats. What has it been like for you all as you’ve grown in this together? What has this project given you that others haven't? Victor: I think for me it has the feeling that we’re just on the cusp of unlimited exploration. We’ve been talking about this next record that we’re going to be starting soon and how we might incorporate other musicians. We did that on the single we just released with "Mr. Panicker" and "The Ballroom." I think that when we get into the phase of recording the album proper, we’ll probably entertain the idea and I imagine go on to play with a few other instrumentalists and in that way add another approach to our already hefty bag of tricks. Scott: We’ve been playing for so long it’s so comfortable, but in the same way there’s always these kind of new plateaus that we reach and new levels of performance that we arrive at. Also one part of the project that I really enjoy is that we can do things more than just music. For the cover art for our single we each took photographs. We can exercise a different muscle for photography or graphic design. Victor and I directed a music video where Janet was the actress and the cello was also featured predominantly so we can do more things with this project than just performing music which I really love. Victor: It’s so refreshing. It’s nice that we can just depend on one another in other non-musical ways to get the job done. I think in doing so we really have a singular style that we’re developing, not only musically but visually. Victor, you were speaking of when you started with the Femmes and how pulling a snare drum or a garbage can on stage was considered strange and scary. What the Femmes did blew open a lot of doors musically for things that people hadn’t thought of or weren’t accepting of and now… Victor: We were like unconscious trendsetters in that we didn’t know what to do but we did know what we didn’t want to do. Music was always at the forefront of the 3 of our minds, and of course Gordon had already compiled quite a notebook of great 38 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
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material, but the material wouldn’t have stood on its own. It needed the arranging skills and the instrumental skills that Brian and I brought to the group. I think it just comes from a love of wanting to do something different. That’s what I was kind of getting at. You’re doing that again now, breaking down ideas that people have of what music should be. Is that in all of your natures to want to do that? Janet: I believe so, definitely. I’ve always strayed from the classical world although I believe we’re being accepted in all these different worlds now. I’ve always 40 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
strayed off the path most taken, musically and in the rest of my life. Scott: That’s why we enjoy playing art galleries; because the people that we are performing for are like- minded in their sense of the avant garde and new ways of expressing one's ideas in various art forms. It’s a very comfortable place for us to be playing because the spirit of our music is right there within art. Victor: As I mentioned before, just looking at the stage set up one might think is this going to be a horrible act or ask if it's really going to work. I think that the governing factor is that we like to entertain. We like good music and we’re also striving always
to try and figure out new work for ourselves, whether it be trying to get work in the cinema field or work with other visual artists as we have done in the past or being able to transpose our music to play in any kind of a situation, from a wedding to a punk rock club in Chicago. We like those challenges. The band name came from the cello being built in 1913. Do you consciously pay homage to that past while still trending towards the future? Scott: I play with timpani ballads so my initial approach was to evoke timpani sounds as well as snare drum or a marching band snare drummer and then from that
just explore and see what happens. Definitely the jumping off point for me was to impress people with that idea and to give them that impression. I feel like if I can make one person in a given show think of that orchestral timpani or something like that then I feel like I’ve done my job. Janet: I think this particular cello is so strong and has so much to say it is a pleasure to play and it could never have dreamt in 1913 of being duplicated a hundred times with a phrase sampler and run through technology and amplified. With my classical training and some of the experimental projects I've done we're blending today and a hundred years ago.
I wanted to ask about the composition you did for the sculptor, Natalie Miebach, interpreting the weather data. This was really amazing! Janet: The artist's name was Nathalie Miebach and she, over the course of 3 or 4 days, collected weather data of her own design. She created different recording stations that recorded wind speed, temperature, and barometric pressure. Every 3 hours she recorded data and made what doesn’t look anything like a musical score for us to interpret. We each picked different parts of the weather. We were the barometric pressure, the temperature, whether we were rain, clouds, scattered clouds, clear, etc. We had to interpret this weather data to make a musical performance. And it was, I believe, 17 minutes long. It was called "Hurricane Noel" and we performed it at the Milwaukee Art Museum for a very special event. Nathalie brought her sculptures and gave the presentation of the project and we performed. Victor: One thing we should explain though is she collects all kinds of data and makes three dimensional sculptures out of those figures. She put together this chart for us, like an artistic rendering of the data. It was our challenge to try and interpret that. Janet had some themes developed but a lot of it contains pure improvisation. As you listen to that piece its amazing to think that it’s a real coherent piece of music, but at the same time the main instrument, a cello, is being played by a woman that a few hours before had fallen down a stairway with her amplifier trying to come to the show. Janet: Head first Victor: Head first down a stairway, so this is where the whole idea of showbiz trooper comes into it. That she had the wherewithal
to get herself together, come and pick me up and we still went to the museum and performed the piece, even though later I’m sure she had a mild concussion Janet: I did have…and I could only use one of my moving pedals because I couldn't move my right leg very well to reach the normal set up. Victor: She was covered in bruises, but Janet is a kind of a person where she took that pain and suffering and put it into what she was doing in the artistic realm and what came out of that is what you hear in that recording. Scott: Definitely a testimony to her strength and personality for sure. Victor: The piece was put on an audio CD sampler that came with a German fine arts magazine that's called Sleek. Scott: The gallery of Scotland was set up with the sculpture and a framed version of the score as well as a pair of headphones so people cruising the gallery could get that whole experience. It was fantastic to be a part of. Is more of this kind of thing something you see for the possible future of Nineteen Thirteen, incorporating more of art and film and bringing it all into your work someday? Victor: We’d like to be involved in all the different facets of the art world. As we spoke before, cinema is an obvious thing for us and it would be nice to do an original score for a film or television project. But then also we want to keep developing on the path where we started, which is to have more of a high brow approach where we can do more things in tandem with galleries and museums across the country and ISSUE TEN
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hopefully someday around the world working with individual artists. I think the 3 of us would really be excited to do that because the experience with Nathalie was just wonderful. We’re hoping that we can possibly do something again with her in the future. Because our vision of what this group can do is so vast, it’s very comfortable to be thinking in these ways. It’s not like a rock band that just thinks about trying to get a gig at a club. It’s a lot more of an aesthetic that’s involved. We want to develop a fine art approach but in an inviting way, to show people that we are coming from a standpoint of really reveling and trying to push culture. Scott: We definitely want to open the collaboration with visual artists and how each of us can inform one another. Janet, I read that you are a cancer survivor and are now working in a lab? Janet: I had thyroid cancer and had to have a major surgery and radiation. Now I find it quite an honor to help people with cancer and provide a stable income to support my cello career. I work as a histology technician or, as we’re called in the field, histotech, for a skin cancer surgeon and we have 2 laboratories and I’m the lead technician. I spend hours and hours slicing cancer skin tissue to make sure that there’s no cancer left. It’s called micrographic surgery. I get to draw the specimen, measure and then make slides out of that tissue. I use a cryostat which is at negative 30 degrees Celsius. I slice the tissue to 5 microns thick or, I guess thin would be a better word to use when you’re talking about microns. What I do makes the surgeon able to determine whether he has removed all the cancer or if we need to take more off of the patient so then the whole process can either start over again or be finished with each pass at the histology. Victor: So besides playing wonderful inspiring music she’s also saving lives.
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Do you find that you have to really separate the careers or do you find you can move well between the two? Janet: That’s a really interesting question for me to answer. When the doctor found out that I played cello, he asked if I had anything recorded and I had been working on a project called Music for Medicine and it’s just cello layers. It was before I met my percussionists and I just recorded some layers of some pieces I wrote and that is played during some of the operations that the patients are having and so… Victor: It's music to open up to. [laughter] Janet: For me it’s a completion. I had the idea because music helps me so much, helps heal me daily and always has. What an honor it is for me to go in there, in my scrubs and gloves and a mask and then to hear this cello music that I wrote. It’s a very interesting experience. The doctor supports my career and has been to numerous performances of Nineteen Thirteen. He’s a fan of ours and encourages me. The other thing is this work on the machine is very difficult for my hands and sometimes my hands get really fatigued so I’m finding ways to really relax as I work so I can save my hands for my performances in the evening and weekends. I’ve never had to choose between the 2 careers and I’ve been doing cello for over 20 years and the histology for about 5 years total and so I haven’t had to choose. In fact, as one career has progressed, the other has also. Iit’s like they are symbiotic in a way, both the music career and the science. Which is great because when you come right down to it how would you choose when you have 2 things that are so vital? It’s important that they work together if you have 2 parts of your life like that. Janet: Right. My commitment level is pretty high for both careers but cello is my first love. Let’s put it like that.
Victor: If someone at some point offered us a world tour I’m sure Janet would be more than happy to put the scrubs away and just put on the little black dress and play all over the world. We’re keeping our fingers crossed on that one. Janet: Yeah I love what I do and I feel very busy, but extremely satisfied. That’s great, I’m happy to hear it. You guys are working on an album, is that right? Victor: We've been working on a bunch of new pieces that we’ve been playing live, kind of road testing them getting ready to record. We just did this show not long ago down in Racine at the Racine Art Museum and it was all shot through camera in HD, professionally recorded and also still photographed up the wazoo by our friend, Doug Seymour who did the photography for this feature. What we’re thinking about maybe doing with that project is turning it into some kind of fine art expression; maybe have a book with Doug’s pictures, a collection of writings, a CD, a DVD what have you. We’re kind of in the initial thought process about that one and so we’re seeing if we can turn that into a fine art project we can develop under the auspices of the Racine Art Museum. Beyond that, yes we do want to start a new record. We’re starting to get more and more offers for shows. This project I just described, I’m sure it’s going to be taking up a bunch of our time to try and get that together so even though we’re not physically recording the album right now we certainly are working on it in our minds thinking about it and trying to plot out. Scott: During the set list we have a series of 6 or 7 songs that are sequential. We are working on each song in itself as well as the ordering of things to kind of get a general sense of arc of the album working with that, you know, the great tradition of a full album standing on its own. Singles are
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great too but we definitely embrace a full album as a whole experience. Janet: Yeah composition in itself. And I hear you have an appearance coming up on the popular radio show What do you Know? on NPR. Scott: Yeah February 1st Coast to Coast with Michael Feldmen. We'll be playing live on air and then an interview. Victor: At Kenosha, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, is where he’s doing the show from that particular weekend. I think he’s podcast now too on the internet in case you miss Saturday mornings. Victor: Yeah he’s completely archived. That’s quite an operation over there now. Not quite what it was when I started listening years ago. Victor: Yeah, I know. I was just telling these 2 guys before we got in touch with you tonight that I’ve known Michael for 30 years. In fact, one of the first radio performances the Femmes ever did was on Michael's show when it was just coming out of Madison Wisconsin. This was when he was still broadcasting out of a little greasy spoon every morning called Dolly's so I’ve known him for that long. I’ve been in communication with him and he’s really excited that we’re coming on the show. I think he’s had his fair share of instrumental music, but I don’t think he’s had anything with the kind of instrumentation that we’re going to present. I think he’ll really get a kick out of that and probably have some funny comments about it. Scott: We’ll match wits with Michael. We like to have a sense of humor. We always come up with nice little phrases and kind of create our own little subculture. I’m sure he can probably keep up fairly well. He’s been doing this a long time. Scott: Yeah that will be a fun one absolutely. What else will we be able to see you doing soon? Victor: It seems as though the last couple of months we’ve had some incredible offers coming our way. Things have really started to accelerate for us. The radio show is one and we've gotten some performance opportunities in places we'd never thought about. Also, as I was saying before, Scott and I have some ideas of some video work for us. Scott does an incredible job as a graphic designer. I like that I can just suggest stuff to him and he can come up with something just fantastic. We’re kind of like a mom and pop store, we’ve got everything in house here. We don’t have to really go too ISSUE TEN
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far out of our circle to get things done. Scott: Nineteen Thirteen Production Company. Brought to you by cello-vision. Can you each tell me a great influence on your life and music and a word or alliteration that would describe them? Victor: Something that’s always influenced me ever since I came across his work some thirty years ago now is the French artist and bon vivant Marcel Duchamp. He’s someone that I’ve always looked to for inspiration I even created a whole instrumental record as an homage to him. He’s always in the forefront of my mind to the point that I would ask myself what would Marcel Duchamp think about this or how would he react to this. It’s funny because in some ways I think of him more as a musician than some of the musicians I appreciate because I think he was a great orchestrator in the way that he brought together all different disciplines in the art field. One of the main things he did was bring art back into the service of the mind so it wasn’t just a two dimensional representation. It was something that could go beyond or exist purely as an idea that would be just as strong in his mind as doing a physical piece of art. To describe him, maybe I'd say sassy. Scott: Initially, I’d say the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, for me, is a big influence just because of how refined and angular his music is. I try to approach drum solos with his sort of sensibility of his very simple patterns, you know, the whole less is more type of approach to things. I'm especially influenced by his album Solo Monk which is just various pieces of some Duke Ellington, some originals, some classics and I will just listen to that and get ideas in terms of how to approach drum solos in a more melodic sense of it. I always think of the word angular with him so to inspire a phrase I guess I would say angular Monk. Janet: I am beholding to Bach. I love that! Janet wins, I’m sorry guys. Janet won that contest. Janet: Bach has taught me so much and still does. Victor: Yeah there certainly is a lot to draw from there. His body of work. Scott: Just how emotive it is and the beautiful melodies he writes. Janet: I just found the title to your article. Victor: Beholding to Bach; the Adventures of the 1913 Cello.
The cello turned 100 years old in 2013 and in the caring hands of Janet, Victor, and Scott and Nineteen Thirteen, there will be many more songs for it to sing. Watch Fourculture for upcoming shows and news as this band continues to soar.
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The Storytelling Walls of
BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N
Lonac. At the time of this interview, this Croatian street artist had recently completed his addition to p_3. This project was designed to revitalize blighted spaces. Artists were encouraged to work with the architecture to change it by enhancing its â€œnatural beauty. The spaces assigned to Lonac included two large ceiling medallions. He was challenged to work with the shapes of these elements and also painting on a horizontal surface above his head. This was the point that the questions started at.
Prior to p_3 did you ever paint "upside down" before? I was always interested in doing something like that, but never had the chance or the right reason to do it. Therefore, the ceilings I painted for the second p_3 exhibition are the first “upside down” interventions I’ve done. I would like to do it again, but next time on street. In the spaces you were given, was the inspiration immediate or did it feel like a daunting challenge at first? Earlier this year I had gone to Florence where I spent six days visiting churches, palaces and museums filled with many eye pleasing arts of the old masters. I think that the painted ceilings left the biggest impression on me, mostly because it seems to be the hardest thing to do. I bought a few books there, most of them about Michelangelo, his work and his letters. When I came back home, the upcoming p_3 exhibition was just around the corner and I didn’t know what to exhibit, not until I entered that abandoned space. The idea was to intervene within a given space, without its previous reconstruction in the sense of embellishment and renovation, where the architecture of the space suggests the form of the art works. At first I checked all the rooms, but still didn’t know what to paint. After half an hour of circling around, I stopped and realized that there’s a huge old ceiling frame above me. Lonac shares himself and his work on a blog that he maintains. Although most artists are multi-talented, generally, if they use social networks to keep people up to date on their latest creations, unless writing is their primary art, they tend to post photos on Instagram or a brief invite to a show on Twitter. For the most part, Lonac keeps more of a picture blog but he does making some wordier posts. Do you do the writing for your blog? Most of the writing is mine, but there’s always a good friend to correct my English. Do you embrace writing as one of your arts? I’m not that confident with my writing. Sometimes I write one or two sentences and incorporate them in a drawing or a mural just to give a hint what the piece is really about. Painting and drawing comes more naturally to me than writing, that’s for sure.
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The Croat has a number of repeating themes in his drawings and paintings. Usually this kind of thing tends to point to symbolism. When he describes his work as “storytelling walls”, this idea seems to be more than the case. Or is it? I have another painter friend who uses "the all seeing eye" or "eye of wisdom" symbolism in his work. Tell me about your use of eyes both as a solo element or in multiples. Sometimes there’s no deeper meaning behind those eyes. I like to paint realistic eyes because I believe that the eyes are the greatest connection for expressing emotions. Every character I paint has a certain kind of a look in his eyes, and that look calls for it to be seen to draw you into the emotion. Most of those characters are illustrated metaphors gesturing abstract concepts- anger, fear, astonishment, sadness. Fish, clocks and birds...how did they become important symbols to you? Metaphors and meanings? As I mentioned before, I love metaphors. Therefore, most of my work is some kind of illustrated metaphors belonging to my private symbolism. A lot of things I paint, such as clocks, guns, birds( eagles, owl), fishes, retro robots, are the things I have or once had at my home. I use it all as an inspiration because if it’s kind of private, it’s more powerful and meaningful. 54 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
Just like a good deal of American alternative music, street art does better in Europe. It is not only found on public structures like bridges or private but abandoned warehouse type structures overseas but graces the sides of apartment buildings in middle class and upscale neighborhoods.
them more realistic, but never had enough shades to do it properly. It took me years to learn how to paint with spray can the way I do today, because in Croatia there’s not many people using the spray can as a painting tool so I never had someone to learn from. Have you been to art school or did you discover and hone your talents on your own? I went to the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, but very early I have realized that most of the things I would like to learn how to do, I have to do it on my own. That is the main reason I started painting on the street.
Why is the street art culture embraced more positively in Europe. What does the U.S. need to learn from it? I think that Europe was influenced by the graffiti art that came from US., as well as the street art of Basquiat and Keith Haring. Since Europe has a much longer art history than U.S., it’s normal that European artists Something learned over the past few made a hybrid out of what was once known years is that artists can speak up for the larger community. They find inspiration in as a subway art. local and global political and social comLonac’s work is polished and involves a mentary and then give it a louder mouth. lot of skill and techniques that hinted at the possibility that the artist is profes- Lately I've come to realize that all true artsionally trained followed by many years ists are "the voice of the people". Many executing that training. use their talent to deliver stark social, cultural and political messages. I see a lot of How old were you when you started that in your work. Did you come out of the gate as a "protester" or was it something street painting? I was at the end of my primary school you eventually felt a responsibility to do? I feel very strongly influenced by the when I fell in love with graffiti art. At the bemusic I listen to. I love it when a certain ginning of my high school education, I started metaphorical sentence opens a few doors working more on characters, trying to make at the same time, and the meaning I chose
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to follow always seems to be based on my own experience. I really don’t see myself as a messenger. Sometimes in my work I criticize myself, sometimes I criticize others, but it’s always ambiguous and every person will understand it in their own way. Croatia seems to have become a more peaceful place since the independence war so who are your messages targeting...your own countrymen, Europe as a whole or are they global? The language I tend to use is English, so I guess it’s global. However, there is always balance. The inner dialogue that artists keep to themselves goes on in private. Among some of the photographs Lonac has shared via his blog are a few of his sketchbooks. Those drawings tell, maybe not a different story, but give a peek into the backstory of sculptures and paintings put on public display. Looking at your sketchbooks and then at your paintings I feel like the small, pen & inks are you pulling inward, examining, searching, thinking, having an internal dialogue and your paintings are you looking outward-taking the result of those meditations and creating a conversation with everyone else. Am I right? It’s true that I use my street paintings as a tool for creating a conversation with whoever passes by. Most of those paintings were first planted in my sketchbooks. Sketchbook is like a visual diary, as soon as I catch some good idea, I have to draw it, and if I still like it after a few months, I might paint it. No artist doesn’t love a challenge. In street art those challenges and risks are actually an important element of the art. Have you ever come across a space that instantly inspired you and you had nothing to paint with? Did you come back later with paint(s) and follow through on the inspiration? That happens every now and than, but mostly every place where I wanted to paint, I did. Or I will.
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PHOTOS AND DIGITAL COMPOSITION:
MAKEUP & HAIR PIECES:
ALEXANDER WEBER STYLING: IVI
SHIEN BOETTCHER (Mega Models Berlin)
GOAT FUR SLEEVES BY MOGA E MAGO KNITTED MAXI DRESS & NET TOP BY MONKI
WAISTCOAT SAGA, BLUE FOX BY MOGA E MAGO DRESS "ROMANTISM NOIR" BY TATA CHRISTIANE
HANDKNITTED COAT AND VELVET PANTS, "ROMANTISM NOIR" BY TATA CHRISTIANE CHIFFON BLOUSE BY URBAN OUT?TTERS LEATHER GLOVES BY MONKI
FAKE FUR JACKET BY KATE MOSS FOR TOPSHOP NET TOP & MAXI SKIRT BY MONKI ROCKET BRA BY AIWAI GHOST
ISSUE TEN | www.fourculture.com ALEXANDER WEBER http://weberalexander.blogspot.com/
TEARS, TALENT: BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N PH OTOG R A PH Y BY LEE CHER RY
At “almost 40” Sutan Amrull has put a lot end of the night, being seen with cakey make-up, your glue sticked eyebrows and hair painted onto your head was unacGrowing up I saw all the models of blood, sweat, tears, talent and love into ceptable. showing their real skin, real hear and real brows. Now I’m learning and evolving my look so I do put a little “tootch” in my butt ochis work in make-up, modeling and drag casionally. However, I do customize it to my own taste. I prefer the boyish, androgynous frame because I believe all clothing is unisex. performance. He’s graced television screens I have the right to wear drag and I don’t feel like modifying my shape dramatically, like padding my hips to do that. I also find pads on two popular contest shows, one as member uncomfortable and hot. Plus, I’m lazy.” Amrull continued “I want to subtract rather than add. I like an alive and lean look. of the crew and one as a contestant. Today I can’t do a curvy Latino figure believably. I know how to turn it out though. There are things you can do in a simple movement many people are more aware of Sutan’s alter ego, that insinuates a hip pad. Moving in a most feminine way, in a slow manner equals ‘hip pad’. A gesture in your eye, fluttering the It’s all creating femininity in different Raja, after her win on Season 3 of RuPaul’s lashes. ways.” Today Andrej Pejic walks runways for some of the world’s most famous designDrag race. But there are still some who ers in both male and female clothing. Has Sutan ever considered trying to land similar modeling gigs. “Well, Andrej is 19 and I’m remember Sutan as one of the primary make-up 39 so there is the age thing. But when I was his age, we were still underground freaks. Also living in L.A. as opposed to New York, artists on America’s Next Top Model. limited our opportunities too. We were not getting the same exposure as East Coast club kids. Honestly, it really wasn’t until Drag Race that West Coast queens got any major recognition.” Raja did get to walk in utan was born in the U.S., the to his own collection of tattoos. Another local Marco-Marco’s L.A. show in October which son of an Indonesian father and person discussed was Jeffree Star. Amrull she loved. a mother of Dutch decent. Their would really love to both make up and colAfter Top Model or Drag Race did anyfamily moved to Indonesia when laborate on make-up projects with Star. He one ever ask Sutan or Raja about becoming Sutan was three and returned to has a very deep respect and high regard for a runway coach? “No. Never got asked to California when he was nine. Early in his Jeffree who, he explains, “has built his em- do that. But lately, I’ve been thinking about childhood, Sutan knew he had the perform- pire out of nothing but a big pile of glam”. doing a fitness routine in Runyon Canyon. I ing gene but he could also draw. As his parWhile on Top Model, viewers had a few would call it ‘Runway up Runyon with Raja’. ents didn’t know a safe way to guide him opportunities to experience small “Raja mo- A proper runway walk is an amazing workdown the performance path without open- ments”. In one episode Raja introduced out. You work your glutes, and hamstrings, ing him to ridicule, they encouraged him to Dita for the burlesque challenge. Along with legs and abs. it is all inclusive. You can’t continue in visual arts. Today Amrull finds Von Teese, Raja mentored the contestants just schlepp around. There is a movement that drawing and painting are still his “go-to” in getting their sexy on without wandering to it. Fitness has become more important arts to relax. Currently he is putting those into the “trashy stripper” zone. In another now that I am approaching 40. I see that it skills to use illustrating the children’s book episode, Sutan turned up in drag as Tyra. is something that will keep me youthful and he is working on and to design clothing and However, it would be a few years later that strong and healthy. Not being jock, there costumes. Raja would move beyond the WeHo clubs are other ways I am figuring out how to do Eventually drawing faces evolved into and Dream Girls Review to join the Sea- that. Besides the pilates and yoga, I like to drawing on faces, so to speak, with Sutan son 3 contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race go hiking”. moving into the field of make-up artist. Be- which she would go on to win. During the Using Drag Race runner-up Manila sides painting the contestants of ANTM, “Snatch Game” episode Raja reprised her Luzon as a lead-in to the question of NYC he has worked with supermodel Paulina impersonation of Banks. vs L.A. took the conversation down an Porizkova, Dita Von Teese and Tyra Banks. The conversation about Drag Race interesting side street. It turned out that Based on her own make-up style and Am- gave some very interesting insights in the Karl Westerberg/Manila and Sutan/Raja rull’s aesthetic, the question was posed evolution of Raja and her aesthetic. Sutan had started growing a very strong friendwhether Sutan has ever made up tattoo art- entered the L.A. club scene in the early 90’s ship during the show that goes on today. ist Kat VonD. He hasn’t but he would like to. which he explains as being a “less is more” Since Karl’s partner Sarhara Davenport/ He’d also like to add some of her ink artistry era. “When they turned on the lights at the Antoine Ashley’s death, he has relocated to
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I think in color and dream in color so I like vibrant, bold, graphic things that are provocative and interesting and sometimes with beauty make-up you donâ€™t get to do that.
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L.A. and now lives just a few blocks from Sutan. Amrull’s father passed in March of 2012. Both grieving for people they loved so dearly brought them even closer. Sutan says that today, when they are both in L.A. and have downtime they hang out together. They’ll spend evenings over bottles of wine, watching movies. The two have a lot in common starting with being of Asian/European descent. Karl’s father is Philippino and his mother is Irish. The two men are visual artists and interested in everything including pop culture, movies and music. Amrull says they have even been known to finish the others’ sentences. Getting back to the NY city subject while still discussing Karl, Sutan explained that he had lived in New York in the past and Karl has bounced around the country so most of their conversations have been about the arts communities and cultures around the country not specifically NY vs L.A. “Obviously there are differences and parallels. You will find your niche of friends and people you can work with no matter where you go. L.A. has an equal number of assholes as New York. But there are good people too and you can find them if you look. As for Amrull himself he says, “I do like the competition of New York and I do know it’s there. It puts a fire under your ass to work harder and smarter. I was a lot more productive when I was in New York. Paulina Porizkova warned me about becoming complacent if and when I went back to L.A. and I have felt some of that complacency. Here the weather is always lovely and there isn’t the same sense of urgency, that same rush that is in New York. Because it’s more relaxed and more spread out people have more freedom”. It was fun when the subject turned the questions on the interviewer regarding location. When the response was “Connecticut”, Amrull got nostalgic and talked some more about his time in New York and friendship with Paulina. She had a home in Millerton, NY (upstate) where she invited Sutan to come and visit, take a break from the city hustle. So the L.A. native has not only experienced the beauty of Autumn in the Northeast but has also spent snowy days inside reading, knitting and playing video games. He “played” outside horseback riding and remembers going to a wool festival. He really enjoyed those visits. Returning to the Drag Race topic, two members of the judging panel were no strangers to Raja, professionally and personally. Billy B and Santino Rice were fa-
miliar faces to her. Surprisingly, Raja fielded a question about the difficulty of being the target of their critiques “Being up there and being judged, I did feel like they were harder on me because we had had encounters before. There were a lot of people who came on the set that I’ve known before. I’ve been a make-up artist for 20 years. I wasn’t new and hidden, I was someone who was very involved in it. It was difficult because all of a sudden there was this brick wall and the interaction was like previous acquaintance never existed”. Coming back to make-up artistry, does Amrull prefer doing beauty or character type make-up? He says he definitely likes to push the envelope and do characters for a variety of reasons. “I love transformation and fun stuff. Beauty make up is a certain skill but can get boring. I think in color and dream in color so I like vibrant, bold, graphic things that are provocative and interesting and sometimes with beauty make-up you don’t get to do that”. Recently he added character sessions in a series he’s titled “Everythng” on his YouTube channel, for photoshoots of guitarist Tommy Joe Ratliff and singer Scarlett Cherry. He’s also done an episode of James St. James’ “Transformations” on his Worlds Of Wonder YouTube channel. Having done characters for some of the ANTM shoots, he wouldn’t mind getting back into television or into film doing more of that. As he enters his fourth decade and having lost a parent, he says he’s becoming more focused but also challenging himself more. He feels that with his father’s passing he wants to honor his memory by pushing himself to take more risks so exploring more in character make-ups is part of that. Who is the one celebrity he most wants to make-up today? Lady Gaga. What is the best innovation in cosmetology recently. Sutan is really loving the egg-shaped make-up sponges that are now available everywhere. An artist can work foundation over large areas with the wide end, then turn it to do contours with the harrow end. He wishes he had invented it. As far as historically, eye kohl is his vote for the best. Overall Amrull feels that make-up styles are always kind of regurgitated. “Ingredients and packages change, usually for the better but it’s all the same shit. It’s always a cream, a powder or a liquid. Looks never leave, they just take a backseat for a while. My personal preferences are classic looks like a 40’s look or “smokey eye”. In an interview at the finale of Drag
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SUTAN AND RAJA:
Race, under a very tight time constraint which meant deciding which questions to ask, Raja and Sutan didn’t have a chance to really consider the question of their favorite designer so it came up again in this more relaxed chat. “The designer that influences me the most and inspires me is John Claude Gauthier. Yes, he’s controversial but his designs are always able to walk the line between provocative and trashy while staying elegant at the same time”. Delving farther into Sutan Amrull, fashion designer, has he ever thought about pursuing a career in the field? Each week, Raja shared her distinct fashion style; feminine yet androgynous with nods to Vivian Westwood, Alexander McQueen and various cultural references. “I design for myself. I’ve never really done a ton of things for other people. My feeling is that it’s my masterpiece so I want to wear it. After a time, some of them have to be worn so I have loaned them out for video shoots and so on. I’m working on elaborating on being a designer and experimenting with making fashion to sell. It takes a lot of time and money and connections. Not an easy thing to do.” To tie three sides of Raja/Sutan together, where would they rather be at a runway fashion show: dressing the models in their designs then watching them go down the runway, behind the chair adding the perfect make-up to top off the outfit or in the chair then getting dressed and working the catwalk? Being the model was the first choice with being the designer a very close second. Bringing it all to a close, considering when this interview actually happened, the subject of Halloween just had to come up. Sutan said he hit up the $ .99 store in early September and “lost his mind”. Decorations started going up immediately all over his house. “I love Halloween in the same way I love Christmas. It’s the nostalgia. My memories of it. The preparation and anticipation excites me the most. Remembering the costumes when I was young. Now it’s more like Halloween is like every day”. Sutan Amrull is a wonderful, evolving creature. Talking to him is kind of like looking into a kaleidoscope and turning in around and around, so many patterns, textures and colors. Family and friends are incredibly important to him and he treasures them all. He is very spiritual and strives to put out positive energy. He finds a way to grow wherever he’s planted. Although Raja is her own person she’s also an integral part of Sutan. Together they are a whole and complete being, talented, fierce and ambitious.
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BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N
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| www.fourculture.com 75 PH OTO G R A PH BY LE A H M I N I U M
Blamo Toys is the creative child of Shayne Maratea and Spencer Hansen. Both are from Idaho but started this artistic endeavor in San Francisco. In the beginning their main focus was clothing design. However, as time has progressed and as they have learned more about the business world in general and fashion industry in particular, the toy business has become the primary company.
he couple spent seven years in the Bay Area where they found a great deal of support. It was a safe environment to test their wings. In Shayne's words, it was more of a "small town" vibe that provided collaborators and a buyer base. But as time progressed, she and Spencer saw that to continue growing they were going to have to move things south. This was not an overnight operation. Finding new living space, first and last month rents, packing. But eventually it happened and Blamo established its new home in Los Angeles. Blamo Toys are not the kinds of things found on the shelves of large chain retailers, and hopefully they will never end up there. Characters like Billy the Rabbit and Bandit the Monkey are cute, quirky and even a little weird in their own special ways. Stuffed critters with wooden or brass faces range in size from pocketable to a small couch. They are mainly sold in specialty boutiques and in galleries. One shop in particular is a little of both and provides display space in the front of the business and retail in the rear. Toy Art Gallery hosted Blamoâ€™s 5th Anniversary show which opened December 14, 2013. It included customized "Billies" that had been sent out to a variety of artists. One-hundred painters, graphic designers, wood carvers and more recreated Billy in their own personal styles. Some of those artists included familiar names to
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PH OTO G R A PH BY LE A H M I N I U M
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the pages of Fourculture: John Park and Hans Haveron along with another Lightning in a Bottle friend of theirs, Hans Valor. Shayne says Blamo has done this in the past so they were looking forward to reprising it. “Opening the packages as they come in is like Christmas”. The weird, wild and wonderful creatures of Blamo are born from inspirations from books, people watching, and photography. Spencer says that sometimes even a conversation can spark an idea. He feels that all his traveling keeps his interests and his inspirations fresh. As for Shayne, her favorite creations are pieces she makes with the intention of gifting to someone. "I love working with paper and sculpture and I have an affinity for small things. Little worlds." Shayne was right when she said that Spencer would defer to her regarding the activity of photographing Blamo toys in all kinds of environments. However, she says that Spencer went to school for photography so photos have always been an integral part of everything he does. It is a team effort though. Maratea went on to say "We created BLAMOville — the world where the
toys live and liked the idea of them being in different environments — adventures, like our own lives. We always ask fan's to send their photos and they do!" Along with the toys are the very popular animal onesies. Some might think, because they are also available in adult sizes that they are strictly for use as costumes. They were born from a Halloween collaboration between Spencer and his mom when he was in college but are a year-round item in the Blamo store. The bunny and the monkey became overnight hits leading to the addition of the tiger and now the panda. The line also has spun-off cardigans for those who want to sport their inner animal out and about town. Recently the "monkey suit" did a guest spot on an episode of Top Chef New Orleans at the garden masquerade party hosted by Lea Michelle. Padma was impressed with the union-suit and noted to the wearer that it looked really comfy. Spencer notes that he is always fascinated by the popularity of the onesies. He and Shayne knew they were fun but didn't expect so many other people to catch on. He likes that "there are so many weirdos out there". In fact, there are enough grown-up ISSUE TEN
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weirdos that many of the adult sizes were sold out on a recent visit to the web store while all the baby versions were in stock. Most of Blamo's production is based in Bali. The company is able to do quality, sustainable work there at a reasonable cost. They try to use as much self-made materials as possible but do outsource the knit for the onesies. However, the company that they purchase it from is another small business. The owner had previously worked for a large textile firm but left to start his own business. Shayne says that Blamo feels that this is another type of positive small business modeling in that as they are also helping the textile manufacturer maintain his business as well. In return they get high quality product. Blamo has grown to the point that they recently hired a new office person for the L.A. location. Shayne mentioned that she and Spencer have benefited from some mentoring from Chris Cota of Skingraft Designs who has his education in business and marketing. She feels that soon Blamo will be looking for a marketing person who will also be based in the states. At the time of the interview, both Shayne and Spencer were in Bali both to strengthen the team there and to do new product brainstorming. Usually Maratea is in the California office while Hansen heads up the Bali division. As with all small businesses, the final cost of the product is higher than massproduced items. Shayne related one of her roughest customer service stories with me regarding this facet of Blamo. One day, Spencer received a very angry email from a potential Blamo customer which he forwarded to Shayne. She opened it first thing in the morning and as she read it, it was not starting her day off with a smile. The writer was very upset over the pricing of the onesies in particular. Initially the letter really upset Shayne but then she decided to compose a well-thought response. She spent fortyfive minutes explaining about small companies and about the quality of the product, how many hands touch it, how much time goes into them. "You're paying for something unique and quirky and I'm pretty sure you're going to love your onesie". The email she got back was beyond nice "Thank you so much for the information. Seems like a small price to pay compared to what it will cost to have my foot surgically removed from my mouth. I'm so sorry. Thanks for being a better person than I". Shayne's response to herself? "Yes! Success!!"
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live gigs The Indie Show
podcasts ANARCHY & ANGELS
ONAIRTUNES.COM the ultimate music experience
I’d like to start with a quick poll, if I may. If I say to you “Who’s That Girl?” do you say: a) Eurythmics b) Madonna c) Eve d) What girl? Thanks. Hold that thought. Ok, ‘guilty pleasures’. So this could go one of two ways, or both, I guess, if that’s your thing. There’s the whole ‘walking down the street in sexy underwear, or no underwear’ kind of guilty pleasure; the thrill of being naughty but nobody knows it. Or there’s the fondness for music that is so far out of fashion that admitting to it will lead to utter social exclusion, kind of like saying you thought “Breaking Bad” meant farting in an elevator, or “Game of Thrones” is what you play when looking for a clean toilet in a nightclub. So I’m going with the music thing. No matter when you were born, there are songs and groups that seemed perfectly acceptable at the time, but who have since been abandoned to that time. You will never hear them on radio, unless you cheat and tune in to specialist stations and you’ll never see them on TV. They may appear in ‘where are they now’ articles or they may feature as an obscure answer in a pub quiz. For those of you unfamiliar with a pub quiz, it is an occasion for a group of friends to get together, drink too much, and argue vehemently about what a CD is made from, or whether Simon Le Bon was the original singer in Duran Duran (he wasn’t, was he?). At the end of the evening, when they lose by half a point, one of them will slam his/her drink down and say “I told you!” (they didn’t). They’ll all vow to disband and never speak to each other again. Only to reconvene in 82 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
BY A DA M D
“That’s just awful. That’ s not music. That’s the w ever committed to the m orst thing odern-day equivalent of vinyl.” Then you’ll spend a few second s wondering what CDs ar e made from. Then you’ll google it. I’m not going to tell you. It m ay come up in a pub quiz. 2 week’s time to do it all again because, when all’s said and done, the team name of “Norfolk Enchants” is just too good to go unused (say it over a few times to yourself). Where was I? Oh yes. The trouble with guilty pleasures is they are very personal. You simply can’t be told that these are songs you can’t listen to anymore. You crave them, and when you hear them they will transport you into another world. Yet if someone explains theirs to you, you’ll want to tell them straight. “That’s just awful. That’s not music. That’s the worst thing ever committed to the modern-day equivalent of vinyl.” Then you’ll spend a few seconds wondering what CDs are made from. Then you’ll google it. I’m not going to tell you. It may come up in a pub quiz. Let me illustrate this with an example. As I write this, yes, in Brick Lane Coffee, they are playing Eve’s “Who’s That Girl”. It is, frankly, a bit pants. It’s a lot pants actually. It’s shit. But someone, somewhere, possibly even reading this article, is humming it right now and thinking “God, I love that song.” If you’re that person, then congratulations! You’ve found your guilty pleasure. So the ‘point’, if I am anywhere close to making one, is that nothing is universally hated or loved. For every ten million people who hate Eve’s “Who’s That Girl”, there’s one person who doesn’t. That’s fact. I just did a quick survey . But what is it about these songs that make us cling to them like a dog lead, on the other end of which is a mad dalmatian strangling itself with fervour as it attempts to drag you into oncoming traffic because it believes that on the other side of the road another dog recently took a piss? Well, I think it comes down to music as a trigger for memory. We pretty much always link songs to a time in our lives. It could be
the very first time you heard it. It could be a whole summer/semester/other significant time in your life. Often, the guilty pleasure is linked to when you were growing up. This satisfies two of the basic criteria. One, it is pretty much guaranteed not to be played on the radio anymore. Two, it’s highly unlikely to be part of the ‘now’ sound. Past eras are often given a dusting down as people don rose-tinted spectacles and listen again to songs from that time. So you may be enjoying that phase now, particularly if you love anything eighties. The important thing is to embrace your guilt, so you can unleash the pleasure. I read recently that there is a modern-day ‘condition’ of the soul, called the fear of missing out, or ‘FOMO’. As people can share things like never before and as things ‘trend’ it is ever-more likely that you will struggle to keep up. Gangnam Style, Harlem Shake, Twerking; three things that went ‘viral’ over the last couple of years. Not knowing about these trends fills some people with fear. ‘How stupid will I look?’ The answer is, not as stupid as if you actually try any of them. I know there are many others, probably. I don’t get FOMO, you see. I think I suffer from the counter-condition, ‘JOMO’. That’s the joy of missing out. Besides, I don’t need to keep up with what’s happening. Fourculture does that for me :-) For people of every age then, there is already a litany of discarded moments of pleasure, all filed away in your brain, waiting to be awakened at the most unexpected of times. If you’re really young, you probably won’t be reading this article, but I bet you can’t resist “The Wheels On The Bus.” Trust me, that shit is old. Anyway, maybe you’ll hear them in a shop, suddenly forced into grabbing whatever item you have in your hands close
to your chest, and letting rip. If you’re with someone you know, you’ll spin round and say ‘Damn! This my jam, yo!’, as we say in Britain. We really like jam and get quite possessive of it, but that’s another article. If you’re not with anyone you know, you’ll scan the place you’re in, looking for a kindred spirit, a fellow singer-alonger. You won’t see one, for this is your guilty pleasure and yours alone. Your heart rate will increase. You will get an overwhelming sense of well-being and happiness and you will be expressing that outwardly with a Cheshire Cat grin and possibly some drool. You will also go home and search for the song in your collection. These days, this invariably involves your computer, but you may search through shelves of vinyl, or even piles of cassettes. You’ll find it on cassette, and then curse because you haven’t had a tape player in years. I mean, who does, right? So you’ll go onto YouTube and watch it. If it never had its own video, you’ll find some dodgy TV appearance where it is being mimed to an audience of soft-focus hippies all swaying out of time. You may even go and get an old photo album. You won’t really know why. You’ll probably feel great for the rest of the day. Embracing your guilty pleasures is a good way of shaking off the FOMO. When you’re in a cafe and they suddenly drop your guilty pleasure, you simply have to get up and belt it out as loudly and joyously as you can. As all your friends scramble for their coats and make a dash for the door, just carry on singing. I bet you can’t do it without a smile on your face. The song already has hold of you. It has already given you goosebumps. Ignore the looks of horror. Ignore the laughter. It is not you who is missing out at this point. It is ‘they’. All together now...“Who’s that giiiiirrrrrrl?” ISSUE TEN
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BRINGING THE HEAT BY SER EN A BUTLER PH OTOG R A PH Y BY FI O N A GA R DEN PHOTOG R A PH Y
Winter, for many of us here in the northern hemisphere, is a time in which many of us are seeking warmth and comfort from the subzero temperatures. For the other half of the Earth, there is always a desire to chill out from the intense heat of the summer. For London’s own Polar Caps (aka singer-songwriter/producer Owen Hughes-Holland), he’s bringing the heat and the chill of great music to both sides of the world. After releasing his debut solo EP in 2011 entitled Solutions, mastered by Grammy award winner Matt Shane, and releasing a widely successful debut music video “Will You…”; Polar Caps has been heating up the underground scene since. Polar Caps is gearing up to what could be his biggest year yet. Before 2014 gets into full swing; we had the chance to chat with Polar Caps to see what he’s got coming up for the New Year. With touring plans and a new EP on the horizon, the new year seems to be a hot one coming up for the electroacoustic talent. So, chill out for a moment…this is Polar Caps.
2014 looks like the year that Polar Caps will explode (in a good way, of course, because we don’t like spontaneous combustion). We hear you’re on track to release the follow up to Solutions. What can you tell us on how the EP production is currently unfolding? Fingers crossed! Well I've been doing lots of writing on and off since Solutions, but as far as the production goes I'm literally just working on one song at a time. As with the last EP I recorded all the guitars and all the vocals and then began mixing. It's a refreshing way of working as I can put all my creative energy into that one song and then move on. With your first video, “Will You”, we learned that you had a hand in the development of the video. How many ideas did you throw around before settling on what was the final product? Yeah, the team for that video was put together proper last minute. Even Stu (the model who played the groom) was called up the night before the day of the shoot! I did originally have an idea of doing the whole video in one take slow motion with a lot of choreography involved, which would have taken a lot of planning. We’ve been doing some snooping and discovered you have a video shoot coming up! So far your music videos have had stories to tell. What can we expect from this video in comparison to your last videos? Ah, nice! Well this time around I've got an incredible team I'll be working with. Joni Andreou is an awesome director and she is very much on the same page as me as far as the artist content is concerned. The video does tell a story again, although, compared to previous videos, this one will have a lot more postproduction and effects, lighting, projection mapping, etc. We’re really going to town on it, basically. You’ve said that the songs you wrote for Solutions were more like a diary in song format. Would you say the same for the new single? What exactly is “Northern Lights” about or inspired by? I think I can't help but write from personal experience. I would say it's the same for “Northern Lights.” It’s also a follow on from Solutions in the diary sense. The song is basically about the last time you'll see someone you love after a relationship has ended, and the emotions you're battling with, trying to play it cool when all you want to do is tell them how amazing they are. ISSUE TEN
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We all know that with new music comes touring plans. Are there any upcoming plans for international touring on your radar? What would the first Polar Caps show experience be like for our readers? Yes there are! I'm heading out to France and Switzerland between February and April. It will be my first time taking my music internationally, so I am really psyched! And expect a lot of energy, strobe lights and getting sweated on (if you're at the front)!
With Polar Caps you’ve taken a 180 degree turn from your sound with First Signs of Frost who had more of a hardcore rock sound. What inspired you to change genres and take your music into a different direction? Well, I think the turning point for me was when I played a show with FSOF wearing a Death Cab For Cutie tee. A kid came up to me after our set and said "Dude, I wasn't expecting your band to sound like that!" Haha! My musical tastes definitely chilled out a lot Polar Caps has been known to put out more in my early 20s, and Polar Caps is evisome cover music from time to time. dently a reflection of that. What do you find the most challenging aspect in covering music? Is there an Speaking of genres, your music is described as “alternative electroacoustic artist that you’d refuse to cover? I think when covering a song you love pop” which is a actually quite a mixture of you should always try and do it justice the genres if one breaks it down. What would best you can. I personally like making it you describe as the main elements to “alcompletely different from the original...stick- ternative electroacoustic pop”? That was a term I coined for it, whereas ing to the original chords, perhaps, but maybe throwing in some cheeky double hand now I just call it Alt-pop. But I suppose the finger tapping on the acoustic or totally best way to describe the elements is that it's stripping down an electro track and keep- synths and pads mixed with acoustic guiing it entirely string based. Songs I wouldn't tars and strings, coupled with electro beats & rock grooves. Vocally it’s quite pop, if that cover?...erm, “Gangnam Style”? helps paint a picture?! Unlike many other artists out there, you actually play multiple instruments. What What do you feel is the most rewarding sparked your interest in wanting to play part of being on an indie label? so many instruments? What instruments The most rewarding part is probably just will you be playing on this upcoming EP? being seen to be on a reputable label, beGrowing up in the sticks I didn't meet ing taken more seriously on the whole. That many other musicians! I've always loved and all the free drugs and endless groupies composing so the only real way of building obviously (joking). and constructing a song was by getting stuck and learning all the instruments it took to cre- When it comes down to the nitty gritty ate a track. As always, I'll be playing or pro- of putting a record together, there is gramming all the instruments for the next EP, always a reasoning to why a track order is set in a final placement. How would in addition to mixing and producing it. you build your perfect track listing? What With your Polar Caps material, you’ve makes a Polar Caps record? been writing for about three years. How Yeah, I agree there's definitely a perfect would you say that your writing today track listing. I do tend to take a bit of time over differentiates from that of your old band, the order. I think strongest goes first and last, First Signs of Frost? How has your writ- but I also take into account the tempo and ing evolved as Polar Caps? style of the tracks. It’s equally as important. Well, I was working on more pop based material on the side, even whilst writing for If you could be reincarnated as a muFSOF. I kind of felt as though I was always sician of your choice, who would you writing to please musicians and fellow band become? Why? members with FSOF, whereas with Polar Erm, wow...that's tough! Probably either Caps it's 100% me, lyrically and musically. Daryl Palumbo or Chino Moreno, easily the It was really a natural evolution for me. two coolest guys in rock.
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BY K ATH Y CR EI G HTO N PHOTOG R A PH Y BY COURTNE Y CA M PELL
For at least the last sixty years, kids who take the classical music path aren’t usually classified as the “cool kids.” They are called names like “nerd,” “geek,” or worse. In general, these kids don’t find their way in rock, pop, or jazz until middle or high school if at all. There is a young man who was actually born into rock and then navigated to classical music. Initially he aspired to being a metal guitarist and had idols like Metallica and Randy Rhodes, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne. His musician parents were caught offguard when their precocious young progeny who picked up his first guitar at age two, one day asked for a violin.
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eremy Ferguson grew up in rural Iowa. Music was his life pretty much 24/7. He is a child of the MTV era and listened to a lot of rock and heavy metal. He also looked up to his grandfather who played the fiddle. Jeremy remembers watching his grandfather pull his case from under the bed and saw resin flying everywhere and thought it was very cool. Ferguson later recalled the day he asked his mother if he could have a violin and felt that it was probably his act of rebellion that all kids do with their parents. She responded, “Don’t you want to play something cool...like the saxophone?” “No, Mom. I want to play the violin.” So she saved up and got him a half-sized violin and he started playing Bach and Handel. He joined the school music program, but it
was group lessons that weren’t very good. Jeremy moved to taking private lessons and in his words “just flew after that.” Not only was he being taught technique, but he was also learning music theory. As early as nine years old, he was collecting the building blocks of composition and arrangement; from simply putting notes together to create a melody to chord progressions to flesh out a full arrangement. Jeremy continued to play both guitar and violin while taking his first steps as a composer and arranger. Most of it was for his personal enjoyment and development in the beginning. The first time he did anything he classifies as commercial and released to the public was with Chris Hall when Jeremy, now Jinxx, was a member of Hall’s L.A. band, The Dreaming. The two sat down in Chris’ living room with two acoustic guitars,
a violin, and very basic recording equipment and put together the EP, Dreamo. The EP is four tracks that, despite the crudeness of the recording and engineering, are hauntingly gorgeous. The simple violin arrangements added the perfect tone and emotion to the songs. When The Dreaming began work on their first full-length album, Etched in Blood, Jinxx brought strings into some of those arrangements. Jinxx left The Dreaming in 2009, but music was still his life. He gave guitar lessons to pay the bills while jamming with various local musicians. Soon he met Andy Biersack and became a member of Black Veil Brides. While the band was in its infancy, they did not call on Jinxx’s orchestral skills much. There were some strings on a couple of tracks. They did an acoustic version of “Knives and Pens” allowing Ferguson to call on the previous style of the Dreamo tracks with very simple guitar and violin lines. Then violin was used in “The Mortician’s Daughter” full electric production. Here and there strings were used in some of the other songs to make the choruses pop by adding that symphonic element. Each of their records, including Set The World On Fire, contains bits of that orchestral element. Savior showcases the progression from unembellished guitar and violin, mainly acoustic, which builds to a very dramatic, complex ending. Wretched and Divine: The Story of The Wild Ones is really where Jinxx got his chance to truly shine. He explains: “Andy proposed the idea of doing a concept album. He said he wanted to use a lot of strings and make it more cinematic. I had wanted to do this for a long time because film scoring has been a dream of mine and is the next step for me. I had fallen in love
ART BY XO BILLIE
with Danny Elfman and James Horner, all these great composers. People go to see a movie and they don’t realize one of the main elements that gets them excited about the movie is the score. It just captures the mood puts you in it. That’s what interests me because I listen to music. I listen to instrumentation. Even in song writing, I don’t listen to lyrics so much I listen to the musical setting, the instrumentals. With Wretched and Divine, we ended up making a movie, Legion of The Black, over it. I created a studio in my home because I had the perfect room in the new house with the best acoustics to record strings. I set up shop there and did all the strings for the album. I worked night and day. There were some periods where I was up three days straight because I was so focused on what I was doing. For the little spoken interludes between songs, they would send me a file of Wil Francis’ voice-overs and I composed to those. It was really cool because that is what you do in film scoring, set the mood. I had to come up with a theme for every time this voice came in, a signature song, along the lines of Darth Vader’s appearances on screen in Star Wars. I had to think along those lines. I had to make each one different. It couldn’t be the same because that gets boring yet I had to tie the songs together musically. They’re not all in the same key, which was difficult. Example: going from C-minor to E-major. I had to figure out a way to transpose the key of that little interlude so that it would tie them together and not be weird. I incorporated really complex techniques like “The Art of Fugue,” which is something that Bach used often. It was something that always interested me, but I had never dove into it deeply until this record. It was exciting to do that. Counterpoint
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and different strings: violin, cello, and tuning the violin down to the viola range (due to lack of a viola) for that line. I wrote and recorded at the same time. For “Overture,” I took four themes from the first half of the record. It’s more of an intermission actually. Main melodies and choruses are brought together into this minute long section that then leads into “Shadows Die,” a song that was a lot of fun to write. Jake and I put the song together in about an hour. I came to his studio in his house and we put all the pieces together. Then I took it home and wrote strings over it.” One of Jinxx’s many opportunities as part of Black Veil Brides and their growing success is the chance to travel the world. A place he has had the chance to visit more
than once now is Austria. Knowing his deep adoration and respect for Mozart, the question of possible spiritual moments for him came up. Jinxx’s eyes softened and sparked at the same time. Although the entire conversation had been full of passion to this point, it evolved into awe and love. While the rest of the band took their time off in Salzburg to sightsee, Jinxx was focused on being in Mozart’s birthplace. He went to the home of the classical composer. Ferguson hesitated a bit about wanting to admit that it was something spiritual, but he said he definitely felt “something” as he stood in the room where Wolfgang Amadeus was born. Then he continued to the cathedral where Mozart was christened and played the organ in his youth. He saw his pianoforte and
the violin Mozart played when he toured the world at age six. Later, Jinxx went to his residence. Having another day off from performing, Jinxx took a train to Vienna to Mozart’s apartment where he wrote most of his operas and symphonies and where he died. Mozart was writing “Requiem” at the time of his death. Jinxx went next door to the cathedral where Mozart’s funeral was held. He saw the piano and clavichord used to compose “Requiem.” In Jinxx’s words, “It was like meeting your idol. Seeing his death mask took my breath away.” Ferguson agreed that the experiences probably do classify as spiritual. With a name like Jeremy Miles Ferguson, one would think there might be some Celtic blood running through his veins. When the freckles are revealed as make-up is removed, his lineage becomes a bit more evident. Discussing the possibility of exploring that heritage musically, Jinxx says he has been asked about that before. Although he currently has nothing in his repertoire, he has given it thought and will probably do something with it in the future. For now, he says he can scratch out a pretty decent rendition of “The Irish Washer Woman” in homage to his grandfather who played the folk tune often. As far as a general gaze into the future for Ferguson, he again spoke of his love of Danny Elfman and determination to score films. The conversation closed with that favorite question: “What art do you suck at that you wish you didn’t?” Jinxx has tried his hand at painting, but he says the results were not good. Besides being a fiddler, his grandfather was also a painter and tried helping him develop the skill whenever he came to visit. He fondly remembers his granddad turning on Bob Ross and trying to follow the TV teacher’s instructions, but Jinxx’s attempts never looked like Ross’. The majority of this article is in Jinxx’ own words. There really is no one better to tell his story than himself. It has been an honor, joy, and a privilege to set his words to print. It is also a huge labor of love, sharing such a special friend and dearest of “road kids” with those who will read this. Jeremy Ferguson is one of those artists and people who come along so rarely, one who eats, drinks, and lives his art no matter what. At 32 years old, he has experienced global success and abject poverty. He has asked for food money and played shows in huge venues to tens of thousands. He is brilliant and a hopeful romantic. He is wise beyond his years and one of the kindest souls walking this planet. If given the chance, say hello when he crosses your path if only to experience the smile that comes deep from the heart of his inner child.
Black Veil Brides’ and The Dreaming’s catalogs are available on iTunes and Amazon MP3 for purchase and for listening on Spotify. Full hi-def of The Legion of The Black: http://vimeo.com/73522209 94 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
The Fabulous D Show OPINION. SURREALISM. EXTRATERRESTRIALISM.
FROM THE UNDERGROUND W W W. T H E FISSUE A BTEN U L| Owww.fourculture.com U S D S H O W. C O95M
BY DA RYA TEESE W ELL
My wife and I had moved into a 1928 Bungalow in Hollywood in the punk heyday of 1982. Our front yard was full of ancient, healthy aloe veras that sent up prehistoriclooking six foot spikes of red-orange flowers each winter, and our backyard was a riot of pink narcissus in early spring. We were young, newly engaged, and working in the film business. We were in love and on drugs, like most of our friends in the industry then. We looked at the place during a sudden spring downpour and loved the open space, huge windows and the fact that it was literally as old as the hills. We lived across the street from what was supposed to be Roy Rogersâ€™ first home in Southern California; the rumor was that he and Dale left when there were complaints from neighbors about his dog kennels. 96 www.fourculture.com | ISSUE TEN
We painted the kitchen red, put up matchstick bamboo curtains and cooked on the fabulous old O’Keefe and Merritt gas stove. I’d go to Yee Sing Chong in Chinatown and have them prepare a red snapper for steaming by gutting it and scraping off the scales, leaving the head, fins and tail intact. I’d steam it and finish it with light soy, Sesame oil, Shaoshing wine, Chinese mushrooms and chopped scallions, and serve it with rice and Chinese broccoli. We smoked pot, did lines and drank cheap Chablis in our tiny kitchen nook and we were happy as hell. Our bedroom had huge windows that cranked open and we woke to a flood of sunshine in the morning. These were the days of cassette-decks, days when MTV actually had music on it. Blondie was at the top of the charts, we loved the Pat Benatar “Love is a Battlefield” video, and we had “Z” Channel on the cable box showing retrospectives of films we had never seen, like Seven Samurai. Another common phenomenon of the 80’s was cults. We lived just up the street from Scientology’s celebrity center and would occasionally be asked while on Hollywood Blvd. to get hooked up to the magic whoopeetron or whatever they called it. We were actually in a cult, although we didn’t know it was a cult until it was pointed out to me later; maybe it was the pot, Chablis and those lines I was doing. The cult was a seemingly respectable one. We had our first meetings in the old Masonic Temple on Hollywood Boulevard just up the street from the infamous Seven Seas club owned by Eddie Nash, who was inextricably involved with the bloody hammer murders at 8673 Wonderland drive just before fourth of July weekend in 1981. Police found a million dollars’ worth of cocaine at Nash’s house later. Cocaine was the ubiquitous fuel of life in Hollywood then; if you had money, you had coke. In 1997, Hollywood Boulevard still had a glimmer of Post-Apocalyptic Charm. There were a few hardcore punks in red Mohawks, black eyeliner and fishnets working the streets and bars for change and drugs, huddling together at night in cheap motels or squatting where they could. The Garden Court Apartments at 7701 Hollywood had been a prestigious address in 1920’s Los Angeles, but became a graffiti-covered eyesore to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, located in offices across Hollywood Boulevard in sight of it. The notorious “Hotel Hell”, so named by the local media, at Sycamore Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard had been razed for ambitious re-development. Hotel Hell had literally been across the quiet side street from the last headquarters of my cult in an old church, and I already had a walking and talking relationship with
the Boulevard. It had been a refuge for runaways and the anarchic punk youth of Hollywood. It was an endless headache to the Hollywood Division of the L.A.P.D. Punk turf in the heyday ran Southwest to the Oki Dog on Fairfax below Santa Monica Boulevard on the border of West Hollywood, and East toward Silver Lake among the immigrants from Thailand, Armenia and every country in Central America. Hollywood Boulevard had been essentially abandoned for years before that, populated only by junky stores and greasy spoons; it was slowly being reclaimed, inch by inch by the City Fathers, using Grauman’s Chinese Theater as a Beachhead. Our group was an offshoot of EST, and was intended originally to get actors off their asses enough to get head shots and resumes done and make a certain number of phone calls per day. It was a fun thing for a while, especially since we had to meet at six am and get our days started together three days a week, and it did get you focused. I was invited to join the inner circle that had a five year commitment and paid 5% of our income to “the group”. It really stopped being a “choice” after a while, and your life was at the whim of the two deeply closeted lesbian women who ran it. I was searching for something deep within myself that was really right there in plain sight, but none of us had the language for it, and there were still consequences for being openly queer. My wife always said that when she saw one of the two lesbians driving a white 320i BMW convertible, she resented the fact that we were making her payments for her. She was right. I’ve looked back on why I kept going there, and the best answer I can give you is this; I knew there was something deeply wrong with me, something dark, deep and unnamable that manifested itself in my desire to dress and be seen as female. As long as I was in the cult, I had no time to myself. It was always about what they wanted us to do next. Most nights I would go home to my wife (who had wised up and quit) and I’d get loaded, numb and happy. During the day, my job kept me numb with the sheer hours and fury of it. The cult kept me numb the rest of the time. When they asked us to re-up, I walked away and never looked back. Fifteen years later, the cult was forgotten, the lesbians had moved to South Padre Island and we lived in the far-flung suburbs with hissing sprinklers on the lawns. Today, I was on Hollywood Boulevard, between Hudson and Wilcox at Maya’s shoes, looking in the front window with a knot in my stomach. I was nervous as hell. I parked on North Cherokee, an Avenue that I would
come to know very well in later nights of club crawling. I walked down Hollywood on the North side of the Boulevard, past the venerable Musso and Frank’s grill, a spot my Dad had taken me to talk about “The Wedding” almost fourteen years ago over an overpriced salad, but today I was laser focused on one thing; patent leather high heels in size fourteen women’s. I was getting serious, just in time for my mid-life crisis. There is a golden star In the sidewalk in front of the store with little bronze motion picture camera and the name of Alfred E. Green. He directed George Arliss in Disraeli , a performance which earned him the Oscar for best actor in 1929. I stared down at it; the “N” in “Green” had a piece of gum stuck on it. I walked in the store, my heart and head pounding. Maya, the owner, is a Persian woman close to my age. She sells shoes to strippers, go-go girls and boys, punks, rock stars, drag queens and gullible tourists on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. She smiled at me in her mercantile way; “May I help you, sir?” “Umm…yes. I called earlier? About the shoes in size fourteen? My mouth was dry as dust. She looked me up and down, and all pretense of professional courtesy disappeared. She knew what I wanted and she had it; shoes for perverts. She motioned to the back room; “This way”. She took a plain flimsy white box down from a steel shelf and opened the lid to show me. “Size fourteen, four inch heel. One hundred-twenty dollars cash.” I had felt more comfortable buying cocaine from a guy named “Snake” than I did right this minute. “Could I try them on?” I asked meekly. She looked at me as if I had asked her if I could take my clothes off. “No. One hundred twenty dollars cash.” I gave her the money, cradled the box under my arm, left the store and never looked back. I was just carrying a white box, but it felt to me as if everyone on Hollywood Boulevard, including the ghost of D.W. Griffith, could see what was inside the box I was carrying. I couldn’t wait to get back to the car. Inside the relative anonymity of the Cavalier, I quickly pulled the shoes out and slipped one on my foot; it felt and looked amazing to me. I was melting down in a haze of guilt, lust, happiness and some very honest confusion. What in the hell was I doing? One day later, back in Agoura Hills, I finally had an opportunity to try them on when everyone had left the house. I pulled on a set of black Leggs “Q” pantyhose and slipped my feet into the heels. I looked at the lower half of my body and was amazed: I had nice legs. Hello, Pandora. ISSUE TEN
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BY PRO DUCER M A R K
"Once upon a time there was a girl with strawberry curls, assessing brown eyes and a tiny pink dot placed perfectly upon her forehead. She lived in a tiny house by the ocean surrounded by dolls who were also her friends. Taking notes and making observations in her little black book, she set upon her quest, attempting to manifest her dreams into this perplexingly conflicted reality. Many years passed and at the turning of her eighteenth year, a man of great wisdom and sincerity placed this girl upon the hill to seek her vision. Three days in and the man looked upon her as she sat in her circle and saw that her eyes were clear, her vision was pure. On the morning of the fourth day, the girl returned from her quest not understanding what had transpired. But the sacred man shared a secret message with her companion. Another eighteen years will pass until this vision can be revealed. She does not yet know herself. Keep her safe, protect and guide her and so she will be ready." - THE LEGEND
he Seraphim Rising was born from the vision and passion of singer, songwriter and poet Attasalina. The project formed towards the end of 2008 in California and made its debut the following year with a live show of Attasalina’s work as well as a number of arcane sonic interpretations in a mortuary turned theatre in Ojai, CA. With support and a guiding hand from Daniel Ash (Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets), their live shows were moulded into a theatrical experience that eventually made its way to Swing House, Hollywood to record their debut EP, Life In Suspension, which released on Halloween in 2011. Shortly after the recording of the band’s EP, Daniel Ash & Attasalina released their own unique collaboration, The Soldiers of Everyday, along with a video to critical acclaim. Described by Ash as "the real deal", Attasalina's songwriting and performance received high praise in a recent interview by Jefferson Laufer, Rock Bands of LA when he stated “this track could’ve easily been a Love and Rockets song.” Now in 2014, we find out what lies ahead for The Seraphim Rising.
The Seraphim Rising is an interesting name on many levels. Angels, sometimes even referred to as Serpents, according to scripture are second to God and include within their “ranks” Metatron, Gabriel, and Lucifer, the highest ranking and most powerful of angels. Can we read too much behind the choice of name or is there more to the choice than meets the eye? I think it is impossible to read too much into it, but there is, in fact, much more to the story than biblical references though they are quite relevant. It is with the name that the repeating pattern begins. Bear with me if you will. In the Chinese zodiac, I, myself am a fire snake (I was raised in Taoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine) and my true name, Attasalina, is taken from Theravada Buddhism and is a feminized version of the title of Buddhagosa's commentary on the Dhammasangani which is a text that explains the intricacies of the fundamental phenomena which constitute the human experience. I was given the name at one month of age by my godmother, a Theravadin teacher. It was considered to be a blessing. Most people call me Salina. Two years prior to meeting up with bass player Matthew Sewell, I kept drawing and writing the word Angel in my journal. I felt it was the name of my music and important in some way but I did not like the straightforwardness of that idea. Having shared none of this with Matt, he comes to me one day very excited to have an idea for a band name. He says to me, The Rising Seraphim and waits for my response. Not crazy about the idea at all but also not wanting to be negatively reactionary to another's creative process, I paused, took a breath and thought for a moment and then replied, well, it could be The Seraphim Rising. Matt 100 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
agreed. I knew nothing about Seraphim, so I did some research and found that they are, in fact, the only angels in direct communication with God (or "the source"). All other angels receive the word through the Seraphim who are always singing and are also symbolized by the fire and the snake as well as the wheel. They are said to have no corporeal form but they do have three pairs of wings. They have the ability to purify a human soul with a fire that burns but does not consume. The angelic myths are also said to pre-date Judaism. Since I am obsessed with repeating mythological motifs that cross religious boundaries, I was quite enamoured with the concept. Buddha is also symbolized by the wheel as is Lakota philosophy for example. Pairs and multiples of three are also extremely powerful metaphors. Rising is synonymous with revolution. So, this name literally means, angelic revolution of the highest order. I interpret it as being a revolution of meaning, a reclaiming of the word. An example of a lyric taken from “Poison.” “Sex is magic, Magic is power, Power is threat, Threat is violence.” Can we look behind the lyrics and music to find out a little more about what drives your creativity? There is always a story, but it is more difficult to communicate that than it is to create the song. The song itself is the best way I can explain albeit covertly, however, I will try to share a bit more. Many things inspired the song. First and foremost, it was sparked by a movie called Lucinda's Spell. It is not very well known and I first saw it probably in 1998 or 1999. It became one my regulars for many years. I loved the main character in the film. She was a witch in New Orleans and had a talking parrot that said "sex is magic." While we were recording our EP at Swing House in Hollywood, I told
the band and the engineers the story of the song while we were having a dinner break. No one had heard the story before, only my husband knew where the song came from. Our co-producer, Christopher The Minister, was on the phone in the next room and he comes running out as I am telling the story, phone in hand going, "Are you talking about Christina Fulton?" I said I didn't know the actresses name. He's like "Lucinda's Spell, right?" "Yes," I said. So then he proceeds to tell me he is on the phone with her right now. She is a friend of his and lives nearby. He called her to invite her to come to the studio because he thought she would enjoy meeting us and hearing the music since she was also working on an album of her own. The next thing you know, she arrives with an entourage while I am recording the vocal take to “Poison.” They all sit and listen to my takes in the booth. I come out and am face-to-face with "Lucinda." She gives me a big smile and a hug and I thought, wow, these are the magic moments that make it all worthwhile. So, of course I suggest everyone watch the film if they can find it. Essentially, it is about challenging the precepts of our cultures’ relationship with sex and power. This is a very fundamental part of dominating culture. Rape and war go hand-in-hand. We inherit these qualities subconsciously and they manifest in our lives and as Jung would say we call it fate. This song drops a few clues to the process required to remake one's consciousness in order to liberate oneself from this trap. Creative expression seems to be at the centre of everything you have done, even from an early age. With talents that span photography, art, poetry, singing, and song writing, do you feel that The Seraphim Rising allows you to express all of your artistic emotions? Yes, I believe it does. The Seraphim Rising is becoming an archetypal story which reaches out in all directions. Tying everything I have studied into one creation in order to manifest something that can only be done this way. The real story is yet to come. All I have done so far is lay the foundation: sketches of the set and setting. As a third generation native of Los Angeles, the City of Angels, movies are like a second language. Billboards are everywhere, the actors are your classmates, it is ubiquitous. It is reality. However, it became quite clear to me at a very young age that Hollywood was a hollow shell. We are shown false images daily that confuse our minds and damage our hearts. Stars pretend to be people of strength, vision and integrity on the screen but behind the scenes it is chaos and pain. In real life, I found that we are ridiculed and belittled for attempting integrity. I
am not interested in that game. One or two generations of fame perhaps and a legacy of what? Money and stuff? I want more. I want to be something in real life. I want my creation to be a reflection of someone that actually exists. So, I don't mess around. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Art should be more than mere entertainment and it is more which is why it is so very, very powerful. I am humbled before this knowledge and take great care in my journey lest I lose all that is most precious. Was putting the band together a deliberate, formulated plan or was it a natural progression for what was happening with those involved at the time? It was a natural progression. At the end of 2007, I had a vision. It struck me in my photography studio and had me on my hands and knees. It told me I had to do this. I was very disturbed. I resisted. I was scared. I knew I would have to risk everything and it would be difficult, but not doing it would be so painful that I had no choice. So I committed, in my heart, to making the journey regardless of the form it might take. I told no one, although I had a tendency to say I was on a mission from God, but I was quoting the Blues Brothers. I started doing things. I got a new guitar and began rehearsing. I booked a show at the Coffee Connection, a new coffee shop in Meiners Oaks, and started mentioning that I was doing music again if it came up in conversation. My show was booked in September 2008. In June, Matthew Sewell (a former band mate from another era) heard through the grapevine what I was up to and gave me a call. He was very interested in working with me, so I went to his studio and recorded some demos of the songs I planned to perform. He was ecstatic and immediately called up our childhood friend Sunny Erickson without my knowledge and had him come listen to the demos. At our next rehearsal, he told me Sunny wanted to join the project. So we got together and performed the show as Attasalina and the Deep Down Trauma Hounds. The place was utterly packed. Daniel Ash was there as well as many other notable musicians and artists from Ojai. I was blown away. I had not expected this kind of reception at all. At a rehearsal after the show, Matt told me he had jammed with a drummer named Gordon Branchaud a few months back and he thought Gordon was our guy. So I set out to introduce him to the project and after a couple months he joined as well. I hadn't planned on putting a band together, but that is what happened. In 2009, we held our first concert as Attasalina and The Seraphim Rising. The project was born. Matt and I always said that our allegiance, first and foremost, was to the mu-
sic. That it was greater than any or all of us combined and at the end of the day, what was best for the music and the survival of the dream was what had to be done, whatever the cost. Did you find performing live for such a long time before going to the recording studio allowed the band to reach its full potential for what was happening at the time or were there tracks that could have, or should have, been recorded earlier? Yes, I do think we reached our full potential for that phase of the creation. We did what we were meant to do. Because we had become such a tight live band, we were able to go into the studio and track seven songs in one day. The energy was just incredible. As I have said, art should be healing and perhaps draw blood like any self respecting ritual if it is to be of any consequence. We had a few injuries that day, but we survived. When we got home at 3 am after dropping off the team, my husband aka Seraphim Doctrine, showed me some of the footage he had captured of us recording in the studio on our 8-foot projector screen. I wept in amazement. I was so overcome by what I was seeing and hearing, larger than life. The guys poured their heart and soul into the music that day and I could not have wished for more sincerity and talent had I been able to do so. The record is true love and is a sublime capture of who we were at that time and all we had achieved as a family. The studio and our engineer, Robin Holden, were also beyond my wildest expectations.
Six tracks were picked for release on the EP including two covers, Sisters of Mercy’s “Lucretia My Reflection” and The Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs.” Both tracks have been brilliantly absorbed. Was there a reason behind including covers on the EP? In short, Knowledge, Good & Evil and the History of Empire and The Sisters of Mercy have been a huge influence on me since way back. To perform and record this song was a dream come true. Let's just say 18-year old Salina ROFL'd her little ass off at this accomplishment. “Venus in Furs.” I just love the song. Truthfully, I sort of copied Siouxsie’s version or at least we were inspired by it. We put the song in the set for our first live show and it just went so well we kept playing it. Everyone loved Sunny’s guitar interpretation so I really wanted a great record of us performing that piece. Both songs deal substantially with themes that are on the EP and are integral to the legend. During this period of recording and bringing TSR to the studio, you had great support and a wealth of experiences from those around you at the time. How much influence has this experience had on TSR and you as an artist? Yes, a lot of amazing support showed up for this. I feel very blessed. They say when you set out on a journey, the right help comes along at the right time so I put a lot of faith in that. Everyone who arrived put a lot on the table and I take all their gifts
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very seriously and with much appreciation. Daniel Ash has been a friend of mine for a long time. We met through a mutual friend, Christopher Columbus, which is how “The Soldiers of Everyday” came about. Chris passed away somewhat tragically and this song was created for him. I sang it for him and dedicated it to him three days before he passed. We were having a BBQ in Daniel's backyard tent. It was the last time I saw Chris. Years later, Daniel and I completed and released the song. Coincidentally, we created the music video for the song while my husband and I stayed at Daniel's in the same place Chris was living when he died, the same place I sang the song to him. I’m very glad it is there to honour our dear friend. He will always be loved and remembered. I suppose I digress. This is how this project goes, the way everything comes about. So not only are these people and experiences influential to me as artist, they are me. It is my life unfolding. It is the art unfolding. There isn't much difference. There has also been mentoring in a more specific sense. Daniel’s influence cannot be understated. I play his guitar and use his equipment. He has been at every momentous step along the way going back years to when we lived in Hollywood, way before TSR was even an idea. I used to hang out at his studio around 1999 or 2000 while he was recording a solo album to try
to pick up on how you do this music thing. His advice is one of the reasons I relocated to the Bay Area. His approval of Life In Suspension was the gold star I was looking for. We also met our friend and co-producer DJ Christopher The Minister (Noisy Donut Shop) through Daniel. He taught us a lot about promotion and throwing shows and he pushed us to make the Swing House recordings. They wouldn't have happened without The Minister, who also made sure we recorded “Lucretia.” Thank goodness. It wasn't originally on the list for that day. “Lucretia” was also our very first radio play. Christopher aired it on his radio show at Moheak, which has since evolved into Dark Entries (with Adam Bravin (She Want Revenge). This has all been fated from the beginning. I just keep showing up and so does everyone else. It's fun to wait and to wonder, who's next? 2013 was a year of promotion and live play along with a couple of online demos and the release of “Double Dare”, a Bauhaus cover, which was available back in May. There is a feeling of calm before the storm. Can we expect a full album release in the future? That was a very busy year behind the scenes. New material has been written, substantial artistic and professional developments have been made as well as new
connections, personal growth and realizations. A lot of art making life so we are very close to cycling forward into the life making art phase, which makes me extremely happy and excited for the future. I am pleased to announce the addition of our newest project member, Tyler McCourtney, who will be working in tandem with me on the next phase in programming and production as well as live performances. He plays a very mean electric banjo. We are developing a new stage show and designing visual art. Our plan is to launch a crowd funding campaign through Kickstarter (since we had success there funding our CD's in 2012) in order to create our first full-length album. The title has been chosen and artwork begun so we plan to be launching and sharing the process as early as Spring of 2014. You can connect with me and view my previous campaign at www.kickstarter.com/profile/attasalina. Both the results and the campaign itself are looking to be a remarkable creative journey. I am most interested in collaborating with new artists as well as with the campaign backers themselves. I imagine that we are all on this journey together, discovering clues, sharing messages and living the dream. Given your spiritual roots and your interest in various religions and beliefs, will we find further references and styles in material you’ve been working on regarding artwork and lyrics maybe even more covers? Absolutely. Although, I am not sure about future covers. We have so much original material to work with for the next album that it will likely just be my own songs. The next phase is dealing with transformation, facing the shadow and setting oneself upon the path. It is about the crisis and the prophesy and the motivation for the journey. It has come to me that this musical project in mythological form has the best chance of presenting the material, sort of like a rock opera set in a magical book. Most singer-songwriters focus only on their performance and work within the music, but your creative aspirations branch out into photography and poetry as well. Bringing these talents to the table for TSR, do you find communicating all of these aspects to others difficult? I don't think so, although I can't really say since it just is what it is. But I think it is wonderful to live within the imagination and to speak many creative languages. My work in fine art and commercial photography has served me greatly in creating media for the project. I think of this work as art. I am creating a body of work and considering different formats and environments in which to present it. I made my living for many years as an independent photographer, so living as a producing artist in whatever medium comes
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pretty naturally. My poetry becomes my songs so these are essentially one process. That is why some of my music does not have a more conventional pop format and they are not edited as much either. I think of them more as ballads perhaps of the old timey spiritual sort ala Led Zeppelin's Battle of Evermore but based on my own experience rather than someone else's. I am not much good at working within existing frameworks and climbing established ladders of success in the proper manner. I tend to create my own rules and then attempt to succeed within that which I have chosen. I love doing things I have never done before. Although, I must admit that I have had a fair amount of formal training, in classical piano and choir as well as in photography and writing, so I can't help but bring these influences with me in spite of my rebel spirit. Working with others seems to be something very important to you. Rather than branching out as a solo musician, you seem perfectly at home working with and even promoting others? Yes, I have always enjoyed collaboration and do not feel that I can or should accomplish my goals alone. Everyone who participates, long or short term, in whatever capacity is integral to the process. One must fall in love with a creation in order to execute it successfully. I love every person I work with, every step along the way, every piece of the puzzle, even the pain and the insult. Plus, The Seraphim Rising is really a concept in entirety rather than just me and my songs. It is a vision that will continue to manifest over time and include many travellers along the way. In the town where this story began, there was a very limited alternative art and music culture. If we wanted something, we had to create it for ourselves, establish our own community. At the end of the day, relationship is really all there is. That is also why helping produce and release the compilation album, Post-Alternative Visions this Fall with DJ Mac and all the other artists was such a natural progression. Because of what was happening on twitter at the time everyone jumped on board, it was a great joy to facilitate. Iâ€™ve made some wonderful friends in the process and become a fan of remarkable artists and their music. I love that my community spans the globe. Itâ€™s very exhilarating and rewarding. Art is the best drug I ever took. If you weâ€™re given the chance to spend one day in the company of anyone from any time, who would you choose and why? Gautama Buddha. I would like to observe in observation.
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DRUNK DIALING VAMPIRES I NTERV I E W A ND PHOTOG R A PH Y BY DA RYA TEESE WELL
Alright Alright play tight, ebullient sets of music in small-to-medium sized L.A. clubs and have a loyal, quietly fanatic base of followers. If Alright Alright has a formula, it’s pure power pop: strong lyrics and great hooks delivered with vocal passion, crafted harmonies and instrumental muscle. The songs are visceral, danceable and have a knack of staying in your head for days. Los Angeles is vast, rough and diverse, and the band scene reflects it. There is no “off night” for music in L.A.; chances are good that you are missing a great band somewhere any night of the week. Another fact of life in the L.A. music scene is that if you are making a living getting paid to play music, you are probably a Mariachi. AA is a band of survivors. Make no mistake; this is a rock n’ roll band. Michael Sweeney plays guitar, sings the lead vocals with smooth authority, and writes most of the lyrics for the songs. The lovely, trained, bell-like voice with great range that can trill, belt or growl is Ryan Seaton. Dayna Richards plays keyboards and trumpet and God knows what else, and is often the third harmonizing voice. Brent Wroten’s precise, driving drums are the foundation of the band’s tight grooves. He also sets a standard of sartorial excellence. Cleo Marie German’s willowy stage presence belies the propulsive, melodic bass lines she produces. Jeff Springer’s spare, tight lead guitar drives the hooks home whether in a bar or on an MP3. One recent gig for the band was a wedding; Cleo’s to her girlfriend, GoGo. After the vows, Alright Alright took the stage, including Cleo, playing bass in her wedding dress. This band doesn’t like to play. They live to play.
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The L.A. indie band scene is vast and spread out. Even if you get a gig, I imagine just the logistics of getting to the same place to play at the same time can be a challenge. Tell us about your very first gig, at The Derby. I heard you had a few challenges? Sweeney: The promoter double-booked the venue and we got turned away due to a private party...and we had a bunch of folks waiting outside to see us. We did an impromptu set in Jeff's backyard under some twinkle lights and romantic foliage, If I remember right. Then Dayna threw up in the bushes. Dayna: No, I threw up in the bushes in another romantically lit back patio (at Crane's) after we all got a round of shitty tequila with our earnings. I thought I was pretty discreet but apparently Ryan's dad saw it. I've never forgiven him. We liked the house party vibe so much that we carried on having Band-aversary shows for a few more years in Jeff's backyard. Ryan: Yeah, we’re overdue for a “pissing Jeff’s neighbors off” gig, aren’t we? The Derby gig was actually my very first gig with any band. I tried to pretend I was disappointed with the change of venue, but I was actually terrified and secretly relieved when we had to re-locate. That night turned out to be a pretty good gig when all was said and done — cheaper beer, more intimate setting and less anxiety for my rock-n-roll debut... we ended up playing the set twice. As for the puking, there are only so many times I can apologize for my family’s behavior. Get a Seaton drunk and we become...indelicate. Ya heard it here, folks. Jeff: The backyard gig was great, and my neighbors were actually in attendance and totally cool with it. When almost everyone followed us to my place for the backyard show it felt like snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. The LAPD crashed one of the anniversary backyard shows but just told us to shut the fuck up until they were out of sight and by then they’d probably have some real crime on their hands. It should be said, what was really remarkable about Dayna barfing in the bushes is how business-like it all was (I noticed before Ryan’s dad said anything). Just a few purposeful steps away from the conversation and then the tequila problem was solved. I heard a definition of power pop as “strong melodies, clear, crisp vocal harmonies, economical arrangements and prominent guitar riffs.” I know that’s a loaded term that can be used to describe anyone from Todd Rundgren to Elvis Costello to Guided by Voices, but it seems to fit you guys. What do you think? Sweeney: I like the term power pop
because it sounds like something catchy that will beat the shit out of you. Dayna: With 6 members, 6 approaches, and at least 6 ideas for every song, I find that leaning on arrangement keeps all of our musical ideas from spinning out of orbit and smashing into chaos. Ryan: I never thought of using that term for our stuff but it’s awesome and wicked apt. That’s easier than how I’ve done it before: “You know the B-52’s?” “Sure.” “Kinda like that.” The economical arrangements bit is particularly fitting for our stuff, since it’s practically unheard of for one of our tracks to be longer than 3 ½ minutes. Cleo: It’s as good a phrase as any I guess, except that it's too broad to really be a description. Different songs have different feels to me. I wish there was a label that captures the slightly oddball nature of the lyrics/subtext/themes of the music…it’s kind of geeky (which I like). How about ‘geek-fi’? Ryan: I've used the made-up genres of "Zombie pop" & "Zombie rock" in press releases. Jeff: “Doomsday-pop” has a ring to it, but indie-pop/art-rock works, too. I still don’t quite understand the difference between alt and indie. I think we have catchy, poppy melodies and enough oomph to put some power in the pop so it seems appropriate. Brent: Labels mean different things to different people. I think we are more “Indie Pop” and at times “Jangle Pop” whatever that means. To me power pop can be very processed and produced. That was never our intention. Well, I love the fact that beneath your great vocals and the keyboard and horn elements that Dayna brings, you guys always have solid, driving drums, guitar and bass. Sweeney: Jeff, Brent, and Cleo are just unstoppable together. I think as a band we listen really well to each other when we play and everybody really enjoys making something of the moment. I think we're really a live band and that's what we really enjoy. Recording is fun, but we're much more ferocious live. Dayna: If it weren't for Jeff, Brent, and Cleo holding shit down, there is no way that I would have the freedom to add the things I want to. That being said, we also trade off the spotlight and Jeff is known to rip a lick or two (when Ryan or Sweeney play rhythm guitar), not to mention a few bass and drum solos cause why the fuck not. Ryan: I get to hear it all from where I’m standing. Our rhythm section is a force to be reckoned with and Jeff brings such a fantastically agile and well-schooled talent for themes and counterpoints. That and a bitchin’ pedalboard. He also has almost as
many guitars as Brent, who deserves a flippin’ drumming trophy for the double kick pedal alone. When Cleo first brought in the fuzz pedal I thought my head would explode from the power, but she works it brilliantly. Cleo: My favorite thing about playing bass is that it’s part of the backbone of most every song. My job is to squeeze between Brent and Jeff and glue them together. It’s not always glamorous, but I’ve become better since I’ve been with the band at stamping something me, like on some of the songs. Brent makes it easier than it has been in any other band I’ve played with because he’s got such solid timing. And both he and Jeff are very good at listening to the other things going on, while it’s mostly my job to follow Brent, there’s times when I might play a slightly different rhythm or accent something differently, and he’s very good at noticing and incorporating it if it works for the song. And Jeff is always there with the suggestion that I could always play the root note. Jeff: In music, as in life, I like to have a contingency plan, and if all else fails hitting the root note probably can’t hurt. In all seriousness, one thing I love about this band is that everyone is willing to take chances. It might not always work exactly right, but we’re comfortable enough with each other to where we can try different things and see what works. Re: the lineup, I have a lot of respect for 3-pieces that can keep things interesting with just guitar, bass, and drums, but I’m really happy being in a bigger band where Cleo and Brent and I keep the song chugging along and then Sweeney and Ryan can swoop in with their magic and Dayna can season things with an interesting keyboard sound or bust out a mean trumpet line. Sweeney plays guitar on most of our songs, which is nice because we can play around with different guitar textures, sometimes a rhythm part and a lead part but usually nothing that traditional, more quasi-rhythm and quasi-lead. It’s science. Brent: I just play the figures. Have any of you guys had any formal musical training? It sounds like it. Sweeney: I took a few guitar lessons, but then sat in my room and taught myself Beatles and Led Zeppelin songs. I know that makes me sound like somebody's notcool uncle who's convinced that he is actually cool, but that's the story. Dayna: I do have formal musical training. It was a great way to learn to play my instruments, but I find that although the technique will never leave me I have way more fun disengaging my frontal lobe and just saying something personal with the parts I play (even though I don't use words!). For example, in Paper Bullets I play a weird/ out trumpet solo with a plunger mute. ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
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Initially I was inspired by a piece of modern music I saw played by my trombone-playing roommate and her percussionist brother at a university recital. The end was an improvised solo that was supposed to simulate an argument, and since they were siblings it made sense. So I took that little piece of "serious" inspiration and now imagine I'm yelling horrible things at Sweeney in a parking lot after drinking too much vodka. Ryan: I did formal voice training in college. It’s surprising how much of opera training translates to live rock-n-roll singing, like with phrasing and pitch and the wearing of enormous wigs. Cleo: I’ve only been playing bass since 2006 or so. I taught myself to play by using tabs on the internet and playing along to The Killers and Muse and The Strokes. I initially learned with the goal of joining the punk band that Go Go was in when I met her, but they broke up before I was ready. So I played with the band that was formed by the keyboard player of that band for a couple years before joining Alright Alright when that first project broke up. Jeff: Five years of piano lessons that ended when I got a guitar for my 13th birthday. And then it was years of sitting in my bedroom like Sweeney teaching myself U2 and REM songs. Learning to play guitar before the internet was both a blessing and
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a curse. I probably wasted years trying to figure out things that somebody can teach you in 3 minutes with a YouTube video, but the sheer boredom of life without the internet gave me the time and attention span to sit down and stumble through “Blackbird” 1,000 times in a row until I finally got it right. By the way, Ryan and Dayna got their money’s worth on that formal training. Sometimes I listen to Dayna or Ryan and I think “Well, I’m glad SOMEBODY knows what they’re doing!” It’s a good feeling. Brent: Six months of drum lessons and six months of trumpet lessons and that's it. In truth I've always been able to play drums long before the lessons, which is why they only lasted six months. Your song lyrics are on one hand really cinematic, in that they conjure images pretty effortlessly, but on the other hand seem to place the listener immediately into intense, urgent personal situations addressed to someone in particular, often female. The exact circumstances and solution seem just out of reach, and often a little menacing. I could pick any of your songs, but “Jenny of the FBI”, "I'm Going Under" and “Gods on a Highwire” come to mind. What’s the inspiration? How does a new Alright Alright song come into being ?
Sweeney: I usually start with words or phrases and it has to feel organic — something that just pops into my head. I like them to be spontaneous and not sounding like I tried too hard. It just doesn't sound honest to me if I spend too much time laboring over the meaning of something because then it seems pretentious. The first idea is usually the best. Also if Brent, or Jeff, or Cleo bring music in, then I love fitting words to a melody or rhythm they wrote. As long as its something that came honestly, I like it. Also, most of the time, I'm pretty sure somebody's coming to get me. Dayna: For the most part we write our own parts or help each other refine each other's ideas. Sometimes we communicate an emotion or a style verbally then keep workshopping it until it makes sense. If the song is right then it tends to come together pretty quickly with each of us sliding into our usual places. Also, as I mentioned, arrangement is really important in this kind of music, and we have all grown to know how to build an effective pop arrangement with our arsenal of instruments and ideas. Ryan: Sweeney is really the first & last word in AA lyrics, literally: it’s all from that warped little mind of his. Brent has been known to bring in lyrics for his songs, but they go through a Sweeney treatment before they’re finalized (which is how you
get the occasional lyrical shout-out to Billy Ocean.) Arrangement rehearsals are a lot of fun for me, ‘cause I just get to sit down with whiskey and let everyone else hash out the hardest parts. Then I swoop in on my third or fourth or what-have-yous, pull out a tambourine and I’m done. Sometimes I write chord progressions on the whiteboard. Cleo: I’ve only contributed to the writing of a couple songs. I came up with a bunch of the lyrics for “Romero”, along with the woah-oh hook, which I just started singing to myself when I was playing a scratch track that Brent had sent around over and over again. I had always wanted to write a song about zombies and rhyme “Romero” with something. The other song was “I’m From the Future,” which I brought the idea for to Sweeney, and we sat down and he turned my crazy ramblings and out of tune squawking into a half decent song. For the rest I just try and work on putting something solid but interesting into the bassline. Jeff: It was Sweeney’s lyrics that sealed my fate with the band. I’d been in bands since I was 15 and had started several from scratch, so when I found Sweeney on Craigslist looking for a guitarist for his new band I was in full Danny Glover mode (“I’m too old for this shit”). All I wanted in the world was to join an established band with a big following where I wouldn’t have to beg my friends to come to the shows. But Sweeney sent me a demo of “Paper Bullets” and I thought “I need to be in this band.” His lyrics have a LOT going on, and I love that. Brent: Movies: Horror and Sci-fi. We're a theatrical bunch. At least one reviewer said that your songs have a way of staying in a person’s head. I would agree and say that as a compliment. Sweeney: As far as melodies, that's all music is to me. If it's something that doesn't stay in your head after you've heard it then I don't think the song is very good. Dayna: The first things we establish tend to be the chords, words, and melody. The melody can sometimes get bounced around until it evolves into its catchiest form. Though the person bringing in the song usually has some melody attached to it, often the final form is a combination of a number of ideas. When we write together like that it's impossible to keep yourself from being influenced by other musicians' ideas. What I'm trying to say is that amateurs borrow and badasses steal (even if you're all in a band together). Ryan: Sweeney and I are both big New Pornographers fans and I think they have that earworm quality that AA’s catchiest tracks aspire to. Jeff: I’ve contributed music for a few songs, and it usually happens when I’m
randomly strumming my guitar and stumble across something that I want to keep playing over and over again, which probably means it’s a good melody or hook or something. And coupling it with the right lyric is like a chemical reaction where the vinegar hits the baking soda and — boom — volcano! (Again, science.) “Captain Obvious” was something I had been messing around with on guitar and I remember Sweeney going for that falsetto on the chorus and then I knew it was going to be a great song, it just elevated everything. And then Ryan added the operatic part on the bridge, which took it completely over the top. Meanwhile Brent has this stately, big beat going, Cleo is totally locked in like the heartbeat of the song, and Dayna finds the perfect Moog/Casiotone sound to add a little sci-fi vibe. And on top of everything Ryan plays the chug chug chug chug rhythm guitar chorus part, which makes it work live. Brent: I’ll usually come with some chord progressions and arrangements and maybe a melodic idea. Sweeney usually handles the lyrics. Then everyone adds what they like. Your songs and albums are all meticulously crafted, but never overproduced. What’s the band’s studio process like? Sweeney: The studio can tend to take away much of the spontaneity of songs, so I really like to keep it pretty simple. But then, Jeff is a total professional and perfectionist about how he approaches things, so we all tend to balance each other out. Also, there's usually a lot of whiskey involved. Dayna: Yes, whiskey, indecent exposure, and curse words. We usually hole up for a weekend or two to get our shit recorded and do the minor tweaks and mix-
ing after. Since the songs are pretty much formed by the time we get there it's easy to get it to sound like what we think it sounds like. Then Jeff lays down another 20 guitars, Brent argues about the snare mix, and I bitch that I was out of tune and the EQ is wrong. Ryan nails her parts the first time, and we make her do two takes just to make ourselves feel better. It's fun. Ryan: Whiskey and, for me, anxiety. Though enough of the former helps with the latter. We’ve group-financed all our recordings since YAOOUN through our ad hoc label Hive-Mind Records, so it’s great to be of one mind heading into the studio to avoid downtime and to limit potential timesucking conflicts. To that end, we’ve been smart enough to work out most tracks and recording tactics in rehearsals so we can capitalize on the limited time we have in the recording studio. The longest process is mixing. It usually involves a series of rehearsals devoted as “listening parties” followed by spurts of emails with time codes and references to obscure eighties bands. Sweeney’s always been pretty adamant about keeping AA’s overall aesthetic as DIY as possible, given the highly commercial nature of the songs, so we try to keep all the band’s character intact throughout the recording and mixing process. Whiskey helps with that, too. Jeff: “A total professional and perfectionist” is a very diplomatic way for Sweeney to say I’m a bit OCD when it comes to recording. That’s always the challenge, to capture the energy and emotion of the live show while getting the best possible performances, which can kill the vibe if you have to do multiple takes or there are technical issues. Sometimes I go back and listen to ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
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the old recordings of the various bands I’ve been in, and I’m always proud when I feel like the recording does justice to the song, and it always hurts a little bit when the recording falls short. One thing I absolutely love about recording is that you can try out all your most off-the-wall ideas, and if they suck no one (except your bandmates and your engineer) has to know. For the last few records we’ve been working with Tim Moore of Mas Music (Highland Park), which has been really great. Tim gets an amazing sound but he’s affordable and, more importantly, he’s efficient. Someone will make a suggestion and within 30 seconds Tim is playing it back so we can hear what it’ll sound like. And he humors me when I add an extra 13 guitar parts, 6 of which are at levels inaudible to the human ear. I’m a firm believer that the subliminal stuff counts. Brent: The original idea was to have a Lo-Fi sound. We have progressed to a point where we are just above that in the level of production. The recording process is fairly quick without trying to be dead on perfect. I call it an uncomplicated sound. WYSIWYG. How and when did Alright Alright come together in its current form? Sweeney: It gestated from just me, to me and a former co-singer named Eliza, to a bass player and drummer who weren't into playing live really. Then Jeff came on board and we started recruiting friends- Jeff already played with Brent and Ryan was a friend of my wife's- and then we found Cleo through Craigslist and found Dayna in the gutter. Dayna: The only way to find people in the gutter is if you spend a lot of time there yourself, champ. Ryan: I WILL turn this car around. Before I really knew Sweeney, I heard his awesome mix CDs at their house parties. Track after track I was like “another one of my favorite songs. I should know this person.” It was kismet. At the end of our fifth or sixth rehearsal together, Jeff kind of whispered to Sweeney who turned around and said “You all know that you’re in, right? Just wanted to make that clear.” Then we were a ‘we’. Cleo: My last band had just broken up and I knew by then that I needed to be in one very much. I had had a couple experiences in the months before when I started looking. I put my own ad on CL and the first response I got was Jeff, about 20 minutes later. I listened to one track and loved it, then immediately wrote him back saying I didn’t think I was experienced enough for them (idiot!). Luckily he persuaded me to come in anyway. It was brutally short as I recall because they had someone coming in later. They taught me “Circuitry” on the spot, which I muddled through by playing nothing but a low E note through the entire 110 www.fourculture.com || ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
song, and it was enough to get me back for the next one. I still play a low E note all the way through “Circuitry”, though. Jeff: Getting this band together was really exciting. By the time I responded to Sweeney’s Craigslist ad, Eliza was gone. We played our one and only show as a foursome, and then the bassist and drummer quit. So at that point, the whole thing could have fallen apart. I had loved playing with Brent in the band Jettson, so I gave him a call. He came in and immediately nailed everything, so we had our drummer. Meanwhile Sweeney brought in Ryan, whose operatic vocal powers have been amply described, and to top it off we found Dayna, who, as a triple threat on trumpet, keys, and vocals, endlessly expanded our possibilities. And from that point forward, the sextet was sealed, with no looking back. I know a few of you play in other bands as well, and that seems to be a pretty common phenomenon today. Do you think that reflects the chaotic economic and distribution model that musicians currently face? Sweeney: I honestly have no idea how to make an actual honest-to-goddamn living in the music industry doing what we do, because music is so undervalued in general and I think our strength is having something that is commercial, just not what you've heard before. You know, we pursue the usual channels and all that, but we keep doing it really because we love playing together. I'm hopeful that the more people who hear us the more they'll pass us onto friends. Today your heart, tomorrow the world. Ryan: Not necessarily. While it is difficult nowadays to make money as a live musician or an independent recording act a la Alright Alright, session work and one-off gigs have for decades been, and remain to be, a great way to make a few bucks while networking and exploring other genres. I
can’t speak for everyone else, but that’s why I do it. And that any other artist would want to collaborate with or hire me I find insanely baffling and super flattering. It’s just another opportunity to work and express myself as a musician which is totally awesome. Jeff: Over the past 15 years the world has changed in ways that make it basically free to be a music fan and basically impossible to make a living as a musician. You win some, you lose some. I play in a band because it’s fun and I love it, not because I have any hope of ever making any significant money from it. If I had more time I’d probably also play in another band or two because as much as I love tacos, sometimes I like a good kung-pao or tikka masala. (But tacos are my favorite.) Ryan: “Alright Alright: the tacos of the Los Angeles music scene.” I can see the Rolling Stone cover already. Brent: Nothing to do with that. Just interested in playing music. I think we just like the opportunity to be creative and have it actually sound good. Would you say you have a group of strong personalities working together? You definitely seem to have fun together and have a kind of tenacious, outspoken team spirit. Dayna: I just want to make good music with people I like. Whatever happens with the band I know I'll always be proud of the time we spent together, the liver damage and insults we shared, and the songs we wrote. Ryan: My best friends and extended family. A weird, whiskey-marinated family of misfits who give each other awkward backrubs and sometimes share vacations. I love these people. Dayna I tolerate. Cleo: I don’t pick favorites, but if I did I would pick all of them. I don’t think that it’s an accident that we have been together five years in a scene that is notorious for drama and fallings out and bands lasting a lot less time than
that. We’re all adults and we respect each other and that’s kept things going. Jeff: Being in a band in LA in the 21st century can be pretty harrowing, so after 5 years in the trenches together we’re pretty bonded. It’s nice. I feel like I have 3 sisters and 2 extra brothers, and lifelong friends no matter what. Brent: We are all the no drama people from other bands. I’ve heard you guys do a beautiful cover of “El President” by Drugstore. Ryan is joined on vocals by Michael, Dayna and Cleo and sometimes Brent and Jeff. I was trying to think of another current band playing hard-driving rock that used female vocal harmonies as such an integral element; did that evolve, or was it part of the band from the get-go? Sweeney: Ryan is amazing. I originally recruited her because I knew she had a great voice and at the time I was highly into what the New Pornographers were doing with that wall of beautiful harmonies that are so perfect, but soon realized she's just a powerhouse and our secret weapon. We don't really have a lead singer, we're really a package deal.
Dayna: Figuratively, literally, Ryan is the tits. She absolutely elevates the wall of sounds we slap people with. That and she brings whiskey to practice. Ryan: I’m sensing a theme here. It’s making me thirsty. I love performing that cover, and we have Cleo to thank for suggesting it. It’s only the second cover song we’ve ever recorded and it came together beautifully in the studio. I’m waiting to see if the castanets I recorded made the final mix, ‘cause at least one member of the HiveMind crew was emphatically anti-castanet. Cleo: I’m a fan of Thom Yorke and Radiohead and I came across the song through a version on which he guest vocals with the regular female singer of Drugstore. I initially just thought that it would be a natural showcase for Michael and Ryan, as well as having some thematic stuff with violin/ cello that Dayna could vamp on the trumpet. In the end Dayna’s trumpet part is totally different to the original and way more awesome. Overall I think we did something pretty awesome with the arrangement overall. Except for the castanets. I did not figure on there being castanets. Jeff: Stay tuned for an answer to the Great Castanet Question…Ryan’s vocals definitely add another dimension, especially
on this song, and I love how from the first note Dayna’s trumpet takes the song to a place most pop songs don’t go. The song is a tribute to former Chilean President Salvador Allende, but without changing a word the Alright Alright version plays out as an account of an alien invasion, which for this band is just perfect. Brent: That was the intent from the beginning. Originally, I think it was an all male 4 pc. with Michael doing almost all the vocals. An increase in vocal range and timbre was definitely sought after. What are you guys doing next? Sweeney: Next up is another E.P. featuring the cover of El President! Dayna: We have two originals and a cover coming out. One track is “Radio”, which is obnoxious and catchy, the other is a song about Sweeney's daughter and the last is the Drugstore song. The last two songs include some special tastiness added by the violinist Kaitlin Wolfberg. We play in a few other projects together and she is the shit. Basically the album is some of what you'd expect, some of what you wouldn't, and a whole lot of Alright Alright.
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All I Need is the Air That I Breathe
BY FR A NK COTO LO
The lack of sensation in my right arm was not a heart attack. After a quick examination, the Emergency Room doctor told me heart-attack warnings come from the right arm and that my discomforting symptoms matched those of female heart attacks.
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“Women don’t feel the same as men?” I asked hurriedly. “Not even when they may be dying,” the gangling doctor with the gossamer smile said. “Although your diagnosis was entirely wrong, I think if you are receiving deceptive signals of health that may actually be related to your emotional state, perhaps something you are suppressing.” “Can you suggest a powerful narcotic?” I said. “I’m sorry but I have to attend to more serious conditions. Consult your family physician.” Of course I couldn’t consult my longtime family physician, the man who brought me into this world, Dr. Heinous Bech, because he passed away mysteriously while still practicing at the age of 95 last year. I tried to employ a new regular doctor but none would accept me as a patient for two reasons. One, each of them openly expressed a dislike for me, and two, my medical records had disappeared with Dr. Bech’s death. But the words of the Emergency Room doctor stuck in my craw for days. Then, one day when I experienced another stream of pain in my right arm while trying to strum my electric guitar like Pete Townshend, I was compelled to look into my mental health. I was whoolly-headed as to what unconscious malady could blackjack my physical pain but when I discussed this with a friend, a theory was suggested. “You’re not getting sufficient air intake,” said Aurora Borealis, a female friend. “What you eat blocks your pranic light.” “Panic light?” “Pranic light. Pain is a signal the body is resenting your choice of pranic light. You are spiritually cockeyed.” Normally I would dismiss Aurora’s analysis of anything, save for correct muscle exercises to increase Kama Sutra positions like the Butterfly, Balancing Act and Crouching Tiger. However, another painful attack implied I had more to gain than to lose by investigating. Aurora suggested I visit her friend, Gale Baldric, for a free consultation about my problem’s solution.
When I met Gale she looked very familiar. I suggested possible common experiences but she rejected them, saying, “I don’t know you, never knew you and I have not yet decided if I want to know you now.” Know me or not, Gale took my life down a path I would never have trod, garnering my interest at first by describing amorous trysts with Aurora. Then she segued into a harangue about my physical and spiritual diet. So it was that I became a Breatharian [sic]. A Breatharian lives off life’s air, which in Sanskrit is called prana (resulting in pranic air). At first I thought Gale’s Breatharian friends were going to show me how to breathe correctly, deeply and healthily, to ingest the spirit-healing forces of pranic air. I had no idea pranic air was the only thing on the menu. After my first breathing lessons with Gale, Kirk, Cal, Clem and Clara, I felt so wonderful I invited everyone to The Cheesecake Factory. “Very funny,” said Kirk. “Yes,” said Cal, “after the first session we all become lightheaded.” “Smart comic image,” said Clem, “using a heavy baked item for the joke.” “You have a very handsome ass,” said Clara. I laughed but not for long because I learned that my first breathing session was to prepare me for a vegetarian diet, which would become a vegan diet, which led to eating only raw foods and then just fruits, then just liquids and then, just pranic air. “Just breathing?” I said in a high-pitched voice laden with disbelief. “Light will be your side dish,” said Clem. “Baked light? With gravy and bacon bits?” I said. Demanding an explanation that would include vittles, I took Gale aside. She said, “You are going to learn to replace food with air and light for metaphysical nourishment.” “Well, the spirit may be willing but the flesh is going to fight feverishly,” I said irascibly. Gale wasn’t intimidated, she calmly convinced me that living with her and Aurora would greatly assist me to forget food. Though I felt she was bribing me, I didn’t care. I replaced la grande bouffe with ménage a troi, moving in with Gale and Aurora. In the next three months I lost thirty pounds. Between the decreased consumption of food and the increased ingestion of three-way sex, I was invigorated. The false heart attacks were lighter and tolerable and I actually began to crave air, especially when sandwiched between two splendiferous female shapes. “I never thought it possible,” I said one night to Gale through Aurora’s legs, “but while breathing deeply today, I experienced a peace of mind I could only dream possible.” Then, the three of us screamed from simultaneous orgasms. Five months into the program the three of us went on a retreat to a fifty-room mansion in the mountains with a group of Breatharians. I was on the precipice of graduating to the ultimate diet of solely air. One night under a full moon I literally became high on pranic air with Clara while discussing Gale’s amazing sexual prowess while a veteran of Breatharianism. “Gale has only been a Breatharian for a year,” Clara said. “But she was more fit than most of us when she started the
lifestyle from her career in porn.” “Porn?” I said, suddenly having a moment of pellucidity. Of course, that is how I recognized Gale. She was “Gangbang Gale,” once a queen of the porn genre that adorned her nickname. She was the star of “300—With Ease” and “A Thousand And Another Thousand Arabian Knights.” But my remembrance didn’t stop there. As Clara continued to talk, a flood of images flushed my consciousness and as they became clear I started to shiver. “What’s wrong?” Clara said. “Oh my God,” I said, standing and almost fainting just before running to find Gale. I didn’t know what I would say but I had to let Gale know that it all came back to me, that I knew now I had been blocking hideous memories from my day on the set of “All The President’s Acquaintances,” starring Gangbang Gale. I recalled standing naked among countless men in a steamy loft. I was shivering. I had volunteered to be in the cast, just to experience such a scene and to have a dirty little secret. But as I approached her to play my role, so to speak, Gale got onto all fours, climbed atop another man and motioned for me to mount her from behind. I locked into her slick body and bent forward to secure my grip. For a minute the man under Gale and I pumped like pistons on a perpetual motion machine, slapping against her like raw veal cutlets smacking a porcelain tabletop. Then, during the rhythm, I saw the face of the man beneath her. It was my family doctor, Heinous Bech. The moment I saw him I froze and the moment he realized it was I on the other side, he froze. At least I thought he froze; actually, that was the instant he died. I jumped off of Gale and ran out of the loft. I stopped looking for Gale in the mansion and thought about what the Emergency Room doctor said: “deceptive signals of health … perhaps something you are suppressing.” When at last I confronted Gale with my epiphany she was indifferent, which was an augury for me. I left the mansion that day, as well as the Breatharian movement. My first stop was the nearest International House of Pancakes, where I had a large stack, three sunny side up eggs, sausage, bacon and heavily buttered rye toast, after which I spent a full day of vomiting. Then, I planned to get an apartment for myself and get on with my life without pranic air nourishment. Months later I learned that Aurora died of asphyxiation (or as Breatharians call it, starvation). That was sad. Then, an article in a tattletale tabloid verified Dr. Bech’s secret life of fetish and ribaldry. He had been performing in and financing porn for two decades for criminal sources. That day on the porn set his fatal heart attack was the result of poisoning, not pumping. It was a hit. Gale went to jail (which became the title of her final porn flick, shot in prison where she was serving ten to life). The most important result, however, was my health. No longer blocking my role in a documented sex act with the doctor who birthed me, I didn’t blame myself for his death. Moreover, even with an awful diet, a stressful social life and corroding career, my false heart attacks ceased. Today, I embrace air pollution, which is far less deadly to the spirit than the foulness people interpose upon themselves. And I still love porn. ISSUE TEN
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we asked our featured artists, musicians and thinkers about their four favorite things
THE HAWK IN PARIS
Amaretto, combat boots, the printing press and D minor.
My signed Metallica memorabilia - That collection definitely means a lot to me and totally takes me back to my teens
Matt: Exploring/Road trips- getting out there and not knowing what the road ahead is going to be. I like going to unique places, museums but not necessarily ones everyone goes to.
Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups - A family friend brought them back from the states when I was a kid, they blew my mind. Peanut butter & chocolate, still genius! My ‘Faith’ acoustic guitar - I write virtually everything on that, it goes pretty much wherever I go. My red & white Nike Vintage high tops A guy can never have enough Nikes, fact.
Dan: I love my record collection. I’ve recently started collecting vinyl again as I’ve been traveling around the US and been able to visit these great vinyl shops and pick up different pieces. Also, maps. I collect these old-school pull down maps. I’ve got a few I really love so that’s something I look for. Jeremy: Dan, I’m obsessed with maps! I find myself looking at google maps for an hour in the evening for no reason.
THE SERAPHIM RISING My vintage Skinny Puppy t-shirt Burn Hollywood Burn, the movie Spaghetti Staffordshire Puppies They are my comfort things. They make me happy.
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Jeremy: Mario’s Pizza. It’s in Greenville, IL and it’s empirically the best pizza. Matt: Oh! I’m doubling up on this one! It’s true.
NINTEEN THIRTEEN VICTOR DELORENZO The month of October...Fall filigree inching towards the new year...rebirth even. My drum set...a collection of sounds that never let me down The wind...an invisible state of mind that asks, “when was the last time you saw me?” My family...four citizens of the world who help to cajole, question and fire my imagination. Photograph: THE SKY IS HOME by Victor DeLorenzo
NINTEEN THIRTEEN JANET SCHIFF Change - I embrace change because without it there is no progress. People - everyone I meet fascinates me. Water - open water swimming gives me strength. Cello - I need my cello as much as it needs me. Photograph: Elemental Islands by Janet Schiff
NINTEEN THIRTEEN SCOTT JOHNSON Laughter - A sense of humor is a vital part of daily living. Music - As Nietzsche said, “Life would be a falsity without music.” Milwaukee - I think of the city as a village with a strong sense of community and a booming culture that always surprises. MKE Peaks - An art project I’ve been working on for several years that has crossed into photography, painting and experimental film — a project that has me always looking up. Photograph: “MKE Peaks” by Scott Johnson
ISSUE ISSUETEN TEN
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