ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: LUCENT DREAMS

Art, artist of the month, Lifestyle, music, Words

Interview by Jess Petrylak

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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.

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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.

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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.

honest album cover

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!

https://www.facebook.com/lucentdreamsvt

https://www.facebook.com/caleb.boardman

https://www.instagram.com/lucent_dreams_vt/

https://www.instagram.com/pthalo.goth/

 

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Walidah Imarisha Talks Punk, Genrecide, and Her Racial Ideology

Art, poetry, talk, Uncategorized, Words

Interview by Alyssa Campbell

kaylaartArtwork 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.”

Artist of the Month: January 2017 – Josh Thacher

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

josh-thacherChinese Restaurant, Josh Thacher

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.

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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.

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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?

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Dogboy, Josh Thacher

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.

jt4 Tower, Josh Thacher

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.


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Apricot, Josh Thacher


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?

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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?

JOSH THACHER:

My facebook page and my Etsy shop
https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaThachersArt/ https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShoppeofTheUniverse?ref=hdr_shop_menu

My Tumblr where I post my poetry, among other things
http://woolharvest.tumblr.com/

And this is where you can find music
https://soundcloud.com/cosmicdogslaughter
https://www.facebook.com/perfectnoise/
https://www.facebook.com/Bersinsuits-177282455759102/
https://www.facebook.com/jennyandthewitch/


NoDAPL and NoAOTM

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

By Jess Petrylak

In light of the recent events in North Dakota, Artist of the Month does not seem applicable in my eyes unless it features the work, feelings and livelihood of the Native American artist. With this in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to compile a small list that merely scratches the surface of historically significant artwork being produced by generations of Native artists.

If you are, or know of anyone that creates autobiographical work (visual art, music, writings, etc.) that is also of Indigenous heritage (no, not if you’re 1/26th), please email me at jess@suckermagazine.com. We would be more than honored to feature you and give your voice a platform.

And please, help support the Standing Rock Sioux by participating in one or more of the following:

  1. Call North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple at 701-328-2200. When leaving a message stating your thoughts about this subject please be professional.

  2. Sign the petition to the White House to Stop DAPL: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/…/stop-construction…

  3. Donate to support the Standing Rock Sioux at http://standingrock.org/…/standing-rock-sioux-tribe…/

  4. Donate items from the Sacred Stone Camp Supply List: http://sacredstonecamp.org/supply-list/
  1. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414. Tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers’ Permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  1. Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense Fund: https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf
  2. Contribute to the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme account: https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp
  1. Call the Army Corps of Engineers and demand that they reverse the permit: (202) 761-5903
  2. Sign other petitions asking President Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Here’s the latest to cross my desk – https://act.credoaction.com/sign/NoDAPL
  1. Call the executives of the companies that are building the pipeline:
    a. Lee Hanse Executive Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 800 E Sonterra Blvd #400 San Antonio, Texas 78258 Telephone: (210) 403-6455 Lee.Hanse@energytransfer.com
    b. Glenn Emery Vice President Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 800 E Sonterra Blvd #400 San Antonio, Texas 78258 Telephone: (210) 403-6762 Glenn.Emery@energytransfer.com
    c. Michael (Cliff) Waters Lead Analyst Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. 1300 Main St. Houston, Texas 77002 Telephone: (713) 989-2404 Michael.Waters@energytransfer.com– Jess Petrylak, Sucker Magazine’s Art Editor

 

 

Edmonia Lewis
(July 4, 1844 – September 17, 1907)

Edmonia Lewis was the first woman of African American and Native American (Mississauga Ojibwe) heritage to be recognized to achieve recognition and fame in the fine arts world. Through the stylization of neoclassical sculpture, Lewis incorporated themes relating to being a double minority in America. Lewis’ career began to emerge during the Civil War era.

edmonia-lewis-1

Edmonia Lewis

 

edmonia-lewis-2

Edmonia Lewis. Forever Free

 

Mavis Doering

(August 31, 1929 – 2007)

An esteemed basket weaver, Doering incorporated elements of traditional Cherokee basket techniques with her own personal flair. She had once stated, “Basket weaving offers many things to me and, as a third generation weaver. I strive to do the best job I can so that my people would be proud”. Doering made her baskets from scratch, collecting her own natural dyes, hulls and leaves in her home state of Oklahoma.

mavis-doering

Mavis Doering, Keeper of the Flame

 

Kenojuak Ashevak

(October 3, 1927 – January 8, 2013

Ashevak, a Native Canadian, is considered the most notable pioneer in modern Inuit art. After her father’s tragic death, Ashevak was taught traditional crafts by her mother and grandmother as a young child. Kenojuak Ashevak became one of the first Inuit women in Cape Dorset to begin drawing.

kenojuak-ashevak-1

Kenojuak Ashevak

 

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Kenojuak Ashevak, Timmiaruqsimajuq (Bird Woman Transformation)

 

Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty

(1969 – present)

Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty was born in Castro Valley, California, however, her family comes from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, where Juanita spent much of her childhood. Juanita was taught the art of bead and quillwork by her mother, who is also an acclaimed artist and often collaborates with her daughter. Juanita’s work is very labor intensive, gathering nearly everything she utilizes.

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Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty

 

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Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty, Give Away Horses

 

Helen Cordero

(June 15, 1915 – July 24, 1994)

Cordero was a lifelong resident and traditional potter of Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico. She was renowned for her storyteller pottery figurines which were based upon the traditional “singing mother” motif. Cordero “followed a traditional way of life including digging her own clay and preparing her own pigments.” She used three types of clay, all sourced near her home of Cochiti Pueblo. Cordero’s work can be found in the Museum of International Folk Art and the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Brooklyn Museum.

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Helen Cordero

 

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Helen Cordero, Cochiti Pueblo Storyteller with 14 Children

Artist Of The Month – OCTOBER 2016: BLACKBLONDEIMAGES

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

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I MET TREVON LAST SPRING AT A BERNIE SANDERS RALLY IN THE BRONX; IT WAS A VERY QUICK INTERACTION, HE HAD ASKED MY BOYFRIEND IF HE COULD TAKE A PORTRAIT OF HIM IN THE CROWD. THIS WAS A VERY DEFINITIVE MOMENT FOR ME AS A PERSON, AND AN ARTIST. I WAS VERY INSPIRED BY TREVON’S FEARLESSNESS, GRACEFULLY MARCHING THROUGH THE CROWD ASKING STRANGERS FOR THEIR PORTRAITS, WHICH I COULD ONLY IMAGINE WAS A DIFFICULT TASK IN ITSELF; I WAS ALSO WARMED BY THE FACT THAT HE SAW SOMETHING SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL IN PEOPLE HE DIDN’T KNOW. I AM HONORED TO HAVE INTERVIEWED AND SUPPORT  SOMEONE WHO HAD SHOWN ME SUCH CONFIDENCE IN THEIR ARTISTRY. THANK YOU TREVON!

– Jess

SUCKER: Who is Black Blonde Images?

BLACKBLONDEIMAGES: My name is Trevon Blondet, I was born and raised and educated in the Bronx. And BlackBlondeImages is the name of the gallery on Instagram where I share my photographs and my message.

SUCKER: What was your first experience with a camera? Did your artistic career start with photography?

BBI: My first experience with a camera is when dad always took photos and I always play with the film container. He had tons of slides. I was the kid who used to bring my disposable camera, and photograph class trips. I took 3 credits of photography in undergrad as an elective. That wasn’t enough to be fluent in the dark room.  I few years ago I bought my first digital camera. A Canon Rebel.  I was off and running. As a kid, I was always interested in the music.

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SUCKER: Almost all of your images are monochromatic, what is the reasoning behind this? How do you decide if a photograph should be in color or black and white?

BBI: The first exhibits I went to that left an impact on me, most of the photographs were black and white. Mainly those photographers were too poor to spend the extra money to buy and process color film. When I started to figure out what subject matter I wanted to capture, I stripped away the colors to focus on the message.  If there is something very dynamic about the color in the photo I will leave it in color. Usually I convert it to monochrome to my liking. I mainly shoot street photography, sports, concerts and portrait not in that order.

SUCKER: Who are some of your favorite visual artists?

BBI: That’s a tough question…I’ve meet a lot of  muralist and painters in recent years and I’ve become friends of a few of them, So my favorite visual artists are my friends.

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SUCKER: How did you transition from taking photographs to making a career out of it?

BBI: I still have a 9 – 5, but I starting taking my camera every where and I began to hone my craft. Once I joined the Bronx Photo League, my photography got better exponentially. Being around a group of people who genuinely want to see you become a better shooter; they nurtured the environment that different types of photographers where you get inspired.  The BPL forced me to become better at my craft all around. It made me more aware about my community. That was showcased at Photoville with the Bronx Documentary Center container, where we highlighted a 2 mile stretch on Jerome Ave. in the Bronx. Photo book: Jerome Avenue Workers Project. From that work, I got published in the NYTimes and Metro News. I have had a few assignments for the Riverdale Press, Bronx Times and Crain’s 5Boros. It’s a start for other projects coming up.

SUCKER: What is the most challenging thing about working with an urban landscape and portraiture photography? What’s the easiest?

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BBI: I guess the tough  part is approaching people and asking someone to take your portrait.  It’s also it’s challenging being rejected. I doesn’t bother me too much, but at first I would completely shut down and stop taking pictures for the day.  The easiest part is when people walk up to you and ask for a picture. Some people want their story told and picture taking.

SUCKER: What kind of camera(s) and editing software do you use?

BBI: I have a: Canon 60D w/ Tamron Lens 24mm-70mm, canon telephoto lens 70mm-200mm, and canon 50mm, Fuji X-Pro 1  35mm, and Canonet QL17RF 35mm (film camera). Lightroom software, Snapseed (Google based app)

SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song?

BBI: The music really depends on my mood. There was a period time when I only listened to jazz while I was shooting  because I gave me peace to let my mind wander a bit and see things differently.

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SUCKER: Your work gives narrative behind the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and coincides with living in the Bronx. What does your process look like in terms of your theme? Has it changed at all over the years?

BBI: I started to photograph the Bronx; and her residents and neighborhoods and the culture that lives there. When Black Lives Matter movement kicked off I felt I had to use my images to show, individually, each person matters. I started to finding people and started using the #TheyMatter,  or her or she matter. (I didn’t create the #) I take portraits of men, women, transgender, LGBTQ, kids, or senior citizens because they all matter. I went to a few Black Lives Matter movement events in the Bronx, but most of the marches and rallies are in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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SUCKER: Did you get a higher education in art? How did this decision help you?

BBI: I graduated with a Fine Arts – Communication Degree, but I wouldn’t call myself a Art Major. I learned most everything I know from the Bronx Documentary Center and that was the best decision I ever made.

SUCKER: Have you had any bad experiences when asking strangers to take their photograph? Any good experiences?

BBI: When I actively shooting the “NO” was the worse thing. No one has every threatened me or anything. If they agree to take a portrait, I consider a gift and it always pleasant to receive a gift. Also, it’s nice when people recognized the person if I post it to Instagram. That’s why I photograph the Bronx.

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SUCKER: Why is it important in the 21st century to be active online as an artist?

BBI: Photography provides immediacy depending on year gear. It tells you a whole without words, or a few photos with poignant text is like a novel. Photography can sell the recent trends of fashion. Everything is more visual these days and with a camera you tell a story and upload it within seconds.

SUCKER: What is the best advice you could give to aspiring young photographers?

BBI: It’s import to keep up with what everyone one is doing; it should spark ideas. I think also finding mentors and mentees is important to be active online. Criticisms can be complementary, and online you can get some good constructive criticisms.

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SUCKER: What are your plans for your future art and future self?

BBI: I will continue to get better as a photojournalist and try to show the Bronx in a positive light.


SUCKER: Where can we buy your art and contact you?

BBI: I have a friend working on my website it should be complete in October, but you can DM me on Instagram (@BLACKBLONDEIMAGES) and we’ll figure it out from there. I have 8 x 10’s and 11 x 14’s prints of my favorite photographs.

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AOTM September 2016: Beth Murphy Morrison

Art, artist of the month, Uncategorized

Interview by Jess Petrylak

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Beth Murphy Morrison

SUCKER: Who is Beth Murphy Morrison?

BETH MURPHY MORRISON: I’m a seventeen year old artist and student from Northern Ireland. I like to create colourful pieces exploring the theme of body positivity, self love and the connection between ourselves and the beauty that is found in nature in my art as I find it’s a good way to celebrate self expression.


SUCKER: What is your preferred medium(s) to work with?

BMM: If I had to choose a favourite media it would definitely be a tie between watercolour and gouache. I love the freedom of expression I have when I’m working with watercolour, as in my experience even the mistakes that I inevitably make while painting with it serve only to add character and beauty to the piece, forcing me to step outside of my plans and assess how I can improve. However, I also adore and the strength of colour and versatility of gouache. It’s incredibly useful for an art style like mine, due to the thick consistency that lends itself to heavy linework.

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Beth Murphy Morrison

SUCKER: Reminiscent to Art Nouveau paintings/illustrations, you are influenced a lot by naturalistic elements, such as plants/flowers, crystals and the female form. Modernizing this classic style, you mainly work with imagery of women of all shapes/colors and LGBTQ themes. What do you hope your work illustrates to the world?

BMM: My main hope with my work has always been to celebrate the parts of us that are too often looked down upon or ignored by our peers, ourselves and the media, and to improve the representation of different bodies, sexualities, genders and ethnicities within art. While I’m heavily inspired by beautiful, stylistic Art Nouveau movement, I don’t see a whole lot of variety in what is shown to be beautiful. I am inspired by stomach rolls and stretch marks and acne and I have always wanted women to be able to look at the people I create and see themselves, their sisters, and their mothers in them. Every time somebody tells me that I have helped them feel more at home in their skin I feel like I have achieved a huge goal. I enjoy drawing the women among flowers and other natural, organic elements because I can show the similarities between our bodies patterns and those we find in the natural world. A woman with stretch marks beside flowers with huge veins, a woman with acne compared to a geode and crystals, a woman with body hair surrounded by cacti. It makes the person viewing them perceive what is usually shown to be a flaw as a natural and necessary part of the art. I hope my art illustrates that every single part of us is natural and beautiful and should be celebrated rather than hidden or changed.


SUCKER: What is your first experience with art? How do believe you have grown overall as an artist?

BMM: The first memory I have of anything art related is my mother explaining a Picasso painting to me. I come from an incredibly artistic family, with my grandfather, mother and sister all being very artistically talented, so art has always been part of my life. I began drawing when I first learned to hold a pencil and the nurturing and encouragement I received at such a young age is almost definitely the reason I continued with it. Despite this, I would say that I have only began to grow within the last two to three years. While I always had a talent for art, I rarely worked on my techniques and style until I was forced to when I took GCSE art and actually tried to step outside of my comfort zone and develop a new and more interesting style. I had previously fallen into a rut in which I only drew photo-realistic pencil drawings, which, for me personally, didn’t feel rewarding or expressive. Working with more knowledge of artists and mediums definitely helped me grow and it’s something I’d recommend every young artist explore.

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Beth Murphy Morrison

SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song(s)?

BMM: I’m a huge fan of musical theatre, so i always keep a playlist on my phone with a mixture of my favourite soundtracks which I stick on and sing along with as I work. At the minute I like to listen to Hamilton, Rocky Horror and Les Miserables. if I’m not in that sort of mood though I find artists like Hozier and Fleetwood Mac put me at ease while I work.


SUCKER: Heavy contrast is part of your stylistic approach to creating art, in your experience does overworking a piece ruin it?

BMM: For me, it definitely does. Often times simplicity is the best route to go down if you’re uncertain. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been forced to scrap one of my pieces after I let myself get carried away and either destroyed the paper I was using or overcrowded the painting itself. It’s never a pleasant feeling, and even when the piece is salvageable, it won’t feel the same way my other, more successful attempts do.


SUCKER: What physical and emotional environment is the best for you to work in?

BMM: I prefer to work alone most of the time due to the fact that I’m ridiculously easy to distract, and when I’m in other people’s company I tend to get sucked into speaking to them rather than being focused entirely on whatever I’m working on. I also tend to work best in a positive mood, because with the style of work I do I am always focused on portraying positivity and happiness. . When I work in a bad mood I find that that will affect my colour schemes and the general feeling of the piece, and I will likely be less happy with the end result.
Physically I’m not too fussy. As long as I am somewhere comfortable I can generally make it work. A lot of the time I paint sitting cross legged on my bed, leaning on whatever hard surface I can find. It’s unfortunately not the most professional set up, but hopefully I’ll actually get myself a desk soon.


SUCKER: What is something you absolutely would not do within your artwork?

BMM: There aren’t a whole lot of boundaries I have in terms of subject matter, however  If I felt that something I had created had the capacity to be harmful to someone, for instance, by promoting stereotypes, being culturally insensitive or by romanticising eating disorders, self harm or substance abuse I would immediately get rid of it. Other than that, I’m open to exploring a range of different themes within my work.

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Beth Murphy Morrison


SUCKER: Do you experiment with other forms of art other than illustration?

BMM: I have experimented in the past with different art forms, such as sculpting and digital art, however I found that none of them suited me as well as illustration does, as I enjoy the process of painting and sketching. Although I would really like to gain more experience with different art forms as I believe it’s incredibly important for growth, and I would absolutely like to try to improve my skills in a range of areas in the future.


SUCKER: What does your art making process look like? How long does it usually take to create a piece?

BMM: Usually when I’m working I like to start with a sketch or clean linework and then begin to layer. My process usually adapts to work with whatever media I am using at the time but I generally enjoy working in segments and will prefer to focus on one part of the piece at a time to make sure it gets the right amount of attention. More often than not, I start at the face and work outward, because that’s the part I enjoy most. When working with fast drying paint, which I usually do, I mix my colours as I go to avoid them drying out as I work. The amount of time spent on a piece for me varies, and can take anywhere from 4 hours to 70 hours, depending on the size of the painting and what I’m using to make it, but if it is as small as A4 I can usually finish it in around four or five hours.


SUCKER: Your work involves very vibrant, saturated colors; How do you make color decisions? Does color transcend the meaning behind your work?

BMM: I wouldn’t say I use colour to display meaning, but I do use it to portray moods at times and I find that the colour decisions I make change as I get a feel of the “personality” the subject I’m painting displays. I like to choose bright colours if I want the piece to show someone powerful or joyful and I like to use duller colours or purples to show someone peaceful and calm. People tend to associate different colours with different emotions, like yellow with happy or angry with red, so playing with these ideas can be good when displaying emotion in art.

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Beth Murphy Morrison


SUCKER: What is your ultimate goal involving the arts?

BMM: Ultimately, I would love to get into tattoo art and continue to sell commissions. I think that the stylistic approach I like to take with my pieces would transfer well into tattoos due to my love of linework, and, like all artists, I would also hope that at some point in my career I would be able to have my work displayed in galleries. In the more immediate future I would like to attend university to study Fine Art.


SUCKER: Who are your biggest inspirations within the visual arts world?

BMM: I’m really inspired by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Alphonse Mucha and Egon Schiele, because they are all artists who explore a somewhat surreal style of portraiture which has heavily influenced my own work. Frida Kahlo’s unapologetic self expression and the celebration of her features has always played a part in my exploration of self love, and the unique body types both Klimt and Schiele portray is somewhat mirrored in many of my drawings. I’ve always felt very fond of Mucha’s work because body types he portrays look realistic and attainable, and I admire and the classic elegance that all of the women in his work seem to possess.

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Beth Murphy Morrison


SUCKER: You have recently painted on the back of your jean jacket, could you see yourself venturing into creating more custom made clothing pieces?

BMM: Definitely! I’ve already started on a second jacket and I have plans to buy more denim clothing in bulk and begin to make as many as possible to sell at markets, as well as creating custom clothing on request. It’s an incredibly fun way for me to create something new that can actually be used and it’s something a lot of people have expressed an interest in, so in the near future, I will hopefully be making a ton of new items.

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Beth Murphy Morrison

SUCKER: Why is it important as a contemporary artist, to share your work online?

BMM: I think that if you are trying to gain success as a contemporary artist you would have to be absolutely crazy not to have some sort of online presence, whether that be a promotional page on Facebook, an Etsy store or even an Instagram. The internet, and social media in particular, are incredibly powerful tools for creating a name for yourself and spreading awareness of your work outside of your own small bubble of acquaintances. The truth of the matter is that the internet is incredibly important for marketing yourself and getting your name out there for people to come across, and your chances of success are going to be much higher with that support behind you.


SUCKER: What is the best advice you had received as an artist?

BMM: Probably that you should listen constructive criticism, because as an artist it’s really important that you listen to the advice and tips that you are given by other artists or the people buying your work. While it may be difficult to acknowledge that you don’t always know best and that not everything you create will please everyone, taking constructive criticism on board will help you grow a lot faster and improve your work drastically. This doesn’t mean you always have to agree with the criticism, but acknowledging it and respecting different perspectives of your work can be really helpful.


SUCKER: Your linework is graphic, but hardly linear. What do soft, curved lines do for your work, contrasted with the graphic highlights and shadows?

BMM: I mainly use softer, more curved lines because of the movement and the easy flow they give the piece. I find that harsher, more linear lines can at times make the subject seem stiff and rigid, which is never an effect I’m fond of in my own work, or else they can make the entire piece slightly too harsh when coupled with the highlights and block colours I enjoy using. I find that when the soft linework is coupled with the more graphic elements of the piece it finishes the painting and it works as a whole, rather than overtaking other details and becoming the main focus.

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Beth Murphy Morrison


SUCKER: What is next for your future art and future self?

BMM: In terms of my future art, I’d really like  to further refine my current art style, while also experimenting with new subject matter and art forms to round out my abilities. I also want to begin to sell prints as well as commissions and will be doing so as soon as possible.Because I’m currently in my final year of high school, my future self for the time being will be focusing on getting into a good university and maintaining a balance of school and art, and will be selling custom clothing and commissions when she has the time, and will hopefully be creating an online store as soon as possible.


SUCKER: Where can we contact you, follow you and buy your art?

BMM: Currently my only public social media is Instagram, and you can find me and contact me there @fairyhands, and while I  don’t have an online shop at the minute, I will be creating one in the near future!

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Beth Murphy Morrison

Harsh Noise: A Conversation with GRUTESK

Art, music, Uncategorized

Interview by: Jess Petrylak

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“Harsh Noise” is a musical style that is entirely characterized by static used in an expressive state, and often times challenges what is thought to be conventional in terms of musical practices. Sucker Magazine interviewed GRUTESK, a rising star in the genre of harsh noise who’s based in a quaint town in Upstate New York.

SUCKER: Who is GRUTESK?

GRUTESK: Grutesk is a harsh noise alias I use to let out some steam and just to create.

SUCKER: Not an entirely expanded upon genre, what sparked your interest in harsh noise?

GRUTESK: I honestly can’t pinpoint what exactly sparked my interest, but I’ve always been interested in more experimental music. I always wanted to be different with my music taste while growing up. When everyone was listening to pop music I was listening to more independent music. I could say that probably the band/group to get me into the genre would be a rap group by the name Clipping. If harsh noise interests you, you should check them out

SUCKER: What software do you use to create your music?

GRUTESK: Currently I’m using FL Studios to make this, but I want to expand my horizons and go with the traditional setup for noise music, which is with a mixer, and some guitar pedals.

SUCKER: Do you consider GRUTESK sort of an alter ego comparative to your natural self?

GRUTESK: I think I would, I would say I’m more calm and collective then Grutesk would be, I’d best say that Grutesk is more expressive of his emotions and does not take shit from anyone, a little on the chaotic side of things though.

SUCKER: How does the emotion of anger play its role within your music? Do any other emotions come out through this medium?

GRUTESK: I’d say if it hasn’t shown in the song titles of my latest EP “Violence”, it’d be my latest experimentation with vocals in some tracks and also the noise itself gives off an angry tone or feeling.

SUCKER: What are some responses you’ve gotten on your music? Good, bad?

GRUTESK: I’ve either have gotten “Oh that’s interesting” which usually means “This is terrible” or, (from people in the noise community) “This is some good stuff man keep it up.” I take anything as a compliment; I realize this genre isn’t for everyone it even took me a while before I was fully interested in it.

SUCKER: Do you believe truly anyone can be an artist (music, art, writing, etc)?

GRUTESK: I believe you if work hard at something you love, and you are putting in the effort then you can become an artist. If you go into anything either looking for money or trying to get famous thinking “oh this is so easy hahaha” you aren’t really going to get very far.

SUCKER: What would be on GRUTESK’s personal playlist?

GRUTESK: He would definitely have just a lot of variety of noise music, and extreme music.

SUCKER: You also craft your own album art, what are the benefits of being a completely independent artist that transcends many different creative mediums?

GRUTESK: I think that because I have somewhat of an idea with what looks good with art, it plays a big role into both noise and my digital art. I believe with each album cover it portrays the emotion within each album.

SUCKER: Does your creative process for visual art and music differ in any way?

GRUTESK: With my digital art I try to draw cute cartoon women and fandom related things as well, generally like a non impacting emotion with it. Grutesk is a way I can express myself when I get angry, upset, whatever. I mean, I have created something from emotions into my digital art, but for the most part I don’t, which I think needs to change.

SUCKER: Have you done any live shows, and if not would you consider?

GRUTESK: I haven’t yet, but I would love to! I have some crazy ideas of what to do for some live events which I would love to share with everyone.

SUCKER: What was the definitive moment that lead to you to create music?

GRUTESK: After I saw a performance at the Bundy Museum in Binghamton, I forgot the guy’s name or his groups name, but it was really interesting and it just went on from there.

SUCKER: In a genre that has a very specific sound, how do you separate yourself from the rest of the harsh noise scene?

GRUTESK: I think that with my vocals I add on tracks it definitely separates me from the others.

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SUCKER: What influences your sound, other than other music/musical artists?

GRUTESK: Some of the current events or horror themed things really inspires me with Grutesk, I want to do something a little different someday where I incorporate spoken word, poetry, or whatever with harsh noise. I also would love to collab with anyone if they are interested, just write to me via email or on soundcloud or bandcamp.

SUCKER: What is some sound advice you have gotten as far as any creative endeavors?

GRUTESK: I have been just told to practice, experiment, and to keep trying new things.

SUCKER: Where can we follow you, listen/buy your music?

GRUTESK: You can follow grutesk on soundcloud (where I post tracks, previews, and albums) and my bandcamp.

I would also like to shout out some really cool people in the noise scene I’d recommend anyone to check out : Writhe (Ruben), he has some intense tracks and he’s just an awesome friendpaper skin. (Taylor), he’s more power electronics but has awesome live shows and music, he’s who inspired me to add vocals to some of my own tracks.