Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
In trying to avoid the cliché of welcoming everyone into the New Year and telling you all the great things we have in store, I simply want to stay... stick around. P&M has been a force this past year, and thanks to all of you, our momentum seems to be growing daily. We’ve built up a ridiculously talented and devoted team, adding new Editors and writers and our online presence is fierce. We’ve lined up some pretty amazing features for future issues, but let’s start with this one... An Horse just finished up a European tour and graciously allowed us a peek into their world as they toured throughout Germany and the Netherlands. Monica Cook shared with us her latest artistic venture, and Vermin Supreme promised us pony’s. On another note, Pork & Mead will be moving to New York this spring! Detroit has been great, but we expect great things in our new home. We will also be having our first annual Pork & Mead Film Fest, in Chattanooga, thanks to our latest collaboration with Mise En Scenesters, a Chattanooga based film club. Starting with our next issue, we’ll be introducing an MES film section, jam-packed with interviews, columns, movie lists and all the film geekery you could possible imagine. So once again, stick around. We aren’t going anywhere and we’ll keep coming back with bigger and better. Here’s to seeing what happens, and here’s to all the artists and music acts we’ve yet to discover!
Crystal Vinson Editor in Chief
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Masthead Founder Crystal Vinson Editor in Chief Crystal Vinson Senior Editor Amanda Hausauer Art Editor Christina Youmans Film Editor Chris Dortch Music Editor Mitchell Davis Asst Art Editor Hannah Palmer Egan Asst Music Editor Eric Boyd Director of Social Media Haniya Rae Copy Editor Amanda Hausauer Creative Director Matthew Scheiderer Art Dept Haniya Rae Photographers Janis O’Neill, Judson Abts Staff Writers Bradley Gentges, Christine Bettis, Gina Tron
Contributors Alaina Latham, Andrew Hays, Andrew Metzger, Catherine Nguyen, Chris Dortch, Courtney Sexton, Craig Magraff, Damien Roos, David Carter, David Yarkovsky, Elizabeth Price, Eric Boyd, Hannah Palmer-Egan, Jesse Roth, Kevin Adams, Lindsey Lowe, Liz Kulze, Melissa Caruso, M. Alberto Rivera, Missy Wiggins, Mitchell Davis, Samuel Bassey, Tanner Hadfield, Veronika Höglund, Whitney Meers
Pork & Mead Issue 3, Feb/Mar 2012, is published bi-monthly Letters/Submissions Send all unsolicited material to: Pork & Mead 439 Selden St. #302 Detroit, MI 48201 Copyright 2011 All material contained within Pork & Mead as well as the porkandmeadmag.com website are ©2012 Pork & Mead Magazine and cannot be reproduced in any way without the expressed written consent of the Owner of Pork & Mead Magazine
Cover Photo by Janis O’Neill
As ever Opinions expressed are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Pork & Mead
Pork & Mead February/March 2012 | Issue # 3
Monica Cook: Stirring Up Conformity Words | Melissa Caruso
Presidential Anarchist: Looking at the Vermin Supreme 2012 Campaign Words | Eric Boyd Photos courtesy of Judson Abts
Dealing with It: Looking a Gift(ed) (An) Horse in the Mouth Words |David Carter
Medium Features Black Bananas
Words | Eric Boyd
Words | Lindsey Lowe
Words | Veronika Hรถglund
Words | Eric Boyd
Words | Gina Tron Feb. - Mar. 2012
Small Features | ART
Am I Collective
Leon Alexander Geernaert
Small Features | MUSIC
The Art of Riots...
Eighth Avenue All Music is Indie Music Breaking the Lambs’ Silence
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. Nov.2012 - Dec. 2011
Words | Eric Boyd You remember the Steel Eye Gallery wanted to hold a solo show of my pieces?” Augie asked. He sat in Fredrick’s apartment, holding a painting. “Yeah, I remember, it’s tomorrow, right? I called off work,” Fredrick said. “No, it’s a few days.” “I work, then.” “Well, it doesn’t matter because they dropped the show.” “Good thing I didn’t call off work, then.” “I’m being serious.” “Right. Well, y’know. That stinks, man. Your work’s gotten better, too. I like that one you brought. Nice colors.” “Thanks. Want to buy it?” Augie asked. “Nope. I’m broke.” Fredrick Anderson lived by himself on the top floor the old Library Apartments building which was, obviously, less than a block away from the library on Tenth Avenue in Homestead, just outside of Pittsburgh. Being a writer, Fredrick was overjoyed to live so near the library. The building was falling apart. Fredrick’s apartment, number 7, was one of the nicer ones, but it was still in bad shape. The walls bulged with the weather; if they were bumped into, dirt and rubble could be heard falling behind them. A bird that somehow got into the apartment died in the heating ducts. Fredrick kept the windows open at all times so the place didn’t stink, even though winter was nearing. He refused to turn on the gas heater, which would have brought the dead-stink air through the ducts, and instead used electric space heaters, one in each room of the apartment. The space heaters were all run through extension cords and plugged into sockets in the hallway outside of the apartment. That way, Fredrick didn’t have to pay for the electricity. Nobody else lived on his floor, so there was no one to complain about the cords running under and out the door, all over the hallway. With the space heaters on at full blast and the late au-
tumn air blowing through the windows, the apartment was both uncomfortably hot and bitterly cold. There was no middle ground. It was all extremes, and that fit Fredrick well. He said he’d heard that the apartment building used to put up underemployed AIDS patients who couldn’t get housing anywhere else; drug addicts, mostly. Now only three people lived in the building, including him. He used to have a roommate, but then he didn’t anymore. Something had happened, and Fredrick was arrested, with a court date in a few months, but he never talked about any of it, to Augie or anyone else. But anyway, he was happier alone. The apartment suited him. All two hundred pounds of him could walk around naked, from the writing room in the back of the apartment, where he clattered away on his typewriter, up to the old, crumbling porch he wasn’t legally allowed on. Now, thankfully, he was clothed. Despite everything, the place was nice enough; it had a good view of the Monongahela River, and a cat to keep him company. Augie liked visiting the apartment, if only to pet the cat. “Alright, you gotta get going. Lucy’s coming over.” “You met her at work?” Augie asked. Fredrick worked at the AFC Theatres multiplex at the waterfront shopping area, an old strip of land that used to have steel factories that were torn down to make room for retail stores. You could see all of it from Fredrick’s apartment. “Yeah. I met her at the theater. She’s an angel. Now scram. Meet me at the café tomorrow.” “Fred, you better buy a fucking piece soon,” Augie said, picking up his painting and opening the door to leave. “Don’t call me that, asshole. Don’t call me Fred. It’s Fredrick. You see me dancing on the ceiling with Jane Powell? And close that door; you want the cat to get out?” “See you later.”
… Augie Kaufman lived two streets down, on Eighth Avenue. He walked down to the apartment, checked his mail, and went up. He lived above an African clothing shop owned by a Jamaican woman named JoJo. The place was recommended to Augie by Fredrick, who tried renting it before but was refused. Fredrick assumed it was because he was white and asked Augie to try getting the apartment as confirmation. “If she didn’t rent it to me and I’m an Irishman, and she doesn’t rent it to you, a Jew, then we’ll know the score.” When Augie told JoJo that he was a painter, she smiled bitterly. Maybe Fredrick was right. She’ll turn me down for sure, Augie thought. “Are you sure you’ll be able to pay the rent, now?” “Yes ma’am. I’m sure.” But Augie ended up getting the apartment, and Fredrick pretended like his racist social experiment never happened. Homestead was just beginning to look like a town again, and Eighth Avenue was the main drag. Shops like JoJo’s lined the street, though there were many more closed storefronts than open ones. The town used to be filled with stores where the steelworkers went to after work was over. In the sixties, the mills closed. A lot of workers hung on, sitting at the bars, hoping the mills would reopen. But the mills didn’t reopen, and when the bars started to close, the workers finally left. Homestead rotted for many years until, in the late 90s, when the land where the mills were was turned into the Waterfront Shopping Centre. There were shoe stores and restaurants and the movie theater. The waterfront was a huge area, but Eighth Avenue was still struggling. However, there was a sex shop on Eighth, as well as a daycare center, a deli, a tobacco shop, a free clinic and soup kitchen, a liquor store, some
PORK&MEAD: 011 vintage shops, and the café. For being a relatively good location, Augie’s apartment was still a decent price at four-hundred a month. The apartment amused Augie. His bedroom had a window, but it opened up to a brick wall from a building next to the African shop, two inches between the window and wall. The kitchen wasn’t much but an offshoot of the living room, which had four windows, all facing out toward the avenue; big, tall windows. Augie had been working on a new series of paintings, but he was feeling depressed. Why would the gallery contact him only to cancel the show? They didn’t postpone it. They canceled it. Done. Over. Augie visited Fredrick in hopes of selling off a few of the pieces. The rent was due in two weeks. He had just over half of it, but he still needed two-hundred more. Augie made his living off of his paintings, only ever having enough money to do one series at a time. He could paint five or ten paintings, sell them to make the rent, and hopefully have some left over to make five or ten more paintings. Now that the gallery had dropped the show, there was no hope. JoJo was kind enough to allow Augie into the apartment in the first place, but she was not going to be kind when the first of the month went by without a rent check. Fredrick was lucky, Augie thought. He knew the angles. At work, he could steal bags of chicken strips and french fries, and he could clean out a theater and find a wallet every few weeks. Augie didn’t have any real job. Fredrick weighed enough to donate plasma every few days without getting sick. Augie was too thin to donate blood for free, let alone plasma for money. Augie was a painter, and whether he was too dumb or too foolhardy to do anything else, he got by; barely, but just enough. Not this time though. He stared at a canvas in the middle of the living room, a sheet of plastic crunching under his feet. Augie’s paintings were made with ink splattered on top of airplane glue. The glue, used as cobweb fluid in movies, built up different textures. It could be globbed on in lumps or stretched across the canvas with a pallet knife, looking like muscle fiber. He could make a painting in twenty minutes, and whenever they did sell, they sold for about one hundred dollars. People called them Neo-Expressionist. What was the point? They weren’t going to sell this time. Why neo-express anything when you couldn’t even make the rent? That damn gallery, Augie thought, that goddamn-yuppie-trust-fundkid-cock-sucking-hipster-shit-gallery. Augie hated them. Maybe Fredrick was right when he said the world resented Jewish artists. That damn gallery! Why wouldn’t they take his paintings? Figuring the piece in front of him pointless to work on, Augie watched the traffic through the windows and then decided to take a bath. The bathroom was simple; there was an old footed tub with a pull-around shower curtain. It also had gold and black wallpaper with a Victorian pattern, the black done in thin velvet. Whenever Augie bathed, steam filled the room, dampening it, and the wallpaper glistened. A man felt like a king in that bathroom. Augie enjoyed soaking in the tub; he could sit and think about things. Why did that gallery drop his show at the last minute? Why was the cobweb fluid so expensive? Did he have enough ink to make another painting? Why bother? Was it true that God could be mathematically proven false? Augie often soaked and thought. His small, lean frame held many thoughts, many sentimentalities, most of which came and went with the bathwater. There was no time to get caught up in such thoughts. The rent had to be paid. Dried and dressed, walking down the steps
and leaving the apartment through a side door of the African shop, Augie went across the street to the café, meeting Fredrick. “Anything new?” Fredrick asked. “Not a thing. Tried finishing a painting.” “Nothing doin’?” “Not a thing. You?” “My porch fell off last night.” “Is your cat okay?” “Yeah, he ran down to the apartment below mine. I got him pretty quick, but now he won’t come out from behind the toilet.” “How did he get down there?” “Cops kicked in my door to make sure nobody was hurt,” Fredrick said sarcastically. “Why do you say it like that?” “The bastards stole my computer. Nobody else lives the building. The fucking cops stole it!” Fredrick slammed his fist on the table. “Jesus.” “Don’t say that. I’m Irish; I get to believe in Jesus. You don’t.” “Shut up. Look, I need money.” “How much?” “Two-hundred.” “I barely have two singles.” “Know anyone that buys art?” “Sorry, I do not. If I did, I’d be making art to sell them,” Fredrick grinned. “I don’t know what to do.” “You finish that painting, I’ll buy it; but look at my new script.” “What’s it about?” “A magician.” “Eh, I dunno.” “C’mon,” Fredrick groaned, “we all need a little magic. Just look at the script and I’ll give ya five for the painting.” Five dollars? Augie would have been offended, but five dollars was more than Fredrick could afford. “Deal.” “I wish I could give ya more,” Fredrick sighed, “but it’s a broke generation.” “Yeah,” Augie mumbled. “Why don’t you offer her more?” “JoJo? More what?” “More rent money.” “I barely have half. Why offer more?” Augie shook his head. “You don’t offer it for this month, idiot.” “What do you mean?” “You tell her you’re tripped up on the rent, but not to worry. You’ll give her nine hundred next month.” “I don’t even know if there’ll be a next month.” “What’s that mean?” Fredrick chuckled, “You killing yourself? You don’t have the guts to do anything but take pills, and those cost money you still don’t have. Don’t be dramatic.” “It’s just that she’s probably gonna kick me out.” “Well make the offer and see how it goes.” Augie did, and it worked. Damn Fredrick. Out of spite, Augie secretly wished JoJo would have kicked him out, if only because it meant Fredrick would have to take him in. Ha! There was a week and a half until rent was due, and Augie was still hoping of making the two hundred he needed. Actually, it was one hundred and ninety-five; Fredrick had bought the latest painting. In return, Augie read his magician script. It was okay. Augie didn’t know anything about screenwriting. It seemed pretty enough, though. Phone calls. Phone calls. More phone calls. Hey, do you remember me? Augie Kaufman. We did a show last year? You did? Well don’t worry, Feb. - Mar. 2012
because I have some pieces now that you’ll love. Jesus, I’ve become a damn salesman, Augie thought, a neo-expressionist salesman. Either way, Augie made forty more dollars; he sold a painting to an old yuppie who had wanted to buy something at an earlier show. Augie offered a new painting for cheap, and it worked! He still needed one hundred and fifty-five dollars. He had no idea how to make it. That night, Fredrick brought him a bag of unsold hotdogs from that night at the theater. “They’re still good,” Fredrick said, “But eat them soon and drink plenty of water.” “Why?” Augie asked. “I asked the plasma center how much I’d get if you donated. They have a referral program. I get a few extra bucks for getting you to donate.” “I can’t donate though! I don’t weight enough.” “That’s why you eat every one of those hotdogs by tomorrow morning, and don’t shit them out, either.” That was going be hard because Augie was a vegetarian. “For your first four donations, you’ll make one hundred and thirty. You can do all fours trips by rent day. Tomorrow’s Friday. We’ll go tomorrow, then Sunday, and then do it the same days next week. Next Sunday is the first, but JoJo won’t be taking rent on a Sunday. You put the money in your bank account and have a money order by Monday morning. It’s foolproof, which is why I’m not worried about you doing it.” For all of the insults, Fredrick had to have been the nicest guy Augie had met. “Then why did I offer her nine hundred to begin with, if you thought we could make the rent anyway?” “Good will. Plus, who knows? You could go in there tomorrow, get a major vein hit, and fucking die. You ever see that needle they use? It looks like a damn coffee stirrer.” So comforting. Despite Fredrick’s jokes, they took the bus to the plasma center uptown the next day. And like every other thing Fredrick ever said about scraping along, it was true. The plan worked fine. Augie made one-hundred and thirty dollars. Fredrick gave him thirty more from the money he had made with the referral by getting Augie there. He said it was worth it to watch Augie stumble around like a drunken calf after that first donation. The extra five dollars Augie had left over was enough to cover the money order fee and buy a jar of black ink. Augie was always running out of black ink.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Words | Christine Bettis
There are times when a troubled mind desperately needs some quality retreat time in a cabin in the woods, which is precisely where Bon Iver recorded For Emma, Forever Ago. Bon Iver is like a modern day Henry David Thoreau, minus the rebellious and politically motivated literature, plus all that is musical and poetic. His self-titled second album was just as resonant as the first, and it was recorded in a veterinary clinic turned studio that he built, along with his brother. A self-made career like Bon Iver’s that was born out of troubled times turned constructive will be able to withstand the elements, and perhaps the better part of his time in existence. Like Thoreau and his sidekick Emerson used their self-reliance to secure their places in history as great thinkers, Bon Iver’s has secured him a place on the charts. Longevity Rating:
There was something fascinating about Lana Del Rey’s painfully self-conscious performance on Saturday Night Live. All she did was sing, sway, and throw up the occasional banal hand gesture (pointed to her head when she sang the word “knew”, held up two fingers when she sang the word “two”, et cetera), yet I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Furthermore, the backlash intrigues me just as much as the performance that invoked it because even though Del Rey’s first album hasn’t even launched yet, she’s been stirring up controversy since 2011. But why? Is it because she’s got sex appeal, and her daddy’s rich? I do like the way she croons, and I like her style. Interwoven in her look, lyrics and her music videos are nostalgic fragments with contemporary expressions; an interesting and curious juxtaposition. Alas, I have yet to decipher whether or not she’s worthy of the hype. Her much anticipated album will be the determining factor. Longevity Rating:
I view dubstep music from the perspective of the help, which is to say, I kind of resent it. For a brief period of time, I worked as a cocktail waitress in a former vaudeville theatre turned music venue in Detroit that wisely took advantage of the craze, and booked show after sold-out show, Flux Pavilion’s being one of them. Dubstep shows were notoriously lousy to work: having to clean up after thousands of sweaty concert goers at three in the morning has never been my idea of a good time, and the money sucked. Flux Pavilion’s show stood out among the rest because his music made the place vibrate at such a high frequency that we lost electricity, and the roof started to cave in. Not even Skrillex, who had DJ’ed there just weeks earlier, could pull off a quake of that magnitude. It was impressive. Longevity Rating:
We’re not even halfway through January yet, and already it’s been a banner year for ole Beyonce. First, she became one of the hottest MILFs in existence with the birth of her and Jay Z’s daughter, Blue Ivy (really?). Secondly, a horsefly was named after her (really!). I read somewhere that a recently discovered species of horsefly has been named after Beyonce, because said horsefly has a large, amber-colored bottom. Therefore, when she does perish, Beyonce’s legacy will live on in a horsefly with a golden rump. I don’t really know what that means; all I know is that I’m jealous. When even scientists are preoccupied with the thought of you, is that when you know you’ve made it? Although I certainly wouldn’t take stock in her music, in her behind I would invest my life savings. Longevity Rating:
Everyone say it with me, “They’re back!” At this point, we’ve only been given a listen to one track and the album art of the upcoming release, Port of Morrow, which is just enough to get my racing mind going, hence this piece. “New Slang” was the first indie song that won my heart…my portal into this genre of music that now adds so much to my life. I kind of owe my success as a music columnist to James Mercer. Don’t worry, James, I won’t abandon you like your band did! Mercer, or as I like to call him, The Shin, is the only original remaining member. One former band mate left The Shins to become a professional hot air ballooner. That’s one of the things that I love about indie rock, and what makes it so enjoyable and interesting: its practitioners involve themselves with random, unconventional pastimes…that’s what keeps them young. Longevity Rating:
Feb. - Mar. 2012
The Realities of the New Music Economy Words | M. Alberto Rivera
Feb. - Mar. 2012
012 is upon us and the indie music work ethos is alive and well. DIY is no longer something for new bands and punks to embrace, but long established acts with label support find themselves cutting corners and having to make do with less. With recorded music sales continuing to decline, almost all revenue by artists is generated through live performances and merchandise sales. The purchase of music in the age of file sharing is almost a curiosity. When gas prices initially spiked a few years back, there was a network news item on classic rock band, 38 Special. The band is a staple of classic rock stations and manages to keep a full dance card, gigging steadily. Because of the sudden and dramatic rise in gas prices, the news item focused on the fact that the band was now forced to reduce its caravan by half. Both crew and band were consolidated into one bus. One of the band members putting a positive spin on it said something along the lines of, “We are one big happy family, so the more the merrier.” The stark reality was that in order to remain profitable, they were not going to be able to pay $4,000 a week plus fuel costs for the crew bus. Something had to be sacrificed, and in this case it was personal comfort. They had to endure this like some young up-and-comers without any choices, instead of as an established act with a guaranteed draw. People like to bandy about the term “has-been” for bands like this. And while their golden days of chart topping hits might be behind them, any acts whose songs are still in heavy rotation on radio stations around the country, and can regularly pull crowds of 5-7,000 people a night, is hardly struggling. In the mid 90’s, North Carolina’s Southern Culture on the Skids (SCOTS) was on Geffen and then TVT record labels. They continue to soldier on, releasing amazing music on small independent labels. Having seen them recently, they traveled sans crew, save for one person handling their merchandise. And while they have never been a band to cart around dozens of Marshall stacks, their gear was at a minimum. Hardcore legends Agnostic Front have hit the pavement once again, supporting their most recent release, My Life, My Way. They were in a similar fashion without crew, with members of the other bands manning the merchandise tables. The hard economic realities are that there is precious little money left anymore once gas and hotels are covered. SCOTS played to approximately 400 people and Agnostic Front to 250. Neither band had a shabby turn out as their respective venues were packed. But not so long ago, there would have been some extra hands to facilitate with loading in and out. In 2008, iconic heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, toured the globe on a converted 747, piloted by the lead singer, of course. And while none of this may sound like too many people crammed in a van, jostling for space with equipment and boxes of t-shirts, Band, crew and gear all traveled together as they travelled thousands of miles between shows. From Mumbai to Sydney, Tokyo to L.A., Mexico City to Costa Rica, Bogota to São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Puerto Rico, New Jersey and Toronto and places in-between, the Irons documented this one of a kind tour. One of the central themes was that the band would be playing shows in countries where they had never before had the opportunity to tour. As a result they were performing to sold-out soccer stadiums, the likes they haven’t headlined in the US since 80’s, if then. One hates to cast doubts on an artists dedication to their fans, but Bogotá, Columbia and Mumbai, India were fertile grounds for eager fans with money to spend on a band they never thought they would get the chance to see. When a band tours the US, Europe, Japan every other year, even longtime fans can afford to pass on a show or two. These shows created a sense of urgency, with people camping out for days before the gates opened to see this once in a lifetime event. And it was a smart move financially for the band, but merely attributing it to altruism is short sighted and naïve.
Iron Maiden has always been the sort of band to cater to their dedicated fans with limited edition singles, picture discs and t-shirts, but they seem to have raised it to an art form on par with Kiss’s merchandising and selling of the same air Gene Simmons breathes. Bands have taken to releasing vinyl again, with digital download available of course, as one way to sell something memorable and limited. Artists like to say it is about selling something unique. Maybe, but they can also charge $20 for it. Back to touring, the reformed Dead Kennedy’s, sans vocalist Jello Biafra, toured last year and their opening act in Florida, was Jacksonville’s The Pinz; who also doubled as their road crew. Yes, the band members in The Pinz were compensated twice, but it was more affordable for DK to arrive in Florida without a crew they would be required to cover travel expenses for. DK also used The Pinz gear, saving on cartage costs. The harsh realities of the new music economy is that ticket prices need to be low enough to fill the seats and the bands overhead needs to be modest at best. When Napster first became popular, there were those who foresaw what was coming. Bands were going to have to go out and prove themselves nightly. Simply counting that people would buy your hit single because it was top 40 on the charts was no longer a guarantee. Acts like Blue Oyster Cult, back together after years of being broken up, are on tour because they can no longer count on their greatest hits package selling what it used to. And as more and more stations disappear from the radio, my own local Central Florida market lost 2 classic rock stations this past year; royalties related to radio play are rapidly disappearing as well. These were bands whose hits were in heavy rotation daily. All of this must have at least a few artists regretting the purchase of absurd extravagances and a lack of fiscal planning in their youth. But no one really could have seen this coming way back when. With increasing regularity, bands like Cheap Trick, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Cake, Gretchen Wilson, Prince, and Nine Inch Nails are all on their own labels. Radiohead skipped the whole label thing altogether and now sells directly to their audience. There was a time in the 90’s when every band claimed they had their own label on which they released their demo or self produced opus. It was a way of seeming credible and making your four-track demo appear to be more than it really was. Many of these acts have hired firms to administer their business end of things, but these aren’t vanity imprints. This is where their next release will come from. Major label support now seems absurd. If record labels were soulless bloodsucking leeches in the past, then they’ve now turned into something far more heinous. Labels now take a percentage of the artist gross earnings. A cut of the live shows, the merchandise, and of course, the recorded music, should anyone bother to actually buy it. Short of heavily produced pop and R&B acts, that require massive amounts studio time with experienced producers, I can’t think of a single good reason for bands to sign with a major label. Small labels have approached the band, Lazaras, Cocoa, FL horror-punks, and have been repeatedly turned down. “None of them could offer me any real support and do something for us we could not do ourselves,” said lead singer and guitarist Chuck. Lazaras, like so many long established acts have booked their own studio time, ordered their own CD’s t-shirts and merchandise, booked their own tours and done their own on line promotion. No amount of mass marketing will polish a turd and sell it; either the music is good or it isn’t. Now it’s up to the individual artist if they are going to be successful or not. Certainly there will always be stories of artists being ripped off by their management, but with everything becoming so hands on and DIY, an artist will only have themselves to blame if they are shortchanged.
“No amount of mass marketing will polish a turd and sell it; either the music is good or it isn’t”
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
4/5 Words | Andrew Hays Propulsive dark post punk with a welcome hard-on for reverb and a Smiths jones. A Place to Bury Strangers is a noisy outfit from New York City that carries one of the more exciting feathers in its cap I’ve heard in a while, a powerful effect on the guitars that makes their sound go from echoey and taut to towering in an instant. The opening track, I Lost You, roars away in this fashion and then settles into a feedback drenched paean to old and new. The band has a profound understanding of space, and this is headphone music for sure, tons of little clangs and whizzes flying about. You can hear whole ideas germinate, fruit and die in the oil-drum background, but nothing takes away from the focused edge of the plaintive vocals. The title track trades off founder and lead singer Oliver Ackermann’s Gira-cisms with a breathy femme over a persistant-but-not-insistent drumbeat, and features a pretty winning little bass break. Drill It Up features a martial drumbeat in a cavernous audial setting that quickly morphs into searing yankee clash fuckery, and dammitall, again with the stellar basswork. The echo used on this beast is princely. I’m not entirely sure what this album makes me feel like doing, though I suspect that living in the country denies me the thing it beckons me towards with nicotine-stained fingers: A nocturnal stroll through a big, corrupt city. A strong EP with an enthusiastic kind of gloom.
3/5 Words | Catherine Nguyen Nearly ten years since the debut of his first LP, Sha Sha, Ben Kweller is back with Go Fly A Kite, his fifth studio album and the first to be released on his label, The Noise Company. Kweller has come a long way from his days of quirky and boyish pop rock; his signature laid-back charm and dynamic instrumentations are still there, only with a smoother confidence and fuller sound. Kite is a rock album with just a hint of country twang carrying over from his previous album, 2009’s Changing Horses. It’s catchy and easy to listen to, but beneath the upbeat rock lies a pensive message. From the euphemistic album title to songs like “Jealous Girl” and “I Miss You,” Kweller seemingly addresses an audience of people no longer in his life and talks of disappointments he’s experienced. But as he points out these negatives, Kweller is just as quick to reassure and the album never delves into dark territory. He sounds genuinely optimistic on the closing song “You Can Count on Me,” singing, “It’s a sad day ‘cause all my old friends have changed. I just want you to know that I’m still the same. You can count on me.” Though not groundbreaking, Go Fly A Kite plays like a nicely balanced and natural progression from Kweller’s past efforts. Old fans will enjoy the familiar and light-hearted Kweller sound, while new listeners will find a musician who sounds like he enjoys what he’s doing.
4 /5 1/2
Words | Brad Gentges Looking at what has gone into it, it’s no wonder Little Spark is so good. Though this is Jessie Baylin’s third album, it is her first with Thirty Tigers and will certainly be remembered as one of her best. Her entrancing voice feels like an evening campfire and the country and classic pop sounds will warm the heart and the soul. Baylin left her previous label to keep making music on her own terms and Thirty Tigers has provided her with that opportunity by backing her with artists like string arranger Jimmie Haskell (Elvis Presley, Bobby Gentry), old-school guitar man Waddy Wachtel and chief arranger Kevin Swift. This group of veteran collaborators has come together flawlessly and the result is a composition of amazing songs which spread across a field of musical genres. The harmonies presented make for something both unique and familiar for everyone to enjoy. The first song on the album, Hurry Hurry, gets the listener interested with its upbeat and faced paced melodies matching Baylin’s high vocals beautifully while the second track, Love Is Wasted On Lovers truly sets the mood for the rest of the album with an amazing, classic, Nashville sound. Strings and piano come to life in a powerful mix to set the mood, but it’s that soft gorgeous voice that steals the ear singing “They don’t know what’s in their arms, they don’t know until it’s gone.” For an evening drive or simply to curl up to on a cold night, Little Spark is certainly worth it.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
4/5 Words | Bradley Gentges Kevin Barnes has returned with the newest of Montreal album, Paralytic Stalks. Unlike the sounds we fell in love with from his earlier work, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer, this new album delivers a very majestic and completely different electronic experience. Falling somewhere between the dark Lynch and harmonious Eno, the electronic melodies tumble and roll throughout to provide an ample surface for Barnes to lay out his various confessions with deep lyrics, laden with emotion. For this project, Barnes brought in various instrumentalists to lend a few new sounds; again, giving this album a feel unlike any prior of Montreal experience. Many tracks on the album are broken into two or more segments, resulting in different changes in each track such as distortion, chaotic overlays or even whole new melodies while attempting to maintain, or build upon, the same emotion. “Wintered Debts,” for instance, starts as a pleasantly simple acoustic track, and within seconds, it evolves brilliantly through numerous styles, from pop to western, only to drop the lyrics and become a rather ghostly instrumental piece while still gradually changing every ten seconds or so. The later segment of the final track, “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission,” done as a piano solo piece, beautifully encapsulates the emotion and feel of the album in Barnes’ own personal way. If you have an eclectic taste in music, enjoy something different to work to or perhaps inspire you, Paralytic Stalks makes for a great listen.
4/5 Words | Eric Boyd The only way to describe Sharon Van Etten’s new album, Tramp, is to say it’s like bitter honey. Here, slow and sweet vocals compete with bombastic, nearly militaristic drums and harsh guitar strums. It’s a debut album you can really sink your teeth into; every layer in every song is simple, but strong and identifiable. Even as the music plays, every vocal seems to manifest from a thick, dark and open space; drums blast through ambiance like faraway gunshots; and through it all, Sharon’s personality is present. Having recorded the album on and off while crashing at friend’s houses, Van Etten comes across as a disenchanted dreamer, and this is her stand against a world that’s tried to beat her down. Fans of the Cranberries will be delighted by Van Etten’s debut, and she’s sure to garner a following for songs like the duet ‘We Are Fine’, which reminds one of the Smashing Pumpkins ‘We Only Come Out at Night’. On the second to last track, ‘I’m Wrong’, Van Etten’s tender, heartfelt lyrics plead, “Tell me I’m worth the miles you’ve put on your car,” while a simple guitar pattern plays against random noise and feedback. It’s a haunting track that sticks with you. Nearly every track does, and given the work that’s gone into this album and its production, that’s a given. In short, Sharon Van Etten is a girl who’s spent the last few years tramping around, her voice like bitter honey, and now she’s here to stay.
Words | Kevin Adams
Words | Kevin Adams
Words | Kevin Adams
Loquacious, lyrical rhyme schemes over minimalist electro-hop are a signature style for solo artist Robert Edward Stewart, II, aka Beans. His latest release, End It All, follows cadence. As a result, his meters risk coming across as cluttered or congested. However, Beans skillfully balances both dissonance and consonance “with Crayola rhymes that color outside of the lines.” Beyond the common bravado of “Forever Living Fresh,” Beans examines more substantial themes regarding politics, Wall Street, and Iraq as he challenges the American Dream in “Air is Free.” End it All, showcases the lyrical dexterity that separates him from candy rappers.
Blondes, the Brooklyn-based duo composed of Sam Haar and Zach Steinman, unleash their self-titled debut album. A synergy of sequencers, synthesizers, and ecstatic drum machines, Blondes’ album explores the concept of duality in this 2 disc release. Some advice: do not mix Business with Pleasure. It may result in episodes of attention deficit disorder. If this happens, don’t panic. The 2nd disc pulsates with 11 remixes from JD Twitch of Optimo, Teengirl Fantasy, and an onslaught of other artists. Blondes is also available in a limited edition vinyl pressing with two additional tracks, Gold and Amber. Record label: RVNG Intl.
With the sophomore release of Something, Chairlift’s debut album on Columbia records, the New York-based duo have found their footing on solid ground, all the while keeping their heads drifting through the clouds. Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly successfully blend dream-pop, soaring vocals, and a heavy dose of 80’s-esque synthesizers into an amalgamation of ethereal bliss. The 11 Tracks on Something feature veteran producers Dan Carey and Alan Moulder. Stand-out songs: Cool as Fire, Ghost tonight, Met Before, Take it out on me. Record label: Columbia/Young Turks. Release Date: January 24, 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
1 /5 1/2
Words | Andrew Hays Now this is interesting. Why had nobody decided to cover Bob Dylan before? The man has one of the most storied, prolific, and influential catalogues in American music. His unique, oftimpenetrable lyrics carry the weight of prior generations and hold up even under the damning halogen glow so many older artists today petrify and crumble under. It seems a bunch of artists had the intrepidity and boldness of heart to take on some of the mans material. Bully for them, I say! Wait, no, this is pretty uninspired.
Words | David Yarkovsky
Words | Andrew Metzger
With the recent rise in popularity of artists such as Mumford and Sons, folk singer-songwriters seem to be getting the mainstream recognition they deserve. One hopes that this is a good sign for Christopher Paul Stelling. While not as polished as the afformentioned act, Songs of Praise and Scorn makes up for that with honest songwriting, solid vocals, and some inspiring guitar fingerpicking. Songs such as "Strange Darkness" and "Little Broken Birds" showcase both Stellings vocal and instrumental prowess, the former climaxing with an emotional voice crack. It's these imperfections that leave no doubt of the heart and soul in every lyric.
An enchanting voice with powerful soul and folk roots, Grace Woodroofe’s latest album, Always Want, is perfect mood music for chilling out. Between the music and Woodroofe’s voice, the album produces a vibe for head bobbing and a dwelling on her insightful lyrics. The album leaves the listeners with a remorsefully uplifting notion within themselves, which may seem strange, but proves creditability to the awesomeness of the talent within Woodroofe and her band. A definite must-have for any soul, folk, or indie fan and something to watch out for. I hope she is touring.
Words | David Yarkovsky
Words | Bradley Gentges
Words | Eric Boyd
Mauro Remiddi’s first release under the moniker Porcelain Raft contains some great dream pop songs. It starts off brilliantly with the massive sounding “Drifting In and Out”, and there is not much drop-off throughout the album, all texturally rich, synth heavy songs with just enough reverb and acoustic guitar to not sound sterile. As it moves along, guitar becomes more prominent, leaving more space to hear and appreciate Remiddi’s vocals; his range is somewhat limited, but his melodies are seamless and soothing. It closes extremely well with “The Way In”, a relatively stripped down tune led along by a simple guitar line and a great melody.
The latest album by Prinzhorn Dance School is a surprising mix of mundane and repetitive bass guitar and drum rhythms with as little guitar and vocals as possible. Drab, uninteresting lyrics and shouts, and similar melodies leave most of the tracks indistinguishable from each other. The song which stands out from this monotony, called I Want You, was the one track where they seemed to perfect their technique and made for an enjoyable experience. The single is worth a listen, but the rest of the album falls short of being worthwhile if you’re not a fan of Prinzhorn already.
In Scott Matthew’s new album, Gallantry’s Favorite Son, Bowie-esque vocals ride slow against guitar strums, harps, and mandolins, all layered with a sheet of reverb thick enough to cut. Songs like the opening track ‘Black Bird’ are pleasantly melancholy, revealing haunting chants and strings. The final track, ‘No Place Called Hell’, closes the album on a wonderful and fun note, and the track may have featured a kazoo, which is great. Beach Boys-style pop vs. modern folk, Gallantry is sure to please fans of harmony-rich tunes just fast enough to tap your toes to, just slow enough to soak in.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
PHENOMENAL HANDCLAP BAND Form and Control 4/5
Words | David Yarkovsky
Words | Eric Boyd
Words | David Yarkovsky
Lambchop has been making music for well over two decades now, with every release just as good or better than the previous. Their latest effort, Mr. M is no exception to the rule. While it doesn’t break any new ground, it’s still a pleasurable listen from start to finish. Kurt Wagner’s vocal croon is as good as ever, sounding like Lou Reed with more melody, and fitting perfectly over their chamber pop arrangements. Unlike so many who trail off after a period of greatness, Wagner’s group shows no sign of fatigue, still crafting brilliantly simple songs after all these years.
I want to live forever and I want to die today, shouts Dominic Rabalais, lead singer of Iowa band Little Ruckus, whose debut album, “We Love Evil”, was released last December. The nine songs on this album are just as noisy and chaotic as the band’s name would suggest, though they do have range, from dirty and fast to airy and beautiful. Fans of Polysics and Devo will appreciate the electro beats, pitched-down samples, and brave, bold chants here. With a sense of urgency strong enough to make even the worst cynic dance, get ready for a Little Ruckus.
On Form and Control, the group seems to squeeze every sub-genre of pop over the past 4 decades into twelve tracks. The album starts with two catchy dance-pop tunes; “Following” has a Funkytownesque vocoder effect throughout. The third track “The Written Word” kicks off with a great riff and a drumbeat that wouldn’t sound out of place on a 70’s film soundtrack. “Winter Falls” is another standout track- a quirky pop song reminiscent of Self. It closes strong with “The Attempt”, a mellow psychedelic pop song. Overall, Form and Control has a retro hipness to it, yet retains enough modern to not sound too derivative.
Words | Eric Boyd
Words | Elizabeth Price
Words | Andrew Hays
Jonathan Meiburg is back with Shearwater’s new album, Animal Joy, to be released from Sub Pop records. Animal Joy may be the band’s eighth record, but it sounds like their freshest, most direct work yet. The production is rich and dense, but the album comes across as immediate and personal. Fans won’t be disappointed, and the casual listener will have a hard time not enjoying tracks like ‘You As You Were’. Animal Joy will be a clear Grammy contender, and rightly so.
Don’t be misled folks. Just because Spacecamp’s new EP inclines lots o’ foot tapping doesn’t mean you’re in for rudimentary benign lyrics. Reminiscent of Vampire Weekend and early Spoon Spacecamp makes for a raucous good time. Jon Wiley sings words that could be mistaken for the oath of a Phi Beta Kappa brother (“Your legs are open to suggestion”) but non-chapter members shouldn’t fret. The band comes back swinging with the all-inclusive “Alibi” and Bowie-esque “Get What You Want”. Spacecamp waxes pithy snared beats wound tight and nice around a certain Mr. James Pollis guitar riffs. Make it a part of your next micro brew fest.
Famous for their absurdly loud live performance, I went into the Twilight Sad with my iPod dialed down. I expected screeches and unhinged guitars. The dark folk that climbed into my ears have yet to satisfy those expectations, despite satisfying everything else. This is good stuff, folks. The third track, Sick, builds with a patience I cherish in music, and ends just early enough to make me hit repeat. The singer doesn’t do a damn thing to hide his thick Scottish accent. Bully for him, I say. These are some of the more affecting vocals I’ve experienced in the New Year. The comforting suffocation of all the noise this band injects is matched perfectly with the danceable bribe of the folk music it is draped over.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Words | Christine Bettis
f the holiday shopping season reveals
Black Friday chaos is worthy of ridicule rather
nipple, alcohol induced vomiting, and public
anything about the psyche of America, than respect. Shallow riots are as transparent urination are like the special effects of a riotit’s that our collective minds are chaotic
as shallow art. Nobody needs a $2 waffle iron.
as hell, and desperate for waffle irons.
Moreover, I’d be willing to put money on most
Black Friday has not even reached high noon of those waffle irons collecting more dust
they add so much to the experience. In addition to all that drunken urine
yet, and here I am reading articles about a
than batter. After all, Eggo’s are just so much
crazed women pepper spraying fellow shop-
easier to prepare. A respectable riot is one that bodily fluids make for excellent splatters on
pers, multiple shootings, and retail employ-
ruptures because the people facilitating it are the riot canvas. That being said, there needs
ees having to hold back stampeding custom-
stewing with hunger, literally. A society is long to be violence. So much violence that people’s
and vomit, there must be blood. These three
ers. Full-blown riots are taking place in stores overdue for reformation when its people can’t
lives are at stake, and the National Guard
across the country. Now, let’s be real- the afford to eat.
must be called on to intervene. Gandhi’s
people of Wal-Mart don’t do anything artfully.
ashes are probably stirring in their urns as I
Their idea of art is a Thomas Kincaid gift card.
A riot without alcohol would be more like
write this, but the principles of nonviolence
But there is something to be said about the a protest, and it’s fair to say that protests aren’t
must be shunned. There is a place for passive
uproar; it’s a form of expression that no artis-
resistance, and that place is not within the
all that effective. Alcohol is essential for a tru-
tic medium can mimic. Pollack came close, ly expressive riot. Tempers are all the more confines of a riot. Sadly, being passive is how but his objective was chaos, controlled. I con-
likely to flare brightly when fueled with the many people trap themselves into dire situa-
sider rioting an art form in and of itself.
hard stuff. A bunch of inhibited sober people tions. I’d like to believe that most people are running around demanding liberation, equal
simply in a suspended state of dormancy- if
For a riot to be truly effective it must rights, resources, etc. would be much too sub-
the right earthquake comes along, their foun-
spawn from need, not want; hence, why the dued, awkward even. Unruly flashes of the dation will shake and they will finally erupt.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Written by Melissa Caruso Feb. - Mar. 2012
ften times, artists enter the world with an innate ability to manipulate their surroundings, turning inside out conventional norms in order to whisper truths. Childhood experiences can contribute to the creative makeup of the artist, serving as the foundation for life’s endeavors. For artist Monica Cook, an act of petty larceny would explain the core to her artistic existence. “It all started from a story from my childhood, this little stuffed animal monkey that I had. My mother had taken me shopping at a department store and dropped me and my sister off in the toy section as she shopped. There was a monkey there that had a hard plastic face that was dented in, and I, like most children, felt like these monkeys or stuffed animals had personalities and lives that were secret beyond this, and I thought ‘this little guy must have had an interesting life, ‘cause like, he’s got proof of it!’ So then I was worried that he might spend the rest of his adventurous life stuck here on this department store shelf. He was trapped and I had to get him out, but I only had a few dollars, and I didn’t have enough for him, so I found this little pink panther on a surf board and I could afford him. So, I switched the price tags and I bought the monkey.” Georgian born Monica Cook is an American painter, sculptor and animator, who was already a skilled manipulator by the age of ten (don’t worry, she paid the store back.) She had an incredible ability to look past the monkey’s abnormality and rather, find beauty. She was the type of kid who read suffocation on her simplistic dolls with their uniform colors and textures; freeing them by drawing on nipples, moles and eyebrows to express individuality, for she believed it to be the paramount of virtues. Continuing to run deep through Cook as
she attended art school in Savannah, the search for splendor throughout life’s murky waters ran like a thick vein through her. Since then, Cook has established a home in New York, found her niche in social circles, and learned how to appreciate criticism in the 21st century all while continuing to remain true to her core values. She is a refreshing introverted presence in the brimming realm of creativity; improving humanity in a fashion all her own. From midtown Manhattan, the L line cuts horizontally into the bustling art community of Williamsburg. Musicians in dusty jeans litter the subway platforms as they strum in front of rusted tip cans. Warehouse lined streets sprinkled with DIY music venues and galleries serve to the lot of arty types who work so diligently to make a name for themselves. But for Ms. Cook, that identity came decades ago, supported by the plethora of accolades which dangle from her resume. From sculptors to paintings to animations, she enables the viewer to question the unknown, embrace separation, thus morphing fear into acceptance. If people never take chances, they fail to learn their true selves and what their limitations are. To be impulsive is the only way; a system of trial and errors because what truly should be feared is to live in a paranoid “what if” world. Cook breaks this fear with an ebb and flow ease, where blends of comfort and discomfort, damaged and distinctiveness, living and non-living, nudity and innocence imaginatively share middle grounds. “I like finding things that make me really uncomfortable or are scary to me and then finding a way to look at them in a new way to perhaps understand them a little bit more.” Cook presents an advocacy to accept our bodies, with all of its flaws and insecurities. Like the damaged monkey in the Feb. - Mar. 2012
department store, an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not played a dramatic role in her vocation. Magnified dust bunnies caused a stir to a freaked out eight year old. “I couldn’t get out of my skin fast enough once I realized that they were everything and everywhere.” Her mother tried to appease, “Oh Monica, just because they’re such ugly little creatures doesn’t mean that you have to be so scared of them, they’re helping you.” Cook remembers this knowledge to be a huge internal battle: “I had to realize that I was made up of all of these things and to come to terms with it by finding a new way to look at them. Like what my mom said, ‘They have every right to live as you do.’” Acceptance would be a profound theme throughout Cook’s art. She paints stunning and unsettling portraits of women where gooey fruits, foods and exotic creatures come to life adorning the nude women who act as blank canvases. Offering a universal reflection of humankind, she avoids clothing her subjects or situating them in any type of environment, for garments and surroundings reveal a person’s origin. “As soon as you put clothes on somebody, it’s like giving somebody a name, telling where they came from, who they are and what they are about. For me, it was about them as humans.” Her models, close friends and even herself, are vividly painted, with awe-inspiring precision. Her technique shines in the representation of the flesh (enamored by skin since her first baby doll) and the slipperiness of liquids. We, as viewers, are coerced to decipher her hypererotic portraits—unnervingly—as nudity tends to be categorized as sacred and discomforting. Nevertheless, it is our curious eye which pales the embarrassed rose from our cheeks to understand and appreciate humanity as Cook gorgeously displays it in all of its convolutions.
An initial glance might conjure sexuality or fetish, but the truth lies deeper; those who see beyond a naked pair of breasts smeared in jelly unlock the message, where nudity is “more of a way of innocence, stripped down to nothing.” The feeling she wishes to execute is more of a sense of wonder and play while speaking about the body’s inside, outside and its connection to surroundings. “The human body is a complicated vessel. We have no idea what goes on inside, and that is frightening,” says Cook, who continues her theme of balanced approval and apprehension. “It’s more about this need as humans to have control and to be able to categorize things and simplify things. The unpredictability of our organs and behaviors are terrifying, but at the same time extremely intriguing. Using food as a theme is more of the idea of our insides coming out. “Most of my work in general is talking about what’s inside of us. It’s talking about this inability to control or to understand what we’re given and the beauty of that, but also the fear of that.” The panic of not fully understanding the body would serve as the back bone to her paintings, but because of its limitations, Cook would embark on a more tactile approach found in sculpting. Like that monkey she boldly saved from the department store, she has created extremely damaged versions of “wolf pup hyenas,” (think Falkor from The Never Ending Story) with exposed organs symbolically pouring their vulnerabilities. It is through these flaws which prove someone or something existed. We gasp at the surfer who sports a ten inch scar around his leg from a shark attack, but more importantly, we should honor his survival. Cook adds, “The flaws are to show that they had lived their lives and had been affected by their lives – but not in a pitiful way, because I never saw that little dented monkey as pitiful.” Instead, admiration transpires for the noble kaput. “It is like these creatures were persevering through their struggles and flaws like we all are. In a way I think that makes
us, or makes me, be able to feel more connected to them.” Likewise, her sculptures are highly linked to her core. Although she has many influences which grace her work, she is most affected by her surroundings and life experiences. To create her sculptures, knickknacks from vacation spots and thrift stores around NYC find their function; fake grapes from the dollar store act as the toe nails of the sculpture or nostalgic phone cords (yes, before wireless) and baby binkies offer its organs. She cares not if they look “pretty” because cold shiny plastic fails to identify uniqueness, and one of life’s most precious commodities is individuality. After months spent creating sculptures, Cook wanted to add movement. Coincidentally, a friend had mentioned a competition in animation, so Cook had two months to submit her creation, but it would take less time for the unfamiliar territory of stop-motion animation to completely captivate her. Claymation is a branch of stop-motion animation and is the most time consuming project Cook has encountered thus far. Each still is recorded then played back in swift sequence, where roughly twelve frames fit into a single second; for a 30-minute movie, an artist is estimated to stop and change clay figures well over twenty thousand times. Much execution is needed in order to fulfill a plausible demonstration of motion. The process of arranging these subtly changing, fast-moving images is completely up to the artist, which perfectly suffices Cook’s need to manipulate and problem-solve. Optimal results are garnered by consistencies throughout the shooting environment, including lighting and object placement. Imagine molding clay thousands of times a day; I know, “Gumby” was a classic, but even creator Art Clokey required many side orders of tranquility within his work environment. In her latest claymation aptly titled Deuce, Cook illustrates an awkward encounter between a man and a woman which elicits their individual Feb. - Mar. 2012
fantasies. The separation between male and female brilliantly unravels in a naïve storyline in order to balance out the heaviness of their separate desires. From the beads of sweat and quivering lip found on the shy female to the saliva dripping from the chauvinistic male’s tongue, exquisite detail is captured by the novice animator. Haunting world music and sound effects added by Martin Capella add a quirky intensity to support the simplistic plot structure. For the production of Deuce, Cook spent seven days a week in her studio, nibbling on the occasional apple for downtime. Although reclusiveness is vital for the inventor, especially in the realm of claymation, Cook, like so many artists can get completely lost in their work, shutting out the world completely. “When I’m working, I ignore my phone and refuse to answer the door.” Like a mad scientist, Cook hides away in her labyrinth, where—save for the light of the changing sun and moon—could spend “seventeen hours straight” on an animation project. She avoids renting studio space even if money gets tight because of the distractions others bring. Like a baby, she shelters and protects her creativity, because once it’s out in the open, it can be influenced by its surroundings. Solitude is a precious jewel and highly regarded by the arty type; for Cook, “It’s a complete necessity,” to be wrapped around her own thoughts and environment; indeed a fertile breeding ground for abstraction. “I don’t know how I’d get by if I wasn’t such a loner. I think I like solitude a little too much,” she laughs, but could the lack of human contact have consequences? It doesn’t seem to be the case with Cook. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, "To go into society, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary while I read and write, though nobody is with me,” and this is true for Cook. When she is painting women or sculpting creatures she is around a form of life. Moreover, if one can’t be content alone, then the real problem
lies there. Contrastingly, Victor Hugo acknowledged, “Solitude either develops the mental power or renders men dull and vicious.” Now Cook is certainly anything but uninteresting, and she never gave off the vibe like she needed to be locked up, but just as solitude is “a complete necessity,” so is sociability, even if in minimal doses. Her secret to a collective lifestyle comes in the form of young minds at the New York Academy of Art as she fulfills her role as Professor Cook. Initially when the job opportunity surfaced, Cook was resistant, “I never wanted to be a teacher;” but always intrigued by the unfamiliar, decided to roll up her sleeves. Looking back, she can’t imagine having almost passed up the chance. “Teaching helps because I have that social day. For one day a week and I can get into the minds of my students and get inspired by their ideas. Just being in that kind of environment is really good for me—to have a break and force myself to be social,” she admits. Artists create for an audience, sure it is selfreflective, but ultimately, an artist wishes to reveal a moral to the world. Hence, acknowledgment is essential. Of course positive feedback is desired, but often times, it’s those negative responses which strike Cook the most. After uploading her work on the expansive internet, Cook took criticism with a noble prowess. “I like it because I am getting a response.” Since most comments that surface online are anonymous, people seem to grow an extra pair with their two cent opinions. But for Cook, she is aware of opposition, and ironically, embraces it with open arms. “I’m always shocked at what people do see because it’s never what I expect. And you know, everybody’s going to approach it differently, and I don’t think anybody would see them the way I do and that’s fine, I think I’m just happy with whatever way somebody wants to take them.” After her Youtube video for Deuce received comments like: “Lock up your grandmother because this is a serial
killer in the making” and “Whoever made this must have been tripping balls!” Cook was enthralled. “They were just absurdly ridiculous and I LOVED IT.” The message is not so much found in the negativity of the comment, but the beauty of provoking a response. Everything has a vantage point and luckily for Cook, hers rarely sees the dark of day. Like a strong-willed mother, her art is her child which she stands by, even if that child never becomes Homecoming Queen. “It’s like a mom who has a child who’s really ugly,” she laughs, “and bad behaved, and they love it so unconditionally—they even notice how ugly it is and how unruly it is but still love it.” It’s Cook’s constant acceptance that seems to uplift spirits. The life and nurture each painting or sculpture receives is delicate and strong. As long as Cook believes her “children” are beautiful and well-behaved, she has no reason to be influenced by disparagement. “It doesn’t make me want to try and make my children better, more behaved or prettier.” As long as the artist sees her work for what it is, she can find beauty within criticism, and that is something we all need—to have an opinion of our opinion. Although never broke and homeless, selling work in NY subways, Cook does admit the shortcomings of the artistic lifestyle. “It is a very difficult life to choose because you don’t ever get a break from it and it’s very unpredictable.” Cook has to have constant faith that she can survive and can continue what she’s doing. “I think I’ve gotten in way too deep and I’ve already invested so much into it, that honestly, there’s nothing else that I could possible see myself doing.” Her art never atrophies because of the constant chase and inability to stand still. “I just sort of build on in the next. That’s exciting, to continually figure things out and to learn. The fact that the more you figure out, the more questions you have and it’s never-ending. I like to have a purpose and a sense of accomplishment,” she confesses. The search of bigger, better and Feb. - Mar. 2012
deeper things is a pursuit frequent in Cook’s life. She admits, “I like the chase of it,” and once she understands a piece (contemporaries or her own) she loses interest. Artists are usually the biggest critics of their own work and have difficulty recognizing the significance of what they just poured blood, sweat and tears into. It’s not necessarily lack of appreciation, rather a little voice saying, Well that was easy, what’s next? Intrigued by the future, Cook never holds on to previous works. Instead, it’s time for her to take care of her new children. When you initially meet Monica, you are immediately enamored by her charisma and charm. Her blue eyes pierce through tenderly, inviting you to share your thoughts both effortlessly and generously. You try to recall if you had previously met her as the two of you break into colorful conversation within minutes. You’re comfortable around her, and it’s because she’s passionate about life. She redefines traditionalism in order to allow viewers to learn to accept what usually is seen as insignificant. “Sometimes there are questions that I don’t want to confront, and so, in a way, it becomes more interesting to try to make some of those ideas palatable for others; to justify them.” Her “glass half full” attitude is contagious and inspiring; her warm soul ceases to age because of her frequent visits to candy lands of innocence and nostalgia, where themes are prolific and profound. The child-like wonder of approaching something for the first time is true regardless of age. Constantly, there are doors surrounding us leading toward unchartered territories; most refuse to question or submit to them out of fear of unfamiliarity, but Cook smashes the taboo. Thanks to the ugly naked truths magnified on Ripley’s Believe it or Not and on a damaged stuffed monkey, a true innovator has emerged who has dug, and continues to dig, through the grit in order to find life’s true gems.
Words | Eric Boyd
Photo Credit: Judson Abts
n an age where Anonymous is Time magazine’s Man of the Year and people can ‘occupy’ almost any noun possible, it should come as no surprise that a presidential candidate who wears a boot on his head and promises free ponies to all Americans would come in third at the New Hampshire democratic primary. That candidate is Vermin Supreme; a lifelong performance artist, anarchist, and part-time politician. During the early stages of the 2012 election, Mr. Supreme has disrupted the campaigns of nearly every other candidate running for office. He has received praise, criticism, and threats of violence; but love him or hate him, there’s little doubt that Vermin Supreme may be one of the most patriotic men in the United States today, willing to mock the political landscape and bring everyone together to see just how strange this country is. Having started running for several facetious offices over the last 20 years, including mayor of the continental United States and Emperor of the new Millennium, Vermin Supreme has settled on utilizing the media generated during the presidential primary. This year Supreme’s campaign has gone viral, and Mister Supreme is excited, but worried his shtick may be getting old. “Now I’ve got to come up with some new fucking material,” Supreme said. The old ‘material’ which Vermin Supreme, a self-proclaimed ‘friendly facist’, is most famous for includes his promise to create a mandatory tooth brushing law, complete with secret dental police and dental re-education centers. Supreme’s defense policy states that, if elected, he will re-invade Iraq and make it America’s 51st state; he will also travel back through time and kill the baby Hitler
with his bare hands. Candidate Supreme’s most well-known platform is his promise to give a free pony to all Americans. “However, [the free pony program] is a federal pony identification program and you must have your pony with you at all times.” About midway through the interview, despite all of the jokes and sarcasm, it becomes apparent that Vermin Supreme is quite serious about what he does. He calls himself a ‘serious prankster’ who engages in ‘clown warfare,’ and none of it sounds pretentious or self-absorbed. In fact, the issues he addresses, such as mandatory tooth brushing, come from very real places. “When Massachusetts passed a mandatory seat belt law...that was a defining moment because I thought It’s sensible to buckle your seat belt, but should that be legislated? Should civil behaviors be legislated?” Supreme then says that, also passed in the state of Massachusetts, is a requirement for all children in preschool to brush their teeth. Suddenly the line between satire and reality seems thinner. Supreme then tells me about how a group of Aleister Crowley followers recently held a debate against him. “It was an hour-long debate I had with a Representative for Aleister Crowley, because of course they couldn’t reanimate him, even though that was one of my early demands during negotiations for the debate. They just couldn’t reanimate the guy though.” As funny as it is, the fact remains that this debate really occurred. But in a political landscape as strange as this, that shouldn’t be surprising. Vermin Supreme proudly calls himself the candidate of no Feb. - Mar. 2012
hope, no change, and bitter disappointment. He believes that’s why he has gotten so popular during this election. “Politics-as-usual has become increasingly hopeless and absurd. What could be more hopeless and absurd than my campaign?” It’s obvious that Supreme’s campaign is being embraced. Online, in the media, and in public, Supreme brings people together, people would otherwise hate each other. For a brief moment, democrats and republicans alike can sit back and laugh at the fact that a man holding a giant toothbrush and flashing his nipples at the press can come in third at the New Hampshire primary, garnering more votes than Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann combined. Vermin Supreme is a unifier, not a divider. However, once that moment has passed, Supreme contends that the candidates aren’t so friendly with his campaign, citing the fact that threats have been made against him, and that Rick Santorium’s bodyguards assaulted two of his staff members. “Politics is a rough-and-tumble sport, and sometimes a little more than jostling occurs. I think, this time, the fuckers are swinging on us,” Supreme said. At the end of the day, Vermin Supreme believes, though he came in third, he’s won. And why not? This country has tried voting for change many times in the past few years, the thought of a man in a rubber boot running the country isn’t that ridiculous. Maybe Vermin Supreme has already won, in his own way. “If you’re not in it in to win it, you can’t lose... [that said], I think I have won 2012. I have a lot of hope in America.”
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Alessandro Words | Courtney L. Sexton
Feb. - Mar. 2012
or the young Italian illustrator, Alessandro Gottardo aka “Shout,” the message is crucial, but even more so, is the way in which it is delivered. “I love the messages underlying visual art,” says Gottardo. “I love the concepts and ideas, but [what I want] is to avoid everything that can hide that main message.” When creating art, Gottardo strives to be “straight and to the point,” expressing his ideas with “no make-up.” Gottardo graduated from the Instituto Europeo del Design in Milan in 2000 and began his career as an agencyrepresented artist, receiving his first assignment the following year. For the next couple of years, Gottardo continued to build his portfolio and experiment with his own styles, slowly collecting them into a virtual gallery. Eventually, in 2005, he was able to branch out on his own when, he says, “[he] finally matured [his] style into ‘Shout’.” The nickname came from one of the images in his “Indigo” collection (displayed at Known Gallery in L.A.) and depicts the outline of a man’s head shouting through a hole in the ground. Gottardo says that little by little he is moving back to using his own name, but for now, the moniker has stuck, and is perhaps fitting. Gottardo’s images don’t yell at you, but their meaning still comes across loud and clear. So just what is it that makes this artist’s work shout-worthy? A lot. In a simple, yet elegant, sometimes almost folk-y style, Gottardo manages to capture viewers’ gazes and then lets them just look, getting lost in the space on the page and coming away with an awareness of something they didn’t even know they had opinions about, or perhaps, didn’t before. Gottardo, unlike many of his contemporaries, is not pressured by the heady sense of tradition that so often overwhelms Italian art. Rather, he respects it, has learned from it, and has chosen to expand it in his own way. “People here are always looking at the past scarily, I prefer to look at the future, I respect my roots, but I’m also curious to know what will happen next.” While he is inspired by everyday life, Gottardo cites some of his artistic influences as Giorgio de Chirico, Mark Rothko, Toulouse Lautrec, and Marcel Dzama, and you can see these influences in his clean lines (recalling de Chirico’s orthogonals) and restricted color palettes (a nod to Rothko). Like Lautrec, Gottardo gives us what seems like an outsider’s view into another world. Instead of the underbelly of Paris’s Bohemian Revolution, however, it is the world we live in, filtered through Gottardo’s own headspace. “The wide spaces in some of my images let my mind think, [they] open [the illustration].” These wide spaces are particularly enticing because they are balanced in most of Gottardo’s work by focal points, both visual and psychological. His works are attractive to an array of tastes as they alternate between political and social commentary (i.e. “A Farewell to Arms” in which we see a tin soldier as he walks away after laying down his gun amid a check board of other identical soldiers who stand at attention), contemplative (as in “Living and Dying with Dignity” where a small man sits beneath a tree with one leaf left on it), and simply sweetly creative; a woman in a red dress hangs musical notes along a staff suspended like a clothesline. When asked about his penchant for sending messages through his work (whether they be political, social or emotional) Gottardo responded, “I love to have an opinion on everything I see. I think of my work as a spotlight over matters. I don’t want to argue about big questions, but keep my eyes on them. I highlight the issues, that’s what I want to do.” That’s exactly what he does do, and he trains our eyes toward those issues as well. Gottardo, who tries to leave in his pieces just “the core of what is important,” hopes that people who see his work feel something. To that I say, they’d be hard-pressed not to. Look for Alessandro Gottardo’s newest series of works on display at the Antonio Colombo Gallery in Milan beginning in February.
Alessandro Words | Gina Tron
lessandro is no amateur photographer. His career started back in 93’ when he worked as an advertising photographer in Brisbane, Australia. His first personal project entitled “Quotidiano,” focused mostly on still life and won the Polaroid International Awards in 2001. The award sparked the start of his one true love; taking photographs of the sea. “I actually started taking pictures of the ocean with the prize that I got from Polaroid. The prize was a big case of Polaroid film.” He started becoming obsessed with the ocean while surfing. I asked when he started surfing. He sounded a bit embarrassed as he confessed the age he got into the sport. “Unfortunately, I started quite late.” By late I thought he meant like 28 or some shit. “I started when I was 16. I would have liked to have started when I was like 3 or 4 years old.” Spending time by the sea really cleared his mind. “I look at the sea as a sort of guide to life and of course it reflects the freedom that I am look-
ing for in my everyday life.” He also loves the contradictory elements of beauty that the ocean brings ashore. “Its elegant and it has power so there is a mix of things that are quite strange, like power and elegance.” It took him a while to finesse the true art of shooting waves. “There is a thin line between a piece of art and just a picture.” The progression of his craft began on a stormy day, when he saw a high splash that reached high towards the horizon. This became the inspiration for his project, Intersections which is a series of photographs that look very much like paintings, and in which you can really see the influence of Romanticism shine. In this series the waves kind of merge with the clouds for a very surreal look. The imagery invokes some dark and gloomy emotions, at least for me. I asked if it was intentional and he said yes. “You can not even define what is the sea and what is the clouds.” There is little pre-production used; someFeb. - Mar. 2012
times he will use a bit of Photoshop just for “pushing a lot of contrast usually.” In order to create such a look with little to no post-production, a lot of preproduction is involved. “Waves like that that go so high in the sky, they only happen like a few days a year. So you have to be there on the right day and find the right place where they can splash like that.” He spends a lot of time looking at charts, predicting the when’s and whereabouts of incoming waves. He then drives his mobile home out on the coast of Portugal, not unlike a storm chaser to catch the waves with his Canon 5D camera. “I put the camera in a bag, and usually get wet. There’s no way not to.” Clearly that is the case, as he mentioned to me that he received some major water damage on his last shoot. “My camera is damaged, perhaps beyond repair.” Eh, collateral damage, and one that is necessary for the impressive artwork created by Alessandro. “Yeah, it happens.”
ne look at The Am I Collective’s online portfolio proves that they are overflowing with a wide range of artistic styles and talents; an army of artists working with analog and digital processes. The collective focuses on a combination of illustration, typography and animation, and offers these services to different companies and advertising agencies worldwide. I spoke with Mark van Niekerk, who said he was the businessman of the three partners, while the other two, Ruan and Krista, are the creative duo. His name sparked memories, of Amsterdam from within me, and I asked if he was Dutch. “Well, the white South Africans are from Dutch ancestry, or German or British.” I’m no sucker for accents, but Mark’s was straight up adorable, and it made me think of the not-so-adorable character that Leonardo DiCaprio played in Blood Diamond. Mark gave me a bit of insight into Am I Collective’s world that is as organized as it is chaotic. Am I Collective is located in Cape Town, South Africa, a city known for its San Francisco-esque weather and beautiful beaches. The agency houses about 18 artists who all pitch in to create a true collaborative atmosphere. What we’ve specifically done is strive for more diversity, and to enable that, we bring in different cultures, different styles, and different personalities.” All these personalities work their asses off within a truly low-key environment. “Everyone is treated like an adult. We don’t have time sheets; everyone comes and goes as they please. It’s all deadline related, so if a guy has got downtime he can go surfing.” One may assume that in order to excel within this sort of environment, one must possess a high level of discipline and order. However, “we interview about 20 people from all over
Words | Gina Tron the world wanting to spend a year with us, and I think there’s so much peer pressure amongst each other that they are not going to forsake their deadline or the quality of work so that they can buy some time surfing or whatever they do.” Mark told me about how Ruan and Krista approached him in order to get the company started. “These guys came to my house one night. They were starving students, they said I should come and work for them.” Mark took them for a little tour of his house, introducing them to all the responsibilities that come with midlife. Six months later, “I got so sick of the rat race. I called the guys up and said ‘let’s give it a bash.’ We started in a home that I rented for the guys that they stayed in with crates for chairs.” Since then, the company has had immeasurable success. “We’ve been very fortunate. The guys are extremely, extremely talented.” Talented indeed! All of their creations are vibrant and unique, but seem to be inspired by cartoonish creations of artists past. Best of all, there is an authentic rawness to all of their styles. “It’s our ability to handcraft things in a digital age. So, even if we use digital technology we still think handcrafted.” This brilliant handcrafted style has attracted some pretty big names, such as Nike, Converse and Coca-Cola, one of the biggest corporate giants of all time. “Coca Cola came to us. We worked with them in designing the Coke can for the World Cup, so that was quite exciting in terms of scale. That design was on every Coke can in the world.” They still have their sights on bigger horizons though. “If we could do the cover of The New Yorker, then I could die.” I hope he doesn’t die soon, because I really dig Am I Collective. Feb. - Mar. 2012
few days after Thanksgiving, Carisa Swenson, the headmaster of Goblinfruit Studio Gallery, told me that her holiday was pleasant. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of resentment since my holiday was quite the opposite for me. Our phone conversation continued as I sat feet away from property I had damaged in my bathroom during my Thanksgiving meltdown. It surely was a memorable Thanksgiving, but sometimes less eventful holidays are best. “Fairy uneventful” was also how Carisa characterized her childhood. She grew up in Wantagh, Long Island, and lived the quintessential middle class life. During these years, she was enchanted by the rabbits that took over her grandmother’s yard once darkness fell. “It was great to see, but as a child you think you can walk up to them and pet them. Of course, they run away. There’s this sense that they’ll appear to you but they’re not of this world. They’re kind of above man’s problems.” Her fascination with rabbits did not teeter off when she reached adulthood, as they are the prominent animal of which her characters are based upon. She loved Watership Down as a child, and both the book and the film have been extraordinarily influential on her current creations. It makes sense as her characters possess vibes that are as
Words | Gina Tron cute as they are creepy. If you aren’t familiar, Watership Down is very dark and that uses rabbits to discuss the cruelty of mankind along the apocalypse. “Yes, it’s pretty rough,” she said of the movie. “You know, obviously people think that it’s happy fluffy bunnies, and it’s nothing of that sort. I think as a child seeing it, it’s going to affect you – being ten, seeing rabbits rip each other apart.” She speaks of this film in a way that I know is also symbolic of her animals. “You see a rabbit and you think it is going to be cute and fun, and then, like one of my pieces, he has a shank.” I mentioned how that sounded very much like people. “It’s like people. You can’t go into things thinking something’s going be one way or… or else you’re going to be disappointed.” How true, and how fitting that my Thanksgiving eve destruction was also related to bunny rabbits (my back-stabbing ex-boyfriend had dressed as a rabbit from Watership Down on Halloween). Carisa didn’t always desire to go into the field of doll creation, or even art, but she did always love animals. She originally wanted to be a veterinarian. So now, “it’s a good segue between animals and art.” As a young girl, she loathed dolls, and would carry around a stuffed rabbit instead. “I’m sure I must have annoyed a lot of girls I used to play with. Feb. - Mar. 2012
They’d have their baby dolls and I’d have a stuffed rabbit or fox. It didn’t make me very popular.” As a child of the 80s, Carisa grew up with The Muppet Show and early Sesame Street. “That was just fascinating to me, and it introduced me to the world of puppets. Not so long ago, Carisa had the privilege of taking a workshop taught by legendary doll maker and creator of Yoda from Star Wars, Wendy Froud. Carissa was also inspired by films such as The Dark Crystal, The Rats of Nimh and The Last Unicorn. She loved these films because they “just weren’t happy and candy coated. There was more of a sense that if we upset a few children, fine, but there’s a lesson to be learned here.” Similarly, there’s a lesson to be learned by her clay dolls. I really appreciated her bunny named Meurtos. “I decided to combine sex and death. You’ve got Easter, which, you know, the pagan concept of Easter is more [about] fertility, and I combined it with the Day of the Dead. They just seem to go together really well.” Some find Carisa’s avante guard animals creepy, but to her she finds them “maybe just unsettling. To me it’s just a personality. I don’t perceive them as creepy or evil or malicious. They just have their own personalities.”
he transformative capabilities that an artwork, when skillfully executed, can wield are among its greatest powers. Consider Duchamp, Joseph Beuys, Andy Goldsworthy, Christo. The brilliance – and the emotive resonance – in their works comes from an intimate connection to their material, which then causes that material to be experienced in a completely new and unexpected way, thus revealing a kind of universal potential. So, too, is true of the work by the contemporary Parisian artist, Christophe Martinez. Not found objects or landscapes (though the results in many ways have similar effect), instead, Martinez manipulates and re-purposes a different kind of matter – hair. As a young teen visiting London, Martinez remembers being “seduced” by the eccentric look of the hair colors, styles, and, essentially, creations, that were trademarks of the Punk movement. Thus began what has turned into a lifelong source of inspiration. Martinez, who is also a professional plastician and stylist, really began his work as a visual artist in 1996. “Using hair as a visual art comes almost naturally to me, as this [as a] material is so intimately connected to my career,” says the artist; “I love its textures and its different meanings.” Using both natural human hair and synthetic hair (on occasion), Martinez’s earlier pieces depended on the photographic medium to transfer what he saw in his material to the viewer. He quickly realized, however, that sculptural and installed pieces would al-
Words | Courtney L. Sexton low him to more deeply explore all of the possibilities of hair’s substantive and metaphysical qualities. “I always was passionate about photography in general, but it’s not my dominant medium. At first, it was easier for me to work this medium, but quickly I wanted to sculpt and produce installations to show all of the dimensions of human hair – working volumes with lights. I love how hair moves, vibrates when the light hits it.” Martinez’s command of his subject is immediately palpable when coming in contact with his pieces. He works the material with his imagination and, using glue and resin to create the desired shapes, “woven, studded, compressed, [the hair] almost comes alive.” In his installations in particular, Martinez strives to “transcend the object and give it a soul.” The artist’s manipulation of space, lighting and display in both his photographic and his sculptural pieces helps him achieve that goal. In his most recent expose at the Bastille Design Center in Paris, Martinez curated a show of his work that was based on the theme of incarnation, titled “InCarne,” meaning, “surpassed flesh.” His curatorial choices made the show (in some ways chillingly) captivating. The lighting accentuated and highlighted just the right places on the works creating, what Martinez called “a singular universe” that was “sometimes troubling.” In the exhibit, richly illuminated golden strands sculpted and curved against a black backdrop transform locks befitting a Pantene commerFeb. - Mar. 2012
cial into a nautilus shell hanging in space, while beautiful, lustrous black lengths become a sitting chair that just might get up and walk away. A body spun of fibrous tendrils hangs suspended in midair, and a dining ware set composed entirely of, yes, hair, sits waiting atop a pedestal as if it, too, might crawl at the touch. Martinez breathes life into, or back into, the hair, but gives it an entirely different set of physical properties that, in turn, elicit an entirely different set of psychological responses. Martinez, who is soft-spoken and shy by nature, claims that it is through his art that he can “provoke” people. Of his works, the artist says, “[people may] like or dislike, but they always have a reaction.” He is fascinated by human societal norms, specifically those relevant to hair. The anthropological significance of hair across cultures is particularly inspiring to him; “For me, hair symbolizes everything and its opposite. A vector of emotions, hair never leaves you indifferent, so connected is it to our social and cultural identity. I like to twist the material, playing with codes and taboos.” In his current project, Martinez is taking transformation to the extreme. He is creating a sculpture of a female dancer in motion, molded from a real woman’s body, and hair will serve as the muscle fibers from which the figure takes form. By re-shaping and re-contextualizing the matter, Martinez invites people to go beyond the symbolic understanding of human hair and to see it as a whole new entity.
Elisabeth Words | Bradley Gentges
don’t think its good or its not. I just do it and see what happens,” says the selftaught artist Elisabeth Wolf about her work. “I bought a graphic tablet two years ago. I just try it. It’s the same with the cameras. I just do it. When it’s good, I want to be better and I just try it until I’m satisfied with myself. “ Growing up in Leipzig, Germany, the 26-yearold artist has been drawing from an early age and enjoys exploring her own potential. Though her degree is in civil engineering, Wolf has recently begun to do work as a freelance graphic designer using methods and techniques she’s learned on her own. “Working 40 or 50 hours a week as a construction engineer would mean that I have to give up my dream of becoming a full time artist. Being a freelancer is both a blessing and a curse. Okay, I do not have to be at work at 8 o’clock in the morning, but I always have to attend orders, which is not that easy, because there are so many other good graphic designers.” Working under the pseudonym, lagqaffe (which translates roughly as “Graffiti Ape”), Wolf draws a lot of influence from street art. Her great-
est passion is to capture that same essence into her canvas paintings using stencils and aerosols. “I am trying to organize an exhibition once or twice a year. I am really excited to see which direction this takes me,” Wolf says of her work. Her last exhibition, which took eight months to create is called “Anfang und Ende,” translated as “Beginning and End,” and has received a great response and has been featured several times in Leipzig and in Hamburg since 2009. The exhibition itself consists of 12 different paintings all of which resemble street art and were made using stencils of Wolf’s own design. The name of the exhibition itself comes from two paintings within the series, “Anfang” and “Ende,” meaning “Beginning,” and “End,” respectively. “Every end needs a beginning and every beginning needs and end so I use this topic for the circle of life.” The works themselves stretch a broad 120 x 140 cm (about 4 x 4 ½ feet) and made using acrylics and aerosols over different stencil layers Wolf created and transferred onto foil templates “Both motifs are quite [paramilitary]. In ‘Anfang’ the dandelion [seed] becomes [many paratroopers] and they finally end up in smoke. This Feb. - Mar. 2012
resembles that the ‘beginning’ is always the precondition for the ‘end,’ but at the same time the ‘end’ is a precondition for the ‘beginning.’ There was always war. It’s horrible, but it’s a fact. I use this as an example for the circle of life.” Wolf is now working on a new exhibition featuring her graphic design work, which has been on display since last year. She has teamed up with other artists from Hanover and Berlin and will be showcasing her work later this year in Germany. Though street art is still a ‘big topic’ for her, she believes this new exhibition will give her a chance to work on a national if not international level. “In comparison, working with graphics is much easier. I can work at home and do not need to go to the studio or buy any material, but I really have to admit that I have a greater passion for canvas even if it takes more time.” Additionally, Wolf’s work has also received attention from The Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig where she has been offered a chance to study this spring. She also plans to set up a web shop soon for people all over the world to have access to her work and help to fund her amazing talent.
Greg Words | Gina Tron
interviewed Greg Mamczak, fresh off the (metaphorical) boat from Vermont. He and his girlfriend had moved down to Brooklyn three months prior and they were still in an understandable state of culture shock. He apologized that he was a bit sick, most likely from his exposure to the all the endemic diseases that live in the subway. Greg grew up in New Hampshire and doodled his way through junior high and high school, always making art in some way or another. But it was when he started skateboarding that he really delved into it. “I took an interest in early skateboard graphics,” mentioning labels like Toy Machine and Ed Templeton. He and his friends would soon spend a lot of time spray-painting their own designs on skateboards. He took a few graphic design courses in school, and although he paints by hand, the influence of graphic design is quite evident. Greg also spent a lot of his youth building model trains and railroads and in his older paintings he “can actually see the influence of model railroading in the way that the scenes are laid out and the simplicity of them.”
The first time he ever showed Greg and his friends used an abandoned gas station as a makeshift art gallery. “We fixed it up and filled it with my paintings and had like a week long show. That was like super encouraging because a lot of people came from the town that I grew up in, and I sold a few pieces.” The evolution of his art is quite noticeable when looking through his works throughout the years, his artwork being somewhat divided into stylistic sets. Although all his paintings possess some unifying qualities, the details change depending on Greg’s influences and methodologies. Some of his earlier work, which is a lot of “flat simple colorful stuff is influenced by early Americana images. I looked at a lot of old history books.” He also tells me that he was into a lot of outsider art and folk art at the time. A few of his older acrylic and marker pieces feature images of bundled fish. He told me that this was a little series he did when he first moved to Burlington, Vermont. “It was in reference to the sturgeon population in Lake Champlain.” But for the moment his inspiration comes
Feb. - Mar. 2012
from within. “I’ll think of an image. If something comes in my head, say a kid sitting on a chair with a broken arm. If it sticks in my head for a certain amount of time I’ll just paint it, like do some kind of small watercolor or a sketch of it and then I’ll throw that onto a huge canvas and add to the story in my head and try to search out other images that relate to it.” He works with oil paints mostly, it being his favorite medium. By looking at his most recent oil paintings its not hard to see the Native American influence. He showed me a piece he is working on right now, which he refers to as a “scalpel machine” It’s super violent painting of a group of people getting scalped with, well, a scalping machine. Greg told me that his overall opinion of the city and his decision to move to New York is a positive one. I asked if he would be down to show his art in Brooklyn, an area knee-deep in emerging artist. “I fucking would love to. That’s my goal. I don’t even care about selling shit. I just want to find a place to show stuff. I saved a lot of space on my U-haul down here for my paintings.” With his eerie-pop style, I really don’t think that will be a problem.
Jeremy Words | Bradley Gentges
eremy Kool has often pushed himself to create new things and test his abilities as an artist. Upon finding some impressive images of origami online, he realized his potential for recreating the style using 3D software he was already familiar with as an environmental artist for video games. Practicing his talent for creating character models at home, Kool (Yes, his last name really is Kool) simply wanted to see if he could do it. As the remarkable feedback kept coming in, he began to develop it further. “It’s something I’ve been working on for quite a while now, and it seems to resonate quite well with people.” After developing a small 3D diorama as a home for the fox and several new characters, Kool’s work received even more interest from those around him and things have only gained momentum. What was once a computer generated fox made of paper has become a myriad of fascinating creatures that stun the eyes and excite the imagination. The creation of the different animals gives Kool a chance to push himself further as an artist. They have each been hand selected by Kool because of the amazing qualities they each possess in their natural appearance which gives him the chance to experiment with different ideas to replicate each animal’s own unique traits in origami form. “Always try to mix it up, or else you get a bit stale.” The growing interest in his work, and his ambition to develop his talents further, led Kool to want to create something more with the little fox. He created a story with his sister Amanda, a published fiction author, based around the fox as he explores his origami world and interacts with various animal friends. Eager to develop the story as a storybook for Apple and Android devices, Kool realized that he would need to raise money so he can make his idea a reality. Selling pre-release kits consisting of limited
edition prints, badges and more, Kool raised enough money to purchase the software he needed and in the process managed to gain worldwide attention for the project. Blowing away his initial goal of $5000, Kool has sold over $10k worth of pre-release kits and prints. This momentum has gotten Kool eager to make the project even bigger and push it as far as the funding will allow. The story itself is about the small paper fox going on a quest to help his friend to discover the source of a rather mysterious earthquake. Along the way, he encounters other animals that will lend him magical objects to aid him in his adventure. At first, The Paper Fox was simply going to be a storybook, but now Kool is looking to incorporate hidden objects and animated actions triggered by the user. It has become more of a game, as Kool would now like to see the user find and use objects to move the story along while creating a more interactive experience. Working out of Melbourne, Australia, Kool plans to incorporate more fluid animation to give his characters more personality and bring them come to life on the screen. Music elements will add even more to the final product. Though Kool plans on doing the bulk of the work, including designing all the art himself; he does have several other artists on hand to help him with the music and animation work. Whatever funding Kool has left gives him more time to spend on the project, and of course more time with his one-year-old son. Though The Paper Fox is still in development with no official released date as of yet, you can follow the project through Kool’s blog at www.thepaperfox. blogspot.com or view his assortment of high quality prints for sale by following the links on the site.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Jonathan Words | Tanner Hadfield
t is known that at a certain size, a world’s atmosphere becomes liquid, and for the world of Jonathan Ball’s creations, this is certainly true. Each piece of art seems to be a cross section of this liquidized world, containing a segment of life that is uniquely frothing and vibrant, but certainly his own. Ball’s art, under the guise of pokedstudio, is brimming with characters, significant portions of which are three-dimensional. But even those that aren’t, embody a sense of movement and animation that can’t be denied. Jonathan Ball is a busy man. Pokedstudio collaborates with high profile clients that not only sit at the top of their respective fields, but also stand apart in the way they employ an eye for progressive design and advertising, such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Playstation, Microsoft, Doritos, and Penguin Books. His prehensile tentacles extend to every conceivable realm of the animation world, including apparel and board design, as well as character design, visual concepts, graphics, branding, video sequences, and adverts for multimedia projects such as Fight My Monster, a rapidly snowballing online community centered on growing, collecting, trading, and, of course, fighting monsters (think Pokémon or one of those embarrassing Facebook games with a more imaginative and fully realized world-build, along with greater capacity for creative user input). Ball’s creations are not only laden with a dizzying vomit of colors and creatures, but an array of graphical symbols including asterisks and arrow keys, of which he says, “have become such an omnipresent part of modern life They also draw from religious iconography, and I like the idea that
they may mean something.” Clearly these collages leave a burden on the viewer to lend meaning, but I would challenge anyone to look at Ball’s work and not have the part of the brain responsible for doing so stimulated. Perhaps what’s most telling about Ball’s style is that his favorite artist’s tool isn’t a design software, such as Illustrator or Photoshop, which he uses to seamlessly blend vector and 3D animation, but “the HB pencil sitting at the side of [his] keyboard. Where would you be as an artist without be able to doodle and sketch at will?” Most of his creations stem from moony doodles. But while they may not always be high concept, they are certainly highly rendered. “Most start with a simple sketch or idea,” he says, “I rarely make any detailed roughs or plans and try to work more organically, so I can use the moment, how I feel at that moment, what I have in mind when I’m working, to influence the final result. I think I like using the simple geometric forms as a basis to build upon, it’s really like the first building block in a complex building, but I like the fact you can still make it out even in a complex piece of work . . . I use the simplistic nature of lowbrow art forms as only a starting point.” Ball’s own starting point was not so simple. “Often, painters have been inspired by the environments they grew up around, [and] my environment was inner city, 1980’s, UK.” The serendipitous and overwhelming intersections of inner city life are certainly reflected in Ball’s work, as well as cartoon-inspired elements, which he acknowledges is “because of the large influence cartoons and comics had in [his] life as a child,” however, Feb. - Mar. 2012
these inspirations weren’t immediately a natural bridge into a career in art. “Though I drew a lot as a kid I didn’t do anything with art after I left school. I came from a very ‘working class’ background and wanted to work with my father as a painter and decorator, [but] that didn’t really work out and in the end. I was a window cleaner for 10 years . . . what fun.” One could imagine that Ball’s whimsically rococo style was a reaction to staring at the blank canvases of windows for so long. I asked him if he ever imagined he was painting inside the Papal Chapel when he was suspended on the mechanical scaffolding, to which he wistfully replied, “I imagined a lot of things while cleaning windows.” So what happened next? “I started painting after I got married in around 2000. I had been visiting lots of art galleries while on trips to various countries and felt inspired to start being creative again, but couldn’t really find a style that suited me.” One of those galleries was the National Portrait Gallery in London, where he found the larger than life portraits of Phil Hale, who Ball cited as the artist he would be most interested in collaborating with. “I decided to go to university in 2003 when I was 29 and got a degree in graphic design . . . I started learning various graphical software and found computer generated art was more suited to my working style, I also started delving into various influences I had as a child and mixing those into my work.” Over the next few years, he found, or rather created, a style that did suit him, one that is now highly sought after.
hen one thinks of an individual changing the world or evolving a mind state, different perceptions come into mind, such as maybe a world leader, a poet, a philanthropist, a politician, an activist, a novelist, a writer, a volunteer, or even an artist… Leon Alexander Geernaert could very well be one of these visionaries to be able to globalize the world, especially when one speaks of evolving and changing a state of mind. Leon is a modern artist who lives a frugal life in Stockholm, Sweden and through his artistry is able to market and promote his artistry to his clients and potential clients moving forward. Through his website www.iamchair.com, he is able to present imagery to help promote clientele work and pieces, as a forum to allow their individual creativity take form. Leon’s abstract-modern art encompasses visual languages of forms, textures, colors and shapes to build expression to his artwork. This is very common in European styles of artistry and it continues to grow and build in aspirations in western culture and around the world. “I use modern art to change the scope of today, because in today’s society, modern art is in graphic design, drawings, photography, screen prints, sculpting, media, and illustration,” says Leon. He is fascinated with seeing the mundane beauty of objects and watching these objects de-
Words | Samuel Bassey velop into its natural metamorphosis. On his website, Leon has many iconic pieces that detail modernistic insight to them, which happens to be through the color, shapes and forms. Each exhibition of his work tend to use some sort of oblique and unique color or shape to attribute to the meaning of the art his showcases. On iamchair. com, the exhibits are of mixed media, print, textural pieces, and illustration. All of his works have some aspect of illustrative theme to them, it could be the substance behind media, culture, or even expression; the modernist Leon Geernaert is able enable a vision and have the viewership come to their own views about the art. Inspiration has always been an element in art, literature, music, media, culture, and in society. It plays an instrumental part in accomplishments and achievements; it is also an important element to Leon and his artistry. “I was inspired by friends to do illustrations and drawings.” He also insists that inspiration from others helps him diversify his artistic portfolio. “My work in doing screen prints, textures, sound artistry, sculptures; allows me to take it to whole new perspective and new standpoint.” Leon definitely identifies his work as entailing many modernist themes, such as political, economical and media biases. He wants his work to be seen and appreciated by everyone that is able to comprehend the messages he is bringing forth with Feb. - Mar. 2012
his art, “I am a modernist that wants his legacy to be appreciated by everyone.” When rendering his views on what he would want his work to accomplish in ten years, he insists that “I want my work in ten years to be placed in galleries, or in public places in different cities around the world.” Leon wants his work to inspire others to attain their goals and dreams and to reach further and beyond, “I think people who can bring on inspiration, help to inspire others, who then help to bring more inspiration to the public domain. This is important, because when people inspire, others can hopefully follow in their footsteps, to do the same.” Inspiration does have a strong impact on society and the progression of the next generation of leaders that follow. Whether he follows worldly political leaders, that’s another topic. While he is only somewhat observant of the 2012 Presidential Election he says “I would prefer the Democrats to stay in power.” He does acknowledge that the United States political system is of a unique and balanced structure. He concludes with some motivational words “hopefully people can continue to support modern art and art in general, and even more generally support the people who are around you.” Truthfully spoken, it doesn’t get more modern than that.
Paul Words | Jesse Roth
he exposure of the medium of art is often forgotten—particularly in the world of photography and film, where the cameras and lights and wires are often consciously cut from the frame. With the ever presence of these media, it can be easy to forget the process of the art in the product—the buzzing of a violin string, the shuffling of stagehand’s feet, or the legacy of a brushstroke. In Paul Wright’s paintings, the medium can never be forgotten. You can see every brushstroke-the paintings swirl you into them as they reveal an image. I skyped with Wright in his brightly lit studio. His vocabulary in describing his work was simultaneously passionate and casual—interspersing eloquent descriptions of his process with the occasional use of “cheers” or “chancy.” Like his descriptions, Wright’s paintings elevate the everyday. The image of a pair of shoes or a hand contain a mysterious significance in Wright’s paintings. With his work displayed at London’s National Portrait Gallery, Wright is most well-known for his portraiture. Though not all of his pieces are traditional human portraits, all of his pieces draw on the conventions and feelings of potraiture. When choosing his subjects, Wright looks for images “... worn or lived in. Where a personality or stain is left on a room.” In this way, even his still-lives or land-
scapes are portraits in how he attempts to capture their psychology. The meaning of the psychology is often hinted at in the poetic and clever titles of the pieces. For example, an image of a hand with the letters of the word “Love” on each finger is entitled “love letters.” These titles explain the meaning of the works, but also often subvert the expectations of what the painting will reveal. Wright plays with the conventions of portraiture by framing and setting up his subjects in traditional—almost classic ways, but then subverting the tradition by distorting and almost losing the image in the texture. For example, the painting “Divided we stand united we fall” displays an elderly couple sitting together in seemingly a traditional portrait of a couple. However, the angles of their faces are exaggerated in an almost cubist fashion and the grayscale palate accentuates their age and makes them almost blend into the background. With these subtle but significant details, Wright riffs on the traditional portrait. Wright’s other works—landscapes or stilllives—seem to resemble a portrait. For example, Wright’s “A portrait for the end of a relationship (after Van Gogh)” depicts simply an armchair in a bright room. The sun shines in and the clouds are visible outside the window, but the chair itself is almost destroyed by the texture of the paint with Feb. - Mar. 2012
a deep brown seat. The chair seems to have the proverbial “glimmer in the eye” typical of a human portrait. The key element that highlights these portraits is Wright’s use of texture. He says “three or four years ago I was working on [some images of ] heads and I would start to build them, and then I would know how they were going to end. I then would take them to where they were going to be, but then destroy them. The idea was to show new possibilities. They’re a lot more chancy.” In this way, the images show so much more than a likeness of the subject, they display some sort of essence. Wright’s texture is essentially dependent on his medium—paint. In describing his Work, Wright talks about the paintings being “physical,” He says,”Paint as a physical thing is very important to me.” Wright plays heavily with the thickness of the paint--from watery to viscous to create his expressive and entrancing works. The effect of this textural, physical technique is a reminder of the specificity and potency of painting as a medium. The visibility of the process evokes a visceral reaction beyond the realism of the image. These paintings don’t ask us to assume realism, rather, they ask us to buy in and engage with the image to see what it hides and what it reveals. They are as “chancy” to observe as to create.
Remi Words | Courtney L. Sexton
s an artist, Remi Juliebø is a chameleon. While he is characterized as a graphic designer, beneath that label, he wears many different skins. Given a lineup of Juliebø’s work, one might see flecks of everything from Dürer to Hopper to Jeremy Blake. The transformative qualities of this artist’s work speak directly to his own creative goals. Juliebø, who was born and works in Oslo, Norway, is constantly looking for ways to push the boundaries of art within his environment, and to “inject life into whatever it is” that he’s creating. Norway’s market is relatively young when it comes to graphic design and Juliebø is inspired by the freedom that accompanies being among the first in his country to really delve in and explore the arena, opening it up to possibility. What else inspires him? Everything. Everything that is new. Juliebø was first attracted to design at a young age; as a child, he often drew comics for friends. In college, he studied the more traditional modes of graphic design, geared toward advertising and media. Juliebø jokes that he “used to call [himself ] an artist trapped in a designer’s body,” because even in adwork and branding he always puts his own touch on the finished product; “the passion always seeps through.” This is true, and gradually, the passion has taken over. As Juliebø’s professional portfolio has grown (he’s worked for Sony, Calvin Klein, and Google, to name a few of the big guns), so have the number of side projects he has taken on. It is through these endeavors that the artist within has
exploded out. Juliebø insists (and his artwork shows) that graphic design is so much more than logos and branding; it is the stuff of imagination and lore. He recalls his idol of comic book fame, Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy and others). “Graphics with a concept are much stronger pieces,” he explains, and they are so much more successful at both conveying and eliciting an emotional response. For Juliebø, who is constantly sketching and drawing, “doing stuff with [his] hands is the most natural thing for [him].” Juliebø’s world of visual fantasy has garnered the attention of Shit Skateboards, a small Norwegian company whose artistic vision resembles Burton or Volcom. Juliebø works with the company regularly, and his creatures and creations spring to life on the boards. Of the whole of Juliebø’s body of work, however, perhaps the most stimulating and innovative for both artist and viewer are the designs he has created for album art. It is through these pieces that his urge to challenge the status quo really escapes. With at least forty EP, demo, and single cover designs bearing his signature, Juliebø has developed a symbiotic working relationship with his second love, music. For Juliebø, the interplay between music and visual art is an element essential to the creation of a successful design. One band in particular, Oslo’s alt-rock/grunge trio Third Brigade, has relied on Juliebø to do the artwork for their EPs – one, a stenciling project in Feb. - Mar. 2012
which each individual cover was part of a larger image – and two albums (the first involving a narrative/comic story to accompany the tracks). As they contemplated the design of their second and most recent (August 2011) album, Some Of Us Even Have Pets, the band members approached Juliebø with an idea. They wanted a different image, a complement to the new directions they were taking with their music. Seeking to visually articulate a breakaway from their “metalhead” pigeonhole, they put complete faith in Juliebø, who took it and ran. The result? An edgy collection of images and brilliantly original typography that most definitely make you wonder exactly what kind of auditory experience you’re in for. Juliebø’s first thought in stepping away from the usual metal-vision was to lose the traditional reds and blacks. So instead, he went pastel. But, this is no Easter egg hunt. For the cover and the booklet images, Juliebø used buckets of neon-pastel pink, yellow, and teal paints splattered over a vicious-looking taxidermy-ed pine marten and its propped prey, a squirrel. The contrast between the images that the color choices conjure and those that Juliebø actually creates is genius. The disc graphic itself and inlay page are definitely the highlights of the project. The cotton candy-pink eye, dripping whiskers, and milkshakeladen tongue of that wicked little animal pop right out of the insert, and with them, so does Remi Juliebø’s flair for breaking the rules in all the right places.
Sean Words | Alaina Latham
assion and drive is something that we all possess. For photographer Sean Dufrene capturing every detail of an image is his passion and drive. Residing in Huntington Beach, California, an elective in high school was the reason behind him getting bit by the photograph bug. On his website he is described as, “Chatty Cathy, retired restaurant workhorse, a decent midfield soccer player; people have called me many things. Those who know me best agree that i’m a man with a vision.” After being discouraged by the magnitude of the photography industry, Dufrene entered the restaurant industry with a focus on cooking. “At the time I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer but there were few staff photographers and most of the pictures were contributions of freelance photographer.” Finding his way to San Francisco to attend culinary school, he was pulled back into photography because he rode the bus to work every day and was inspired by everyday life. “I wanted to, from a documentary standpoint, tell the story of the California 1 Line Bus.” Finishing college at Cal State Fullerton, he eventually picked his career choice as a photojournalist. Freelancing for a while before getting his
first official photography job the San Diego Union Tribune, he considered him time there as “the best shot I ever had in my life.” He continues, “even though I was the lowest paid employee on staff, I probably was the most enthusiastic.” Enthusiasm led him to branching out to more than scheduled assignments. The workhorse in him decided to let creativity take the wheel. “When I didn’t have any assignments, I would take these road trips and drive around San Diego County, check out different areas and take pictures.” Covering a fire at Camp Pendleton gave him the opportunity to shoot amazing shots of scenery and spontaneous images. “There are various components and elements that are necessary to my art images and they need to tell a story.” With a narrative style, his storytelling is captured in every image. There is a necessity for every angle, placement, lighting and model. “I get tired of seeing the fashion picture with the model staring at the camera and in the traditional fashion pose.” His style is prominent in all of his work. The series, Play Date, shows the use of elements and the narration of the photograph. The series is a showcase of pictures of the provocation of what people in their ordinary lives. From the Feb. - Mar. 2012
mom getting caught masturbating to a scantilyclad woman standing at the end of a young man’s bed.“People get stopped in their tracks by provocative images, we are a sexual culture.” Embodying elements of his life experiences in his work can be seen in his narrative of his father in the “Jack” series. “Each image is based on situations that I experienced while up at his house.” The world evolved from every day life images into depictions of moments of life taking place. Hilarity is prosperous in the photographs and there will be moments where you’ll catch yourself laughing reminiscing on similar experiences. Carrying a camera with him every where is he goes is a no-no. Although he thinks he should, his images are methodical with a touch of spontaneity. Incorporating moments in time on a mood board to eventually create a narrative image is more of his taste. “I’m the type of person who thinks some images are meant for memory purposes.” Sean Dufrene is a hardworking man with a quirky sense of creativity. His sense of humor and comedic like style is captured in every image taken and is something a connoisseur of photography will appreciate. Visit his website and take heed to the work of a storyteller through pictures.
Thomas Words | Jesse Roth
ooking at Thomas Doyle’s sculptures feels like looking in on an intimate moment--one you perhaps shouldn’t see but therefore crave all the more. Doyle’s pieces are miniature sculptures, which portray little model scenes of domesticity (a family by suburban house or a couple in a garden). However, the ground literally falls out from beneath these ideal images as the earth beneath the scenes crumbles. The image of the home plays prominently in Doyle’s pieces. The homes are always put in danger somehow—though the people in or around them are not. Sometimes, like in Doyle’s piece Endgame, the homes are buried beneath the earth, where in others (like Armistice), the home is partially destroyed as if it had been hit by a wrecking ball, and in some (like Slighting), the home is simply placed on disintegrating ground—as if it’s about to fall into the earth. When I looked at Doyle’s sculptures, I was rendered speechless and reduced to gasps and exclamations. Somehow because of this, I expected Doyle to have very particular explanations for his work. Rather, There was a simplicity and candor to Doyle’s descriptions and demeanor. Doyle spoke matter-of-factly about the aesthetic behind his work—of creating miniature scenes that are narrative and psychological. Doyle’s simple explanation is a credit to his work—the power of his work exists not in any sophisticated or theoretical description,
but rather in the simple emotional power of the sculptures. Typically displayed under glass (almost like terrariums), Doyle presents his works normally on pedestals or occasionally suspended from the ceiling. The figures in the pieces are 1-2 inches in scale. The medium of these works parallels the themes. These small figures resemble childhood playthings or dollhouses. They look almost like they could have been child’s play, however, they are then violently destroyed in someway. Not only do the scenes display families and homes and children on the precipice of destruction, they also seem like they could have been the works or games of children—then destroyed. Further, the encasement in glass and the miniature scale contribute to the feeling that these idyllic worlds are fragile. Doyle received his formal art training in painting and printmaking. He worked in those mediums until he realized several years ago that he wanted to start creating more narrative and psychological pieces. “As a child I built dioramas and played with action figures” says Doyle, “So I wanted to include that sense of narrative in my work.” In thinking about his work, Doyle is “Thinking about warfare and damage and destruction. Mashing these up with and taking them out context--putting it into the context of a suburban neighborhood.” The narrative in Doyle’s work is the major factor, which makes them so entrancing. One sees these scenes Feb. - Mar. 2012
and immediately imagines the lives and objectives and ideas of these characters. Their psychological realities make them captivating. Doyle continues to develop work on the themes of domesticity and destruction in his solo exhibition Surface to Air at LaBasse Projects in Culver City, California. In this exhibition, Doyle says he his working with similar themes as his earlier work, however, the work is focusing more on the calamity of aftermath and has become more violent to the structures, but not the human figures. The effect of this violence is uncanny--it shows images of families playing in the front yard and fathers and children embracing and daughters coming home. But these tableaus are precarious--threatening to fall off the earth at any moment. Perhaps it’s because we all remember the fissures in our families—or because we fear the horrors that could strike our most intimate lives—but Doyle’s work speaks to a visceral relationship to family, home, and love. They make one think of coming home to a place that isn’t as stable as it once was, or unearthing the comfort of home even when it seems to be buried beneath miles of dirt, or that the home we once knew has actually been turned upside-down. And finally, they remind us that home and family are fragile and ephemeral—that they cannot be held in out hands under a sphere of glass.
Words | Christopher Dorch Certainly there is a more eloquent way of saying it, but why mince words—Ti West is a badass motherfucker. With just five features on his resume, West has demonstrated a thorough love and under-
standing of just what it is that makes a good horror film truly scary. For our money, the man is five for five. Whether he’s spilling buckets of blood on a prom dance floor (Cabin Fever 2) or scaring the shit out of us with old school creaks and moans (House of the Devil), West gets it. Like his contemporaries Eli Roth and Alex Aja, West came to the game as a horror nerd and it shows. His latest, The Innkeepers, is an old-fashioned haunted hotel yarn billed as a “ghost story for the minimum wage,” and that sums things up nicely. Our two leads Claire and Luke—played by the genuinely easy to like Sara Paxton and Pat Healy—are literally on the clock for most of the film, trying to get in all the extra hours they can at the film’s perfectly chosen location (the real life Yankee Pedlar Inn in Torrington, Connecticut) before it closes down for good when the weekend is over. They are also amateur ghost hunters determined to use EMP recordings and whatever tools they have at their disposal to make a case that the Yankee Pedlar is haunted and launch themselves and (their still under construction) website onto a new career path. West served as writer, director and editor on The Innkeepers, and his heavy involvement with all aspects of the production and his care for his characters is evident in nearly every scene. Whether Luke and Claire are pounding beers, dealing with the last of the hotel’s handful of guests—including the excellent Kelly McGillis as a former TV star who’s reinvented herself Shirley MacLaine-style as a mystic and a healer—or just bantering back and forth, the friendship between the two and the easy chemistry between Paxton and Healy makes us care
almost instantly about the characters, itself a revolutionary act in most modern day horror cinema. And just like he managed in all five of his features, it’s the likability of West’s leads that makes it even easier to feel their fear. Add to that a genuine spooky atmosphere, and as the scares start ramping up in The Innkeepers’ third act, it’s easy to lose yourself in the film and the Yankee Pedlar’s ominous vibes. It would be uncool to discuss the particulars of the supernatural phenomenon that Luke and Claire experience in the film, but again as he did in House of the Devil, West pulls off the admirable feat of reminding us of a half dozen or so films we love without making us feel as though he’s stolen anything from their dog-eared playbooks. Haunted hotel, yes. Spooks, yes. But The Shining this ain’t. It’s every bit as funny as it is scary, and the whole film just has a certain classiness to it that elevates it far above most post-Saw scare cinema. Those interested in starting out 2012 with a few good goose bumps would do well to check The Innkeepers out either on iTunes and Video on demand where it’s available now or when it opens theatrically on Feb. 3. Also, if you don’t know much about just how difficult it actually is to make an indie film of this level of quality these days, you should also check out the heartfelt letter West wrote urging his potential audience to seek out the film through proper channels instead of downloading it illegally off the web. Believe us, this is one you’ll want to support. (Note: here is the link to West’s letter: http://www. glasseyepix.com/html/PiratesOfTheCaribbean. html)
ther, Jerry de Wilde, photographed rock royalty as the genre emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, how his daughter and Beck became friends during a Lollapalooza tour in 1995. Thus, I was expecting the book to be predictably cool, if somewhat aloof. I wondered how large a window de Wilde would open into Beck’s world, how far in they would let us. To my surprise, the photos are delightfully kitschy while maintaining a sheen of sincerity. “There’s a certain level of experience and technical proficiency necessary [to take good pictures],” Beck observes in the book, “but the overriding factor is the feeling you have in the room with the person. It becomes part of the photo or allows the photo to happen.” De Wilde imprints that feeling onto the pictures, whether Beck is standing before thousands of screaming fans in Japan, or on-set, plastered in multicolored rummage-sale tags, against a backdrop of the same multicolored tags. In one shot, the musician strides down Hollywood Boulevard flanked by bikini girls in animal masks. You can see what de Wilde means when she says she “became fascinated with blurring the lines between the documentary moment and the planned portrait.” The result is nonchalant, as Beck tends to be, but unabashedly fresh, deliberate but unself-conscious at once. In the middle of the book are eleven recorded conversations between Beck and de Wilde. Beck discusses recording his breakout hit “Loser,” “in
a vacuum,” while couch-surfing SoCal in the early 1990s. He talks shop on artists’ tendency to collect junk, on being down and out in New York City in the late 1980s, on working as a dishwasher-mover-ditch digger, etc. You can almost picture Beck at 20, working the counter at a video store, back when those existed. The stories recall that adolescent moment in indie history when “anti-showmanship” was the mode du jour. Beck remembers being “kicked out of people’s houses for being on a major label,” and feeling oddly out of place with his on-stage theatrics, as his contemporaries railed against 1980s glam-rock excess by refusing to act overtly entertaining. As a child of the 1990s, the book reminded me of pre-internet days, when we would get high and shoot black and white film on our parents’ old cameras and develop it in our friend’s closet-dark-room, when Beck was strumming songs in MTV Buzz Clips with too much hair in his face. You couldn’t tell if “Loser” would make him a star or a one-hit-wonder. When “Odelay” dropped in summer 1996, “Where It’s At” dominated the airwaves and suddenly eccentro-pop was here to stay, with Beck at the helm. Over the years, de Wilde played on Beck’s lofi, throwback imagery to build a strong visual narrative that cuts to the core of his public persona--- and the photos reflect a quiet intimacy that hints he is just so in real life, too.
Written by Autumn de Wilde Chronicle Books $35.00
Words | Hannah Palmer Egan When I heard about Autumn de Wilde’s forthcoming photo book, Beck, I knew the photos would be excellent. I had read about how de Wilde’s fa-
book Feb. - Mar. 2012
CHARLES ATLAS: The Illusion of Democracy
Courtesy of Charles Atlas and Luhring Augustine, New York
Words | Hannah Palmer Egan Luhring Augustine, Bushwick 25 Knickerbocker Avenue Brooklyn, New York In mid-February, something different will begin in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Bushwick is a DIY kind of neighborhood well known for tiny, funky storefront galleries, run by the artists themselves when they’re not bartending or making small-batch, artisanal anything. On February 17, the first of Chelsea’s established blue-chip galleries will open shop in the neighborhood, in a 12,000 square foot warehouse that used to house a dollar-store storage operation. The inaugural show will feature three films by American film artist Charles Atlas. Atlas is widely considered the go-to man for dance-media film, and worked extensively with Merce Cunningham and other dance luminaries. Atlas’ show is titled “The Illusion of Democracy,” and will feature installation viewings of “Painting by Numbers” and “Plato’s Alley,” both produced in 2009, but never before shown in New York. The show’s centerpiece will be a new, large-scale film installation spe-
cifically tailored to the Bushwick space, which Luhrig Augustine bought for $2.05 million in summer 2011. “Plato’s Alley” is a single-channel film, previously on view at Vilma Gold in London, and in Paris at Paris’ New Galerie. In Frieze Magazine, Colin Perry described the film as a sea of swirling numbers, which surrounded the viewer like spinning “dust devils,” in an immersive, “hypnagogic,” experience, until Atlas brings the integers 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 squarely, solely and aggressively into focus, confronting the viewer with the cold, unsentimental reality of the numerals themselves. “Painting by Numbers” is a three-channel video piece, which surrounds the viewer with an overwhelming stream of numbers, which converge upon and are scattered by a central vortex. As for the new piece, Luhrig Augustine had not released any additional details at print-time. However, based on the show’s title, we can assume it will nod in some way to the current democratic condition…. Or, maybe it won’t. For answers, we’ll have to wait for the opening! Local reception to the Luhrig Augustine’s move has been lukewarm. Some see it as a gateway for realestate brokers to demand higher rents that will price
Feb. - Mar. 2012
artists out of the neighborhood, but Paddy Johnson, of Art Fag City isn’t worried; instead, she wondered if “We’ll see a repeat of what Williamsburg galleries learned in the early 2000s: Collectors don’t visit Brooklyn very often.” Regardless, Luhrig Augustine’s move into King’s County marks an aggressive new development in Bushwick’s tight-knit art scene, which has been a gritty foil against Chelsea opulence for the last several years. As it develops, the story is certain to keep the pundits humming until the community embraces, rejects or somehow changes around the new space. In the meantime, the rest of us will gain an additional 12,000 square feet in our NYC art-world playground, to see art and be seen seeing it. At Luhrig Augustine, it’s a safe bet that the work will be of exceptional quality, and as with any gallery, it will be free and open to the public… Rumor has it, there will even be extended hours on Friday afternoons. So, why not head to the opening, grab a glass of wine and enjoy the show, while debating its neighborhood footprint with your friends? If you can’t make the opening, the show runs through May 20.
2012 PREDICTIONS W Words | Andrew Metzger
THE BLACK KEYS EL CAMINO
GRACE WOODROOFE ALWAYS WANT
PORT OF MORROW
ith the eminent apocalypse nowhere to be seen, except perhaps within our political system, 2012 is sure to be an interesting year for music lovers everywhere. As you notice I say, “music lovers,” the people who love music for music’s sake, not just for the trends and fads that are spawned from the freak relationship between the desire to be famous and rich. What follows is a brief summary of my opinion on who to look out for in 2012. Rest assured that Lady Gaga and Lil Wayne will not be discussed as they are probably already pulling a publicity stunt to ensure 2012 will not leave them in the past. To begin, I would like to bring up Grace Woodroofe since she is probably going to be the newest sensation to hit the indie, folk, soul, rock scene. Woodroofe recently released her first album, Always Want, which is simply stunning. Her amazing voice along with a varying musical ensemble provides listeners with delicious lyrics and head bobbing tunes. She is currently touring in Australia, her native land, but when she comes around to the USA I would recommend seeing her if she is in an area near you. A great band that the spot light does not shine on enough is Dr. Dog. With their unique throwback style of psychedelic rock they are always good for entertaining your flashbacks and daydreams. They are releasing a new album February 7, 2012 called, Be the Void. This is going to be an album to explore for sure since their last two albums, Fate and Shame, Shame were phenomenal. As well as releasing a new album for 2012, they are already touring the states and making a stop at the Boulder Theatre on February 3rd. If you get a chance check them out because they deliver a great live show and definitely check out their album wherever you are. I am pleased to announce that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have made their way into this article. With their recent release of I’m With You in 2011, an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year and their upcoming U.S. tour, they will surely be a band to try and see live. I say, “try” because almost all of their tour stops are already sold out! I bring them up for another reason too, which is to watch and see how they evolve with their new guitar player, Josh Klinghoffer. He has large shoes to fill from John Frusciantes’ absence but I believe he proved himself on I’m With You and I bet his influence on their next album will be even more noticeable. This leads me to another point: Where is John Frusciante and what is he up to? It would be nice to hear something from him in 2012. Another band that has been on the scene for a while and hasn’t stopped producing great albums is The Roots. With three album releases in the last two years I can almost guarantee you that they will have something out in 2012 to tickle our eardrums with. Perhaps one of the most prolific hip-hop groups around they are sure to deliver us with something great, and if no record is released in 2012 they will surely still be touring, and seeing The Roots perform live is a necessity for any fan of theirs. I’d defiFeb. - Mar. 2012
nitely keep an eye on them for a while since they show no signs of slowing down. The Black Keys are an obvious choice to include in this article as well. They have been making music since 2001 and have since gained more notoriety with every album they produce. Brothers was the album that gave them national fame, but true fans were digging The Black Keys long before that. However, their most recent release, El Camino was received well and they are currently touring, promoting that album as well as their older stuff. They are currently in Europe touring but will be back in the states for summer time, even making a stop in Denver. Watch out for them this year as they could easily put out another record or collaboration as they did with Blakroc. The final band I’m going to dedicate any real time to is going to be Korn. This is a surprise to even myself as I am not the biggest Korn fan, but I must pay respect when respect is due. Their recent album, The Path of Totality shows that they are still in the vanguard of their genre by blending metal and dubstep together. Their album is a well mixed hybrid that allows the listener to enjoy Korn as well as head-banging beats made by some of dubstep’s premier artists. This blending of genres shows us that Korn is willing to keep their fans entertained by going in new directions but talented enough not to alienate their diehard fans by keeping their feel the same. Korn proves again with this release that they are not to be ignored, and with some tour dates announced already in Europe for 2012 on their site one can only hope they will make their way back to the states for some raging good times. The problem with being asked to write an article like this is that one can never encompass everyone and every genre they like. So I figured I would provide you with some bands you may not have considered in watching in 2012 and now this is the part where I summarize everything else I would have liked to mention had I been given the whole magazine for this article. However, Pork and Mead has more to offer than just this. Galactic, Volbeat, and Miracles of Modern Science are three other bands worthy to keep an eye out for in 2012. Also the dubstep scene is something to keep note of, as it is growing more popular day-by-day and as more artists emerge I can only assume the genre will become more intricate with talented DJs standing out. Finally, I come to my very final point: FESTIVALS. Check out the festival scene this year, get to as many as you can, and be safe! Festivals are the best place to discover new music and fall back in love with a band you haven’t listened to for a few years. Don’t always get caught up in the hype either of the larger festivals: the larger the festival the larger the problems. As 2012 kicks off with a variety of musical acts remember diversity. Don’t always accept what the radio plays but diversify your library by checking out the strange, the unusual, and keep an open mind to artists that may not be “mainstream.” You never know what will be a delightful surprise until you open your ears and mind.
Words | David Carter
Photo credit: Janis Oâ€™Neill
This is a photo of Damon with a new friend he met by the Baltic Sea. She tried to get him to have a bath wi th her, but he felt too shy.
t’ll often pop in to your head while you’re staring at the rear-end of the motionless car in front of you, comatose with rage, while a glowing stream of meandering taillights map out your commute home. Or it’ll materialize as a numbing boredom washes over you as you sit in your cubicle. It manifests itself in those silent, reflective moments, instantly filling the empty thoughts in your head. And “it” is the thought that plagues everyone who has ever lived. That nagging little pang of selfdoubt that lingers and festers in the back of your head, questioning your every move: “Is this the life you had in mind?” And that cold insecurity floods your body when the voice no longer remains that of your subconscious but, instead, becomes your mother’s crackling through the speaker on your phone. “‘Are you making any money?’ and you know, ‘What will you do after you’re done doing this?’ and
‘Have you thought about getting a normal job?’ And, of course, you know every musician thinks all those thoughts but it doesn’t help when your mother is bringing them up.” Australian-born Kate Cooper (singer/guitarist) of the indie-rock band An Horse, lives with this inner-turmoil - in conjunction with the pressure of a nervous mother -, as does anyone who has ever suffered through the drudges of underemployment and a daily grind. However, unlike most of us, Cooper is able to turn these negative emotions into beautiful, poetic songs. And it’s the likeness we share with Cooper in those emotions that make her songs gripping and familiar. A layperson likely responds to these periods of shaky revelations with fantasies of commanding an audience, on stage, guitar in hand. But what is often missing from these flights of the imagination are the long periods of failing and wracking anxiety that
are the obligatory baggage for all of those looking to “make it”. No one likes to think about the toiling, the disappointment, the ridicule, the work that goes in to living out their dream. Thus, few are destined to even try. The pathway to stardom is littered with those not strong enough to make the climb, as they say. Even Cooper, who long ago dropped out of law school, seems uncertain of where her persistence comes from, submitting in her lyrics that “maybe it’s in my convict blood,” (a reference to Aussie’s days under British rule). “I’m never happy. And, in general, I’ve been very happy with our progress and everything, but, I mean, I want everything to happen quicker.” Me: Well, at least to an outsider, it seems like it’s all happened pretty fast for your band. Cooper: Yeah, it doesn’t feel like that to me. I’m like,
01 This is me looking crazed with our amazing tour manager, Benni. Benni is trying to program the crazy GPS system that was built into the stereo in our sprinter van. I never sit up front, [but] I was trying it out. It made me nervous, hence the weird face.
02 This is our standard rider in Germany. Usually, there are 3 people (including us) in our touring party. Our TM drives. You do the math.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
03 Whenever we play in Cologne, I talk about [the cologne] 4711. I can’t help it. The first time we played there, I was so excited to find out this was the birthplace of 4711, which I guess makes sense seeing as the place is called Cologne. When I was a little kid, my sister and I loved 4711, and we thought we were so fancy wearing it. This time around, I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about 4711, but soon after the doors opened, an awesome fan gave us these two little bottles of 4711. How could I not talk about it?
PORK&MEAD: 057 ‘Why? Why doesn’t it go faster?’ You know, you look at people who are huge now, like Robyn, who has been slaving for 10, 15 years. It is kind of quick, I guess, when you look at it like that. Cooper and band mate Damon Cox (drummer/singer) from their modest beginning as two Brisbanian record store coworkers who started playing with each other partly motivated by experimentation and largely by happenstance in 2007, have since gone on to take on North America and Europe; releasing two full-length albums and three EP’s, touring with Death Cab for Cutie and Manchester Orchestra, respectively, and making an appearance on Letterman (which Cooper’s innocent mother called The Lettermen’s) playing their hit single “Camp Out”. As poor Cooper has had to explain countless times -along with the origin of her band-, the band
name was born out of a fiery, grammatical debate with her neighbor over the use of the word “an” before hard “h” and soft “h” words. Eventually, Cooper’s neighbor, surely battered and beleaguered, in a noble display of defeat made Cooper an adapted white flag: a sweatshirt that had the words “An Horse” written across it. After several people around their hometown inquired about the sweatshirt - some even asking if “An Horse” was a band name - Cooper and Cox decided to adopt the name for their “incidental” group, especially since considering they already had the one piece of merchandise. And the two never looked back. Despite the fact that there are dozens of similar sounding bands, what lodges An Horse’s flavor of rock into the crevasses of their audience’s memory is their openness, their vulnerability. Cooper has an innate ability to turn her personal strife into
relatable songs. Emotionally laden tracks, often overtly biographical and specific yet engaging and vague, coat the cortex in a thick melancholy and force all of the listener’s attention inward. This isn’t done meekly, however. Cooper asserts herself through her music with bravado, as if to say she’s comfortable with being uncomfortable, creating an intriguing juxtaposition of tenderness and relentlessness. Cooper’s accent sends her voice warping over and around vowels in an addicting, persistent cognitive tickling. Then, behind her distinguishing voice, rumbles a confident buzz-pop, elevating her downhearted lyrics to a celebratory state. The group’s live performances and their first full-length, Rearrange Beds, portrayed the duo as ostensibly attempting a minimalist sound; keeping the formula simple with just a two-piece. This was purely unintentional, however. By Cooper’s own
05 04 04 This is a photo of a creepy hand that was on a door in our hotel in Amsterdam. I don’t know if it was sleep deprivation or tour madness, but it made us laugh hysterically.
06 05 This is Damon and I before our second to last show of our massive tour. Our friend, Vic, took this photo; she is an amazing photographer. I think she captured how exhausted we were beautifully. We were at a restaurant in Amsterdam about to consume large amounts of steak – something we rarely do, but we were in the mood to celebrate. Also, I am pretty sure I had no iron in my blood. Feb. - Mar. 2012
06 Damon tunes his drums before a show. That big guy in the background is one of our European agents. We call him “Pap Pap.” He is one of the best dudes I know, and he can change strings faster than I can change guitars.
058 :PORK&MEAD admission, the first album was made by “a band that didn’t know it was a band.” In the four years since their debut, Cooper and Cox have found themselves and begun to operate as a unified band. And while their live and recorded performances have remained just the two of them, after a genre-flipping effort in their tech-drenched remix of Rearrange Beds, called Beds Rearranged, the group has made it clear that their sound is fluid, and likely to keep evolving. Me: Now are there plans for a third full-length? Cooper: Yes. There are and they are slowly being put in motion. I’ve been home writing and sending [out] my insecure emails and demos, you know that kind of thing. In all honesty, yes, we’re starting to work on a new record … Every time you make a new record, it’s all about making things better. It might seem gradual to other people but when I’m writing songs it feels huge, that I’ve made huge jumps but I don’t know if people always see them.
Helping the group get their start, Tegan and Sara Quin, the identical twin sisters comprising the indie-group Tegan and Sara, fulfilled the role of A&R (Artist and Repertoire) for the duo, and are still there for them to this day. Sara especially. Sara often provides the vote of confidence that keeps Cooper committed, pulling her out of that self-defeating headspace. “Sara actually has always been involved in some degree in the music I make. And she’ll tell me, even if she wasn’t in A and R, which she is, she’d still, you know, she’s always had this role. Poor girl. But uh, she still has to suffer through my demos and my emails explaining how bad they are and you know, I wanna die and, you know, that kind of thing. We’re there for each other. And I think the more you meet other musicians, I have a couple people now that I’ve been talking with about other demos and music and stuff that if four years ago you told me who I was going to be talking to about my music, I wouldn’t have be-
lieved you. I think it’s a great privilege. But in having talked to them, I think we’re all kind of insecure, somewhat. And I mean the only difference between us is some of these people have sold millions of records and others haven’t.” The somewhat inspiring thought is that no one is left certain. Apparently, even a room or lawn filled with hundreds of people cheering you on isn’t enough to assuage the doubts. “I mean, my nieces, I make sure they know that this is a terrible lifestyle. And they’re much better off studying and becoming a lawyer or whatever. And if my kid picks up a guitar or piano, I’ll break their fingers… And smash the television to get them back to studying.” During those restless days at the office, instead of daydreaming about playing before a stadium full of delirious fans, our imaginations should have us reading up on torts and signing affidavits while simultaneously thanking our mothers for their advice… Bitchin’.
07 07 This is another photo from 08 I have a half-brother [who] is Vic. She took this at the London Swiss. His name is George, and Calling Festival in Amsterdam. he is a giant like the rest of my family. This was the first time he had ever seen me play. I was so excited to see him, and he was so excited to see us play. This photo shows he is, in fact, a giant.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
09 This is Damon and I doing a radio interview. I actually have no idea where, but it was in Germany. I look like I have [had] too much coffee, [while] Damon looks cool and calm.
10 One last ph o from Vic. Thisotis a photo of us do ing the photo shoot this magazine! for
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Images number 5, 7 & 10 by Victoria Hannan
Words | Eric Boyd
ans of indie rock legends Royal
tracks with Kurt Vile and Scott “Wino” Wein-
“We have the capability of playing the
Trux / RTX don’t need to worry, rich; they’re also doing a collaboration with music pretty much like the record, or we can the band is still around; they’ve just changed their name to Black
go beyond and do a lot of improv, as well.
“We’ve got this seven inch EP coming out
There’s a lot of open space. Just the other day
Bananas. Dan Koretzky, the head of Black Ba-
with the Rats. They’re going to cover a Black we were messing around [in the studio], and I
nana’s label, Drag City, came up with the new
Bananas song and we’re going to cover a Rats was playing with some new pedals. I sampled
name. Jennifer Herrema, the Banana’s leader,
song,” Herrema said.
worried her band-mates with the new name at first.
myself, and then [guitarist Brian Mckinley]
Herrema herself seems to be working
started playing a riff, then we segwayed into
nonstop, tracking vocals for bands like the another song and it just fit. It’s just more fun,
“They [the other members of the band] Avalanches, as well as working on everything what we’re able to do now. We’ve done the old was like ‘Man, do you think people think it’s completely sexual or weird?’ But you know
from denim to perfume.
“I have a clothing line through Volcom. rema said.
what, if that’s the way people’s brains go, that’s Then I have a t-shirt collaboration with this on them,” Herrema said.
stuff, now we want to do something else,” HerEven though the new album came out
amazing artist, Matthew Nelson. Also I have January 31st, Black Bananas is already writing
Jennifer Herrema and crew have come
new music. Herrema said they’ve been play-
out with a new album, Rad Times Express IV,
ing nonstop and just finished a new track for
and you can expect the band to hit the road
a future release.
this spring. Herrema assures P&M that Black
“We just finished the first new track. We
Bananas may be the same group of people,
haven’t mixed it yet, but we just finished re-
but it’s a whole new band.
cording it...we record a bunch of stuff just to
“There was nothing wrong with [the
check sound, and we had this one thing that
group’s original name] RTX, but I wanted to something with Pamela Love, who’s this jew-
became a song. It just was a song, y’know?
make a clear correlation between RTX and elry designer...then I got a fragrance I’m work-
Now it’s done,” Herrema said.
the new project, Black Bananas, which we’re
ing on with Emmelie Brunetti and her hus-
Whether Herrema is working on projects
taking into the future...it’s me and the same
band, Erik. We’re gonna mix the scents and
by herself or with Black Bananas, it’s obvious
people, but I’m naming it something different
the oils for that soon,” Herrema said.
that a lot is on the way. Black Bananas’ bold,
because of our new vocabulary. A new name
On top of all of the new projects, Black
noisy sound, going seamlessly between 70’s
for a new entry for us to expound upon what Bananas plans on touring soon. Herrema said rock, 80’s thrash, and 90’s garage, is another we’ve already laid down,” Herrema said. The future is bright for Herrema and Black Bananas. The band recently recorded
that the new album may be dense, but they
brave chapter in Herrema’s music catalog. An
can play it with five people and on-stage com-
old language with a new vocabulary.
puters or strip it down to just three people.
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Words | Lindsey Lowe
Feb. - Mar. 2012
ob Barber and Mary Pearson were introduced at a Death Set show in Manhattan in December 2005, and the connection was instantaneous. Beau Velasco of Death Set, a mutual friend of theirs, linked the two musicians who would soon mesh their talents into the project High Places. “We were so inspired by the other person’s approach to music and art-making that we knew we wanted to collaborate straight away,” Mary said. “I moved to New York after getting my degree, and High Places was born a few weeks later.” Rob’s solo project, The Urxed, listed “high places” under inspiration on his MySpace page, so according to Mary, he should get all the credit for coming up with the name. “We both liked the sound of it, and the term’s various connotations in geography, religion, etc.,” she said. Both of the duo’s counter pieces had been doing solo work, Mary under the name of Transformation Surprise and Rob as The Urxed; however, together the two managed to create a sound that could be described as the Knife’s quirky, younger sibling. With their reverb-rich, densely layered tracks laden with Rob’s tribal sounding percussiveness and Mary’s other-worldly vocals, High Places has achieved an interesting and unique level of creativity. Keeping things unusual seems to be their bag, yet not to the point of slipping into inaccessibility. Employing their unconventional, and often experimental, in-studio antics and tapping their passion for making sound, the two have been recording and touring together full-force since the 2006 inception of High Places. Perhaps the magic that happens between these two musicians can be attributed to their differences. “We both make little scraps of sound, and send them back and forth until it starts to build into a song” Rob said. “It is really fun because we never know what we are going to end up with. We think so differently.” Rob admits that before Mary came along, composition wasn’t exactly this strong suit. “I always just made beats and weird scraps,” he confessed. “I had zero idea how to put a song together. Mary obviously changed that.”And Mary said that Rob is great at manipulating textures and timbres. “He has taught me how to think of music more aesthetically than technically.” So a mutual admiration transpired. Both artists agree that they have grown and learned a wealth of things through High Places. Mary said the way she sings has definitely changed. “When we started the band, I listened to a lot of Judee Sill, and I loved the way she pronounced words, the way she would say them,” Mary recalled. “It’s kind of a rarity (except in country music) to keep vowels short when singing, and I used that technique a lot in the early years. Perhaps it was a bit of a rebellion from my years of choral singing and vocal lessons.” Aside from the stylistic evolution, Mary said she thinks (or hopes) she’s gained more vocal control as well as learned to write
Feb. - Mar. 2012
things in keys that better suit her. When it comes to the recording process, the duo acknowledges its reluctance to surrender any responsibility to a third party, thus, as Mary put it, they have figured out a lot of things ‘on the fly.’ Fortunately enough, the outcomes have been favorable. “The great thing about teaching ourselves to record is that we do some things in totally backward ways that yield interesting results,” she said. This trial by error tactic can be thanked for the eccentric vocal quality found on the duo’s second album, High Places vs. Mankind. “I put this odd compression on all of my vocals because I didn’t know how to control the output level of my channels,” Mary recounted. “We ended up liking the sound, so I’m glad for my embarrassing ignorance of basic ProTools technique at the time.” High Places music has been inspired over the years by tons of different types of dance music, according to Rob, and Mary deems Joni Mitchell her “go-to instructor for how to write and sing a great song.” Another among the list of muses is Black Dice, for the “physical quality” they give their music. Mary
“We were so inspired by the other person’s approach to music and artmaking that we knew we wanted to collaborate straight away,” also noted the Incredible String Band. “[They were] really important to us in the early years because they demonstrated how to challenge the typical instrumentation in popular music,” she said. Extensive touring is definitely something the duo seems to live for, and Mary said that being a twopiece makes this much more viable. Rob and Mary love exploring the cities they play in, visiting parks and just doing some healthy wandering about. Performing is naturally the highlight, but they also have a weak spot for tasty vegan food. “Bahn mi sandwiches are our main obsession,” Rob said. High Places has toured with a slew of indie-scene gems including The Blow, Deerhunter, No Age, Soft Circle, Abe Vigoda, Hawnay Troof, YACHT, Ponytail, and David Scott Stone. “We really have only toured with our friends,” Rob said. “It’s just more fun.” And clearly, making records and playing shows is something this group is compelled to do continually. “It feels strange if we take a break,” Rob said. “I guess it is just part of our daily lives. I feel very lucky.” Mary said they’ve never really had a set plan for High Places. So they do what they do. Make new sounds and lay them down for people. It’s what they like. It’s what they’re good at.
Kina Words | Veronika Hรถglund
rom the moment my interview with singer songwriter, Kina Grannis, began I was astonished by two things - the first was to how extraordinarily polite she was throughout our conversation, and the second being her genuine enthusiasm for her music as well as for those who consider themselves her fans - her eloquent and thoughtfully answered questions as testament to this. You may know her for her unique - and presumably incredibly delicious - jellybean stop motion music video for her song In Your Arms (a real feat as it took around two years and over two hundred and fifty thousand jelly beans to create), or for her viral videos found on the ever-popular YouTube site. Whatever your reason for knowing (or not knowing) may be, Kina’s passion, talent, attitude and approach to her music as well as to the industry are all qualifiers, which truly are worthy of your listen. Born and raised in Southern California, Grannis tells us that there was never a time she didn’t want to be a musician. “I think it was something that was always in me,” she says, “and I don’t think I realized early on that it was different.” Growing up in a household where music was a part of daily life - a grand piano, violins, and ukuleles, amongst others scattered about - it could certainly be expected of the results and sentiments of such an upbringing. However, it was only after having taught herself to play guitar during secondary school, that Grannis made an official decision to transform what was once simply a passion for singing and songwriting into an actual career. In 2007/2008, Grannis got her big break after winning the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest - an online competition for a chance to be seen and heard by millions on a commercial break during the nationally televised game. At the time, she reveals, that she hadn’t taken advantage of the potential success offered by YouTube, however, her attitude soon changed once she had learned her song was amongst the final top ten entries to be chosen. After learning the extraordinary news, Grannis began utilizing YouTube over the following months in efforts to draw in voters and win the competition. “I figured I would have to be asking people to come back to vote, which is pretty annoying to do. So, I decided to do a video every day,” she says. “That way, [voters] are getting something in return for coming back and voting.” In current times, Grannis continues to stay busy. After landing a major deal with Interscope Records in
2009, she decided to leave the label, opting for a more independent direction to represent and produce her music. With the re-release of her 2010 album Stairwells earlier this year, which features a selection of new songs as well as some cover tracks, Grannis hoped to have offered her listeners an opportunity to see her growth as a singer and songwriter, noting that while as a musician her sound continues to evolve, it will never loose that “core Kina” sound. Additionally, though she has no time frame set to when her next album will be released, she is, nonetheless, excited to be working on new material - a process which she describes as a state of sub consciousness, where her life, relationships, random encounters and dreams all play into her music’s formation. Looking back on what is already a whirlwind of a career at the young age of 26, Grannis has no hesitation when acknowledging all the good that has come from that effortless video submission circa 2007. “It was definitely an insane time, but a very exiting time,” she reflects. “It is amazing to me my work and my music are getting to be shared with people all over the world,” Grannis says, “Hearing stories back from people about how [the music] connected with them or how it helped them, for me that is one of the most powerful things, knowing that I can make even the tiniest of a difference in someone’s day.” Still, Grannis points out the difficulties she faces as her music career continues to gain success, “There is this weird balance you need to play between music which began as a love and passion and a thing which I spent every second of my day doing, and it [becoming] your job,” she notes. “It’s trying to remember the other part of it too - remember to be creative, and remember that I love it, because some times I get so caught up in emails and tweets and meetings that I don’t touch a guitar for a week. I think it’s just hard to make that balance, remembering the point of this is creating music and growing as an artist.” With a European tour this February, followed by a tour in Australia and then in Asia, Grannis hopes to visit her US fans in the Spring - a very dedicated musician, to say the least. As for the future, all she hopes for is that she can continue doing what it is she is doing. “I have no set goals,” she says “I just want to be making the best music I can make, keep releasing it, keep touring, and [continue] connecting with people all across the world.”
“I think it was something that was always in me, and I don’t think I realized early on that it was different.”
The Destiny ofWords Shane | Eric Boyd
Shane Valdés may not be directing megabudget blockbusters yet, but he wants to. He’s shot bands like Fall Out Boy and done commericals for brands such as Dorrito’s, but the drive that really keeps Valdés going is to someday make his own feature films. Now, after shooting so many projects at the relatively young age of 31, that first feature film may be coming soon.
aving gone to school for engineering, Shane Valdés discovered filmmaking when he submitted a short to the Las Vegas 48 Hour Film Festival, in which he had two days to write, film, edit, and submit his short. Valdés pulled it off, and the resulting film, 19 Miles To Vegas, became a hit. It won almost every festival where it was played. “After that I thought, ‘Hey, there’s something to this film thing,’ so I decided I needed to explore and learn what it takes,” Valdés said. But despite his background in engineering, Valdés said that the technical side of filmmaking is easy compared to narrative, which is what he really cares about. “When I was growing up I was forunate enough to have every movie you could imagine on VHS. My dad was a huge film buff. So I had access to all of these great films, and story has to be my favorite part of being a filmmaker. The technical stuff comes completely natrual to me,” Valdés said. After helping make a few music videos for artists like Jewel and Jason Mraz, Valdés was invited to shoot behind-the-scenes footage for Panic! At the Disco. That project turned into a five year documentary, several music videos, and a strong friendship between Valdés and Brendon Urie, Panic’s singer. But even with as much exposure and experince as Valdés has had, he said he’s still hunting down jobs. “I am getting a little bit known out there, to the point that people do come to me [to shoot projects], and that’s a dream, but I am still chasing bigger and bigger projects. I am still chasing after jobs.” Now, having shot various projects for a few years and after building experience, Valdés said he’s ready to step out and create his own original work. He wants to make a feature film. Producer Salome Breziner saw Valdés’ work and inquired about it. Valdes informed Breziner that he was getting by on word-of-mouth, chasing projects and barely making it. Breziner offered to introduce Valdés to some of her aquantices, to “make her friends my friends,” as Valdés said. Breziner asked Valdes what he wanted to do with his work, and the answer came easily. “I want to be a feature film director. This is what I love; I would love to do narratives. I’ve been working on a project for two years now,” he said. Breziner then introduced Valdés to an agent, and together they discussed his pet project, an ambitious screenplay entitled the Destiny of Ed. Together, the agent and Valdés sought the help of Herschel Weingrod, a Hollywood screenwriter who could help to mentor Valdés so he could create a more polished script. The final draft was completed this Janurary. Having just wrapped a Butch Walker music video starring Matthew McConaughey, and with many more projects on the way, Shane Valdés still hopes to begin filming the Destiny of Ed, his Sci-fi Action debut, sometime this year. When asked if he would ever feel like he had truly made it and be statisfied with his work, Valdés laughed. “I don’t think I have a plateu. Could you imagine the things that run through Tarentino’s head before he shoots a single frame? That’s where I want to be. I want to shoot and have all of that knowledge and experience in one frame.”
Feb. - Mar. 2012
Words | Gina Tron
spoke with Julie Budet of the french hip-hop group, Yelle. In addition to being the name of the band, Yelle has become a stage name for Julie herself. “It’s a bit confusing sometimes, but I think we like this confusion!” Julie’s personality was just as playful as Yelle’s song lyrics. Their debut single, “Je Veux Te Voir,” was originally entitled “Short Dick Cuizi,” and was a satirical song making fun of French rapper, Cuizinier of TTC. The song was intended to diss Cuizinier and the overall misogyny that exists within rap culture. Despite that, they do not consider themselves to be feminists. “I am a girl, with a certain energy, that’s it!” Julie says that a lot, I noticed. That was her selfdescribed role in the trio. “I am the girl who feminizes everything, and give it my energy!” When it comes to the other two members, “GrandMarnier is kind of the mastermind. He is responsible for the main part of the songs and everything around.” Tepr used to be a music journalist in addition to being a producer and met GrandMarnier while interviewing GrandMarnier’s first band. Yelle describes themselves as playful and sarcastic, and their lyrics reflect this vibe. “We always finish them [the lyrics] together. I would take the playful, and GrandMarnier would take the sarcastic.” Since Julie, herself, is quite playful and sarcastic, it makes sense that her aura is a big influence on the lyrics. “GrandMarnier writes the main part of the lyrics, and he says I am his muse.” Yeah, that makes sense. Julie is charming and charismatic, qualities that are essential for being a muse. She possesses a sort of aloofness to her. She’s aloof, but not cold; friendly, but without an obvious desire to please. Miss Budet grew up in the country side of Brittany, France. It was “super peaceful, great parents, nature, friends family, music. I must admit it was kind of perfect to me.” And both Julie and Yelle are known for their fashion sense. Julie is known for her outfits that are as chic as they are outlandish, from the giraffe jumpsuit she sported to New York’s Fashion Week, to the purple acid-washed jeans she wears in photo shoots. When I asked Julie about her fashion inspirations, she noted “Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Jean-Paul Gaultier, all the Jean-something, hahah!” She also cites others whose names do not begin with Jean, just regular, old fashionable folk. “We meet people all along our travels: photo shoots, shows. It’s just normal connections, chic and fun!” Despite having read that the band members have expressed interest in designing their own clothing, Julie was pretty tight-lipped about the whole thing. “Mmmm we have ideas for the future, that’s true, but I can’t tell more
now. It’s way too early!” We talked about their new album, Disco Safari Club. “GrandMarnier had these three words in mind for a while. He was imagining animals from the Savannah having a disco party together. He doesn’t do drugs at all! I’d say [that this album is] more melancholic, more rich, more deep, but not less dancey; and more coherent.” They worked on the album non-stop for one year. The trio would collect small ideas, melodies, and beats. Sometimes they would store these small elements in their cell phone and then develop and create something from it later on in the studio. “If the magic happens, it can be very fast, and when it’s fast, it’s spontaneous.” She told me that they were very proud of the album, and it seems they are quite proud about the reviews. “We are so happy to share energy and love with people who are in the same mood. We have a great audience, nice people, and we want to give the maximum for good quality shows.” I asked what attending a live Yelle show would be like. She told me “Dance and cry.” Okay, then. They just wrapped up the music video for “Comme Un Enfant” with Jeremie Saindon, who was also responsible for creating the music videos for “Safari Disco Club” and “Que Veux-Tu.” Yelle also recently did a remix for Katy Perry’s “Hot & Cold.” It may not seem like a likely collaboration, but “she asked us!” They had some issues trying to perform in Los Angeles in November. I had noticed they mentioned some visa hassles trying to get to the show on their website, so I thought that I would be kind enough to bring up the traumatic event. “Oooh, there were delays here and there, and on top of that, some real serious FedEx bullshit. They sent our passports on what I’d call an ‘out of control world tour’ for more than a week. We were so upset and frustrated.” Despite the visa ordeal, they have had many pleasant experiences on the road. Last spring in Austin, Texas, Julie found a pleasant surprise in her dressing room: “Drew Barrymore was there to say that she was a fan of our music! And I am a fan of her so you can imagine how cheesy we were!” Yelle also has quite the male fan base in Japan, including one who “knows everything about where we are when we stay there.” They meet him each time they’re in town at airports or hotel lobbies – wherever this man tracks down Yelle’s location. “He is nice so it’s not an awkward situation, just impressive!” Speaking of fans, Yelle are big fans of Wayne’s World. “Wayne’s World is quite something to us. So many references about music, so much fun, so pop culture!” Tres excellent!
“Wayne’s World is quite something to us. So many references about music, so much fun, so pop culture!” Tres excellent!
Photos courtesy of Allo Darlin’
Allo Words | Eric Boyd
’ve been obsessed with the luthier Mario Maccaferri for a number of years. Maccaferri was most famous for two things: creating the Selmer guitars which Django Reinhardt played, and later creating plastic ukuleles in the 1950’s. The only reason I mention this is because without Maccaferri, there’s a small chance that bands like British indie group Allo Darlin’ wouldn’t exist. The uke wasn’t really a part of the European or American landscapes until Maccaferri produced his plastic models, and since then, it could be argued that ukes have stayed in background of modern music because of all those flea markets and pawn shops that sold Maccaferri ukes for couple of bucks. Shops like The Duke of Uke in England might not have existed had it not been for that quick boom-time for the small, four stringed instruments. That shop, The Duke of Uke, is where Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin’ found her Risa brand ukulele in 2005, and she’s been playing it ever since. Morris began playing music on her own, but in 2009 she wanted a band to help her record the song, “Henry Rollins Doesn’t Dance.” She had already worked with her friends, guitarist Paul Rains and drummer Michael Collins, so they were a no-brainer to help her record the track. Once William Botting was brought on to play bass, Morris realized that forming
a band made more sense than being a solo act. “I realised that the band was infinitely better than me on my own,” says Morris. The quartet called their band Allo Darlin’; inspired by soho traders yelling “Hello Darling” to passersby. After a few shows, the Fortuna Pop! label became interested in the band’s music, even though they had only been together a short time. “By the time we were recording our first album we’d only been playing together for a couple of months,” Morris explains. There’s a good reason that the band started recorded so soon: their music is really good. It’s as simple as that, and not much more needs to be said because Allo Darlin’s music is as simple as the statement. Their stuff is good. It’s nice to listen to. Morris’s tender voice, singing lighthearted lyrics, goes perfectly with the strum of her ukeulele. William Botting’s crisp, rockabilly bass lines play well with Paul Rain’s loose, beach-bleached guitar; and it’s all driven to maximum danceability with Mike Collins’ steady, poppy drums. Allo Darlin’s debut, self-titled album is everything you’d expect. It’s loud, fun, and personal. It’s an album of musical love letters, with songs about everything from Polaroids to Woody Allen and Ingmar Bergman. It’s an album whose charm comes Feb. - Mar. 2012
from the band itself. The production is simple and lets the songs speak for themselves; there’s nothing more on the album than four people playing really good music. The band’s going to be touring the US later this year to celebrate the release of their second album, Europe. Anyone who wants to find out how a couple of really good live shows could result in a record deal should see Allo Darlin’, and if you don’t have fun at the show, they will for you. In an interview I conducted with singer Elizabeth Morris for P&M’s website, she said that one of the best parts of being an independent artist was connecting with the fans. “Having a real and tangible connection to the people who love your music,that’s the best,” Morris says. That’s evident when listening to Allo Darlin’s work. Their music seems to address you like an old friend. In fact, during my interview with Elizabeth, she spoke to me like we had been pals for years. Her warm, inviting spirit shines through, as does every other member of Allo Darlin’, and their music reminds you of a party you had back in the day – the good ol’ days. Remember back then? I was usually there, in the corner, drunk on rum, messing with that plastic ukulele...
f you haven’t heard the name Carter Tanton, either from his previous project ‘Tulsa’, as a key member of Marissa Nadler’s band, a member of Baltimore based up-and-comers ‘Lower Dens,’ or from his new, widely acclaimed solo album ‘Freeclouds,’ just wait… you will, and soon. Although he seems like perhaps one of the busiest musicians in the indie world, I was able to catch some words with him from Germany. On November 15, ‘Freeclouds’ smashed onto the scene. An eleven song journey of ‘gauzy’ layers, swelling reverb, quiet ambience, stylistic twists and understated lyrical hope, Freeclouds is commanding attention in the very sweet, quiet, but determined way his beautiful tenor has romanced so many to continued intrigue. Listening to it, you roll easily from song to song as if visiting different scenes in some ethereal dream; “I like music that sounds not of this world. Cocteau twins are a favorite… on the whole, writing the song is only half the work and the way it sounds is equally important; the attack of the snare drum, the length of the reverb, just the details you know. “ The album’s name is derived from David Bowie’s ‘Wild Eyed Boy From Feecloud,’ a line that also appears in the last song on Freeclouds, ‘Pitch Bent
Words | Missy Wiggins Flute.’ For Tanton, the similarities seem to end there. “(The song didn’t inspire the album) much in a conscious way…my favorite Bowie records are HUNKY DORY and STATION to STATION.” Hunky Dory could relate as it’s known as one of Bowie’s more wandering records, stylistically speaking. This album does move in and out of several sounds “(which is) a reflection of how much time (the) record spans…I recorded some songs as far back as 2008 when my interests were much different than they are now. These days I’m listening to electronic music, not too interested in songs. I don’t know why.” This could explain some of the gaps between the twangy layered strings on some songs and the heavily produced synth of others on the album; “I had just learned a bunch of really powerful recording programs and techniques and the excitement of demonstrating that new knowledge comes off as showboaty a bit” The distance in tone between songs has caused some constructive criticism, but not to despair, “I read all the reviews, fuck it! When Pitchfork gave me a mediocre review I swear folks contacted me as if a member of my family had died, which was very sweet…BUT I mean c’mon, it’s just one dude who felt the record had some faults to it. It probably helped Feb. - Mar. 2012
Photo courtesy of Carter Tanton that the same day that review dropped, I learned that Lou Reed was a fan of my record…I’m okay with reading press, good or bad. Actually, I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it over the years. Your friends will never be as honest with you as a snarky reviewer will.” And to any critiques that the album may be inconsistent or over produced? “I agree on both points. They’re right. But you can either like that about the record or not, it’s not a right or wrong thing.” If he seems irreparably upbeat, he is, and not showing any signs of stopping any time soon. Along with continued work with Nadler and Dens “I’m putting finishing touches on a new solo record… it’s 60-70% in the can… What I’m really trying to do with (this) one is have an objective before I open up the computer instead of just pushing a bunch of buttons and waiting for ‘cool sounds’ to happen. (I’m) also halfway through a covers record of John Cale songs, so I’ve got my hands full…” Whether having me running around for hours seeking out his many credited influences and favorites, or already working on something new to bring you all, it seems like Carter Tanton plans on keeping us all on the edge of our seats for a long time to come. Welcome to staying power Mr. Tanton, can’t wait for the new album!
Words | Damien Roos
ouring the world at a frantic pace, sweeping concertgoers into a flashing, sweating, beat-heavy frenzy night after night may take a heavy toll on some, but for the members of French electronic band Dirtyphonics this is just what they have worked for. The Parisian quartet has been storming the globe for years now, gaining new fans and building momentum with a raucous show that is most parts dance, some parts hip hop with the energy of rock blended in to create a unique experience that hits harder than your typical drum and bass throwdown. When asked about keeping up their energy level they responded, “We’ve wanted this so hard, it would be stupid to feel tired now…The energy we get from our fans and everyone we meet on the road keeps us going with a big smile on our faces…” Like any genre once pushed along to the outer banks by mainstream’s teeming current, electronic music’s escalating popularity (particularly in the states, where we have been catching up since the latter portion of the last decade) falls squarely on the shoulders of any artist bold enough to make their own waves and carry the movement forward. And as with any original group, Dirtyphonics’ music is the dependent sum of four independent music lovers, the proverbial cacophony of influences ranging from metal to experimental Eastern 70’s
Photo courtesy of Dirtyphonics jazz. The result is a driven, racing sound infused with beats that press the iron to your pulse. The four of them were friends before they started making music, and when collaborating on new material their process involves “us four, in the studio, gathering ideas, fighting, laughing and trying new things. We argue a lot and it’s very healthy. We like to push things further and when the four of us agree then we know we’re on the something.” The process has worked, and in a musical movement that so embraces technology, it seems appropriate that the proof of success is as quantifiable as hits and views on any of the various social media networks. For example, at the time of this article’s composition, Dirtyphonic’s song “Vandals” (off their 2009 release with the same name) is inching ever closer to two million plays on YouTube, attracting attention from ears worldwide. Dirtyphonics’ most recent release, 2011’s Tarantino/Oakwood, came on Steve Aoki’s label Dim Mak Records. Aoki is a growing legend amongst not only in the drum and bass/ electronic music crowd, but music lovers all over the world, and has worked with a wide array of artists from Lil Jon to Travis Barker. These are exciting times for both the band and the scene, and in colluding with such notable talents of the drop beat the band remarks that “it’s inspiring to see people like him, Feb. - Mar. 2012
Guetta, Deadmau5 etc. taking the electronic scene to places it’s never been before. Of course all of it is fun but it’s also a lot of hard and intense work and Aoki is a great example of this…When Steve and Dim Mak approached us for Tarantino and Oakwood it just felt natural to do it.” The opportunity for Dirtyphonics to work and tour with Aoki is a telling sign of their promising future, a testament to both the mark they are making and reputation they are gaining in electronic music’s tight-knit community, one best forged by the ability to push the boundaries of a growing scene. The band is currently hard at work both touring the world (they hit the states for a short run early this year before heading back and spanning a vast array of European cities), and writing new material for their upcoming album which they promise to contain “high energy/genre-defying music.” Of course it goes without saying that whether taking the album in by itself or seeing it performed live, the experience will be nothing less than dirty, as the band explains that “being Dirty is an attitude and we like the contrast in the name, which is a good representation of who we are. Different yet united and when it comes to being Dirty, we’re always happy to go a bit further.”
spoke with Justin Rutledge of Early Winters, who is famous in his own right for his Canadian country solo career. Talking with Justin was enjoyable. He is a sweetheart that swears like a sailor. He spoke to me from Toronto during a not so early winter. It was over 0 degrees C up by him and nearly 60 F in New York at the time of our phone date. Justin was fresh from the doctor’s office. “I got all these shots for like, typhoid and malaria.” That is because he will be going to Haiti in early January to “be part of this documentary about three Canadian musicians going down and working with Haitian musicians.” Justin was known for, and by known I mean being the recipient for a Juno award for his “sad country music” but when he met with Carina Round and Dan Burns, a seemingly inappropriate trio, their sounds blended together beautifully. “I guess I never really had an outlet for my poppier or rockier stuff before.” Early Winters began as an informal writing session in Los Angeles where the other members reside, a city that Justin wasn’t particularly thrilled with initially. ”Get me in and get me out as fast as possible!” They began writing and next thing they knew that had 6 songs already completed, and soon enough 18 songs recorded. And
eventually, Justin grew to love Los Angeles. “It was really stupid of me to kind of generalize like that... There are some really great people.. the work ethic is great.. the musicianship is fantastic. I think its a very beautiful part of the world.” When it came to their self titled EP released back in March, the members would often be on the road and would have to use various methods to brainstorm ideas with each other, like skype and texting. “We’d all separately work on ideas and then communicate with each other on these various forms of communication...then we’d go down to LA to the studio for 5 days and bang them out.” When it comes to lyric writing, Justin channels his inner E.E.Cummings. “I incorporate certain aspects of him into everything...it bleeds into Early Winters stuff.” Mostly Justin is inspired by the his image-heavy writing. “He talked about color a lot. You talk about color and people see color.” One song which encompasses this is “Count Me In” in which “I talk about flowers on fire and a black and white film and all these justaposing images.” When it comes to describing which genre the band fits in, “were just a pop rock band.” Like so many others, especially me, Justin has grown disgusted with the increasing and overwhelming
amount of genres flooding the music industry. “Its like holy shit! How many forms of music are there? Give me a fucking break. Its like going to City Hall and trying to get your parking permit review. Its like what hall do I go down? So much red tape. Its just fucking music people!” Maybe he can’t cram Early Winters into a genre, but he can cram it into the genre of “good.” “If what I do is sub-par, I know it and I’m not proud of it. But I kind of just knew that what I do with Early Winters is kind of a special thing and I just personally know its good. I’m not saying that because I have a big ego, but I’m saying that as a professional.” Apparently a few others also find their music good, their songs being featured on Ghost Whisperer and MTV’s Teen Wolf. “I saw the original with Michael J. Fox and I fucking loved it.” They are also set to have some of their music in a Warner Brothers film next year. “If these are the avenues we need to take, then we’ll use that. That being said were not gonna jump at the next McDonalds commercial.”
Early Words | Gina Tron
Photo courtesy of Early Winters Feb. - Mar. 2012
Photo courtesy of Gary Go
Words | Liz Kulze
ary Go is a kinetic being. Even after having just returned from a three-week song writing retreat in Thailand, a good sixhour time difference and justified excuse for jetlag drowsiness, the singer-songwriter’s energy can still electrify a computer screen. Skyping from his West London studio, the 26-year-old sat spinning in his computer chair, excited, well just about everything. Go (or Baker to his family) sprang onto the scene after his debut EP “So So” caught a producer’s eye in 2007. DIY to the core, the artist then set up his own label and studio, The Canvas Room, and began working on his self-titled debut album, which was released in 2009 and rose to spot 22 on the UK albums chart. Go then signed with Decca and spent the summer touring as the opening act for the British pop group, Take That, solidifying his place in the national spotlight. He has since toured with Lady Gaga (who once named him her “favorite new artist of the year.”) and MIKA, and earned “Best Pop Song of 2009” on ITunes US with his single “Wonderful.” “Music is everything I do,” remarked Go, dressed in a Playboy flat-brim and a pair of his signature “nerd chic” frames. And he’s right— with his short film soundtrack “Now Was Once the Future” (NWOTF) due out next month, a new artist signed
to his label, vocals featured on four tracks of Benny Benassi’s latest release, “Electroman,” a budding multi-media company called “The Whipping Club”, and the follow-up to his debut album currently in the works, Go’s music projects leave time for little else. He wrote his first song at eight years old on a Casio keyboard gifted to him by his musician cousin, and since that time the passion has simply “fueled itself.” “It became a way for me to escape within my own little head, and that hasn’t changed,” he says. “It’s still the reason why I’m doing it.” A musical mulit-tasker, Go enjoys being on both sides of the track, which is why he can produce young artists like Luke Pickett while simultaneously working on his own projects. Although he claims, “I’m better as a producer of other people than I am of myself,” explaining that “there’s something about being outside looking in than being in looking in, and out, and around,“ his latest release “NWOTF” is a musical melange held together by what can only be a masterful production job. A break-up record, the album serves as the soundtrack to a short-film (which Go will only say is “in the works”) about loosing someone over the course of a day, and plays like an an emotional timeline moving from sadness, to fear, to despair, to hope, to acceptance. And while “NWOTF” is essentially a pop record, Go’s willingness to experiment Feb. - Mar. 2012
with a wide range of musical influences makes one hesitant to throw down the label. There are few artists out there who would risk including a spoken word piece on their second release, but Go’s “Confetti Death” is a poetic and welcomed change of pace. “I Want My Heart Broken Again,” about “the rush and aliveness you feel after a break-up,” surprises with the sonorous blows of a saxophone, and “Our Love is on the Line” has its moments of Latin influences. A glance at Go’s Tumblr account will reveal an unexpected second passion: chairs. His archive boasts hundreds of photos of the fundamental furniture cast in various abstract renditions. He even owns a shirt that reads “I love chairs,” and while this fixation may sound like something out of left field, it seems to be rooted in the same place as his love of music. “A chair has such a simple function that we take it for granted,” he waxes, “ And yet artists have had the thought to reimagine the chair. It’s so beautiful and fascinating to see what people can do with something we experience everyday.” Today, music too has become a part of our everyday lives. And while Go believes it has become like “water, a tap we have running all day,” he understands this as all the more reason to explore, experiment, and find a sound that is uniquely his own.
Words | Mitchell Davis
esterday already happened…I’m looking at what’s down the line.” As Tigran Mimosa, more simply known as MiM0SA, prepared for a sold out show at Chicago’s House of Blues he may have stumbled when he tried to recall the previous stop on the tour, but it’s easy to understand why considering the whirlwind year the young electronic DJ/producer has had. The 23-year-old Los Angeles native tirelessly recorded and toured throughout 2011. The hard word has translated into acclaim for both his studio work and his energetic live sets. Sanctuary, his latest album, was released in late October and displays his continued growth as an artist. He brought his live show to a wide range of festivals throughout the summer. In Illinois alone he played multiple sets at Summercamp, closed out Wicker Park Fest on the streets of Chicago, and performed at the indie oriented Pygmalion Music Festival. Sanctuary may be MiM0SA’s most ambitious work to date, featuring a wide range of styles within the electronic genre. He manages to create electronic sounds driven by pulsating bass that are more atmospheric than abrasive. The album branches out of the dubstep genre with elements of downtempo and hip-hop all strung together by winding synthesizers. Fans of his earlier work may be surprised by the apparent changes in sound, but the inspiration for the new material is obvious to MiM0SA. The majority of Sanctuary was recorded over three months that he spent living in Brooklyn. The
change in scenery translated into a clear influence in the studio. When he was not recording he spent his time going to different clubs, venues, and hole in the wall bars, immersing himself in the city’s music. The myriad experiences led to the exploration of new dimensions found on Sanctuary. Although he spends some of his time on tour relaxing and watching classic ‘80s comedies Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Collection MiM0SA does not seem to sit still for very long. When he is not onstage he is usually in the traveling studio in the back of his tour bus and is already writing his next album. Additionally, he is at work on multiple collaborations and other musical ventures. He recently started his own label, False Idol Musik. False Idol is preparing to release Naked Poetry, a joint effort between MiM0SA and California cohort Sleepyhead that the two will release under the name Sexy Time. He sees the effort as “timeless, headphone music” and plans to accompany the release with music videos. The project is the first of many planned releases from similar artists on False Idol, but he’s staying mum on any names for the time being. The night’s show was a prime example of MiM0SA’s ability to lead the crowd into frenzy. The set featured some of Sanctuary’s highlights along with cuts from his previous albums, but he’s not content to only play his studio work. The crowd’s enthusiasm may reach its highest levels when Mimosa shows his skills at creating bass-heavy remixes of hip-hop and pop songs everyone in the crowd Feb. - Mar. 2012
Photos courtesy of MiMOSA
knows. Highlights included: Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep”, Kanye and Jay-Z’s “Niggas in Paris”, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and the classic “I Got 5 On It”. Throughout his time onstage he does everything he can to show the crowd his music excites him as much as it does them. With an everpresent joint he takes every opportunity he can to step away from the controls to jump, clap, and pump his hands to his sounds. The Chicago crowd responded with nonstop dancing and hands in the air. 2011 may have been the biggest year to date in MiM0SA’s young career, but that does not mean he has any plans to slow down in 2012. It makes sense for someone that is only interested in what is happening down the line. The most skillful make their work look effortless and the future plan sounds simple when he says it. “Keep touring, and keep putting out music”.
Photo courtesy of of Montreal
Words | Christine Bettis
xpressionistic” is the lone word that Kevin Barnes chose to sum up of Montreal’s upcoming album, Paralytic Stalks, which is set to be released by Polyvinyl records in early February. I had asked him for one sentence, he did me one better, and his diction is telling. One of the things that sets of Montreal apart from other bands is their ability to unify the lines between fine art, theatre, music, and even literature…creating a hem on the fringe of cultured expression. These nuances are apparent in Paralytic Stalks, as is an adept grasp on modern technics. The technical maneuvers that went into making this album are intense, and for those of you who understand the equipment and the language of it, Tony Ware of Electronic Musician did an excellent write up. Equally intense, and borderline voyeuristically private are the album’s song lyrics. In these few lines from the track, “Ye, renew the plaintiff” Barnes cries out a despaired invocation to his wife, Nina: “Oh Nina my mood system is chaos, I’m desperate for something but there’s no human word for it, I should be happy but what I feel is corrupted, broken, impotent and insane / Oh Nina I’ve become so hateful, how am I ever gonna survive this winter? I can think of nothing but getting my revenge, make those fuckers pay, but it’s not gonna happen and it’s eating a hole in me.” It seems as though the days of Barnes’ convivi-
alist alter ego, Georgie Fruit have been left behind. On the contrary, says Barnes. Although he has recently decided to abandon personas and write songs that were more directly related to his psyche, Georgie has been a fun character for him to play. If the mood should strike, then Georgie will resurface. Barnes understands the importance of the ever-evolving artist; that dynamism is key to survival in our postIndustrial society where this afternoon’s headlines can turn into yesterday’s news in a matter of hours. To survive in any industry, you’ve got to keep people interested. Which is why The Bee with Wheels (David Barnes), and Gemini Tactics (Nina Barnes) who do the majority of the band’s design work, have turned past album covers into paper lanterns and t-shirts. The unconventional format is something that fans were receptive to; however, this time they decided to create a board game to go along with the album. It’s a Dada-esque game titled Songun, the North Korean word for their military state. Overtime, the game evolved into a silly and erroneous way to interact with friends, which doesn’t quite fit the hostile, tense mood of Paralytic Stalks; therefore, it will remain an independent entity from the album. The cover art, designed by The Bee with Wheels was most inspired by the mood, and a more fitting representation of the album as a whole. The space between the completion of an album and its release is a good time to reflect on defining Feb. - Mar. 2012
moments of one’s career. Barnes’ peak of his career thus far happened in NYC when he rode a horse on stage to cap off the Skeletal Lamping tour. “It was a beautiful white horse and I felt very majestic riding it. Well, I can’t really say I was riding it…I was sitting on it and singing a song. I was wearing these gold panties and nothing else, practically naked on this white horse, it was very thrilling.” Barnes also spoke to me about vivid anxiety dreams involving broken sound systems, audience members getting frustrated and leaving, and forgotten lyrics, as well as horrendous waking life technical difficulties. One time, while performing on the same bill as NOFX in a parking lot outside of a soccer stadium in Mexico City, the rain wouldn’t let up, which made for a delayed performance, destroyed equipment and an aggressive crowd. Barnes describes the moment in hindsight: “Someone threw a chicken bone at me! It became a really hostile environment. When it came time to perform we had to hide behind our amps because they were throwing bottles at us. Eventually I just said ‘Fuck it’, the rain let up a little bit, and we went on stage and did our thing. That’s what the audience didn’t realize, that’s what it means to be punk rock. It’s one of the more entertaining stories, and in hindsight it’s easier to deal with…because some shows can be really good, but there aren’t that many moments I can think of that were as interesting as that.”
ndie Rock and Canada… go figure. But as it turns out, the genre is becoming about as synonymous with the Great White North as uh, well, boneless cuts of pork loin. That’d be Canadian bacon for those unfamiliar with the smoked and salty arts. For those who are into Indie Rock, forgive the rest of us for not being aware that there’s more coming out of Canada than neutral politics. Among bands like Broken Social Scene, Tokyo Police Club, Metric, and Black Emperor, there’s another band that’s kind of big deal, named one of the “10 Canadian bands destined to break in 2010” by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in fact. Coming off the heat of their eponymous release in 2010, Yukon Blonde has continued to uphold the mantra with their upcoming EP “Fire/Water”. We were able to catch up with Brandon Scott, lead guitar and vocals, talk with him about the band, the tour, and if there’s really something in the water that makes Canadians want to rock so much, independently of course. “It’s a good scene. It’s a smaller scene,” Scott says. “We definitely broke out with, ‘Broken Social Scene’, and ‘Artic Fire’. The scene’s definitely getting world-renowned for that.” Although it would seem it’s a great time to be
a rocker and Canadian right now, Scott was a little hush with the gush. “I mean, we do okay in Canada,” Scott admits. “It’s definitely a supportive scene, and there’s the CBC [Canada Broadcasting Corporation] which supports all the bands pretty well in radio stations all across the country; they’ve been really awesome to us.” After a little more thinking time, Scott finally concluded with, “Yeah, it’s good.” Which is good enough for me. When asked to describe their sound, Scott reports it’s, “something like ‘The Willburys’ meet ‘The Buzzcocks. Yeah, that’s definitely what we’re into. Some Neil Young, Tom Petty influence. Jeff [Innes, chief song writer] has been a lot into Elvis Costello, you know, that’s kinda what we’ve been going for.” And going is what the band has continued to do. Despite an early name change and a few lineup switches, the group continues to churn out a blend of music that champions old styles and influences. “The last album we mainly did just live off the floor, and just overdubbed vocals and what not. It was just live to tape. It was a fun approach; we always wanted to do that.” In an effort to mirror their success but not their methods, with their newest album, “Fire/Water” the band went into yet another direction with producer Shawn Cole. “This one was more of a track by track ses-
sion; took a little longer, we could work on our tones a little more. It worked out really nicely just to try something different again. [Shawn’s] definitely more of the like “analog type of guy”. So it was fun working with him. We kinda pushed him into getting a more “hi-fi” sound and he sounded super fun working with us, and we tried all types of new things. It worked out really well.” And let’s not forget the tour. The band has dates scheduled on Yukonblonde.com up until late April 2012 all around the world and Scott was probably most excited to tell me about their exploits. “Oh man, I’d probably say our best show so far was probably Toronto on this tour,” Scott admits. “We played at this place called, ‘Lee’s Palace’, and it was just incredibly fun. And, man, I don’t know… We had a really good time in Austin a couple of weeks ago. We’re on tour with a band called ‘The Fling’ in California; that show was super awesome. We’re looking forward to getting to their hometown, closer to the LA area. So that should be a good show.” For more about Yukon Blonde, their upcoming tour, and more you can look them up on facebook, twitter, and myspace as well as their website, YukonBlonde.com.
Words | Craig Magraff
Photo courtesy of Yukon Blonde Feb. - Mar. 2012
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Art, Mo dern Meat & Life on Borrowed Time Words | Hannah Palmer-Egan
he evening started as any intimate arts fundraiser might – in a sprawling, 19th century townhouse on a quiet side street in New York’s West Village. Guests sipped fine wine and sampled cheeses, olives and finger snacks spread across a wide table at the back of the parlor, chatting about their mutual acquaintance with the artist of the night, whom they all knew and respected. After a brief introduction, Carrie Ahern walked into the room, dressed simply in a white top and black pants. Ahern is a critically acclaimed dancer best known for visceral, haunting performances that push the boundaries of both dance and abstract thought. She was carrying the skinned carcass of a lamb. She held it with a calm tenderness, befitting of such an animal, but strangely out of context, given the lamb’s condition. It had no head, and without its skin, you could see its muscles shining ruby red and the thin white layer of fat surrounding those muscles. Ahern walked lightly, blithely across the room, quietly regarding her audience. She laid the lamb on an antique table with a cutting board where a butcher in a white overcoat and apron was waiting to carve it up. She then walked to another table nearby and climbed on top of it. As the butcher cut into the lamb, Ahern flung herself upon her table. She lay on it, writhing, twitching, slowly ensconcing herself around and underneath it, mere steps from where the butcher worked the meat. Now she lurked under the table—all eyes— darting around the room and with a palpable sense of waiting, like she was biding her time for something. Then she erupted in motion again. Her body pushed violently out from the confines of the tablelegs, as if trying to escape this seemingly self-imposed cage, and then suddenly, she reeled inward again into a tiny ball. I half expected her to disappear right into the floor or poof! into thin air. Looking back, the moment reminds me of an owl in the woods, or a deer frozen at the edge of a field at dawn; how it will stand so still when it senses you near, as if hiding in plain sight. It’s like they will themselves invisible until they can no longer deny that you see them. The performance was a teaser for Ahern’s current work, entitled Borrowed Prey. The project seeks answers to questions the artist had regarding sustainable food – organics, free-range meats, and items that are hunted or foraged, which are oh-soin-vogue right now in the culinary world. Like many artists, Ahern often uses her work to seek answers to questions. This issue of food sourcing and sustainability “was bothering me for a few years, leading into the project. Discussion [about sustainable food] was at a certain level, and it wasn’t going too far.” It’s true. Visit any self-respecting fine-dining restaurant in New York City, and the meats will be either free-range (Amish chicken, grass-fed beef ) or game (venison, rabbit, pheasant or squab). You’ll
see exotic mushrooms that can’t be cultivated, and produce which is farmed, but of old-world heritage or heirloom varieties. Often the menu will inform you, “We use organic or locally-sourced meats and produce whenever possible,” or something similar. If none of this sounds familiar to you, you need to eat out more. It’s seriously everywhere, to varying degrees. Then, ask your waiter where the Kobe beef tar-tar actually came from. Likely, he’ll say he has to check with the chef. Press the chef on why sustainable meat is important, and she’ll tell you how the taste is superior, and how she likes to support family farms, and it’s healthier for you and the environment. The conversation ends there. Period. I arrived at Ahern’s fall benefit fairly wellapprised of the trends she was probing with Borrowed Prey. I’ve worked on organic farms and farmto-table eateries. I grew up in a Vermont barnyard alongside “sustainably raised” pigs and chickens, which my father would slaughter before my very eyes (the guts and gore used to really fascinate me, I was never a girly-girl). I wondered what a performance examining these issues could look like, and what it may reveal. I sipped my wine and chatted with guests around me. People mostly wanted to talk about how kind Carrie was and what a charismatic performer she could be. Questions regarding her current work were mostly met with befuddled, if intrigued uncertainty. As the performance unfolded, I could see that Ahern’s movements were connected to—even in tandem with—the action at the butcher’s table, as one cut up the other and wrapped her in white deli paper, slowly whittling away the body until little but bones remained. The butcher hacks off a leg, and Ahern’s leg goes crazy with twitching, her face all askew with I’m-not-sure-what emotion. Or so, it seems. And then. The lamb. Was gone. Left in its place were neat little stacks of white paper packages, placed on the table next to where the lamb used to be, next to its bare, unused bones. They’re for sale, by the way. Proceeds will continue paying for Ahern’s project. The dancer exited and the guests returned to their wine. The conversation was livened, to a degree. I mingled with Ahern’s guests to vibe out a response. Ruth is an 88-year-old New York native who met Carrie over dinner at a mutual friend’s home. “Fascinating, wasn’t it?” Ruth remarked. Then, she whipped out her iPhone and played a video she shot during the performance. I watched again as Carrie’s body writhed and shook on the table, with the butcher in the background. “I may not eat another lamb chop again,” Ruth mused, adding that the performance was “like nothing I ever saw before.” I didn’t press her on the issue, but I quietly wondered why the performance may change her eating habits. Weeks later, I was talking to my friend, Fenella Roche, who has been a vegetarian for 15 years. She described the moment she went veg: “I was in the
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kitchen with my mom. She had a whole chicken and she was pulling out the organs—you know, whatever they leave in there— and I thought, ‘my mom is doing this for me, but there’s no way I could actually prepare that food for myself.’” In that moment, Fenella decided, “Until I could kill an animal and go through that whole process, there was no way I could eat meat.” Perhaps Ruth, after seeing a lamb butchered before her eyes,
tapped into a similar sentiment. To me, these reactions to the simple fact of butchering beg the question: To justify consuming an animal, must we feel capable of personally slaughtering and/or butchering it? With Borrowed Prey, Ahern wanted to examine her own boundaries of violence and nonviolence as they related to the animals she’s been eating since childhood. Last fall, she went to the marshlands of Maryland to hunt with Dale Rodefer, an avid woodsman who she knew through a mutual friend. Before they went into the woods, Ahern practiced shooting from the balcony of Dale’s house. When she failed to hit a single target, Dale stopped her and said, “You have to want to kill it, and want to shoot it.” Ahern thought about Dale’s advice. She then put the gun back up, fired once, and hit the target. “I’ve been finding,” she told me over tea one day, “I do have a desire to actually kill something, to be a predator, and that’s part of who I am and maybe why I never wanted to be a vegetarian. That’s very much a part of this project.” She finishes the thought, saying, “I’m not totally nonviolent.” Something in the statement seems hesitant to me. I ask her if she aspires toward total nonviolence. She pauses for a long moment and answers finally, “You know, that’s a really good question. I don’t know that answer.” After we spoke, I looked over Ahern’s website at her other works. They all shared a sense of ragged catharsis, in which the dancers in her company seemed to be both exorcizing and embracing abstract, figurative demons at once. It is all very haunting, while maintaining a luscious, gorgeous sheen of grace and beauty. But it is dark, and definitely violent, as catharsis often is, as good art can often be. To be clear, Carrie Ahern is a serious
dancer and artist. The classically trained ballerina moved from Wisconsin to New York at 19 to “be a dancer, to pursue that passion,” and her work has been extremely well-received, with great reviews in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and other worthy publications. Despite the darkness in her work, Ahern is friendly and light and easy to talk to, outgoing, even. Her porcelain-white skin glows with life, and maybe a few freckles. Her eyes are big and bright and round, and her perfect little heart-shaped lips smile often. So, there is some duality in her personality: there is the Carrie who craves shooting and killing things, who presents pondering, three-hour performances deep within Gotham’s bowels, her dancers clad in rags and caught in web. Then there is the Carrie who sits and drinks tea with you and hugs you when the interview is over. However, she seems to have found a balance between the two Carries, and it hasn’t compromised the scope of her work at all. Rather, it has enabled her to thrive while making art in a city that would just as likely eat you alive. Some artists must explore, even indulge, the inner darkness to feed the creative process. For Ahern, this meant going hunting, with intent to kill, then carving up animals in a butcher-shop. Even slaughtering living, breathing chickens at Stokesberry Farm, in Washington State, watching their lives slip away as they bled out before her. The artist seems interested in exploring her personal tendencies toward violence to learn more about her own humanity, but only to a point, and only within a specific context, which she creates through her work. Ahern can carry a skinned lamb into a fancy party on a Tuesday night and be applauded for it because she creates a framework for such things to happen. As artists, it’s important to keep this in mind, particularly when the work challenges standard perceptions of ordinary items or attempts to illicit new thought on tough subjects. Surprise people too much and they will coil away from your work, or blow it off completely. Much of our task as artists is simply about creating a space where others can receive our ideas. Ahern says her concerns with this project have more to do with time: “Will it have an impact on others who don’t invest [as] much time [as I did],” she wonders, acknowledging that she has spent an exorbitant number of hours researching and plotting this work. More basely she seems to wonder if people can slow down enough to learn from it in the short span of the performance. Here in New York, a city where everything rushes forward at blinding speed, this is a valid concern. “Everything is about convenience,” she muses, and she is right. Even Slow Food done the NYC way, is calculated in two-hour table turns. Sit down at an organic restaurant and you have two, maybe three hours before the waiter starts checking his watch on you. But for this project, Ahern had to live differently. Over the course of the year since beginning her
research, she says she has “been able to live better,” because of the practices she’s adopted while living the life of hunter, farmer, butcher. She says she feels “less pressure, even though the pressures in New York are very intense,” and that she is “not spread as thin.” Studying Slow Food has taught Carrie Ahern a lesson or two about slowing down her own life, and listening to herself and those around her. She says that formerly, she built a lot of time into her projects, both in actual performance (her shows often break three hours with no intermission), and in exhaustive preparation. She felt she needed to take this approach “because there’s not a lot of time in my life,” she said, but now that is starting to change. Borrowed Prey helped Ahern see the strings which connect humans and animals, life and death, and the ways in which many Americans refuse to acknowledge things that make us uncomfortable. “If you’re disconnected from some of these natural processes of life, and death perhaps being the most major natural process in life, I feel like people can’t really live their lives as fully. They can’t have the same sense of satisfaction, of richness.” This week, I spoke to Gina Fiori and Geof Hancock of Alma Farm, an organic farm in Porter, Maine. Fiori and Hancock raise cattle and pigs for slaughter and have twin daughters who are about to turn three. As farmers and parents, they made a decision not to shelter their daughters from the stark reality of death in farm-life. “The girls understand when they eat [our meat],” Gina said, “they get it that the pig was in the yard and it’s on the plate now.” Does this mean they are living more richly? I don’t know. But I do know that they speak freely and easily about death, and they eat ridiculously well. Their girls are happy, healthy and well-adjusted. For Borrowed Prey, Ahern also studied the work of Dr. Temple Grandin, the famed animal-behavior scientist, who is also autistic. Because of her autism, Grandin thinks in pictures instead of words. This gives her the ability to empathize with animals on an extraordinary level: she can clearly visualize life the way they see it, and by extension, feel how they would feel, given her professional background in animal behavior. Grandin’s work helped Ahern understand how animals perceive the world, which lent great insight to the project. Grandin’s experience living with Autism also reminds Ahern that “everyone kind of lives on a different spectrum,” an idea that helps the artist empathize with both animals and people. All of this is an ongoing process. It will not end when Borrowed Prey closes in NYC on May 13. Ahern’s next project, which grew out of her current work, will be a closer investigation into empathy between humans in the modern age. “We’re not empathizing with each other in the same way [we once did],” Ahern said. “There’s more access to information, [but] less direct communication.” She sees this as particularly troubling with regard to how we handle death and dying: “we’re still not really looking at what we might need. Not just to live longer but to live better.”
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In one of our talks, Carrie mentioned something that struck me. She described Dale (her hunting mentor) as someone who “really created his own life.” He hunts much of what he eats and built his house, which she described as “finished and unfinished at the same time.” To me, it seems her work is also this way, as is the work of most of the artists, farmers, and other creative people I know. Creating something is, by default, an ongoing process; something that builds on past experience and current learning, and sometimes becomes indistinguishable from the lives we live around and through it. Even when a piece is finished it influences the work that follows, and through it all runs the quiet tendril of time, which refuses to call attention to itself. It is we who focus so much on time – on making it, saving it, the fact that we feel we are wasting it. We would all likely be a bit more the wiser to pause for a moment and remember, as Carrie reminded me, that day over tea: “things that are real take time.” Thus, let the world speed around you, and focus on what you’ve chosen to do with your time.
Words | Eric Boyd
he Andy Warhol Museum is known for showing some of the most daring and subversive works in modern art. It comes as no surprise that, in October, the Warhol was showing Lloyd Kaufman’s 1984 film, the Toxic Avenger. The movie, about a dweeby janitor who, as a result of being thrown into toxic waste becomes a superhero monster, it’s a cult classic. The film, released by Troma Entertainment Inc., which Kaufman is the president of, was the basis of a Saturday morning cartoon show in the 90’s, despite the movie featuring the head-crushing death of a child. It has also been made into an off-Broadway musical, and is currently being remade into a big budget film. Lloyd is also currently working on the fifth installment of the franchise. After leaving the Warhol’s screening room, having watched 90 minutes of slapstick and gore, it’s only natural to be greeted by Andy Warhol’s Car Crash series. Lloyd Kaufman has always had a place in art, even if it took everyone a while to catch up and realize it. After the screening, I caught up with Lloyd. We discussed his growing acceptance in the art world, and how that acceptance doesn’t really mean much. Aside from being invited to the Warhol, it seems like the art world, in general, has started to accept you and your work. Troma has a big imprint in the worlds of art and commerce...we’ve been a big influence on the cultural world, but we’re economically blacklisted. The movie industry is controlled by a small number of big, devil worshiping, international, mega-conglomerates. And these media conglomerates don’t let the
right one in unless they own you...we don’t want to be owned, so we’re in the underground forever. So, despite Troma having such a brand, you think that your work will never be totally embraced? The point is you’ve got all of these bad movies [from major studios] with a ton of a publicity...if you weren’t told how good these films supposedly were, you’d be sitting in the theater going ‘What in the hell am I watching?’ They ignore the people who are really independent artists. So you think its not just Troma that’s being marginalized? Are there any other indie filmmakers out there who aren’t getting the attention they deserve? All of the genuine independents are marginalized... it’s like Russia. When Russia is not interested in somebody who’s a bit subversive, they take away his, her, or its passport and that person doesn’t exist... that’s where we all are today. However, Troma has found success on the Internet and with Social media. The fans love you regardless of the major media. Well the one thing that the Michael Bays can’t buy is good word of mouth... Rupert Murdoch can’t purchase good word of mouth, no matter how many phones he hacks... [Our films] become viral...that’s thanks to our fans. The big boys can’t buy that. But that’s not completely by chance, though. You do a lot of traveling.
I have to whore for my art...we have no money for advertising, so if I get invited to a film festival in Spain, I go. Of course I get free booze and free pot...but I go to promote Troma and to promote the movies. Aside from the writing and directing, you’ve also been doing a lot of acting. What do you get out of that? I do the acting to help the independent filmmakers... if I act in someone’s film, the Troma fans will go there and support it...sometimes I’m paid, but if there’s no budget, I’ve done it for free. That’s a good thing that you do. Well I’m in some big movies, too. I’m in Gamer, Crank 2, James Gunn’s new film, Super...and that kind of gives Troma a little bit of publicity. That gives us some cache. All of those names you just mentioned-- It seems that, despite the media wanting nothing to do with you, Troma appears to be a great stepping stone for people who work in film. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, James Gunn, Eli Roth...they all started out with Troma. The people who work for Troma are really good people. They love movies...so the people who come out from working with us, making a movie...they come out of it with amazing skills...they understand that, if you want to be independent, you have to work in a certain way which preserves your artistic integrity.
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