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Background Noise, Episode 57: Jeremy Fish 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 57, the focus is on artist jeremy fish

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 57, the focus is on artist jeremy fish

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat….Jeremy Fish often has a spectacular beard. So spectacular that when you do a Google image search for Jeremy Fish, his beard has its own sub-section. As far as I’m concerned, he’s rivaled in the art world only by Brooklyn’s Wizard Skull

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the man attached to the beard. Jeremy was born in New York in the 70s, but has spent the past 20 years or so in San Francisco. He’s a fine artist, commercial illustrator, screenprinter, and has a degree in painting. He’s designed skateboards, t-shirts, vinyl toys, sneakers, done large scale murals, you name it. If you’re familiar with him, you already know what he’s capable, if not, you’ve most likely seen his work somewhere without even knowing it.

He’s done artwork for albums by his good friend, rapper Aesop Rock (None Shall Pass and Ghosts of the Barbary Coast), and they even collaborated on a book/7” called The Next Best Thing. The book was a modern take on the book and record combos from back in the day….You know, the ones that said, ”You will know it is time to turn the page, when you hear the bell ring like this.” Only this one had Jeremy doing the artwork, and Aesop Rock narrating the story. 

He also had a great sculpture of one of his classic pink bunnies become a staple of the Lower Haight before it was torn down to make way for a new housing development. Fortunately, thanks to a Kickstarter Jeremy put together, enough money was raised to put a bronze version of that same sculpture back up near the same spot. No word yet on when it will be going up, but it’ll happen. 

Recently, Jeremy started posting some new work on his website. His Six Symmetric Skulls Series, which all featured alliteration-filled names, and ranged in date from 11/2014 to 1/2015, the point in time where Jeremy was recovering from surgery for a large brain aneurysm. He introduces the illustrations as “Six post brain surgery skull compositions…” He’s been moving forward, still creating regularly, but has another surgery coming up, which he’s expressing anxiety about in his sketches. A sign of a true artist……staying fully motivated and creative even when life throws you curveballs. 

I have nothing but respect for this man. 

What was your first concert?
Sting at SPAC in Saratoga Springs, NY

Last concert/show?
Hail Mary Mallon at the Fillmore here in SF

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Newcleus "Jam On It"

Last album you bought?
Michael Christmas "Is This Art?"

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Company Flow "Funcrusher Plus"

Who is your musical hero?
Aesop Rock

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Immeasurable. Especially in the years before the internet. I would draw to the same cassette or cd until I broke it.

1) Company Flow "Patriotism"
2) Rakim "Microphone fiend "
3) Casual "Styles"
4) Nas "NY state of Mind"
5) Danny Brown "Monopoly"
6) Aesop Rock "Tetra"
7) Action Bronson "Easy Rider"
8) Despot "Crap Artists"
9) Ghostface Killah "Run"
10) Troy Ave "My Grind"
11) Homeboy Sandman "Mine All Mine"
12) Public Enemy "Black Steel in The Hour Of Chaos"
13) Hail Mary Mallon "Hang Ten"
14) Frank Sinatra "A Very Good Year"

Check out Jeremy'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 Jeremy's website here

Background Noise, Episode 40: Travis Somerville 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 40, the focus is on San Francisco-based artist Travis Somerville.

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 40, the focus is on San Francisco-based artist Travis Somerville.

independence day

independence day

Travis Somerville's work is challenging. The art he creates is deeply rooted in his southern Christian upbringing. Born in Atlanta in 1963 to civil rights activists, he experienced racial tension firsthand, something that obviously made a lasting impression on him. He's been incorporating all of this into his work for 25+ years now, although his home base has been San Francisco for quite some time.

The overall theme of his work is oppression and greed. When he juxtaposes his work onto particular surfaces, they seem to become even more powerful than if they just stood on their own. For example, his Independence Day series, which places Work Projects Administration images of African-Americans on authentic cotton-picking sacks. The Work Projects Administration being the former federal agency that existed from the mid 30s to the early 40s, and employed millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works jobs. 

Or The Love That Forgives, a set of 4 wooden school chairs, each depicting the face of a young girl who died in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. This event was a racially-motivated act of White Supremacist terrorism, and a major turning point in the Civil Rights movement.

BORN INTO IT

BORN INTO IT

His Born Into It piece is particularly powerful. A collection of 12 canvas bank bags, each with a graphite painting of a slavery-era African-American, causing you to really think about the connection between old money and slavery, and how many slaves simply had no choice in the outcome of their lives, they were born into it. It's all up to the individual's interpretation though.

I personally love his work. And this mix he put together is impressive. It's interesting to see the work he chose for this. Ranging from good ole Americana to rootsy blues, to the more gritty Killing Joke, PIL and The Jam songs. It's a fun ride.

 

 

What was your first concert?
I grew up going to see folks like Linda Ronstadt and Kris Kristofferson but the first one I got to choose was America. I think it was my 10th birthday. 

Building balanced children

Building balanced children

What was your last concert?
Merle Haggard with Dave and Phil Alvin.

What was the first album you bought?
Jackson 5  Goin Back to Indiana  (I really wanted one of their jumpsuits on the inside cover to wear to school)

What was the last album you bought?
Tom Petty. Hypnotic Eye. Good ol' rock n roll again. 

Was there one particular record that made a significant impression on you?
Sex Pistols   Never mind the bollocks here's the...... Could also say London Calling. I bought it as an import when it came out. They both were turning points for me musically and socially.

Who is your musical hero?
Elvis. Is there any other?

How important is music to your creative process?
I listen to it all day in the studio. I would say music and film have a huge influence on my work. Most of my friends are musicians, artists are too hard to hang out with.

Check out Travis'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 Travis Somerville's website here and find him on Instagram

1. Shovels and Rope - The Fall of Charleston       
2.  Jim Carroll Band  - People Who Died
3. PIL - Analisa
4. Chuck Prophet - Willie Mays is up at Bat
5. Faces - Ooh La La
6. Killing Joke - S. O. 36
7. Rolling Stones  - Star Star
8. Ramones - 53rd and 3rd
9. Junior Kimbrough - Release Me
10. The Jam - Billy Hunt
11. J. Geils Band - Must Have Got Lost
12. Lou Reed - Strawman
13. Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War
14. Dave and Phil Alvin - Key To The Highway
15. Mott The Hoople - I Wish I Was Your Mother

Background Noise, Episode 32: Lucien Shapiro 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 32 the focus is on Lucien Shapiro.

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 32 the focus is on Lucien Shapiro.

San Francisco-based artist Lucien Shapiro's work is like none I've ever seen. I was impressed with his painstakingly created masks the first time I saw them, but even MORE impressed once I looked a little bit closer and saw what they were made from. Using found objects, Lucien pieces together these ancient warrior-looking masks using modern day found objects.

His work is always open to interpretation by the viewer, but often has a personal connection or meaning to him. He incorporates bottle caps into a lot of his pieces, which appeal to Lucien because they are circles, and to him they symbolize his belief that everything comes full circle. A recent piece from his show at San Francisco's 111 Minna Gallery, which features a large number of condoms strung together, represents a "protection mask." One of his pieces even consists of different colored skateboard wheels tied together with twine and draped over a skull. It's all very fascinating stuff.

He's made a few videos as well. These videos are usually like mini art films that document some of the "rituals" that get performed by people wearing Lucien's masks. They are always beautifully shot, and usually soundtracked by fellow San Franciscan and beatmaker extraordinaire, Edison.

At the moment, I'm unaware of any upcoming gallery shows of his, but you can check out his website, his Twitter or his Instagram for updates.

photo via lucienshapiro.com

photo via lucienshapiro.com

What was your first concert?
I'm sure this wasn’t the first concert I went to but definitely the first one I remember was MC Hammer .

Last concert/show?
Haven’t been keeping up with my shows watching or concerts lately I am a bad fan I guess. Last one I remember was the Gaslamp Killer and DJ Shadow or Thee Oh Sees. About to go see Babelfishh , Swordplay, Pierre the motionless, James Reindeer, and Home on Friday.

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Shit not quite sure what was first but I did get Talking Heads tape Little Creatures pretty young. That was a good one.

Last album you bought?
Heavier Percussion tape from Egadz

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Soo many to chose from. But the Beastie Boys License to Ill may have flipped the whole thing for me.

Who is your musical hero?
Shit, man so many on this question too, I would have to say Mike Patton. but so many more as well.

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Very very very very very important. Without it I couldn’t get into my flow in the studio, I don’t need it always but it keeps me in it.

Check out Lucien'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 UK artist Paul Insect.

Brand new Edison project - "The Full Mustafa" by Matt Bomarr

Bomarr Blog super friend Edison from San Francisco just released this Full Mustafa project via the 900bats site. He says:

“yodels brodels… been sitting on this lil’ project for a few months… it is 20 beats of flipped and bugged out psych rock… shit your uncle hippy wished he had heard while he was ripping tubes in his teenage flower powered sweaty VW bus… just in case the listeners of bat-tapes forgot how to do it, i got evak1 and beastmaster to rip a track each…. pure posterity bros….”

Go grab it for free right here

The Nuns - "Anita" by Matt Bomarr

the nuns - "anita" (download) [audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/13196200-adc.mp3]

I'll be honest, The Nuns pretty much suck.  This album artwork sucks, and every song on this album (2006's New York Vampires) sucks, except for this particular track, "Anita." They even have a cover of Kiss's "Christine" on here, and that sucks too.  These guys used to be a pretty raw San Francisco-based punk/new wave band back in the '70's.  They even opened for the Sex Pistols.  This particular record is weird ethereal goth rock, with the exception of this particular song, which doesn't really fit on the record.  "Anita" sounds like it could be an extra dark Suzanne Vega track.  Although I can't stand the rest of this record, I really do love this song.

Benito - "Space Food Gives Me Bubblegut" by Matt Bomarr

benito - "space food gives me bubblegut" (download) [audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/11915805-8f9.mp3]

From San Francisco beatmaker Brian "Benito" McNally's new digital album My First Trip To Outer Space. Some really great spaced out head nodders on here.   Recommended for fans of Mochipet, Lazer Sword, etc.  When he's not making beats, you can find Brian rubbing elbows with the likes of Salva, Mike Boo, DJ Dials and Broken Figures at various clubs around the city.  Download this new record for only $5 right here. soundcloud

Butterfly Bones - "Honeycake" by Matt Bomarr

butterfly bones - "honeycake" (download) [audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/11777264-b56.mp3]

San Francisco's Butterfly Bones makes some pretty straight-forward, catchy synthpop.  Although not for everyone, this is highly recommended if you like Penguin Prison or Cut Copy.  This is from their Pretty Feelings EP which you can buy  direct from them here myspace