What if when throwing a rock to the ground it became water, not that viable by the laws that determine the states of matter. But where we create, questions and challenges we put our minds into, doesent sound that improbable. As a painter, thinking of the misterious ways we end up filling a format are not always logical either relatable. This rock-water transition was the prompt in mind when started building a new series of works at early 2022. Everything changed as it should and now that im here with you let me tell you how it went.
Thing started while setting some guidelines like palette, on yuxtaposing oil colours outcome with RGB kinds of blue and green. From zoom-calls to CGI we see the chroma colour usage in many forms, can also tell that the exploration of what we percieve “traditional art” colliding with digital still is a current topic in cryptoart, for example. But to build a language was the point, not to branch out from any topic or discard anything out of the table. It’s the cards that we are dealt with, you can play it cool.
For a change, started to take material found in the streets (fabrics, leftout metal) but there was these cube-shaped rocks that had slid off the sidewalk. Nothing too crazy just several cube-shaped rocks collected from the side of the road in different districts of Berlin. Had the colours already and have been really carrying rocks in my bag, then hanged the painted rock that intrigued me the most at a certaing height, felt like a piece of the studio.
Maybe too simple, I remember thinking but in the end is detail that produce change in our behaviour, started spinning with the wind and the music. Was certainly a companion while working. Led to several takes on video out from it, as an element to project footage with.
A portrait in Blender, helped it to spin “forever” as a gif of a solid object being fluid, somehow. To take a pixel out of the screen and viceversa.
Episode 27 is with artist, designer, and filmmaker Jack Greer! Jack is the owner/creator of the fashion brand IGGY
Making art since a child, Jack speaks about the art he creates, his experience at art school, and his years of pursuing the fine art world. Learning that it was not the place for him, he decided to step away. Jack notes the muddy waters of fine art, being pigeon-holed to one medium, and that being a catalyst for creating a full-length documentary about Tompkins and starting his brand IGGY.
As a fellow cynic, I loved Jack’s critical honesty about his crafts and running a brand by himself. No sugar coating in this episode, he reveals the perks but also the immense sole responsibility he experiences to make sure IGGY operates as you see it.
He spoke with conviction throughout the interview of how imperative it is to be yourself. IGGY is truly just an extension of himself transferred into a physical world through design! At his apartment, I saw binders and binders of perfectly archived graphics he had drawn. I loved learning that all the designs for IGGY are hand-drawn by Jack and then rendered.
Oh also! Jack’s pup, Iggy, makes a couple cameos in the interview…it’s only fitting 🙂
Perfectly Imperfect is a bi-weekly newsletter meant to serve up fresh and interesting recommendations from real people. Those “real people” happen to be some of the most famous people you might not have ever heard of or maybe you have (iykyk). What started out as a passion project has now turned into a cultural capstone that encapsulates more than just recommendations. Perfectly Imperfect has captured a moment in time and all the cultural bubblings that are coming out of the renaissance.
Want to be more than just a reader??? Check out the brand new Fan Club shirt and Nalgene HERE before they are gone.
Jay: Who are you and what do you do?
Tyler: I’m Tyler Bainbridge. I’m 27, I live in New York City, and I curate the Perfectly Imperfect newsletter.
J: In one sentence, how would you describe PI?
T: A newsletter offering a taste of someone’s taste twice a week. Or a bit dryer than that: A Culture Time Capsule.
J: Are you the sole entity behind Perfectly Imperfect?
T: I run it with my good friend Alex Cushing who lives in rural Massachusetts. He does the collage graphics, helps with big picture decision making, and he does monthly editor recommendations with me.
J: What else do you do besides PI?
T: I’m an open-source software engineer, so most of my 9 to 5 time is spent developing and thinking about the future of rich-text editors. Yeah, so pretty boring unless you’re a nerd. It can be tough to balance a real job with Perfectly Imperfect, but that’s what keeps it free and completely independent.
Outside of work and newsletter shit I love seeing live music, watching movies, smashing burgers, taking photos, sitting in the sun, and having 4-5 Guinness surrounded by good people.
J: What spurred you starting PI? Was there any relation to COVID?
T: Peak pandemic when I was still living in Massachusetts I got a new and very corporate job, so I needed to start a project like this to stay sane. I had way too much time on my hands and a deep longing to do something that“mattered”. Whether or not Perfectly Imperfect matters is up for debate I guess…
I was growing frustrated with how algorithmic everyones taste had become, myself included, and I wanted to help people get out of their bubble and find something new. At first Perfectly Imperfect was just my friends sharing what they were into. And eventually the guests simultaneously got bigger and more niche, but the format has always stayed exactly the same.
J: How do you manage to get recommendations from such a diverse and wide pool of people? There’s so much variety yet you’re still able to maintain personal/subculture feeling.
T: By being way too online. The internet has helped me discover people doing really cool things all over the world. Social Media can be as cancerous as it is helpful, but that’s a topc that’s been beaten to death by now.
At first I was cold emailing people that I had no business booking for my newsletter and occasionally I’d get really lucky and people I looked up to were down. And over time that got more and more frequent. These days most people are vaguely aware of Perfectly Imperfect whether it’s through a friend or friend of a friend that we featured or they found us through a bigger guest like Chloe Cherry or Dasha Nekrasova.
I think part of what makes our booking interesting is how we book names like those and smaller hyper-niche filmmakers, artists, bloggers, and even twitter shitposters. They’re all influential and important in different ways.
J: Stepping back to what you mentioned earlier about working as an open source developer(aka true superheroes), Do you feel like you carry open-source philosophy/ideals into PI? I feel like PI is a public good similar to something like Art21.
T: Maybe! But I think I’m just drawn to projects that aren’t explicitly for-profit, because that’s when compromises have to inevitably be made whether it’s only booking guests of a certain follower count or if you have to only recommend expensive products with affiliate links(which we don’t use).
I’m not saying that everyone should do things for free. I guess I’m just saying that not every side project has to make you money. Some things can just be for fun.
J: It really seems like PI embodies and captures components of a specific NYC scene/vibe. When we met the other night, you were saying PI is more than just recommendations. What do you mean by this?
T: To me Perfectly Imperfect will live on as one the best collections of who and what was“cool” in the early 2020s, especially in downtown New York City. You can learn a lot about someone through what they decide to recommend on our newsletter and how they write. My job is just to provide a bit of extra context in our introduction. Most importantly we want you to leave the page having learned about someone interesting. The new band or movie you found is just an added bonus.
It’s a new type of profile. One that people will actually read.
J: The overall ton and feeling of Perfectly Imperfect is very unique, especially when compared to anything else dealing with curation and recommendations. In a way it reminds of watching a music video. Short, sweet, sometimes chaotic and usually under 4 minutes. Was this style intentional or has PI developed its own personality with age?
T: Oh absolutely. I’m a state school college dropout, so I kinda get sick of psuedo intellectual up your own ass“my taste is the best in the universe” style writing. I wanted Perfectly Imperfect to feel like your friend is telling you what they’ve been into over a drink. Super low key and personal. Some people have said that this makes our tone feel condescending but I think they’ve just been chugging the big word kool-aid for too long. Chill out.
The format is also designed to be super skim-able. Everyone is begging for your time in the“attention economy” so Perfectly Imperfect is built to either be read quickly in 30 seconds or thoroughly in a few minutes. This makes our posts are rewarding no matter how much time you have.
J: Why do you feel its worth recording these recommendations? Is it important? What power/importance of word of mouth/human curation in an algorithmic era?
T: It’s definitely important. People used to find out about new things through a cool friend or a hip magazine. Those channels obviously still exist but there’s just so much noise now and it’s too easy to turn on algo auto-pilot. Maybe you don’t care about finding new things and you’re happy with the media you’re already consuming, but for those of us who are always looking for something new, Perfectly Imperfect will help you break out of your day-to-day bubble of the same 5 Spotify Radio songs and whatever the trendy TV show of the month is.
J: Do you feel there is a general lack of curiosity these days?
T: No, not really. I just think content discovery algorithms are“good enough” unless you’re a certain type of person. They give you the illusion of digging deep when you’re actually being corralled into the exact content they know you’ll like. You can definitely use them to your advantage and accelerate finding stuff that’s similar to what you’re already into, but they’ll rarely throw you a curve ball that ends up being your new obsession.
J: Every week I’m scrambling to keep up with what’s happening in the city. Do you feel like NYC is having a special moment right now? A resurgence almost.
T: I’m a transplant, so I feel like my opinion only means so much here. But I feel like there was a really special energy that came out of peak pandemic New York. The boredom of being mostly couped up inside and creatively caused a lot of people to start podcasts, newsletters, magazines, and newspapers. Who’d have guessed that podcast hosts would be the influential“rock stars” of this era? That was an alien concept just a few years ago. All this new media helped create platforms and scenes for outsider artists that exist outside the world of establishment press.
J: One of the coolest aspects about PI is how everything is so connected but you don’t really explicitly provide that insight. Does this stem from the whole idea of PI being a source of discovery?
T: Everyone knows everyone. Or so it seems. I think that feeling mostly stems from the different people we feature. We jump from musicians to writers and models to podcasters every week, because Perfectly Imperfect is mostly a reflection of the culture I consume. I guess it’ll always be biased and flawed for that reason, but I think it’s better to have it feel like a real person who knows the guests is curating it all.
J: Do you feel like PI has had an effect/influence on what is considered cool?
T: Probably not, but it’s hard to know. I’ve noticed a few instances of potential influence but I always chalk it up to my own narcissism. Just because someone in Dimes Square is wearing shoes that were recommended on Perfectly Imperfect or posting Sugar Ray songs on their story doesn’t mean they’re one of the 20,000 people reading the newsletter…or does it?
J: Usually the term “micro-influencer” comes pretty loaded with negativity. To me, it seems like PI has actually shown the power of the micro-influencer(or whatever we want to call people who have small but dedicated followings). Perfectly Imperfect has also shown that there doesn’t have to be homogeneity within who and what we collectively find interesting. I was curious if you had anything thoughts on the term “micro-influencer” and how PI has really tapped into the power of dispersed collective attention?
T: Yeah, I don’t love that term. Or “tastemaker”. People have been sharing experiences and advice with each other long before people hopped on Instagram to shill DTC products, and creative outsiders have always lead the charge on what’s next. Perfectly Imperfect is just a revival of being normal about sharing it, haha.
And to be honest, our format would still be interesting if we were interviewing bartenders, accountants, and janitors. That being said…some people are more tapped in to what’s“next” than others and that’s who we try to book for Perfectly Imperfect.
J: I keep hearing phrases like“trends are dead” and“subcultures are seeing a revival”. Being someone who has interviewed so many people, do you think these statements have merit? Do you pick up on trends?
T: Trends are definitely alive and well. And the scary part is that it’s not immediately obvious that you’re part of one since a hundred new ones spawn every day. I saw a cool dude rocking Adidas Sambas back in June and bought a pair for myself(I was analog influenced…) and suddenly they’re everywhere and I still don’t fully understand why.
I also think that the trends are much more niche now. In the echo chamber of New York City media it’s easy to think everyone is wearing wired headphones or fully embracing indie sleeze 2.0, but it’s really the same circle of 100 people who tweet about trends a day and frequent the same bars.
J: We live in crazy times, some have said we(humankind) are entering a new dark age and others have said we are entering a renaissance. Do you have any thoughts on this?
T: It’s a mixture of both. I do worry about the implications of how hyper connected everything is and how much of my personal life I oddly feel compelled to share online with strangers. It can’t be good. I open TikTok and see young soldiers in Ukraine dancing to a trendy song while gunshots echo in the distance and scroll to see a girl dancing to that very same song in her bedroom. The amount of information being shared and collectively consumed is unfathomable, but it’s a profound and oddly beautiful time to be alive.
J: Do you ever see PI having an end or“finishing”?
T: It’ll finish when everyone in the world has shared recommendations on Perfectly Imperfect.
J: Is this foreshadowing anything to come??
T: Not going to elaborate further 😉
J: Ha! Love the mystique! Do you have a favorite PI interview?
T: Madeline Quinn’s has always been a favorite. No one has come close to her range of Shark Tank, Brian Eno’s Journal, and Glock-19s. She saw the potential of the format earlier than most. But more recently I really enjoyed Laszlo Horvath’s.
J: If you could interview anyone dead or alive who would it be?
T: Um, off the top of my head: Lou Reed, Kanye West, Arthur Russell, Chloe Sevigny, Jonathan Richman, Mel Ottenberg, Charli XCX, John Lurie, Azealia Banks, and David Berman.
J: What is the most overrated trend right now?
T: People who’s entire schtick is hating on things.
I want to hear about what you actually enjoy, it’s way more vulnerable and interesting. Anyone can make fun of something trendy for likes. You’re way more likely to get clowned on for posting about what you really like than if you’re just firing off tweets hating on everything.
That’s not to say that I dislike criticism, it can be refreshing and important! It’s just when that’s the whole fuckin’ schtick it’s like… c’mon man.
J: Do you have any recommendations you’d like to leave us with?
T: Listen to Lucy(akaCooper B Handy). Being from MA, I regret not being tapped into what him and Darkworld were up to in Western Massachusetts over the last 10 years.
Louis Osmosis (b. 1996, Brooklyn, NY) is an artist working primarily in sculpture, drawing, and performance. For those unaware, Louis is a rising star in the New York art scene. He recently had his first solo show at Kapp Kapp, and is already preparing for his next solo at Amanita in the East Village. Louis and I became friends our Freshman year at The Cooper Union, and have remained close since. This interview provided an opportunity to reconnect, and chat about art, like all those years ago. We reference an essay by William Pope.L titled “Canary in the Coal Mine”. For those interested you can find the essay below, as well as a link to an essay Louis wrote recently published in the latest issue of the Brooklyn Rail. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
Interview by Santiago Corredor-Vergara (aka memeadmin)
L: Anyways, did you read the Pope L. essay I sent you?
S: I did, there’s a lot to unpack…
L: Isn’t it great? I love…I would never say it’s a necessity, but it’s such a nice bonus when artists can write well, and write interestingly. I’ve fully bit his writing style. Bullet point format meets the un-poeticized stanza format, like, 2008 blog format too. The early aughts critical thinkers all had a BlogSpot, like that. That’s fully my vibe right now. The kid low-key has writing practice.
S: So what are you working on right now?
L: Well…other than Feng Shui-ing the studio with Oscar, getting it in order, I have another solo show coming up in March…
S: You’re unstoppable
L: I’m just in my bag, as my people say, I’m in my bag. It’s at this gallery called Amanita. It’s at the old CBGB, literally a couple blocks down from Cooper. So full circle moment. Yeah, I’m going completely nut-mode with it. That’s what’s on my platter right now.
S: Are you making new work for it?
L: Yeah, it’s all new work. I don’t want to give away too much. The element of surprise is as much a moment as it is a material. But I will say, what I did with my first solo at Kapp Kapp, I am not gonna be doing at this solo.
S: And what’s that?
L: I’m trying to do everything I can to retard sculpture, as in, like, stupify it.
S: As in making it slower or making it dumber?
L: You know, connecting with Canary in the Coal Mine, how the live-ness of the thing is contingent on its dead-edness? I’m trying to work out an inverse way of pointing to the efficacy of sculptures that are more object oriented. There are sculptures and then there are objects, and I think this show is gonna be way more sculpture-oriented than it is object-oriented.
The solo I did at Kapp Kapp, I think was a lot more interested in an object-oriented economy, as this sort of like cultural gauging type of moment. But this show, I’m really going to lean into the theatrics of it. I’ve been looking into stage design recently. I went to a random bookstore, they had a section on just stage design. It just hit me.
I’ve also really been into monoliths recently, which is such a fuckboi thing, more for their market viability in terms of sculpture, but also for practicality. A monolith is as close as a sculpture is ever gonna get to a painting, in terms of real estate. There is this immediate dead-edness to the monolith, it’s just a nothing form, which is really beautiful. See all of post-minimalism. So yeah…
Something I’m trying to still work out in my noggin…that type of culinary arts where there’s this obsession with this analytic deconstruction of food. Like a salad broken down to its bare components. One leaf, a drizzle of dressing, and radish served on a huge-ass plate.
S: The culmination of that is molecular gastronomy.
L: I relate it as a sort of distant cousin of what I would call scatter art.
A strategy that evolved out of Kunst. Think of Lutz Bacher. A bunch of stress balls scattered across the floor. Or like, Danh Võ, making the statue of liberty to scale, but presenting its parts, intermittently installed in a giant place. That methodology of work is sort of one and the same with what I was talking about, this molecular gastronomy, and culinary presentation. I like relating the two, because I think the culinary moment of deconstruction of food items is a lot more flagrant with its market position. It’s like wealth crime, this is like the food of wealth crime. Which is cool, which is great. No moralizing.
S: It is what it is.
L: I’ve been thinking about those two things in tandem with one another, so far when relating this flagrancy, that reveals itself, that I really like. We love fragrancy. It’s one of my favorite words.
S: Can you unpack that?
L: It’s like that old adage. I prefer my racism to be overt rather than codified. When things are flagrant, the square-one moment you are confronted with forces you to reconcile where you stand in relation to it. You have to deal with it. It trims the fat. There’s no need for a back and forth, of figuring it out, interrogating it. That’s out.
S: So the flagrancy circumvents the need for debate, for discussion, it’s out in the open, plain for everyone to see…something like that.
L: Yeah. So, this get’s back to why I love a good pun. To the same effect that flagrancy trims the fat, and has you land in the middle of the action, you know, there’s an immediacy to that; an “oh” moment, an “oh shit” moment. Or, when there isn’t, that’s also cool, because it creates a split audience. Those who are in on the joke and those who aren’t. That creates its own mini forum. The works proliferate in different ways via the split audience.
S: Let me summarize quickly, so I can wrap my head around all of this. So we began with molecular gastronomy…
L: The Michelin mentality (laughs)
S: Right, this type of food-making deconstructs a dish into its bare components. In terms of strategy or methodology, you relate this to Scatter Art, which itself deconstructs the piece into its bare molecular components. When comparing the two, a flagrancy (the wealth crime) inherent to the culinary deconstruction is revealed. You’re interested in this directness as a mode of making, right?
L: There’s a straight faced-ness to it. There’s also this idea that all good artists are good because… they’re rarely ever good because of this listicle format review of their work. That makes clear what makes a good artist is their sensibility, that’s their driving force.
S: I think that’s not really plainly obvious nowadays…I could be wrong…
L: No, I agree, I think that’s really true. There’s a new cultural recoil every day, so much so that it starts to feel like a resuscitation of culture, but when something is constantly being re-animated that it only points to its dead-edness. It’s dead on arrival, that’s all I see, when something is being reanimated so violently.
S:In fact, you could say Western civilization itself is living only thanks to life support.
L: Right, and to your point, about “it” not being that obvious, I think that’s why, with a lot of the work I see, nowadays, especially with this type of stuff that’s really involved with this anthropological take on some niche aesthetic, like lowercase “a” aesthetic, it kind of indicates to me that, there’s this fetishization for topicality, subject matter, instead of what the workscan actually do. The question of “how” is infinitely more interesting than the question of “what”.
S: Would you say that has to do with a kind of reterritorialization of art-making, a forced return to representation? Maybe in terms of market desires?
L: Again, to circle back, to bring up another “re” word. The prefix “re” to your point about representation, every time I hear “representation” I hear “resuscitation”, the painted figure is nothing more than a cadaver, a corpse. I have mannequins a la Isa Genzken. I mean, I only bring up the mannequins, because Isa Genzken’s use of the mannequins is a great way to counter the representation paradigm, insofar that only the idiot would encounter the mannequin in the context of art, and try to relate it to the body. It has nothing to do with the body.
A mannequin is first and foremost a display object, a mode of display. I think of her mannequins as a marker of the stupification of the figure by making it into an actor. These are dumb actors. Dope-ified. You have a mannequin wearing a football helmet, or holding a spatula and wearing a cape, or going through a tower. Again, there’s flagrancy to the nothingness of the gesture, of using a mannequin that I really admire, there’s a quickness to it. With that comes this sort of justification of the ease of the gesture, how do you justify this nothing moment. That’s what I’m saying with the square one thing, you arrive at it, and you’re flummoxed. You’re just like “oh, ok word, this is is some bullshit”. We love it.
S: Right cause you’re encountering a flat shape, with nothing behind it.
L:Well, you’re encountering a display aka art, which is just made of a display object, aka, a mannequin.
S:Right, it’s an ultimate tautology, A=A
L: I’ve been on a journey to try and get more mannequins so I can get a nuclear family. It’s very Charles Ray. We love his chrome silver mannequins. I got to get these for free. I refuse to pay for one of these. I’m still looking for a Mommy mannequin, the super ubiquitous ones. No hair, no facial features, just silhouettes, I’m still looking for a Mommy and a Daughter, I already have a Daddy and a Son. (Louis actively looking for the missing mannequins, if you have any leads, please contact him).
So, my mental prompt for this, on some Cooper vibes, because every piece I make, I start with a prompt for myself, the prompt for the mannequins is “how can I zombify a mannequin, how can mannequin-ify the mannequin, without it reading too poetically?”. We love poetics, but we’re not too big on poetry. This is the type of prompt that I would categorize in the larger umbrella of my thinking, as being in the realm of redundancy. I love redundancy as a strategy.
S: To mannequin-ify the mannequin, is that an additive or a subtractive process?
L: I don’t know. Not to get too nerdy with it, but I think of it more like it’s kind of like embedding a concavity within the thing. It’s like putting a hole in its spirit, in like, the soul of the work, or rather excavating the hole in the work, the flaw, the scar. Redundancy is a great strategy because it sets up the terms of the work as only the work, the terms are just the work, and what it is. Its self contained, enclosed, ecosystem. And this is not autonomy. It’s a way of starving the work of content, of any external material. Starving the work with the objective of “freeing” it.
I’m gonna write this down for myself, but if there was a name for this tactic, it would be “twist and shout” (we both sing the line and laugh)
S: At the end of the day you’re an easy guy to interview. You got stuff gnawing away at your brain. I also think great artists “think” in art. I feel like my mind is too plagued by philosophy and politics. A hell I can’t escape.
L: I mean, I don’t know, not to speak in broad strokes, I hate using this word, cause it’s such a sculpture-bait word, it’s like imperative to maintain a lateral thinking. It’s the reason why I said that I was gonna do everything in my power to not do what I did for the Kapp Kapp show this time around at Amanita. It’s honestly out of fear, I don’t want to bore myself. I am my own worst enemy. I hate myself . Like “My guts, yuck”.
In a twisted way, I think, a show is a good way to set yourself up for disappointment. No matter what, people always feel like post-show blues. Let me look forward to this moment of disappointment. There’s something really beautiful to be able to arrive at a deep-seated sunken-ness, and have that be a generative moment, with the edge being pessimism here. There’s something really enthralling about that.
S: There’s a certain freedom to pessimism, for sure.
L: You know, laughter is the greatest medicine. We’re collectively sick. We’re collectively diseased. That’s where the crude, humorous moments can hit. It’s like a dissonant piano moment. You know when someone plays Für Elise and they fuck up one note. Like “what the fuck did you just do? Did you just piss on my leg?”
S: Would you say your work is a punchline for the end of the world?
L: Nah, that’s too doomer-y. The onset of things is all but a forecast of their death. The onset of things only names its “dead on arrival-ness”. This is not to be misconstrued with nihilist defeatism. It’s more of an opportunity to embrace that. In a Fisher way, there is to some extent, no, to a great extent, something very life-affirming about the contemporary culture at large that we live in now, considering that it’s only caught up in this cannibalistic revivalism.
Long story short, in the sense that there’s nothing new being produced, and nothing new is being maintained. That in it of itself is a new thing. Everything has been spent and run dry. That’s the first time that that’s happened in culture, and there is a collective recognition to be had. I really feel that in the pits of my body. It’s a beautiful thing. It washes away a lot of these cobweb laden responsibilities that have been flung at artists for the longest time. I’m just a Joe Schmo A jabroni. I’m a dub.
S: It’s the ultimate challenge of true freedom.
L: To that, I actually have had this mental image in my head for a minute, I don’t know if it would be a good piece, per se. But I’ve always wanted to have my little cousin Matthew or Fay or Fay, to pose next to a science fair board, those three-folded cardboard things, and have it say nothing except for in the middle: “how to die happy”. Have them pose like grinning ear to ear. I dunno, that makes me think of that. It resonates.
Here the conversation trails off for a moment and we get side-tracked.
L: Let’s circle back real quick, to the point about theatrics. There was this mantra that was championed in regards to sculpture, you know, “the minute Sculpture becomes a prop, it becomes a bad sculpture”. That kind of just sat in my brain for mad long. I bring this up in relation to theater and theatrics, in the case of the stage-prop, as a form to work with. I do agree with that sentiment, but I also think there is something really potent in the dumbness of that type of position for an object, and trying to have sculpture do that. Align itself with that same dead-edness, and that same type of presentation, but have it work in a different trajectory.
That’s why I’ve been having a Samuel Beckett moment. His work is so annoying to read, and I’m a slow reader as it is, but especially so with Beckett. It’s like a slow burn take on something that isn’t affirmative, it fucking sucks, but I love it for that. A slow burn that isn’t affirmative. The book I just finished, which I’ve read three times at this point, How It Is, is a crazy set-up. It’s essentially a play in three acts, and you have a protagonist, and he’s the only character except for this other character named Pim, and the whole play is about the main character trudging through mad. That’s literally it. There’s no syntax. No care for grammar. Rarely anything is capitalized except for the other character, Pim. There’s this disparate-ness that I really enjoy.
The closest I’ve gotten to it, is this “nothing is precious” type of mentality, nothing is sacred. It’s all equalized, leveled out. That’s been a huge thing for me to chew on for this next show, and for this next body of work. Also to the stage design point, this dude named Ralph Koltai, insane. I’m less interested in this surrealist bend that his work might have, I’m more interested in how these things are installed. This almost Mad Max-ian level of abstraction that he does with a lot of the scenery.
S: The word that comes to my head is “totalitarian”. Like a “total” work of art, in the Wagnerian sense. The artist has, following Groys, has total dictatorial freedom to impose their vision…
L: I have a very different way of thinking in regards to that. I wouldn’t call it totalitarian, I’ve always maintained that an artist in a gallery is the equivalent to a guest in a house. The way I see it is, how do you enter someone else’s house, and knock it down a peg, without making it so obviously about “vigilante poetics”. Because then you become, no pun intended, “arrested”, by the optics of your work, how it’s perceived. I wrote a little poetic essay, it’s a short little thing for the next Brooklyn Rail. Essentially I wrote about espionage and perversion. The question is how do you make it so that that ambivalence reads tactilely. A gallery is a great place to level things, because it’s so heinous. We have to part from the fact that everything in hell is hell-ish.
S: Reading the Pope L essay, there’s this notion that the poverty of objects signals something lost, an absence. It makes me think that being mad at Duchamp for allowing for anything to be an artwork is misdirected, because actually it’s a much larger issue. It’s really a generalized loss of metaphysics due to a total commodification of all things under capitalist social relations. The desert of the real.
L: For sure. But, you know, absence is the most fertile land in the contemporary landscape. The most fertile place is the desert, the tundra. To the Duchamp point, when you talk about commodity and Duchamp in the same sentence, this is why Jeff Koons matters. He hyper-commodified the ready-made. Not only did he do that, he also revealed the capacity to be a commodity.
S: It’s an obvious gesture though, in the sense that we already know that everything is or can be a commodity. We don’t need Jeff Koons for that.
L: Sure, but there is a difference between a simple commodity and wealth-object. A commodity doesn’t necessarily come with Spectacle. A wealth-object introduces itself first and foremost as Spectacular. Via hyper-craft and hyper-production, he can reveal the “innards”, the wealth-object that was always latent in the ready-made.
S: I feel like there was a utopian gesture in the Duchampian ready-made that’s completely eviscerated by Koons. What I mean to say is that the Duchampian gesture was quite democratic in nature, because it signaled that anyone could be an artist, which is the opposite of the Koonsian gesture, which obviously requires an ownership of a certain “means of production”.
L: But like democracy shmecmocracy, you know. It’s blunt. It’s so obvious. It essentially pulls the wool back, and pulls it back over your eyes. It reveals a latent economy that had just been lying dormant, sleeper agent shit.
S: That’s capital. Capital is always sleeping dormant in all codes and forms. He just had to untap it. Untap the flow.
L: That’s a beautiful gesture. Doing it in art is different from doing it in real-life. Art and the artworld and the art-market, are like a petri-dish for life to reveal its innards, its guts. It’s cool because there’s this visceral hyper categorization especially in terms of class, with this monetization of the ready-made. Imagine dying and going to Heaven, and there’s a cover-charge to get in. It’s like “ladies free all night, fellas ten dollars at the door till midnight”.
S: That’s exactly what I’m talking about, the commodification of the last possible thing that could ever be.
L: Yeah, the supposed last frontier. That’s cool because the gambit is revealed. The last frontier was never an asset to begin with. If the thing is what it is now, it has always been that from the beginning.
S: It’s interesting we arrived here, because the entire point of the essay you sent me was using performance art as an example of something that’s perceived to be immune to commodification, but that in the end is commodified. These are interesting concerns.
L: To that point, in regards to that final frontier, performance was historically conceived of as this final frontier, this supposed non commodifiable thing, you know, ephemeral, not even concerned with time, but contingent on time. There’s this unspoken fetishization of performance as a medium within the last five to ten years. Follow the paper trail, follow the money, the language used by these grants and institutions, when patronizing performance work. It’s always about the identity of the performer, even for the performance art in which the artist is a choreographer and not necessarily participating in the work. They’re still lampooned as the face of the work.
This is part and parcel of this fact that in contemporary art, where instead of like how it was back in the day, in which the work gets you to the artist, now it’s the other way around, the artist is the first threshold to understand the work. Essentially, the perceived character of the artist, but also the self-narration that the artist involves themselves in, precedes the work itself. This goes back to the essay, thinking about documenting work via rumor or gossip, rather than photo documentation.
This also has to do with this digital space at large. An example would be Lutz Bacher, while she was on this earth, she didn’t let anyone take a photo of her, using a fake name. Or, David Hammons, when he pissed on the Richard Serra, and the photo documentation of it also had a picture of a cop supposedly arresting him. It was never confirmed whether that was plant or not. The artist as a rumor of themselves. The artist as their own press. That’s something to work with.
S: Does the medium become reality itself?
L: I wouldn’t put in such broad-stroke philosophy terms. I would say the medium is “optics”. Yeah we could say optics and perception revolve around “reality”, but let’s just call it what it is. This is also buttressed by the fact that the market precedes artmaking. To circle back to what we discussed at the jump, this hell-bent obsession that a lot of artists have nowadays, especially downtown painters, have for topicality, and subject matter as this means to an end, which rarely ever works.
S: Can you give me a concrete example of that?
L: OK, I’ll use the downtown painter example. So many of these dudes are painting goblins, and demon-core stuff, and then guess what, they say that the work is literally about demos and goblins. (laugh) You paint fantasy, and you ask them about it, and they say it’s about fantasy.
S: That’s why I said at the beginning this concern for representation.
L: I obviously think about figuration all the time, but that’s why I don’t use any of those–when I think of figuration I use a mannequin, a dummy, a puppet. Things that are modes of display that are contingent on a mirroring of the viewer first and foremost.
S: I feel like, “painting is dead, long live painting”, fuck it. Painting has its virtues goddammit. I guess painting’s virtues lie in the painter’s sensibilities though.
L: It’s pretty much only that. I like provisional painting. Like Michael Krebber. The daddy-o of provisional painting. White canvas, one blue line basically.
S: I’m thinking of this guy, Majerus?
L: Oh yeah, he’s fully having a resurgence right now, as he should. His paintings are very prescient.
S: Yeah, his paintings aren’t caught up in naïve longings.
L: I enjoy provisional paintings for their market viability. It’s the type of stuff my father would look at and be like “what?”. It’s cool because beyond the market viability which is an in-the-know artworld type of concern. There’s also the Joe Schmo concern that I was talking about earlier, which is the aesthetic justification of thing, and we love it for that.
But yeah, in March look out for the next Osmosis drop. It’s really like that meme of the psychopath inmate with the psychologist, and the psychologist is like “so are these ‘big things coming’ in the room with us right now?”.
Instagram will load in the frontend.
We both laugh, and the interview gracefully comes to an end. You can follow Louis on Instagram @louisosmosis .
Usal Project, currently based in L.A., is connecting people to nature and to community through guided outdoor experiences and sustainable hobby classes. I spoke to the founder, Michael Washington, about his vision for Usal, nourishing your spirit with a shared meal, and the importance of being a novice.
Leina: What’s your background?
Michael Washington: I’m from Texas — I grew up in San Antonio, TX; born in Houston TX and I currently live in L.A.. I’ve been in L.A. for 10 years. I’m 32 and went to college at University of Colorado. I continued my way further west as I got older and moved to L.A. after college specifically to work in the music industry where I worked for the past 10 years, only up until a couple months ago where I left every position I had in the music industry to pursue Usal exclusively, which started officially at the end of April. We’re only about two and half months into getting things going.
L: How has those first two months been?
M: Yeah, I mean I spent a good better part of the year preparing to launch, so it wasn’t something that happened overnight. I definitely have been thinking and wanting to do Usal and a mission similar to Usal for a long time. It kind of just took me a while to understand a little about how and where I can serve and what the best intentions were. My goal was ultimately helping people get into nature and to use nature as a way to find fulfillment and a breath of fresh air between a very busy work life.
L: Yeah I love that cause I feel like the outdoor industry there’s a lot of barriers into entering whether it’s just having the knowledge, the gear or the friends even to go out and enjoy nature together so Usal seems to be that bridge to help people connect. What is L.A.’s connection to nature?
M: It’s a perfect kind of incubation and starting ground for what I’m doing because it is a city where there’s a different type of landscape that we’re adjacent to depending on what direction you go. But what makes L.A. so interesting to me is the longer I’ve lived here, it’s taken me a long time to realize and understand how much is at our fingertips just through my own exploration — but it’s not something you immediately think of when I moved here and it’s something people don’t realize that they have. However, if you go west you’re at the most beautiful beach and if you go east you are in the desert, but even before that you’re at the mountains with the snow caps on them and you can go snowboarding two hours away from L.A., but then if you even go further east then you in one of the most beautiful deserts landscapes there is in Death valley and joshua tree, obviously, and you go north and you’re at Sequoia National Forest and then things like Big Sur and the list goes on and on.
It’s surrounded by nature and I think that it’s a city that doesn’t have an outdoor history or an outdoor cultural viewpoint. That is what makes it so interesting to me to work and start this here because that is the kind of city we’re trying to infiltrate, you know, when we do grow from L.A. and grow into cities that also have that similar identity where it’s not necessarily well known that they have so much close to them.
I think NYC is definitely our next venture that’s a similar place. However, it’s there, it’s about uncovering the people who are actively pursuing that work and live in the city, but they also built a way of inviting nature into their lives in a way that brings fulfillment and joy and it’s the kind of thing where through example, other people feel like “oh, I can do this as well.”
L: What’s the vision for Usal?
M: We are a project that is centered around hand selected guides and professionals. We work with them because we find that they have similar ideals — who offer workshops, classes, trips. We do that in L.A. currently, but we want to grow and take this same idea of being very eclectic and selective in the types of classes, people, and guides we work with and take that to other cities that we think would benefit from having this kind of thing.
Because to me, what I’m preaching is that you don’t have to be a full on, 100% outdoors person to enjoy nature. You can live in a city, work a nine to five and you can still find opportunities to bring this into your life. Whether that’s with sustainable hobbies, classes, workshops you can do in the city or these trips that get you out of the city that are ways to escape. I think you can find excitement in both experiences. It doesn’t always have to be this huge destinational outdoor experience to get the feeling. Also, kind of trying to preach that you can do all the things you want — here, where you are — feeling grounded, not needing to fly halfway across the world to interact with nature. Reclaiming what we have in our backyard is something we’re trying to teach people as well.
A lot of experiential trip projects are very much based on the idea of trying to get people to, like, cross the world and in different countries. One, they’re extremely pricey and I think only represent a certain amount of people that can actually pay for those kinds of things. Two, keeping nature in the form of vacation is not the message. We’re trying to make it so people realize that nature doesn’t only need to be experienced on vacation, once or twice a year, you can find ways to do that in your everyday lives. We’re trying to preach that synchronicity between just living life and having nature work its way in[to your life] in some kind of a natural way.
L: How do you incorporate nature or the natural environment in your life?
M: I think it’s just all around us. And taking these classes are even helping me. I mean, I preach myself as a novice still, in terms of my learning and I’m in no way a savant. I very much take pride in feeling confident in being a novice. That’s where you are the most curious, most excited. You’re the most inventive in how you kind of want to bring that into your life. So, I try to tell people who feel kind of contrived, sometimes, about being new to a hobby or an outdoor experience or whatever it is — that “no, everyone wishes they were you and doing this for the first time. They have been doing it their whole lives and you’re coming at it from these fresh perspectives and just be very attentive to learning and hearing from people who have done it for a long time.” And that’s the kind of where we come in. Like here’s an opportunity to learn from somebody.
Obviously through these trips I’m doing them all the time but, again, the big thing we do is reclaiming where you are, like through neighborhood foraging hikes to reconnect with their environment. I have a new excitement and energy around my daily life because I’m seeing things and thinking about things in a way I didn’t before. And that is purely through going through these courses and learning.
L: Yeah it’s kind of like sparking the innate desire to be outside. I really feel like that is in everyone but it’s difficult to unlock that. Are there any events that you hosted or are coming up that you are particularly excited about?
M: We’re at the point where we’re doing three a week, so our calendar is very full. The ones that I get excited about are the ones that we haven’t done yet. This month we have two: intro to freediving and fish species identification course. So we’re gonna take people out and it basically sets people up if they wanna spearfish. But essentially it’s just freediving, getting comfortable going deep, and learning about different fish species we have off the coast of California and understanding which ones are native or invasive. Spearfishing is about being in tune with what fish you can and can’t catch. A lot of people don’t realize there’s a lot of ways to interact with the coastline. The ocean is just amazing. There’s a lot to learn from it. We are still so far away from knowing where we live. L.A. is a coastal city and it is crazy how little we work in our lives.
We’re doing a farm trip, which we’re partnering with Windrose farm up in San Luis Obispo. We will be camping on their property, waking up on Saturday, and basically doing volunteer work. It’s a chance for people to understand and learn what it feels like to work on a farm. They’ll get that opportunity to harvest and prune and weed and at the end of the day, they’ll be able to take their yield. We’re bringing in a chef, her name is Ariana Malone, and she’ll be creating a beautiful meal using the yield that people have harvested that day, as well as a lot of the livestock for the protein of the meal from the farm so that people feel what it’s like to work on a farm and eat from that farm. The eggs, the milk, the protein, the produce — and sit around in the field where this was all happening to share a meal with your friends and then go sleep and camp right there in the field.
To me, a lot of the stuff we do it’s all metaphorical and all of this together creates this new experience. When you bring this whole experience together, that is where you start to get these moments that are truly unique and this is what people learn the most from. You can’t walk away from something like this and not feel inspired to conserve your food, learn a little bit more about where you food comes from, to be less wasteful. People tend to romanticize working on a farm, but there’s nothing romantic about it, it’s extremely hard. It is a thankless industry. A lot of times farms are struggling to stay afloat. They don’t make that much money — they do it because they love it. And so people should realize how hard it is to actually get the food that they order to their table. And spearfishing is the most one-to-one humane way to catch fish and hunt fish and it’s so hard to do. But the experience, the process, of finally catching a fish makes it very worthwhile and you savor it and you feel the religious kind of feeling that you get when you take it. And this experience grows within you as you bring yourself to other scenarios and you just become a way more in tune human when you’ve done these types of things before because you’re not just floating around — oblivious to how things actually work its way onto your plate when you order a meal. It’s great how instant all of our food comes to us, but it’s crazy how easy it is to forget the processes that go on and we tend to be so disillusioned from it that it doesn’t mean anything to us.
But food can really be a great way to learn about yourself, about your community. Food is community. Communities were built on being able to provide food for each other, to come together around a table and have a meal every night. People spent their entire days working to bring food. It’s been cool for me to be able to find myself through this project and we’re getting back to the primal instincts of what community building was and always will be. And taking that and learning from that and see what other ways communities can stem and grow from.
I think a lot of people don’t really understand what it means to be a part of a community. So I’m really interested in what it takes to start a community and asking questions about what it takes to build a community. I’m trying to get people back into that mindset of being community -oriented. We need to be reminded that the simplest things — like sharing a cooked meal with friends — can be community.
L: Yeah I’ve definitely experienced that before where I feel like a shared meal is so much more nourishing to my body and my spirit than compared to eating alone. That sense of community that you build around the table brings such a visceral feeling of being whole and connected with others.
L: Have you heard feedback from people who’ve taken your classes and how it impacted them?
M: Yeah, it’s only been positive. Which is really awesome. I mean it’s not like that’s what I expected, but it’s hard to be at these events and not feel good. So anyone who either really got into it or not can’t step away feeling like it wasn’t at least something. Thankfully these classes are inherently really fulfilling, but our community is growing because a lot of the people that come are just coming to every event. They’re like “ok I just did ceramics, what’s next week?” They’re curious.
We’re at a certain age, post college, where we’re not asked to be curious anymore. So if we don’t ask that of ourselves, then we stop being curious. We have to always remember that it’s our job to remain curious, that’s how we grow as people. When you’re in a classroom or you’re doing curriculum, you’re always curious because that’s your job to be curious, to do research, to study. But once that’s no longer asked of you, a lot of people stop and that’s where they start to stand still and be like, “well I learned everything I learned up to this point and I’ve learned enough. I’m good.” To me, that’s where a lot of people start to experience depression or anxiety, a lost sense of self, and question where they stand in the world. That comes from not allowing yourself to try new things and feeling like you can’t do this stuff anymore, “oh, I’m too old.” So a big thing we preach is that everyone should remain curious their entire life and that is what is going to keep your spirit, your lust for life, your zest through old age. It’s good to put yourself out there and try new things, which people are experiencing through Usal. A lot of the stuff we offer is all over the place. To me, it makes perfect sense. But on paper, it can look [confusing]. Like, we’re doing woodworking, climbing this insane snow capped peak, and you’re doing trail running. Where does this all make sense? What is your community about?
But, for me when I was doing this by myself, my friend who is a ceramist, spoke the same language about life and ideals and what he gets out of it the same way as my friend who’s a crazy backpacker. Like they don’t realize it, but they both held a certain language for how they described what they find important in life. Usually, I find that a lot of people just want to get to “be.” Like get me through this as quickly as possible, the process doesn’t matter. I just want quick, quick, quick. But a lot of people who do these kinds of things, they’re more about the process “to be.” Like we’re growing this garden that we’re gonna eventually eat, climbing to the top of this mountain, and getting there. The “get there” is what we all love. That is why we do it. That’s where we find fulfillment, happiness that never ends. If you’re just looking “to be” you’ll never be satisfied. If you’re just looking at the finish line as the source for happiness, then you’ll never be satisfied. But everyone just enjoys the process of things. That to me, is how people who enjoy an outdoor activity or sustainable hobby are connected. It just felt right. These are the same people, same morals. It’s not about these crazy, intense outdoor trips. You can get the same thing out of a hike as growing a garden.
Blogspots have been a place to pirate punk music and all extreme sub-genres for me since I was a kid, the layout had such a sense of DIY and I always was attracted to the aesthetic of these websites, sharing the insane music I have come to be obsessed with. So with that being said, I figured using that layout and following suit of these sites that have helped me expand my music knowledge so much, it was only right for me to share my art in the same way. Punk is not dead, and will never die!!!! PAINT FAST OR DIE!
Episode 26 is with Detroit’s very own Mr. Caleb Barnett aka lil tut!
Recently going pro for Hockey, we talk all that good skate shit you wanna hear. I asked Caleb about filming for recent videos like “Hockey X” and James Cruickshank’s “SENSIBLES”. Living out in Paris a lot to be with his girl, he talks about his love for Paris, filming out there, and living abroad.
Knowing he had a love for it, I asked him about how he got into boxing. We discussed his origins with it as a kid, his father being a boxer, and training in it as an adult. He talked about his intensive workout routines, sparring, favorite fights, and learning discipline from the sport. I have to say my man had me dying in this interview! The stories he told about getting into it with assholes who tried him were hilarious. I appreciated him saying that he’s never looking for a problem, but that he’s not going to let people get away with violating/disrespecting him or his friends.
A large part of the back half of the interview discusses Caleb’s music career as “lil tut”. Tut talked about getting into making music, always loving writing raps, and how moving in with Genny causing him to start to take music more seriously. Buying beats, sitting in the studio all day making song after song; tut knows the discipline of practice well! He spoke about not being afraid to be himself in the music, singing and rapping on songs, and his love for R&B. Check out lil tut on soundcloud and his videos on YouTube! Tut will be releasing his first project “Josiah” on August 27th!!
With songs out like Dean Kissick and Pixies, singer-songwriter/rapper/producer/meme Blaketheman1000 has recently found his footing by capitalizing on NYC’s downtown creative scene. His play-on-words approach to wit makes his music an exciting listen, brewing a sound that people here and there have been blasting all summer. Blake’s modus operandi for creation and performance is as refreshing as his lyrical aptitude. By making music specifically for his friends, he has encouraged a self-aware social network of people yearning to connect over more than a beat.
Oona: Hey! Can you tell STP who you are and what you do?
Blaketheman1000: My name is Blake, Blaketheman1000. And I’m a pop musician based in New York City.
Oona: And you’re from LA?
Blaketheman1000: Yeah, well we’re kind of all over. I was born in Huntington Beach in Orange County. But my parents have lived in different parts of the greater LA area.
Oona: What do your parents think of your music?
Blaketheman1000: I guess for a long time I didn’t know what they thought. And then last time I played in LA, my mom came to the show and she really liked it. In the Dean Kissick video, I was styled by Julian Ribeiro. And there’s one look where I’m wearing a Moncler jacket with a Moncler vest and nothing underneath. And she sent me a photo of her wearing the same vest. She said she was just wearing that already while she watched the video for the first time.
Oona: That’s funny. She’s the blueprint. So when did you move here?
Blaketheman1000: I moved here almost five years ago. I used to live in Bushwick but now I live in Lower East Side.
Oona: You went to school in Nashville? What did you study?
Blaketheman1000: Yeah, I went to school for audio engineering, which is what I do for work. I work mostly in corporate events, documentary sound and religious services. It was funny because I was booked for this corporate sound gig the entirety of the release of Dean Kissick. So I was managing sound equipment for a corporate conference and the whole time I was kind of on my phone. You know, responding to messages and following up on press and such. So there was this dichotomy of being at this hotel-chain corporate conference, all while dealing with the Dean Kissick drop. It felt really funny.
Oona: What made you fall in love with music?
Blaketheman1000: My grandpa actually introduced me to music. He was in a band in the 60s called Thee Counts. They were from East LA, where he’s from and then they broke up during the Vietnam War because a lot of the members were drafted. He bought me a guitar when I was in, maybe, seventh grade. And he taught me how to play and I’ve loved it ever since then. And I actually have a song kind of about that. It’s not out yet but I have to say it’s my most highly anticipated unreleased song. They play it on the Wet Brain podcast sometimes. <Blake starts rapping>
Oona: Can you tell me about Dino records?
Blaketheman1000: So Dino was my dad’s dog and he was a Chihuahua. And my brother and I really liked Dino. So we used the name for my “label,” but I prefer to think of it more as an aesthetic component. I’m really inspired by bootleg culture. And I think one of the interesting things about this time in history, from a media perspective, is that producing digital media has never been as accessible as it is right now. And as a result, I think there is so much bootleg media that exists and they exist in so many forms. One that comes to mind: I love fan-made music videos. I love unofficial remixes. I love when people use acapella to make collabs between their favorite artists. Music that exists outside the legal structures of the pre-internet media sphere. There’s a YouTube account I really like called I guess called toasty digital. They specialize in Kanye edits. If you want to pull up YouTube, I can show you.
Oona: Do you know about Virgil Abloh’s 3% rule?
Blaketheman1000: I don’t. What’s that?
Oona: Basically, he packaged this design strategy where he would take something that everyone already loved, like the Air Force 1s. And because there was a history tied to the design and people already had this built in connection with it, all he had to do was innovate the product by 3%. And that 3% change was enough for it to hold separate value from the product’s original foundation.
Blaketheman1000: I really like that. it feels in line with the way I like to create because I like to use a lot of references. Generally, my feelings towards creating are not me sitting down and waiting for some magical wave of invention. I’m not going to create a new genre of music or a new strong song structure. For me, I feel most inspired when I just sit down and meditate on it. You know, just sit and listen to the things that I like to listen to and in the theme of what I would want to create. But while I like using references, I’m not so good at recreating things. If I listen to a Travis Scott song and then try to make a Blaketheman1000 song, that sounds like a Travis Scott song, it doesn’t come out sounding too much like a Travis Scott song. But listening to it sets the tone. So yeah, I really resonate with the 3% rule.
Oona: You should look more into it. It’s an interesting concept for any creative person, I think. Because so many people make art in this way, whether they are even aware of it or not. It’s just inescapable. But then there’s that shameful blurry line to walk between inspiration and intellectual property. It was cool to watch Virgil navigate it so confidently, reworking certain designs.
Blaketheman1000: Yeah, I really liked that. I admittedly, probably don’t have as much knowledge about Virgil. I’d like to, given how many musicians I love that he’s worked with. But I guess, in general, I’m not the most knowledgeable person about fashion. I just enjoy it personally, as part of my expression.
Oona: When did you start producing music?
Blaketheman1000: I was in a few bands in high school. And then I released my first song under Blaketheman1000 my freshman year of college. The first song was called Blake and it’s still on Spotify and stuff. And then I have a song called Blake 2 which is kind of the second installment of Blake. Those first two Blake’s are very definitive in terms of the way I was creating music at the time. And I’ve been thinking of making a Blake3 but I’m placing a high expectation on myself if I do decide to make the third Blake. I might currently have a song that I could just call Blake 3 but I’m still deciding.
Oona: How has your process changed from the making of that first Blake song?
Blaketheman1000: Back then, I was really a guitarist/singer-songwriter. I would play guitar and write over it. And well, I guess I was making rap songs but I wasn’t putting them out at the time. I was also making EDM remixes. I think some of those are still on SoundCloud. But what changed from Blake and Blake 2 and now is that I learned to fuse all my interests and put them all in one song. And I think what has changed since Blake 2 and leading up to a hypothetical Blake 3, is that I was really interested in maximalism. I was basically vomiting all of my influences onto one track. And on a hypothetical Blake three, I would aim to go minimal on the production instrumentation in a way that centers the personality and lyrical identity. Which is something I did with Dean Kissick.
Oona: When you sit down and decide to start a song, how do you go about it?
Blaketheman1000: Honestly, I haven’t written a full song since Dean Kissick. I wrote that in like, 15 minutes. And the way that I write songs changes a bunch. I generally am always kind of writing. You know, as I go about my day I have lyrics in my head and will be writing verses. I have one verse that I’ve been working on all week, that I wrote in my head. I don’t have a beat for it yet. One of my overall thoughts about making music is I like making music and putting on events that my friends will like. And so when I’m making music, I send my music to a lot of friends because I’m very concerned with the overall reaction. Because I really feel like the only people I can cater to effectively are the people that I see every week. So if I cater to them and they like it, the people they know will like it and the people those people know will like it. I’m not so concerned about any single opinion, as much as I am targeting the collective opinion of the people I hang out with.
Oona: Community building is a big component of city art-culture. How do you find yourself playing into that?
Blaketheman1000: I think that some of my previous answer represents that, but I also feel like a lot of communities are online. I think the role of someone who creates digital media and does in-person events is to create a place where people interested in certain types of digital media can congregate. One thing I often say about shows is that when I’m putting one together or even throwing a party, the true headliner is the social aspect of the event. One example of that is, I like to play venues that have a separate room for the bar and the performances. Because if someone had a long day at work and doesn’t have the attention span for a performance but wants to come and kind of hang out, they can do that. That’s a totally valid reason to come to the event. And I would hope that the person feeling that way would still come. To me, the social experience of coming to one of my events is as much a part of it as my performance.
Oona: What have you been listening to lately?
Blaketheman1000: A few months ago I did a remix for the band Test Subjects. And now we’re putting it out in maybe September so I’ve been listening to them a bunch. And I really like Duwap Kaine, who has an album called Faith Like Esther. Other people I really like are 454 and Isabella Lovestory. And P.H.F. (Perfect Hair Forever), their album Purest Hell is great. Those are my picks right now.
Oona: For someone discovering your music from this interview, what song should they start with?
Blaketheman1000: There’s kind of two that I would recommend, but it depends on what the person likes. If you like something dense with a compelling narrative, listen to Blake 2. But if you like something catchy and simple, listen to Dean Kissick.
Oona: Why do you feel you have been leaning towards putting out rap recently?
Blaketheman1000: I think the defining trait of compelling digital media in the information age is that it communicates the personality of its creator. One of the reasons rap music has been so popular in the internet era is that it’s a genre which emphasizes the personality of its creator. And is a medium whose format lends itself to effectively communicating a lot of ideas in a short amount of time. These qualities of rap music, as a genre, have attracted me towards it and are the reason that I have chosen to use a hybridized version of it as my primary means of expression recently.
Oona: You’re one of the managers of the band, Frost Children. What do you think you’ve learned from being in that role that you’ve applied to your own career?
Blaketheman1000: I co-manage them with Andrew Baker. I am friends with them and have been working on music with them. Since last year, we have had multiple collaborations out and there are more to come. I guess, as time went on, we have progressively had more opportunities with our music and so being a manager in their project seemed like the most fitting title that has allowed me to be involved creatively. It’s almost like I’m a member of the band, except they aren’t like a rock band that goes on a stage and plays bass and guitar. The band is a group of people who create musical and non-musical experiences that folks on the internet and in real life can participate in.
Oona: Could you expand a bit on those experiences?
Blaketheman1000: I collaborate with them a lot, thinking of ways that tools in the music industry and in technology can be used for them to engage with their community of fans. Kind of thinking about different ways that the experiences can be less of a one way exchange and more of a conversation between everyone involved. We are trying to come up with things to do at shows that are fun and engaging and not just people showing up, getting performed at and leaving when the set is done.
Oona: What do you like about performing in New York?
Blaketheman1000: One of the recognizable attributes of a great New York event is that it feels remarkable. They are one of a kind. New Yorkers love to tell other New Yorkers that they attended a strange thing that will never happen again. And this quality of New York is something I consider heavily when I’m booking events.
Oona: I stalked your TikTok and I love your little eating in Manhattan videos. Can you give STP a Blaketheman1000 day-in-the-life? Where are we eating? Where are we going out?
Blaketheman1000: I would get a petit dej at Ming’s Caffe. This means a Hong Kong coffee with light sugar, a nice mango papaya smoothie, and crispy shrimp rolls. And then my favorite lunch is probably at Spicy Village with some pepper chicken. And then for dinner, some Ragù at Lil’ Frankie’s with a Negroni or two. But then after dinner… fuck it. We’re going to Midtown for drinks at The Campbell Apartment. It’s the bar in Grand Central. Yeah, that’s a perfect day of eating.
Oona: I think The Campbell Apartment was in season one of Gossip Girl, when Nate cheats on Blair with Serena lol. Iconic. Okay last question:What’s next for you?
Blaketheman1000: I have a lot of collaborations coming out with some of my favorite New York artists. And I’ll be playing a lot of parties and engaging with the people and creative scenes in New York that I think are inspiring and fun to be around.