street art

Background Noise, Episode 84: Mark Jenkins 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 84, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST MARK JENKINS

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 84, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST MARK JENKINS

Mark Jenkins' sculptures are a sight to behold. Witnessing them in all their glory in person is absolutely fascinating. Using a combination of saran wrap and tape, he makes life-size replicas of humans and various other objects that seem real until you're right up close. 

His work has been perceived to be SO realistic, that people often call the police, concerned that someone is actually in one of the predicaments that Mark has staged his sculpture. Somehow, I think Mark relishes this, as part of the reason he places his work in the street is to see how people interact with it. 

You can see many more of Mark's impressive creations here.

What was your first concert?
The Fixx

Last concert/show?
Glastonbury Festival

First album, tape or cd you bought?
AC/DC - If You Want Blood (You Got It) 

Last album you bought?
Rolling Stones -  Tattoo You

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Rustie - Glass Swords

Who is your musical hero?
Beethoven, Ennio Morricone

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Instrumental music a lot, but I just need it in bursts. Reflecting on music for me is as important as listening to it.

Death Mountain -- Rustie
Unrequited--Cylob
Quest -- Nosaj Thing
Slow Spines -- Clark
IOIO -- Nosaj Thing
Coke Sniffah -- Bong Ra
Dark Steering -- Squarepusher
Her Tears Taste Like Pears -- Dorian Concept
Horizontal Figuration -- Take
Imagination -- DJ Hidden & Switch Technique
German Clap -- Modeselektor
Ruk -- Dark Sk

Check out Mark'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 82: Bleep 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 82, THE FOCUS IS ON BLEEP

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 82, THE FOCUS IS ON BLEEP

Bleep loves both food and pop culture. He loves them so much that they get absorbed right into his art. Literally. Not only has he painted sidewalks with mustard, but he's led some pretty interesting experiments in the shelf-life of McDonald's burgers. Recently, he even had a show at Stone Malone Gallery in Los Angeles, fittingly titled "Eat."

Whether he's drawing demented Mickey Mouse figures , interpreting album covers from the Doors, or just drawing the wickedly imaginative images his brain 'splodes onto the canvas, he's always putting his own signature style forward. 

What was your first concert?
Imma say local bands cuz the major label acts were too embarrassing to name.

Last concert/show?
Squarepusher at the Regent Theatre

First album you bought?
Usher "My Way" the single with 3 different versions on it

Last album you bought?
No idea

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?
Squarepusher's Ultravisitor completely destroyed the way in which i thought about orchestrated sound, it will probably be the greatest musical moment of my life.

Who is your musical hero?
Les Claypool

How important is music to your creative process?
Being a classically trained musician, I would say music is all encompassing. I hate to parrot great quotes by people I cant remember but "music is how you decorate time, art is how you decorate space."

Check out Bleep'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 Bleep's Instagram here.

Background Noise, Episode 81: Dee Dee 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 81, THE FOCUS IS ON DEE DEE

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 81, THE FOCUS IS ON DEE DEE

No one really knows a whole lot about mysterious street artist Dee Dee. There is literally no revealing information on the internet about her. Despite this, Dee Dee has quickly amassed quite a cult following over the past couple of years. Her colorful, collage edits often feature beautiful, sultry women smiling, screaming or staring right through you. It's all quite mesmerizing, to say the least. 

She just hosted a small, but impressive pop-up show called "The Day Is My Enemy"  in New York City with the fine folks at Montreal's Station 16 Gallery. Being one of the many "cult followers" of her work myself, I nearly hopped on a plane to make the opening. From what I've heard from friends, it was quite the success. 

Dee Dee doesn't really say much. As you can see, the answers to my music questions are not exactly, well....verbose. She prefers to let the music do the talking, as you can witness yourself with the excellent gothy/synth mix she compiled for this. 

Oh, and for a limited time, she's got some artwork available for purchase direct through Station 16. I'd say get them now, while you can still afford them. She's rising fast. 

What was your first concert?

Last concert/show?

First album you bought?

Last album you bought?

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?

Who is your musical hero?
I love David Bowie. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly he is always changing. Always risking.

How important is music to your creative process?
Music is everything.

1. "Masked Ball" - Jocelyn Pook
2. "The Calling (MkII)" - Death In June
3. "A Question Of Time" - Clan Of Xymox
4. "Baby Turns Blue" - Virgin Prunes
5. "Cities In Dust" - Siouxsie And The Banshees
6. "Deep Ocean Vast Sea" - Peter Murphy
7. "Films" - Gary Numan
8. "Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead" - Assemblage 23
9. "Night Time" - Killing Joke
10. "Chance" - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
11. "Baby's On Fire" - Brian Eno
12. "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" - Revolting Cocks
13. "Now I'm Feeling Zombified" - Alien Sex Fiend
14. "I'm Insane" - Sonic Youth
15. "Lucretia My Reflection - Sisters Of Mercy
16. "Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me" - IAMX
17. "Applause" - Lady Gaga
18. Coming Down (Slow Version) - Daniel Ash

Check out Dee Dee's mix below, download it directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast oniTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes here. Check out Dee Dee's Instagram 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 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 72: Adam Void 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 72, THE FOCUS IS ON ADAM VOID

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 72, THE FOCUS IS ON ADAM VOID

Adam Void is an Outsider. He lives on the edge of a mountain in the green paradise of Appalachian North Carolina with his wife, Chelsea Ragan and his daughter. He has been making art in the public sphere since 1998. He has been politically active from childhood, spending a moment everyday to take a jab at the dominant, oppressive, racist, misogynist, elitist, capitalist, police state of contemporary culture. He has been blessed to visit 40 of these United States (mostly by freight train or rideshare) and has determined that the people of this country vary widely by region, and are only united through this thing called Popular Culture. He is very interested in understanding how art/music/literature that is counter to this culture can use the distribution methods of popular culture to subvert the system. He has also made noisy music since 1997, the most recent of which can be found here.

What was your first concert? 
REM (Green Tour) - April 25, 1989 - Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, SC
I was very young, but the fact that REM was from the South was not lost on me. I quickly got into the B52's, Flat Duo Jets, and Pylon. My parents had me when they were teenagers, so they were kinda hip and cool. I saw the B52's with Tears for Fears pretty early on too. We were into the early 90's environmental movement of recycling, anti-Styrofoam, and anti-CFC's. I grew up political-minded with an emphasis on Southern American counterculture.

Last concert/show? 
Jefferson Mayday Mayday, Secret Boyfriend, Yohimbe, Sagan Youth, and Adam Void - December 2014 - Meadows of Dan, Carrboro, NC
My lifelong friend, Jefferson Mayday Mayday asked me to play this show with him during his recent trip to the US from Sydney Australia. Sadly, I haven't been able to afford to see many of the great shows that have come to Asheville recently. Neutral Milk Hotel, Kraftwerk, Panda Bear, and Daniel Johnston have all asked for over $30 a ticket.  Add to that, the fact that I am a father of an eight month old baby. No time.

First album you bought?
New Kids on the Block, Hanging Tough - 1988
What can I say, I bought into the popular current of those bad boys, the New Kids. I saw them in concert too, slightly after the REM show. It was pretty impressive to see Donnie Wahlberg hanging by one hand off of an elevated cage while singing a pop song. There was lots of girls there too.

Last album you bought?
Laurie Anderson - Mister Heartbreak or Bell Biv Devoe - Poison single
I mostly listen to cassette tapes that I find at the pay-by-the-pound thrift store in Asheville, NC. This way, what I hear is a coincidental luck-of-the-draw based on what people are throwing away at any time. I mostly put them in my pocket as I walk around the store, but sometimes I pay fifty cents a piece for them.

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?
Nirvana - Incesticide
I was a devoted Nirvana fan with the whirlwind of Nevermind and the cultural upheaval that followed, but Incesticide managed to strike a much different chord in my mind. It was the most under-produced recording I had heard to date, blending pop with noise in an infectious, chaotic mess. From there, I better understood Devo, the Vaselines, the Pixies, Daniel Johnston, and Sonic Youth. Going down the rabbit hole. And the artwork.... I still wear my original Incesticide shirt, and sadly just got a bunch of black paint on it from a recent spot with Fishglue NGC. :(

Who is your musical hero?
Black Flag (as a whole)
Through all of the line-up changes, they managed to create the independent distribution, touring, and promotion network that became the vehicle for the late 80's to early 90's US underground. They created what's understood as Hardcore, and then abandoned the cliche to experiment with spoken-word, instrumental jam, and metal edged sounds. All this plus the amazing artwork of Raymond Pettibon and publicizing through graffiti and wheatpaste.

May I also say, that I would not be the same artist today, if it were not for the musical impact of a single individual, Joe Ahearn. I met Joe in Brooklyn during the Summer of 2006. He had recently taken over curatorial duties at the original Silent Barn, and had just launched (in partnership with Todd P) a monthly publication of underground music shows called Showpaper. I was, and still am, amazed by the creative energy and DIY ethos embodied in Joe. He introduced me to all the sounds of my four years in New York; Secret Project Robot, Dead Herring, Death by Audio, the Woodser, Goodbye Blue Monday, and later, Shea Stadium. This man is a creative and organizational genius.

How important is music to your creative process?
Music is essential to my creative process.
I got into graffiti through promoting for my high school punk band, Plain Crash. We would follow Black Flag's model by spray painting controversial slogans and wheatpasting fliers on telephone poles of rural South Carolina side streets. Nowadays in my studio, I jam crackly thrift store mixtapes, and on the way to the spot, Ive been rocking this amazing rarities album from the Cure titled Concert and Curiosity.

Black Flag - Spray Paint the Walls (1981)
Circle Jerks - Deny Everything (1980)
The Choir Quit - MBUR (2010)
Sonic Youth - Mildred Pierce (1990)
Nirvana - Tourette's (Live 1992 - Reading Festival, UK)
Japanther - Radical Businessman (2009)
Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland, 1945 (1998)
The Germs - Forming (1981)
The B52's - 52 Girls (Live 1980 - Capitol Theatre, GA)
Skull and Dagger - GPS Atlantis (2014)
Rage Against The Machine - Freedom (Live 1996 - Munich, DK)
In/Humanity - Against All Youth (1997)

Check out Adam Void'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 Adam's website 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 69: Lunar New Year 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 69, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST LUNAR NEW YEAR.

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 69, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST LUNAR NEW YEAR.

Lunar New Year (sometimes referred to as simply LNY) is an Ecuadorian-born street artist/muralist currently based out of New Jersey.

His works often depict the lesser-seen people in certain cultures or locales, bringing attention to those who wouldn't normally have their faces front and center.

He says this about his chosen alias:

"LNY is a label that I found for myself that later gained meaning and is still gaining meaning and changing. After adopting the letters as a moniker I found out that the acronym stands for "Lunar New Year" and when I Googled it, i saw all these pictures of celebration and teens having a great time in Asia - so now I have adopted this moniker because of that experience but also because of the of the Lunar New Year being this metaphor for an alternative; be it the lunar calendar or a different way of counting time or experiencing life and viewing the world."

Music is very important to him. Case in point, he not only included an hour's worth of music hand-picked for this series, but he also included a BONUS MIX that is near and dear to his heart. You'll find that further down below.

What was your first concert?
Manu Chao at Central Park Summerstage

Last concert/show?
The Freq Show at Seed in Newark

First album you bought?
more like first song I illegally downloaded: Thom Yorke and Bjork, "I've Seen it All"

Last album you bought?
Las Cafeteras - It's Time

Was there one record that made a significant impression on you?
"What if someone is watching their T.V." by Screaming Females because it showed me that independence, hard work and community support is all the success you need.  

Who is your musical hero?
Cafe Tacuba, hands down.

How important is music to your creative process?
It carries me, inspires me and keeps me sharp - I play music pretty much 24 hours a day which so it's like the blood flow of my creativity.

 

Cruzada Mix
It's Movement Time - Las Cafeteras
Alright - Kendrick Lamar
Latinoamérica - Calle 13
Lenape Lane - Ratking
Bikini Weather / Corazon en Afrika - Princess Nokia
Mi Bandera - Whitest Taíno Alive
How We Chill - Mello Mel
Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar) Flying Lotus
Sycamore Tree - Kali Uchis
Half of it  - Kap G featuring Devour
AyAyAy - Snow Tha Product
Working Like A Mexican Feat Chingo Bling -  Kap-G
Whip It (Remix) Feat. Migos  Rich The Kid -  ILoveMakonnen
Teach Me (feat. Kiesza) - Joey Bada$$
Rose Mountain - Screaming Females
Jardinera - Rita Indiana & Los Misterios
Birthday Song - Kali_Uchis
Mexico Momma Came From Mexico - Kap G
Olita del Altamar - Cafe Tacuba
Ahora Nosotros Mixtape - Chancha Via Circuito

Check out LNY'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 LNY's website here.

LNY's BONUS MIX:

INTENDED TO BE LISTENED TO IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING
BACKGROUND NOISE, EPISODE 69

Background Noise, Episode 68: General Howe by Matt Valerio

I stumbled on artist General Howe strictly via the internet. I'm not sure if it was via Tumblr or Instagram, but I was initially drawn to his animated Disasters of War GIFs. The GIFs depicted war cartoons, mainly of the GI Joe variety, either looped at significant moments in order to relay a message, or digitally altered to tell a different story. (You can see a whole bunch of these amazing pieces of digital work here).

When I first reached out to him to do an episode for this series, I hardly knew much about him aside from these particular works. It wasn't until I did a bit more research that I stumbled on just how much General Howe really does. Turns out, it doesn't exist solely on digital servers and personal computers....he's done a whole slew of installations on the street. Whether it's wheat pastes, or little plastic army men set up in the streets of Brooklyn, he's on a mission to remind people about the casualties of war and the fact that there are still wars going on in this beautiful world of ours.

I decided to dig a little deeper and find out what makes the General tick:

Where are you from, originally?
I grew up in Northern Virginia. A place called Reston.

I'm primarily familiar with your GIF work. How much do you find you manipulate the GIFs? Or are you finding quick snippets from cartoons that have significance, and highlighting them? I guess I'm curious more about that process. Maybe you even draw them completely from scratch! Would love to know more.
The Gifs are mostly borrowed from GI Joe and Rambo cartoons from the 1980's. Some of them are untouched and I just find the perfect moments to loop. Others like the 9/11 specific gifs involve lots of manipulation and collaging of imagery. I'll draw in blood and guts, change colors, or eliminated parts of a figure or background to simplify and make the message more clear. Reacting to the imagery is the root of the process. I'm also reacting to war, history, culture, current events, my own condition. The recent short film I made (Hector Delgado Has PTSD) took the gifs a step further.  I took whole scenes of animation and dialogue and re-edited them to tell a story of war. This process could definitely be pushed further. (Check out Hector Delgado Has PTSD below):

I've read a bit about your Battle of Brooklyn project. Is that still ongoing, or have you wrapped that up?
The Battle of Brooklyn work went on from 2007-2011 and then I left New York for three years. It was primarily a site specific street art project so it made no sense for me to continue it elsewhere. If I hadn't left New York I may not have gotten into all the gif work which has been really exciting. Now that I'm back I'm deciding if i want to continue the B.O.B. or close that chapter. New York has a way of making those decisions for you. To be determined is my official answer.

What other type of work do you do? I'm fascinated now that I've learned that you do so much more than the GIF art.
Man I do almost everything. I studied painting in art school so everything I do is approached as a painter. I just returned from three years of isolation in Wisconsin. I did tons of drawing and big sloppy painting. I also learned how to do the gifs while there. The last two presidential elections i've merged the candidates with the batman mythology. Thats been realized through silk screen, street art, a fake news blog, zine, stickers... In the four years of working on the B.O.B. i did installations, silk screen, lino cut's, some clay pieces, mixed media and a mural.

What's next for you project-wise?
This is the big question for myself right now. I have a 3-d printing idea that I really want to execute. Glitch paintings. The animated Disasters of War still has a lot of potential. Keep learning and pushing new technology. While in Wisco I made big strides in my process and understanding of painting, I don't want to lose that. Hopefully I'll find a way to get a space and keep that going. I might have a show next year and that might force a particular direction to be focused on. I'm definitely at a cross roads right now.

First album you bought?
First album(s) I bought were NIrvana- In Utero and Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle. On cassette! The comic in the Doggystyle album was so clever.

What was the last album you bought?
S.S. Brooklyn by Loyd H. Miller. It's a sing-a-long album for my 2 year old son. It's good, one song has a reference to the Battle of Brooklyn.

First concert?
First concert was Red Hot Chilli Peppers show and Foo Fighters opened for them. My friend had an extra ticket and invited me, I owe him big time for that.

Last concert?
I had a student who played in a school-of-rock kind of band covering classic rock songs. Some of his performances were the last shows I saw.

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Maybe the Nirvana Albums. I used listened to them all the time as a kid. The Unplugged album. As an adult I can never get enough Wu-Tang.

Who is your musical hero?
My friend Pam Reyes is a young artist and musician pursuing a music career. I'm humbled to know and follower her on the journey. She's my musical hero.

How important is music to your creative process?
When I need to grind out a long laborious physical piece I'll have music playing. Shuffling music is perfect for me, the constant contrast of genre's keeps me from getting to comfortable or complacent. For a recent short film I made, I researched and listened to music that was used to torture inmates at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons. A list of some of those songs is what I chose to present for this Background Noise episode.

The Torture Playlist

1. Eminem - The Real Slim Shady
2. Dope - Take Your Best Shot
3. Bee Gees - Stayin Alive
4. Meow Mix Theme
5. Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People
6. Queen - We Are The Champions
7. Metallica - Enter Sandman
8. AC/DC - Hell’s Bells
8. Barney - I Love You
9. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
10. Sesame Street Theme Song

Check out General Howe'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 General Howe's website here.