Monday, June 7, 2021

Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom In Arles

Photographed By Ellinor Forje

The Women In The Window

Photographed By Ellinor Forje

Watch "The Women in the Window" (2020), here.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Jonathan Singletary

Photo Courtesy Of Jonathan Singletary 

WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I’m currently in Brooklyn for the summer. My wife and I came here for some work things and to soak up what might be the best summertime vibes in the world. But we currently live in Los Angeles.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND BROUGHT UP?
Randomly enough, I was born in Nashua, NH. My parents are from Boston and they moved across the border to start a family. Then we moved to the Bay Area (CA) when I was eight, so I consider myself a Cali kid and the Bay definitely raised me.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR HOMETOWN?
The best thing about my hometown is it’s eclectic and creative culture. Along with the soul and R&B from Marvin to Anita to Boyz II Men, I grew up listening to a lot of Bay Area rappers that always had their own unique sound and flow and I think that freedom to be authentic and unique stuck with me. From E-40 to the Hieroglyphics, Del the Funky Homosapien to the Living Legends, they all had this dope quirky vibe to their sound with a clear appreciation for melody and musicality. The cultural melting pot and the history of activism and conscious art in the Bay fostered a specific creative freedom in me as well. And the diversity kept me open to different ways of living and seeing the world.

WHAT ARE SOME YOUR FONDEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES?
For as long as I can remember, my parents had high quality sound systems and constantly played music. They’d work out to DeBarge’s “All This Love” album, clean the house to Anita Baker and Sade, and then throw these big barbecues and parties at the house and play all the classics: Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Gap Band, Tom Browne, Parliament and more. My folks were serious about work and raising educated kids, but also knew how to party. My pops was an engineer and major techie, he used to record all his favorite music videos and make video mixtapes that were hours long. He always knew how to create a vibe. From the years I spent in New Hampshire I’d say sledding in Roby Park was my most fond memory. In general, we used to spend so much time in nature as kids. Wandering through woods and creeks or just running around the neighborhood with no cell phones or tracking devices. Just a mandate to be home before dark. I’m grateful for that foundation and connection to the outdoors.

WHY MUSIC?
My parents loved music. They loved listening and dancing to music, and I came out of the womb with the same love. There’s a video of me at two years old dancing and singing Kool Moe Dee’s “Wild Wild West” while eating popcorn (I was kinda a fat kid who loved food as much as music). By the time I was four  or five, I had a toy piano that I would mess around with and my parents responded by putting me and my sister in piano lessons. At the same time I was singing in choir at church so much of my time outside of school was spent around music. After playing classical music for five to six years, I got bored of it and started to write my own songs and compositions around 10 years old. I was always a happy kid who liked to make people laugh and smile, but I think music was my outlet for expressing more complex emotions from an early age. I was more sensitive than I think me or my parents realized, and music has always been the only way for me to tap into and communicate certain parts of who I am.

WHAT'S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
These days I write almost everything on guitar. Songs either start with an acapella voice note or a melody sung along to a few chords or arpeggios on guitar. Once I have a melody or two I like, I usually record a basic sketch of the song in Logic with guitar, drums, organ and bass. I sit with that basic track and write the rest of the song before heading into the studio to lay down final instrumentation and vocals. But the essence of almost all my songs is captured in that first voice note. Everything else just helps bring that essence to life. At my most centered, I take the time to pray and ask God to move me out of the way so whatever is supposed to be written is divinely inspired. And that doesn’t mean I’m not tapping into my emotions, but I try to remind myself that God is my co-writer so that I leave room for inspiration beyond me.

HOW DID THE ETHEREAL CONCEPT FOR THE SONG "NEVER LIKE THIS" COME ABOUT ALONG WITH THE BEAUTIFUL VISUALS FEATURING LUPITA NYONG'O THAT ENSUED?
The melodies, chords and many of the words for “Never Like This” actually came all at once in a voice recording I still have. It was somewhat unique in that way. Which, to me, punctuates the fact that this song didn’t come from me but through me. The chorus in that voice note is almost exactly as it’s sung in the final song. The falsetto felt natural and happened to match the lyrics in a way that felt special from its inception. It’s not always like that, but I feel lucky when it turns out that way. The song always felt like a bit of a drug trip. Lyrics like “You got that fire, your love is burning me out” all ended up having these double meanings that felt floaty and hazy up until the outro which explodes with joy. So when I was talking to the director, Michael McQuilken, about the video and the message of transcendent love, he told me about his vision of the subject flying from earth into the cosmos and I loved it. I had no idea how he was going to accomplish it but he’s a genius who made magic all from his Brooklyn apartment. Lupita was a fan of the song before I even finished it and she actually introduced me to the director, who she affectionately calls McQ. Neither she nor I had any intentions of her being the subject of the video, but McQ saw the vision, asked her, and she enthusiastically said yes once she heard the concept.

IS THERE A MUSICAL PASSAGE OR MELODY THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU?
Aww man, there are too many! The first that comes to mind is the intro to Earth Wind and Fire’s “Keep Your Head to the Sky”. Then there’s the opening to Stevie’s “Bird’s of Beauty,” Frankie Beverly and Maze “Happy Feelings,” Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming” intro plus first verse is everything. In a whole different world, Ben Howard’s “End of the Affair” melody and guitar intro is one of the most gut wrenching sequences of music I’ve ever heard. And the outro is one of the most inspiring pieces of music I’ve ever heard.So there are five, haha.

WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
In life, my mother, father, and sister. They gave me love, unfailing and unconditional love from the day I was born. Even if it wasn’t always in my love language, I know now that I’ve stood on that foundation of love through every accomplishment. Through every journey. Through every up and down, their love was a constant hand to grab to pull me up, to give me props, and to cheer me on. And my parents in particular introduced me to God, faith, and the life of Jesus and the spirit of Christ, which I strive to embody. They introduced me to music and provided guidance to nurture my gift. I’m who I am because of my family.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL AESTHETIC AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED OVER TIME?
I’m currently really into the more laid back side of 70s fashion legends like Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendegrass. I love tasteful statement pieces that communicate personality but I never like anything that feels like a costume. Simple, relaxed, and approachable is my vibe. Generally, when it comes to fashion, art, design, and architecture, I’m drawn to understated and timeless aesthetics.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING?
I love listening to good music, even when I’m not making it. I try to work out four to five times a week. I bike-ride, I like going for walks to any body of water I can get to. I also spend a lot of time with my wife hanging out and talking about this complex world we live in. I also stay as tapped in as I can into ongoing social justice issues that particularly affect the Black community. I’m generally a super social person, but lately I’ve really enjoyed spending quality time with a small group of really good friends.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I indulge in a little plant medicine from time to time. It’s definitely one of my favorite ways to turn things down a notch. I grew up watching a lot of movies so I’ll zone out to a good movie to relax as well. If it’s an action movie it doesn’t even have to be that good. I’m a basic guy in that way, but I’m also a sucker for a good romance or a quirky love story. I’ve seen  “Love Jones”,  “Garden State”, and  “Meet Joe Black”, more times than I can count. Other than that, prayer, playing the piano, meditating, and taking walks are my favorite ways to relax.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Zoé Byland

Photo Courtesy Of Zoé Byland

WHERE ARE YOUR RIGHT AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I’m in Bern, Switzerland right now, I returned to my hometown after living in Vienna for 16 years with my husband who is a screenwriter. I studied Art and Art History, and worked there.

WHERE WERE YOUR BORN AND BROUGHT UP?
I was born and raised in Bern. 

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR HOMETOWN? 
There’s a big river and lots of green. It’s very safe.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORIES?
Reading Comics and drawing. Hearing stories while there's a thunderstorm outside. Rain in spring. Nature in general. My family. Lots of my childhood memories are feelings.

WHY ART?
Drawing moved me from a very young age, I loved pictures and stories, especially the combination of both, like in comics. Later it was the encounter with art and artists that touched me deeply and i knew straight away that this was my passion. It is a constant in my life to this day, a world of its own that I can dive into just as deeply as when I was a child. That fascinates me again and again. painting is a form of communication with people that speaks directly to the heart and emotions. 

WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE YOUR TRAINING?
I attended the F+F school for Art and Media Design in Zurich and studied Contextual Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. I also studied Art History and taught at an art school in Vienna. 

HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR DISTINCTIVE EXPRESSION?
It was a process, mainly during my student days in which more and more aesthetic, technical-formal, stylistic and content-related things came together like in a puzzle. Mainly, I did what I love, practiced and tried out a lot of what works for me. Like in a good narrative, it is very important for me to have a basic atmosphere in my paintings, which draws the viewer in and lets room for his own stories.

WHAT'S YOUR PROCESS?
I am doing a lot of research on a theme I’m on, trying out and then working a lot.

WHAT'S YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?
I love painting in combination with airbrush. I always loved graffiti, so the combination of traditional painting technique and spraying was an obvious step for me. 

WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
I think everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve come across has shaped me in a way.

HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL AESTHETIC?
In terms of style and content my paintings are based on elements of vintage photography, film noir, graphic novels, super heroes, tattoos and classical genres of art history. I combine the traditional and the contemporary, the classical and the subcultural. I like to use subjects from turn- of-the century portrait photography because they are a timeless style of representation. 

WHAT BEAUTY ROUTINE DO YOU SWEAR BY?
Wearing sunglasses during the day because I often work late at night.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOUR NOT WORKING?
I must admit that most of the time I think about work when I’m not working. But I love being with my family, in the nature and going to museums. 

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
Being in nature.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Aesthetic

Images Courtesy Of Zoé Byland


Paintings by Zoé Byland.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

MTMBO

Photo Courtesy Of MTMBO 

WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED THERE?
I'm at my home in London. I've moved around south London a bit but this is the longest I've been in one place.

WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND BROUGHT UP?
Born in Sussex, brought up in Zambia before moving back to the UK.

WHAT'S THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR PRESENT CITY OR HOMETOWN?
When I travel the first thing I usually miss about London is the mix of cultures that co-exist here.

WHAT ARE SOME YOUR FONDEST CHILDHOOD MEMORIES?
I spent a lot of time in cars growing up. We would travel a lot as a family so it would be any one of those trips, sitting in the back of a car watching the world go by. There was never a dull or uninteresting moment to me. I don't drive but I enjoy being driven around now, probably because it reminds me of my youth.

WHY MUSIC AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
Music was the one thing I always took a more than casual interest in, I'm not sure why it moved me so much. I wanted to know who made songs I enjoyed, I wanted to know the stories behind songs and then eventually I was so consumed by it all I just wanted was to be part of the narrative. I remember putting instrumentals onto a CD player, taking it to school and sat next to a friend who complained there were no lyrics on the songs. That's the first time I realised that not everyone consumed music the way I did. I spent a long time trying other things in my teens and early twenties but when I returned to music, I just began by making songs on my laptop and uploading them to Soundcloud.

WHAT'S YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
It changes often but some things are constant. For example I usually don't know what I'm going to write about when creating a piece of music until I'm in the moment. The meaning I attach to songs through lyrics is never premeditated. I do give a lot of thought to composition, sounds and the structure of a piece of music beforehand though. I also limit myself to a handful of instruments in my studio. I work better without this feeling of having an infinite amount of possibilities with which to execute the vision.
 
IS THERE A MUSICAL PASSAGE OR MELODY THAT NEVER FAILS TO MOVE YOU?
"Time" by Hans Zimmer comes to mind, that's quite something. One of those pieces of music I wish I could hear for the first time again.

WHO OR WHAT HAS HAD THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOU?
I'm not too sure. I think everyone I meet plays a part in shaping who I am. The same goes for the things I take an interest in, the places I travel to, the moments I experience. It's difficult to give anyone or any particular thing or moment credit for that. It's a constant process and all I can say to that is I feel a very intimate connection to many things that influence my art and how I am as a person every day.

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL AESTHETIC AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED OVER TIME?
I've always appreciated attention to detail. I like being able to unpick the thought that went into the creation of things. If I can feel a strong intention behind something, I usually connect to that and a desire to make that thing a part of myself starts there. That hasn't really changed much. Things I bought when I was 17 had this quality to them, even if I don't own them anymore.

WHAT DO YOU GET UP TO WHEN YOU'RE NOT WORKING?
Right now my favourite thing to do is to walk or read in the woods.

HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I've been working on fixing an old bike and a friend of mine has put me onto making jewelry. I find anything that involves using my hands and a lot of concentration very relaxing.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Music