“You have to think about the medium of work…is it sculpture? is it canvas? is it photography? you have to think about how the message of the artist is being conveyed to the audience without losing the artist’s vision.”
The relationship between artist and brand is a peculiar one, a selective pairing that seeks both chemistry and depth. When the union is right, both parties explore, together, their fullest potential as one. When it comes to marrying the two, design consultant and art curator Jae Joseph is mindful of the match. Founder of a design consultancy based in New York City, Joseph is a seasoned visionary. With a background in fashion marketing and modeling, Joseph channels his aesthetic inclinations into what he calls “integrated hybrid arts”. With an attraction to the unconventional, he seeks challenge in the project at hand.
I sat down with Joseph recently in his Lower East Side office to talk about his role and the process behind it. “The focus became more on the art world and the curating niche markets, niche events and pairing the artist with the brands,” he tells me. “You have to think about the audience and think about what they would be receptive to and how to relay the message across.” Throughout his eight years as an art curator and design consultant, Joseph has worked with companies like Vidal Sassoon, Catherine Melandrino, Issey Miyake, Rodarte, Nike, and Target to do just this.
While his role may be glamorous, it is nonetheless a complex one requiring both discipline and creativity to stay sharp and work with finesse. Whether brand or artist comes first, Joseph seems to stay focused on the end goal while indulging in the creative unfolding. “It’s been a journey of passion, from one love to the next,” he shares. Each project, each love, is a different journey from the last. No matter the medium, scale, or location, Joseph finds his heart in the process from getting to know the artist to understanding the brand’s inner workings.
During his time at Columbia University, Joseph studied abroad in Florence, Italy, where his affinity for the arts was born. “I wasn’t really privy to the art world until I studied in Florence and studied art history and knowing the different mediums in art and knowing the different periods,” he says. “Art was such a big column in terms of how time periods were looked at.” He internalized this newfound understanding, recognizing it as a personal purpose. From California to Miami and New York, his projects have found him everywhere from booths at Art Basel to curating dinners alongside Marina Abramovic Institute.
During our talk, Jae shared just how much work he puts into the process. “A tremendous amount of dedication goes into curating a successful exhibition,” he said. “Every facet has to be covered: budget and proposals, sourcing works, generating consignment agreements, layout and installation. It is not a relaxing process but the final product is a rewarding experience when an artist’s vision is implemented effectively. This idea of cultivating community is very important to me as it allows my existing artist network to grow and potentially work together through collaborations, licensing, and partnerships.”
It is in this final product that Joseph’s efforts are made more than clear. Working to keep the artist’s vision always at the heart of his labor, his efforts exist for passion’s sake. A true aesthete, Jae Joseph brings an effortless sense of class and signature style to each pursuit.
PHOTOS BY Faisal Mohammed | STYLED BY Mercedes PSL Bass Topman shirt, shorts and trousers all in polyester and wool blazer. ADIEV Paris Loafers
Without the story, there is no artist. Without the struggle, there is no sound. Without the journey, there is no soul. With introspection and experience, the path to one’s truth is uncovered in its deep and ever-changing form. Morphing always, the product is not as much a set identity as it is an energy, a humble knowing.
So-Cal bred, Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Geminelle speaks this universal language of self-discovery that embraces audiences with something both resonating and relatable. Sharing her journey through her sound, Geminelle sings not just with candor but a radiance that embraces and invites. A captivating appeal, though, only begins to describe what makes this songstress such a rarity. Entwining glowing vocals with grounded lyrics, Geminelle talks about what it means to be human, to be perfect in one’s imperfection, and to walk through clarity and confusion with spirit and sense.
“I believe that music has the power to heal,” she says in our recent interview. “It’s a beautiful chance to share my story, to share my experiences, my journey, my testimony,” she adds. With roots in San Diego, Geminelle’s aqueous influence is illuminated in her philosophy and entrenched in her music. Growing up by the sea and amidst the mountains fostered an adventurous nature that later found her performing on city streets from Austin and New Orleans to Chicago. Her transition to New York, however, was about being “humbled”, a career move in which she “[learned] how to be a big fish in a gigantic lake, an ocean even.”
No matter the city, Geminelle maintains a connection and drive that keeps her moving forward personally and artistically. “Every day, I’m trying to figure out myself a little bit more,” she says. “I write from a really real place…and a lot of that is just self reflection and self love and learning self love,” she continues. “All I really want to do is inspire people to be greater.”
With a summer album release ahead, Geminelle’s Audiobook will talk about self-confrontation, self-destruction, and a time in which she was forced to look inside. “It’s my literal journey, for a span of a year and a half,” she says. “I think you can expect from Audiobook this journey of a woman who is rediscovering herself…aside from societal influences, aside from damage and self hate.”
A self-named “writer, artist, counselor,” and “healer”, Geminelle uses her honey-like vocals to grow closer to herself while doing the same with her audience. A woman of many titles, she emanates that which brought her here today. Many roles, cities, and songs later, Geminelle warrants a pensive listen and soothing effect that binds growth with veracity. Like the sea that touches a melding, setting sun, Geminelle abides less by the beginning of one chapter and end of another and more by the remarkable amalgamation of where and how each moment has rippled into the next.
Jason Silva is just as passionate and honest as he comes across in his videos.
He wears a warm smile and a lovely vulnerability that seeps through his words. If you haven’t heard of him already, he is the kick ass creator of ‘Shots of Awe’ and the Emmy nominated host of National Geographic’s ‘Brain Games.’
I was invited to the Content All Stars event for OPA where Jason Silva was a keynote speaker. After his mind bursting speech, we sat on a table in the hallway to talk “ManifestTaksu.” Jason and I began by talking about reaching out to those who inspire us and sharing that feeling of inspiration regardless of the outcome.
“When people are inspired and reach out I can relate to that feeling. I reach out to everyone that inspires me. They don’t always reply but it doesn’t matter to me because mostly I just had to get it out and be like ‘You moved me. I just had to say it.’“
I will give a little brief on ManifestTaksu: I’ve been writing for years but it was always such an intimate process for me and there was this fear attached with putting my work out there. There is a willingness to be open that comes with the exposure. It really does take bravery…when you get up there and talk about something REAL.
“I know. I still have to psyche myself every time because I’m really passionate about this stuff but I still feel like, you know…they give me 20 minutes but for those twenty minutes I’m really putting it on. So I always hope it’s not too much.”
You know… I find that it’s so special that there are people that have a voice that a lot of us just HOLD in. Because it takes so much to be able to access that and then to say it out loud!
“Yes, you have to psychologically just go there.”
I began with a few questions I like to ask my usual ManifestTaksu “interviewee’s.”
Art Nouveau Magazine: What (usually) do you do with the first 2 hours of your day?
Jason Silva: The first 2 hours are kind of like prepping myself for what I need to do. Am I shooting that day? Giving a talk? or is it a day of mind wandering at the park? Because a lot of days that’s how I work. I usually exercise within the first 2 hours.So usually,coffee, exercise, and food. Emails during the whole time. And after those 2 hours I’m either off to a shoot or off to do a talk somewhere or see a friend, go to the park etc…The first 2 hours are prepping for whatever is after it.
AN: What is your focus on self evolution and what does that mean to you?
JS: I think that we need to take an active role in our daily transformation. Because the whole thing about change is that it’s happening whether you want it to or not. I am interested in whether I can direct that change in the direction that I so please. I want to become more like this or more like that. I want to institute these daily practices. I am a big fan of the idea of ontological designing which is basically…ontology has to do with beingness, what it is to be…and of course design, is designing beingness.
The idea is that everything that we design is designing us back. We are designed by that of which we have designed. This chair is designing my mood by having me sit a certain way. This phone is designing the way that I interface with the phone based on the features and it’s intuitive qualities. My mood is designed by the question you asked which is making me probe certain thoughts. And so I like to control those settings and scenarios. I want to control the spaces I am in, I want to control the input signals of what’s coming in because, all of those things are shaping and molding me. If I can have a say in whats shaping and molding me, I can have a say in who I become.
AN: How did Shots of Awe come to life and where did the idea come from?
The idea comes from when I get into that headspace…I guess the analogy I would use is a rapper when he’s on a freestyle binge. And he’s just like ‘I got a new song are you writing it down!?’you know…starts flowing. This is my stuff, my beat. My poetry is technology, innovation, existentialism…because that’s the language I think in. It’s love, death, technology, divine engineering, and creativity. Anytime I come across something that blows my mind I want to riff on it, my riff…my freestyle is what I wanted to capture with Shots of Awe. I’ve always been capturing these riffs with my phone and little camera. I was always doing it semi professionally. I just stepped up the imagery and the resources and I was like ‘I can do this better!’ I had left CurrentTV so I had the time. I started making them self funded and then I finally found a partner who helped fund them.
AN: What are your thoughts on facing your fears and your approach to conquering them?
JS: Well, a lot of the times I face my fears by becoming comfortable with managing them. I haven’t always conquered them. Conquering your fear means that you simply don’t feel the angst anymore. A lot of times I’ve just done things in spite of having anxiety about them. I think to myself, ‘this is something that makes me uncomfortable, that’s why I gotta do it’but it doesn’t mean it stops making me uncomfortable. I guess the end goal would be to make it fully un-anxiety inducing.
AN: Well, yeah. Even John Leguizamo who performs these brilliant one man shows deals with anxiety before going on stage and doing these fantastic performances.
JS: Well, there you go! Sometimes I get a little antsy before my talks. Not so much when I am on stage but the few minutes leading up to it I’m always like, ‘What if I am not in the zone? What if I’m not feeling it? What if I forget what I want to talk about?’
AN: Yes, similar to the work of a comedian or an actor on the stage by himself.
JS: Yeah, and the thing is that the comedian is still dependent on the other people laughing. I think I take a little bit of a comfort in knowing that when I go up there, even if I am not feeling it fully I always remember, Im like ‘Wait a minute…I just have to be vulnerable. I just have to be real.’If I share genuine authenticity, it’s going to resonate. And then I also tell myself ‘Well, they invited me.’
AN: That’s beautiful, I love that. I love that you think that way about being vulnerable. That’s what connects us as human beings.
JS: And also because I don’t want to come across as a ‘cocky’anything…I’m passionate about this stuff because it really moves me and at the end of the day when I talk about Ernest Becker and ‘The Denial of Death’I’m like…‘Look guys, I’m here because I need inspiration because without inspiration all I have is existential dread.’Today is as young as you’re ever going to be.
AN: What makes you laugh really hard?
JS: Unexpected meanings and connections that are funny. When you see a pattern that is unexpected and it triggers hilarity.
AN: What music do you like?
JS: I usually don’t go to concerts so I come across my music when I watch films. That’s when I’m the most open. When I’m in a room, in the dark, the music is augmenting the scene and if I’m emotionally invested in the scene I’m likely to notice the music. And then I’m like, ‘Who sings that, who composed that…I gotta download it now!’To capture that feeling. That’s why I’m out of touch with pop culture and who’s music is popular. I find music in films.
AN: What book are you reading right now?
JS: I am reading a book called, ‘Cathedrals, IMAX Theaters, and the Immersive View.’It’s about how architecture is a media technology in a sense because it creates a mood and it directs consciousness towards human modalities. Cathedrals were the first ones, 500 years ago and now IMAX Theater’s are the modern cathedrals. It’s about creating this immersion that accesses a portal to another world. The world of sort of, sacred contemplation.The realm of ideals, the realm of absolutes, the realm of transcendence…it’s very interesting to me.
AN: What books do you feel were an influential component to the shifting of your life?
JS: ‘Singularity is Near’ by Ray Kurzweil
‘Denial of Death’ by Ernest Becker
‘TechGnosis’ by Erik Davis
AN: How did you discover what you wanted to do for the rest of your life and then DO IT?
JS: I don’t know if I want to do it for the rest of my life but I definitely discovered…rousing insights come to me when I am in an altered state of consciousness. Encounters that transform my neurochemistry. Moments of exaltation, moments of inspiration, moments of euphoria. Non-ordinary states of consciousness. Inspiration is an altered state of consciousness, it’s not the banal of the everyday.I chase these exalted mind states. I’m into cognitive ecstasy.
AN: What do you do when you feel a little bit jolted of that inspiration?
JS: I need my dopamine. So it needs to be something novel and different to engage me. And the thing is people are like ‘the problem with that is that you’re always going to be restless. You’re never going to be satiated because whatever is exciting you today is not going to excite you tomorrow. So you’re never going to be satisfied’but what I tell people is, ‘If we were satisfied in the caves, we would’ve stayed in the caves.’It’s kind of like our restlessness is our calling card. Our restlessness is why we are probing mars and curing cancer. Because we wake up and were like, what’s the next challenge? And also, aesthetically…it’s like what’s the next hit? what’s the next thing I’m going to read or see? Sometimes I google random combinations of words. Immersion- Ecstatic-Cognition- Awe- Technology- Cathedrals. And I see if I find some essay that tackles all of those things.
AN: How do you recover from emotional pain (a broken heart)?
JS: Talking about how much it hurts turns it into a thing that I can distill and discuss and philosophize and I can get insights from and I can be like…‘Ah, that’s why this made me feel this way…’It objectifies the pain. It turns it into a work of art. In fact the difference between neurotics and artists is that neurotics choke on their introversions, they choke on their anxieties and neurosis and heart pains (broken hearts) where as artists objectify it and turn it into a work of art.
“I’m scared of music, it’s like that perfect woman. I feel like i’m not good enough for her, but I’m addicted.” – Rael J Wallace
I met Ramel “Rael” J. wallace a few months back in San Diego. He was getting interviewed with local college radio show The Beat Bombardment, dawning a strange black cloth over his head and a sense of humble humor outstretched to all present in the studio. I could tell by his goofy get-up and unsuspecting smile that he was a good person to have around.
The first time Ramel and I hung out one on one, he sat on my floor and recited some of his spoken word poetry. “This is the kind of vibe I’m into these days,” he said prompting his succeeding flow. Staring off into the distance, he recited it as if his brain had left him and his words had transcended conventional thought. I was shocked, and meanwhile selfishly ashamed of my own poetry which I had previously thought to be at least somewhat poignant. This was some serious next level art without at all trying to be. Organic and effortless.
A few weeks later, he picked me up for a hip hop and art showcase wearing a cumbersome sombrero paired with a Cuban-esque outfit. Linen pants and loafers coupled with a button down and Mexican headpiece? This was just Ramel. Not needing to prove that he is this or that or to play a certain role. Being goofy if the day’s vibe or sombrero calls for it. No matter the scene or context, Ra(m)el has a reputation for keeping it rael.
For the next few months while I was in San Diego, I got to know him as a person, an artist, and eventually as a cohost on my radio show. His music matched the tone with which he conducted himself – equally hilarious and thought provoking, rhythmically inclined and naturally communally-oriented. There is that all-embracing feel in his music. He wants to uplift himself as much as he does the friends and artists around him. Always as excited about his work as he is enthused about yours, Ramel is the rael deal. The Homie with a capital H.
Acquaint yourself with the Raelest himself, the Homie, Ramel “Rael” J. Wallace. Read below for our interview…
AN: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music? Was there an album or an artist that prompted you into thinking that this was what you wanted to follow?
RJ: Music has always been medicine to me, and I know i’m not alone in this world. So if music is medicine for me, it must also be medicine for others. Listening to artist like 2Pac growing up, taught me this was more than music. It was about the human experience, revolution and pushing the issues in the culture. Another major influence is Blu, an artist that reveal himself in so many ways and still keep a sense of humor. They are two artist that inspire you to do better in life, but also recognize that we are influenced by the yearns of the flesh. Artist like that influenced me so much that I had to contribute the art. I’ve always needed a vehicle for my social outlooks, and it just so happened that I was good at creating/writing music. It lead me to being surrounded by likeminded individuals and it opened me up to the idea that music can leap past cognition and hit a person in the heart. Thus music and frequency has the potential of changing people drastically. Art and sound make the mind transcend into areas beyond the flesh. Once I realized the power of music I decided that it was my destiny to be blessed with this gift. The gift to artistically share my ideas on truth and the illusion of reality.
AN: Who is Rael J Wallace – both in and out of the music?
RJ: I’m an everyday person, I love my mom, and I’m a non religious black man in America. Looking for a new Raeligion and trying to discover my Iniverse in a verse.
AN: Can you tell me a little bit about the San Diego music scene that you are involved with?
RJ: I represent 8th& G, New world Color, Breakbreadtv & Crateworthy. Bam Circa 86 is my OG and the music sounds like psychedelic dirty South west coast jazz. We’ve been pushing music for the past half a decade, while we discovered the origins of our city. San Diego is like the Galapagos island before Darwin got there. Major things are happening and no juan notices. It’s like once you go there you notice the evolution. I’m like darwin, trying to get people to understand and connect the dots, because the history of San Diego is hidden, it really is like an island. San Diego is known as, “Americas Finest City” and is home to lots of tourist and military influence. ie its political, and all politics slow down art. The counter cultures are strong in San Diego, and I have plans to showcase that idea soon. Artist like Gonjasufi, Gaslamp Killer, Blame One, Masters of the Universe, Mitchy Slick all have a major influence on the perspective of the San Diego, and have all had the opportunity to expand out of the city. It doesn’t happen to most. And as Havana Maxie would put it, ” All art is not for public consumption”. Some and I might say most art is solely created out of a need for expression. And people just want to create and evolve at their own pace in San Diego. It’s not aligned to deadlines. Time doesn’t exist out here to people, but I can’t cast the first stone. I always have the feeling that I need to create or my heart won’t beat the right way, even if nobody sees. You can watch me take the blue pill or not, but eventually you’ll be introduced, and I have a nice smile I swear.
AN: Where is your mind at these days. What’s influencing you?
RJ: Being around other creatives is the most inspirational thing I can do besides live life. So to concrete the idea my team & I are opening up a workspace in Barrio Logan, California ( 2151 Logan Avenue, California ) called The Church. A place where art is our raeligion, so we pray to creation. The owners of BreakBreadtv teamed with a local Visual company Milton: Motion & Design to open up a space for creatives (Thanks to Mark Escobar & Frank Luna). we have a community feast and greeting at The Church on July 1st.
I’ve been helping Breakbreadtv for the past year as Creative Director, and working with students at Platt College with visuals. I’m scared of music, it’s like that perfect woman. I feel like i’m not good enough for her, but i’m addicted. It’s fun as a creative because you have to move around and try different forms of expression. A creative or imaginative person just needs to let that out. And as humans we are natural thinkers, so we are instinctually creative. Just look at the imagination of a child; it’s other worldly. So i’ve been helping film things, create ideas and I write music everyday.
AN: You were recently signed to a label. What’s happening with that and how do you see that helping you in the future?
RJ: I recently got signed to New World Color, an indie LA record label owned by producer Mainframe and rapper Blu. I’m really just testing the waters, because as an artist you feel like you reach a ceiling when it comes to promotion, my hands can only reach so far. This allows me to feed more mouths, yet have artistic freedom. New World Color was a training ground for cats like Johnson& Johnson, DJ Exile, Blu & Danny Brown, so I feel blessed beyond articulation. I plan to be in the same likeness as my peers but by my own definition. I just have to put in the work and I’ve been working on this deal for about 4 years. From the initial push at recording to 18 of Blu’s productions on a project entitled The Laundry Room I( released in 2011), then doing a followup official project with Blu called Raelblz in 2012. I’m beyond amped that the pot is finally boiling over. I inked a 2 album deal with New World Color so I plan on building a great relationship with the people that influenced me initially. I’m going to do a reissue of The Holyfield with 5 bonus tracks. The Holyfield is a project I did with Soulection producer Abjo, about imagination. We are releasing it on iTunes via New World Color along with some dope visuals in the near future. The second project is entitled Kali/Cali which is about time.
AN: Tell me about Kali.
RJ: She represents the Hindu Goddess of time, space, death and reincarnation. When you think about all those concepts, they are essentially the same thing. Death implies life and life implies death. As does time defining space. It also happens that I am from Cali- fornia/Kalifornia. Either way San Diego, California is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The curves of the hills became Kali’s hips, the oceans transformed into her eyes, and we had pillow talk on the clouds every afternoon. The concepts began to overlap and they eventually became each other. Kali became my California. And I started to study the archetype of the Woman Goddess, and how woman was the foundation of life. Man was to build his renaissance upon her. These concepts became the basis for not only an album but also the basis for how I approach art. Kali is the comic constant within my music. Kali was time, the perfect woman that you can never have back.
AN: Give us an idea of a day in the life of Rael J.
RJ: Wake up, go to Church and record, eat korea BBQ, and try not to get deported. #jamaica
From the time I was exposed to poison apples and magic mirrors, I was pushed to believe in the magical. I was pushed to believe in things that that started once upon a time and ended happily ever after, and it took something as harsh and random as life to disturb those fairytales. On this magic carpet ride through harsh reality and sour truths, I witnessed a fairytale like one that I didn’t know before. I witnessed a fairytale that even after all of the logic I had accumulated, I was convinced was wrong, but it wasn’t wrong. It was Dead Right.
I chatted with the psychedelic Cinderella, Graham Knoxx, who is one-half of nouveau-pop duo, DEADRIGHT. Miss Knoxx has managed to turn being ostracized into a stage and transform tears into melodies with the magical thread being music. The fairytale starts in the dirty, dirty south. That would be Atlanta, to be specific. Not feeling quite as accepted as the other cool reindeer, our sultry Rudolph went where the tides rode higher and the breeze felt warmer. “I didn’t know many people in Atlanta. I worked in an architecture firm.” Knoxx expounds on her move from Atlanta to California, “Atlanta is the type of place where you can do something great, and suddenly everyone in Atlanta knows you. I wasn’t ready for that.” She continues, “The producers I want to work with are not in Atlanta. People who are gonna understand my aesthetic, my direction, and my influences are not in Atlanta.”
During this time, before the clock struck midnight in Atlanta, heartbreak threw Knoxx’s mind into a wonderland. “I was so in love, I would’ve done anything. He wanted someone to support him and go with him on his travels.” Graham reveals, “Valentine’s Day, two years ago, I was in the darkest place in my life.” The ending of a long-term romantic relationship, a clique-ish Atlanta, and the surprise buzz from the song “Dollar” produced by Alex Goose led Graham Knoxx into her own kind of dark oz. “[I was like] I am lost. I am broken. I don’t have a job. I moved back home for six months.”
It was home where Graham Knoxx began to refine and define her lyrical prowess she is known for. “I recorded them in my closet, in the dark in the room I lived in as a kid.” She continues, “By the end of those six months, I cut my hair off. I dyed it. I worked as a stylist. I needed something to free my mind and let my mind go, and take off the pressure.” This growth and exploration began her move to L.A. and rekindling her relationship with her musical partner, Alex Goose. Now, it seems as though what was some gothic drama is turning into fantasy drizzled with disco melodies. “I’m ready to take on the world again.” Along with the world takeover birthed a move to L.A. where she know lives. “Closing that chapter of struggle, it’s been amazing getting here. Everyone gets it. What we’re doing isn’t weird, it’s refreshing.”
Taking over the whole world is precisely what’s happening, since DEADRIGHT has now been adopted by a management company, touring agency and they performed on the Nylon magazine stage at SXSW, the takeover is as whimsical as it is imminent. Now, prepping their debut project, “Youth Maladies”, the stakes are high and the magic wands are even higher. “Sonically, we use a lot of analog and synths. There’s this blend of this old psychedelic feel. Alex started in hip-hop. It has more hip-hop influences and there’s a song that sounds like Pink Flydd. It all makes sense together, but it’s unexpected. It’s a retro psychedelic feeling to 70’s rock to hip-hop. It just feels really good.”
The core message of the new music is to not avoid the darkness and to come to terms with the mistakes that were necessary to grow in your youth. “I live in a constant state of thanks. Going through what I went through helped me see that. I had to get comfortable with things not always going through plan. You have to be more fluid, you have to let life flow through you. Being true to myself and just allowing the energy I project to come back to me when it is supposed to. “ Unlike most fairytales, the happily ever after doesn’t seem like the end for Graham Knoxx or Dead Right, it seems like the beginning of a wondrous adventure on a brick road paved with cosmic-tinged music and striking visuals.
I first heard about Los Angeles-based composer Adrian Younge on the Wax Poetics Magazinesite. “Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn: Wax Poetics Records Releases Free EP from 2000”, read the headline. Maybe it was the word “free” that jumped out at me, but something prompted me to dig a little deeper. I downloaded the Venice Dawn EP, a 5 song soundtrack to a fictional film intended to, as the article stated, “[connect] the dots between Black Dynamite, Younge’s early work, and his newest album, Something About April.” There was one song in particular, “1969 Organ”, that caught my attention. I listened to it over and over and over again, fascinated by the eerie composition whose sounds I couldn’t quite describe. Futuristic, yet retro. Uncanny, yet lustful. Over the next few years, I continued listening to Younge. From Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics to Something About April and Black Dynamite to 12 Reasons to Die, each album was unique from the last. Elongated vocal vibratos buzzed with liberated self-awareness. Psychedellic soundscapes bounced around unscathed sonic territory. Adrian Younge had both achieved and conceived of something formerly foreign to the ears. Stylistically vintage, Younge’s music is something of a progressive pastiche.
He has worked with artists like Ghostface Killah and Philadelphia soul group The Delfonics, composed the score for the Blaxploitation film and Adult Swim cartoon Black Dynamite, is a multi-instrumentalist, owns a record store in Los Angeles, and was an entertainment law professor (to name a few of his achievements). Oh, and did I mention he has an album with Souls of Mischief coming out in August? Needless to say, he is an accomplished artist. What makes Younge so meritorious though, is his understanding of what it means to create with Soul. Soul is the medium he uses within all he has done and all he will continue to do.
In my interview with Adrian Younge below, he expounds on the value of this very vital element as he makes what he likes to call his “arguably archaic art.”
Art Nouveau Magazine: What kind of music did you listen to as a kid? Was there a particular album or artist definitive to your upbringing?
Adrian Younge: My parents are from Guyana. In my house, it was r&b to reggae. As far as my musical core, what served to create my personal palette for music is literally hip hop. Hip hop showed me a source material to the music I love and strive to make. Hip hop culture is based on the recreation of old soul or actually the recreation of vinyl culture remixed with a modern day perspective. Hip hop went back to just vinyl and flipped it in a new way. Hip hop introduced me to all that good music back then, and that’s where I get my musical influences from. Hip hop was the door to the music that really changed my life.
AN: On Souls of Mischief’s 93 ti Infinity …
AY: That album represented me personally. There were crews like Wu Tang I loved to death, but I didn’t identify with Wu Tang like identified with Souls of Mischief. I wasn’t selling drugs. I wasn’t robbing fools. But I loved the music. With Souls of Mischief, everything they talked about as far as getting girls to wearing fly clothes – that was my upbringing as a west coast dude. That 93 til Infinity album introduced me to different forms of jazz music to how to really flip drums. I learned a lot from that album.
AN: How do you choose the artists you want to work with?
AY: I view myself as a composer, not a beat maker. A beat maker is the type of dude that can make ten beats in a day, because it doesn’t take as much time. With me, I could make one song every two or three days. When I’m putting that amount of labor and attention to somebody, it has to be somebody I’m passionate about. When I have artists that want me to do a track for them, it has to be something I really, really want to do. It’s so labor intensive because of the fact that I play so many of the instruments, I compose it, I mix it. It has to be worth it. When I determine whether someone or a group is worth it, I have to see how I feel when I hear their voice. Is it something that moves me and pushes me to try to be better? Do their vocals push me to be better? If it does, then I want to work with them, then that just means that I’m making music to try to make someone else better. I want them to try to make me better.
AN: Do you have relationships with these artists beforehand or do you meet with them, see if you vibe, and take it from there?
AY: Yes and no. More times than not, yes. I’ve wanted to work with Souls of Mischief all my life. We met on Twitter, and then we talked on the phone, and then out of nowhere we’re just brothers. I’ve known them so long with their music, they just haven’t known me as long. Even though they were fans of me for a year or two, I’ve been fans of theirs since ’93. I always tell people that as a musician, you communicate with people through your music, and when you meet people you feel like they know you. It’s kind of true to an extent, because you’ve communicated to them personally somehow. They’ve communicated with me since 93, and when we met, we vibed very quickly. And then we started immediately thereafter.
AN: How is the album [with Souls of Mischief] coming along?
AY: The album is done. I think it’s their best work ever. It’s just something that I’ve never really heard in hip hop. It’s like if Bob James and Herbie Hancock got together with A Tribe Called Quest to make an album for Souls of Mischief in the 90’s but produced it in the late 60’s/ early 70’s. That’s what this album is…With this unique sonic perspective and many core changes and composition for hip hop itself. With them as vocalists, I have them acting like horns as if we’re making a jazz album instead of just a monotone vocal run throughout the album, and they’re helping me to be a better composer. We’re just making each other better. I just, honestly, can’t wait for the world to hear this album
AN: How do you maintain your signature sound while focusing in on what they’re about?
AY: I need to be able to go over to their side, and they need to be able to come over to mine. If their side is something of garbage to me, I don’t even want to do it. If it’s something that really inspires me, I want to see how we can make each other better.
AN: What are your thoughts on hip hop in 2014?
AY: Hip hop in 2014 is different in a way that has pros and cons. Musically, do I like it as much? No, I don’t. As far as the subcultures, do I like it as much? No, I don’t. Do I like the fact that I hear rap music on NBA TV and the Grammys? I love it. The argument is a little deeper than do I like it now better than I like it then. There are two sides. As far as music, I don’t like current hip hop music as much as I did back then because of the fact hip hop has become popular music in a way that it never has been. Because of that, a lot of hip hop and rap acts have to succumb to what it takes to what it takes to make popular music. There was a time when hip hop was predominantly underground, so people were experimenting all the time. New albums are generally experimental albums. They are the love of a subculture that was not popular to the world, so it had a different edge to it. Now, a lot of that edge is just lost. A lot of it is just music to make money. Not that they weren’t trying to make money then, but it’s just different. I love music with an edge, and there is still that. There is still that around the world. It’s just not as prevalent as it once was.
AN: Are there any artists today that you find yourself drawn to?
AY: I have a record store and all I do is listen to old records. The only new music I listen to is if I have friends or MCs that are doing new stuff…It’s not because new music is horrible, but I’m inspired by analog recording. I’m inspired by vinyl. So that’s what I use as my fuel to make music. When I listen to a lot of modern stuff, it’s just derivative of music that’s even not as good as the music that I love from back in the day…There is a lot of great stuff [today]; it’s just that I’m not educated enough to know what’s out there, because I’m kind of in my own world.
AN: Why do you choose to stick with the analog production process as opposed to digital?
AY: To me, the best music ever made was made without computers. Computers make the production of music easier, and the drawback of that is that it’s music based on the concept of emulation. A gourmet restaurant uses organic materials to create food for their consumers. I want to have the same artisan approach with the music I create. When you have computers, you cannot have that artisan approach. There is a loss of quality, a loss of production value, a loss of seriousness when it comes to making that kind of music. And there’s also a loss of compelling-ness in the performance. When you’re recording digitally, you can do a million takes. When you’re recording analog, you only have one take. You’ve got to get it right the first time. And it makes a big difference. That’s why I make it arguably archaic art.
AN: On Soul…
AY: I’m a lover of soul music. Any music that has soul, it could be a country music that sings soul. Lionel Richie is a country singer, but he has soul. I look at hip hop as a category of soul music. My boundaries are whether the song has soul or not. I love classic rock albums, but the classic rock albums I love have soul in them…whether it’s r&b, whether it’s hip hop, whether it’s psychedelic rock, that’s what I’m into.
AN: Do you have any words of wisdom to your listeners out there?
AY: Don’t close yourself off to music that is made right now, because timeless music is always timeless. To me, timeless music is something from a long time ago. I think artists need to look back to move forward as far as just creating art and look at what people did and try to determine what you can do as an artist to try and make what they did better now. A lot of people aren’t looking back, and when you don’t look back, your foundation isn’t as strong. You’re just starting all over. It’s best to look back and see what people have done and try to build on top of that.
Lawrence Rothman will be opening for Little Dragon June 14th in Atlanta, GA at the Variety Playhouse. Little Dragon has drawn a huge audience in Atlanta and Lawrence Rothman will fit right in with his artistic, moody R&B flavor. He has done work with director Floria Sigismondi for a couple of his videos that display a few shades of his dark side. Art Nouveau was lucky enough to catch him before his show in Atlanta to see what his world is really like.
Art Nouveau: Your songs have a very moody appeal and the words themselves are pretty mystic. What is your writing process like and what kind of mind set are you in when writing for the most part?
Lawrence Rothman: I keep writing journals with me at all times, and I am constantly writing short stories or collecting stories amongst friends ..These stories are what I start with to inspire the music.
AN: You seem to have a foot in both music and art itself… what are some of your inspirations in both respects?
LR: I went to college in Chicago for film and fine art, coming from a small town in Missouri it exposed me to things that weren’t available there. I worked at R Kelly’s studio for a minute. My inspirations range from Tupac, Leonard Cohen, J Dilla to Cindy Sherman, Mike Kelly to Alesandro Jardowsky and Orson Wells.
AN: There’s the video that you did with Floria Sigismondi for the “Fatal Attraction” video… what the was inspiration for the concept of the video and how does the collaboration help you as an artist?
LR: The concept of that video was based on the common idea that we are most attracted to things in life that lead to a wounded fucked up outcome..
AN: How are you enjoying the tour with Little Dragon? What are some of the most memorable moments so far?
LR: Little Dragon are an amazing live band! The shows have been really dope so far.
AN: If there was no such thing as capitalism, what would you do? Do you have any other interests besides music that you would work on?
LR: I would probably be a farmer, I love food! My grandfather was a farmer in the Midwest…I also love writing so maybe a farmer/fiction writer… Capitalism is what it is… In the land of junk some one else’s shit is your GOD.
The art of giving is the joy of being able to inspire. Today is fond of simplicity as murky weather provokes a calmness meddling into the residents on this block, but the creative juices aren’t yielding. I call artists and creative folks that hang around in bars and café spots in Bedstuy and Bushwick “neighborhood kids.” A couple of those kids, two women, are lounging around an apartment on Tompkins Avenue researching content for projects while sharing always pleasant conversation of stories and laughs. It’s a remedy for the soul to connect with another human being composed of matter of essentially the same as you. The writer and stencil artist, who consists of layered artistic endeavors, talked it out over tea and work when that energy hit of, “IT’S BILLIE HOLIDAY’S BIRTHDAY!” A woman praising another woman is a beautiful art within its natural element. The lovely Lady Day is a mutuality that these two women share whether it’s been exchanged through discussion or not, simply because she oozes a womanhood that is perceived as mentorship—Billie Holiday inspired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf0ldEBBJhY Vulgar Colors sat down with a creative, intelligent flower who focuses in film, photography and gracefully sits as a pretty beast (visual artist). Celebrating a historical, and still very much so a prominent musical figure and survivor, sprinkled some Fairy God wonders into Izabeau Giannakopolis. As the designer of multiple trades arranged her artistic energy into order she began working on a visual of Ms. Holiday using her pad, a pen and tea. It’s an important factor to spread some light to those who come before us who have totally impacted our hearts with the truth and soul, so VC and Beau are toasting to the same drum. As we cheers to a pioneer and engineer of paving jazz music and superb vocals for singers to adore, we feel warm about providing an editorial and art piece. I fell into a deeper spell-like appreciation for Lady Day after reading more and watching a documentary on her years later from seeing ‘Lady Sings the Blues.’
Props are given for highlighting Holiday in Hollywood but the purposeful means for entertainment skews her life and fails to include all of her endeavors. She held slim tolerance for nonsense, lashed a bold tongue and proudly claimed the role she led. She said what it was and cursed..outloud..in the 30s. A woman who craved immediate sensation and bending to both sexes, the award winning and moving monumental-like singer enjoyed the thrills life presented. The idea of defying what was expected as a lady during these times thrived in Holiday. “She affects me as a woman; she was real. I can’t be offended by her vulgarity if I wasn’t physically around to know,” says Beau.‘Vulgar’ shouldn’t necessarily have a stench attached to its meaning as it associates with a lack of purity, an unrefined subject matter. Billie Holiday was one of the most rawest mouths in showbiz to touch the mic and for that we love her honesty. “Exactly how it is” deserves respect. Houston rapper, The Aspiring Me, remembers childhood memories as a lucky kid of having his grandmother’s Hiram Clarke record store as a daycare center: “She was one of her favorite artists; she was fiery and quick at the mouth just like Billie Holiday.” Strong women stick together and we can attest to the notion of “they’re a lot of boots to fill right now,” says Beau when referring to the shaky relationship of song writing and musicianship. There’s a reason why there’s rare talent tucked away somewhere out there. Who knows when we’ll see another Amy Winehouse (I know, I know) who can scat to jazz chords or present a range of raspy tones in such a way that internationally affects those music strings in your heart. Originally posted on Cheeba’s blog, Vulgar Colors. Beau’s website can be found here. (password is blackholecity)
The thing about trance on stage though, is like – it’s not like the trance part of it numbs you over where you just kind of succumb to this, this dizziness. It’s more like there’s something very visceral to it, something very rock ‘n roll about it. At least for me when I’m playing it, it really registers as a trance, but you can still really feel some strong emotions and you really can feel yourself present in that music; as opposed to being transported to some numbing land like, maybe what traditional trance music is meant to do kind of like ease people out when they’re on shrooms. I feel like you can use your body to interact, to interact with the band, you interact with the audience, you connect and I feel like everybody’s alive when we’re playing music. And you know, maybe that’s like, maybe “trance” isn’t the best word. (laughs) You know what I’m saying.
When you go back to New Orleans, you still have the French Quarter, you have the neon Harrah’s moniker, and the streetcars up Canal, but there are the roots and residences which will never return from August. People still say, “I lost ___ in Katrina,” and that loss is very much a part of New Orleans’ new identity, it will undoubtedly found the next Orleans upon the bridges between two sides of the same space.
Beyond the bayou’s Britney Jean, and Magnolia’s Lil’ Wayne, we have something fundamental, something fresh, and something authentically New Orleans in the midst – call it an amalgam, call it NOLA-EDM: a mix of “destruction – kind of – creation, improvisation, taking something very modern like EDM – or what people perceive it to be – twisted up and given a soul:” welcome Hello Negro.
AN: For you I think, you’re kind of rebuilding this idea of a post-colonial sound for a Post-Katrina New Orleans. A lot of people say, “electronic music is soulless,” because there is that preconception of “just press play and repeat” – but you improvise. I guess I want to get your thoughts for how you see your music as an environment, and seeing it as if it were this soundtrack for New Orleans – you being New Orleans’ native son – what does the music say to the environment you’re building?
Hello Negro: That’s an interesting question. In my experience, if you look at some great New Orleans musicians – you bring it back to Jelly Roll Morton, and you look at Louis Armstrong, you look at Kid Orie, you look at King Oliver, you look at Dr. John, you look at James Booker, you know Terrence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Duvel Crawford, Troy Andrews, George Porter – who’s a bass player for The Funky Meters – these are all the New Orleans musicians… What we do in New Orleans, and this is going back to “the amalgam,”
what we do in New Orleans is we create, as musicians, we create music as a function of our environment. So, there’s not this “thing” you can do to make your music “New Orleans,” you either understand what that is because of the environment that you came up in – or you don’t.
So, the techniques I use – whether it’s sampling The Funky Meters, or it’s a specific rhythm I’m using – none of it is overly … it’s not deliberate.
It’s the only thing I know how to do, it’s what I came up around.
So, we extemporize as musicians in New Orleans because, that’s kind of how New Orleans even came to be. There’s an interesting book that I haven’t read, so I probably shouldn’t reference it – but there’s an interesting book called The Accidental City and it talks about New Orleans, and how it came to be; and it’s a series of strange circumstances, and luck, and kismet, and it’s just something that probably couldn’t have been recreated. So the environment I try to create with the music isn’t necessarily a – or at least it’s not supposed to be – this “extension of” New Orleans, or kind of a “snapshot” of New Orleans;
[I]t really is an example of what I learned coming up in New Orleans, which is: we celebrate life, through music – which is why I was attracted to dance music.
Another one of the things that’s interesting about the Eighties is, that was an era – and probably the end of the era in the last thirty years – where people were actually playing instruments. I came up in the Eighties so I would watch Saturday Night Live or The Lawrence Welk Show, you sat down and you saw actual musicians playing instruments, and it was a regular thing.
I also remember when the paradigm shifted, when it got to the mid-to-late Nineties and groups like Mint Condition came out and it was so bizarre that people think it was such an amazing thing that Mint Condition played instruments – it was almost like an anomaly.
It was a cultural aberration to see musicians playing instruments – and again, I came up in an era where that’s what everybody did.
It was Earth, Wind, and Fire, it was Tower of Power – these guys played instruments – that’s what I saw. Also, growing up in New Orleans, I saw people playing instruments. So, that improvisational element was just the only thing that I knew. I did my fair share, you know.
I’ve only performed probably six or seven times since I’ve started about a year ago, and the first few times I used the traditional paradigm which was to create a show, and then show up and hit the play button – and I would do some improvising on top of it, but honestly: I was just bored to tears, and I just had not figured out how I wanted to do it. Then, I did some research and realized that, I could deconstruct what I had made to create more of an organic environment, to actively play live with the audience. So, I’ve done one very large show, well, two larger shows – but it’s just interesting interacting with the audience. When I say interacting with the audience I don’t mean pumping the fists and saying, “One, two, three, four – everybody.”
I was just listening to some music recently where I came home and it was like: “Everybody fxxkin’ jump” – if I hear that phrase one more time…
You know, it’s like – . I’m not a critic, I’m not panning anyone who does that. I’m only bringing it up because that’s not for me, that’s not what it is I’m doing – I don’t even know how to do that. I don’t know how to stand behind the console for an extended period of time. There is an art to doing that too – you still have to put the music together, and you have to interact with the audience – but,
I came up in a city where you play music, and you sweat, and the audience can feel the sweat and the heat that’s emanating from your body, and you feel the sweat that’s emanating from their body.
The small church I grew up in, I was fifteen feet away from the audience, and I could see them, and they could see me. I was playing off them, they were responding to the music.
It was more of a conversation and less of a dictatorial, ‘I’m going to perform this music and I’m going to subject you to it.’ So, all of that is very New Orleans, it’s also very American, it’s very democratic. It’s a conversation, everybody has a voice.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that your voice is going to be heard, but you have the right to have a voice; and if you can persuade the listener, then you will actually – the soapbox is yours to use.
I started working on this a year ago, and it never at any point was like, “Hey I’m going to be super-New Orleans. I’m going to improvise.” I really just looked at the tools that were available to me. I looked at the time I had to invest in it, and the result is what we have, and it’s danceable music: the tempos fluctuate from 94 beats a minute all the way up to 140 beats per minute – if you consider some of the tunes being double-time – and it really is supposed to be an engaging experience where the audience has a bit of a show because they’re actually watching an individual perform, and
most importantly people are supposed to celebrate, and have a good time, and remember what the human experience is about: sharing with other people and developing relationships with the other individuals in the environment.
There was a time when visual artists were rock stars. Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were known for their infectious personalities as much as for their intriguing visual art. Things changed and artists are back to being behind the scenes. But Corey Davis is one artist that I feel can bring the illustriousness back to being a working artist.
An eminent attribute of Corey is his dexterity in making his name illustrious. Infamous for his unique and diverse marketing abilities, he has found anomalous ways to promote himself. He’s not just a visual artist, not just a designer, not just a tattoo artist, not just a musician and business owner, Corey is an embodiment of an authentic artist. The Atlanta based artist took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the scene in Atlanta, art and commerce and his upcoming duo exhibition with mentor Miya Bailey, Windows To Nowhere.
Art Nouveau Magazine: You’ve traveled the world and called many places home, but what is it about Atlanta that continues to inspire your works?
Corey Davis: I love Atlanta because it’s a comfortable place to live, it’s easy for me to get in my creative zone and get lost in it for hours. I grew up in Atlanta so I have a lot of friends and supporters here, who I draw a lot of inspiration them.
AN: What do you think the youth in your area is being robbed of most? Was this the same situation you encountered as an adolescent?
CD: I think the youth are robbing themselves from real-life experiences and personal encounters by spending so much time on the internet or playing video games these days. I rarely see kids running around the neighborhood just being kids, anymore. I gained so much knowledge and inspiration just by exploring the world as a kid getting into trouble and finding different ways to talk myself out of it, fucking shit up and figuring out how to fix it.
AN: What’s the significance of the title “Windows To Nowhere?”
CD: This art show is like a window into our imagination, which really isn’t a physical thing, it doesn’t exist. So it’s “Nowhere.” That’s one of the meanings behind the title, it was a bit random, but we felt like it sounded interesting. Just the sound of it makes you want to see more.
AN: What prompted you to do a joint show?
CD: I’d like to collaborate with all the artist I know in some form or another. We’re both fans of each others work, Miya is also my mentor and I always admired his art, one day we just decided it would be dope if we did an art show together and see how people would respond to the contrast of our styles and subject matters. Although we are part of the same collective, visually our styles are very different, as well as our followings. So we thought it would be a good idea to mash it all up and see what happens,
AN: “Windows To Nowhere” opens on Valentine’s Day, is there a significance to this?
CD: I decided to hold the show on Valentine’s Day because my art is one of the things I truly love and cherish most. Valentine’s Day also just happened to fall on the 2nd Friday of the month, which is when they hold the Castleberry Art Stroll in Atlanta, so we thought it was perfect timing. Giving everyone a pleasurable experience and somewhere to take their Valentine’s date
AN: What can fans expect to see during your show?
CD: Every art show that we have ever produced has been an experience to remember, so you can always expect more than just a bunch of paintings hanging on the wall while a group of snobby people stare at them and sip wine. Miya and I put all of our heart into this exhibition over the past year, more so than ever, so people can expect to see some of our strongest work to date.
AN: Who or what inspires you?
CD: I’m inspired by a lot of things, but at the moment my paintings drew a lot of inspiration from the cartoons and video games I spent so much time partaking in as a kid. You can see this in my “Fantasy Adventure” series where this kid is battling these colossal creatures and monsters. My “Beauty” series was inspired by pop culture and idealistic beauty, like the models you would find in the spread of a high fashion magazine, they are beautiful and emotionless. I’m also inspired by the art scene on the Lower East Side of New York from the 1980’s when Keith Haring and Basquiat was doing their thing, I see something similar happening in Atlanta now.
AN: What’s the proudest moment of your career to date?
CD: I’ve done a lot of cool things, but I always wish to achieve more. Just recently we put together our first art exhibition for Art Basel in Miami and had an amazing turn out. In the beginning it seemed so impossible to pull of with our budget, but we made it happen! Secondly, I would say premiering my debut film, J is for Junkie, at DD172 in New York would also be one of my proudest moments. I tattooed in Europe and toured across the states performing my music, it’s just always awesome when you find out people know about you in different pockets of the world.
AN: If you could tell yourself five years ago anything what would it be?
CD: I used to be a little arrogant five years ago. I was one of those people who thought the was humble, but I really wasn’t, which caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities and money.
AN: On the flipside of the previous question, Where do you see yourself five years from now?
CD: I see my art in different museums across the world, I also see myself producing feature films. Another one of my goals has always been to introduce new talent into the world. So those are three things I’m focusing on right now.
AN: You’ve mastered bridging the gap between art and commerce. What advice would you give to young artists that want to make a business out of their art?
CD: Stay true to yourself, don’t worry about following whatever is trending at the moment or what’s cool. Instead focus on creating something that can become truly classic and everlasting. Unique to you and friends lifestyle while also having a balance of universal appeal. Of course you shouldn’t be focused on making money while you making art, but you should be thinking about how that piece of art is going to make you money. Make prints, put it on t-shirts or buttons or stickers. Study other artist and see how they sell stuff to making a live.
AN: If you were a cartoon character who would you be?
CD: I would probably be Finn from Adventure Time, if I can bring my dog along for the ride too, than Zoe would be Jake and we would go fuck shit up. They are pretty awesome, I envy the fact that that show didn’t exist when we was kids.
AN: What’s next for you?
CD: After Windows to Nowhere, I’m going to start shooting this short film I wrote with my friend, Sean Fahie, called A Day in the Life of Tim Friday. It’s a dramatic comedy about this hipster kid who gets his fixed gear bike stolen and is forced to venture across the city on foot. You can look out for that this April.
Windows to Nowhere opens Friday, February 14 at Nelson St. Gallery. Click here for more information.
AN-mag: What is one question that you have not been asked, that you want to answer?
Hello Negro: I probably should not bring attention to it, but one question you haven’t asked is, “What’s up with the crazy-ass name?”
AN: Right – see, this is why we have this question.
HeNe: It came out of a crazy text conversation I was having with a friend of mine, and it just kind of shocked the sxxt outta you at first. It just grabs your attention and is supposed to bring you into the music – but it doesn’t have anything to do with what one would assume as the result of the name. It’s two words that don’t have anything to do with one another, it kind of has a rhythm. It’s Hello Negro and it’s like “woah – okay … what’s your name?” “Yes – Hello Negro.”
AN: And in that you define what it is because you’re that one. Do you think with the reception to the music, and going on the road, that the persona has taken on a life of its own – evolved into its own sound?
HeNe: People seem to be liking the name. It makes you chuckle, and makes you uncomfortable at the same time. It kind of draws you in. It makes you jump for a second, and then you’re supposed to have a good time, listen to the wonderful music, and forget about the name.
AN: It’s almost this re-welcoming, a reintroduction, to New Orleans.
HeNe: I mean, we have vaults, and vaults, and vaults, and vaults of wonderful music. If I can expose an individual to some great content, and to help open and enhance that human experience – that’s one of the highest compliments you can get as an artist.
I always find it a pleasure to speak to creative people about art, life, and music. This time around, I was given the opportunity to do a phone interview with the uniquely creative Kilo Kish. Kilo Kish is a vocalist, songwriter, visual artist, textile designer and pretty much has the ability to do whatever she wants. She is a modern female artist who creates visuals with music and paintings alike, with all of her work telling an intricate story of the girl behind the name Kilo Kish.
I heard her song “Navy” playing on someone’s Tumblr page last summer.But In order to better prepare to speak to the artist I listened to both of Kilo Kish’s albums while working on my little wooden art pieces. I was inspired and excited to speak to another artist who seemed to be flourishing in the creative world in major way.
First, I prepared my questions, set up my microphone and opened up Garageband to get ready for the recording of the interview. I sent Kilo’s manager Justin a text message to confirm the interview and, to my surprise, received a text from Kilo Kish herself: “Hey Corrine [sic] this is Kish I am actually at Eames house may I call you when I leave here?” Once Kilo Kish settled in at her L.A. home, I conducted a bi-coastal phone interview from Miami.
AN: How are you?
KK: I’m good. I went to Eames house. Me and my boyfriend we are really into their design work so we took a trip up there today. It’s really not that far from our house. It was really cool to see where they lived and worked and stuff and get inspiration.
AN: Where are you currently based?
KK: Right now I live in Laurel Canyon. It is in Hollywood. It’s been pretty fun so far. We have this cottage style house with wood paneling so it’s a 70’s kind of vibe. It’s cool, I like it.
AN: How did get your start in music/art?
KK: As far as music goes. I moved to New York to go to design school. At first when I moved to New York I thought I was going to do illustration or industrial design. Then I ended up transferring schools and I really enjoyed the textile aspect of design more so I went to FIT for textile design. During that time while I was in college I took a year off where I was in New York working downtown in Soho. During that time I didn’t really have much money. I was a broke college student and I used that time to start a new hobby which was music. So I really never tried to do music before 20 years old.
I would just be in my house and my roommate at the time Smash Simmons had a little home studio set up. We would just screw around in there and make random songs. I mean I had no idea of what I was doing. I still don’t really have a clear cut plan of what I want to do or what I want to become with music. We just would fool around, until one day I met a friend of my other roommate J.scott and He was Matt Martians from the Internet. He came and stayed at our house. I was like “I wanna play you some of the little dumb songs I made” and he was like “well you should come to L.A. You should come for a week and just try to make something more complete”. I had never been to L.A. at the time.
That summer he flew me out and I went there. That’s something I would have never done on my own so I really have to thank him for giving me the push, you know. Because I’ve had a million hobbies growing up, but they never materialize into anything until somebody puts the fire under me to work on it. So that’s kinda how that came about. We worked on it in L.A. Then I went back to school at FIT. I took a year, I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was doing random screening printing stuff. Finally we were like “hey we should put that thing out we’re working on”. I was like, “you know let’s just put it out”. So we put out “Home school”. It kinda became its own thing and took off a lot more than we expected it to. So from there we just moved forward.
AN: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
KK: Um, I feel like I have to give myself a title for other people more than anything.It’s just easier to say I’m an artist. As oppose to saying I’m a singer, or I’m a rapper or I’m a textile designer. You’d be having 10 million things to your name and that’s kinda cheesy too sometimes. I just say artist because it encompasses everything really. Like most people who design things or create things I’m self conscious about what I do. I look at all the great artists around and it’s like have not done nothing to that caliber yet. So it feels weird to be like yes I’m this artist, I’m this entity. It just seems weird. I’m more self conscious about giving myself any title really.
AN: Who/What are some of your influences?
KK: I’m influenced by living and life. I wouldn’t say that I have specific people that I’m super into. I know what influences me for different things. For painting I really like Egon Schiele. He influences my painting stuff but I don’t know that necessarily influences my music. Music is kind of a weird one. I don’t really listen to that much music at home. But I know my favorite genre of music or favorite style is Marvin Gaye era, old soul music. That’s just what I personally like. I kinda listen to everything but not that much really. So for music I have no clue. For music I’m influenced by life and different situations.
I’m influenced visually a lot for my music. Like if I’m in a random bar, then I try to explain that feeling. Or the way that it feels to be in there. I try to equate that musically through my lyrics I guess. I kinda go crazy in mind thinking about what they do when they go home? Where they go? What kind of relationships do they have? What does that mean for any of us? That’s the kind of stuff that I just like to go through in my music. Which cannot really make much sense for the grand scheme of things but it makes sense to me so I guess that’s the only thing that matters.
AN: How did you meet odd future and become a member?
KK: I wouldn’t say that I’m a member of Odd Future at all. I mean I know them. They were just around. Matt and Syd happen to just be the ones to really help me with that first project “Home school”. Through that and through them, and just being really good friends with them. And them taking me under their wing that first go round. I got to meet other people. I don’t really know all the members of Odd Future very well. I know some more than others. I’ve hung out with Earl a lot more then I’ve even seen Tyler. Everybody’s busy just doing their own thing really.
The first time I went to the studio ever. It was at the end of a session that Tyler was doing. I didn’t know anyone there. They spoke to me but it wasn’t really like BFF’s. So that was my first time ever going to the studio. I think the way I felt then was I was really impressed that such young people are really making it happen. Through my interactions with Odd Future they’re “go do it” kind of people so that’s always impressive and always inspiring to witness.
AN: Your song “Navy” had a huge buzz on the internet. When did you write the song? What inspired it?
KK: When I wrote Navy I feel like it was the winter time. It got released before the tape came out. We we’re in Brookyln at this studio brewery I believe. Me and Matt we were just chilling there. It’s one of the only songs I wrote on the spot. I personally hate writing songs in the studio. I feel like I say this in every interview but I hate being in the studio more than a lot of things. I wrote that song there. I remember that my friend Sobe was there. It took me way longer to write it then usually it takes me to write songs because in studio I just can’t think of things on the spot. My friend Sobe was like you should say something like: “starlight, star bright”. I was like oh ok. We just went with that one. Let’s go down that road. It’s another one of things, trying to describe a space. It’s super descriptive. It was a cool song to write.
AN: How did you feel when you realized your fan base was growing?
KK: You have to understand I didn’t expect anything, nothing. So everything is always like a blessing. Everything is good. Everything feels good. I’m little bit private. I don’t know if the word would be private. I just kinda like stick to myself and do my own thing all the time. I don’t like to be phony or fake. I don’t like to feel like the outsider or the insider aren’t the same. At first it always feels good. Like when you step back and think about it like wow people actually connected to this. What more can you ask for anything that you make. That people respond to it in a good or bad way. They just respond you know. That’s the only thing you can ask for when you make something.Everything on top of that is the icing on top. I was super excited to know I have fans.
It made it so much easier to do all the music related things that come with it that I wasn’t prepared for. I wasn’t prepared for performing; I wasn’t prepared for just all the extra stuff. When I made music to begin with, I just thought I was gonna make music and there was gonna be nothing else that I would to have to do. I never even thought pass actually making the project, to what if people actually like it and you have to go around to perform. I didn’t even think about. Knowing that people we’re there and seeing people say the words with me it gave a comfort. Actually its okay, I’m okay here, it’s a comfortable space. I’m safe, everything’s good, we’re all here together. That’s my favorite part about fans. Because it’s not a ego thing for me it’s not like oh you guys are all here to watch me. It’s like we’re all here to be together and experience this together. It helps me just as much; I hope that my music does something for you as it does something for me especially in performance.
Process of making the albums
AN: Where did you record your albums?
KK: “Home school” ep was recorded a little bit of everywhere. It was recorded mostly in L.A. “Navy” was recorded in New York. “You’re Right” was recorded in my house in my room. “K+” was recorded in New York at my really good friend Nick Hook’s studio. He has a beautiful studio where it’s super open. It’s actually a studio I enjoyed being at because it’s just sunlight coming in the room and your just there all day. It feels really homey and comfortable. It’s kind of like nontraditional folksy looking studio. I was in to that. With all my projects I don’t like to leave all the nuances up to the studio. I try to figure as best as I can at home first. So that means I write everything at home and I record it multiple times at home before I go in to the studio. That’s what I did for the “K+”. For “Home school” it was just get in there and do it kind of thing. A lot of the songs were done in 1-2 takes.
AN: I noticed there’s a theme on both albums regarding school? Do you think that you will continue with this theme with future projects?
KK:I don’t know. I might I’m sure. I kinda just go with it. I know that this next project doesn’t really fit that theme so much. It kinda has its own theme and it kinda might break there. I feel like I’m gonna always take a student approach to doing any of this type of thing because it’s gonna be new for a really long time for me. Even in 5 years it’ll be new compared to a lot of people who have been doing music for 10 odd years.
This next project that I’m working on is an ep. This is the first one that I’ve ever done for sale. It’s called “Across”. It’s with one producer, which is different from both those last projects. Its one producer, its one sound, just me, there’s no one else. It’s just the way that I feel about my life right now. Whereas, the other two projects I wouldn’t say that they reflect the way that I really feel in life. The last two projects are just kind of like, me exploring, me exploring other people and me exploring other spaces. But I’ve never taken the time in music to explore myself. I’ve never done this. This one means a lot more to me because it feels a lot more real than the last two because it’s about me. That’s why this one is super different from then the last two projects. It’s different content wise.
AN: The K+ album has a lot of rappers featured on it. Who was your favorite artist to work with?
KK:I’d say that my favorite artist to work with on “K+” and he’s barely on it, is Nick Hooks the executive producer. He helped me to feel very comfortable at tackling a project like this on my own. I love everybody featured on it.
AN: Did everyone just email verses to your engineer? Or we’re in the studio with a lot of your contributors?
KK: For the most part we we’re all in the same place. We’re all in the same building.
AN: Do you consider yourself to be a rapper, poet or singer?
KK: Neither. In reality I don’t consider myself any of those things.
AN: How would you describe your musical style?
KK: I would just say Kish. Me. Like that’s it. I don’t want to put it into one word really. I don’t think that things are summed up into a word. It’s hard to put your whole life into one word. Personal. It’s just creative.
AN: How important is self image?
KK: It’s important that the outside matches the inside so that you’re not confirming for a public. That’s important to me. A lot of times as anybody that makes music or art or has to deal with any public opinion. Sometimes you have to change a little bit to fit somewhere or make money. Kanye rants about this every single day. I feel that I like the two to match. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable ever. So about self image I just want people to know who I am. And know that it may not necessarily fit into every single box and that’s fine. Sometimes I’m gonna fit into a box and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes I’m gonna say things and sometimes I’m gonna contradict myself. That’s just the nature of people. That’s natural. It’s unnatural to fit completely perfectly into a mold to me.
K+ The Book
AN: Let’s talk about your visual art book entitled “K+” The Book. I know you are also a visual artist as well. Do you think that being a visual artist helps strengthen you as an artist overall?
KK: Yeah as an artist overall. I think that it helps to have a visual eye for anything. Musicians are doing so much stuff that’s like none music related now. In general for you to know what you want your set to look like it would help. If you really knew what you were doing all that helps. Or the way you want your album artwork to look like. It’s so much easier when you can actually draw for somebody to understand. The most frustrating thing I think for anyone is to have ideas in your head that you can’t make happen. Either you don’t have the talent or you don’t have the knowledge or you don’t have the know how to make it happen you know. That’s probably the most frustrating thing about life. It helps to have that foundation.
”K+” the mixtape that people know about started off as a concept. I’m doing music now, I have a chance to do it on own. I’ve been around such incredible people. How can I explore the way that people make things happen? How can I explore different peoples artistic process. I know what I do. But what do they do? How can I measure the amount of work that’s put into something not that for my own sake not for like “oh look hard I worked on this”. It’s more so just like an experiment. How can I measure how many people are involved in putting something together. All the background all the trials before you actually come up with a finished product. So that was my whole idea behind “K+” was taking demo’s, taking all the sound material, taking all the little things that people usually discard for a final album and just bringing them to the forefront. The actual album had a lot of the demos on it. It was hidden beneath beneath beneath other vocal tracks. I had alot of the conversations between the different artists. I saved all the correspondence, I saved videos. I took pictures. I just collected everything.
Then I had an installation which was the point to begin with. The mixtape was a byproduct of my concept. I took a lot of emails and all my notes. Then I hung them in a school house, which kind of goes with the home school thing. It was a way to see physically see how many emails did we send. I wish I could’ve had the real amount because it would have been insane. If you print out each one of your emails that you send everyday and you put it in a physical space its insane. I did it on a smaller scale. I feel like I might try it again at some other point and time. I think it just goes unnoticed really and so I wanted to explore that. Through the book there are a few more of those materials where you can actually look. During the installation you could go around and read the little different emails between my P.R. person. You could read things; all my million sticky notes and you could listen to the music. The e book is kind of little bit more of the same thing. We didn’t do a physical book because so much of it was music base. People know me for my music so an e book is easier because then you could have the videos and multimedia things. That’s why we did an e book. It goes with our times anyway.
AN: I’m a fan of good song lyrics. I love the lyrics from your song “Navy” when you say “the stars, they don’t just shine for you, they don’t just shine for me, they are celestial beings, we are the stars”.
AN: Do you have a favorite song or favorite lyrics you’ve written?
KK:I don’t really have a favorite song. I don’t have a favorite one. I like the stuff I’ve been making recently a lot more.
AN: What are you listening to?
KK: The question is really what does my boyfriend listen to because that’s what I have to hear all day. He usually plays it loud. We usually listen to 22 tracks or something, or like those little blogs that have music on it. I listen to different soundclouds. French express, just super good working music. My boyfriend is like right here and he’s like “tell them about that station”. We listen to this French internet radio station that has all this multi-cultural music. It sounds amazing at our house because when we listen to it we open up all windows and everything. It’s sunny and nice and it’s some Spanish guitar music and it’s perfect. We listen to a lot of random stuff.
AN: Who are some of your dream collaborations?
KK: I like a lot of people’s music. But I know that I’m not one of those people to be the one to make something happen with someone; Maybe different producers.
AN: Where do you see yourself in a year?
KK: Probably living in L.A. still. I feel like music isn’t the only thing I have to give or I have in me to do. Once this project is done I’ll definitely start working on a full length album. But I would also like to get back into drawing and painting and working on other mediums of art. It’s just fun to use different parts of your brain. I do a lot of stuff at home. I think now I’m ready to get out there and make things that people can actually have. I’m excited to start that. Hopefully I’ll be able to have physical things in the world that I like that I’ve made other than music.
AN: What are some words you live by?
KK: I think I heard something one time that I was super into. I don’t remember who said it but they said that “Creativity never improves.” It makes you go like what? But at the same time I believe it to be true because it just changes form. I feel like it’s something that I always want to live by. I want to change form. I want to do music and I want to do everything make everything.
AN: Do you have any advice for artists who are aspiring to do what you’re doing?
KK: Not everybody comes into music with the kind of mindset that I have I’ve noticed. But I think if you’ve never done music before and you try to do it. It’s a lot different than you think it is. Just do whatever makes you happy. Do whatever feels good for you when it stops feeling good just stop doing it.
One of my favorite Chicago bands, Pelican is now on tour in support of their new album Forever Becoming which came out October 15th. They have a ten date tour and one of the places is Atlanta, Ga at The Masquerade where punk band Coliseum will be joining them along for the ride. I got a chance to catch up with Trevor de Brauw before he hit the round to see where his head was at before the tour and to talk about the new album and how it was working with new guitarist Dallas Thomas since Laurent Schroeder-Lebec left the group back in 2012. This will be their fifth full length album which took longer than the the rest of the albums they produced in the past. If you are in Atlanta then be sure to catch them at the Masquerade and if not, you can read the interview below to get a hint of whats to come.
Art Nouveau Magazine: This is your first LP in four years since What We All Come to Need… What made it take four years as opposed to two years for the previous albums?
Trevor de Brauw: At the end of 2009 we made a collective decision to stop pursuing the band as a full time enterprise. To keep ourselves afloat we were touring about half the year and scrounging for part time work whenever we weren’t on the road; which was beginning to feel like an untenable arrangement. Rather than crash and burn we figured we needed to take a step back, develop healthy home lives, and find a way to pursue the band as a passion rather than as a career. Larry lives in LA and the rest of us are in Chicago, so it took awhile to figure out a way to move forward with composing material, but after recording the Ataraxia/Taraxis EP in 2011 we developed a routine of recording home demos and sending them back and forth. From there the momentum picked up and the album came together over the course of 2012.
AN: How does this record differ for you from the past albums and EPs?
Trevor: We brought the same seriousness of intent to this album that we brought to the others, but insofar as we’re pursuing the music for its own merits rather than as a career the whole vibe is a little different. As a result I think the performances feel more relaxed and fluid. It’s some of the heaviest, darkest material we’ve written so far, but I think we approach that heaviness with a sense of restraint that might have been harder to muster when we were younger.
AN: How did you guys come up with the name Forever Becoming for the new LP and how does it describe the album?
Trevor: The album is about learning to accept one’s mortality and recognizing the beauty of death’s role in the eternal cycle. It’s both literal and figurative – literal in the sense that we all return to the earth from which we came and from which more life then springs; but also in the sense that every chapter in life must have an end for the next chapter to begin. Forever Becoming seemed to sum that up pretty succinctly.
AN: Since Laurent Schroeder-Lebec departed from the band, how has the writing and music creating process changed?
Trevor: Laurent was responsible for a lot of the material, so it was definitely a major change losing his contributions as a writer and a musician. In general we’ve always written in duos and brought ideas to the larger group when we have a coherent song structure to hash out. Somehow over the course of 10 years we’d written in every possible permutation except Bryan and I writing directly together. So this album represents Bryan and I forging a new creative partnership together; it lent the material a familiar sound (since we’ve both been contributing writers for the band), but also a new energy. As in the past when Bryan and I got some song ideas together we’d meet with Larry and hash out final song structures and drum parts. After those sessions Larry would return home to LA and record his parts so we’d have a foundation to build the final song arrangements on top of. It was sort of a slow, meticulous process, but every step felt necessary to the whole.
AN: What energy or or creativity does the new guitarist Dallas Thomas bring to the table and how is it working with him? Did he have any input on the new album?
Trevor: Dallas is an actual musician and knows what he’s doing. He’s detail oriented and has a habit of asking questions about the songs that are thought provoking and usually force me to figure out not just what I’m doing, but why I’m doing it. We recorded nine songs for the final album, eight of which made it on. I think we’d roughly finished seven of them when Dallas joined and he helped finish the last two, The Cliff and The Tundra, and helped tidy up the loose ends in the other tunes.
AN: I know that you’re on tour with Coliseum in support of the new album… How do you feel about the upcoming tour?
Trevor: Excited and trepidations in equal measure. I’m looking forward to the camaraderie of being with friends and the exhilaration of performing, but I am not looking forward to the crushing boredom of spending all day waiting to play, sitting in a van for countless hours, or being separated from my family.
AN: I see that most if not all of your catalog are finally on Spotify… How do you feel about music nowadays and the easy access to your music through such services as Spotify?
Trevor: I have very conflicted feelings about it, quite honestly. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy Spotify and I enjoy having instant access to things I’m even just mildly curious about. But there’s a very specific relationship with music that’s lost when it is not a communion between a physical artifact and the listener – the physicality of that relationship implies a deeper potential investment. I have a whole bevy of records that I didn’t care for when I first listened to them that I went on to have deeply meaningful and intense relationships with. Who knows how many records of that variety I’m discarding now because I give it a cursory listen on Spotify and am not wowed. And to carry that line of thinking our band makes records that are intended to be listened to as a whole and reveal themselves more with repeated listens, so again that physical communion would play an important role. Which is not to say one can’t get that out of listening to us digitally, but I understand the impulse to skip and move on only too well.
AN: If you could do anything else besides music in a non-capitalistic world, what would you do?
Trevor: I’m not good at it, but I’ve always enjoyed interior painting. I find something very soothing and meditative about it. So maybe I could do that if all the people who are actually good at it get busy or something.
Jack Preston is an Atlanta based emcee who has consistently been sharing his creative gifts with the Interwebs/world for a while now. He recently dropped his latest single called “Replay” on his soundcloud page so I decided it would be a great time to pick his brain and find out more about the man and art.
Art Nouveau Magazine: Who is Jack Preston?
Jack Preston: An Atlanta based emcee, producer, musician, graphic designer and visual artist.
AN:I’ve seen you around in the Atlanta scene before I knew who you were and you seem to stick out because you have a distinct style. How important is style to you?
JP: Style is important in the context of creativity and communication. Style to me is much like an element. If you thought of the elements of creativity like a periodic table of elements, style would be one of the most important elements on the table to me. I enjoy utilizing style to personalize my art and daily expression.
AN: The first time I’ve saw you perform was at the Haiti benefit concert early 2010. How long have you been performing live?
JP: I’ve been performing live since 2004. My first performance felt pretty natural, and it’s been nothing but fun since. The Haiti benefit show was actually the first performance with my band The Dojo in Atlanta.
AN: How do you stay inspired?
JP: Life within itself is inspiring to me. I appreciate dynamics, the highs and lows, and I’m always inspired by the human experience. That’s what most of my art is about.
AN: I know that you are a modern day renaissance man. So when it comes to creating what usually comes first. The art? Lyrics? Or theinstrumentation?
JP: It all comes at different times and different rates. I can choose to focus on one craft or another to maximize productivity, but when creativity is in it’s rawest form, I can’t control what comes first. At the end of the day, it’s coming from the same source, so I look at each discipline as different tools in which to help communicate with others.
AN:I consider you to be an independent artist who books your own gigs and creates independently. What do you think is the best part about being indie?
JP: The best part is having control of your image and art. A lot of times, the trade off for having outside support is that you have to surrender control of yourself to them. I enjoy having my full integrity intact as well as being able to get all of the return from my efforts.
AN:What are you currently working on?
JP: I’m releasing a record that I’ve been working on for the past year called End Of The Future which is produced by fellow Dojo homie Jon Bom. I’m also working with The Dojo on an EP follow up to In The Land Of Wanderers. I’m also prepping some instrumental projects and my first mixtape.
AN:Where do you see yourself in five years?
JP: I see myself sustaining an evolving music career, and growing as a person and artist.
AN: A motto you live by?
JP: I’ve always liked the golden rule, treat others like you’d like to be treated. I do my best to adhere to that.
Dogbite is a band that I have seen and heard about for a couple of years now through media posts and tours that they’ve done with other artists. It wasn’t until the debut of their album Velvet Changes did I really start to dig the band, listening to the album every morning, enjoying the musical arrangements on songs such as “No Sharing” and “Forever, Until.” After seeing them live at the Star Bar in Atlanta, GA, I was convinced that this band had something that was a bit different in the current Atlanta scene and had to get an inside scoop on the band Dogbite. I got a chance to sit down with the Phil Jones (Lead Vocals) Woody Shortridge (Bass) Tak Takemura (Drums) their newest member, Jonathan Merenivitch (Lead Guitar) and chat with them for a while about their music, their influences and what they would like to see from the Atlanta music scene.
The name for the band came from lead singer and coordinator Phil Jones who thought of the name in the shower one day. He started off with sampling and making music with his guitar and would record on his computer to get his ideas out. “I had just dropped out of college and all of my friends were still in Savannah so I was bored.”
He would a year later have the idea to start his own live band and was recommended to bass player Woody Shortridge who had just left his previous group Balkans. “I started off in Balkans playing guitar but we switched instruments and I started playing bass and I liked that better… It has the most balls.”
After Phil met Woody, they began to go through a series of line up changes that finally lead to Tak Takumara on the drums who started off as a fill in drummer. Tak began playing drums at the age of fifteen and he’d just moved to the GA but didn’t speak English. His parents bought him a drumset and he’s been banging ever since. With the help of his brother, he started perfecting his talent and soon found his way to the band. The newest member of the band is Jonathan Merenivitch on lead who started off playing guitar at 16 and formed a band with his schoolmate Dusty who happened to play the drums. He started his own group in college named Tendaberry and has found his way through other bands to play in Dogbite.
The band is now tighter than ever and already have plans for the future. They are currently working on a follow up to Velvet Changes where the band will now have a contribution to the record. “We typically just jam and see what happens” Phil says while taking a pull from his cigarette.
As it goes for the music scene in Atlanta, Dogbite has fallen into the ChillWave section along with acts such as Washed Out who Phil also plays with. ChillWave seems to be an emerging genre in the Atlanta scene especially with the success of Washed Out whose song “Feel It All Around” is the theme song for campy TV series Portlandia. “If people didn’t call us one thing then they will call us something else,” states Phil.
When it comes to labels though, the band never aims to be known as a chill wave band, just a band that makes good music. “I feel like when we’re playing live it’s a lot more grunge, psychedelic and some of the parts Phil wrote has more tension than more chill,” Woody clarifies.
When speaking about the Atlanta scene in general, Phil Jones has his own perspective on it. “This might not sound nice but I kind of just want the whole Garage Rock thing to simmer down and for people to try new, weirder things.”
Phil claims Atlanta indie band Red Sea as one of the bands that he’s into right now in Atlanta.
“I think that it’s time for more bands to come out of the city and become popular nationwide because I feel like we’ve been dominated by Black Lips, Mastadon, Deerhunter, Janelle,” states Woody Shortridge. “I feel like the crop of people we have right now are really good and dedicated at working their craft. I basically want all of my friend’s to be successful.”
The four members are always keeping themselves busy. They are all in different bands but still find time to contribute to Dogbite. “Dogbite is at a different place then the other bands, says Jonathan Merenivitch. “Our other bands will be cool…through Dogbite those things will get more in the spotlight. It’s all love all around.”
Dogbite has gained it’s own popularity performing at several notable places such as SXSW, Atlanta Film Festival and they have also toured with Toro Y Moi. They plan to tour a bit more, even with aims to go out of the country and tour. “I’d like to go to Australia because there are some really good bands coming out of Australia,” says Woody. “I want to go to Hawaii too.”
As far as the music goes, they might switch things up a bit from their previous album Velvet Changes. “We might make a hip-hop album or even a jazzy one,” laughs Tak Takemura. “Dogbite’s going hip-hop old school.”
It would be interesting to see if they actually follow through on that switch. It would definitely throw them out of the Chill Wave genre! Whatever Dogbite does next, the four musicians have enough talent among them to create something new. They plan to release a new EP coming out soon with a limited vinyl so look out for that soon. Until then take a listen to their latest single “Cold Weather” below.
Imagine gliding through a dark forest with your only light being the fireflies surrounding you. As you move, you fall into a trance and you are lifted slowly into the sky as the forest animals sing as you ascend. That is how Locust’s new album You’ll Be Safe Forever will make you feel from start to finish. The duo Mark Van Hoen and Louis Sherman have come together to produce the album that just came out April 16th and what a good match up it is. The sounds on this album are very dreamlike, like the songs “Corporal Genesis” and “More Like Prayer Than Science.” They almost have the magic to manipulate your mood (in a good way) using synthesizers and other electrical machines. The songs can also be very industrial such as “Subie” and their single “Strobes.” I got a chance to catch up with Mark Van Hoen from the duo and dig deeper into the group and their musical journey.
AN: So you’ve just come out with your new full length album this year. How long have you guys been working on You’ll Be Safe Forever?
Mark Van Hoen: This was a fast one actually. We did a burst of a few days before we did a live set on WFMU a year ago, and then the record developed from there mainly over the summer & fall of 2012, probably took about three weeks if you condensed the time. Although, compared to an album I did in a day with Daren Seymour called Aurobindo:Involution, it’s slow progress!
AN: Any particular reason for the title You’ll Be Safe Forever?
MVH: Oh yeah.. it’s from the song “Do Not Fear” in which the vocal states that You’ll Be Safe Forever but actually it’s a trap. A bit like Homer’s Sirens. You are lured into a false sense of security by the beautiful tones, and then when we’ve drawn you in…then you’re in trouble. That’s when the nightmare begins.
AN: Typically an album resonates to the kind of mood the artist is in a the moment. What kind of headspace were you guys in when creating the album?
MVH: Louis and I are not youngsters, and we are able to draw on experiences and musically induced states from other times. My influences are ingrained in my psyche, and the technical skills I need to make music are completely without any need of deliberate thought or intent, so it can just flow. The headspace is really how we felt at the specific time of whichever piece of music it may be. It’s all different reasons, just daily life, moment to moment. There is no grand design, we are just like any other musician playing their instrument.
AN: I know that some artists have certain processes that they go through when creating their albums. Do you guy have a particular process?
MVH: This time around, we jammed a lot of tracks really fast, then threw away most when we realised they were not going anywhere the next day. The ones that we kept and worked on some more are pretty much what you hear on the album. So that differs from the way I make my own music for example, because that initial session is more spontaneous as a result of being a duo.
AN: Who else helped you guys in the process?
MVH: Really no-one, at least not in the process of the actual music making. By definition the record is a direct collaboration between Louis and I.
AN: What did you listen to when growing up and how, if it has, it affected what you play now?
MVH: It affects me profoundly, more so than music I listen to now. And I think that’s true for most musicians. I started listening to Electronic music when I was 12, starting with Tubeway Army followed by many of the UK electronic artists of that time like Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League and OMD closely followed by German bands like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Can. My music teacher played me Stockhausen at school, which was also a profound influence, and his ‘Gesang Der Junglinge’ is still one of my favourite pieces of music.
AN: I like how musicians have a lot of equipment and how they use them because it is always unique. What instruments/equipment do you guys use for your music production?
MVH: We use much more hardware than many current electronic music artists do. Many musicians tend to use computer plugins, and sadly that’s now also true of musicians even from before our generation, when they make new records or play live. We use analog synthesizers mainly, Louis more keyboard based and myself more modular. I’m more into the Don Buchla idea that synthesizers are not supposed to be keyboard instruments. Robert Moog was the one who put keyboards on synthesizers, and of course he is well know, but the other approach is actually becoming more and more popular with the growing ‘Eurorack’ modular synth trend. We tend to use old effects pedals, rack units and processors rather than plugins while actually recording. The computer comes in later, during editing and mixing…although many of the interlude tracks on the record were actually recorded and mixed directly from a good old fashioned 16-track tape machine, which incidentally blew up just after we finished the last mix.
AN: If there was no such thing as capitalism, what would you do?
MVH: Make more music, enjoy more time with my family, have more fun and help some people out who might need it…as someone famously once said ‘Imagine no possessions!’
Elaine Spence likes to dole out ‘pick me ups’ after a bad day. She can feel your sadness, your happiness, and wants to “save the world.” The 26 year old musician from Atlanta, by way of New York, has been songwriting since eight years old and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
In 2010, Elaine transformed her singer-songwriter skills into a full-time career. In the few years since then, Elaine has further developed and toned her sound, learning only to take direction from her harshest critic, herself.
Elaine’s new EP, “All We Need,” exploring her new musical direction, is due out on iTunes at the end of this month.
An infinite journey lies ahead for Elaine. She just hopes that journey includes a collaboration with Lauryn Hill, and a final settling down destination somewhere between Atlanta or Nashville.
Art Nouveau: What did you listen to growing up?
Elaine: “I was really big into hip-hop, I was a huge tomboy. So I was really big on Biggie, big on Puffy, which he was back then, now he’s Diddy. But big on everything hip-hop. I grew up in New York, so it was just a part of our culture. I think as I grew older I started to marry myself with other types of music, but that was the foundation and just the realism of the rappers back then, their words were just so poetic. I think that had a lot to do with the songwriting I took on. As I matured as a songwriter I took that from hip-hop, a lot of it. You know even though I don’t write anything close to hip-hop, but I think just the cleverness in the writing that I try to include, it comes from hearing that growing up.”
AN: Do you still have any of your old songs that you wrote when you were young?
E: “I do and I can sit at a keyboard and still sing them. I’d be so embarrassed to perform them because they were so raw, and they were really, really emotional songs that probably I’d keep for myself as personal songs. But you never know, one day I might work them into what I do in the future. But I have all of them, notebooks full of them.”
AN: How would you describe your sound now?
E: “Right now, I’ve tried so many different things. I think as an artist, I was a songwriter first, so I’ve been writing so many different genres of music for the past couple of years. But right now I really wanted to take a look into myself and find what I wanted to do with this gift I have. The conclusion was I wanted to use it to give this world a message that they can use to make their lives more positive. So this EP that I am coming out with, “All We Need”, is really ballad driven, the songs are traditional, make you feel good and make you feel love, songs. You know, they talk about the human condition, they talk about the things we all can relate to, young, old, all walks of life. So I would say that these songs are true ballads that I think will bring people together, hopefully. Bring this world together.”
AN: How has your music changed since you started? Have your production methods changed?
E: “It’s changed quite a bit. There’s only a few producers that I’ve worked with since I started doing this as a career in 2010, and putting out my first EP. I would say that the thing that changed is just my digging deeper to find my sound. I think when I first began recording, I was just down for anything. I was down for experimenting, and I just wanted to be as extreme as I possibly could be within my capabilities. But now that I’ve matured a little bit, and the years have gone by, I realized that I don’t have to be as extreme, and I can really just be me and be pure, and be honest. The simplicity of just a simple message, that I think anybody can relate to, is what I needed to do. I didn’t need to be too out of the box. I think I’ve arrived at that place and I think that was the major change. Just really stripping down all the extra stuff, with regards to my sound, my portrayal of myself as an artist. Just simplifying everything so that anybody can relate to it.”
AN: Where do you draw your inspiration from? Has it been the same source since you’ve been making music, since you were eight?
E: “I think my inspiration has really stayed the same. I am a really emotional person, I am one of those people who literally can feel the energy of others around me. I feel their sadness, I feel their happiness. I take that on, I try to fix it. I think that’s always been the inspiration for any song that I’ve ever written. It’s trying to fix the problems that I feel other people experience. Even as a child, I feel children are able to see things that adults don’t think they can. You know just seeing how people around me dealt with life just inspired me to write these songs and hope that I would hopefully ‘save the world.’ Or make people feel better. Or just translate their issues in a way that they maybe can’t. I think that’s what music does. It says the things that we’re not able to say with our own words. So that’s always been my inspiration, just the feeling that I get from the people around me and their life experience, and the human experience. Musically, there’s so many things that I love. From hip-hop, to rock and roll, to R&B, to pop. Its like food, there’s no music that I don’t like. But I think my main inspiration is just humanity. I’ve come to a place as an artist where I’m really honest with that. There’s nothing extra that’s needed in order for me to communicate that in right now through my music.”
AN: What was the first concert you went to? What was the last? What is the next one plan on going to?
E: “I usually go to a lot of my friends concerts and their performances in town. The first one I can remember, I have a buddy, his name is Ben Carson. He used to do a lot in Atlanta in 2010, that’s like the first one I can remember. The last concert I went to was Thursday, I went to go see Solange perform, which was amazing. The next one I plan to go to, I actually want to check out this band that I’m really into. I want to check out Mumford & Sons, but they’re touring Europe. I don’t know when they’ll be anywhere close to here, but I’ve been having them on my radar, in terms of like bands I want to go see live.”
AN: In making and hearing your own music, what purpose does your music serve for you?
E:“I would say the number one thing is that it gives me something to live for. I mean if I wasn’t writing music, and I wasn’t singing, and I wasn’t creating, I don’t think life for me would really be a happy place. It’s really that thing inside of me that God has called me to do. Even if I don’t sell a million records, I know that I couldn’t really say that I’m living my happiest life if I wasn’t using my gift in someway. Whether its just to have one person hear it and feel OK after a bad day. So I think it’s just the calling that it has inside me and satisfying that is what it does for me.”
AN: What have been your best and worst moments as an artist?
E: “My best moment is right now. Right now I feel like I’m in a place where there’s no judgement. That inner critic that is always listening for what I lack is no longer. I feel like I’m in a place where I know who I am, and I am patient and I respect the journey that I’m on right now as an artist and where it will lead me. I respect the fact that its more giving through my music than getting anything. I’m in my best moment right now because of that. My worst moment? Wow, I would say, you know maybe going to too many extremes musically in order to appease the people, and not listening to what I truly believed was enough. Trying to I guess put on a performance, rather than just be an artist. I don’t know if there’s like one particular moment, but I think it was just a mindset that I had early on that I needed to have some sort of image in order to resonate with people. I would say that was probably the worst place that I could have been as an artist.”
AN: You said right now is your best moment. What projects are you working on?
E: “Right now, I’m finishing up an EP. I’ve actually been working on it since last year. It’s called ‘All We Need’, and as I mentioned earlier its really ballad driven. Its those type of songs, like you know when Macy Gray came out with that one track, ‘I Try.’ Those types of songs that the message is so relatable that you can’t deny it. Even though that they might not think the artist is the hottest thing at the time, but its just the message within the writing that people can relate to. That’s the EP that I’m working on, ‘All We Need’, its taken me in a different direction that I’m really, really happy about right now.”
AN: Live or studio?
E: “Definitely live. If it were me, I would want to see and hear myself live. Any artist, I would just prefer the experience of seeing their emotions and connecting with the story behind what they do in the studio. So I think live is definitely ‘it.’ Take that with a grain of salt from a person who doesn’t go to many concerts! But in my ideal world, live. I do watch a lot of YouTube clips of live performances, so that must count for something.”
Read this interview and more in the 10th issue of Art Nouveau Magazine. Click here to get your copy!
“Opening skies with broken keys…” By now this young maestro’s hands have been heard around the world and weberverse; from Holy Ship to Ultra, Born This Way Ball to Poseidon Tour, Zedd’s fingers have fueled quite the spectral pulse. What about the mind behind the music, though? What makes Zedd’s metronome tick, and what cultivates a sound so kaleidoscopic? Leave it to the prodigy priest of EDM himself, preaching nightly behind pierced lips atop DJ booth pulpits, to clarify the scape of this spectrum we call the contemporary music scene.
Art Nouveau: Who/what/when/where/how is Zedd? … In 59 characters or less.
Zedd: Zedd is musical soul-bacon.
AN: Your latest releases have a linguistically visual element to them, “Spectrum” and Clarity, evoking a sense of synesthesia. So that got me to thinking… What does Zedd’s sonic identity feel like?
Z: A shaver made of clouds.
AN: Taste like? Z: Bacon.
AN: Look like? Z: Chuck Norris.
AN: Smell like? Z: What it tastes like.
AN: Sticking with the “Clarity” vibe, what new perspectives – or clarity – are you providing to the industry, and to the scene; what perspectives are the industry lacking, and what clarity is the scene lacking?
Zedd: I think quite a lot! Especially “being open.”
All the sub-genres and artists giving their fan base a name makes music so “political.” People take a side and almost feel like they need to fight the others – “If you like old dubstep, you CAN’T like the new ‘brostep'” (or whatever they call it)
[Y]ou know what I mean? That attitude really makes artists make music they probably wouldn’t necessarily do if they didn’t feel that kind of pressure.
When I wrote “Spectrum” I didn’t think people would love it as much as they did in the end. I decided to just release because I felt like it was a musically undeniable song; and although it was different from the music I released before, people loved it.
The clarity that song gave me was that it’s all about great music. It doesn’t matter what genre you make or if you feel like your fans wouldn’t want to hear a certain style; if you make sure the song has a soul, a face, a character and the music is great, they WILL
AN: Kudos on securing Princess High’s stash – massive, massive vocals for the “Stache” cut from Clarity … I love the dark/light ominous/optimistic juxtaposition between the lyrics and beat. What was the progression like for that project? Did you pick GaGa to write the vocals or did she jump in after hearing the raw track? What about Princess High-Die’s lyrics speaks to Stache’s cosmic kaleidoscopic sprite aural vibe?
Zedd: Actually GaGa heard the song and just decided herself to make a “remix” or whatever you want to call it. She just enjoyed it and wanted to make an own version of it with her vocal. The process was: she took the song and recorded a vocal on it! Pretty simple.
AN: Your Poseidon Tour with Porter Robinson… discuss the cataclysm of Skrillex’s two junior prodigies on one stage. Since Poseidon translates to “The Earth Shaker” – on a scale of 1-10: how Jurassic-Park-water-glass is the sonic richter of this show?
Zedd: On a scale from 1-10 the tour was ‘levels.’ It was one of the most fun tours I’ve played so far; we’ve been switching up our sets every night, slamming songs back-to-back and, on top of having almost every show sold out, we had a great time since we’re really good friends.
AN: Some people say that electronic music is soulless… some people say Pop is the apex of artifice… Expound on the soul beneath “pure EDM fantasy,” the possibilities for Pop’s electronic evolution, and the human element’s place in electronic-based music.
Zedd: Well, I have to agree in 99% of the cases. I do think the most electronic music is fairly soul-less and very generic.
But there’s something that has to be said as well: a) there is a LOT of soulless music in any genre; not only electronic music, and b) since it’s way easier to record electronic music than other genres […] obviously there is a lot more recordings / productions of electronic music from people that don’t really know how to do it. Those people label themselves “DJs” and “Producers” or even “Musicians” which I think isn’t really right and makes those “demos” to real songs – and if I had to judge them, I’d most likely not rate them really well.
You can kind of compare it with me using Photoshop. I just downloaded the trial of Photoshop and been playing around with it. Do I call myself a visual artist now? Am I a graphic designer? No. I try it out and play around with it but I don’t understand the “soul” of design.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that due to the over-saturation of electronic, due to the minimal requirement to make it, there’s a lot of music people consider “soulless” (which everyone has to judge for him/herself by the way); but aside from that…
there’s a great catalog of incredible electronic music in the world. You just have to find it.
AN: If Clarity was a visual art piece or artistic movement – which one would it be
AN: What is your favorite city to perform?
Zedd: I don’t have a favourite city to perform. My biggest fan bases in the world are in Los Angeles and New York, so naturally I’m always looking forward to play these cities.
AN: Who inspires you musically? Who or what inspires you non-musically?
Zedd: My musical inspirations are mostly bands like Silverchair, Radiohead, Muse, Feeder … also older stuff like Genesis, King Crimson…
Non-musically (AND musically) Skrillex is one of my biggest inspirations; as a human being and friend.
AN: What is a question you’ve wanted to answer but haven’t yet been asked?
Zedd: I’ve never been asked how many unicorns I own.
Read the rest of this interview with Zedd and more in the 10th issue of Art Nouveau Magazine. Click here to get your copy!
When you do the Wright thing, the Right things just come your way. And just like that, Dizzy is an overnight sensation. Hate to say we told you so, so here’s our interview with Funk Volume artist, and 2013 XXL Freshman Dizzy Wright…
Art Nouveau: First I want to say Congrats on the XXL cover how does it feel?
Dizzy Wright: Man it feels good, It feels amazing. I really am blessed, really really blessed.
AN: I noticed you tweeted woke up famous as hell, does much feel different?
DW: It’s crazy cause I had known about the cover for a while, but I was told it wasn’t coming out until next week. Me, and all the other freshmen were hype man we were just ready for it to be released, and then last night while I was in the studio I saw a tweet that said the cover had been leaked. I put my phone down (Laughs) I didn’t want to believe it. Then like thirty minutes later my mentions and texts started going crazy. It was a good feeling.
AN: Can we expect any future collaborations between you and the other freshmen outside of XXL?
DW: Oh yeah, me and logic working on some shit. Me and Ab-soul working. Me and Joey have already worked together. Were actually shooting a video for “Maintain” this sunday. I would love to work with some of the other freshmen to. We will just have to see.
AN: So for all the people who are without a doubt about to hop on the Dizzy Wright bandwagon, who would you tell them that Dizzy Wright is?
DW: I would tell them to do their research. Just do your research. My beginnings are all over youtube, and google. I been grinding. I would tell them to just do their research man.
AN: Well I’ve done my research, and I’ve heard you call yourself a poet, is there a whole collection of poems you have that the world doesn’t know about?
DW: I actually started writing poems before I started writing raps. I have hundreds of poems. Growing up people always seemed to open up to me, I was always in everybody’s business (Laughs) and I was able to use that in my poems.
AN: Could you see yourself doing any spoken word in the future, or are you strictly focused on the raps?
DW: Oh nah man, if the opportunity presented itself I definitely could see myself doing some spoken word. I actually plan on putting a poetic twist in my music. It’s all about being creative. I had released a poem about 2 years ago on YouTube called “Honesty” that did well, so yeah I definitely plan on adding a poetic twist to my music in the future.
AN: Is Vegas truly Vegas for a kid who grew up there or is just another place to you?
DW: Nah Vegas is still Vegas. It’s a city for adults though, so growing up you gotta make your own fun. It’s just like any other city growing up, it’s ratchet, it’s hood, it’s fun all that stuff, but when you hit 21 Vegas is definitely Vegas.
AN: Do you still live in vegas, or are you solely in Cali now?
DW: Nah, I still live here, I’m on the freeway now [Laughs]…
AN: How’d a Vegas kid end up in Cali and signed to Hopsin & Funk Volume?
DW: I would say networking. I was doing a lot of performances and competitions at the time, and I think a fan had sent a video of mine to Hopsin, and his manager had reached out a little while later, and the rest is history.
AN: With all you guys (Funk Volume) being so young is there a friendly competition between you and your label mates?
DW: I guess you can say that, but we don’t talked about it. For us I would say it’s more about building each other up, everybody wants everybody to go hard. We all push each other.
AN: Do you listen to a lot of artist outside of Funk Volume?
DW: I listen to everybody. I mean everybody. Everybody has at least 1 song I fuck with, even if I dont like them as an artist, if they make a song that hit, Ima bump it. Then you have artist who I fuck with every song, and every album. I really listen to everybody.
AN: What can we expect from Dizzy in 2013?
DW: Oh I am going to go hard. I am about to grind. I’m about to go on tour with Kottonmouth Kings and a few other people, which I feel will bring a different crowd to me, and I am really excited about that. I also plan on dropping a crazy mixtape man. I know there’s about to be a lot of people asking “Who the hell is Dizzy Wright?” and I want to let them know with this mixtape. I am going to give all my talent away on this next mixtape, and I really am excited to show people what I’m about.
AN: Okay I am going to ask you a few quick answer question, and you just say the first thing that comes to your head, Cool?
DW: Lets do it.
AN: Favorite Dizzy Wright song?
AN: I phone or Blackberry?
DW: I phone
AN: Money or Fame?
AN: More fashionable you or A$AP Rocky?
DW: A$AP [Laughs] I gotta get my money up first.
AN: Who shouldn’t you have slept with in high school?
DW: [Laughs] Mary [Laughs] I shouldn’t have slept with Mary.
AN: Lastly man who is Dizzy Wright in 5 years?
DW: A father. I already got a little girl now, but I want me a son. In 5 years I just want to be ducked off somewhere, living good and being a father.
Read the rest of this interview with Dizzy Wright and more in the 10th issue of Art Nouveau Magazine. Click here to get your copy!