Background Noise, Episode 13: Jilly Ballistic 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 13, the focus is on    Jilly Ballistic.

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 13, the focus is on Jilly Ballistic.

Jilly Ballistic is pretty much a staple of the New York City subway system. So much so, that many commuters likely pass over her work thinking it's part of the advertising. That's a testament right there to how well she does what she does. Where she chooses to put her work is not random. It is location-scouted and thought out, often measured to fit perfectly where she wants it.  All of this is not an easy feat either, when you factor in the amount of people going in and out of the subway stations daily, not to mention the security cameras everywhere.

Most of the paste ups she does feature historical imagery, and frequently feature gas masks, which is a reference to 2014 being the 100-year anniversary of chemical warfare. It's all very fascinating imagery on its own, so when thrown into the gritty NYC subway system, whether on poles, subway seats or advertising,  it becomes an even more fascinating juxtaposition.

She injects humor into her work as well. Modifying advertisements to look like computer errors or iOS prompts. (For example, an advertisement for the recent Stallone/Deniro boxing flick "Grudge Match" was modified by Jilly to feature a pop-up Mac prompt saying "GERIATRIC ALERT Are you sure you want to make the following movie public? A more self-respecting role choice is recommended. Please review late-career trajectory. "   And that's just the beginning. She has many great ones out there, as well as some pretty witty modified MTA Policy Advisory posters that can all be seen on her Flickr page.

The music she chose for this episode is gritty as well. Some raw Fat Possum blues, indie rock, with a little Billie Holiday thrown in for good measure. It's a great mix. Check it out below after this short Q+A.

What was your first concert?

I haven't thought about this in years. It was Paul Simon's free concert on Central Park's Great Lawn, 1991. I have a handful of vivid memories that include the touch of wet grass, strangers singing in drunken unison and a mannequin's head used as a beach ball.

What was the last concert you went to?

I'll go out on a limb here and say Matthew Barney's 'Road to Fundament' was the last concert. It's a film/art piece, yes, but if you were as (un)forunate as I to see it, you can't escape the soundtrack. The musicians--a classical orchestra to South Central LA marching bands--were present in nearly every scene creating a soundtrack from terrific to torturous ear canal bleeding.

What was the first LP, tape or CD you bought?

I have no idea, but I'm pretty sure it was some Blues on CD. Probably a compilation.


What was the last album you bought?

Last one was 'Black Tambourine' by the band of the same name over iTunes a few weeks ago.

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

 RL Burnside and his album 'A Ass Pocket of Whiskey.' Though born and raised in Brooklyn, I grew up listening to delta blues. Coming across RL was historic for me, he totally shattered my concept of what the Blues could sound like.  I had evolved the moment I heard those first few opening notes. 


Who is your musical hero?

(see above)

How important do you think music is to your creative process?

I've got music playing as I'm cutting out pieces and tracks going as I'm on the subway heading to paste. It enhances my focus, keeps me charged: I'm looking out for cameras, analysing who's around me in the car or platform. The subway is its own massive universe complete with human asteroids, basically. A soundtrack shrinks it down, making it easier to grasp.

Listen to Jilly's mix below, download it here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes.

Also, be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future podcasts, and follow Jilly Ballistic on Instagram here.

Background Noise, Episode 4: gilf! 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 4, the focus is on Brooklyn's gilf! .

Brooklyn artist gilf! has frequently caught my eye. I've seen her work in some group shows on the Lower East Side, and she participated alongside Ron English & Hanksy in "The Art of Comedy", where the 3 artist did pieces in NoLita in 2012 to coincide with the New York Comedy Festival. The above piece, featuring a genetically-modified Colonel Sanders with six wings,  was one of her more memorable pieces from "The Art of Comedy". Like most of her work, this piece had a bit social commentary to it. In addition to it being humorous, and fitting right in alongside the parody that Hanksy was doing (more on him in a future podcast), it still addressed the unnatural modification of the fast food that people worldwide consume on a daily basis, something that needs more awareness. She modified an iconic image to make people laugh, but also think. 

Little Seismic Girl (2011)

Little Seismic Girl (2011)

According to gilf!, her goal is to create art that provokes thoughtfulness and motivates a change of the zeitgeist. A portion of each sale of her artwork is donated to a charity specific to that image, when applicable. After the Fukushima disaster, she put up stencils of a young Japanese girl with a face mask on and a number below it that you could text to donate $10 to the Red Cross to help victims. 

Her work is not strictly outdoors though. gilf! works in many different mediums. From modified eyesight charts to cases of Coca-Cola that look like baby bottles. Her work is not something that you can just look at and walk away from. Sometimes you really have to stop and look close to figure it out what it says, and then interpret it how you will, but either way it makes you think. 

Formula For Disaster (2013)

Formula For Disaster (2013)

gilf! took great joy in compiling this mix, as, like many other artists, music is a big part of her life. 

Hypocrisy on a Crocodile (2013)

Hypocrisy on a Crocodile (2013)

What was your first concert?

I saw Boyz II Men open for MC Hammer when I was 9

Most recent concert?

Recently, I was putting some work up one night when a dear friend called me and said "Prince is playing a secret, last minute show at City Winery tonight. I have an extra ticket. You have twenty minutes to get here".I showed up covered in glue and have never been so present ever in my life. It was mesmerizing and allowed me to experience what it is to truly enjoy the moment. I've always struggled w appreciating live performances but realized with this show, being in an intimate space and only 10' from one of the most epic performers of our time, small venues are the way to go. I will forever be grateful for that experience. 

First album/tape or cd?

Oh god I don't know- my stepmother  at the time owned a radio station so I was fed incredibly awesome and equally horrific 80s & 90s pop music via cassette for years. If I had to guess it was Everything by the Bangles.  

Last album you bought?

La Bala by Ana Tijoux- I first heard her work on one of the musical breaks of Democracy Now. She has an incredible story and I love how it influences her work. 

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

Debut by Björk- it was haunting and honest and spoke directly to my place in the world when my siblings shared it with me. 


Stream the podcast below, listen on Mixcloud, or download on iTunes.

See more of her work over at gilfnyc.com