A spooky fall playlist by Kayla Gutierrez and Ivy Fox to get you in the Halloween mood…
A spooky fall playlist by Kayla Gutierrez and Ivy Fox to get you in the Halloween mood…
Artist of the Month July 2017: KEISHA PRIOLEAU MARTIN
Interview by Jessica Petrylak
SUCKER: Who is Keisha Prioleau Martin?
KEISHA PRIOLEAU MARTIN: My name is Keisha I grew up in Queens, New York. I got my Bachelors of Fine Arts at Purchase College. I paint strangers out of their essential characteristics and collage them into places that can be absurd or funny and definitely emotionally heavy.
SUCKER: What are your preferred medium(s) to work with?
KPM: I prefer to work in acrylic paint because I like to try a lot of new processes and use several layers of patterns and transparent colors. I can layer the paint and adher many things to the surface and It would dry quickly and the objects wouldn’t rot in the surface the way oil paint would. I also discovered that the things that I like about oil painting the color and the viscosity can be recreated in acrylic paint.
SUCKER: Can you speak about your color pallet?
KPM: I love color, I appreciate color interactions and I like using grey and desaturated colors as a way to pump up color . When I paint I am considerate of the temperature ( warm and cool colors) . I love warm colors like orange, red and yellow. The temperature of my palate usually directs my subject into an emotional place. I also use discordant pallets to move the paintings away from looking like the original and natural life environment.
SUCKER: What is your first experience with art? How do believe you have grown overall as an artist?
KPM: As a child I was told to color on Xeroxed copies of coloring books. Then my first sketchbooks filled with drawings of my favorite teachers and self portraits with dogs or birthday hats. When I was ten my father got a part time job at the Cooper Union during a Summer Residency program or similar. I met a lot of amazing artist and I was exposed to a tiny part of the art world. My father like to look at art and we often took walks, he would stop to take a long look at a mural or at a sculpture. If he saw something without me, he would take me back down the street he found the artwork just so he could show me.
I have physical evidence that I have grown overall as an artist and like everything else in life, I keep growing. In those early days I was purely trying to communicate what I liked and what I wanted and show people what made me happy. In middle school and High school and focused a lot on techniques that were effective while learning what it mean to make art in a larger context. By “larger context” I mean art history and it was really important for me to learn it, It gave me more confidence because It became my own history. In college I finally started bring everything together. I started to develop a studio practice and there has been a lot of strength in that.
SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song(s)/What do you listen to while making art?
KPM: The songs usually happy upbeat folk music something I can dance to without too many lyrics. Sometimes I don’t listen to music sometimes I listen to a podcast. I like a few NPR stations. I like Modern Love, Radiolab, Invisibilia, Curious City and This American Life.
SUCKER: What physical and emotional environment is best for you to work in?
KPM: I like working in my studio mostly alone. This allows to play and move around the work enough. I take a sketchbook on the train and to restaurants. For optimal emotional environment, I just have to be in a good mood. I slight bad mood is okay. But have you ever been so upset that you couldn’t work? like your dog dies or you got your heartbroken, sometimes things like that actually inspires production that’s usually where new ideas walk in.
SUCKER: Do you experiment with other forms of Art?
KPM: Yes I experiment with abstract art. it’s becoming more useful in my figurative painting. I have made animations and written poetry and comedy.
SUCKER: What does your art making process look like how long does it take to create a piece?
KPM: My sketchbook filled with layers of notes concealed by drawings is a precious asset to my work. Making line drawings of people in this sketchbook is the way I salvage and sample images from life. My sketchbook was with me to record a student sinking with exhaustion into a café sofa. I am attracted to the emotional weight of posture and expression in the figure, but also to the between spaces interacting around people. From this sketchbook is where I pluck from to form paintings.
Fascination ensues when I find a small detail potent with signs of someone else’s mundane life. My curiosity is sparked by visual inconsistencies. I am charmed into hypothesizing personal narratives about those I encounter from theses potent specifics. I bring their essential characteristics into my paintings the way actors would enter a stage. This is where they can be freed from their own reality and where their emotional weight, posture, and expression can be highlighted. I do not know these people as much as I could and the mystery of these guest remains in the paintings for the viewer to wonder about
SUCKER: What is your ultimate goal involving the Arts?
KPM: I would like to continue making paintings and starting conversations with people.That is what I love so much about painting, being a part of a community and I can make paintings within a world that other people have made paintings but also I want to reach people who have ideas that I haven’t heard and I want to talk to those people I want them to talk to me. I want to learn forever. my goal is to share and talk about art . keep art alive, legitimate, useful and powerful.
SUCKER: Who are your biggest Inspirations within the visual arts world?
KPM: They are really strong artists that put out a lot of work and have a lot of great energy. I really love Dawn Clements, Nicole Eisenman, Jennifer Coates, David Humphrey, Tom Brookhart, Angela Dufresne, Matt Bollinger , Peter Williams, Caroline Wells Chandler and so many more. As Inspiration goes they have shown me that you should always do what you want.
SUCKER: Do you feel it is important as a contemporary artist to share your work online?
KPM: I think that sharing work online should only be promotional. It helps to get people to come to your show or to research who you are. it’s a way to connect with people that aren’t right there in front of your work. some people cannot visit my work in person.I have never seen the Mona Lisa in person I think a lot of people will just see my work online. The internet is a great way to connect and to network with people with similar ideas.
SUCKER: What is the best advice you ever received as an artist?
KPM: The best advice I keep hearing it over and over is that if your work doesn’t make you happy, don’t do it. Or if it doesn’t make you happy, WHY do it? That comes into play when I make a mark and I really hate it and but I keep making a mark. What am I doing? if there’s no reason for me doing. if it’s not even for happiness maybe it’s for like a big game like maybe I’m working on my yellow making muscles or something like that but that’s different I mean. it’s like if I’m going to be happy with better painting muscles and that is why I’m doing it but if it’s not making me happy there’s no reason to do it. I’m clearly bothering myself, so stop. That has gotten me in a lot of good places as far as making my work especially after years and years of making work I finally get into a studio and I have a purpose.
SUCKER: What is next for your future art and future self?
KPM: I’m just getting out of school I’m going to stay at New York City and going to live in Queens where I have intentions of connecting with the world in Brooklyn and then the Lower East Side. I am currently working on paintings that incorporate my identity into my narratives a lot more. Now, I am painting about the absurdity of life and the humor in life and also the mundanity of life. I have been asking the questions of what we’re looking at? and who are these people around us? Living in a big city there are strangers everywhere .
SUCKER: Where can we contact you, follow you and buy your art?
KPM: My website KeishaPrioleauMartin.com . My Instagram @KeishaPrioleaMartin . Just Facebook my name so far i’m the only one with it. Email me, my email address is on my website.
Hey people of Sucker Magazine,
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for doing what you’re doing. By some aligning of the stars I found you guys recently and I love what you have going on. It’s dope. Like, real dope. Everything on your website is exactly what I’m looking for and I really dig everything you guys stand for. The art and the playlists are so damn good and it warms my soul.
Ever since going from Chicago to Kentucky for college I’ve been really missing that scene where I can discover new music, art, and other shit that I like. I’ve just kind of been stuck with what I had before I left for school and I haven’t been very able to expand my horizons. But then I found your wonderful website and it’s helped me find new music to blast into by head.
I wish I could somehow contribute to you guys to help you grow but I’m a broke college student so all I have are my words. I know they definitely don’t help as much as dollars but it’s all I’ve got. For now all I can offer is some web traffic, but I hope one day you guys make it to print cause I’d be all over that shit!
You all are great and I appreciate what you all put together. You’ve got yourself one more loyal follower!
Artwork by Samantha Lee
Playlist & edit by Jessica Petrylak
Interview by Jess Petrylak
SUCKER: Who is Lucent Dreams?
LUCENT DREAMS: Lucent Dreams is me, Caleb, and a few of my friends taking my songs and giving them life. It’s the latest incarnation of a lifelong pursuit of making songs that I would want to listen to in my car.
SUCKER: Is there an implied narrative within the song order on The Honest EP? How does this relate to the overarching theme of honesty?
LUCENT DREAMS: There is not really an implied narrative regarding the song ordering. I was mostly ordering them to reconcile the fact that none of the songs really sound like they should come from the same person or be on the same album. Thats the honest answer! Honesty, or the illusion thereof, is important in art but its different from telling the truth. You can manufacture honesty in music. The EP is honest in the sort of way a drunk phone call to an ex girlfriend is, its just kind of all on the table, vulnerable. I rarely checked myself or listened to the voice in the back of my head saying, “You can’t talk about sex and death on the same album!” or “You can’t just have drums on all the songs and then tap on your acoustic guitar for the intro, and why do you INSIST on ACOUSTIC GUITAR!!!!!?” I just kind of did things the way I did because all of these disparate styles, approaches, and sounds exist within me and I didn’t want to build this album based on what would make someone else comfortable.
SUCKER: What was your first experience with music? How has your process grown since?
LUCENT DREAMS: I used to learn a lot of songs on guitar, I took lessons, I got pretty good at finger picking. But I really wanted to sing, probably because I was so bad at it. I really liked writing. Anything. Stories, song lyrics, research papers, poetry, raps(lol), long winded AIM messages… I figured if I started putting guitar behind my lyrics eventually the singing would get better and I could share my passion for writing AND music. I started getting serious about writing music and performing when I was 17 or so. My process was very much: write the chords, write the words as they come, and then play it to people. You could argue that my process is the same now but now I understand it better. I still write the instrumental first and lyrics later, but I have a better understanding of what I want to say and how it will come across over the bed of music.
SUCKER: Is it difficult sharing the creative process on a project to personal to you?
LUCENT DREAMS: There’s two sides to that.
I write the songs by myself. Acoustic guitar, mechanical pencil, paper. Same way every time. Rarely on that end am I willing to compromise.
The other side is when I bring my songs to my band, I rarely give any direction and if I do its the feel I’m going for. The band writes their parts, and I pretty much never touch them.
SUCKER: What is your favorite aspect of songwriting?
LUCENT DREAMS: Writing lyrics. I tend to write in a fairly stream of consciousness way, and sometimes it takes me weeks to understand what the hell I just wrote and what it means. A lot of it is very metaphorical and it takes a lot of examining the context of when I wrote it to understand what my subconscious mind was trying to say. The feeling of finally understanding and being able to explain each line is always a sort of eureka moment where you realize like “Hey, there is a lot going on here.”
SUCKER: Because you were involved in all the creative and productive aspects of the project, is it difficult separating the two processes?
LUCENT DREAMS: Yes. Especially this album. I record while I write, often by the time the band hears my idea its already final takes of guitar and vocals. Like I said before the album is a hodgepodge of styles so when I look at it as a mixing engineer, my training says level it out. Make the mixes be the thing that ties it together. I found myself turning down the distortion on Planting Season because it was the only lo-fi song and it stuck out. Then I realized thats took away from the song. Each song is like a child, they want different things. You can’t just try to force your kids to all play baseball so they fit in when Ronnie wants to smoke pot and Jimbo wants to be a dancer.
SUCKER: FILL IN THE BLANK: If you like ________, you will like Lucent Dreams.
LUCENT DREAMS: Lyrics.
SUCKER: How should the audience feel when listening to this EP?
LUCENT DREAMS: Hopefully pretty cool and thoughtful.
For me, spaces and places play a pivotal role in the creative process. Does your process/artistic style vary between (rural?) Vermont and urban New York?
My sound changed a lot when I hit New York. In Vermont, theres really two big scenes. There’s jammy funk stoner stuff everywhere and bluegrass. I was making weird electronic indie stuff for a while and then weird folk music and it was all very private, people here don’t really like that. Then I got to Purchase and was like… wait people here are playing the music I like to listen to and other people like it too. I felt less pressured to be accepted and felt confident in my process and sounds because New Yorkers get a great cultural education. In Vermont, there is Vermont culture. Maple Creemees, craft IPA’s, Phish, Bernie, and weed. New Yorkers have been exposed to all sorts of art and there are tons of scenes and tons of people. I can’t even walk to anywhere from my childhood house in Vermont. The closest venue is a restaurant that has bluegrass some nights. I will always love Vermont, the people in it, and the nature. I will continue to speak with an accent and write about swimming holes, firewood, and gardening in my songs. That won’t ever change.
SUCKER: Can you speak on the visual choices used on The Honest EP?
LUCENT DREAMS: I said I was looking for some work on my Facebook which is full of amazing artists, because of Purchase, and I got a good response. I was going through peoples Instagram pages to see which style would best fit my music. I was going to commission something but then I saw a piece that I absolutely fell in love with by Casey McCarthy. I wanted it so bad. The muted colors, the dreaminess of it, the obfuscation. I contacted them and they generously said I could use it! As to the choices regarding the creation of it that’s best left to Casey. I’ll link their Insta at the end of this interview.
SUCKER: How has being exposed to all the different creative energies at SUNY Purchase College influenced your progression within your music?
LUCENT DREAMS: Purchase is so sick. Being surrounded by artists that are so motivated and do not compromise is extremely inspiring. It’s such a safe place to pursue art in your own way. It’s a daily dose of greatness. You’re surrounded. I imagine it would be intimidating for some people but when I got here I was like “this is my place, start writing NOW.” Plus you see people doing what they want and succeeding at it. I never felt that in any other music program at any other school.
SUCKER: Do you consider yourself more of a recording or a performing artist?
LUCENT DREAMS: I do a lot more recording these days although I’m planning on playing a lot more shows around the city when the album comes out.
SUCKER: If The Honest EP came with “exercises for listening”, what would that entail?
LUCENT DREAMS: What a great question. Treat each song as a vignette, a little story, without context. Listen like you were looking at a painting as someone who doesn’t know the first thing about painting and doesn’t need to extract meaning from the work. Then take a pass figuring out what it means to you. Then try to figure out what it means to the artist.
SUCKER: Who are you hoping to reach with your music?
LUCENT DREAMS: People who are into it. If it’s what you like, listen to it and support the artist! If you don’t like it that’s fine, I don’t dislike you for it. Like I’m pretty sure my mom won’t be listening to Planting Season in her car more than once. If my Gramma was still around she wouldn’t want to hear me swearing in my lyrics. I’m pretty sure none of the people I’ve ever dated listened to my music on their own time. You can’t force people to change their tastes. I want to reach people that like my music and gain some sort of pleasure from it, the way so many other artists have given me pleasure, courage, and stimulation.
SUCKER: Because your music is ultimately meant to be shared, does that influence your creative/songwriting process?
LUCENT DREAMS: Yes, I can’t help it. I want people to like my music and get something from it. I still write whatever the hell I feel like though. Its more of a subconscious effect on the songwriting end. It’s more measurable on the technical side, mixing and recording. You just can’t put out something that sounds like it was recorded over-saturated to tape and expect to gain much more than a small cult following. It still happens but people expect to hear the kick drum on a rock song.
SUCKER: What is your relationship with social media, and do you feel it is important as an artist in the 21st century to utilize it?
LUCENT DREAMS: I’m a social media fiend. I grew up on AIM and Myspace. I think it’s so important and beneficial to artists to utilize it if they want to reach people. I think that people who play obscure and don’t utilize it are expecting things to work out for them the way that lo-fi did for The Mountain Goats. John Darnielle has 1000s of songs. He got struck by lightning. You aren’t going to. If you desire exposure and reaching people you need to use all of the tools. Technology is evolving humanity and without it we just aren’t enough anymore. I believe that on a practical level, spiritually its problematic.
SUCKER: Where can we listen, buy and follow your music for future updates?
LUCENT DREAMS: The album will be available on Bandcamp and all the streaming services. Follow me on Facebook and Insta. You can add my personal page as well if you want. Also follow Casey McCarthy’s art page on Instagram! Thanks!
By Katie Harvey
To my little girl on International Women’s Day:
Today we celebrate & honor what it means to be a woman. We celebrate the women before us who fought for our rights. The women who got arrested trying to vote, the woman who refused to give up her seat on the bus, the women who let the credit for their work go to men while they quietly landed men on the moon.
But really Sugarbean, we honor them every day. We honor them by being the most true form of ourself. We honor them by empowering our fellow women everyday. By helping our sisters in need. I hope you’re never afraid to speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.
I hope you know that if women had stood quietly by and asked politely for equality, it never would have happened.
Never let anyone make you feel inferior, because chances are they came from a vagina.
We are the creators of life. Do not back down. Do not be afraid to be loud.
Do not be afraid to be called bossy or intimidating.
Those are just labels slapped on women of greatness. Never be afraid of your wings, and never forget you can always come home to mom & dad. We love you sweet girl.
The future is female.
The future is you.
The world is yours.
Interview by Alyssa Campbell
Artwork by Kayla Gutierrez
“I think writing should be less like a factory and more like a garden, nurturing and watering, but allowing what is growing to take new, sometimes surprising, and often beautiful shapes,” Walidah Imarisha tells me.
The first time I met Imarisha was in January, 2015, when she was featured as the keynote speaker to present “Oregon’s Racial History and King’s Vision of Justice,” for a Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration at the Majestic Theatre, in Corvallis, Ore.
You couldn’t deny the power of her presence when she spoke: she was confident, fearless, and completely unapologetic for who she is and what she stands for. I remember the instant goosebumps when she kicked off with a spoken word poem, and by the end of her presentation the entire theatre stood for a round of applause. I thought to myself “I want to be like her one day, I want to have that kind of impact with my words.” Since then, I’ve attended a book signing, multiple lectures, workshops, and have been lucky enough to sit one-on-one for a personal interview with Imarisha.
Imarisha is a public scholar, spoken word artist, writer, activist, journalist, and educator, who currently lectures at Stanford University’s Program of Writing and Rhetoric. She’s taught at Portland State University’s Black Studies Department, Oregon State University’s Women Studies Department, and Southern New Hampshire University’s English and Literature Department.
Growing up on military base, Imarisha says the support from her mother showed her the possibilities of what she could achieve.
“My mom has been very foundational to me. She doesn’t necessarily call herself a feminist, but she absolutely is where I learned feminist principles,” said Imarisha. “She was like ‘We’re going to travel, we’re going to see the world, we’re going to do what we want to do, and I’m not going to let someone tell either of us what we can or can’t do.’ She also always taught me to be true to myself.”
She is well known for her statewide presentation: “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?” and for creating the expression “visionary fiction.” Some of her work includes but is not limited to: author of the poetry collection “Scars/Stars,” and the creative nonfiction “Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison, and Redemption,” co-editing the anthology “Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements,” and was an editor for the anthology “Another World is Possible.”
Has it always been a dream of yours to be in the position that you’re in with your career?
I definitely always wanted to be a writer. And I think the idea of communicating ideas and thoughts is something that’s foundational, and kind of the core of everything that I do. I think it’s more about finding different mediums for conveying ideas, and starting conversations, getting folks to think differently.
I definitely see all of my work as intertwined and interrelated. Sometimes poetry is more effective for some things, sometimes an academic format is more effective, sometimes poetry writing workshops are more effective. All the time science fiction is more effective.
I also feel the core of everything I do is a commitment to justice and a commitment to trying and revisioning the world and dreaming better futures, and so I think my life has taken a very circuitous route and gone many different places, I’m doing things that I didn’t imagine I would be doing. But I think that it was kind of keeping that as my guiding light, as my north star, and it has never steered me wrong.
When did your love for sci-fi begin?
Science fiction was one of the few genres where you actually got to see through the eyes of “the other.” And they may be a green person, or someone with tentacles, but the ways they were treated felt much more familiar.
Part of what drew me was that I got to hear stories from the alien’s perspective, from the perspective of people who felt familiar. Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting to read literature written by folks of color, but it felt like I was getting closer to hearing marginalized voices than in most other genres.
The space of saying whatever you can imagine is possible was incredibly compelling to me. I also think even though I wasn’t able to articulate it as a child, I understood that the aliens were more like me, than I was like most of the main characters.
How do you decide which outlet you want to use when curating new writings?
Most of the time it’s not a conscious decision, if I’m just writing, it’ll come out however it comes out. Sometimes I have no idea what it is I’m like: Is that a poem? Is that a short story? I don’t know what that is. Is that an essay, a personal essay? Sometimes it’s about the projects I’m working on, or things people ask me to do.
I used to be in a punk band; I started liking punk in high school and I definitely felt like it spoke to my feelings and my rage and my sensibilities. I really was drawn to the idea that we can do it ourselves, to be creative, and to question everything we’re told.
And also, when I discovered mosh pits I was like: this is an amazing outlet for the rage I feel as a young black woman every single day.
How old were you when you when you started getting into punk?
I started getting into punk while I was going to high school, I must have been 15 or 16, when I lived in Springfield, Ore., and it was all white. The bands I listened to were white, the people were white, and there were three of us who were brown. So I was like “I guess this is a white thing and I like it.”
I was lucky enough when I moved to Philadelphia, to the East coast, I got to meet punks of color, and folks who were very clear that actually punk music is rooted in black music. So I ended up hearing the band that I joined Ricanstruction. They’re all Puerto Rican, and considered themselves to be black.
They talked about the fact that Puerto Rican folks, caribbean folks, all have African heritage, and are black regardless of shade and facial features. It was really helpful because my mom is white and my dad is black, so obviously I grew up with white people being very clear that I was black. But also not necessarily feeling like I connected everywhere with “blackness” entirely.
So it was really useful to engage with these folks who were like “black is a political decision, and we choose to be black because we stand in solidarity with people who are the most oppressed.” And I was like “Word! Alright.” They were incredible musicians, all of them were some of the best musicians for their fields that I’ve ever met, and they were also all rooted in the intersections of music.
They loved punk, they also loved salsa and reggae, and hip hop; every form of music, soul and rock. Our lead singer used to say we committed “genrecide” by saying “these aren’t neat boxes, this is all music,” and he was like “this is all black music,” and it all has common roots, so we don’t have to be like “this is our punk song, this is our soul song.” So people would listen and be like “we don’t know what ya’ll are doing.”
That’s the best part, when you can’t fit someone in a category, when it’s just something that you feel.
I’m really glad I came into punk, and came to that band for many different reasons. I think it gave me my political ideological foundation, but I also think it really influenced my own writing of saying “I don’t have to accept genres, and I can commit genrecide in my writing as well.”
I think with “Octavia’s Brood,” and the science fiction anthology written by organizers that I edited, when I approached publishers they were like “we don’t even know how to sell this, or market it.” And we were like that’s fine we’re committing genrecide, we don’t have to be put in a little box.
Especially with my latest book “Angels With Dirty Faces,” I actually had an agent who said “I love this book, it’s amazing, but I have no idea how I would market it to a publishing company. Because it’s memoirs/true crime/analysis/racial ideology/sociology/ with poetic writing, I don’t know where it fits.”
It certainly makes commercial success harder, but I think it makes life more organic and real to be your full, complete self, and bring all of your pieces to all that you do.
*On her racial ideology*
It was really important for me, learning about black liberation movements, especially the Black Panther Party, and getting to engage with political prisoners from that era. Specifically Sundiata Acoli, a former Black Panther and political prisoner.
I started writing him while I was in college, and then when I moved to Philadelphia he was being held in Pennsylvania, so every month I would go visit him. I think it was really helpful for my racial ideology, because I think I had a little of what I call “the bi-racial blues,” of being like “I don’t fit in anywhere, no one wants me.”
Sundiata was helping me see the differences between different community’s reactions, because I think a lot of times, when, especially mixed black folks are feeling like “white folks don’t want me; black folks don’t want me.”
But what Sundiata said was often times when black folks were saying things like “you sound white,” or “why do you act like a white girl,” what they’re saying is, “are you going to take the privileges that you have, that I can very much see you have and leave us when it becomes convenient, or are you going to be part of this community?”
It was life changing. I think I was 18 or 19 when he told me that and we were in a prison visiting room, and I wanted to cry.
*On Black Lives Matter*
I think it’s an important movement that’s happening right now. There’s a struggle for justice in every generation, every generation has work to do.
I feel like Black Lives Matter is part of a long lineage of black survival movements in this nation that says “we will claim our right to exist. And we will claim our right to exist as we want to exist, not as you tell us we should exist.”
I think focusing on Black Lives Matter, what we do want, is visionary. It’s also science fiction, because black lives don’t matter to mainstream America, and they have never mattered to mainstream America. It’s kind of pulling this future into the present.
It’s saying “we will live this science fiction dream as if it was reality, until it becomes reality.”
By Madison Killian
The first time I saw The Pretty Reckless in concert was when I was 16 at Warped Tour. The crowd was a small handful of eager people, most of which were whispering about her role as “Little J” on Gossip Girl. Fast forward a few years, I’m 22 now, and TPR have three full length albums under their belt and a solid following. So solid, in fact, that when I arrived at their show in Seattle, people were still lining up to go inside.
After wandering inside, I found myself standing to the right of the stage, as flying solo to a concert can sometimes be scary or isolating. The two opening acts had allowed all of the middle aged, leather vest clad Sons of Anarchy fans in the crowd the time to get a nice buzz going, and I was lucky enough to be standing next to the loudest and most drunk testosterone filled skin bags in the room. The pair’s derogatory attitudes towards the younger women in the crowd were just a portion of the inconvenience these two under-educated and over-aneibriated fellas were causing.
As if to redirect the crowd’s growing chaos, Taylor Momsen’s voice echoed throughout the room. A shockwave went throughout the crowd and jaws dropped while fast, heart racing music slapped us in the face.
The band played new songs and old, and when Momsen started into “Light Me Up” from their debut album, I found myself flooded with memories of being an angsty and “impossibly misunderstood” teenager. Looking around the large industrial space where the concert was being held, it was hard for me to imagine that these songs I had listened to when I was in high school, getting ready for my first date, my first party, had the same significance to the middle aged men in the crowd.
It’s abundantly clear to me now, that The Pretty Reckless have reached a large and diverse audience despite their culturally rarified ethos of “going to hell.” This spirit shows up in Momsen’s lyrics and videos, a rebel yell of sorts to galvanize women that don’t buy into the traditional and often misogynistic idea of women’s place in punk rock music.
The show ended almost as abruptly as it had begun, a captivating performance that felt like it had gone by in the blink of an eye. The show was a success and the band was brought out for an encore, their song “Fucked Up World,” broken up by a 4-5 minute long drum solo, a unique and incredibly satisfying way to end the lively show.
Interview by Jess Petrylak
SUCKER: Who is Joshua Thacher?
JOSH THACHER: I don’t really know how to answer this question. I guess I am some sort of lost, spirit-like being. Just wandering around trying to pass the time…
SUCKER: Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you make decisions on what is important enough to paint/depict?
JOSH THACHER: I’ve been around for over a thousand years, existing on somewhat of a middle ground between a multitude of different dimensions and universes. I’ve been to many strange and surreal places, met a lot of awesome people, and seen a lot of crazy things. I also have voices in my head. So, all of that is where I get my inspiration. Sometimes there are things that I just want to share, or things that I want to take from other worlds and bring them into this one. Those are the things that I try to depict in my artwork.
SUCKER: Considered a sort of artistic renaissance man of our time, you draw, paint, make sculptures, do digital drawings, have a few musical projects and piece together stuffed animals. How does your imagery translate through all these different mediums? Does one medium fit better than others?
JOSH THACHER: It all depends on how I see it first. If it is just an image, I’ll draw it. If it is something more three dimensional, I’ll make a sculpture or stuffed animal. If it comes to me in the form of sound, I’ll attempt (poorly) to recreate it somehow. Sometimes it’s nothing but words, and that’s when I write. Most of the time it is just images and words so I mainly draw and write, but it all just depends on a feeling. Sometime’s I’ll want to create something and I’ll think, “That needs to be painted, I can’t just draw it, It needs to exist in the form of a painting.” The same goes with sculptures, and so on.
SUCKER: You work with a lot of imagery with cats, can you expand on that?
JOSH THACHER: I love cats.
SUCKER: In your opinion, does college help or hinder the artist? If it’s of no help, what are some suggestions to young artists that could aid them in showing/selling their work?
JOSH THACHER: College is great for art. You learn new things and expand your artistic horizons. I never would have touched oil paints if it weren’t for college, and I turned out to be really good with them and like them a lot. I had a creative writing class with my favorite professor, Dr. Chirico, where he had us write 7 pieces a week (which is also something I never would have tried to do on my own time) and I produced some of my favorite poems in that class. The professors and classmates are nothing but helpful and encouraging. You’re surrounded by good ideas and advice, and it’s just a great environment to be in. I think one of the best ways to make it in the art world these days is to go to college. People are much more likely to recognize an artist, if they have a degree.
SUCKER: What was your first art making experience?
JOSH THACHER: I remember drawing a picture of a dog going down a slide. I had this weird way of drawing where I pressed really hard with my pencil and everything looked hairy for some reason. I know I was drawing before that, but this is my first memory of drawing. I think the dog was wearing sunglasses.
SUCKER: Do you believe anyone can be an artist? Or that the artist has a special gift?
JOSH THACHER: Yes, anyone can be artist. It doesn’t matter what you produce, how it looks or sounds. It doesn’t matter if you can’t perfectly recreate on paper what you saw in your mind. Whatever comes out is art, and it is unique to you as an individual. Everybody should make art and contribute their own individual style to the rest of the art in the world.
SUCKER: Have you ever thought about animating your work?
JOSH THACHER: Yes, I would love to make cartoons, but I don’t have the resources. I always have characters and stories in my head that a drawing or even a comic would not be enough for it. I made some cool things in an animation class but it doesn’t compare to what I would like to do if I had the resources. One of my dreams is to work for Adult Swim.
SUCKER: Often times words or poetry is incorporated within drawings you have done. How do you make these careful choices when pairing a drawing with words? How does that help what you want to get across to the viewer?
JOSH THACHER: Either words will come to me while I’m drawing, or an image will come to me while I’m writing. It’s not planned in any way. Making art, for me, is like vomiting from my mind. Most of the time, my mind is full of strange, broken stories.
SUCKER: What would you do if you weren’t making artwork?
JOSH THACHER: It’s hard to imagine that. I don’t know. I think my whole life would be different if I never made art, but if I just suddenly stopped today? I’d probably spend the rest of my life doing hard physical labor, and sit by a fire every night. I’d be somewhat of a cowboy, and I think I’d get angry easily.
SUCKER: Have you ever had an art show in a gallery? Or performed your music live?
JOSH THACHER: No I’ve never had my art in a gallery. That’d be cool though. I have played music live. My brother and I used to do open mic’s, but I wouldn’t call that my music; that’s really our music.
SUCKER: Would you say that your work is autobiographical? Why or why not?
JOSH THACHER: No because none of it is about me. It’s all just stories about other people and places that do not exist in this universe.
SUCKER: Because you live in rural Upstate NY, do you have any comments or advice for people who believe/are worried that the only way to establish yourself as an artist is to leave home for a big city?
JOSH THACHER: It doesn’t matter where you are. Just make good art, and put it out there for people to see. What is anyone in the city going to do differently?
SUCKER: Why is it important to share your artwork online as a contemporary artist?
JOSH THACHER: I don’t think anyone but my close friends and family would know about my artwork if I didn’t have it online. So that’s saying something. I’m not well known at all. My facebook page only has 148 likes, but only about 40 of those people know me in real life, the rest are strangers from all over the place who discovered me through the internet. I also sell my artwork online. I probably wouldn’t be making any money from my art if it weren’t for the internet.
SUCKER: What are your future plans for your artwork and self?
JOSH THACHER: I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing. I have no plans for way into the future. I want to paint more.
SUCKER: Where can we follow you, and purchase your work?
My facebook page and my Etsy shop
My Tumblr where I post my poetry, among other things
And this is where you can find music