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~ Blaketheman1000, More Than Music

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.

Oona: Awesome, I can’t wait to see it.

~ Kristiane’s Full Bloom

The FADER signed pop savant, Kristiane, saddles up to release her second EP, State Lines. The project is string heavy with unfortified lyrics that carry us through Kristiane’s full bloom as both a lover and a woman breaking through to tangible adulthood. State Lines will be available to stream and purchase August 3rd.

Separated by our own state lines, Kristiane sits across from me over zoom for this interview. But unbeknownst to the singer/songwriter, there is an elephant in the room. When one speaks to a twin for the first time, while being friends with the other twin, there’s a perturbed sense of deepfake quasi-familiarity. And my raised eyebrow continues its lifespan when listening to her two EPs, I Miss Myself Sometimes and State Lines. Cleverly sculpted, they both speak to the uncomfortable truths that lost people must face. And in finding a voice for quiet thoughts, Kristiane feels like someone we already know, twin or not.

Oona: Hi, how are you? Are you in LA right now?

Kristiane: Yeah, I’m back in LA. I was in New York for June. Yeah, I was there for work, music, etc. And now I’m back in my little apartment.

Oona: I just listened to the new EP. It’s such a new sound for you. It’s really good.

Kristiane: The evolution is strange. Sometimes I listen to my first EP, I Miss Myself Sometimes and I’m like, I can’t believe that’s me. I still love it, but it’s strange looking back at different chapters of your life and seeing you were a different person.

Oona: What got you into making music?

Kristiane: Growing up, my grandma sang in local jazz and cabaret shows in LA. So my sister Britt and I grew up going to see her at her shows and saw how she really just did it for the love of music. She wasn’t pursuing anything. She was in her seventies and just loved jazz music. I think seeing someone do it just for the pure, like love of music was so much more powerful than really being in the industry or pursuing it. Her love of music really stuck with me. That’s kind of what inspired me to start.

Oona: So what age were you when you started writing songs?

Kristiane: I started singing and playing the piano when I was like a baby. Yeah. Like probably two or three. And then I sang in choir and was in plays like my whole life and I didn’t start writing songs until I was 15. I remember like the first song I wrote, I was 11, but it was horrible.

Oona: Do you remember what it was called?

Kristiane: The one when I was 11, no, but the first song I wrote when I was 15, it was called New Song. Also horrible.

Oona: At what age did you think you wanted to pursue music as a career? Or were you trying to follow in your grandma’s footsteps of having music be a way of expression and something to just love

Kristiane: I definitely think that’s what made me stick to pursuing music. All the industry stuff is so hard, you know? When I was around 15, I was like, “I want to do this. This is my dream”. And I was spending like five hours in my laundry room, writing songs after school, every day; performing at school, performing around LA. But my parents were very realistic with me. Because I’m from LA, they were like that {realistic} because it’s so competitive. I think that made me feel like even if this doesn’t work out, it’s okay because I have this really pure love for music and that’s what continues to keep me safe.

Oona: That’s a good way of thinking about it. What does your songwriting process look like?

Kristiane: Usually it’s just me and my guitar and it’s either right in the morning, when I wake up and then I’ll bring it to my session that day. Or it’s really late at night. But it’s hard because I live in a studio with my boyfriend.

Oona: Does he ever get annoyed with you?

Kristiane: No he’s just like, “It’s music to my ears. Please keep going!”

Oona: That’s really cute. So, you were signed to FADER in 2021. How do you feel that has affected your songwriting process?

Kristiane: That’s an interesting question. Honestly, I would say FADER is so wonderful and I really mean that candidly. They really trust me as an artist and a writer, they don’t censor me and just let me have freedom of expression. But to give you an answer, like maybe having slightly more eyes on me in the industry has an effect. I do put a little more pressure on myself when the music comes out. But then I try to kind of tune it out because at the end of the day- so cheesy, but- writing really is therapy. So ultimately I just try to remember that.

Oona: You recently received a degree in Creative Writing from USC. Congrats! What impact do you think getting a higher education has had on you as an artist?

Kristiane: I originally thought in high school that I wanted to go to college for songwriting but I didn’t get into the USC songwriting program. But I’m so grateful. Hindsight is such a beautiful thing because I loved being a creative writing major. I think it strengthened my ability in all forms. I actually wrote a novel during quarantine. And it also made songwriting a lot less formulaic for me.

Oona: Are you reading anything right now?

Kristiane: I am right now. I’m reading the Idiot. Britt actually recommended it to me. It’s literally phenomenal.

Oona: No way. I think she just recommended that to me. <Laugh>

Kristiane: <Laugh> I also just read this book and it’s super under the radar. It’s called Cleopatra in Frankenstein and I don’t know why more people don’t know about it. Or maybe they do, and I don’t know anything. It reminds me of Sally Rooney, but more visceral. Really good.

Oona: Done. That’s next on my list. You have a really different feel in this new EP, State Lines. What changed in your life to take you from the melancholy of your debut album to the energized resonations in your second album?

Kristiane: I think honestly it’s such a reflection of my change in mental state. Because with the first EP, it was during this time in my life where I was so insecure. I mean, I still am. But back then it was crippling. So there was this softness and vulnerability. And I found a lot of freedom from expressing that. But then with this new project, there’s more of a catharsis because I let go of so much. I feel more assured with who I am and with what I have. And also the sounds that I’m really drawn to are either girl rock Anthems or very soft strummings on the guitar. The latter is honestly what I want to continue to foster and develop. Cause at the end of the day I’m a songwriter. But I really loved exploring this anthemic rock style because there’s something really freeing about it when I listen to the songs.

Oona: On State Lines, you worked with producer Cooper Holzman. What did your process together look like? And how did he help shape this new sound?

Kristiane: Cooper was the executive producer of this whole project. And he actually worked on my first EP, on my two favorite songs from it. We really connected musically. I think we really just understand what one another likes and have an unspoken language. So when I was going into making State Lines after having a first EP under my belt, I was like, “Okay, I just wanna work with one person now.” It feels really sonically cohesive. This album feels like me and another person’s baby. And also, Cooper is just so creative and thinks outside of the box. He understands the nostalgic; made this in a garage feel. That’s like what we both wanted it to feel like, you know? He’s an amazing musician. Not all producers are incredible musicians too.

Oona: Do you like collaborating with people?

Kristiane: Candidly, I prefer writing alone. Because it’s so personal to me and I find that since I’m doing it so often, I very much have a repertoire. I have built such a relationship with it and with myself. But I worked with Caroline Penell on Before The Night Is Over. She’s like my literal songwriter idol, so working with her was a dream. I do love learning from people like her and Cooper. And Cooper is so good with melodies, so in that way I think it’s really important to work with other people and to push yourself. So I guess I like both ways.

Oona: How do your two EP’s compare for you?

Kristiane: I would say I prefer State Lines. I mean, I love I Miss Myself Sometimes because when I listen to it, I feel for my old self so much. I’ll think like, “Oh my God. Like, girl, you are worthy of love.” And it’s not to say that I don’t still struggle with those emotions but now I know how to regulate them. State Lines also just feels newer because it’s indicative of everything that I’ve gone through in this past year. And now as I’m writing my next project, it’s this constant cycle of putting out what you were feeling a year ago but then having everyone experience it in the present.

Oona: What was your head space when you were producing State Lines?

Kristiane: I think I really struggle with letting go and self-identity and letting go of past versions of myself. That’s a theme, even in I Miss Myself Sometimes. The closing song <in State Lines>  is called I’ll Call. And it’s basically like, “I’ll call when I get myself back.” I was in the midst of graduating college and I was feeling stuck in a lot of ways. I didn’t wanna be there anymore. I was dreaming very much outside of where my life was and I just wanted to move to New York. There was so much that I wanted to do and see. There was this dual sense of hope and longing, but also restlessness. So I think that, and general feelings of depression really come through in my songs, Before The Night Is Over and I’ll Call. But then I was also in a period of very intense love with my partner and feeling really grateful for my life. I think that’s what is really different between the first EP and this one. I now get to talk about love in a more actualized sense. It was no longer, “Do you love me? Do you want me?” It was, “I love you. You’re my person.” You know? For the first time, I really felt like I was letting myself be loved. So that was really special.

Oona: What was it like filming your most recent music video for your single, State Lines?

Kristiane: Oh my God. It was such a dream, honestly. It was so cathartic and fun. But also terrifying. I’d never done a music video in that way before. You know, with a whole crew and have it be, like, a whole thing. But I felt so lucky and grateful that I had people that were there to actualize my creative vision. I kept thinking about how fucking lucky I was to be there in that moment. That’s truly how I felt the whole day. And my best friend, Kelsey, who plays bass for me was there and it was an all girl band. So we were just playing like Hole and Liz Phair and dancing with the directors Jeremy Reynoso and Silken Weinberg. I’d worked with them on, I Miss Myself Sometimes when we did the cover shoot. So it was really fun to do an actual video with them. They are just so talented. I felt so lucky to work with them and it was so fun.

Oona: How involved do you like to get in the visual side of your music?

Kristiane: Incredibly involved. I’ll literally make a PowerPoint of me with every song on it. I’ll get visual references from like Pinterest or Tumblr, or whatever, and create a whole world of what I want it to look like. And then my manager and I will like present it to FADER and they’re like, “Okay, sick. Let’s find the right people who can make this happen.” But it’s very collaborative. It’s definitely a collaboration between me, my manager, Sabrina, who does creative for FADER. It’s very collaborative, but ultimately it very much starts within me. Because it’s a direct reflection of my music so it has to feel really authentic. And I feel like this EP is a lot more indicative of my taste visually just because I had a clearer sense of what I want and how to do it. The first EP was very much trial and error. Not that I’m not proud of it. I totally am. It’s just, you learn as you go along, you know?

Oona: In your music video for, I Wish I Could Be Your Girl, your boyfriend was featured as your love interest and your sister directed it. It got me wondering if you feel like your songwriting is an honest reflection of your life and your experiences?

Kristiane: Yeah. I would really say so. I think, ultimately, the thing that I love so much about making music is that it’s storytelling. And I look back at it as different chapters of my life. The I Wish I Could Be Your Girl video was so special because when I look at that video, I feel like it’s such a pure encapsulation of what it feels like to fall in love and what it felt like to fall in love with my partner. Britt is so fucking talented. Like she just really captured my feelings of longing that I felt for my partner. And still do, but back then it was in an almost insecure sense. But yeah, I would definitely say my music is a very direct reflection.

Oona: And do you ever try to fictionalize your storylines? That always interests me with songwriters. Where sometimes they’ll, you know, watch a movie and then write a whole story arc that has no solidified connection to their personal life.

Kristiane: I definitely have done that. I used to write songs for my friends in high school. I would tell them, “if you have an experience, message me about it and I’ll write you a song.” And then I would send them voice memos. That’s how I got good at songwriting, I think. Like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Especially with people I care so deeply about. I feel like writing songs for them was kind of my love language. Especially before I had any real love experience myself. Now I would say I can get inspired by books and movies. I’ll look for words when I’m reading and I’ll underline them. Or if I watch a movie, I’ll write down certain phrases. That’s always a really inspiring way for me to find the start of a song.

Oona: Are you going on tour with this album?

Kristiane: Yes. I hope we are. We’re in the process of figuring that out right now. I’m doing a release show for it. And I’m definitely going to do shows in LA and hopefully I’m gonna be doing a tour. I’m confident with the release but we’re kind of just figuring out the details right now. So everything’s a little up in the air. The release date is August 26th, so it’s right around the corner. I’m like, what the fuck? That is so, so insane.

Oona: Okay, excited. What do you hope people take from this project?

Kristiane: I really want people to feel less alone and feel more understood. And I want them to feel like somebody else understands them in their feelings of coming into adulthood. It’s a really confusing and really painful time, but it’s also really beautiful. But we’re all kind of in it together. Especially with this age group, we’ve seen things inevitably get worse, but they will also get better.

Oona: I was going through a breakup when I found your debut album and I listened to it so much. Like an embarrassing amount. You definitely have the ability to create things that people can connect with.

Kristiane: That literally makes me like… I’m gonna cry. I needed to hear that today.

Oona: Final words?

Kristiane: I hope people listen to State Lines, in order. On public transit or while driving.

Check out Kristiane on Spotify.

~ Danny Cole Is Gonna Make It

The Creature Finds Its Voice

Photo taken by Zamar Velez

To enter one of Danny Cole’s worlds is to enter the safest corner of his brain. Taking inspiration from his own childhood imagination, Cole has set out to create a series of narratives within a 3D landscape that function as an art experience, called Creature World. Cole is hoping to give people “an art piece they feel so connected to that it feels like a friend. Creature World is artwork that you can climb into and adventure inside of. Your adventures become a part of the art. And your art pieces update alongside the adventure.” Since this project will be following an open-ended timeline, we as spectators may view the enterprising venture as a step forward for artists wanting to create NFTs that can offer the market emotional gravity.

Creatures from Creature World

Cole’s 3D interactive realm has now entered the second phase of its story in The Creature Finds Its Voice, which invites partakers to “walk” through a psychedelic landscape. In phase one of this project, $120 million was spent on Creatures in four months. I ask Cole to speak on his quick success to which he responds, “When I put out Creature World, I thought it would be a slow build. To me it all starts with giving people an experience worth telling a story about. I like to think about it like this, every art piece you give is a seed you plant in the world. I can’t water 10,000 seeds. People from all around the world have watered those seeds. The community that has formed around Creature World is why everything got so crazy.”

The 22 year old’s spirit can be characterized by his paint-splattered loft filled with a documentary crew following him around for the day and a creative team as young as he is. “This period of my life has been so crazy that that question of “who are you and what do you do?” is not something that I’ve actually had the opportunity to fully take a step back and process.”

We spend the next hour taking that step back by diving into the creative process behind Creatures. Cole lets out a tired sigh, “It was hard. It was really hard to make because we didn’t get to copy the framework of something somebody else has made. We utilized video game technology. But I don’t know if you could really call it a game. It’s more so an experience to explore.” The artist has made a name for himself by transcending mediums to show off the bulbous humanoids that he affectionately refers to as Creatures. He’s expanded their place in the world by taking on projects that allow for a relationship to foster between the artist and the community he is building around them. In what started as a series of 2D paintings, Creature World has developed into a spate of free-to-the-public live events, featuring musicians such as Portugual.The.Man and Beck. Two of these events are notable; A F$*KING WEEKING IN THE CREATURE WORLD and Creature Playground, as Danny and his team built them with their bare hands to bring a world to life similar to that we see in their digital venture. The unit channeled ambition to transform empty warehouses into these two whimsical zions, A F$*KING WEEKING IN THE CREATURE WORLD with fever dream-ish set design and Creature Playground housing an 80 foot inflatable structure. Looking at the evolution of the creature world as an entity, it’s clear that there’s a certain obsessed madness behind Cole’s efforts to bring it to life.

First photo from Creature Playground, second photo from A F$*KING WEEKING IN THE CREATURE WORLD

We take a pause from this interview, after the artist convinces me to get on the back of his motorcycle and ride to Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Cole for a change of environment. There, he closes his eyes and goes into an almost trance-like state, tracing a visual for me with his hands, “I think the story of Creature World starts with preschool. I would take my covers and wrap them around me. I’m wrapped like a cocoon and my mind would just be running with visuals. I could live in this other world before I would go to bed. And that world really felt like home to me. Well, fast forward to when I’m 17. This girl has just broken up with me and I’m just not talking to anyone anymore. I’m just detached. I feel like I’m at war. And I want to go back to that dreamlike place from preschool, to really see it in front of me. So I went to a local art store and I bought the most liquid paint that I could find. And I bought some empty markers and I poured the paint in the markers. And I was like, “I can draw a painting.” And as I’m drawing, I can see this creature I’ve just painted right out in front of me. And it walks up to me and my first thought is, “it’s nice to finally meet you.” It’s a visual that he recreates in The Creature Finds Its Voice, only he has laid out an opportunity for participants to take their own meaning from it as they meet it for the first time.

Stills from The Creature Finds Its Voice

Many artists’ have found their careers elevated in both financial capital and notoriety by entering the NFT marketplace. A marketplace that’s been seen to reward artwork that channels utility through the blockchain. I ask Cole to expand on how this project differs from others that have found success from the second realm, “We make art that is meant to be experienced. It’s not a stock. That’s where we differ. With that focus, our art rewards you by allowing you to continue to experience it actively, unlike art has been able to do historically. It is rewarding to continue to own, not just to try to sell at a higher price. The actual experience of possessing a creature is what we deliver. That’s what’s different about us.”

Photo of Danny Cole and his team, courtesy of Dan Sickles and NIFTY The Film

Danny’s team originally dropped 10,000 NFT Creatures, viewable through OpenSea and any other digital trading platform. Current holders can see their NFT evolve based on the choices they make within Creature World. This is art that grows. “There is going to be an ongoing output of a journey for these Creatures to go on. And in order for your Creature to change, you have to own the NFT to be able to document your experiences within this developing storyline. The first journey was the Creature’s birth and in this new one it finds its voice. So when you find your voice, your Creature gets a new mouth. The art updates. And we’re not selling anything new. It’s a form of art that has never been able to exist before and that, in my opinion, is what makes art worth being digital.” 

There are other artists pushing for work that can evolve over time; such as BT’s Genesis.json and Daniel Arsham’s Digital Sculptures use AI technology to exist in a timeline beyond human perception. Danny Cole’s Creature World adds a human touch to the sub-community by offering a narrative that challenges it’s participants to internal growth. After its initial release, on Sunday, December 19th, 2021, Cole’s art was initially met with some controversy. The project’s reward is in the experience of the participant. Which is in contrast to a market that often rewards ventures with more tangible and appraisable offerings. Viewing art as an investment first, inevitably puts pressure on the artist and creates a space that is unwelcoming to those who create as a means of creating. “Sharing creativity in a market that was paved by finance is going to look like paving new paths,” says Cole. Creature World can be looked at as an example of how digital art is relevant and evolving. Which begs the question, how can we better hold space within this digital environment for artists to create, simply for the sake of creating?

With childlike enthusiasm, Cole shouts down at me from the baseball field fence he has just climbed,“This the craziest thing I have ever made and I can only control what my team and I put out so I’m going to have to have a little trust in the -physical- world right now. Let’s just see what happens.” Spending the afternoon with Cole confirms that building shared experience is the moving force behind all of the art he creates. He wants to make his Creature World tangible and the metaverse may bring him as close as he can get to that. Anyone interested in experiencing Cole’s alternate reality can participate in his new release regardless of NFT ownership. He concludes: “None of these experiences are closed off. They are open for everyone, because that’s how I believe art should be.”

Visit https://creature.guide/ to better understand Cole’s vision and to get lost in the rolling hills of The Creature Finds Its Voice.

The Creature Finds Its Voice, released to the public on Sunday, December 19th, 2021

Words by Oona F.I.B.