los angeles street art

Background Noise, Episode 75: Plastic Jesus 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 76, THE FOCUS IS ON LOS ANGELES STREET ARTIST PLASTIC JESUS

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 76, THE FOCUS IS ON LOS ANGELES STREET ARTIST PLASTIC JESUS

Some have called Plastic Jesus the "Banksy of LA." I suppose it's easy to do that theses days.  Anyone doing stencil-based street art with a message, or intricate street installations meant to provoke thought could be called the "Bansky of (whatever)."

Plastic Jesus has gone a bit viral as of late, due to his commentary on celebrity culture in this day and age. Putting up "Kardashian Parking Only" signs all over Los Angeles got him a bit of attention, as well as his "Stop Making Stupid People Famous" campaign, which emblazons everything from walls to stickers and t-shirts. The phrase resonates so much with people, due to it's simple, but to-the-point statement that says exactly what most of us non-reality tv-watching folks have been thinking the whole time.

He made a bit of a stir in Hollywood a couple of years back due to his life-size depiction of an Oscar statue shooting heroin outside the Oscars. The sculpture featured a placard at the bottom reading "Hollywood's Best Kept Secret," a not-so-subtle statement following the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman's tragic drug overdose that happened a mere few weeks prior to the award ceremony.

Not all of his work is quite as heavy, but all of it does force you to stop and think for a few moments, whether it's about celebrity culture or consumerism, which is something more people should be doing instead of sitting idly by, doing nothing.

What was your first concert?
The Yellow Magic Orchestra, Hammersmith Odeon. London 1980

Last concert/show?
Above and Beyond - Acoustic at the Greek LA

First album you bought?
David Bowie - Scary Monsters

Last album you bought?
Jean Michel Jarre - Equinox released 1978 - Changed electronic music for ever.

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Placebo - Without You I’m Nothing.

Who is your musical hero?
David Bowie

How important is music to your creative process?
Hugely. Music has been a huge part of everything I do. I taught myself to play keyboards age 12 or 13 and built a number of synths. I still write and record my own material. I think everyone needs a creative outlet, without we wither and die. I usually have Absolute radio (a London station) on in the studio, playing anything from Radiohead to The Clash

(VIA RYOT)

Radiohead - Creep
New Order - True Faith
The Clash - I Fought the Law
Happy Mondays - Loose Fit
Edith Piaf - Non je ne Regrette Rien
Placebo - The Crawl
Counting Crows - Long December
Underworld - Born Slippy
John Lennon - Mind Games
Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side
The Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen In Love With Someone
Rui De Silva - Touch Me
Athlete - Wires
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
Catatonia - Road Rage

Check out Plastic Jesus'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 Plastic Jesus's website here.

Background Noise, Episode 73: Phobik 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 73, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST PHOBIK

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 73, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST PHOBIK

Phobik is a self-taught artist from Hollywood, CA. Starting with gory, angst-filled drawings, he quickly progressed into bright colored paintings, drawing inspiration from comic book superheroes to He-Man cartoons.

He's collaborated on canvas and concrete with everyone from Septerhed to MadMan, and recently wrapped a dual show at LA's Stone Malone gallery with Ratchet Man.

First album you bought?
Limp Bizkit - Significant Other


Last album you bought?
Ghostface Killah - 36 Seasons


First concert?
System of a Down / Mars Volta at the Long Beach Arena


Last concert?
Post Malone / Og Maco-Hamoneverything

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


Who is your musical hero?
Jimi Hendrix

How important is music to your creative process?
Imagination needs a soundtrack. As an Artist you gotta try to fit this huge movie worthy story into one scene. sometimes the chords of a background song make the Art Piece come together in a different, satisfying way.

       1. Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It)
       2. Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
       3. Jimi Hendrix - Machine Gun
       4. Ghostface Killah - Love Don't Live Here No More
       5. Queens of the Stone Age - Make it wit chu
       6. Queens of the Stone Age - You Think I Ain't Worth A Dollar, But I Feel Like A Millionaire
       7. Dimmu Borgir - Puritania
       8. GZA - Liquid Swords
       9. Black Sabbath - N.I.B
      10. Janis Joplin - Summertime

Check out Phobik'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 Phobik's Instagram here.

Background Noise, Episode 71: Shark Toof 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 71, the focus is on artist shark toof

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 71, the focus is on artist shark toof

Shark Toof has been a fixture in the Los Angeles street art scene for years now. His iconic shark wheat pastes, which featured "TOOF" strategically placed in the negative space left from rows of shark teeth, were commonplace throughout the streets of many cities, from Los Angeles to New Hampshire. And his gallery art, much more detailed and thought out, continues to wow art collectors worldwide

He has worked closely with PangeaSeed, a Hawaii-based non-profit organization that helps educate and raise awareness about the importance of shark conservation and preserving ocean habitats. PangeaSeed even helped coordinate a shark dive for him so he could better connect with the sharks and the ocean life.

In addition to his website, his work can be seen at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, where his work is part of their permanent collection. He also has two 100 foot murals located in Miami and Los Angeles. The latter of which recently had a preservation fundraiser to keep it visible.

What was your first concert?
New Order or Jesus And Mary Chain, but The LA Dream Team played a lunch time
show at my middle school.  Does that count?

Last concert/show?
The Make Up

First album, tape or cd you bought?
New Order - Substance

Last album you bought?
It's been so long I can't remember.
Either The Wedding Present or Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Jane's Addiction -  Nothing's Shocking

Who is your musical hero?
Robert Smith

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Music is important to my living process.

1975 JAWS THEME SONG
Summertime Rolls - JANE’S ADDICTION
Dance Yrself Clean - LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
Corduroy - THE WEDDING PRESENT
Vapour Trail - RIDE
We Can't Be Contained - THE MAKE UP
Sunshine Smile - ADORABLE
Star Sail - THE VERVE
So What - MINISTRY
I Luv The Valley Oh - XIU XIU
The Fire In Which You Burn Slow - INDELIBLE MCS
Summer Babe - PAVEMENT
2 Kindsa Love - JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION
Birthday (Christmas Eve Christmas Day Remix) ( with Jesus and Mary Chain) - SUGAR CUBES
1969 - THE STOOGES
Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space - SPIRITUALIZED
Mersey Paradise - STONE ROSES
Just Like Honey - JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
Looking At You - MC5
If You're Feeling Sinister - BELLE AND SEBASTIAN
Little Yellow Spider -DEVENDRA BANHART
Thirteen (Demo Version) - FORWARD RUSSIA
Between Us and Them - MOVING UNITS
Do They Owe Us A Living - CRASS
In My Eyes - MINOR THREAT
Plainsong - THE CURE
Ceremony - NEW ORDER
Disorder - JOY DIVISION
Sheep - GONJASUFI
El Camino - ZACKEY FORCE FUNK

Check out Shark Toof'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 Shark Toof's website here.

Background Noise, Episode 70: Morley by Matt Valerio

Los Angeles street artist Morley likes to break up the monotony of everyday routines. He uses witty black and white wheat pastes, often put up strategically based on their surroundings, to provoke thoughts and inject humor when it is needed most.

He uses these wheat pastes to put his own internal thoughts out into the world. Thoughts that he knows others out there can relate to. "Oh Alarm Clock, You Have No Idea What I Can Do With Nine More Minutes," or "I Love You Because We Hate The Same Stuff." They're all quick little reminders not to take ourselves too seriously. Reminders that it's ok to have a little chuckle on your way into work or your way home after a long day.

The art world needs more people who don't take themselves too seriously.

What was the first album you bought?
TAPE: The Pretty Woman Soundtrack. In my defense, my parents had pretty good music taste- so I didn’t need to buy any albums by The Beatles or Tom Waits as they already had them and played them in the house. But I got an infection from hearing the song “The King of Wishful Thinking” by Go West and it was beyond my control. Plus I was 8 years old, so give me a break.

CD: Naughty By Nature’s “19Naughty3.” I wish I could redeem myself with this being better than my first cassette tape, but sadly I cannot. This time you don’t have to give me a break- by 11 I should have known better!

What was the last album you bought?
“Another Eternity” by Purity Ring. It’s pretty good. I got the cover album of Elliott Smith tunes by one of the Avett Brothers on the same day. They’re decent covers for sure but there really is something uniquely magical about Elliott Smith that just can’t be recaptured. I think the attempt was a respectful homage, but on a purely sonic level, any cover of his will always be missing something.

What was your first concert?
White Zombie. It was the “Astro Creep 2000” tour, though- to be honest I went because I had a friend who was really into them and I was more of a fan of the opening band, The Toadies. Looking back, it’s kind of a strange pairing, musically. I still love that first Toadies record, “Rubberneck.” It’s pretty underrated as far as ‘90s post-grunge albums go.

What was your last concert?
Stars at the Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. The band KILLED it and it’s a really great venue. I had seen Built to Spill there right before they broke up. There’s not a bad spot to stand in the house and it’s not obnoxiously large. I don’t bother seeing bands if they outgrow places like The Fonda or the El Rey. I just don’t feel a connection with the band if the venue is huge and overflowing with people.

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
“The Blue Album” by Weezer was a monumentally important record for me. After outgrowing “Hip-Hop Hooray” just in time for Nirvana to abruptly end, I found myself searching for a band that I felt represented who I was. At 12-years-old, you really want a band that will be the bones that you can build an identity around. You take your fashion cues from them, your sense of romance, rebellion and swagger. As much as I would have liked to relate to Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder, they just seemed too handsome and mythic. Instead, I gravitated to Rivers Cuomo. He sang about seeking refuge in his garage and playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was like he was singing just to me! In a time of somewhat dour music, Weezer seemed happy with who they were. They weren’t ashamed of their nerd status, they wore it as a badge of honor. This was incredibly empowering at a time when I really needed it. Even though the band has since evolved in a direction that I don’t dig, I still wear the same horn rimmed style glasses that Rivers’ sports and take it as a compliment when people say we look alike.

Who is your musical hero?
My all-time biggest musical influence has to be Beatles-era Paul McCartney. I’m a bit of a Beatles nut and in studying their influence, I’m fascinated with how much they altered pop culture and the musical landscape. It’s mind boggling. I saw him play in Dodger Stadium last summer (breaking my “only small and medium sized venue” rule) and it was honestly magnificent. That’s a pretty big word but for me, it’s appropriate. My wife and I had crappy seats but just to hear some of my favorite songs sung by the man who wrote them. I mean- I got to hear “Hey Jude” live! It was a bucket list moment for sure.

How important is music to your creative process?
It’s vital for me. I always say that if my work seems like lyrics to a song you like, then I’ve done a good job. Music is really how I grease the wheels of creativity. I have to have something playing any time I work or create. Silence just feels like a brick wall. When I was developing the idea for what I wanted my work to become, I looked to music because unlike a lot of methods of creative expression, there is a more profound relationship formed between the musician and the audience. You can look at a beautiful painting without forming a connection to the artist because the artist isn’t really part of it. Ditto with film and photography. You can feel a connection to an author but it’s still removed from hearing an artist sing directly in your ears. With music, a 12 year old boy in Iowa can listen to Weezer and finally feel like he’s not alone in this world. I wanted the people that saw my work to feel that same connection. I wanted them to feel like it was someONE, not just someTHING talking to them. This is why I include a drawing of myself in all of my work, to try and realize that connection between two humans and remind those who might see what I do and relate to it, that none of us are alone, and hope is not lost when there’s someone to help you back up, even if that help is just a few words pasted on wall.

 

1. “Life of the Party” - Longwave
2. “Sax Rohmer #1” - The Mountain Goats
3. “The Song In My Heart” - Gomez
4. “Beautiful Beat” - Nada Surf
5. “Scenic Pastures” - Archers of Loaf
6. “Bad Reputation” - Freedy Johnston
7. “That’s How Strong My Love is” - Otis Redding
8. “I Should Have Known Better” - The Beatles
9. “Car” - Built to Spill
10. “To All My Friends” - Atmosphere
11. “'Til I Get There” - Lupe Fiasco
12. “Losers” - The Belle Brigade
13. “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan” - Dntel
14. “Eat, Sleep, Repeat” - Copeland
15. “Every Stone” - Manchester Orchestra
16. “Your Hand In Mine” - Explosions in the Sky
17. “Not Miserable” - Frightened Rabbit
18. “The Tracks of My Tears” - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
19. “Nowhere We Cannot Go” - Hayden
20. “Place To Be” - Nick Drake
21. “Heartbeats (The Knife cover)” - Jose Gonzalez
22. “To Sing For You” - Donovan
23. “Murder In The City” - The Avett Brothers
24. “Grizzlies” - Jim & Sam
25. “England” - The National

Check out Morley'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 Morley's website here.

Background Noise, Episode 63: Septerhed 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 63, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST SEPTERHED.

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 63, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST SEPTERHED.

It took me a while to find out that Los Angeles artist Septerhed did more than design cool stickers. His psychedelic black and white square stickers were all over Manhattan around the time my wife and I moved there in 2010, and I was drawn to their simple, but almost Pushead-esque font. Maybe not even Pushead-y, but that’s who I thought of when I saw them. I later learned he did quite a bit more than just sticker art. 

Inspired by street signs and religious imagery early on, Sept graduated at the top of his class at Otis College of Art and Design, where he went for graphic design. He later became a street artist as a personal challenge shortly after graduating. Over time, he’s evolved into more of a muralist than anything else. Beautifying dull walls in Los Angeles and beyond with his brightly-colored illustrations of everything from crazy-looking wolves and rabbits to indescribable abstract greatness. 

A few fun facts about Septerhed……he was born in Japan, but only spent his first year there before moving to the United States. In addition to being an amazing visual artist, he also makes music. Also, one of his public murals was just spotted in the background of Willow Smith’s new “F-C-Q #7” video.  (Seen, top right).

First album you bought?
Poison- Look What the Cat Dragged In

Last album you bought?
DeafHEAVEN- Sunbather

First concert?
David Lee Roth

Last concert?
Melt Banana

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Who is your musical hero?
MIke Patton

How important is music to your creative process?
Sometimes, sometimes not. I never have enough new music. I used to know what I wanted and had no way to get it. Nowadays, I can get whatever I want and I don't know what I want. I need to hire someone to find good music for me. Music is like an amazing curse to me. I fall in and out of love with it all day on the daily. Silence works just as well, but then there's always that time when you find a great bunch of songs and they guide your work.

1. Beck - It’s All In Your Mind
2. Babyland - Structure Fall
3. Wild Nothing - On Guyot
4. Clark - Everlane
5. Deafheaven - Violent
6. Behemoth - Shemhamforash
7. Napalm Death - How The Years Condemn
8. Black Dahlia Murder - Carbonized In Cruciform
9. OHGR - DoG
10. The Armed - Culture Faded
11. Broken Social Scene - All To All
12. Bon Iver - Wisconsin

Check out Septerhed'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 hereCheck out Septerhed's Instagram here.