Killer Kate! Oh yes, don’t cross me! How do you do? I do very well. Thank you kind sir, how goes it with you? Ahh, you know, the usual. Trying to look busy… What’s shaking in Sydney? So much, so much. Actually I don’t have a clue, as I don’t really go out. Winter is coming so the only thing shaking is me without a sweater. So, silkscreening eh? Mainly, but diversifying my repertoire... When’d you start? My parents had a studio they shared with a screenprinter when I was little so I was fascinated by it, I picked up a bit in college and then I worked for a screenprinting friend, Kate Gibb, who taught me everything she knew and let me use her studio. She got me hooked. How would you describe your style? I can’t find the words, I leave that to others. My favourites so far are “crack eye candy” and “super saturated colour bombs”. Chuffed. Where did it come from? It’s changed very much in the last year, less head, more heart. Life experience helps. Where is it going? I haven’t got a clue and that excites me. Your work with color is astounding, how do you do that? Thank you, I suppose practice and instinct. Then much more practice. What is it about working with only a few colors that’s so appealing? Colour is so emotive that I find it hard to restrain myself - by restricting my colours it becomes a challenge to know when to stop. A perverse pleasure as such. What’s your favorite color?
If I choose a favourite, the others will gang up on me and I’ll never be able to work with them again. How do you feel after pulling your designs off with ease? Like this !!!!!!!! and then if self doubt creeps in, I know to pack up and run away and come back the next day. Where do pencils fit into the mix? I do a lot of sketches, before and during the process. Sometimes even after a piece is finished for future reference for something new. It makes it easier for me to visualise layouts and shapes; how things fit. I have a process that works for me. I also use them to tie my hair up. ...computers? They’ll never catch on. I see that you graduated with a fashion degree, where’d silkscreening come into the picture? We did a textiles module at college, which I enjoyed, but at the time it didn’t really draw me in. You’ve been kicking some serious butt on the collabo’s, who’s next? I’m loving my collabs! Each one is a huge honour to be part of. The next one is a fashion designer who’ll be showing in London in September. No amount of superlatives can describe how great he and his team are. For me, the best part about silkscreening was watching the design come to life, what keeps you at it? I like the unexpected things that happen, the imperfect lay downs and textures. I work in a different way, as I tend not to plan for the finished artwork, but create the imagery, shapes and texture, put them onto screen and then see what comes out instinctively. I do love the penultimate layer where everything is
nearly there but looks slightly awkward or wrong. Sometimes the unfinished is so loaded with possibility that that is the peak for me. Do you have any upcoming shows/exhibitions? I have a few screenprints left at my solo show in Koskela and Iâ€™ll be in a few group shows later this year. I have one project that is still in
negotiation, thatâ€™ll be a pretty huge endeavour for me if it comes off. Fingers crossed! Where can we go to purchase your work? Online, via my website at http://shop.katebanazi.com, from Koskela in Rosebery, Sydney and a few other stockists worldwide. Why are you afraid of clowns? Why are more people NOT afraid of clowns, thatâ€™s my question. A clown wearing nylon whilst holding a snake is my ultimate nightmare. What makes you happy?
Sunshine and lollipops. When do you feel sad? When I haven’t been able to get outside, whatever the weather. If you could do it all again, would you change anything? There have been times when I would have answered this differently, but right now, an emphatic NO. I’ve worked really hard to get to this point. How can I get some Yorkshire pudding? Come to my house and I’ll make you some! Are you doing what you love? Without a doubt. I’m incredibly lucky and I know it, I also know not to take that for granted. What’s next? A dream client commission, a new collaboration, an ad campaign, a couple of editorials, a record cover and then a holiday. That should do me for a couple of months. Have I missed anything? Of course. Any shout-outs? Hi Mum!
Richie Rich! What is good? Nothing much man, just chillin’. Los Angeles: am I right or am I right? Half right, I was born in East LA, but raised for the most part in the Inland Empire. What do you do for money? For the grimey bills, I work in a grimey warehouse distributing toys I would never buy. What’s the greatest aspect of your job? That I have creative control, and as soon as I think it’s done I save it. Did you have hard time paying attention in class? Hell yes I did, my mind was always somewhere else. Everyday I would wait for school to be over already. Does your camera go everywhere that you do? Yup!!! I bring a camera because you never know what cool things you might see or get inspired from. What’s your process? I just see a cool photograph and have at it. I’ve been getting into bits of trouble for snatching pics, but folks end up liking them so much that they don’t mind. I don’t profit from them right now, so they can’t do anything about it anyhow. IDK. I create a piece then slap it onto Tumblr and play the waiting game. I love Tumblr right now, people don’t see the potential in it, but that’s how my work has been getting out there. I was stoked when I put that Blake Anderson piece up and I saw that he threw it up on his blog. I was super stoked. That shit made my da… Fuck, it made my week. Are you workin’ with your shots, found materials or both? A little of both, but I’ve been wanting to schedule more shoots just so I can own
all the photos. Pure creative control, plus you get to know the subject or artist. Collaborations are the best. Any named street game that you would care to reference? A lot of the street game is through Tumblr. All you do is tag whomever and if they have a blog and like it they reblog it. It can be rewarding at times. What’s up with some tee’s though? I know huh!!! Everyone has been on my ass about that. Soon I hope. I need to stop lagg’n. My apologies… Do you have a favorite piece of yours? I just recently did a nude piece for @ChekiNoir, that shit was cool and different (grimey nudes). My work with Noa James of course, that is the nicest-humblest guy you will ever meet. I called him up and asked him to shoot and he was super down (GRIME TIME 909). Who’s it gonna be next? Whoever, the list is pretty much endless. This is an open invite to anyone in the LA/IE area, hit me up, let’s collab. How has LA/IE influenced your style? I see the grime in everyone out here. Grime isn’t a bad thing; it’s something we have all adapted to. The trash in the streets, bums, pollution, adult book stores, Home Depot, Wal-fuck’n-Mart (I hate that place), malls, Gucci, etc. Grime is everywhere whether it be LA, IE, NYC, UK or EGYPT, our mind stays GRIME. Digital or hands? Both man, digital is just faster but every once in a while you need to get your hands dirty. When did you start making beats? I started making beats back in the MySpace days. I got into chiptune music and was blown away by artists like Dibiase, Shadowrunners Click and
The Vintage Skeleton’s amazing 8-bit beats. Is it safe to say that we can expect some more video work on the way? Very safe. I work with talented people and would like to write treatments for more videos. I would love to work with Workaholics, that show is the shit. How about some album covers? I’m working on a few right now. My buddy Captain just put out a beat cd and he had me hook up a grimey cover that came out awesome. Why ask why? Why not ask why? When do you go to sleep? I work the graveyard shift and grimey hours, so my sleep schedule is all fluffed up. I work from dusk till dawn.
Who’s your favorite Beatle? George Harrison. …dead President? Fuck presidents. How about some more websites for us to look at… http://blackcloudmusic.com. http://blog.uncleblazer.com. http://desolateputoface.tumblr.com. Do you have any upcoming shows/exhibitions? No shows, no exhibitions, just collecting work for now. I plan on selling some large prints soon. Just keep posted on my blog. http://desolateputoface.tumblr.com. Are you doing what you love? Not completely, not yet, but when I’m creating I fall into a trance and stay there for a while. Yeah man, I’m alive,
the bills get paid and I create everyday. We got to work for what we want +:) What’s next? Show biz man!!! I’d like to do it all. Shirts, prints and video/photo shoots. Staying as creative as possible. Have I missed anything? It’s best to stay away from un-creatives and dream-crushers. Any shout-outs. Hells Yesh!!! First off to my beautiful and supportive girlfriend @NadineOrona who stands by all my decisions. @UrCaptain, @NoaJames, @Lesa_J, @CurtissKing and the rest of the BlackCloud music crew, @UncleBlazer, @ChekiNoir, Tumblr, GRIME, Rialto skatepark, my brother, my family and basically anyone who supports my work.
Hello Heikki! Hello. What’s new? I’ve just finished a drawing and got started on a new photo project. How’s Tartu treating you? We’ve always been on good terms and hopefully it stays that way. Who are you? That’s what I’m trying to figure out myself. Have you always been a creative person? As far as I can remember I’ve always been interested in and found satisfaction through creating. How did you get so good? Hopefully I’m only at the halfway point and there’s room for improvement. What is your earliest recollection of yourself drawing? I don’t remember exactly, but I’ve liked drawing since I was a kid. How much time do you invest into each individual drawing you do? It depends on the size and difficulty. Who are your subjects? People who seem to match my idea of the picture. Do you find them, or do they find you? I think it’s me who’s choosing them, but maybe it’s the other way around sometimes. What are some of the more interesting aspects of working as a freelance artist? It’s great to do things when you have time and you feel like it, at the same time it can make you lazy. Laziness is my worst enemy. I’ve found (digital) photography to have a certain instant gratification to it, that said, how does your work in photography compare to drawing on a personal level? I love drawing because it takes time to get to the final result and you can see it gradually developing. The finer and more time consuming the work, the greater the satisfaction afterwards. After picking up the camera, how soon was it before you were hooked? It all went pretty fast, I first started taking snaps when I was about eight years old, but lost my interest after a couple of years. Ten years ago I rediscovered photography and I’ve been getting more and more into it, especially analogue photography. Has your work in photography helped contribute to the hyperrealism of your drawing work? Very much so. Where does your sculpting fit into all this? Sometimes it’s good to busy yourself with shapes and
three-dimensional figures for a change. How many projects do you have going at any given moment? Normally I have one or two projects going and several ideas taking shape in my head, waiting for their time. Drawing, photography, sculpting: what’s next? For the time being I’m trying to focus on those three. Of the three, does one stand out as your personal favorite? I don’t have a certain favorite. I like the fact that when I get a little bored of one thing, I can turn to the other for a change and they complement each other as well. Do you have any upcoming shows/exhibitions? I’m currently working on some new drawings, of which I’ll be putting together an exhibition next year. Some older photos are moving to a new gallery. If a gallery is interested in my work, feel free to contact me. Where can we go to purchase your work? The easiest way is to contact me, but you can also get them from the exhibitions. What do you do to unwind? I love travelling. Having a few drinks with my friends can sometimes be relaxing. Books and movies also help. Are you doing what you love? Of course, otherwise there’d be no point.
What’s next? Next thing’s next. At the moment there’s the next question. Is there anything that I missed? Surely, but that will do it for now.
Hey Eleanor! How are you? Very well Jacob, how about you? Ahh, you know, busy busy busy. What’s going down in Stockport town? Not much in Stockport, but soon in New Mills, Leeds and at the Northern Arts Uncovered exhibition I’ll be showing works. I’ve been nominated for a public vote in Leeds for the Woolgather Art Prize, where my work was just displayed on the 11th of May. Why do you take pictures? To capture something I want to share with a wider audience. When did you pick up a camera? Around four years ago, when I was twelve. How often do you shoot? I arrange a few times a week to go out, I don’t force ideas. Why haven’t you put it down? Because of others kindness and a positive response to my art. What led you to photography? The need to express myself in a short period of time. Do you feel that photography is your calling in life? I feel it is the art form I’m meant to pursue, but I will always experiment. Now, I see that you’ve won quite a few awards for your work, how does is it feel to be recognized for the tremendous talent that you have? I often try not to think about it, it’s too weird a feeling. I’m just trying to be a better person, artist and spirit. I want to be a great artist eventually, but I feel if I was to get there I wouldn’t even notice from putting down my past achievements. I always feel like I should have done something in a better way. I’m always going to try and improve. Has that attitude opened any doors for you and your career in photography?
Yes, I often get featured as an artist and do front covers of American publications. I love to be featured and put new work out there to be judged upon. How would you describe your style? Hopefully not seen before, though I have many influences from the 60s and before. Gritty, honest, high contrast, architectural, weird and abstract. What stylistic direction do you see your work heading in? More towards street photography and in
trying to obtain those one-off images. Would you say there are any recurring themes apparent in your work? Anatomy, death, illness, architecture, black & white and strangeness. What camera/s do you use? A Nikon D5000 and a Lumix FZ38. How do you feel about Photoshop? It is a tool and it can be abused. I donâ€™t own it myself but it can be needed for large file conversions. Do you have a favorite shot of yours?
Probably my starfish, it creeps people out and is to become a front cover very soon. Where would you like to go with your photography? To be a front cover artist more often, to do album artwork and musician photography, to do personal projects and eventually get funding so I can afford to have the sky as my only limit. Where else can we find you on the web? On my main page http://eleanorleon-
nebennett.zenfolio.com, you can find everywhere I am published, featured and exhibited. What’s up with your work for charity? I’ve provided a few prints for charity, I most recently chose Love Drop. They have a different cause every month and the proceeds from any work sold through their site goes to the people most in need of the money. I also did a mixed media image for the Great Ormond Street Hospital as part of the Toe Fluff exhibition. Are you currently selling any prints of your work? Through Saatchi Online and the Polka Dot Punks website. Outside of photography, what are your favorite things to do? Listen to great music and watch awesome comedy. I’d love to go and see my favourite comedians on stage. I love going out and seeing all the different people who love what I love. You have a great time and get to meet great people. Where do you see the world of photography headed in the future? Being taken more seriously as an art form and going on to be very important in tackling injustice and bringing power to those denied their human rights. Who are your biggest influences? Rankin, Alexander Rodchenko, Reza, Joel Sartore and Cindy Sherman. Are you doing what you love? Yes, I am very happy to be improving and retaining artistic control. Any shout-outs? To Scott Patrick Mitchell, Lyn Bannister, The Curiosities Team responsible for exhibitions of my work in numerous locations all around the UK in 2012 and to everyone who gives my work a chance to reach a wider audience.
Meeting Neil Is Easy! Greetings and salutations. What’s really? Easy? I’ve been told that quantum physics, the de-evolutionary study of the now shocking woodchuck to squirrel ratio, and chewing bubblegum while peeing at the same time are as instinctive as drawing breathe. Windy City winning, or what? Well that all depends on what kind of sick & twisted sadomasochistic activities you’re into. In Chi-Town, we’ve got a plethora of greedy, slimy and incarceration-bound politicians lining their pockets while sucking a mere 108 billion dollars worth of debt out every honest tax payers asshole with oversized-silly straws, some of the highest gasoline prices in the entire country, city-wide paranoia due to the recently past NATO summit, and a dark shroud of depression choking the life out of whatever hopes and dreams remained the second news broke that Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL… So if that’s what you get off on, then fucks yeah, we winning! Deep a’ dish a’ pizza pie and Polish snausages for everyone! So when did you start drawing? I would say at a pretty early age. When I was around five-years-old or so, someone in my family thought it was a great idea to bequeath to me their entire catalogue of Kiss records, and from that day forward I was doodling portraits of Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons and company in full bombastic fire-breathing blood-spitting glory! Now I always seemed to have a natural ability to draw, but it wasn’t something I considered developing until some of the other kids in my neighborhood started
showcasing their work. While I was busy playing little league, Atari or something and shoving peanut butter & jelly sammiches without the crusts down my throat, these guys were holding little art competitions. They’d get together every couple of days or so and select an image from their favorite comic books or off the packaging of a G.I. Joe or Transformers toy, and they’d freehand it in pencil to see who could draw it best. And man, these kids were phenomenal! The kid who drew it closest to the original without any obvious blunders or discrepancies would win bragging rights until the next showdown, which, when you’re young, was always very important. So when I discovered what they were up to, I just had to join in. It’s kind of funny when you realize that your burgeoning art career was ignited by a selfish competitive desire to be better at something than your friends. How’d that affect your schoolwork? Thankfully, it didn’t affect my schoolwork at all! No one’s ever really had a one-on-one clinical conversation with me about this, but I’m pretty sure, and my wife would agree, that I suffer from a mild case of OCD. You see, when I was young and wanted to draw, it absolutely could NOT be on a lined-sheet of paper. Wide-ruled? College-ruled? Forget it. It had to be blank, because the lines were too distracting and would ultimately devalue the integrity of whatever masterpiece I may or may not have been working on. Also, the paper could not be colored or have any holes, rips, tears and folds in it. Nor was it acceptable to use anything that had any subtle indentations left on it due to any forceful mark making done on the sheet of paper sitting directly on
top of it. It could only be crisp, clean, perfectly white sheets of paper. Additionally, when I did find myself in a situation deemed appropriate enough to actually draw something and I made a “mistake”, I wasn’t allowed to use an eraser, because, for some reason, I felt that would be cheating. I’d throw it out so no one could see it and start over from scratch. And the idea of simply flipping it over and using the other side? Oh no. That was never going to happen. Because of all these self-inflicted rules and neurotic parameters I put into an activity that should have been just as normal as picking your nose and farting, I found it far less exhausting to just pay attention in class and get good grades.
Where do you work? I work mostly out of my home on the Northwest side of Chicago, sharing business with my buddy and fellow artist Mike Giba (who works out of his home in the city’s Southern suburbs) under a studio umbrella we call Rhetorical Question Mark Limited. Together, we offer clients a wide range of art-based solutions, focusing primarily on illustration, comics, caricature and design. There’s a bit of distance between our respective homes, so the two of us communicate mostly through phone, text, and e-mail. Only our most important and strategic business decisions are made person, usually inside various Hooters restaurants located throughout the Chicagoland
area. Is it safe to say that you’re holding it down on the hot wing tip? No chicken bone left behind! How much is too much? When your waitress can’t stop you from licking and chewing the excess sludge and buffalo scraps off the bottom of the plate. Then you know you’ve gone too far. When do you get most of your work done? There’s this romantic notion that artists are like vampires who stay up late into the night because their creative juices only flow when the rest of the world is sound asleep… I subscribe to the opposite. I find I’m at my most productive when I wake up at the crack of dawn and get myself started before most of humanity has even considered having their first sip of coffee. Why is that? A need for reliable consistency. I don’t consider myself a superstitious person, but I do believe there are such things in the world as “muses”, “inspiration”, being “in the moment” and such, and when you do find it, I encourage everyone to ride that wave as long as possible, because most of the time it doesn’t exist. The arts in particular wield such a wide range of beautifully organic, creative free-spirited creatures whose works touch the lives of so many people in a variety of unspeakable ways, but it’s taken for granted that it’s still a job. Admittingly, it’s a really fun job, but to be successful at it you have to constantly work at it. Laying around all day waiting for divine inspiration to strike down from the heavens is a surefire path towards failure. I find by being disciplined, setting
consistent work patterns with realistic deadlines and expectations, you can often times “trick” the muse. In art, as well as all aspects of life, it’s what you do in the long stretches where you don’t have “it” that ends up being what truly defines you. What’s your preferred method of illustration? My background is in traditional art media, with emphasis in a variety of dry & wet media. I illustrate primarily in black & white with pencils, pens, brushes and ink, with minimal amounts of color. I find it more liberating and freeing as an artist to work within designated boundaries and limited palette choices. Sometimes too much freedom is a bad thing. When did you decide that this is it, this is what I want to do? That decision was made when I finally admitted to myself that I’d never be able to catch up to a high and tight fastball thrown under my chin with anything resembling authority… And that all the cute little goth girls I crushed on were going to art school. Comic book destruction and you, go! Paint is expensive, glue is cheap and my comic book collection is worth nothing. Time to destroy something beautiful! Now don’t get me wrong, I love comic books. Even the bad ones, I can’t get enough of ‘em. But other than a few bright spots along the way, for years I had pretty much abandoned comic books entirely. So last year, when DC Comics launched a major renumbering and rebooting of their entire DC Universe line of superhero comics with 52 new first issues, I have to admit, I was curious.
Between the two of us, Mikey and I gobbled up each number one as they were released, and to our disappointment, they were pretty awful. Oh, there were a couple of decent reads scattered in the bunch (I mean c’mon, they did have 52 chances to get something right), but as a whole each one reeked of every single boring cliché and stereotypical trapping that make mainstream comic books so aggravatingly… shallow. I suspect years from now when historians are forced to write about this particular moment in comics, this could very well go down as one of the most embarrassing periods and missed opportunities in comic book history. So out of sheer apathy and disgust, Mikey and I somehow found ourselves playfully cutting word balloons out of old Archie, Donald Duck, Scrooge and Popeye comics we had sitting around, and began pasting them all over the new 52 books we wasted money on in an effort to not only “improve” them, but to give ourselves a laugh. And we had a blast! At one point I even held a barbecue where, after all our guests were properly tipsy and drunk, I casually laid out a bunch of books, scissors and glue sticks and let them do whatever the heck they wanted to do with them. Everyone seemed a little tentative at first, but we soon tapped into a very naïve, childlike level of arts & crafts creativity that sparked a giggly display of jubilance that you rarely see in adults, especially in decidedly cynical ones like myself. This set the stage of what would become the Comics Destroyer project. Tell us about Torment… Well right around the time Mikey and I were tearing up all those DC books, I checked out an exhibit by an artist named Mark Bradford at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. I was particularly interested in seeing these breathtakingly large abstract-collage pieces that the artist had made from a variety of materials in person. The first piece I walked in on was a 102 x 144 inch piece called Mississippi Gottdam. And the thing just floored me. I don’t know how long I stood in front of that piece all giddy and dumbfounded, but at one point I couldn’t feel my legs and my face actually hurt from smiling so much! When I rediscovered the use of my feet and slowly inched towards the piece to examine the details, my eyes immediately zeroed in on this tiny miniscule patch of green buried deep in the mix. Lo and behold, that bit of green turned out to be a random comic book panel featuring the Incredible Hulk! I totally lost my shit and scattered everywhere to see if there was anything else I could recognize in the collage, and holy schnikes,
there was a fragment of a Deathstroke: The Terminator cover that I knew was hidden in my own collection at home! I was in total Geekville! That pleasant experience eventually got the wheels spinning inside my head and I started imagining what a body of work consisting of nothing but recycled comic books as a primary medium would look like. So I said to hell with it, and gave it a whirl. After a couple of small-sized trial & error utilizing books I could care less about, the piece that evolved into Torment became essentially my first real stab at bringing this imagined world to life. Torment, measuring 36 x 36 inches, was named after the first five-issue story written and drawn by Todd McFarlane that appeared in Marvel Comics (then) new Spider-Man ongoing series that was hacked up and shredded for this painting, along with tons of matte medium, gloss medium and enamel on stretched canvas. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I started this journey, so I made a conscious effort to “destroy” something that I knew I had multiple copies of, just in case I screwed up. After going through my bins, I discovered that I had a LOT of this particular Spider-Man book, because at the time, like a lot of speculators, I thought they were going to be worth a lot of money. Unfortunately for my investment, issue one would go on to sell upwards of 2.65 million copies, a record at the time, which meant the book is monetarily valued at pretty much close to nothing. But collectors everywhere, take notice! Since I ended up cutting and gluing five whole copies of Spider-Man #1 and three each of issues 2 through 5 together to create this thing, that means
I’ve not only single handedly increased the scarcity of these books, but I’ve also driven the value of your personal collections upwards! You’re welcome. From fine art to pop art you’re flexing, what else is there? I’m currently contributing to a project called Decaf Planet, which is essentially a reimagined version of a daily comic strip Mikey did in college called Caffeine Planet. Decaf Planet tells the tale of a group of goofy aliens who crash land on earth in search of some much-coveted coffee, because earth is naturally the only place in the known universe where caffeine is legal. Decaf Planet will translate into both a traditional five-issue comic book series and an approximately forty-five minute long animated motion-comic, done in the spirit of classic Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. I’m co-writing the project with Mike, along with providing inks, embellishments, backgrounds, and overall moral support to his finished pencils. I’m also composing the soundtrack and providing a character voice or two. While we chip away at this project, every Tuesday and Thursday I use the Decaf Planet website as my personal stomping ground to draw a plethora of offbeat, quirky, and loosely idiosyncratic single panel comic strips featuring the type of people and conversations you’d often unwittingly stumble into and overhear while sitting inside a diner or coffee shop where, cleverly, most of Decaf Planet takes place. So you’re also a musician, are you currently in or performing with any bands? Right now I’m as solo as solo can get,
but I’m considering starting a new band project of some sort, even if it means just being in a cover band. I had given up on music a few years ago for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with actual music, and it’s high time I reclaimed that missing part of my identity. Interested parties can find a link to some of my instrumental pieces located directly on my website. What was your first guitar? It was a plastic Kiss toy guitar, which lasted only a couple of days before I broke all the strings. Even in adolescence, I had a heavy downstroke. Insert… masturbation… joke… here. Hands down favorite superhero? I loved me a whole lotta X-Men growing up, but it’s got to be Spider-Man. Best costume in comic book history, with Nightcrawler’s being a close second. Don’t argue with me. You know I’m right. …villain? The Joker. Psychotic, unpredictable, and absolutely brilliant. Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s interpretation in The Killing Joke is tops. What direction do you see your work headed for the future? I can’t say for certain what the future will bring, but going forward, all I can do is hopefully remain honest with myself and my work, be resilient, open and adaptable to every new opportunity, situation and idea that presents itself, while simultaneously demanding the highest percentage point and pay rate imaginable. My story hopefully ends with the great American SELL OUT. Where can we purchase your work? You can find select Meeting Neil is Easy originals at my Etsy shop located at http://etsy.com/shop/meetingneiliseasy. Are you elsewhere on this here World
Wide Web? You can find the rest of me, along with links to my Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter pages at http://meetingneiliseasy.com. Are there any particular times when meeting Neil might not be easy at all? Meeting Neil is damn near IMPOSSIBLE! It’s all a ruse. Are you doing what you love? I love what I do, but in all honesty, I’d rather be bow hunting. What’s next? Learning how to bow hunt. Is there anything that I missed? I’ll be putting together a gallery showing of my Comics Destroyer art as soon as I get a decent amount of pieces completed. My Decaf Planet art, along with some of my other illustration work, will be collected at year’s end into a tabletop book of some sort and I’m currently in the middle of rewriting a graphic novel of mine called Helpless into a surreal, existential comedy of sorts, tentatively renamed Hopeless. Any shout-outs? Yes. The “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field is the epicenter of a long dormant Hellmouth, whose evil energy is only occasionally stirred by something called “winning”. A big round of applause goes out to this year’s Chicago Cubs for assuring us that 2012 will indeed NOT be the end of the world, as so many have predicted.
Gel Roc! Under Republic! What’s happening? Chilling. How the hell’s LA? Active. When did you get your start? I been rapping since I was kid. Moms gave me my first vinyl back in the day, it was a green Tommy Boy record by Egyptian Lover. Everyone was breakdancing around that time. I went through all the phases: skating, house parties, freestyling, vandalism, all that shit. I started seriously recording with the homies Awol and EX2 in the mid 90s on cassettes, doing shows and features with the Shape Shifter homies and the La2thebay affiliates. Why music? It was the natural progression for me from my surroundings; it allowed me to stay connected to the underground scene in LA as it evolved. If it wasn’t music, what do you think you would be doing? The great unknown is the great unknown. No reason to speculate. What’s up with Beautiful Tragedy? Beautiful Tragedy is my latest LP. It’s entirely produced by Xczircles (Escape Artists), with scratches by DJ Drez (Mass Men). It features emcees from Project Blowed, Mass Men,
La2thebay, Freestyle Fellowship, Machina Muerte and more. We’re doing a vinyl release soon with some exclusive tracks including a song I did with Self Jupiter. What crews are you representing? I’m an old school member of the “Life Seen Differently” graffiti crew from Whittier, and on the musical side of things I’m down with Mass Men and EX2. You just got a million bucks, whatcha gonna do? Secure the present, set up the future and invest in the homies to get everyone as right as possible. So more of the same, I’d like to think. Non-fiction vs. fiction in rhymes, go! Both are equally relevant in underground hip-hop and life. It’s like your DVD collection, you know. I’m a healthy dosage of both, but there’s a time and place for everything. How has LA helped to define your style as an Emcee? It’s the epicenter of raw talent and the originators of this underground shit. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of that from the roots and happy to of contributed along the way. So I’m a product of my environment for the most part. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned coming up? Humility. Everything is everything. Everyone is everyone. Identify with that and act accordingly. Who would you like to work with that you haven’t yet? If the opportunity presents itself, I’d like to work with El-P on some production shit.
I’ve already worked with a ton of emcees throughout the years. Walk us through a day in the life of Gel Roc… I see myself working, doing shows and actively engaging with my people, but keeping a healthy balance. Focusing on family and keeping things orderly. Steady writing these raps, feeling blessed and soaking it in. How do you identify with hip-hop as a culture? I grew up going through moms vinyl and watching Soul Train, Krush Groove, Beat Street, Style Warz, Wild Style, Breakin’ and Yo MTV Raps as a kid. I remember writing graffiti and mashing to RadioTron & B-Boy Summit. “BrainFish”, Koo’s Cafe, Project Blowed, all that, that’s my center. Who pushes you to be your best? My crews, my kinfolk and the cities I grew up in. I represent a greater collective and my job is to add dimension, push the art and contribute to the legacy. Are you recording any new material? I’m working on a project with Megabusive (Isolated Wax), and a concept album with Awol (Fake Four), a few other things and I’m sitting on some unreleased material that will find its place sooner or later. What’s the best aspect of being your own boss? Time. You own it. How do you handle the negativity that comes along with success?
Overstand it... Perspective is key and maintenance is routine. We circumvent that shit and mash forward. I’ve successfully accomplished some shit, but I haven’t crossed any finish line yet. What’s your favorite spot to eat at in LA? I don’t have one. Do you have any upcoming shows? Look out for tour dates this summer with Awol & 2Mex. Where can we go to buy your music? http://abolanorecords.com, Amoeba, http://accesshiphop.com, iTunes and other digital outlets. Are you anywhere else online? YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Google me. You find me. Where do you see it all going? In the history books. Are you doing what you love? No doubt. What’s next? The return of the Annunaki. Any shout-outs? Big ups to anyone reading this, you’re appreciated. Support the music scene and buy records.
Seeking Empire! Hey Under Republic! What’s new? We’ve got a lot of things goin’ on. Just finished shooting our second music video last week by http://ajapopfilms.com. We’ve got a couple shows coming up, one of which is Live 105’s BFD Summer Festival at the Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 2nd with Jane’s Addiciton, Garbage, The Naked and Famous, Cake, Silversun Pickups among many other awesome groups. We were the first band booked for this festival and we are really excited to be a part of it. I bet the weather is beautiful in San Francisco right now… Yes, it’s been pretty awesome lately. When did you guys get together? We got together two and a half years ago. How’d that happen? I was in a band called Mud before SE and when Mud decided to take a break, my guitarist Alan and I wanted to continue playing. Alan knew Phil (SE’s lead guitarist, composer and backup vox) from his band Paper Sons. Both bands had played shows in the past together. Alan asked Phil if he wanted to join our project and Seeking Empire was born. We wrote a couple of songs and recorded a short demo. Along the way we met Paul (Good Charlotte) through mutual friends in the Bay Area music scene. He was building a studio and wanted to try his hand at producing, recording and writing music. Enter Paul Thomas (SE’s producer, songwriter and bass player). In the beginning Derrick Hostetter was our drummer. Soon after recording our first demo he moved to LA. We needed a drummer ASAP! I knew Cary (SE’s drummer) through Mud’s label. He was The Lovemakers’ drummer and they were also on the same label. We asked and he got on playing drums for SE. With a solid lineup, we recorded our first self-titled EP at the end of last year. It’s played on Live 105’s Soundcheck and is available on iTunes. Get it for free at http://facebook.com/seekingempire. What’s kept you together? The music, our fans and each other. How would you describe your sound? Pop, alternative and rock & roll. Has the sound and vision remained the same? We always take it one song at a time. The vision remains the same; our sound may change on how we feel at the moment. What motivates change? Creativity, discovering new sounds, exploring different ways to record or write a song and inspiration from other artists. Who’s the driving force behind the band’s artistic direction? It’s a combination of SE and Ajapopfilms. Most of the videos, photos and our logo have been created, directed and shot by http://ajapopfilms.com. Is everyone bringing something unique to the table?
Yes. We each have roles to keep SE alive whether it is writing new songs, booking shows, promoting, talking to our fans, updating websites, recording songs, scheduling practices, preproduction on video/photo shoots, interviews, etc. Has the business end of things changed the music for you? Not at all, we always think of the music first. If we don’t like it we go back to the drawing board. Which do you prefer, larger or smaller venues? Smaller venues. We like to see everyone’s face in the room and the energy is a lot different than a bigger venue. I’ve personally always liked watching bands at places like Bottom Of The Hill; it’s more intimate and raw. But of course we are happy to play any show, big or small. A bigger venue just means we get to run around a lot more on stage }:) What’s your favorite song to perform live? “Liar Liar” and “Remember the End”. …least favorite? Don’t have a least favorite. I don’t think we have enough songs on our current set list to have a least. Who’s your biggest fan? Can’t really name just one, we have a lot of big supporters who help us in a lot of ways. Much love to Team SE!!! What’s the bands creative process towards new material? It always starts out as a guitar riff, or idea. It begins there and we build on it. After we get a solid song structure or instrumental going, we write the melodies and lyrics. Then it’s all about tweaking, adding, filling and solos. It’s a fun process. Have any of your songs progressively changed over time? You’ll just have to see us at one of our live shows, we’ve added a couple new ones to our set that aren’t on the EP. How often are you recording? When we write songs, Phil and Paul are in the studio almost once every other week to arrange them. I come in once we have a solid structure and lay down the vocals. When we are satisfied with the completed songs, we go in and record it with the whole band. When can we expect new material? Hopefully before the year-ends, we are continually releasing videos, check us out on YouTube: Seeking Empire. What makes Seeking Empire stand out as a group? There are not a whole lot of new bands that play rock & roll. A lot of new groups coming out now are in the electronic or pop genres. We use some electronic in our sound and borrow this influence from some of our fave groups, but we all have metal/punk rock roots and can’t wait to see rock make a come back. It’s good for the soul. Do you have any upcoming shows? Yep!!! June 2nd: Live 105’s BFD Summer Music Festival at the Shoreline Amphitheatre with Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Cake, The Naked and Famous, Silversun Pickups and other great bands! Where can we purchase your music? iTunes.
Are you anywhere else online? http://twitter.com/seekingempire. Who really motivates Seeking Empire, as a group, to do more? Our fans. If you believe in something, it inspires you to keep going. Hold on to it and live the dream. Where would you like to be a year from now? Playing shows, writing and recording new music. Are you doing what you love? 110% Hell Yes! Have I missed anything? Have you? Whatâ€™s next? Rocking out these next few shows, and recording new songs! We hope to see you guys at the next show }:) Any shout-outs? Big Shout out to Ajapopfilms, the crew of Vampariah for the support of our last video shoot, Live 105 for spinning our songs and BFD!, our fans and friends who support us 100%, our friends in bands who have always been good to us and thank you Under Republic for the feature }:)
Establishing a network of Artists, Musicians and Iconoclasts.