Thursday, 11 November 2010

Brandon Jan Blommaert

Brandon Jan Blommaert is an artist currently living in Montreal, his work encompasses video work, still images and gif loops and is at times reminiscent of vector graphics and early 90's inspired net art, yet a closer look shows off his eye for sensous colour schemes and quality and fluid animation. His short films have been exhibited across Europe and North America and his recent film Black Moon is part of Onedotzero's Adventures in Motion Festival in London 10-14th of this month.

Arranging the time for an interview was a bit more tricky than it usually is, but I ended up talking to Brandon over gmail chat whilst he was on a coach going from Montreal to New York. He had a wi-fi on the bus. What an age we live in.

TLL: What do you do in montreal, do you exist on just your artwork?

No, sometimes, but not all the time. last time we spoke I was working full time as an animation assistant (at the National Film Board of Canada), which was no super creative, but it was still interesting.

Still better than a standard office job just to pay the bills

Yeah, no, it was super fun and I was working for 2 amazing directors. But, still an office job

Did you study art as well?

I studied print making in Calgary, which I wasn't super into. they expect you to buy lots of nice expensive paper which I wasn't into. I spent a lot of time searching for free stuff around the school to print on, backs of posters worked pretty well

Do you think that's why a lot of your work is made on a computer now?

Not entirely, I think digital work is only half of what I do. I still enjoy working with hand made objects. I think of the computer as just another tool, I am not married to it. When I was in school I owned a real shit box of a computer so I barely made any digital art.

I use it a lot now but I rarely create %100 digital work, but I guess I am making more purely digital art lately, mostly because of lack of time

So are you 100% happy with what you make? What would you be making if you had the time?

Well, I am fine with making whatever I can. I am ok with adapting to whatever situation I am in and I think that making quick digital things can be pretty enjoyable and stress free. If I had time and money I would like to make films.

I think a lot of people would say the same thing, you're on your way though, a few of your films have been screened across europe

Yeah, that was part of a touring screening package put together by Hooliganship, they show tons of nice stuff

As much as I want to make films I am in no rush, it is pretty draining. so one part of me wants to make a new movie and another part of me just wants to work a day job and relax.
and eat

Black Moon - Watch it on Vimeo as blogspot is helpfully covering up half of the video

Is there anything that you really want to convey in your work?

Brandon went offline after I asked this question, and I honestly thought I had just pissed him off. Fortuneatly though his internet had just cut off and I stayed online, and for the time inside, due to it being a ridiculously windy day outside. We reconviened a few hours later.

Hey, sorry about that
, it might cut out again, bad timing

Yeah the question was do you feel like there's anything you want to get across with your work aesthetically or mood wise, perhaps

That is a tough one, I think I am still trying to figure that out. I think the things I make always have an other worldly feeling to them. I rarely approach anything with an exact idea as to what I am trying to convey. I have a fairly on the spot way of working. If I think to much about what I am trying to say I get super bogged down and clam up.

But I do think I am trying to capture some kind of psychological state that can not really be described with words.

I suppose the way you have all those gifs looping, the repitition, works well like that

Yeah, I think those can convey something completely different then any film I would make
they are more ethereal in some way

What sets off the creative process for you, inspiration wise,

Usually I start with a tiny nugget of an idea, it is hard to say exactly how something starts, often these things come from a long chain of tiny ideas that eventually turn into something. It is rare that I get a solid pre-conceived idea that I jump into, all of thee things evolve over time

I do a lot of random little things though and eventually they evolve and grow into something bigger, hey, we just pulled into a rest stop, I am going to go grab a sandwich, BRB

Okay I'll go get some food from the shop, also I'll leave you with a question, are there any particular artists or even just one off videos that inspired you?

Just got your question. Well, there are a lot of obvious pop cultural things that I reference in my work, like muppets and smurfs and various things that we all loved (or tolerated) as kids. But since I started animating I have been discovering works of more experimental animators or film makers that I find interesting, so I think I blend these two worlds. I like early digital animations by people like Larry Cuba (who worked on Star Wars) and John Whitney.

A lot of people bring up the Quay brothers when they watch my short films, they where not really much of an influence, but I appreciate them


'An Electric U'

You say you want to make films, but what's your next step

Right now? no idea, I have no strategy planned out. It is impossible to get money to make the moves I want to make, so, I don't know exactly how that will actually work

Could you not fund it through commercial projects

I could try, but I rarely get commercial gigs that pay that kind of money. I know there are a lot of animators who work that way but they have seriously huge clients, like Kleenex.

I don't think I am really at that point, but I would love to make a commercial for Kleenex.

Brandon can be found online at

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Friday, 1 October 2010

Chelsey Hoff

Chelsey Hoff is a visual artist, living and studying in Chicago. Hoff's videos act as a dreamlike synthesis of recurring visuals and sound, often recontexualising grainy footage from MTV-era VHS tapes whilst also drawing on the the laid back and nostaligic iconography of musical contemporaries. I interviewed her last night on gmail chat about her current location, projects, collaborations and time and space.

Are we just jumping into it, however you want to do it?

Not to do the whole tedious a/s/l thing but some background's always nice like location, did you study etc

Sure. I'm 20 years old. I was born and raised in Florida. I ended up in Brooklyn on a whim (aka my car broke down while visiting). I spent a year there, and recently moved to Chicago to study at SAIC.

So your course is arts based?

Definitely is - it's not all concentrated in film / video. SAIC is pretty open about which departments you work in. I'm starting to explore sound and new media.

SAIC aside, Chicago is a pretty groovy city with a tech noir vibe. A lot of creative vibes and energy going around. This week, there is a big glitch art event happening.

Like a live show?

Gallery openings, screenings, workshops, real-time video shows

Are you involved, do you do the real-time stuff as well?

Err performances rather. I'm not involved, some of my friends are. I like some of the glitch aesthetics, but as far as the whole movement goes, I'm not associated with it. I actually just did my first real-time video gig with my friend, Theo Darst, at a sky limo and teaadora show last week. Its something I'm going to keep pursuing.

How does it work, do you just project in a gallery? Is there music as well? Would ever use the term 'VJ'?

People have different ways of going about it. This event took place at a bar (beauty bar of chicago), and was specifically for a show put on by Acid Marshmallow. We used a simple, freeware real-time program, and ran it through a little analogue glitch-making device one of our friend's built, then ran that through an ancient digital effects processor. The term VJ sounds so cheesy !!!

It does, but it kinda suits the work I've seen of yours, i.e that whole 80's vibe and you know being a 'VJ' must have been so hot in the 80s - I realise that sounds like a facile connection

Haha yeah I bet, wasn't there, couldn't say, can only imagine through a lens of blurry/artificial nostalgia.

Is that it that disconnection, as it were, that inspires your style?

Definitely. There is something so enchanting about experiencing an era I was too young or non-existent to have experienced first hand, through outmoded media. Its like having a memory that was never formed placed in my brain. I also have an obsession with the ethereal and ephemeral. I love moments. At first, I was trying to capture and stretch ones that stuck out to me.

Yeah that idea of focusing in on something, well empheral, that comes across with the way there's loops of sounds, mixed with looped and recurring visuals

Its all about the feeling. Its about creating a third meaning while superseding a framework or larger context, extracting that meaning.


Yeah, recontextualised media appetizers

Yeah, I know this is gonna seem like another poor comparison but you work with similar grainy vhs style footage, that evokes or is taken from the same era that a lot of the music you use to soundtrack it with tries to emulate via samples/recording methods

Not a poor comparison! I experience some form of heavy synesthesia. I think of the sound and video as one, I experience them as one. The video feels like the music.

Do you create the video from the music and vice versa then?

Without the music, there would be no video. I'm just beginning my venture into sound. For blss, I had all the footage and textures ready to go, but couldn't complete it until there was music. I jammed on my friends synth for a day, and was able to complete it.

'bnc' above was a collaboration with my friend and noise-maker, Anthony Engelhardt. I asked him to make me a 15 min jam, and went from there.

When artists approach you to make videos, do they have anything specific in mind?

Most of the time not. I feel like the ones that do approach me do so because they know we share a mental, aesthetic link - they trust that I can articulate what they are trying to say.

Just back to the found footage/you, do you prefer working with that, rather than creating your own videos from scratch or is it more, different paths to the same goal?

Video is a pretty new thing to me. I started working with found VHS because it was the quickest way to achieve my goals. Obviously, there are limitations to what you can do - I am starting to branch off and film things myself. Now its about recreating those portals and zones I found in recycled footage through new footage.

I suppose that's why the internet has spawned so much of this type of work, because all these mediums are free to access whereas video cameras/setups are expensive, Does your uni help you out with that?

SAIC has a ton of resources, we even have a Sandin Image Processor!

Re: internets - the type of work I do is possible because of the interwebz. Its a trend of the 'post-modern condition' For me, its also about archiving this obsolete footage, making it more topical, showing people footage that might otherwise exist unseen.

In the case of weirdo, found VHS. Not many people would watch Diabetes: A Positive Approach or Mastering the Art of Carving with Merle Ellis all the way through

Travel videos are great too, they paint hyper-realities

Yeah in the same way that infomercials do, it's that cheesy, lack of irony that's quite attractive

Right, the 80's and 90's was a powerhouse for ridiculous, garbage media. Somebody has to go through and sort it all.

I'm seeing a lot of tumblrs that seem to just re-hash something that I had semi-forgotten about, from say 10/15 years ago. Does remoulding something contemporary not interest you?

Its the distance and time from these events that allow us to romanticize them, but the gaps between trends and eras do grow smaller.

How do you mean?

Our perception of time is tied into the speed and amount of information we take in. That speed and amount of information continues to quicken at an exponential rate. I think it naturally follows that our perception of time would change too.

Do you always see yourself creating visual/video art? Is that what you want to specialise in?

I really just started. I am going to continue doing the video thing, but I feel there will be a point when just a video is not enough. I'm starting my venture into sound. Video will always be my base, but its going to become more of how I incorporate and expand it into other interactive systems.

Yeah I feel similar, but from the opposite direction, a lot of my friends make videos and music, i'm tired of asking others to create them for me

Same with me for music, not tired of it, I love collaborating, but, for things I do on my own.
venturing off into new mediums can only widen your perspective.

Speaking of widening my perspective - I'm going to begin working on my first short soon! The short is a meta-tation on media, video, and industrial zones (I live next to a tortilla factory and down the street from a steel mill) permeating my hypnagogic and dreaming states. Sometimes, I have dreams where my mind turns into a monitor projecting pure, raw video. While its happening, I'm unable to tell if its something I've seen or something I've made, or a premonition of something I will see or make. Pairing that with the continuous, often abrasive, sounds of Pilsen - its going to be a journey into the realm suspended between video and reality, an attempt to find the true video-self. I plan on making the score, an ambient/drone/industrial noise soundscape, with my friend and fellow media-maker, Zahid Jiwa. I'm hoping to keep the music and video as one symbiotic being - shooting and jamming, allowing them to feed and inspire each other. Its going to be shot on VHS and the first camera I ever used as a child - a decaying, Olympus Movie 8. In some ways, it will be the extended, loosely narrative, darker version of 'blss'.

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Thursday, 8 July 2010


Christian Oldham is an artist who exists on the internet as Megazord, a personal brand of meta like proportions. The design, music, tumblr and videos of this teenager from California all combine to create this incredibly of-the-now distorted visual aesthetic that has the same fascination with the unusual and plain as Joe Coleman and Nike7up, but with so much more of prolific output and psychedelic bent. We spoke to each over a e-mail providers instant messaging service, which was a lot less hassle free than Skype usually is.

So yeah Sacramento, you're 18?



I am going to college so right now on a vacation and I mean going to go to college. Just finished high school. Planning on studying business and art, media, and technology

At Sacramento?

No in Salem, OR at a school called Willamette Univ

Congrats, yeah okay that's enough, just for a bit of context to things


So what is 'Megazord'? Why the name?

It's strange because I was just asked this by a friend about an hour ago. And by definition a Megazord is some sort of mech in the Power Rangers universe that takes on a humanoid form and is created by several smaller mechs. All very child-like but then again Power Rangers was one of my favorite shows as a child As to why I chose it, I really can't remember, I think it was 2 or 3 years ago when I decided to use that alias, for a long time I was throwing names around but I think Megazord stuck because I had a strong connection to it and it was short and kind of had a strange feel to it Also not everyone knew what it was, it sounded kinda cool

I suppose it also ties with in how you operate, working with various mediums under the same alias

Yeah, for sure, It's nice to have all my media under one umbrella. And I thought having an alias would achieve that better than just using my name.

Do you feel like there is a certain aesthetic that you have to stick to with MZ?

No, definitely not, it could be anything and everything and that's what I love about it. No boundaries is such a freeing feeling and it's really hard for me to make something within a set of boundaries, I usually feel like it's not my best work and feels more forced.


(do the hyphens represent when you're finished? that would be really helpful)

(I was using that as a pause, I will use a . when I'm finished)

(wait I'm done).

With your music, there's a real feeling of sterility, not in a negative way, more focused on the beauty in the more placid, it also crops in your visual work, real simple shapes and patterns but used to good effect.

Yeah I mean, when it comes to music that's a whole other ballpark. Making the music is quite easy since most of it is one take but I usually plan things out in advance and then allow room for some improvisation here and there. Each song kind of rolls on with one idea and sticks to that, I sort of prefer long, repetitive pieces because repetition is something I'm really big on sonically speaking Also I wanted each "release" (if you could call them that) to be a sort of similar "zone" so to speak So from song to song there might be a recurring structure or sound that is used.

(wait hold on)

(wait no)

Where do ideas come from for you? I know you've had a few commissioned pieces (we'll touch on that later) but what inspires you to create?

That's a really tough question to answer due to the fact that I really don't know. The only "art" class I have ever taken was a beginning photography class I needed to take in order to graduate. But otherwise I've never really learned anything about art history or form or any of that. I think being a child of the internet I've always been influenced by technology but that can only account for so much. Having a Tumblr has definitely helped me out with ideas because I post what I'm looking for so in turn it's sort of like laying out what I have to work with and then using the images I post whenever I feel like they need to be included in something I make As to what inspires me to create, I've always been a fan of the arts whether it be music or visual or whatever and I've always felt like I've needed to give back to those mediums, and I think that's what really got me going creatively. The hope that I would please someones senses as someone else had pleased mine (as corny as that sounds).

No, I understand, funny that you brought up being a child of the internet, as I'm guessing it influences a lot of your life, it's strange that i can look back on your progression as an artist via flickr

Yeah I kind of love that idea though, It's like one of those baby diaries that shows all of your big moments

It's something that's only starting to become more prominent, with the dominance of facebook, to think that one day you might be able to look back at someones entire life on that site.

Oh yeah for sure, it's almost sickening, I've been slowly taking more and more information off of mine although I don't think I can entirely disconnect due to so many people who I have connections with only through that site.

Yeah that's the thing about facebook, and the internet in general. I mean can you ever see yourself 'disconnecting' as you put it?

Oh definitely not, although I've always had that dream of going to New Mexico or Texas and living in a cabin in the middle of the desert with no internet and all my gear, just creating weirdo stuff for a month or so, I'm not sure how feasible that is but I like to hope it happens one day.

The internet has definitely become more and more forgettable, sometimes I just roll through blogs and then forget what I saw within seconds. I think it's either that a lot of people are posting the same thing or that I am rejecting the net.

I was thinking the exact same thing, but I blamed my own poor memory rather than the internet, says a lot about our respective mindsets.

Age can only dismiss you of so much!

Haha, I'm 23! haven't got Alzheimer's

Yeah I mean you're still a part of the net

But I know, it's weird, you trawl through Flickr and it's easy to find so so much stuff that it all blends into the same and nothing stands out.

To be totally honest I don't like Flickr all that much! There isn't a huge sense of community and I feel like I never really get any comments on what I make. I always like to hear what people have to say about what I make. Because I'm really into introspection and although I might not want to change anything, I think it's always a good thing to recognize your flaws. But I guess I have to give my thanks to Flickr because that's the primary place where people can see what I make without all the text posts and random other things I put on my Tumblr.

Lets talk about some of your work, what was the process (thought and physical) behind the melted/furniture of the world series?

Well I like to go thrift store shopping a lot and I found a book simply called "Furniture of the World" that had all these really amazing photographs of furniture (from around the world of course) and I really wanted to scan them all just to have a permanent (relative term) picture of them. Deciding to melt them all was sort of just for fun, lots of the images had really great colors and shapes and in my mind that just screamed "Melt me".

(wait! change of wording)
(and in my mind the images just screamed "Melt me")

(that's all).

With your videos you shape a lot of found footage as well, do you create the videos in the same, the source material influencing you or did the music make you want to go out and find something to fit it? the same way*

Well, I think I'm really inspired by the music for the Stellar OM Source video it was pretty easy for me because I knew Christelle (Gualdi)'s music pretty well beforehand and I knew that it had a very feminine feel to all of it with the video I wanted it to be a complementing piece to the music, matching it thematically Same with the Oneohtrix Point Never videos I've been familiar with Daniel (Lopatin)'s music since 2008 so I've sort of seen his evolution and when I heard Returnal I was really amazed by how far he had transformed and what I heard was really inspiring
Sometimes I look for material ahead of time but it sits in a folder for a while until I think it's the right time for it to be used, usually it will be something that pleases me visually and can reflect some sort of mood.

Yeah Lopatin's amazing, I'm really just enjoying his work with Games and some of his recent mixes such good taste, everything's executed so perfecetly

Oh yeah Daniel is a great tastemaker, he's really specific in everything he makes, very detail oriented, something needs to be 100% before it gets his seal of approval.

Design for Games 7" 'Everything Is Working'

I'm surprised he got you to make a video (right?) just because he makes his own stuff quite a lot

I actually made the videos myself without any asking of Daniel, we've been in contact ever since he released "A Pact Between Strangers. And we are both fans of each others work at the time the video worked two ways it gave me some of the experience I lacked and also it provided a video for some of my favorite parts of Returnal.
(oh wait) I thought that Returnal was a really powerful album and needed a visual counterpart that would reflect the sounds. (oh wait again) Daniel's own video work is very static and repetitive (not a bad thing at all and something I'm a fan of) but since I felt Returnal was by far his most complex and "far-out" album, I felt like the visuals needed to reflect that and morph alongside the song.

What do you think you'll be working on over the summer?

Right now I'm working with Daniel and Joel on a lot of stuff for Games, I'm also curating a section in a publication called The Report, which is put out by Chocolate Bobka a sort of gallery pre-se (per-se_). I also just finished a video for Zach Hill and I'm also working a lot with Adam Forkner of White Rainbow on miscellaneous artwork for multiple projects. (Adam Forkner *of White Rainbow and Rob Walmart)

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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Oneohtrix Point Never

Daniel Lopatin is much more than 6ft tall, long hair, long beard, built like a block of flats, used to play in Noise bands and is totally silent and stern on stage. Yet despite this usually adding up to someone who hates talking, hates you and more specifically hates talking to you, he was completely lovely and easy going, with this infectious exuberance and passion for finding beauty in the simplest of things and how unforced art can pervade into everyday life. I spoke to him after his bank holiday Monday show at Cargo, the prince of Brixton Felix Lee also took an impromptu turn in the interview as well.

How’s the tour going?

It’s great, the UK is the best really, I enjoy playing here probably more than anywhere in the states at this point, people are more attentive, more receptive I guess. I don't know if they like it any more or less but it feels like people have invested more in the experience. In New York there's a lot of standing around and cynicism or whatever, but here it seems people are really into it.

When you initially started playing live what was your approach, do you feel like there's been a progression to where you are now?

Yeah, well I came up in the US Noise scene, so a lot of the time we were playing through shitty amps on the floor, we used to call it floorcore, it's still going on for sure, and at this point it's a little weird just because of the setup but I still think about structurally a set as an improvised noise performance although it's more progomatic now and samples are kinda used as buckets to improvise it in. it's sort of more thought out I guess, I used to be pretty sloppy and just a party zone. and now I feel I have to put on a good show, kinda of a proper show, and I don't think that's weird there's more people checking it out, I have a sound system that can actually handle detail and that makes me work harder, but it's still very new to me I still consider myself a veteran producer and playing live is really fun I never know what people expect or if they are ready for cause that kind of experience I’m used to playing with Noise kids.

Is fidelity important to you?

Not really, not compared to some nerds I know, I’m not like an audiophile really. I’m pretty simple guy I don't know that much; I just like sounds, I like textures.

I’ve got friends who are DJs and stuff and they refuse to touch anything that isn't either purest vinyl or flac files.

Yeah there's the DJ standard which is 256kbps or whatever, and I get it, I definitely get it. I sample from wav files and realise that I should be doing that, but at the end of the day I’m not a maniac about that stuff at all.

With your samples, the little vocal loops, taking them from pop songs, would you say you're influenced by that?

Totally, this is corny or whatever, but I’m just influenced by reality. What that means for me is that one vocal sample you're talking about is Paul van dyke and that's a trance anthem right, to me the interesting part is repurposing that and making it totally fucked pretty much. I think what's there, the providence of the track is this amazing amazing texture and beautiful vocal melody, divorced from the narrative of the whole song it's really interesting and it appeals to me. I don't think music has to be so horizontal all the time that it has to build and get more crazy. I don't even have really the attention span for pop music, I’m kinda like to slow it down I guess.

Felix Lee: Yeah just taking little phrases, slow it down and loop it.

Yeah and interesting things start emerging when you slow things down and really focus, it's like magic eye if you stare at one thing long enough it starts changing, so that's like a purely psychedelic experience for me.

I just feel like that with the internet, there's just so much music, you can take from any genre, any kind of music and do whatever you want with it, all these different bands and producers, like yourself, just working with the past and trying to redefine it.

Yeah totally, and it can be the immediate past or whatever, the whole argument about music is nostalgic, to me, is kinda bullshit. I’m not necessceserily nostalgic, I approach things kinda like an anthropologist, I’m not sitting in my room crying because I missed a fucking Paul Van Dyk hit from 1998.

It’s just history really.

Everything is though! Once you go to that level wouldn't you say everyone's nostalgic?

It's the same with your Sunsetcorp stuff as well, that's taking pop songs and putting them in a totally redefined state of mind and what I thought was interesting was the videos you put with them, and to me those are so associated with the music, was that your approach to have that visual side with it as well?

Yeah, it's a little riddle, I set up little riddles so for instance nobody here it worked out really well because I grabbed that Chris De Burg sample, divorcing it from the rest of that phrase suddenly it's a frightening concept. And I found this really amazing footage that made absolutely no sense.

It’s sort of like a video game, isn’t it?

It was just early vector graphics, it was just a test really, it wasn't really finished it doesn’t really do anything or resolve. It was just this rainbow road that's...

Kind of organic.

Yeah! Totally, you have the city on the horizon and you never really get there, and I made it and looked and it was a complete allegory, you know this is city life.

You would you call Sunset Corp a finished project I think for me what's there, it's in its purest form.

I think it's done, I feel like I’m participating in it just as much as everyone else, there's probably 14 year old kids that are slowing down footage that they think is worth staring at for 3 minutes in a row.

There’s a whole culture.

It’s pretty rad, when I setup the YouTube account, I didn’t associate it with anything at all. In fact I disassociated it completely because I thought it'd be fun to have this ubiquitous thing. Since then that's changed or whatever but I really just wanted to throw it out there.

That's the thing, me and Felix were discussing this last year and I was a bit wondering about the anonymity but then Felix said considering everything you've taken is essentially 'stolen', you can't put you're own name and call it your own.

I do and I don't I guess, I’m definitely not hiding anything I know exactly where I got all that stuff from and if they have a problem with it then that's cool. but generally speaking we live in a society where everything's up for grabs and I don't think there's anything wrong with jackin' stuff, I mean it gets a little sketchy if you don't credit people or try and make money from it, but it was never really about that. seriously I just was stuck in my parents house that summer and I was super bored and it just made sense to do it, I’m sure you guys you do the same thing.

When I’ve got a few hours spare I just download loads of stuff and just loop it

Lose a few hours on Ableton

Or Audacity

I use Audacity too, I don't use Protools or anything like that I just use whatever's free, I’m don't know whether you guys grew up with the PC, but the flying toaster screen saver, I think that was really influential actually, cause you're just staring a toasters going across the fucking screen for a while.

The repetition makes you more receptive.

Yeah those shitty games, the Atari games, or even Mario 2 where you go off on the left hand side of the screen and come back on the right, isn't that a really beautiful poetic thing, it like a ouroboros, it's Buddhist.

It’s same thing with those old driving games, it'd feel like you've been driving for ages, driving for miles when it's just the same looped screen.

Completely, everybody has that memory of driving around in cards for hours as a kid and you're just staring out the window and blocked everything else out and you've got this repetition of lines or power lines or the trees, I’m really fascinated by that stuff, way more fascinated than just having something really spelled out. And it's all around you, it's free! Free drugs!

Were you trying to get projections working earlier?

It didn't work out, it's odd because it was working, I was gonna do a bunch of Sunsetcorp style stuff.

So what did we miss out on then?

Mostly like Japanese car commercial footage, but you know, no cars just women touching surfaces.

Like that video of that Japanese Rush fan?

Yeah exactly, she's like this virtuosic pianist and she loves Rush so she just performed the whole of that.

Everyone loves Rush

It’s hit or miss

Pretty sure I’ve never made it through a song

Exactly right, but yeah that one hook, its Susanne Vega singing on it too or Amy Van, one of those late 80's early 90's folk, but that one hook from Time Stands Still, it's beautiful, sounds like Kate Bush or something. The rest of the songs are garbage.

Did you take a meaning from these little tiny phrases when isolated?

Yeah it's like anathemas to me, little bits of wisdom and if you really consider it, you'll get something out it.

You also made that video for oOoOO, I don't know how to pronounce, not sure if anyone knows how to pronounce it, but what was your inspiration behind that?

He's tricky, because he's super enigmatic, his label set it up, a Swedish label Emotion, but he didn’t give me any directives, usually it's an e-mail and I’ll be 'hi give me some vibes' and if they know what that means they just write down a bunch of random ideas and that didn’t happen with oOoOO at all.

It’s hard to be left cold with a video project, because they're just... want you do it and don't give you anything else

I totally just did it, I felt like there was a super dark vibe to his music that was clear and I found some 80's infomercial, a what's it called, a public service announcement, an Australian PSA about aids. It was like 'don't get aids or else grim reapers will bowl you down, literally humans were getting bowled down like candle pins at the end of the alley. and I was like this is too good, and there was this strange red line, this red right angle that happened just because I was using shit house video editing software, it was an overlay and it was slightly at different percentages are co-ordinates on the map. And then Emotion were like 'we really like the video, we think you should get rid of the red the line'... I was like either we're keeping the red line or say goodbye to the project; you don't have to pay me. The red line stays!

So just stuff like that chance, operations, indeterminacy and having an eye for stuff.

Do you feel like that's the same with improv?

Yeah! You opportune or get fucked. Whenever I’m not doing that much up there, you know it's good because I’m just listening and that's because everything just works out the engine's moving the turbines are working. And when I’m really struggling for an answer and working hard a lot it might be because it's not quite there yet. You know I think the expectation for a performer is to get up there and do a fucking jig, and I’ll never be like that, again I’m just kinda creating a situation for sound and if it works it works if it doesn’t then people can fuck off.

Do you have bad shows then?

Of course, I totally have bad shows, yeah of course, because there is that chance element because there is that chance element. If I didn't sleep that well or things are a little off with my brain, there's such a precision thing with loops that if it's not right on it could easily go super sour. it's commonly accepted in the sort of shows I’m used to playing that kinda shit happens, big shows like this it's probably a little weird if something goes wrong or whatever but so be it.

But with that TOMUTONTTU guy (support for tonights show, along with Faroe Island Thief Goodiepal), I was listening and some of it felt a little bit off, and I kinda liked that.

Yeah well that's why I like TOMUTONTTU so much, we have this asymmetrical melodycyism, it's clearly pitched, it can be beautiful because of the melody, but there's always that asymmetry to it. some of the more, pinpoint accuracy acts that use loopers don't really interest me, that kinda Ash Ra Tempel rehash or something, it's a like a lot of delay or fancy or whatever, I dunno what is it that?

With loops it's very temperamental, you just hit something and it rephrases itself and you're fucked, maybe before with improvised music you didn't put it into something it's just out there and it's there.

Yeah and I’ve never hit an undo button during a live set, there's a few rules and that's one of them! It’s sort of punishment for fucking up but there you go.

Speaking of Ash Ra Tempel are you excited about this week? (Oneohtrix Point Never support Manuel Göttsching in Paris on 02/06)

Yeah Wednesday, it should be cool, Göttsching's a guy I’ve only started getting my head round lately, because of the show. but honestly I’m not a huge 80's Krautrock fan or whatever, I like the sentiment more than I like the music or whatever, I think they were really brilliant in terms of breaking convention but a lot of the music seems redundant to me. But I love E2-E4.

Yeah, I have a similar kind of opinion, I saw a couple of guys, or just one, from Neu play Primavera and I was like wow, this is really cool, this music is 30/40 years old or whatever but then again E2-E4 is just so much more than any Krautrock band could offer me.

Super futuristic for it's time, when the guitar solo kicks in I can kinda abort mission but

I love that guitar solo

You really? It’s strange some people really love it, others don't

I’m into that whole Balearic vibe and the sinewy guitar lines

I think My Bloody valentine are the masters of the pitch bender though, they're the most lushest, melismatic, curved music I’ve ever heard in my life and that's more of an influence to me than some of the more jammy can kinda stuff. And super ambient, I don't know how they do it!

I guess that they've come back and stuff as well, the thing about Primavera and ATP, they have all these old bands coming back and reforming, it's a little bit like do I really want to see this or am I just going to tick a box, cause Wire played and they were shit.

Really? Matt from Wire's here, he's around.

I interviewed Mark McGuire a few months ago, he was so into your Skyramps project, and I thought it was quite interesting how two people half way across a country can have such a connection.

Oh yeah, we did everything with e-mails, with files, and there was absolutely no conversation ever. You hear stories about jazz guys doing that in the same room, but files? To me that blew me away, we didn’t ever have to talk about it in depth. So that's a really mysterious collab for me, I can't even remember how that happened to be honest, it was amazing mark and I are definitely kindred spirits for sure.

I was just looking at your Roland Juno earlier, where I work we have one of those in an exhibition in a glass case, and there you are with those stickers all over and I heard you're dad was an early Synth musician back in the day?

He wasn't really, he was a rocker, he was in a nuggets band from Leningrad they sound like a garage band basically, like The Doors. That keyboard that I play is his and he bought in 1982, 83 for his Russian restaurant band and at some point I just took the Synth and started wallowing out.

It was quite lucky that you had that basis as a child growing up with all this music around you.

I’m really lucky, it's totally evolution, its makes me cry when I think I about it, my parents are such a big part of this, they really are. And my mother taught me some basic piano, she taught me harmony and circle of fifths and I use that stuff all the time. It was hard at the beginning because this was totally alien to them as it is probably to most people, but they're really super supportive and my dad is really proud that he's been able to pass on this keyboard.

It’s interesting, because even though it's the same instrument he had, he must have played in a completely different way.

I know what you mean, because that's the beautiful part of the whole thing, my dad had all these beautiful accordion sounds, he did exactly what I do with it, he had a vision, he wanted to emulate an accordion, an organ and electronic piano all these things he needed, and then I wiped all the presets and made fucked up sounds of whatever, but the beauty of Synths is that it's a whiteboard, and it's all about what you want to get out of it I guess.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010


It's all well and good to talk to an artist on top of their game, another thing entirely to talk to one who's on the verge of creating something truly amazing. An early contributor to Sweet and Sound's Best of Vimeo submissions group, Universalis is a one man project that spans media and genres all in that attempt to express creativity in it's purest form. Featuring videos, photography, dub tracks and droney future loops, the otherwise anonymous creator and sampler comes from the Forest of Dean.

What is the Universalis project, what does it mean to you? What was your basis for it?

Well I was making music for ages, under a different name it wasn't really a proper name, I never used to show it to anyone. But when I started the Universalis stuff it was supposed to be really kinda mysterious and space age, the name comes from Latin, Universalis Musica, the music of the spheres. I'm still not there with what I want it to sound like, I it want to just be like music that no one's ever heard.

Is that meant to be reflective in the other work that you do, your videos, or is it mainly music?

It's mainly an audio thing but yeah just the images is part of it, I just wanna start doing crazy things.

I know said you want to make music that doesn't sound like anyone else but are there any influences you could pinpoint?

Well round the time I came up with that name, the whole concept of what I wanted to do, I was into quite a lot of Techno, this guy Jeff Mills and he was in this group with his other guy, I can't remember their name, (X-102) The Rings of Saturn the album was called. Some of it's got no drums and it's just really pulsing and that's the kinda vibe I wanted to get. And the whole early Techno stuff of disregarding conventional music as in verse chorus verse style and having words, just making music, that's what inspired me.

What do you create music on?

All the stuff on Internet and all the stuff I've shown people so far is on an MPC 2000 and on a record player.

I've noticed you use a lot of found footage, are you trying to reinvent or reuse sounds, how do you approach using samples?

I've just always done that, from Hip Hop, that's where I started to want to make music that way. Because they just sample from older records and I was really interested in that because you could just get a piece like a drum break or something and keep looping it and looping it and looping it. And it's a similar thing to like if you say one word over and over again it completely loses its meaning and becomes something else, and that's what inspired me from that.

With your video work as well, you use found footage from other film projects, do you approach it in the same way?

Yeah I just get a piece of film I like, and cut it in a different way and try and make it become something else.

Like with that 10David guy?

Yeah, with his one, he just gave me a stack of Mp3's he'd made on his MPC, one of them was called Chin V, that's not the actual name for it but that was one of the records he sampled from maybe. And I just loved the track and it had that oriental vibe to it, it just made me think of this film that I've got on video called Ugetsu Monogatari, it's a Japanese film from the 50's. That was one of my favourite films and the way I did the video was just look it up on youtube and just download the bits that I could, but I was really limited with what I could use. But they had my favourite scenes in there, I had to cut around subtitles, I left a few in that I felt were pretty poignant.

I suppose that's quite interesting, that you only had that footage, it constricts you but you also work around that, do you try and work with the mistakes?

Yeah, it's the same way I make music, I like the limitations that are put on me. That's why I carried on using MPC, because a lot of times I'm listening to a track and think 'oh that would sound great with echo' or 'oh I could do something different with that' but because I can't it kinda makes me work harder.

One of your more striking tracks is Skylarks, what was the story behind that, where did you take that from?

That's actually taken from a 1952 recording of Under Milt Wood by Dylan Thomas, just the intro to it. I was making another track and just put records on and sampling them and I came across that and it's just the way the guy said Skylark is was just so raspy and it had this sort of click or something half way through it, and I just thought that sounded crazy and it just had a whole list of birds after it. I just started pressing buttons, the skylark, the skylark, the skylark and again I just thought with the saying the same word over and over again, it became something else. And when I came to sequence it, it became a sort of psycho acoustic thing where it's sort of hypnotic and you don't know what's going on after a while.

Are you a fan of Dylan Thomas?

I've never read any of Dylan Thomas' books or anything else he's done but I've had that record since I was like 17 and I really like the sleeve but listening to the record just doesn't make much sense to me.

With sample culture it's really interesting because even though sampling's been around for 30 years I feel with people like yourself and others you're still able to take something you love and try and make it your own rather than try and emulate it.

It's about putting your stamp on it, there's a thing William Burroughs said, like a concept, he used to take books and cut out page 100 and page 1 and cut them down the middle then slice them together, then retype it. It comes out like a loads of shit but he says something will crop up that'll refer to a future event or something like that. and that's another concept for Unversalis where you're creating all this stuff, pieces of time, that someone's recorded then put it in a new order. It becomes futuristic to me, music that hasn't been made yet.

Do you feel you ever might make something of your own?

I've done a lot of that, borrowing synthesizers and drum machines, but it's not what I'm feeling, it doesn't have the same grit to it, the same depth I suppose. I just really like sampling.

It's a very personal thing, it's something you do by yourself and it's really reflective of your tastes

When I started I only wanted to sample things I loved, if I like a track from start to finish. more recently I've been digging around for sounds that just flash out from a track and be like yeah I want that. And I'll manipulate more, I used to not time-stretch anything really, just have a loop from start to finish then find another loop to fit with it. I used to be a lot more purest.

That's one of the most interesting things you can do with it, even the phrase itself, time-stretch describes what you can do.

Stretching time, yeah I'm definitely into the time thing of it, like someone recording a Saxophone in the Sixties and that was just a section of that time recorded onto a tape. and now I'm sampling it, yeah definitely, making the future out the past is a big thing for me.

I've noticed that on SoundCloud your music has quite a different vibe to it, I'm not sure if you do that on purpose because it's more of a dance based website, and this might sound facile but it was a lot more dubby. Is that an influence?

Yeah definitely, well I'm always buying records, old records from anywhere I get. And I'm really into old music, but the new records that I get... I'm really into Future Garage sounds, and Bassline things. And with SoundCloud, I just put my new stuff up there and don't tend to put the wierd stuff on.

6 figure income by universalis

Even though it's still under the same name are you concerned about who's listening to what or does that not matter to you?

Not really, I've thought about doing stuff under different names but I couldn't see the point really. It's just the same person making music the same way, might as well call it the same thing.

You said the closest city to you is Bristol, do you go out there much?

No to be honest I don't really like Bristol, but that's generally from personal experience. I generally come to London to listen to music, or just buy the records. I think London's more of a central thing, but in my area in the early nineties there was a lot of ravin' going on. Especially in the Forest of Dean they still do it, now they do it with Gabba and stuff.

Oh man, Gabba's awful

Yeah? I like it, I like the speed and confusion.

Do you reckon you'll ever have a physical release to what you're doing?

I've been speaking to a guy on the Internet who's interested in getting unknown sort of producers with my sort of sound to get releases in future and there's a few friends of mine s in London who'll be starting a record label and they want to release my stuff. but i just want the tracks to be perfect and at the moment they're sketches.

I quite like that about it, even if you see them as sketches a lot of people like that whole rough around the edges if you try and perfect it too much it might take away from its original appeal.

Yeah well I've definitely done that with a lot of tracks, I've had an alright demo and then just gone too far with it and scrapped it. But I think some of my tunes are finished, maybe a bit of tweaking on EQs and things but I'm pretty raw and I haven't got a problem with it.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ferry Gouw

Ferry Guow is an illustrator and visual artist from London famous for directing music videos and playing in good bands. I was fortunate enough to grab an interview with him in his adopted Kensington about tie ins with T-Shirt-Party, the state of the music industry and his recent (MTV video award nominated) work with Major Lazer that's now expanded into a television pilot for Cartoon Network.

You've just completed a tee for T-Shirt Party, how did you get involved in the project?

I have a feeling that Stan (Still creator of T-Shirt Party) is quite a stalker, laughs, I think if anyoneeven clicks like on the t-shirts, on Facebook, he's just immediately on them, like I said, I was already a fan from the get go, I thought it was a great idea, a great concept. You know surprisingly unpretentious and cheap I was really into that whole side of it. And I had been following it and following it, and finally cause I'd been watching all the t-shirts and all the designs. and finally they got they're website together and had that release party and jaguar shoes and I always thought that it was Daniel Freeman’s thing, a lot of people have been saying that so I turned up to the release party at Jaguar Shoes and Daniel was djing and I was like 'Oh man I’m a huge fan of your t-shirts' and I thought if I buy it hear straight from the guy then not only can I say hi personally but I'll save on postage and packaging. So I turned up and was like‘I love your t-shirts, can I get one?’ and he goes 'oh no this is not my thing' I'm like 'oh really, who's it?' he says 'actually I’ve never met him, I don't even know who this guy is'. In fact there was meant to be a projection today but the DVD broke and this morning I get a knock on my door and there's a DVD on the floor and some guy running down the street! So yeah from then I just said fuck it I’ll buy it online. And yeah I got it in the post and started wearing it, and a friend of mine took a photo of me wearing it on facebook and as soon as I did that...

He liked it?

Yeah! I think he got a sense that I was for real, and then out of the blue he just asked me if I wanted to do it, and you know I think I was telling my friend when I was taking the photo that it was my dream to design for this guy.

So it's a dream come true?

Yeah it's a dream come true, it's amazing. Literally the whole of last week, I gave up all these important deadlines and projects and actually did my t-shirt party design I stayed up till 5 in the morning, I was so excited.

Elgin Marbles Design for T-Shirt Party

So what was your inspiration behind the whole Elgin marbles thing?

I had an idea for a week, week and a half and was thinking about it. I dunno I was trying to get down with the whole urban wit and street whatever and I just had no authority over it, I just could carry it off as well as he could. I thought I shouldn't even try and compete with that world, I should try and see what London is to me. I was just looking up stuff online and I felt the Elgin marbles represented what 'London' is, especially for me coming abroad. it's part of the London history to go the British Museum and check it out, but this beautiful thing is also part of what you feel about London and Britain in general and there's this whole imperialism and this whole history of political rambling and all this darkness in its past.

It’s a little naughty

Yeah, and that is now embedded in what is actually beautiful and amazing about London, that fact that we can just go there and look at this thing but there's always that tinge of guilt and awkwardness and weirdness about it. But also that image in particular of this guy, almost kind of wrestling in a really sexual, gay kind of way with this half-horse, it’s also what is surreal about London as well. The whole thing just felt like a closer sentiment to what London is to me, rather than trying to compete with some kinda urban wit thing which I can't compete.

How did you get in art? How would you describe the art that you make?

I don't really have any agenda apart from what I’m interested in at that particular moment, like the Elgin marbles, that's just what I had in mind at that particular moment. I think that art is always an extension of who you are as a person, and where you are, your development as a person is reflective in what you do. So in that way I don't have an agenda or a concept outside of what I’m interested in at any particular moment of my life. I got into art also because that was a natural thing; I was going to go to business studies school or something, I didn’t want to stay in office and work every day.

I'd say one of the more striking influences with your work would be music, as you said before in that what you create is based on what's in front of you, are you quite inspired to create from the sounds around you?

Yeah, well I was always interested in music, but only started making music when I was at art school, started getting into bands and forming bands and making music that way. And then only recently I started recorded at home, so my grasp of that whole world has only slightly started becoming slightly more sophisticated in the past few years. But it's always an extension of some kind of bigger 'art', which is just another side of how I can express myself and express my interests, if I have interests that translate well to music I’ll do it that way or if it was a mixture of music and visuals I’d try to do it that way. It’s just a pocket of expression, you know what I mean? In the general spectrum of what I’m interested in. But it's in of itself, it's hard to explain but its part of the bigger thing. It also relates to other things, when I was doing this t-shirt, it was not just the t-shirt but also through the video. so in that way a lot of my projects relate to each other like with the Major Lazer stuff it has the print stuff, it has the cartoons, the whatever little toys. Some projects are more extended in that way, some are more just in of them self in that way.

Mazor Lazer - Hold The Line

It’s good how Mazor Lazer has kicked off, even though people do like Diplo, it's taken it to the next level, and part of the attraction of that is the visual aesthetic. Are you happy with what you did there, how did that come about?

Again it's almost as random as the TSP thing, I was hanging with my friends of mine at XL and Diplo was there recording the XX at that time and I was chatting to his manager and my friend was like 'oh yeah ferry is an illustrator' and I just did some drawings for them and they got it and they liked it. From the first few things I did for Major Lazer it seems like our relationship was working out really well, then they started trusting me with more Mad Decent projects, it kinda grew organically from there and now Cartoon Network has picked up Major Lazer as a TV show.

That’s amazing.

I’m working on the pilot now.

Cartoon Network in the USA or UK? That’s amazing.

Yeah USA! The Adult Swim side

Can you talk about the pilot?

Not in its details, I can talk about my role I’ll be creative director, I’m the main designer of all the characters and how it will look. thankfully I won't be sitting at home drawing it frame by frame the way I was doing before, I think they're going to give everything to an animation studio and then I’ll have minions of workers. It’s going to be so amazing, I cannot wait.

Is it going to be a full twenty minute show?

I think so, it's gonna be a series, it'll be a series, if it works out It'll be a series kinda like what I did with the video, a G.I. Joe type you know 80's. I can't wait for the toys, hopefully they'll be merch and all that side of things.

Mazor Lazer - Keep It Going Louder, collab between Gouw and Jason Miller

Are they gonna fly you out there?

No no, that would be more difficult it's actually easier they way it's work they set up this base camp thing, you can set up an online work flow thing, you can post designs and files and it get's e-mailed to everyone

Are you gonna do research for it?

I think it's gonna be mostly cartoons and comics based, just channel my inner 10 year old. Which is the most amazing thing about Major Lazer, I would draw this stuff when I was 12 on school notebooks and her I am getting paid for it.

Are you quite influenced by cartoons and comics then?

Yeah I was always a comic book fan ever since I was kid, never stopped reading comics. In fact, you know when people doodle and most people doodle nothing or penises, every time I doodle Spiderman or Wolverine or Venom.

That’s what comes out naturally?

Yeah, if I was to doodle and not think about anything it would just be dudes with muscles. and to do that and get paid and think of character designs and guns all that crap is so amazing. And Mad Decent and Diplo are the best people to do that stuff for because it's never crazy enough. If you started to draw, you know whatever a kid jumping off a cliff or something, it always end up with 'oh put that thing on a lion' or 'add a snake on it' shit like that. So the whole thing has been the most fun.

With your work for Major Lazer and with other bands, how are you influenced? Do you have an idea that you think would work well, you said Major Lazer give you ideas but how do you work that out?

That’s what's good about it, we seem to have an understanding on a very substantial level, where there can show me one thing and I’ll know exactly what they mean, and the missing element is just like a snake or something.

Is that the same for other bands and artist?

No, to varying degrees obviously; sometimes if things don't work out I’ll stop working with them. I don't want to do shit that I don't like or things that I’m not proud of. So things that don't work out, don't work out, things that do work out usually work out really well and I stay really close friends with them and I trust myself to do more with them, so In that way I've been really lucky.

Who else would you want to work with?, but you're working with Cartoon Network now, that would be enough for most people

It feels like working Roxy Music is pretty awesome, again that just feels totally out the of the blue, Bryan (Ferry)'s son just called me up when I was hanging out in the park, I didn’t know him he just found me and he was all 'do you want to come in and talk about the projections for Roxy Music' I was like 'err... okay!' and they trust me enough to slowly involved me in other things and hopefully it'll be a relationship that'll continue and I got a friend of mine involved and working on his album cover and layout. Everything just comes about organically, through relationships which always is the nicest way to go about it.

Might be a bit of dour note to end on but I feel for there's been a bit decline in the importance of music videos recently, have you been affected by that, do you feel that as well?

My relationship with music and the music industry is a weird one. I’m really happy that people trust me to do music videos and stuff, but with music especially the work I’m doing I have this weird idea that doing art and making money are two different and it's almost by miracle that people have been able to sell music. And in that way that with the advent of the internet is the true nature of music exposed which is, you know, if music is transference of ideas then ideas have no economic value. the economic value comes from withholding the ideas as opposed to the idea itself, but it's just that us as humans beings have to eat and that requires money and the withholding of ideas and become products and then the withholding of these products become currency. So I can see why the music industry is in trouble by trying to sell this product that has no inherent value, inherent economic value. It seems like with changes in anything you just adapt to it, if people don’t' have money to do big budget videos anymore there's always digital cameras. There’s all this technology to still do it on a much smaller scale and still achieve what previously needed tonnes of money to achieve. So in that way creatively I’m not that worried about that, because as long as there's creative people out there work will always be turned out. But whether or not people can eat or whether after the music videos made it'll make any money that's the real concern but that's not a concern for me. if you're actually interested in art or making anything that's artistic that should be just be a sideline thing, once your stomach starts grumbling, apart from that you just wanna be doing good shit. You can start worrying later.

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