brooklyn

Video: Pictureplane Releases "Technomancer" Video by Matt Valerio

I remember back in the early 00s, when a young man named Pictureplane was an active contributor on the old Anticon and Restiform Bodies message boards. Constantly hustling, promoting his art and music to anyone who will listen. More and more over the years, his name would come up. He'd open for us on tour, let us crash at his old warehouse (he used to live at the awesome DIY spot Rhinoceropolis in Denver....which every band and their mom has most likely played and/or crashed at). He's since become a great friend and tourmate to HEALTH, and recently came full circle and has finally released his own LP via Anticon this past Friday. 

Go ahead and pick it up here.

Background Noise, Episode 80: MRtoll by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 80, THE FOCUS IS ON MR. TOLL

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 80, THE FOCUS IS ON MR. TOLL

I've seen Brooklyn artist MRtoll's work in various states of decay. Sometimes, his colorful clay creations are new, freshly epoxied onto carefully chosen walls. Other times, you only see what's left after someone tries to remove it to take home for their home. I doubt anyone has gotten one of these pieces off a wall in one piece, which is a testament to why these beautiful pieces of art should stay where they belong. 

Raised in Australia, Jamie Toll is no stranger to straying from the pack. As so many artists are relying on paint and stencils, MRtoll is sculpting for the streets. When other artists are blowing up their own Instagram feed with one dimensional photos of their work, he's taking people to Arizona via a virtual reality installation to view his sculptures in a remote desert. (You can download that for free right here).

His work can be found in many places outside of Brooklyn, including Colombia, Los Angeles, Miami, Arizona, Asia, Australia and Malaysia, to name a few. He is also one of the handful of artists to have participated both the East AND West Coast "Surplus Candy" art shows that Hanksy has put on. 

You can find more of MRtoll's work over on his Tumblr page

What was your first concert?
Arrested Development in Canberra , Australia

Last concert/show?
FKA Twigs at art Basel Miami 2014

First album you bought?
Supertramp

Last album you bought?
Bomba Estéreo

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?
Radiohead -  OK Computer

Who is your musical hero?
Thom Yorke  

How important is music to your creative process?
Music is very important to my artistic process. I use music to set the pace of my sculpting and the mood and feel for the work. If I'm working to a deadline I may put music on that has up-tempo pace to make me work faster. 

Radiohead - How To Disappear Completely
Radiohead - Everything In Its Right Place
Radiohead - A Wolf At the Door
Thom Yorke - Harrowdown Hill
Atoms For Peace - Default
Atoms For Peace - Amok
The National - Hard To Find
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Into My Arms
Erik Satie - Gnossiennes No. 4
Die Antwoord - I Fink U Freeky
Bomba Estereo - Somos Dos
The Weekend - The Hills
FKA Twigs - Glass and Patron
Future Islands - A Dream of You and Me
Glass Animals - Black Mambo

Background Noise, Episode 61: Darkclouds by Matt Valerio

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 61, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST DARKCLOUDS

THE BACKGROUND NOISE PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 61, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST DARKCLOUDS

Darkclouds is another one of those artists who is so anonymous, there's really not a whole lot of information readily available about them. He started doing his trademark cloud paintings in Boston around 2003 and then migrated to NY, where his obsession with painting all sorts of variations of said imagery started to take off.

His pieces stay true to his name. Even when he's using bright, eye-catching colors, there's still a sense of ominousness to the clouds themselves that hover overhead. Always a sense of impending doom, often even looking like dripping brains.

Darkclouds' description himself:

It was initially painted as an image representing the angst and general downtrodden shit that one goes through, trying to figure out the point of themselves… or something of that nature… didn’t really know that at the time. The concept was formed and became clear over time as more clouds were produced. Overall, they were a bi-product of a pissed off friend, an angst ridden individual, hellbent on pain and suffering… but an inspiring one.

See his work all throughout NY, on stickers, walls, sign posts.....he's everywhere.

What was your first concert?
Nirvana / The Breeders / Half Japanese... I was 14, my Dad drove

Last concert/show?
Fake Hooker / Tight Chocolate / and some other brooklyn punk bands who's name I can't remember

First album, tape or cd you bought?
I think it was a Beatles CD, revolver maybe... and Classic Queen, by Queen the same day... I do remember CD's were the new thing at that time..

Last album you bought?
DJ QBERT, Extraterrestria

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Mellow Gold by BECK changed the entire way I thought about music and still one of my favorite records of all time

Who is your musical hero?
My Brother, who plays bluegrass like one one I know and introduced me to that whole genre.

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
I feel it is important to have music playing loudly and as constantly as possible at most times, especially while painting or creating artwork... It helps with concentration, creativity and lets your brain relax when it is stressed out.

Check out Darkcloud's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here, and check out Darkclouds on Instagram.

High on Fire - Snakes For the Divine
Against Me! - Mediocrity Gets You Pears (The Shaker)
Doc Watson - The Cuckoo Bird
The Holy Modal Rounders - Bound to Lose
Misfits - Hybrid Moments
At the Gates - World of Lies
The Devil Makes Three - St. James
NOFX - Linoleum
The Queers - Wimpy Drives Through Harlem
Old Crow Medicine Show - James River Blues
Black Lips - Cold Hands
The Ramones - My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes to Bitburg)
John Hartford - Natural To Be Gone
Masters of Illusion - Back Up Kid
Nirvana - Scentless Apprentice (Rehearsal)

Background Noise, Episode 45: Alex Kvares by Matt Valerio

THE "BACKGROUND NOISE" PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 45, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST ALEX KVARES

THE "BACKGROUND NOISE" PODCAST SERIES FOCUSES ON THE MUSIC THAT ARTISTS LISTEN TO WHEN THEY WORK, WHAT MUSIC INSPIRES THEM, OR JUST MUSIC THEY LIKE. THIS WEEK, IN EPISODE 45, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST ALEX KVARES

I've only seen Alex Kvares' work once, but I loved it. I stumbled on it while paying a visit to the Mulherin + Pollard gallery on New York's Lower East Side last year. It was the insane amount of detail in each of his images that really got me. Many pieces were done on graph paper, and it looked like each square had been meticulously filled, mosaic style, according to how the completed image was supposed to look. The images themselves resembled something out of a psychedelic fairytale, and take inspiration from films like The Holy Mountain and Caligula, as well as abandoned Cold War bunkers and classrooms. That, mixed with the massive number colored pencil lines, enthralled me so much that I found myself completely sucked in, just staring into it, amazed at how much went into creating just ONE of these pieces. You really need to see it to believe it.

Alex was born in the Ukraine, but has studied art in Texas and Kansas. After a decade-long stint in Atlanta, he moved to Brooklyn. He now teaches in the fine arts department at Pratt Institute. 

What was your first concert?
I have vague memory of going to some local metal show in Kiev when I was 11 or 12. but all I remember is smoke machines and some dude in red leather pants.
My first concert stateside was Frank Black opening for They Might be Giants in ’93. I was obsessively listening to the Pixies at the time.
All I remember is Frank with three guitars hanging on him and some frantic accordion playing by one of the Johns.

Last concert/show?
I have a two year old son so not much concert going lately. I think the last one was Tiger Lilies playing in Prospect park or maybe Pauline Oliveros at MoMa. Ive seen both multiple times and probably will again, especially Oliveros. Every time I see her play it’s a completely different but equally amazing experience. 

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Growing up it was mostly a tape-trade network. Everything was dubbed a hundred times before you got it. I. First LP I ever bought was by this band “Alisa” when I was 12. Every once in awhile I would buy bootleg tapes at the flea market, usually Russian new wave or folk bands Stateside it was probably something like the Scorpions or some other hair metal, not sure now.

Last album you bought?
I haven’t been music shopping much lately either. If you don’t count kid music, the last thing I bought was "Colour Green” by Sibylle Baier. It’s been in pretty heavy evening rotation.

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
There were many over the years:
Tom Waits’ Black Rider was a big one, Mountain Goats’ All Hail West Texas, Momus’ Forbidden Software Time Machine. I don’t know, thats a tough one to narrow down and I’m not even going into Russian stuff growing up.

Who is your musical hero?
Not to be redundant but it's hard to pick just one. I think lyrics have always had a big impact on me, especially depressing or strange ones.
So if i did a short list in no particular order:
Townes Van Zandt
John Darnielle (the Mountain Goats)
Nicholas Currie (Momus)
Tom Waits
Leonard Cohen

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Very.
I don’t  work to music that often but music have always been a big part of my life, forming my tastes and lifestyle and even personality. When in my twenties, I would often go to shows three, four times a week. It was just part of my diet.
It’s still as important to me, just hard to make time for.

1. Night Moves Gold - Townie Lover
2. Pete Seeger and the Weavers - Ramblin Boy
3. Momus - Bishonen
4. Open Mike Eagle - Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes
5. Black Lips - Veni Vidi Vici
6. Ghedalia Tazartes - Voyage A L'ombre 6
7. James Irwin - Everything Passed Me By
8. Fatlip - What's Up Fatlip?
9. Timber Timbre - Too Old To Die Young
10. Bobby Brown - Steamboat Mama
11. Phosphorescent - The Mermaid Parade
12. Sibylle Baier - Tonight
13. Arthur Russell - This Is How We Walk on the Moon
14. Cat Stevens - Trouble
15. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Another Day Full of Dread
16. Knight Bros - Love (Can't You Hear Me)

Check out Alex's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. And be sure to check out Alex's site for even more amazing work.



Background Noise, Episode 44: Foxxface by Matt Valerio

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 44, the focus is on New York artist Foxxface..

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 44, the focus is on New York artist Foxxface..

foxxface5.jpg

Foxxface's work has evolved exponentially since I first saw one of his stickers in Chelsea a couple of years back. I'm not sure why this sticker (pictured left) caught me, but it did. Maybe it was the bright orange background that drew my eye to it, but something told me to keep an eye out for more.

His work has since morphed into much more intricate, much more colorful pieces since then, often featuring his signature faces (dubbed "Foxx Faces), which tend to feature characters with very pronounced cheekbones and lips. His style is undeniably his.

Like his sometimes partner-in-crime CB23, Foxxface relocated to NY from the dirty south, to really pursue his art. It's been there where he's found lots of inspiration and new mediums to work with. In addition to being involved in Hanksy's Surplus Candy, he's worked with Wayne Rada for New York's L.I.S.A. Project, doing a series of very impressive bolt-ups on wood, scattered throughout Little Italy. Each one impressive in it's own right. He also just participated in a recent "cycle" of the Lower East Side's Centrefuge Public Art Project, painting an abandoned trailer on E 1st St and 1st Ave alongside many other artists.

As I predicted, he's turning into an artist to really keep an eye on. You can check out more of his work on his Instagram, where he posts lots of images of his work.

What was your first concert?
My first concert was Incubus in Atlanta during their Make Yourself tour.

Last concert/show?
I think my last show was Ty Segall.

First album, tape or cd you bought?
The first CD I owned was the Lion King Soundtrack.

Last album you bought?
The last album I actually purchased was You Can't Take it With You by As Tall As Lions. Yeah that was a while ago.

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
There was a period in my childhood where I enjoyed progressively complicated guitars and rhythms accompanied by high pitched vocals. After discovering Coheed and Cambria's "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" and then immediately following up with "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" I was obsessed. These two albums inspired me to write music and focus on playing shows. Loved it!

Who is your musical hero?
I'd have to say Claudio Sanchez. Super geeky sci fi nerd that's got a very creative approach to writing music. Not to mention the impressive technicality that shines through his guitar.

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Extremely important. It's very rare for me to work on art or filmmaking with the absence of music.

Foxxface bolt-up collaboration with clint mario

Foxxface bolt-up collaboration with clint mario

1. Hundred Waters - Murmurs
2. TOPS - Way to be Loved
3. Hiatus Kaiyote - The World It Softly Lulls
4. Cashmere Cat - Wedding Bells
5. Diaba$e - Living My Life
6. Flying Lotus - Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
7. The Octopus Project - The Mythical E.L.C.
8. Paul White - One of Life's Pleasures (feat. Danny Brown)
9. Ariel Pink - White Freckles
10. Peaking Lights - Infinite Trips
11. Joywave, KOPPS - Tongues
12. St. Vincent - Regret
13. Haim - The Wire
14. Buke and Gase - Hard Times
15. Tobacco - Streaker (feat. Notrabel)
16. Lapalux - There Are Monsters in This Bed
17. TOPS - Blind Faze
18. FKA twigs - Pendulum
19. Dilated Peoples - Worst Comes To Worst
20. Jogger - Nephicide

Check out Foxxface's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here.

Background Noise, Episode 42: CB23 by Matt Valerio

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 42, the focus is on New York artist CB23.

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 42, the focus is on New York artist CB23.

There's not a whole lot of information out there on artist CB23. However, The Street Museum of Art seems to have a little tidbit:

In his youth, CB23 fluctuated between a life spent absorbing absorbing cartoons and the surrounding urban denigration of Atlanta’s abandoned complexes.  Although he may have left the south behind, the adventure and animations have absorbed into his psyche, leaving a deep yearning for self-expression within his newly found urban environment. Influences include: Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Rock-A-Doodle, Ren and Stimpy, and all those cartoons that, in retrospect, your parents’ probably shouldn’t have let you watch.
CB23 / Edapt / foxxface collaboration (photo by taylor langone)

CB23 / Edapt / foxxface collaboration (photo by taylor langone)

CB23 (known as "Classic" to some), left the southern states for the cold northeast, where he could immerse himself in Brooklyn's bustling art world. It was there, alongside fellow artists/collaborators Foxxface, Edapt, Tony Depew, Clint Mario and others that he started to make a name for himself. His stickers, wooden bolt-ups, and graffiti started appearing everywhere. All different shapes and sizes, and all using the same general image: a man with thick eyebrows, a wide nose and often narrow, almost closed eyes. The biggest variation on his imagery being the mouth, which usually conveys a different mood for each character. Sometimes somber, sometimes surprised, and rarely smiling.

His prolificacy has worked wonders. It's gotten his work into NYC's Fountain Art Fair, and various group shows. It's a classic (no pun intended) example of how if you can use image familiarity to create brand awareness. Just keep putting an image (or variation of an image) out there, and if you're persistent, people will start to take notice. Especially if it's well done.

What was your first concert?
My first show was probably Raffi or some kid's shit but I can't really remember...

Last concert/show?
The last concert I went to was Ty Segall at The Bowery Ballroom.

First album you bought?
The first album that I ever owned was Weird Al Yankovic's, "Greatest Hits."
The second was Hermans Hermits self titled record.

Last album you bought?
These days I usually get my music off Spotify and the last playlist I added was 'Run The Jewels 2.' But the last physical record I bought was an Oh Sees LP from a concert last year. I wish I had more money to spend on music.

CB23 / TONY DEPEW COLLABORATION

CB23 / TONY DEPEW COLLABORATION

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
The one record that really made an impression on me was Gorillaz, "Demon Days." I only used to listen to punk music in high school (Ramones, Briefs, Johnny Thunders) and during my first year of college a girl persuaded me into smoking a joint with her and we to Demon Days. It had so many dense layers of sound, the complete opposite of punk music, I was sucked in. I went to my local record shop and bought the first two Gorillaz CD's and skipped class for a week.

Who is your musical hero?
Danger Mouse

How important is music to your creative process?
I always like to have some tunes playing while I create. Sometimes the mood of the music can dictate the mood of the faces that I draw.

1. Slow Country- Gorillaz
2. Porno Disaster- The Octopus Project
3. O Katrina- Black Lips
4. The Mall & Misery- The Broken Bells
5. Crushed Bones- WHY?
6. Trouble In Your Mind- Carolina Chocolate Drops
7. I Just Dont Know What To Do With Myself- The White Stripes
8. Skin- Ty Segall
9. Motorlicker- Tobacco
10. Sipping on Some Syrup- Three 6 Mafia
11. Havana Affair- The Ramones
12. Tender- Blur
13. Wet Paste- Two Blushing Pilgrims
14. Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & the Requiem Mix- Emily Wells
15. The Downer Song- The Shortwave Set
16. Last Living Souls- Gorillaz
17. Modern Art- Black Lips
18. Poor and Weird- The Briefs
19. Find A New Way- Tune-Yards
20. Shake Appeal- Iggy Pop
21. Benzi Box- Danger Doom
22. Sun Lips- Black Moth Super Rainbow
23. Forgot About Dre- Dr. Dre

Check out CB23's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out CB23 on Instagram here.



Background Noise, Episode 38: Michael Alan by Matt Bomarr

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 38, the focus is on artist Michael Alan.

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 38, the focus is on artist Michael Alan.

photo by Joseph Meloy

photo by Joseph Meloy

Michael Alan never stops. Seriously. Never stops. He is constantly creating. The few times I've seen him out at art shows, he's had his small box of various pens and a pad of paper, and is calmly socializing with fellow artists and friends, while drawing at the same time. Calmly is the key word here, as calm is not exactly what you would expect the demeanor of the artist that creates this type of work to be.

His work is obviously cathartic. Now more than ever. The guy has a lot on his plate these days. Not too long ago, he was diagnosed with Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms deep inside a part of the body, and can be very dangerous. This comes in addition to a few years of major health issues, including a broken spine. The man is constantly on the mend, channeling what sure must be an entire world of emotions into various forms of expression. Whether it's drawing, painting, sculpture, or music, he's got it all covered.

photo by Matt Bomarr

photo by Matt Bomarr

For the past 11 years, he's become known for his "Drawathons", which have now morphed into something he's dubbed The Living Installation, which are a series of performance pieces where Michael transforms event spaces and various brave participants into living, breathing pieces of his art. I've never caught one in person, but they look amazing. He has one coming up on October 18th in Brooklyn. More info can be found here.

photo via MilkMade.com

photo via MilkMade.com

In addition to all of this, he's released a few albums of his music, often featuring an impressive roster of respected artists and musicians as collaborators. In addition to my former roommate/former label-mate Odd Nosdam, he's released collaborations with Jello Biafra, Ariel Pink, Jeff and Jane Hudson, The Boredoms and Kenny Scharf, to name a few. You can check out some of this music over at his Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages.

What was your first concert?
hmmmmmmm........D.R.I....

photo via Michael Alan

photo via Michael Alan

Last concert?
More into more small punky shows, DIY stuff, saw Fake Hooker play in brooklyn, it was very good.

First album,tape or cd?
Crass!!! Record!!!

Last album you bought?
MB Neuro Habitat yesterday

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
I'm a music collector, that's what motivates a lot of my paintings........I can't say one.....or the other......I can say, the Residents, Crass, ODB.....for sure

Who is your musical hero?
O.D.B

How important is music to your creative process?
Water for the bod

1. "Sunset" Skullflower
2. "Read Only Memory" Chrome

3. "Sad to Be" D.R.I.
4. "Good Day Today" David Lynch
5. "i Got the Gun" Drunks With Guns
6. "What Hit You" Dwarves
7. "Oreo" Eric Copeland
8. "The Money Will Roll Right In" Fang

9. "Life Is Cheap" Flipper
10. "Reunited" ODB

Check out Michael Alan's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out Michael's website here.

Background Noise, Episode 37: Chris Uphues by Matt Bomarr

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 37, the focus is on Chris Uphues.

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 37, the focus is on Chris Uphues.

photo by  Lois Stavsky

photo by Lois Stavsky

I think this blurb, taken from Chris Uphues' official website, sums it up best:

"Chris Uphues is an artist and designer living in Brooklyn, NY. He lives with his monkey Del where they spend their nights singing to the moon with homemade instruments and generally having a good time."

Chris's work can be seen throughout the five boroughs and beyond. His trademark smiley hearts display various expressions. Seemingly dependent on what kind of mood he's in when he makes them, or in what surroundings they'll be placed.

This heart has become somewhat iconic. It's become a highly recognizable image of happiness and positivity amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. In his Etsy store, you'll find this image decorating such items as zines, candles, chalkware sculptures, shirts, canvas and more. Although the heart is what he seems best known for, he has plenty of other designs and mediums that he works with, which can be found over on his website.

photo by  Jake Dobkin

photo by Jake Dobkin

photo via Chris Uphues

photo via Chris Uphues

What was your first concert? 
The Exploited with Generation Waste and The Bhopal Stiffs

Last concert?
The Cars

First album you bought?
Nevermind the Bullocks / Sex Pistols 

Last album you bought?
Ryonen / Man Forever

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
I can't just pick one, there's been a few... The Great 28 / Chuck Berry, The Best of Muddy Waters / Muddy Waters, Plastic Surgery Disasters / Dead Kennedys, The Human Horn / Shooby Taylor

Who is your musical hero?
All for different reasons... Cole Porter, Bismillah Khan, Blind Willie McTell, Jerry Garcia

How important is music to your creative process?
I'm not sure how important music is to my creative process but I definitely enjoy listening to it while I work. 

photo via Chris Uphues

photo via Chris Uphues

1. Climax Blues Band - Couldn't Get It Right
2. Sade - Smooth Operator
3. Captain and Tennille - Love Will Keep Us Together
4. Christopher Cross - Sailing Away
5. Electric Light Orchestra - Mr. Blue Sky
6. Grateful Dead - Eyes of the World
7. R. Kelly - Ignition (Remix)
8. Kenny Rogers - The Gambler
9. Kool and the Gang - Get Down On it
10. Merle Haggard - Okie From Muskogie
11. Taylor Swift - We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together
12. Parliament - Chocolate City
13. Flamingos - I Only Have Eyes For You
14. Solomon Burke - Don't Give Up On Me
15. Steve Miller Band - Take the Money and Run
16. Grateful Dead - Touch of Grey

Background Noise, Episode 31: Steak Mtn by Matt Valerio

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 31, the focus is on artist Steak Mtn.

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 31, the focus is on artist Steak Mtn.

Tampa-raised and now New York-based artist Christopher Norris (aka Steak Mtn) has had his hands in many pots throughout his career. In addition to doing his own art for fun, he's done quite a few album covers and videos for bands you've most likely heard of, designed his own watch, worked in the porn industry (more on that later), as well played in bands himself.

My friend Andy / Astronautalis put me up on the Steak Mtn stuff a few years back after a conversation we had about our mutual admiration for Spring Break/Bad Dad, and I've been hooked ever since.

His most notable recent work would be the album cover he did for Florida punk rockers Against Me! for their 2014 record Transgender Dysphoria Blues. He's also done album art/design work for bands like Surfer Blood, Black Joe Lewis, Atom and His Package and Fences, among many others.

During a brief stint in the Bay Area, he did set design and title cards for fetish porn site Kink.com. That is a feat in and of itself, and a fairly surreal one at that. Just thinking about designing darkly-lit, dungeon-esque sets strictly for people to fuck on it fascinating to me. I bet the guy has some stories.....

kink.com set designed by Christopher Norris

kink.com set designed by Christopher Norris

Working in music/with musicians has seemingly, and hilariously soured his outlook on music in general, having gotten rid of all of his records a few years ago, hating live music, and preferring the sound of people in his building to listening to music when he works. Those feelings though, led to a great mish mash of songs, which you can listen to below.

 

 

What was your first concert?
Deicide at Jannus Landing in St. Petersburg, Florida. Summer of 1990.


Last concert?
On purpose - I truly can’t remember. Live music is a miserable experience and I avoid it all costs.
For business - Against Me! at St. Vitus in Brooklyn, NY this past May. But truth be told, I ignored the first two bands wholeheartedly and then only heard half of AM!’s first song before leaving.


First album you bought?
LL Cool J - “Bigger and Deffer”


Last album you bought?
…………….N/A?


Was there any one record that made a significant impression on you?
The only “album” I still own is “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” by Darkthrone, a cassette version that I bought when I was 16. I chucked or sold all physical copies of my records years ago, but kept that tape for the one or two minutes a year I am nostalgic for my youth.


Who is your musical hero?
The “STOP” button (and finger that presses it) on any device that plays/emits music or Ennio Morricone...depending on the day.


How important is music to your creative process?
100% unimportant. These days, when I do work, I would rather hear general room noise (air conditioning, idiots yelling in my building, street chatter bleeding through the windows) then have to listen to some poor dummie fumble their way towards a song’s end. However, when I did listen to music when making this Steak junk, I mainly listened to Top 40, which was excellent because it is so finite in it’s ease to ignore and holds an unwavering dependability in it’s base sounds and structures. Pop music is the pet that never died, the spouse that never left, the parent that never punished you, the friend that never changed, the dirt that won’t bury you. It’s wonderful stuff.


The Steak Mtn. Playlist
1. Cannibal Holocaust (Main Theme) - Riz Ortolani
2. Maybe (Steak “Remix” - 2014) - The Shangri-La’s
3. Barber / Adagio for Strings (1971) - Conducted by Leonard Bernstein
4. Barber / Adagio for Strings (1982) - Conducted by Leonard Bernstein
5. When I Hear Music - Debbie Deb
(ad nauseum) You Suffer - Napalm Death
186. Radio promo for Lucio Fulci’s “House by the Cemetery” narrated by Brother Theodore

You can also check out more of his work over at his website.

Check out Steak Mtn's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. And stay tuned for next week's episode, featuring the amazing Lucien Shapiro.


Background Noise, Episode 20: Wizard Skull by Matt Bomarr

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 20, the focus is on Brooklyn's  Wizard Skull .

The "Background Noise" podcast series focuses on the music that artists listen to when they work, what music inspires them, or just music they like. This week, in Episode 20, the focus is on Brooklyn's Wizard Skull.

There's no concept or juxtaposition of two pop culture icons that is too weird for Brooklyn-based artist Wizard Skull. Not only does the man also known as Alex Duke have one of the most epic beards in Brooklyn, he has an incredible knack for making you laugh and feel uncomfortable with his drawings.

Some of these concepts include: Kanye West as a duck, Rick Ross as Robocop, Slimer and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as muscle men, rappers holding their cats (the subject of his handmade "Pussy" zine), or even 2Pac and Biggie in a shirtless embrace (for his "Sex Daze" trading card series for MIshka). Not only have these images been wheatpasted all over the city, shown in galleries, or sold as prints, they've also shown up on a series of skateboards he designed for Death Skateboards. He's quite prolific, and always up on his current events.

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He was yet another one of the great artists who contributed to the recent Surplus Candy show, one of the pieces, pasted to the inside of a toilet seat, featured Charlie Brown with a squiggly penis to match his squiggly shirt. And most recently, he and our mutual friend Killer Acid organized Zine Friends, a zine fair that took place at Brooklyn's Cotton Candy Machine.

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I feel like I can't even keep up with the number of zines that he produces. If I could afford it, I'd buy them all. If you think YOU can keep up, you should keep an eye on his online shop, or follow him on Instagram.

What was your first concert?

My first concert was Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band. Other than that, I never had much interest in going to see bands live, but I went to a lot of local band shows with friends just for something to do.
 
What was the last concert you went to?

The last concert I went to was at Bowery Ballroom. I don't know the name of the band. I only went because friends wanted to.

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What was the first album you bought?

I forget what the first music I bought was, but it was probably something I wouldn't be interested in listening to now.

What was the last album you bought?

The last album I bought was Devendra Banhart's Mala. It was alright.

Is there one album that made a significant impression on you?

The album that made a significant impression on me would be Wu Tang's new album. I haven't heard it and have little interest in hearing it,but they are releasing only one copy, which significantly impresses me.

Who is your musical hero?

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There's no way someone could be my hero for playing music. I don't know anything about the people who make the music I like, I just enjoy their music. Aren't hero's supposed to do something heroic? I guess I'd pick the people who sang the "We are the world" song, I forget what that was for, but I think it was a benefit or to bring awareness to something. So I guess that's heroic..

How important is music to your creative process?

Music is important to my creative process because I draw a lot in coffee shops and there are always really annoying conversations happening near me, so if there is music on, it helps drown out the sound of those conversations, and keeps them from distracting me.


Check out Wizard Skull's mix below, download it here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes.

Be sure to check out Wizard Skull on Facebook, and don't forget to like Background Noise on Facebook as well, for updates on future episodes.