Background Noise, Episode 41: ELLE 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 41, the focus is on New York artist ELLE.

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 41, the focus is on New York artist ELLE.

ELLE is another artist who doesn't stick to one medium when creating her art. The New Yorker has gotten lots of respect in the street art and graffiti communities over the past few years. Initially, due to some impressive and daring roller pieces high up on billboards, and more recently her bus shelter "ad takeovers". These ad takeovers are quickly becoming more common in the street art world, with keys provided to artists by the Public Ad Campaign. This allows artists to reclaim ad space by replacing advertisements with their own work, often in broad daylight without anyone noticing.

She's quite prolific. You'd be hard-pressed to walk more than a few blocks in New York City's SoHo neighborhood without seeing at least one of her wheat pastes, stickers or tags, and once you notice them there, you'll start noticing them everywhere throughout the five boroughs.

In the past few years, she's painted murals at Miami's Art Basel, collaborated with the likes of legendary street photographer Martha Cooper, Claw Money, the London Police, Bunny M and Shin Shin. In addition to being yet another great artist that Hanksy recruited for Surplus Candy, she's shown her work in well-known galleries alongside artists like Dain, Dee Dee, Beau, Sheryo & The Yok and many others.

Rumor has it that her work will be hitting many more homes in early 2015 when an IKEA-commissioned poster she designed arrives in their stores worldwide.

If you ever find yourself walking over NYC's Williamsburg Bridge, take a glance over the north side of the bridge, Brooklyn side of the water, near where the old Domino Sugar Factory (RIP) used to be. You'll see a giant roller piece she did on the roof of a building staring back at you, right there next to a giant pink Swampy.

The girl has balls. Bigger balls than a lot of men out there right now.

photo by matt bomarr

photo by matt bomarr

What was your first concert?
If I remember correctly, I think it was NewFound Glory-- my best friend Lili and I cut school (we were in high school at the time and she had just gotten her drivers license) and she drove us out to Marine World, where they were playing a show in the middle of the afternoon. We were pretty stoked. Haha.

Last concert/show?
My buddy Mike just took me to see the Die Antwoord concert at Irving Plaza last week. It was sick. I'm in love with Yolandi and Ninja! So hot. My girl Jenny took me to see the Amnesty International show at Barclays a few months ago as well. It was also a ridiculously good show... the lineup included Yoko Ono, a few of the Pussy Riot girls, Lauryn Hill, Blondie, the Flaming Lips, Madonna...it was crazy.

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Huhh... I don't remember actually-- that was so long ago!!! I know the beach boys were on one of my mixed tapes somewhere back in California as a kid... Haha

Last album you bought?
Does adding a song to your Spotify playlist count?! If so, it would probably be Diplo- Set it Off... the music video for that song is super dope- the women in the video pole dancing are such incredibly talented dancers, and so strong! I love it!

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Nosaj Thing- Drift
Die Antword- SOS
The Knife- Deep Cuts
Fever Ray- Fever Ray

Who is your musical hero?
DJ Cat King is one of my best friends and a killer DJ. She stands for what musical performances should be- she's an entertainer, enthralling, talented, beautiful and hard working. I think her and Grimes are tops. The music of Fever Ray and Nosaj Thing have also had a huge impact on me.

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Music is incredibly powerful and greatly influences my creative process. I always wished I was one of those people that saw color when they heard music. Although I don't have that amazing talent, I do think that what I'm creating is intrinsically tied to what I'm listening to at the time. Maybe once or twice a year I discover an album or an artist that I can't stop listening to and it becomes the soundtrack to my life. I'll listen to that album or artist on repeat nonstop for a few months. I associate periods of artwork and places that I live and travel to with the music that I was listening to at that time.

Check out ELLE'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 ELLE's website here and find her on Instagram here.

1. Gigamesh - Redlight (Goldroom Remix)
2. Fatima Al Qadiri - Hip Hop Spa
3. Sia - Chandelier
4. Gold Panda - You
5. Elliot Goldenthal - The Floating Bed
6. Lila Down - Benediction and Dream
7. The Cure - Just Like Heaven
9. NU - Man-O-To (Edit)
10. Wax Tailor - Que Sera
11. Diplo feat Lazerdisk Party Sex - Set it Off
12. Warm Ghost - Myths on Rotting Ships
13. Lorde - Team
14. Faces + xxyyxx - Talk
15. Giraffage + xxyyxx - Even Though
16. FKA twigs - Two Weeks
17. Die Antwoord - Enter the Ninja
18. New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream
19. The Knife - Silent Shout
20. The Knife - Heartbeats
21. Fever Ray - When I Grow Up
22. Nosaj Thing - Fog
23. Nosaj Thing - Quest
24. Jhene Aiko - The Worst
25. Flying Lotus - Camel
26. The Cure - Lullaby
27. Passion Pit - Take a Walk
28. Nicolas Jaar - Mi Mujer


Background Noise, Episode 3: Sacred Youth by Matt Bomarr


My new "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 3, the focus is on Brooklyn's Abel Macias.

photo by  @dgclarkk

photo by @dgclarkk

If you've wandered the streets of New York, you've most likely seen some of Sacred Youth's work. From his bright Pink Clouds pieces, to his yellow rabbit wheat pastes, which often adorn doors and various other surfaces. These alone were enough to get my attention, so when I saw that he was participating in this year's Bushwick Open Studios, and would be opening his studio to the public, I jumped on the chance to check it out. 

I grabbed my friend Seth, and off to the studio we went. On the outside of the building was a great mural he had done with Rae, and as we descended into his basement studio, my eyes widened, and my brain nearly exploded. There were so many different pieces of art down there. From large scale paintings, to smaller prints, t-shirts, stickers, and framed pages from books, overlaid with phrases hand-written by Sacred Youth. Many of it blurred the line between well educated artist and outsider art. In other words, my cup of tea. 

abel old man.jpg

It's very clear that he never sleeps. He recently had a group show with Beau, Elle and Hue at the now defunct White Rabbit gallery on Houston Street here in NY, and his work can often be seen on display in or around Little Skips cafe in Brooklyn. 

abel horse.jpg

A couple of questions:


What was your first concert?

First concert was NIRVANA at the Omni in Atlanta.  1993. so cool. 

Last concert?

Last one was my friends band, SKATERS, from NYC, who just got signed to Warner Bros.  They are awesome.


First album/tape/cd?

Some Weird Al Yankovic cd was probably my first cd.

Was there any one album that made a significant impression on you?

Definitely Nirvana's Nevermind became my soundtrack to my youth.  Energetic, rebellious, at times FUN and upbeat with with Sad angst moments as well.

You can check out more of Abel's work over at his website or on his Instagram

Stream his Background Noise podcast below, on MixCloud, or download it on iTunes 

The Background Noise podcast will be taking a break until Jan 6, returning with a great mix from NYC street artist Gilf!