Interview

P&C interview: Odina by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Camila Craig

Taken by Hannah Mae Clark

Taken by Hannah Mae Clark

The lovely Odina is a Catalán singer and composer, who has recently become one of the most appealing voices of the independent folk scene in London. After the release of her most intimate EP, Broken, the artist has gained popularity among her British peers and followers of the new musical movement. Piano and Coffee Co. had the opportunity to talk to her in the middle of a very exciting period in her career:


Can you tell P&C a little bit about yourself? Where do you come from, how and when did you start in the music industry?

I'm from Barcelona but I moved to London a few years ago - last summer I released this EP called Broken and I guess that's where it all started for my music. I had been playing music for years before that though.

Have your travels affected your artistic development in any way?

I guess it has, I always write songs about personal things that happen to me, but I bet the environment where you live also affects that a lot. Also being surrounded by so much music here in London is very inspiring and I think that also affects the way I make music.

What are your artistic references or sources of inspiration when composing?

Sources of inspiration I guess are just things that happen to me or to my close friends, I use writing as a sort of therapy to get over things that aren't easy to get through. Writing those situations in a song really helps me.

Let’s talk about Broken: How was it conceived? How intimately did you engage with the production of your last EP? 

The songs in Broken were a collection of songs I had written for the past year that I was particularly proud of, and that I thought fitted well together. When I produced the songs I guess for me the most important thing was to let the emotion behind each track shine above everything else in the track. Sometimes that meant getting rid of stuff in terms of instrumentation, so that what was there was what needed to be there and nothing more. 

Finally, what can we expect from Odina? Do you have any projects you’re working on?

My new single 'Why'd You Make Me Cry' has just come out which is exciting. Also, I'm currently working on writing and recording some new music that I hopefully will be able to share in the near future as well.

 
 

Lots of things are happening for the young composer, who bravely left her home country in order to accomplish her artistic goals. Odina is a woman of enormous potential. Her music reflects the most fragile moments of her experience with exile. Her songs are extremely intimate, and will produce melancholy and nostalgia even in her most resolved listeners. Nonetheless, she is eager to see where life takes her, and is open to all the growth and positivity her new home brings her. 

P&C interview: Daigo Hanada by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Only a few weeks ago, Tokyo-based Daigo Hanada released his debut solo LP, Ichiru, via Moderna Records – a soft, minimalist collection of tracks glowing with warmth and curiosity. Daigo, though he took piano lessons as a child, is mostly self taught, and growing up he was surrounded by his mother’s favourite records, which provided him with a basic understanding for music, without realising it. 


How were you introduced to music? When did you start creating your own?

My mother’s passion for music for sure. Also, my grandmother was a koto player and I grew up listening to her play the instrument. It was amazing to see her tune the instrument with her ears and hearing this unique harmony that the instrument has – it grew my interest in music a lot.

I was always humming new melodies in my head since my first childhood memories so if it counts I was probably like 4 years old, but the first time I really made my own song which I remember, it was in my third grade. It’s a very short and simple song but I remember I felt like I just found my own star in the sky or something. It’s a very happy song! In 2012, I purchased my own piano and it was my first time having a real acoustic piano so since then it became my habit just to sit in front of it and improvise for hours.

Could you describe your creating process for me?

During my creating process, I usually wake up very early in the morning when it’s still kind of dark outside, just to take a walk to clear my mind when there’s no one outside yet. That’s when I find all the feelings, emotions, and even the smell of the air which I usually don’t realize while being awake. Then I sit in front of my piano and put my hands on the keys and just play, for hours and hours.

I’m not really settled in one place right now so it limits the equipments I can own, and the limitations I have, have been very important to me and also to the work on this album. For most of the recordings for the album, I only used two condenser microphones, my piano, and my hands. So the whole process was very minimal and I’m very thankful for having a big limitation and not getting myself lost in fancy equipments because I don’t think I can handle all the possibilities with so many gears around me yet. Of course, there are some musical gears I wish to own someday, but for now, I’m very happy with what I have.

What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing? Do you have a dream collaboration?

The piano. It’s just a thing of beauty. Just by looking at all the details, and just by feeling the warmth of the wood, it already makes me immerse in playing the instrument. All of my compositions start from improvising, so the color, the smell, the emotions and feelings, and the atmosphere of the moments while I’m improvising; they all mean something to it.

My dream collaboration would be, for sure, my grandmother. She is the reason I really got into music and I feel like I have her way of playing an instrument; the way the chords follow after one another, and the way the melody follows the chords. So if she was still alive today, it would be my dream collaboration.

What can you tell me about Ichiru?

In Japanese, we say “ichiru no nozomi” which means “a ray of hope”.  This reflects how my life has been so I named one of the tracks Ichiru. I’m not really good at naming things, and I had no title for the album when all the recordings were done, so I was talking with Évolène and he suggested me to have a title track from the album, and he made me realize that “Ichiru” would be really perfect for the album title.

I’m really thankful for Moderna Records to have contacted me and offered me to release the LP with them. It’s been an amazing and unforgettable experience to me. They welcomed me with warm hearts and I truly enjoyed the whole process of working on this release with them.

How does it feel to have released your debut solo LP? What were your thoughts and expectations throughout the whole process?

It feels really amazing! I have never thought I could release my own songs and even feel it as a physical release in my hands, so I’m still amazed and very thankful for having this opportunity. It also made me realize that I have a big support from so many people and how lucky I am to have them.

My expectation was to have a connection between every song. I didn’t want to make the album just a collection of my recordings, so I tried to keep the same habit and recording process throughout the months.

Lastly, did you ever receive a certain piece of advice that stayed with you?

It’s actually a difficult question for me because I have never really received a certain advice from anyone. I’m kind of afraid of taking one because one simple advice can change my whole perspective. I would like to keep my own perspective and my own way of learning things. I just really enjoy learning things alone.


You can listen to Daigo’s breathtaking album on Moderna Records’ Bandcamp, and follow him on Facebook for updates on new projects. 

P&C interview: Markus Sieber by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Blake Parker

Markus Sieber, better known as Aukai, is so active in today’s music scene that we were lucky to catch him, between his tour in South America and working on his debut film score for The Tale by Jennifer Fox. Fortunately, Piano & Coffee was able to chat with Markus about everything from childhood counter-culture to the interplay between physical places and emotional experiences.


What kind of musical history do you have? How much of this history has shaped the music you make today?

I started playing guitar when I was 14. Growing up in East Germany art and music had always served as a voice to speak up against the suppression of the system in a disguised way. Many singer/songwriters and bands were walking the fine line of risking a prohibition for expressing their free thoughts and as a teenager this can be very attractive. I think this was my original drive for starting to make music. What’s left of this today is maybe simply the fact that music indeed is a wonderful form of personal expression and participation without having to use any words.

What draws you to the "unfinished" sound of your music? Do you have a reason for seeking a less "produced" sound? 

Technology gives us now stunning possibilities to produce music in such a perfect way, every little mistake and failure we can adjust with great tools. On this latest record it was one of my priorities to aim for a sound that is tangible, accessible, that picks up the listener because it’s human in all the sense of natural imperfection. I wanted the listener to be able to fill in with his own imagination and be part of the process of the musicians rather than getting served a perfect sounding piece of result. With Martyn Heyne as sound engineer and musician with a similar vision and a studio equipped with wonderful analogue gear I had found the right partner.

When creating a piece of music, do you intend for it to be paired with a particular kind of art (film, theater, visual art, etc.), or do you write music strictly as its own creation and allow those pairings to form themselves after?

It depends, on the album for instance each piece has been made as its own creation. Inspired by different kind of situations these pieces are like musical drawings. They may go along nicely with film, theater or dance as they are somehow open spaces and allow the listeners to create their own imagination. 

I know that people have used this music for dance, films, etc. and I love it when music inspires the performing arts. Currently I am writing/producing my first major film score and obviously here it is kind of the other way around – the music is inspired by the images, and it’s particularly made to serve and support the emotional quality of a scene. 

How has extensive travel and being connected to many countries shaped the sound of your music?

I think traveling is one of the major influences. Being away from home outside of your comfort zone stirs up your inner world and new thoughts and sensations can arise. Besides, it demands you to listen to your intuition which I think is the most important thing for finding your own music. 

I find myself reacting to your music both emotively and imaginatively, as if it makes me feel something but also takes me somewhere. Do you think your songs speak more to physical spaces and landscapes or emotions and experiences?

Landscapes can strongly relate to our emotional world, what we experience outside reflects inside. If I am on a 5000 meter volcano summit in Mexico I certainly have very intense emotions of space, freedom, maybe fear or fragility. I feel my experience as a human being expanded. I think music and the arts are an attempt to transmit these personal experiences and describing the indescribable. And to answer your question, I think a landscape is just a landscape, a space, but it’s our emotion which makes it what we want from it. 

Would you say that your music has an underlying message or purpose? If so, what are you trying to convey through your music?

Not really, or intentionally…but having this said, I would be glad if my music can be an invitation to slow down the pace of daily life in the busy computerized world and to listen again in a deeper sense.

What can fans of Aukai look forward to hearing from you in the future?

As mentioned before I am writing currently the score for The Tale by Jennifer Fox, starring Laura Dern and Elizabeth Debicki, etc. The film will be out in 2017. Further I will release a collaboration I did with soundscape genius Abul Mogard, and I am planning to have my second album ready next fall. 


Listen to Aukai on Bandcamp and Spotify.

P&C interview: Ella Webb by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Mikhail James

By Morgan Hill-Murphy

By Morgan Hill-Murphy

Raised in a family of innovators and creatives, it would not have been farfetched to assume that the nature of Ella Webb’s work would take on an unconventional and artistic element; however, while this did end up being the case, the route which Ella has managed to fashion for herself is undoubtedly unique – even for an artist.

As an illustrator, the impetus behind much of Ella’s work comes from a mixture of her artistic talent, love of the natural world, and affinity toward science. The result of this combination comes in the form of various topographic images, which highlight and portray different landscapes and terrain from an interesting perspective. Reminiscent of diagrams you may have seen in your grade school text books, Ella’s images are intricate and almost educational in nature, while still possessing a certain aesthetic charm and allure which fixes them firmly in the realm of art. With hopes to partner alongside scientists in the future, Ella is continuing to use her work to showcase the beauty, as well as the complexity, of the world we live in.


Can you tell us a little about yourself? Is there anything you’d like the readers to know?

I’m Ella and I’m 22. I lived in Sweden for over a year but currently live in North London. 
I have a small studio space in HTH in Crouch End which I share with my partner, photographer Morgan Hill-Murphy.

Have you been making art your whole life?

Definitely! It’s only been in the past few years that I realized the route I’d like to take, though. 

My whole family is quite creative. My grandfather is an architect, my grandmother a botanical illustrator, my other grandmother a quilter, my parents and sister photographers, clothing designers and creatives. I think it was only natural to take a route on the more artistic side rather than the academic, but I think my work crosses quite naturally between the two ends of the spectrum.

There is a very interesting theme to your artwork. Can you explain the origin/inspiration behind your topographic style? 

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan struck a few months before I was traveling to Japan with the Sasakawa Foundation. We were informed that it was unlikely that we’d actually be allowed to go due to the nuclear fallout from Fukushima on the eastern coast of Japan. 

They had live news coverage for weeks after the quake. I was still studying at that point and so was able to spend most of my time watching the live feed coming in from Japan. The magnitude of the event itself was something I hadn’t quite experienced before; it reinvigorated my fascination with tectonic activity. It was only when I moved to Sweden that I began to draw on my personal interests into an illustrative style which I felt comfortable with. 

With such a specific approach, do you need to reference your illustrations with other material to make sure it is correct geologically?

I had always wanted to be a volcanologist. I obtain a lot of my ideas from reading. Of the books I own, most are geology, geography or anthropologically based. From the ‘diagram’ series especially, many of these illustrations are more of an abstract take of geographical features. However, they all originate from factual information. 

In the near future at some point, to work with more scientists creating accurately illustrated diagrams depicting our Earth's movements is something I’m keen to become more involved with. 

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As an illustrator, what do you think is special about illustrations that set them apart from, say, photos or paintings?

I used to think that illustrations, similarly to graphic design, helped to make sense of everyday situations. Yet, all art forms originate from experience, maybe with illustrations people are more able to accept and understand them. I think it’s hard to say. 

When creating, is there an exact image in your head that you are attempting to bring forth? Or do you begin a project with a general idea in mind, and see where it leads you?

I think it can be either/or, depending on whether it’s personal work or for a client. I have a few small sketchbooks which I constantly carry on my person. I have quite a few undistinguishable notes and sketches in there. At times my drawings can take on the exact form I had in my head. Other times layering objects and ideas on top of one another allows my work to take on another idea entirely. 

What direction would you like to see your work take over the next few months?

It would be great to expand my understanding of the natural world by working closely with scientists on numerous projects. I’m beginning to understand more of the artist I would like to become, definitely using my illustrations for more environmental issues. 

And of course, joining an agency in the near future! 


Follow Ella on Big Cartel, Instagram and Tumblr.

 

P&C interview: Sophie Harris-Taylor by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Kamryn Koble

Sophie Harris-Tyler is an accomplished photographer whose personal work brings indescribable human emotions to light.  She grew up in London, and relied on her camera as a means of self expression and interacting with others – photography became her niche in the world.  Continue reading Harris-Tyler's interview to learn more about her as a creative individual.


Tell us about discovering photography, and any other artistic mediums you have explored in the past. 

I was studying fine art but realised quite quickly I was almost only using the camera as a medium to create work and was always drawn to the work of other photographers. I switched to the photography degree the following year. This was when I started to understand photography within the context of art.

What is your vision for your project M T W T F S S? What inspired you to create it? 

I never set out to make this project, these were the pictures I began taking of my close friends and loves and the places I’ve been and stayed over the past 5 years. The work is a diary of sorts, it’s not chronological but it’s a record of the insignificant moments, which make up our daily lives, it’s pretty autobiographical and in essence it’s about relationships and intimacy. 

I only decided to publish the work after being approached by a gallery for a solo show – I felt like after 5 years, this could be a suitable chapter. At the same time I started working with a graphic designer with intention of making a book. The project really came together quite organically. 

Now working on Chapter 2, I don’t feel this project will ever really be complete – I think this takes the pressure off trying to achieve the perfect image.

Are there any particular places, people, musical artists, scents, or atmospheres that invigorate your creative process? 

I find the people closest to me incredibly inspiring, and a lot of my work is created when I’m away spending intense amounts of times with friends. These private moments are really important and for me make up a big part of who I am. At the same time, I’m interested in the places I stay and the countries I visit. From one hotel room to the next a lot of my work will capture a specific time and place. And like most images become a memory. I recently came back from Poland and realised when I got my film developed that I barely had any shots of actual Poland, it was more bathrooms and hotel rooms and bed sheets!

What emotions do you wish to evoke in viewers when they examine your work? 

For me, I’m particularly interested in capturing aspects of people which I can relate to, showing the strength in vulnerability is something that occurs throughout my work. Inherently I think this brings out qualities of intimacy and empathy. Also my work is about the relationships we have within ourselves and the relationships we have with others. 

Tell us about your film project with Keaton Henson. What was your original vision and how did it develop? 

With the Earnestly Yours Video, I worked with my partner creating the film, Keaton really gave us free reins with the track and it was again something that came about quite organically, we started listening to the track on repeat and we started filming without really having a solid idea or plan where we were going to go with it. This was the first thing we directed together and we didn’t have a team, we’ve done quite a few since then and have definitely learnt a lot along the way. I think the music itself is pretty powerful and we wanted something simplistic and emotive to go with it but still with some kind of abstract narrative. 

How has your style and work evolved as you grow as both an individual and an artist?

I think, as I’ve grown older, through life experience I’ve become less interested in capturing my life and more interested in capturing other people’s. I think also growing into myself the work now comments on its subjects more than just showing. 

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice or wisdom, what would it be?

The Helsinki Bus theory is pretty good. And also to not try to please people with your work, make it for yourself, not everyone’s going to like it. I think as well it would have been good to know that I will almost probably never be completely satisfied with my work – and that’s no bad thing.  

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You can find Sophie's work at her website, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

P&C interview: Ale Hop by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Andy Schiaffino

By Janice Smith Palliser

By Janice Smith Palliser

Ale Hop is an experimental creator from Peru, who produced, composed, recorded, and mixed her audiovisual album, PANGEA. Released August 26 of 2015, PANGEA was an effort put together by several directors, artists, designers, cinematographers, illustrators and animators. The series of short animations and videos are strung together by a collection of songs and presented in a continuous half-hour long video. 


What inspires you musically?

Listening to music has always been a starting point. But in recent years, I find more inspiration outside of listening to music. I like to read biographies, and interviews of musicians, artists and producers that I admire.

What was the general inspiration behind creating PANGEA?

I wanted to make a conceptual album in narrative form; kind of a visual and musical journey. My first idea was to make an animated film structured by songs, so I started creating the songs with that idea until I realized that I did not have the resources, money or time to make a forty minute animated movie. So, while I was composing the album, I began to talk to friends that are in the audiovisual field, and I came up with the idea of making every song an audiovisual piece. Thus, each video artist made their own interpretation of a song, and at the end I had ten video components.

Why did you decide to make it a compilation, rather than just using your own music and animations?

I would not consider it a "compilation." It’s a music album, video-album, and a kind of experimental film. I have presented it in these three forms, and also a live act too, in concerts. It exists in several planes and media at the same time, and I don’t think that’s weird – many current creative proposals have this peculiarity, only that sometimes this quality goes unnoticed, perhaps by the familiarity of the consumers in front of the media. It seems to me that sometimes we create in the way that we consume. I grew up watching music videos and movies, and I always relate music with visual elements. We live in a visual culture; it’s almost an involuntary act.

What was the hardest part about acquiring each portion of PANGEA? What was your biggest obstacle within the project?

The hardest part was finishing it. It took me a year and a half to do everything. It is easy and exciting to start new projects, but it takes a lot of perseverance to finish them, especially when there is almost no budget.

What is it like being female in the music industry?

In my project, I do not exploit or sell my femininity in any way. I try not to be feminine on purpose, because I think that's what is expected of female musicians; to sell femininity, sexuality, beauty, and all that, and I hate it. The sexual revolution was good a few decades ago, but I think it is important now to break the stereotype that relates the woman to the body. For this reason the best answer I can give you is that I do not consider myself a woman in the male music industry.

What is the music scene in Lima like? Would you say there are many creative people who are more experimental with their creations, like you?

The experimental scene in Lima is rich and varied and has grown a lot in recent years, but there is no music industry to support it. It survives from the tenaciousness of the people who love what they do.

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been since starting your creative ventures?

I would like to think that my greatest achievement is always living in the future. I’m quite excited for a new album that is about to be released, “The Way of Love”, that is a collaborative project between me and Ignacio Briceño, a great musician from Lima. It took us 2 years to do this work and it is in its last stage. I’m also thrilled for a performance I will be part of, something completely different from what I've done in the past – with dancers and other experimental musicians. The premiere is February 2017, in Berlin.


An exploration of color, sound and oddities awaits those who have not yet been exposed to Ale Hop’s oeuvre. You can explore the audiovisual journey of PANGEA for yourself on VIMEO. To see and hear her other creations, check out her Facebook page

 

P&C interview: Albarrán Cabrera by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Por Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Foto tomada por Bruno Barbey

Foto tomada por Bruno Barbey

Hace varios meses tuve el agrado — y la suerte — de toparme con el trabajo de estas maravillosas personas. En primera instancia, me cautivó la belleza de sus fotografías, lo cual me motivó a investigar más sobre su trabajo. A medida que más leía y observaba, más me enamoraba de cada uno de sus proyectos, no solo por su valor visual, sino también por lo que transmiten y representan. Podría intentar explicar lo que Anna y Angel hacen, pero dudo que lograse hacerles justicia. Así que los citaré. 

"Lo más fresco, puro y nuevo se encuentra en las cosas más simples y cercanas. Las respuestas a las preguntas más complicadas las tenemos a nuestro alrededor y la fotografía nos ayuda a encontrarlas. 

Usando fotografías no seremos capaces de responder a las grandes preguntas acerca del tiempo, la identidad, la realidad o el espacio, pero estamos interesados en explorar como una imagen puede hacer que las personas reflexionen acerca de su propia realidad. 

Ser conscientes de lo que nos rodea no es una parte importante de la vida, es la vida tal y como la conocemos. Nos gustaría que con nuestras fotografías creciera la empatía y el interés hacia la realidad de los que las miran." 

Los invito, pues, a leer esta entrevista, para aprender más sobre estos artistas, compañeros en la vida y el arte, y a disfrutar — pero sobre todo a reflexionar acerca de — cada una de sus fotografías.


Anna, Angel – ¿Cómo nace Albarrán Cabrera? ¿Qué los motivó a trabajar juntos?

Vino dado de forma natural. Vamos a fotografiar juntos y trabajamos juntos en el cuarto oscuro. Compartimos las lecturas, los viajes y las experiencias. Vimos que tenía más sentido trabajar como un solo fotógrafo.

¿Cumple cada uno de ustedes funciones específicas dentro de sus procesos de creación? ¿O es que estos se van dando de manera natural de acuerdo al proyecto que realizan?

Lo que hace cada uno no está planeado. Cuando estamos haciendo fotos, por supuesto, cada uno tiene su cámara y su visión, pero cuando reunimos todos los negativos el conjunto encaja. A partir de ahí trabajamos como un equipo en el que compartimos las tareas tal y como van surgiendo.

¿Cómo se iniciaron en la fotografía? ¿Su manera de entender este arte ha ido cambiando con el paso de los años? ¿En qué sentido?

Anna: la afición vino por parte de mi padre que es fotógrafo aficionado.

Angel: por mi abuelo que era carpintero. Era uno de los pocos de su región y por lo tanto el responsable de fabricar las cámaras para los fotógrafos de la zona. A fuerza de tratar con ellos acabó aficionándose a la fotografía. Tanto en un caso como en el otro, los dos nos sentimos atraidos desde pequeños por el medio.

Nuestra manera de entender lo que hacemos ha cambiado y mucho a lo largo de los años. Al principio la meta de la fotografía era el captar imágenes para llegar a una copia.  Esta concepción ha ido cambiando hasta llegar a como lo entendemos ahora: usamos la fotografía no como una manera directa de documentar lo que nos rodea sino como el resultado de lo que vamos aprendiendo y viviendo. Las fotografías hacen las misma función que las anotaciones de un diario. Cuando pasa el tiempo, revisándolas, nos ayudan a entender la realidad que nos rodea, lo que hemos visto y vivido y a descubrir nuevas ideas y caminos que explorar.

¿Qué desean transmitir con su obra? ¿Esperan generar una reacción en particular en quienes contemplan sus fotografías?

Nos gustaría que estas “notas” cumplieran la misma función que cumplen para nosotros, que activasen la curiosidad del que las mira y que sirvieran para generar ideas y preguntas acerca de lo que le rodea. Entendemos que cada persona tiene sus experiencias particulares y que por lo tanto lo que experimenten delante de una imagen será diferente para cada una. No nos preocupa tanto transmitir un mensaje como el despertar la curiosidad del que mira.

Percibo ciertos elementos orientales en su obra. Sobretodo de la cultura japoneses. ¿Qué conexión hay entre ustedes y esta cultura?

Lo que nos atrae de la cultura japonesa es su percepción de la realidad. La realidad es algo que existe sólo dentro de nuestra cabeza. Es una interpretación de lo que percibimos. Cada uno de nosotros interpreta las sensaciones que le llegan por los sentidos ayudado de la cultura en la que nació, la lengua que habla y sus vivencias.

Todas las culturas tienen elementos que las hacen diferentes, pero también vínculos muy fuertes que las hace muy similares ya que han subsistido juntas durante miles de años. Pero la cultura japonesa es una cultura milenaria que ha estado cerrada al resto del mundo durante muchos años. Esto le ha permitido “crecer” a su aire teniendo una mínima influencia del resto. Esta característica tan particular hace que desde el punto de vista japonés, la realidad se reinterprete de una forma completamente diferente a como lo hacen otras culturas. ¿Si tienes una mente inquieta, que puede ser más atrayente que descubrir una nueva realidad completamente diferente a la tuya?

¿Qué relación encuentran entre el shodo y la fotografía?

Hay que entender que los Kanji japoneses no son simples símbolos fonéticos sino la representación de un concepto. Son gráficos que representan ideas o emociones. Justo como una fotografía.

¿Creen que es importante nutrirse de otras artes?

Creemos que es necesario. Parece que un fotógrafo es algo tan simple como alguien que hace fotos. Pero para saber interpretar la realidad usando imágenes somos de la misma opinión que el fotógrafo Ralph Gibson: “un buen fotógrafo debería tener conocimientos sólidos de pintura, semiología, arquitectura, música y filosofía”. Nosotros añadiríamos idiomas y viajar todo lo que el cuerpo (y la economía personal) te permitan.

¿Están trabajando en algún nuevo proyecto?

En varios, pero más que trabajar en ellos, van surgiendo. A veces evolucionan y “mueren” antes de ver la luz, pero otras van creciendo y cuando tienen “edad adulta” es el momento de enseñarlos.

¿Algunas palabras para los jóvenes artistas allá afuera?

Es muy, muy importante saber por qué haces lo que haces (pregúntatelo a ti mismo siempre, aunque la respuesta venga tras años de trabajar en ello).  No dejes que otros te digan lo que tienes que hacer o cómo lo tienes que hacer. Eso no quiere decir no prestar atención a las ideas de los demás, pero es importante estudiarlas antes de decidir qué hacer con ellas. 


Descubre más sobre Albarrán Cabrera en su página web , y síguelos en Tumblr e Instagram.

 

P&C interview: Garreth Broke and Anna Salzmann by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Photo taken by  Lana Yanovska

Photo taken by Lana Yanovska

A perfect match in many ways, composer Garreth Broke from Bristol, UK, and artist Anna Salzmann from Frankfurt, Germany, managed to find each other in the most unexpected manner possible – an instant connection in a Berlin-based gay club led Garreth to quit his job in England and move to Germany. They found inspiration in each other and went on to create phenomenal collaborations together, currently working on their project called December – a brief, sombre reflection on winter.


Could you guys tell me about your introductions to your respective art form, and when you started creating your own?

Anna: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawing or painting.

Garreth: I’m kind of the same. My Mum used to play the piano, and I had lessons from about the age of 5 or 6. Mum got me a great teacher who was an amateur composer, and he taught me how to improvise. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head: I had always enjoyed the piano but never really loved it, but once I started improvising I could play for hours on end. But neither of us started sharing our work publicly until we met each other. I always felt like my music wasn’t good enough to be shared. I studied music at a very traditional university where we really focused on the “greats”, the western canon, Bach, Beethoven, that kind of thing. I found it really difficult to find a place for my music at university because, well, how do you compete with Bach? You can’t!

Anna: I felt like I was always looking for something but I could never quite put my finger on it, and I felt like until I found out what that was, I would never be able to share it.

How do you inspire each other? Could you both describe your creating processes for me?

Garreth: When I moved to Germany I was unemployed, didn’t speak German and had no friends and hardly any money, but Anna bought me a piano. I spent my days looking for work and studying German and playing the piano. I found that Anna kept getting really excited about the stuff I was composing, and it was the first time I can remember when someone other than my parents would really listen to what I was playing and tell me how beautiful they found it. It gave me a confidence in my music that I had never found before: I realised I didn’t have to try to compete with Bach or Beethoven, I just had to explore what I was interested in.

Anna: And it inspired me for my own work. I started creating pieces to the music. Before I met Garreth I used to dance, and so music and movement - and creating with both - is something that I like to do. I often work in ink and watercolours, and I sometimes think that working with these two media is a bit like dancing, especially in combination with Garreth’s music. It is a very physical experience. They are so fluid; they have a movement of their own. It is like dancing. When you dance you make a movement with your body but that movement goes further than your body - it influences your surroundings - and that’s how it feels with ink and watercolour, these very watery media. They have a flow. I think that ink and watercolour transport my energy onto the paper or the canvas better than any other medium, and the energy is then influenced by the music, and that makes painting - at least the way I do it - so much like dance.

Garreth: We have this fairly small apartment in Frankfurt (it’s so expensive here!) so we don’t have much space and that means we both work in the same room. I’ve got a corner with my piano and my computer, and Anna has her corner with her work desk and easel, so we can work on our own thing but we’re never completely unaware of what the other one is doing. I’ll focus on the piano for a while and then I’ll turn around and Anna will have done something which I think is totally awesome, and I’ll look at it for a bit and we’ll chat about what we’re doing and then I’ll turn back to the piano and my composition will grow and Anna will keep working and then we’ll turn back to each other again. And in that way our stuff grows together and alongside each other. They sort of intertwine. It’s honestly the best feeling. It’s such a good feeling that I think there’s a danger we could become a pair of hermits, like “yeah, I guess we better go to that party, but wouldn’t it be nice just to stay in and make something!”

Anna by  Lana Yanovska

How did you get the idea for December? What can you tell me about the process of creating it?

Garreth: I need to explain a bit of context for it to really make sense. Earlier this year I released my first album, Coping Mechanism, which was a response to my mum’s death to suicide. Anna had been encouraging me for a long time to release an album. She’d promised to do the artwork and just generally kept on encouraging me. I worked on the music for about 12 months and in June ‘15 we ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and then literally just after the crowdfunding campaign finished my mum took her life. She had suffered with depression for about half my life; she had been so positive at times, and then at times so desolate, so low. It was always this thing hanging over me, the fear that she would die.

And then she did. And you’ve got to remember that she was the one who had first encouraged me to make music, who had sorted out the piano lessons, and who kept telling me that I needed to record it. So to lose her like that when I was finally acting on her advice was pretty brutal. By that time I had got enough confidence to realise that I just had to be myself, not to try to pastiche something else. So I just poured all that emotion into the album, all the grief and all the happy memories, everything. After I finished it I was totally drained. Emotionally spent. There’s one track in particular, “Mum”, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written, but I can barely play anymore. I played it in a few concerts this year and I’ve decided that I need to give it a rest for a while because it just hurts. It just breaks me.

So I needed something different to work on, something less immediately emotional. Anna’s painting professor had recommended a graphic novel / art book called The River by Alessandro Sanna and I bought it for her birthday last year. It’s an amazing book. It’s just a series of watercolours, hardly any text, and it depicts the landscape of the river Po during each of the four seasons, beginning with autumn and ending with summer. The paintings are incredible - they’re so rich, so alive. I was never really interested in art until I met Anna and I think this book was another one of those “lightbulb” moments, when I just thought WOW.

The idea of writing something for each of the seasons just made sense to me. I grew up on a dairy farm in West Wales and I’ve spent a lot of time with my parents and my siblings walking through the landscape, whatever the weather. When you’re a farmer you just have to get out in the weather and get on with it, no matter how cold or wet it is. So I feel kind of connected to the landscape, wherever I am. And the landscape changes so much, it’s fascinating, and we have a tendency to ignore it. The idea of releasing a series of pieces that somehow recreate that experience of being in a landscape during the changing seasons really appealed to me. So I improvised a load of autumnal pieces and sent a demo to my favourite record label, 1631 Recordings, and they released it!

Anna: You love those guys.

Garreth: I really do. They’re so cool, like… the artists on their list are incredible. They really are doing so much exciting, fascinating stuff. It’s kind of surreal because when I was first getting into this I thought to myself “I really want to be on 1631 Recordings, but I’m not good enough, maybe that’s something I can work towards”, and then I just felt brave one day, took a risk, sent them an email and they took me! You can buy the September EP from them now, and they’ll be putting out the December EP on 1st December. Naturally, Anna did some artwork for the September EP and she’s done loads more for December.

Garreth by  Lana Yanovska

Garreth by Lana Yanovska

Anna: It’s just so nice to work together that it felt natural that I should make some art for whatever Garreth composed next.

Garreth: The video comes from working with Anna and noticing something which I’d never really paid attention to before, which is that when you get close up to art, when you look at it repeatedly over a long period of time, you notice all this detail that you had missed the first time. I wanted to find a way to recreate that experience. I started experimenting with making music videos that focused on the little details that I liked, and I just found myself really enjoying the process. It brings the music and the art together, tries to give the viewer/listener something more of the experience we had when creating it.

Anna: We wanted to make the artwork last throughout the course of the music. Not to be just one single shot, but to offer different perspectives and experiences of the art. I think with the details, the close-ups, you find different aspects of the art. Like with your music.

Garreth: Yeah, like the more you listen to an album, or play through a piano sonata, the more you notice the details, the little things. I recently bought Bon Iver’s 22 A Million, I’ve listened to it so many times, and I keep spotting new things. There’s so much detail there. It appeals to me on a surface level, because it’s just really beautiful, but then the more you get to know it, the more you love it. And making a video of the December EP did two things: it would help people to enjoy Anna’s art in the same way that I enjoy it - close up and personal – and it’s a way for us to continue to work together.

Anna: And, actually, it’s a way for us to kind of perform together. It’s a way of showing our work on almost equal terms. My art is movement when it’s being painted, but then after you’ve finished painting, it stays static.

Garreth: And the experience of looking at art in a gallery is something that can be quite static, which I never found that interesting.

Anna: The observer moves from one piece to the next...

Garreth: ... but the art is fixed. And my music isn’t fixed. I love improvising so much that I rarely stick to the same notes every time because I find it boring. I think, why do I have to make a definite version?

Anna: I think that’s why I love accidents in my art, because they make it less boring, less predictable. Like when I’m using a slightly old nib on my ink pen and it drips on the paper, and then I have to deal with that because I can’t erase it. And actually I don’t want to erase it, because it’s good!

Garreth: I’m the same with the music: I record everything I improvise and when I listen back to it, I realise that I’ve accidentally done something that I really like. Life is full of stuff that you can’t plan. And it’s a question of how you deal with it. Do you try to carry on regardless? No. You can’t. So you have to be flexible. I had no plan to move to Germany before I met Anna. Literally no plan. The whole thing happened by accident! We just randomly met.

Anna: But it was a good accident.

Garreth: Yeah. It’s serendipity. If you approach life’s randomness with a positive attitude then good things happen. But if you approach life with a negative attitude then life will drag you down. Think positive and good stuff happens. It’s really as simple as that. Improvisation on the piano is like that: you have to know the basic rules, scales, chords, harmony etc, and then you just have to let it happen. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t improvise, but it really is like you only have a certain amount of control over it.

The video for December will only be up for a couple of days. What motivated that decision?

Garreth: As I was composing the music for December, I was thinking about all the different ways the landscape changes during the winter, and reflecting on the landscape of my childhood in West Wales. We don’t get much snow there, and when we do it rarely lasts more than a few days. In the winter we usually get frost, but it is usually gone almost as soon as the sun hits it, so if you want to look at it you have to make sure you’re out at the right time or it’s gone. So I was thinking about how temporary all these changes are, and also reflecting on how winter is the time of year when most plants appear to be dead, which led me to think about how ephemeral everything is.

At the same time, it’s become a real commonplace to warn children about what they put on the internet, because what’s on the internet “lasts forever”; what they put up as a teenager might be read by a prospective employer in twenty years time. That seems to be the dominant narrative about the internet: be careful about what you put on there, because it’s like carving something in stone. That’s a radical oversimplification of how the internet actually works and will likely evolve, but that’s the way I’ve been taught to think about it. So I wanted to do something deliberately non-permanent: the video is here for a bit, and then it’s gone, like the winter weather, like life. You guys can choose to look at the video if you want to, or you can choose not to. It really makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. But one thing you can be reasonably sure of is that if you don’t look now, you won’t be able to later. Same with the frost. Same with life.

Do you have any coming projects you’d like to tell me about?

Garreth: There are lots of projects brewing in my head but the only definite plans I have is that there’ll definitely be two more EPs in this project, a March EP and a June EP, coming in March and June of 2017.

Anna: I’ve been commissioned by the University of Birmingham law department to work on a project with some of their undergraduates. It’s a really interesting, complex project. In a nutshell the students pick a case that they have studied that they wanted to explore in more detail, and they are invited to give their personal responses: how does it make them feel, what does it say about the legal system and society etc. Then they send me their thoughts and I interpret those thoughts and add my own and turn them into art.

Aside from that, I’m working on several different series of artworks at the moment, and probably the best way to find out more is to interact with me on Instagram. Most excitingly in December I’m going to put up for sale one work of art a day, and all the proceeds I’m going to give to charity. It’ll be like a cross between an advent calendar and an art auction, and the artwork of the day will go to the person who gives the most money and all of the proceeds will go to my chosen charity, WESER5 Diakoniezentrum, a Frankfurt based charity which works to improve the lives of homeless people.


Keep up with these two talented artists on their respective social medias (Anna’s FacebookInstagram, Website and Garreth’s Facebook, Bandcamp, Website) and don’t forget to check out the video for December, before it is gone for ever. 

P&C interview: Simeon Walker by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Blake Parker

Simeon Walker is a contemporary classical composer and pianist from Leeds, UK. His recent pursuit of a solo career has turned the heads of many, including 1631 Recordings – with whom his EP album “Preface” is released – and Nils Frahm, who selected his track “Compline” to be featured on the 2016 Official Piano Day Playlist. We recently contacted him to learn more about his life as a musician and what may be in store for fans in the near future.


How did you initially become interested in music? When did you first start playing, and when did you first start composing?

My Mum is a musician and a teacher and my Dad - whilst not a musician - is really into music too, so it was a big thing in our house when I was growing up. It was just a normal part of life and we went to shows and productions even when I was little, so my love for music started early on. 

I started learning the piano from around 7 years old after a lot of tinkering. I'd always been fascinated by lots of instruments, and I learnt guitar, drums, singing and trombone over the years, but piano was always my first love.

I've always been creative and quite independent - happy and willing to do my own thing - so making new music was a freeing, fun and normal thing to do. I can't remember how I first started, but I do remember writing out ludicrously complicated/impossible piano pieces for my teacher to play - he tried incredibly hard to be as accurate to the ideas I'd written, but they were probably a little extreme.

Your music has a soft aura about it; it is very approachable and comforting in its style. What are the major sources of inspiration for your music?

Thank you! I'm glad you find it approachable, as there's nothing worse than music which instantly pushes the listener away. I love the way that some music draws you in, even from the first few notes or chords, which is something I try to aspire to in my pieces.

I've always had a wide range of musical likes and influences. I was classically trained, and have always loved Chopin above all others, with Debussy and Satie not far behind. I think it was the way that they were keen to throw off the harmonic and stylistic shackles of previous years that spoke to me - also the way that their melodies took on an expressiveness that seemed to speak to a myriad of emotions.

As a teenager, I developed a big interest in jazz, and went about the process of teaching myself to improvise. I was fascinated by the extended harmonic language of pianists such as Bill Evans and Thelonius Monk, the flowing melodic playing of Oscar Peterson, and the ability to fuse musical styles together that I heard in Brad Mehldau's work. I also had a love for the ambient/electronic music of the late 90's/early 00's - artists such as Aphex Twin, Air and DJ Shadow. 

When I first came across the outstanding work of pianists such as Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds, I was incredibly inspired, as it gave me confidence to think outside the box as I tried to bring my wide range of influences together. All of the artists on Erased Tapes have proven to be a huge influence to me, as the modern classical genre continues to develop.

Do you have a particular songwriting process? What does it involve?

Loosely. I love to improvise, so every time I sit down to play, I'll allow myself to experiment and try out ideas. The best way I can describe it is that I like to play how I feel. So, that might involve my feelings that day, the season of the year, special occasions, etc. With it being instrumental music, I really enjoy the freedom to go where my feelings take me. Writing with lyrics can be fun, but often restrictive for a variety of reasons. 

Sometimes I'll set myself challenges and then ideas spring from there. For example, I like to think in a minimalist way, so I'll often try to simplify ideas if I can. Not just for its own sake, but to see if I can find the most absolutely perfect way of playing how I feel. Other times, I'll try to focus specifically on using different musical elements in creative ways - rhythmical shifts, melodic alterations, experimenting with textural changes, using the different registers of the piano, or using a more extended harmonic language.

How did you become involved in the group 1631 Recordings? How has this affected your music?

After I'd released my EP, they came to me and asked if I'd be interested in re-releasing it with two extra songs. It's really great to be involved with the guys - if you look at the artists who have released music with them, it is incredibly humbling that they considered my music to be strong enough to sit alongside such an exceptional body of work.

I am very much at the beginning of my solo career, and there are people also on 1631 whom I hugely admire and whose work I love to listen to. Check out Sten Erland Hermundstad, Library Tapes, Roberto Attanasio and Ceeys for starters. Also look out for Kinbrae whose album is out very soon, and Alice Baldwin's beautiful piano music which is mainly on SoundCloud.

Similarly, you recently were featured in Nils Frahm's Official 2016 Piano Day Playlist. Tell us more about how this came to be, and if it has changed anything for you as a musician moving forward.

Piano Day is a relatively new thing, run by Nils Frahm. It happens on the 88th day of the year (the number of keys on the piano) and is very simply just a celebration of the instrument. Nils and his team take submissions in the months leading up to it, and then release a playlist of the best entries on SoundCloud.

Even though it's still a young event, it generates a lot of interest in the modern classical world, and the song of mine which was featured this year called 'Compline' is my highest played track on SoundCloud, so the exposure of being on the playlist has been great.

Preface EP cover.jpg

Can you describe a single potent moment in your pursuit of music that has stood out to you most?

Not so much a single moment, but 2016 has been a hugely important year for me. I've been involved with music for over a decade since studying music at university, playing in and with lots of bands and artists – however, composing has always been my absolute favourite thing, right back from school days through to university. Somewhere along the way after university, I stopped doing what I love the most. I've now been able to make my life work so that I can devote a lot of time to it, and this year has been the most freeing and exciting time of my musical life. Years worth of playing, a phone/computer full of ideas, pages of handwritten sketches are now coming to fruition.

SoundCloud has been hugely important for me. The community of music lovers on there is brilliant, and there are people whom I've never met, yet feel very grateful to have come across, whose support I have valued greatly.

If there was one moment I could pick out, it would be the first time I performed in this new solo capacity towards the end of 2015. I was opening at a festival called High & Lonesome in my home city of Leeds, and it was early in the afternoon the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris. Everyone was clearly still very shocked and upset, but I guess there was a sense in the room that what we were doing (gathering together to listen to music), was what those poor people in the Bataclan had been doing just the night before. The soft, gentle stillness of my music felt like an appropriate way to begin the day, and I was pretty humbled to be able to do that on behalf of us all that day.

If you could collaborate with any one artist (musical or otherwise), with whom would your dream collaboration be?

Well, Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds have collaborated themselves already, so if they'd let me join the party as well, that would be my dream collaboration!

Would you say your music has an underlying message?

Always hard to convey a message without lyrics! I'm not too sure about the whole musicians trying to convey a message to the world thing. I don't want to be too preachy. 

I'm a pretty quiet, independent person and have plenty of things going around my head. When I play, everything seems to be ok. If I can give people happiness and enjoyment from hearing me play the instrument that I love, then that's good enough for me.

What can we look forward to hearing from you next?

In the immediate future, I'm going to be releasing an arrangement of a Christmas song as a free download. This song has strings on it, and I've been working hard on scoring parts for lots of new songs and playing with two lovely string players, so at some stage next year there will be a new release, which will be more than solo piano.

I have stacks of material waiting to be worked on, arranged and recorded, and I have a few collaborations in mind as well. I always have a mountain of ideas, and it's about finding the right one to focus on.

I'm also performing at a Christmas event in December in a beautiful old church in Leeds, with live strings for the first time, and I'm hoping to get out a lot more next year to perform.

It's an exciting time for me. Thanks for asking!


Simeon’s EP album, “Preface,” is available for stream and download on 1631 Recording’s BandCamp, and his feature on Nil’s Frahms’ 2016 Official Piano Day Playlist can be found on SoundCloud.

P&C interview: Tim Linghaus by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Drawing inspiration from his childhood, Tim Linghaus puts his memories and feelings into stunning works of art, creating pieces that ring with emotion and a deep sense of solemn awareness. Though teaching at a local school in the peaceful coastal town of Cuxhaven, Germany, Tim still found the time to pour his soul into what has now become his debut EP, Vhoir.


Could you tell me about your introduction to music? When did you start creating your own?

I guess I was introduced to music and to the possibility of making it by my father, who played in bands and owned a couple of instruments. I remember jamming with him along Nirvana songs on a very heavy black electric guitar in his office. In my memories this thing is way bigger and heavier than me. I also remember sitting on an old upright piano in a blurred living room at some family party. My mom tried to get the piano for me but they wanted to keep it as some kind of furniture. Anyway, two key moments in my life.

Would you describe your creating process for me?

Normally I start playing the piano until I find a melody or chords that suddenly seem to have a meaning to me. I record tons of sketches on my phone, listen to them wherever I can, erase the ones I don’t like, get back to the piano and revise the good ones, record again, erase, revise, until I am happy. Then I go to Ableton and add different instruments or record noise. I don’t write music on paper. Apart from some lousy note reading skills I remember from school I can’t read music. I just listen and try to memorize keys. However, sometimes I start with synthesizer drones or just some noise. I never start with strings actually. I don’t really know why.

What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing? Do you have a dream collaboration?

My biggest inspiration next to other music is my own past. I do take a lot of motivation from pictures and memories. I was born in the GDR and the Berlin Wall fell when I was seven. There are a lot of things I remember about my youth and later life that I like to give another language than words. Music is perfect for it. I reckon it’s very common to do so. Everything you do and every melody you write is autobiographic.

A dream collaboration? That’s a very good question. I have never thought about it. Well, I would like to write a piece with my father. Unfortunately, it’s impossible. But I would love to.

Recently I was asked to become part of a collaboration project called ‘The Exquisite Corpse’, which is initiated by English label Bigo & Twigetti in conjunction with Moderna Records. I will be one of twelve artists forming sort of a file sharing chain in order to create individual pieces from original sources. This seems to be a great collaboration and I am so looking forward to receiving the files I can work with.

What can you tell me about Vhoir?

Vhoir derived from a personal crisis to be honest. I came to a point where I asked myself whether I should go on making music or not. I’ve been writing so many songs since I was a teenager and one year ago I suddenly thought that I wasn’t able to write one proper song. I mean, I have written and collected hundreds of songs and fragments on a couple of hard-drives over the years and I couldn’t name a single song I like from the first note to the last. I was on the brink of throwing everything away. But there was this grand piano in our assembly hall at school. It got me. I played it whenever I had a bit of time between lessons. I started recording sketches on my phone and slowly found my way back.

In a nutshell, I didn’t stop making music but ended up writing Vhoir. After I had finished the tracks I looked for a mastering studio. Emil Thomsen jumped into my interest and I wrote an e-mail explaining my situation. He was very kind and interested right from the start and he felt like the perfect choice. When the master got here I was thrilled. I totally love the warm analogue sound he put on every piece. After a few weeks I thought that more people than my family and my friends should listen to it. So I decided to look for some labels on the web and found Moderna Records. It was the only label I wrote to. I really liked their collection of artists and their aesthetic approach. I sent three tracks to Évolène and Nick and they liked them. We exchanged some more e-mails and here I am chewing nails awaiting the EP’s release.

How does it feel to be releasing your debut EP? What were your thoughts and expectations throughout the whole process?

It feels really good. I am so happy with Moderna Records and the way they work with me and Vhoir. Of course I am a little bit curious about what people think about the record. You know, the process of producing a recording, from the first sketch to the final track, is something I absolutely love. Now that the EP is finished I can’t do anything about its shape anymore. It’s done. I have to let go and see what happens. I believe Vhoir is a record that takes some time to grow on the listener. In consequence, I hope people take some time to listen and maybe find some meaning in it.

Lastly, do you have any advice for young artists out there?

I don’t know if I’m the right person to give advice on this but I would say try out and do something. Take an instrument and do something. Just do something. And if you don’t love it, you shouldn’t carry on. Grab another one and another one and try again until you do something you love with instruments or tools you love.


Take some time to listen to Tim’s fantastic debut EP Vhoir at Moderna Records’ Bandcamp, and don’t forget to show your support on his Facebook

 

P&C interview: Igor Pjörrt by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Portuguese artist Igor Pjörrt, currently based in London, creates modernly soft fine art – warmth and delicacy seeming the main theme to a lot of his art work. Igor already has, at only 20 years old, several publications to his name, and his outstanding work allows for an intimacy with the masculine that we rarely get to see. 


How were you introduced to the arts, Igor? 

As a millennial I grew up having access to an overwhelming amount of (visual) information to the point where it stopped being fascinating and became nauseating instead. This heightened my need for being in charge of images and the context they’re put into until I wasn’t any longer curating random blogs with visual content but impulsively creating my own, which felt like I was finally telling a story in my own words.

Would you say your artistic style has changed significantly from when you first started?

Definitely. I used to be so much more interested in landscapes, especially human altered landscapes - which is something I’m coming back to now. I photographed roads and buildings impulsively and avoided people because I felt too immature to capture their essence.

What impact has your education in the arts had on your art work? 

Studying for a year in Switzerland taught me to be self-questioning and self-critical, which I have become a lot. For a period of time this was launched to an unhealthy level but I’ve since then managed to separate myself from my work to a certain extent and not be so harsh on myself, otherwise it’s too painful and there’s no meaning in doing what I do any longer.

Would you describe your creating process for me?

I rarely ever actively look for a picture or go to great lengths to get one. For me photographing is environmental and spontaneous which in turn makes me nervous about schedules. That’s part of my struggle with filmmaking as well. In the UK we are taught such an overly orthodox approach to film that can easily compromise its authenticity. And although it can, after all, be much more stable to be in charge of everything I also feel something is lost along the way. I think what I’m most afraid of having to give up in the process is individuality and intimacy. 

What is your biggest inspiration when creating?

For me music has always complemented pictures. At its core it’s something visual so together it can introduce another dimension to an image - can take it further. That’s also what drew me to filmmaking. I got really interested in how background noise and silence can add to a scene or how music can sometimes take away from it too.

What can you tell me about your Betelgeuse series?

It follows a story that I first told out of impulse, completely oblivious to the responsibilities that came with it. A year later I was being told I was doing courageous work while I felt so reserved; ironically, I had really stripped myself through my boyfriend but ultimately my sense of power and liberation came from that vulnerability. Looking back on the first part of the series (Betelgeuse Book) I saw a clear evolution happening so quickly. I became afraid that I was doing something inconsistent until with time it only made sense to embrace this maturing aspect of the series. Today I feel it’s transgressed into a place I can always go back to, one of safety and comfort. In the end it says so much about me but also nothing at all, and I think most of the pleasure has always been in that secretive nature of these pictures.

Lastly, do you have any advice for other young artists out there?

Take your time. 

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You can find Igor’s amazing art work at his website, Instagram, and Tumblr

P&C interview: Marlee Jennings by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Mikhail James

Be it through illustration, prints, murals, tattoos, or music, it seems as if Marlee Jennings’ art cannot be confined to simply one medium. Currently in her fourth year at OCAD (Ontario College of Art and Design), where she specializes in Illustration, Marlee has been able to cultivate her own unique and distinct style – a style that, after seeing some of her pieces, shouldn’t be too difficult to make out.

Much of Marlee’s work surrounds the duality of the real and imagined world; drawing inspiration from the monotony and mundane qualities that can so often accompany everyday life, Marlee’s illustrations portray scenes and objects found in the world around us, but merged with a fictitious twist or mythical element. Combining these two themes allows for Marlee’s art to evoke a sense of imagination within the viewer, transporting us to faraway and ethereal lands, all through the catalyst of the “regular” world around us. Marlee’s work helps remind us to see the magic in the ordinary – to look deeper, or simply differently, for the beautiful.


How early did you start creating art, and when did you know it was something you wanted to pursue as a career?

I’m not entirely sure when I started. I really didn’t know it was something I wanted to pursue until I was graduating high school and felt the need to figure out what I was going to do after. Art was the only thing that made sense to me as something to continue exploring, even though it was scary to dive into.

How would you describe your artwork to someone who has never seen or experienced it before?

Hmmm, I guess bright and colourful, featuring odd characters in eclectic environments.

A lot of your art seems to lean towards the fictitious and imaginary. Would you say your work is derived from the real world, or imagined places and things you are trying to bring to life?

I think my art tries to bridge the two. Usually it’s inspired by disenchantment with the real world and trying to imagine different ways for it to look. Sometimes it’s disenchantment, and sometimes it’s to call attention to how magical day to day life can be. I think I flip back and forth between preferring reality and the whimsical. But they overlap sometimes in unexpected ways.

 

Is there a central message that you try to convey through your art?

I wish I knew what I was trying to say. But I guess if I knew how to say it, I would say it instead of drawing it, so maybe that’s part of the point.

Between the many different forms of creating that you work within (illustrating, printmaking, murals, music), which is your favorite, and why?

Ah, it’s so hard to choose! Each fulfills something different for me. I’ve also started tattooing which has been really interesting. I’m also really interested in natural dyes and pigments, which I’ve just started exploring. I haven’t settled on any favourites yet, but maybe some day!

Being based in Toronto, a diverse city with a unique and emerging art scene, how would say your work is influenced by the people and places you interact with on a daily basis?

I’ve actually just moved to Hamilton, a city just outside of Toronto, to open a feminist tattoo shop and community space with my teacher, Kayla Grant. Toronto was pretty great for meeting people at school and being exposed to a certain way of life. I think it actually inspired the disenchantment that I’ve been working through in my art. There are so many people, rushing around everywhere, all very disconnected from one another. It’s odd to be surrounded by people all the time, but to feel alone. I think my art is often influenced by this. I’m really curious to see how it changes with being in a smaller and more supportive community!

What is the ultimate goal you are trying to accomplish through your work?

I’m not entirely sure. I think I like calling attention to things that are misunderstood or overlooked. If I can make someone feel entertainment, enjoyment, or curiosity then I feel okay about my work.

What can we be expecting from Marlee in the future?

Well, if I survive my thesis at OCADU, then hopefully more tattoos, murals and illustrations!

Find Marlee’s work on her websiteTumblr, and collective

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P&C interview: Ricardo Bouyett by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Though starting off as a classical singer, Maryland-based Ricardo Bouyett found his way into the depths of fine art and filmmaking, and made it into a self-healing space where he explores and comments on a wide range of problematic issues in today’s society – everything from rape culture, self-harm, racism and manhood, to name only a few. His pieces are all heavy with emotion, and Bouyett unashamedly exposes his own pain and trauma, all in the hopes of starting conversations about these invaluable topics.


How were you introduced to the arts?

When I was in junior high school I joined the choir and got involved in performance art. Throughout high school I was involved in a few of the theatre department's musicals and was in the Acapella choir. It wasn't until college that my attention turned away from vocal performance and onto visual arts.

The program at the college I was attending at the time had a curriculum that I didn't agree with so I decided to transfer to a different school. During that transfer I started researching contemporary artists and reading stories about people with zero accessibility to high-end equipment, who were still making their art, which left me feeling motivated to pursue visual arts although I had very limited access to equipment.

That was the turning point in my life and it consequently happened around the same time I came out to my family and friends. I wasn't as afraid anymore to do the things I wanted to do and art gave me the voice I needed to talk about things I cared about.

Has your artistic style changed significantly over the years?

Every year since I started I've developed a different approach to my work which becomes more noticeable when comparing things I did from one year to the next. For example, from 2013 to 2014 my work got darker and more emotional and by 2014 to 2015 my art became a complete war zone for my PTSD. In 2014 I was raped and in regards to my art, that made me more critical of the images I was making.

2015 to 2016 is probably the most significant change because as I started using my artwork as a base for my recovery from being raped I started to realize that filmmaking was really where my voice was at its strongest. Not only was my recovery influencing my artwork, but it was opening my eyes up to a lot of things I'd always ignore out of not wanting to inconvenience those around me.

Have you studied photography and/or film?

I went to Columbia College Chicago for a BA in Photography. My interests were mainly in fine art practices, theory, and history of photography. Learning how to print was probably one of the best things for me, I discovered I had an ability with printing I didn't think I'd have and I really enjoyed working with different types of photo paper from glossy luster to velvet fine art mattes.

I spent a lot of my time at Columbia going against the tide and I'd always produce about three major bodies of work every semester, neither of which included conventional methods of portrait making, which was very unpopular amongst the staff and students. Mainly because they thought I was relying too much on the post processing aspect of photo and not enough on the craft of image making without digital tools.

At the time I was stubborn and just wanted to prove everyone wrong, that I could make good and interesting bodies of work with the techniques I had been using, but looking back I know I could've saved myself a whole lot of migraines if I just opened myself up to what they were saying. Because funny enough, a year out of school and here I am, loving nothing more than simple, straight out of camera work.

Don't get me wrong though, I love creating digitally manipulated photos, I don't think I could ever give that up, but I'm definitely over the whole “surrealist" approach to it. It never felt authentically "me"; filmmaking actually feels more authentically "me" than anything. But the thing about filmmaking is that I didn't realize I loved it or wanted to make that my career focus until my last semester at Columbia. I didn't want to take this retouching course everyone was taking so I opted for an independent study with one of my favorite faculty members as my supervisor. I spent the last four months of my undergrad crowdfunding about two grand, casting, managing a team of about 20 students and filming and editing my first short film. I had no idea what I was doing but I worked through it and was lucky enough to have a team that was dedicated to the project.

Unfortunately I wasn't completely satisfied with how the film came out after the first round of editing, so I kept it under wraps for a few months and released a few shorter videos that featured some of the storylines. I still wasn't 100% satisfied with it so I let it sit in my hard drive until I could figure out the best cut for the film. Now, a year later, I'm in the intermediate stages of postproduction and aiming to submit the film into several film festivals across the country. I'll most likely do an online screening event of "Poppyseed", just so everyone can see the final polished version.

Would you describe your creating process for me?

It depends on what I'm doing. My creative process is so inconsistent and can take from five seconds to five months of planning. If it's a big project like Silver Screens or Oh, Bouy or Color Me, then the process usually lasts longer and is influenced by spur of the moment brainstorms. My mind is constantly churning different versions of projects I want to make before I make them and until it lands on something that I feel compelled to make I'll stay completely inactive.

Once I have the visuals locked in my head and I know the fundamental concept or story, then I get into the logistics. I write up project treatments and lay out visual inspo for my potential models or actors and set up the project timeline.

I run my shoots like I run the H&M stores I've worked at, I keep the mood light and relaxed while still keeping everyone focused on the work. I like relating with my team and if my talent doesn't understand what I'm asking of them I always perform for them and give them a template of what it is I'm looking for. Better I look like a fool and make them feel more comfortable, than have it be hours of awkward poses and wasted golden hour glow.

What or who is your biggest inspiration when creating? Do you usually create with a message in mind?

I don't have an answer, honestly. Usually different musical artists inspire me from time to time or inform my creative decisions. I'm just emotional and like to create based off of what I'm feeling. It's always always always emotional. I don't think I ever stop to think about the message until after it's been shot. With my films I think about it more beforehand because of continuity, but photos are much more flexible since it's just one frame of content.

You incorporate a lot of poetry, music and dance in your artwork – do you have any previous experience/education in these fields?

I mentioned this earlier, but I used to be in choir and used to train as a classical vocalist and have some experience with high school theatre. I've always written poetry, I started sharing more on social media this past year. I've always wanted to be a dancer but my hips don't lie in the club so I've got that going for me.

Oh, Bouy is a massive work of art, and it speaks volumes of the many different subjects that you seem to care deeply for. How did you get the idea for this collection? Did you always intend for it to have such a wide array of messages?

Honestly, I know it's disappointing but I don't know how I got the idea to make Oh, Bouy, I just got the idea and ran with it. I remember originally I wanted to make a project that commemorated my five year anniversary of coming out but then from one train of thought to the next I found myself piecing together a project about my experience as a queer Latino in hyper-masculine, racist America.

I think once I finished the shoots and started sequencing the book, I started to decide what messages I wanted to convey and the most important one that I wanted to convey was that I don't need anyone to say sorry to me, I need them to listen. To internalize that we are all responsible for the social climate we live in and to work together for a more cooperative and decent living experience. Acknowledging a problem isn't the same as solving it, and that's my main driving point in the project.

I'm not trying to lecture men on how terrible and unfairly privileged we as a collective gender are – we should already know that – I’m holding us accountable for what we've done and what we perpetuate and how we can move forward to solve that.

Is there anything you can tell me about your coming project, Oh, Bouy Vol 2?

Volume 1 was my anger in print; Volume 2 is my forgiveness in motion. I admire books and films because they can tell the same story in a different way. A book feels more like a baptism of thoughts whereas a film feels like a kaleidoscope of sound. There's something uniquely intimate about experiencing the same story through both mediums. What one provides that the other doesn't I have no clue. That's something that changes with the individual that experiences it I believe.

Volume 2 is a bit more special to me though, because it holds sentiment I've always struggled sharing and that’s being able to forgive the man who raped me, to forgive the boyfriends that hit me for not sleeping with them, and to forgive myself for all the years of self-harm I put myself through. Having reached a point where I can forgive and move on from it and grow out of this darkness and use my experiences to help inspire conversations and action to solve these problems of rape culture is incredibly freeing to me.

The film itself is roughly ten minutes long and features five musicians who took the time to contribute original music to the project and has a cast of about 15 people. It'll also be released on my personal Facebook for a limited time. I still haven't decided if I should release it anywhere else.

Do you have a dream project? Any artist you would like to collaborate with?

I have a film that I wrote last year and just finished revising this past month that I'm dying to make. The budget I have to raise in order to make it happen is a little daunting but I'm dead set on making this film. I especially want to make it with my friend Devin Schiro who's a phenomenal cinematographer. I've been putting off making this film just so I'd be able to hire him for the job, that's how much I respect and love his work. I don't want to reveal too much about it but the film is called "As Dolls As Boys" and is a tribute piece to the victims of the Orlando shooting from this past summer.

Lastly, do you have any advice for other young artists out there?

My advice is basically Nike's slogan: just do it. You want to make art? Do it. You don't have the funds? Find a way around it. There are many different solutions to one problem and when you care and are passionate, finding those solutions becomes second nature. Be open to criticism because it can help, but don't let it stop you from making what you want to make. Also, there's a difference between an opportunist and a friend. Learning where that difference lies sooner will help you avoid being taken advantage of.


You can find Ricardo’s amazing art work at his website, Instagram and Facebook.

P&C interview: Ed Carlsen by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Based in Copenhagen and drawing inspiration from the Scandinavian scene, Italian composer Ed Carlsen recently released his debut album The Journey Tapes. Incorporating a wide range of sound designs and emotion, his music takes you right into the Danish forest and allows you a pleasant journey through life’s different aspects – the ups and downs, letting go, rising anew. Though supported by a number of talented musicians, Ed’s vision never loses focus, and throughout the album his talent is unwaveringly lucid. A heavily emotional album, The Journey Tapes will surely prove to be a phenomenal debut, and hopefully only the first of many. 


Ed - you were introduced to music at an early age, but when did you start creating your own music? What made you want to pursue it as a career?

At the age of seven my dad started teaching me how to play the guitar and piano and I remember that I often used to come up with short childhood songs. After that, I never found the inspiration to create anything.

Until the spring of 2015, when, inspired by artists such as Steven Wilson, Efterklang, Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds, I realised that my creativity was probably just hiding somewhere and I needed to find a way to channel it into notes and beats; at the same time, I started revisiting the piano and discovering sound design, which revealed themselves as two very powerful tools to translate my ideas into music.

This is why I launched a crowdfunding campaign and managed to afford the whole production; but I had never thought of it as a career, until Moderna Records and I met. Signing a contract with them made me realise that there were other people out there, besides my family, who believed in my music.

Could you describe your creating process for me?

I dedicate a lot of time to pre-production and brainstorming; all of my Pro Tools projects are prepared days ahead of the session and I like to have it clear in my mind what needs to be done.

I normally start out by sitting by the piano and as soon as a melody that I like comes up, I record it to create a demo track. I usually do this with MIDI, so that I can achieve full flexibility and tweak the tracks as I like during the different stages of the recording.

Then comes the part that I enjoy the most: arranging the strings score. In The Journey Tapes I composed for both quartet and quintet and it was a lot of fun. After that, I get everything else (guitar, synth, drum beats, etc.) recorded and the editing process begins. The album was entirely mixed by me, but for the mastering I decided to deliver it to the capable hands and ears of Francesco Donadello (Dustin O’Halloran, AWVFTS, Michael Price and more).

I like carrying out a recording session knowing that I have a lot of time to do things properly. However, when I was recording The Journey Tapes, I had limited studio times and therefore I could only record whenever there was an available slot. Now, I have set up my home studio in Copenhagen and this will be extremely beneficial, as I will be able to sit and record whenever inspiration comes to me or whenever I feel like it.

What was the reason behind your long break from playing the piano – and what inspired you to start composing again last year?

It was simply due to the fact that I was given a guitar at the age of seven and I fell in love with it immediately. I started learning all of the Beatles’ and Eagles’ songs and that, together with football, was pretty much my whole life. Then I took a classical guitar course for six years and I’m afraid to say that this was a bit detrimental in terms of creativity. Spending hours reading a score with fixed finger positions and dynamics made me good at performing, but terrible at improvising. Additionally, the guitar training happened in a period of my life where I experienced the strongest emotions, from sadness to anxiety, and I think I still associate the guitar with this. Re-discovering the piano had a completely different impact on me; when I play it, I relax and enjoy and I can play for hours. Plus, I have decided not to study other artists but instead I am acquiring the piano technique by composing my own songs.

What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing?

The seven tracks of The Journey Tapes (including the bonus track ‘Hundrede Træer’, which was initially released for Piano Day 2016) have in common the fact that they were all composed in the same place and while I was feeling good and calm. The songs came up on a beautiful, old, detuned piano (which now shines in my new studio), under the inspiration of the landscapes of Ravnholm Skov’s forest, in Denmark.

The artist that has inspired my music the most is by far Ólafur Arnalds and his Living Room Songs. I think he is an extremely clever producer and his music is pure beauty. He has also inspired my recording habits and I like thinking that my song ‘Rain’ is my small, personal tribute to him. But more in general, the Scandinavian culture has influenced my process, both through music and visuals. Lately, I have become eager to listen to Nordic artists and gather their typical melodies and structures, which are quite different from the ‘Mediterranean’ style. Nordic art is what gives me real (as in ‘of this earth’) emotions, within fascinating mellow surroundings and fairy-tale settings.

What can you tell me about The Journey Tapes?

Even if it is a completely different genre, the idea was triggered by Steven Wilson’s album Hand.Cannot.Erase. The story behind it and the beauty of the arrangements made me reconsider my potential.

The concept of The Journey Tapes is simply life, where the tracks mark the transition from childhood to maturity, passing through sombre days of uncertainty. I have left the music in charge of the narrative, whereas the lyrics (sung by Julie Krog Jensen) in ‘Cage’ tell part of the story with words. The concept moves from ‘Close’ to ‘Far’, from being sort of ‘Cage’-d to breaking ‘Loose’, but all of this can only be achieved by learning something from the ‘Grey’ days of ‘Rain’.

The message is that, no matter how hard life can be sometimes, you just have to go for it and learn from the toughest experiences. I can’t deny that it has been hard (‘Grey’) for me to break free from the comfortable family nest. I was raised in the countryside and I was suddenly thrown into a chaotic context, such as London, and this is when I learned the most. Or, as Steven Wilson would say, ‘when you’re on your own, that’s when you’re free’.

How does it feel to have released your debut album? Did the experience differ from your expectations?

It is very different because I was not even remotely considering that a label would contact me and sign me up. I thought I would have to release the album myself and I was happy with that. I have always tried to keep down-to-earth about this and my goal was to get a finished, physical product out there. But, as soon as I read the comments on my tracks and I could see how many people were appreciating them, I felt very happy and grateful. So yes, this definitely went beyond my expectations.

Lastly, do you have any advice for young artists out there?

I’m probably not the right person to give any advice to young artists, as I am a young artist myself and I’m greedy for external advice. But if I had to choose one, I would tell them not to underestimate the power of the way they work. You may want to establish a workflow and surround yourself with co-workers you can trust. This, together with finding an optimal state of relaxation, has by far made a difference in my personal experience.

Since The Journey Tapes is nothing but a repertoire of experiences, I would also recommend anyone never to stop learning and to be proactive, finding an interest in many different things, and never setting any limits. They say that the sky is the limit, but we all like breaking the rules, don’t we?


 We certainly do! The Journey Tapes is available on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.

P&C interview: Krista Wright by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Andy Schiaffino

Photo taken by Gaea Norvell

Photo taken by Gaea Norvell

Krista Wright is a 19-year-old art student at Palomar College. She specializes in creating brightly colored, dreamy paintings with cartoon-esque characters. She recently illustrated a children’s book she created herself, called The Tough Girl’s Guide to Beating Your Monsters. She hopes to promote the idea of defeating your “monsters”, your problems, fears, and insecurities, by turning them into piñata monsters who resolve issues through silly solutions. According to Krista, not only is art her life, but it is also a great way to cope with the daily stresses of life. 


Give us some background about you. Has making art always been part of your life?

I’ve been drawing since preschool. I remember in Kindergarten, we had to make name tags, and I ended up only drawing people on mine. No name! The teacher took it away, and I had to start all over.  I guess I’ve always been making art, but I didn’t realize that it was a real thing that could be a future for me until my uncle gave me a stack of Juxtapoz Magazines. I looked through them and thought, “this is something that I could do!” I started really drawing and painting regularly when I began High School.

Do you dabble in any other forms of creative expression?

I have recently started taking a sculpture class. I’m sculpting my paintings; transforming them into a 3D form. I’m currently working on a huge fiberglass sculpture of one of my piñata monsters that I’m really excited about. It’s going to be life-sized, and it’s going to be on wheels so that I can carry it around. I’m going to call it “My Little Shadow.”

What advice can you give new artists that are trying to find their unique style?

Have fun with it! Keep going, keep drawing, and spend time with artistic people so that you can compare your works. The best creative time for me is when I have art days with my friends at Starbucks. We hang out, draw and paint. It’s really uplifting.

Where do you tend to draw inspiration from?

Sometimes I’m inspired by things I’m studying in school. If I’m studying Philosophy or English and have to write about it, I tend to think, “how can I put that into a painting?” I mainly get inspired by cartoons. I really like Adventure Time, and when I was a kid I really loved anime stuff. I watched Naruto, Sailor Moon and Healing Power. I really loved the girly ones. I also really liked Courage the Cowardly Dog; I guess the fear inspired some of my art. I loved the colors in Fairly OddParents, and of course Spongebob. I watched so many cartoons as a kid, and I played video games too, like Jack and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, and Kingdom Hearts. The weaponry, fighting and stuff in Kingdom Hearts really inspires me, too.

What is your creative process like?

Sometimes I just have an idea in my head. I used to draw all the time, especially in High School. I’d just draw while we were taking notes, and I’d find something I like and just paint that. Recently, I just think and make a thumbnail sketch and decide, “okay, this is what I want to paint!”

What is your biggest dream when it comes to your art? Is there a particular place you would love to have a show at?

My dream right now is to go to art school, which is what I’m working on at the moment, getting everything ready to transfer over to the San Francisco Art Institute. I’m so excited - I visited and thought, “yup, this is for real! I have to go here!” Getting my degree and travelling the world, creating big pieces and putting on shows around the world is a dream of mine. In one of the last issues of Juxtapoz Magazine, Kaws was in it, who makes these bone-headed weird creatures who have the body of Mickey Mouse. He made these giant statues that stand in a park in the United Kingdom. Some are sad, or hugging each other, or things like that. I want to do something like that; making monumental pieces and installations. I also want to have my own collective one day. I really love the Zero Friends Collective. If I could have a show at the Cotton Candy Machine Collective in Brooklyn, New York, I’d be so excited.

Do you have any other current projects?

I’m working on a painting of a carousel - lately I’ve been working on a lot more landscapes, creating fantasy lands. I usually place figures in those scenes, but recently I just want to work on carousels. I’m building carousels and fountains on mosaics with forest backgrounds. I’m painting it on a big cabinet door. I like painting on cabinet doors because they’re cheap, fun, and already framed. I just have to hang them. I’m also working on these skeleton dragons that I’m sewing together and painting for a show called Terror On the Tenth, in San Diego. It’s a scary themed show, and my piece is probably going to be the most light-hearted thing there.

Where can your art be found and purchased online?

I have a website I don’t update much, but the best place to find my art is on my Instagram. If anyone wants to buy a piece, they can send me a direct message.


You can catch Krista’s ethereal artwork at her upcoming show at the Tenth Avenue Art Center next month, or online on her Instagram. You can also listen to a speech Krista gave on turning your monsters into piñatas at Ignite San Diego’s Youtube channel.

P&C interview: Tambour by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Just over a year after his latest release, Montreal-based, multi-dimensional musician Simon P. Castonguay brings yet another softly solemn EP to the table. With Chapitre II, Simon continues his theme of vibrantly buoyant, with just the tiniest inexplicable sense of darkness, erring just beyond reach. His compositions invite you, urge you almost, to explore your imagination and construct stories of your own.


So, Simon - when and why did you start creating your own music? 

I started playing music when I was about 14 years old, mainly because my friends at school were in a heavy metal band. They needed a bass player and I really wanted to be cool like them, so I learned to play the bass! Around the same time, I discovered a software where I could enter guitar and bass tabs in a staff and layer an infinite number of MIDI instruments. That was really a turning point because it was the first time I could write all the parts of every instrument in the band (guitars, keyboards, drums, etc) and actually hear it with a playback engine. That’s how I started to learn and experiment with composition – by realising the infinite possibilities of composing with a computer. 

Growing up as a 2000’s kid, the evolution of technology got really useful for musicians and other creators. When you look at my composition workflow, you can see that it’s really computer-influenced. That’s mainly why I describe my music as modern classical, because I really don’t use classical music methods and rules. As I grew up and learned by playing different instruments with different bands, I always kept writing and recording ideas (instrumental arrangements, because I couldn’t sing very well). I eventually came to a point where I felt like I needed to get my creations out of the computer and to start playing them with real instruments and live musicians. It gave my compositions a lot more feel and dynamic contrast, and I enjoy working in studios with real musicians. So that’s basically how everything started.  

How has the Montreal music scene affected your style and expression?

I’m not sure exactly how the scene really affected my work creatively speaking, but one thing for sure is that it helped me meet and connect with a lot of different artists. As a young musician, I naturally started to hang out with other musicians, and since the scene here is not that big, I eventually started to meet everyone. Montreal has a lot of venues and festivals, there are a lot of opportunities for playing shows and/or supporting your friends playing shows. I end up effortlessly going to artistic events all the time. And I feel like it’s more about the people than about the genre of music. It’s amazing how you can find a classically trained cellist playing in an indie-folk band as well as in an experimental ambient performance project. Everyone is working together. I compose melodramatic soundtracks, but I’m also a guitar player in a rock n’ roll band and a synth player accompanying a folk songwriter in outdoor festivals. It’s not really hard to find a motivated and talented musician here, so musical projects and collaborations are always being discussed.  On the other hand, the modern classical scene here is not that big, but is slowly making its way. I’ve had more of a hard time getting my music reviewed here than in other countries. But for this EP, I’ve decided to work with a local promotion team to get my EP and my label (Moderna) a little more known here, and it’s worked really well so far. 

You have a background in film studies – has that contributed to the way you experiment with music? Have you studied music or any other form of art as well? 

After studying film, I had to choose whether to pursue a career in movie production or to pursue music theory, because I had never taken any music lessons (I still can not read a score…). I started working with a string quartet and I wanted to speak the same language as them, so I pursued my university studies in electro-acoustic music. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy it. I took some useful music theory courses, learned a lot about the physics of sound and I really enjoyed my music history classes, but the program itself was not challenging enough. I stopped going to school and I had the opportunity to work as a musical director for theatre plays. I’ve been working in that domain for 4 years now and it’s really inspiring for my musical work, since I have to create sonic textures and sound design.  A lot of people are telling me that they see images and imagine scenarios while they listen to my music. I really appreciate that, knowing that everybody can make up their own story with my piece as a soundtrack. Of course it’s always been a big dream of mine to write a soundtrack for a film, but I don’t want to wait around for that day to come. Unconsciously, I’m just doing a soundtrack for a film that will never exist or in that manner many films produced in the minds of my listeners.  

Could you describe your creating process for me? 

It obviously starts with the piano. A real piano. I’ve composed a lot on MIDI keyboard in the past, but now that I own a piano, it’s almost impossible for me to play on a keyboard nowadays. I need the feel, the weight and the sound of a real piano. As I cannot read music, I never really play existing songs - I just improvise. I always say to people that I’m not actually a pianist. I feel more like a composer whose main tool is the piano. But like every musical instrument, you need to practice a lot if you want to get the hold of the instrument. And since I never took lessons, I practice in my own way: by messing around with rhythmic patterns and finger position. I eventually come up with a melody or a chord progression that inspires me and I work from there. I never record my ideas right away. I usually jam and mess around with all of my songs and ideas over a long period of time without recording them. Once I feel the need to release something, I start recording. From there, I loop the song over and over and I start to experiment with strings sounds.  It can take a long time before I get something that satisfies me. Once I have something, I show it to the string quartet and we practice it so I can hear it with the feel of real instruments. I usually practice my new songs in a live performance setting, because it gives me a deadline on the calendar to write all the arrangements! 

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What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing? 

I’ve been thinking of that question for a while. It may sound weird but I think I can say that my main inspiration is the instrument itself (the piano). The way it sounds, the way you play it, the way the notes are placed, the way it resonates. I love to experiment with different ways of playing it. Most of the time, I play really quietly with felt added between the strings and the hammers. That simple preparation is giving me enough fuel to be inspired. These days, I’m getting drawn into the world of synthesisers and I think it’s driving my inspiration toward electronic elements in my songs. I actually have some Roland JUNO pads on all of my songs in Chapitre II

Were there any significant differences when releasing this second EP as opposed to your first couple of releases? 

Of course. Last fall, I was travelling through Europe for a couple of months and when I got back home, I had the sudden urge to release some of the music that I had composed over the previous year. I wanted it released before the summer, because I knew that I would start working ASAP on a full length album for 2017. I had tons of songs and it was really hard to choose which ones to release - I didn’t want to release a bunch of random songs without a concept. I had to book the studio pretty quickly and I worked like hell for 2-3 months making the string and electronic arrangements. Everything happened quickly and I caused some headaches to the label because we still couldn’t figure out which songs would fit and we had to start the promo rollout. We actually got the final master the day we released it! It was really stressful… But in the end, everyone was happy and we had a beautiful EP. 

Did you have a particular message to convey with Chapitre II

I don’t necessarily have the need to share or pass a message with my work in general. Let’s say that I want to invite people to take time to listen to my music by releasing these soft and delicate songs into this fast, high tempo and crazy world. 

Lastly, do you have any advice for young artists out there?

Well, the thing is that I still feel like I’m a young artist and that I still have lot to learn. But I guess that’s actually the best advice: always feel the need to learn. It also means experimenting with different tools and instruments, meeting and talking to other creators, recording and re-arranging in different ways you haven’t thought of. If you’re a classical musician you should experiment with electronics, and if you’re an electronic producer, then try to experiment with classical music.  With technology, we are at a time where you can easily create everything that passes trough your mind; every sound, every texture, every idea. Everything is possible, you just need to work your way around that. Also, simply listen to music. And by that I mean A LOT of music. There are so many beautiful songs in the world, it’s ridiculous. Tell yourself that you still haven’t heard your personal best-magical-incredible-mind-blowing-life-changing song. By searching and discovering for new material, you’ll end up listening to a piece that will inspire you in many ways. 


Allow yourself to be inspired by Simon’s enchanting EP at Bandcamp or Soundcloud, and follow him on Facebook for updates on upcoming projects!

P&C interview: Adriana Kowalczyk by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Kamryn Koble

Adriana Kowalcyzk is a born and bred Vancouver photographer who is seeking to capture and convey unique, potent emotion through her art. One subject she is particularly passionate about is the depiction of women. Many of her images seek to portray women in the strong and beautiful light that society so often neglects. Using only natural lighting to capture her images, her editing style is often distinct and vibrant, offering the viewer a striking and colorful visual experience.


Tell us a little about yourself! What led you to art/photography, and where do you draw your inspiration from today?

I was born, raised, and currently reside in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Like any other child, I began drawing first and then painting at a young age. Soon after receiving my first camera, I also developed a passion for photography and would take pictures of the world around me in my own style. In addition, being a Pisces, I am intimately in touch with my emotions and use this to my advantage when creating art. Women continue to be one of my main muses. I would often photograph those involved in my life, many of my friends and family being the subjects in portraits. I believe that women truly hold the weight of the world, and their beauty and wisdom need to be portrayed more successfully in society.

Can you describe to us your artistic process?

This year, I have spent most of my time experimenting with Photoshop. I edit my photos in a unique way, playing with saturation and contrast. No studio lighting is ever used. I photograph the subjects in my room, which has all natural lighting. After the photographs are taken, they are put into Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom. With a rough idea in mind, I edit them until they meet my expectations. The same process is used when creating art, a rough idea is present in my mind and then later evolves into the final work.

Are there any projects we should be keeping an eye out for in the future?

I have recently collaborated with Emily Liteplo on a zine and will continue in this field, creating and making art for zines. I actually have just finished one called Color Out of the Lines, which can be found on my Bigcartel. My plan for the summer is to take many photographs while on vacation and create loads of art! I am always open to collaborations with different artists. 


Find more of Adriana’s work at Tumblr and Bigcartel.

P&C interview: Müge Yıldız by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Sergio Díaz De Rojas

We had the pleasure of speaking with Müge Yıldız on the blog this week. She discussed with us her relationship with art and philosophy, her creative process and her upcoming projects.


Müge: I studied cinema and television at Galatasaray University. As an Erasmus student in Paris I took courses, and at that time I was reading Gilles Deleuze. This is what caused me to be interested in cinema and moving images, especially in cinema’s relation with philosophy.

After my degree, I decided to embark on a masters in philosophy. During these studies I indulged in writing articles and making videos, but particularly my first short film, “A Walk Under the Bridge,” was inspired by my readings of Gilles Deleuze. Until recently I have had no other fictional/experimental pieces. After “A Walk Under the Bridge” my videos have been shot with a documentary style or observational approach; although, through editing, the film incorporates a level of fiction.  I am inspired by people such as Aki Kaurismaki, such as his somewhat surrealistic version of reality, and philosophers such as Soren Kierkegaard and his work on anxiety in relation with existentialism.

After “A Walk Under the Bridge” I have had a collection of short videos edited from observational footage captured from urban to mountainous settings. I have taken a liking to shooting with 8mm film, but unfortunately, film is an expensive affair. My alternative is to shoot with my iPhone. By doing so, I can be inconspicuous as an observer, also termed as a ‘ghost.’ My video works capture diurnal life, but through editing I can add more layers such as philosophical speeches, music, sounds, separate environmental recordings, or voiceovers.

I am now working on another experimental documentary project in the Istanbul neighborhood of Tarlabasi. I am interested in how the residents occupy the streets and exterior spaces such as the domestic one, and how boundaries between interior and exterior become blurred. 


Find more of Müge's work on her websiteInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.  

P&C interview: Camille Rouzaud by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Sergio Díaz De Rojas

French photographer Camille Rouzaud is fascinated by intrepid bodies and unconscious courage. Foregoing the usual schooling in favor for a raw and intimate view versus a technical one, she captures humans in their purest essences; consequently, she rarely stages shots, she prefers to find candid moments and true stories.  


I was born and raised in the South of France. My childhood was filled with a lot of cultural diversity, living between a really small village in the countryside and the public housing in the city. I lived many moments of violence, drug issues, and sadness here contrasted by moments of happiness and freedom. I moved away as soon as I could, bouncing from city to city throughout Western Europe, and eventually made my way to Puerto Rico and New York where I currently find myself.

Headshot by Thibault Henriet.

Headshot by Thibault Henriet.

I have been taking pictures since I was fifteen years old.  I started with an old film camera, shooting photographs of architecture in black and white. When I was twenty-one, I moved to Barcelona and had to put photography on hold while I worked as an art director. My eyes and skills really developed while working in this field, but eventually photography came back to me naturally. Since then, I have been working to build a coherent and personal body of work.

I didn’t study photography, as I am not a fan of the education system… I never liked school very much.  I just started teaching myself while trying to capture moments and stories.  I like to tell stories.  That’s what I’m currently trying to do with every new photo series.

Intrepid bodies and unconscious courage fascinate me. Very sensual, violent, intimate. I mostly feel these emotions embodied by boys, simply because they carry a greater sense of freedom from the moment they are born. The best way for me to explain this is with this simple example: during their early ears, girls run around topless without judgement; however, eventually girls develop tits and one day, they just can’t take their shirt off anymore, you know? For me, that was a pretty traumatizing experience. I didn’t understand it right away. I thought, why is it that I can’t do whatever I want anymore? Boys just carry a lot fewer inhibitions and I find that interesting to document. I also give particular attention to movement. I love how bodies interact with one another and tell their own story.

The political view I’m currently developing, the work I’m doing on myself, and the struggles I’ve been through are all instinctively interjected into my work. Mainly through my subjects, the places, the people, the context all intertwine and all relate back to the desire for freedom.

As far as my practice goes, I use both film and digital mediums.  I prefer film but it depends on the equipment I have access to, the project, and my budget. I’m not a big fan of carrying a bunch of stuff with me, so I’ll shoot with whatever I have available at any given time. I rarely stage my shoots. I prefer the movement of the moment.  Most of the time, I know the people I photograph. I don’t want them to feel the camera between us or act strangely.  Again, the point is to have a natural, honest moment. I always prefer to find candid moments and a true story.


Check out Camille’s work at her website and Instagram.

 

 

 

P&C interview: Laurène Boglio by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

Laurène Boglio, French illustrator and graphic designer based in London, talked to us about her work, which is honestly amazing. 


How did you get started with graphic design?

I studied at the Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg in France and at another nice school in Paris. The teachers there were awesome. They passed their love for letters and layouts on to me. I feel very lucky to have met them.

Did anything in your childhood/young adulthood inspire you to become a Graphic Designer?

I drew a lot when I was young. At about 15 I learned how to paint and draw and it was then that I decided that I wanted to find a way to use art in a practical way. I was interested in finding a job where art was used to help everyday lives. I find it problematic when I see things, spaces or objects that are not optimized. I believe that it’s the designer’s job to make sure information is being transmitted efficiently. I find the feeling of seeing one’s artwork/design used and helpful to be very exciting.

Are there any other kinds of artwork you take part in?

I draw a lot in my spare time. It has become a kind of therapy. I started a blog to avoid losing files every time my computer or hard drive crashes – both of which happened recently. I also realized how fun it is to see my drawings as a diary. It’s even better than an album of photos: moments, struggles, stupid jokes…

Which of your pieces is your favorite?

I think the Pixel Town pieces are the ones I spent the most time on. Every single town has been done through three complicated periods of my life, usually when I’ve been struggling with something. It reminds me of these periods that belong to the past. I like to think that something positive has remained from them.

How often do you create something new?

What excites me the most is trying something new, but 60 percent of the time it looks ugly. You need to practice, obviously. But that will stay secret.

What has been the most challenging job/piece for you to create?

I will say again probably, the pixel towns. I used to have a very slow computer and I couldn’t make very big images. I tried to find a way to work with a very small file that could be expended as much as I wanted without being too heavy, and without using vectors. Which works, because with the pixels you still can increase the size about two times without losing definition. I was also fascinated with how to make a image looking the sharpest it could. I guess the idea is not old hat with the retina screens. But adjusting every pixel by yourself was the only way to make sure my eyes were happy with the sharpness of it. But obviously time consuming. 

Where do you feel you are most creative?

I think being surrounded by inspiring people (sometimes crazy) are the best. I love working with my friends. They are 65 percent of my excitement and inspiration.  

What do you want to do in the future?

I would like to find a way to be confident enough to believe in more of my stupid projects because they make me very happy. I believe that side projects are the ones that really define who we are.

Do your pieces give you different feelings? Do you see something different in all of them?

Each of them (especially the personal work) talk about something that really happened, so it’s a kind of graphic diary. I love creating images that remind me of something personal, but what I love the most is seeing people use them the way they want, as an organic tool that you could appropriate yourself.

How would you describe yourself as an artist?

I have always been described as the weird one. It’s a very tough job to be normal.


Find more of Laurène’s work on her websiteInstagramTumblrTwitter, and Behance