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Background Noise, Episode 25: Blek Le Rat 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 25, the focus is on legendary Parisian stencil artist Blek Le Rat.

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 25, the focus is on legendary Parisian stencil artist Blek Le Rat.

Parisian stencil artist Blek Le Rat is another artist that I'm absolutely honored to have on board for this project. For over 30 years, Blek (born Xavier Prou) has been doing his thing, putting up his signature stencil works in cities throughout the world.

photo by  Zerbi Hancok

photo by Zerbi Hancok

Long before Banksy became associated with stencils of rats, Blek was stenciling them throughout the streets of Paris, inspired by them because they create fear and are synonymous with invasion. Despite being known for this, they aren't the only thing he's incorporated into his art. He's done self-portraits, images of Warhol, Amy Winehouse and various homeless people, often life-size stencils.

Blek continues to go strong, still doing work in the street, despite some run ins with the law, and often has gallery shows. I checked out one of his shows years ago when I lived in San Francisco, and saw his impressive Ignorance Is Bliss show at Jonathan Levine Gallery last year here in New York.

His Background Noise covers a lot of ground in its short 33 minutes, and I'm impressed when someone can go right from Neil Young's "Old Man" into Rick Ross's "Hustlin". It gives me that much more respect for him.

photo by  vitostreet

photo by vitostreet

photo by Matt Bomarr

photo by Matt Bomarr

First concert?
Rolling Stones 1969, London - Tribute to Brian Jones


Last concert?
Scred Connexion


First album?
Sgt Pepper


Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
Hendrix - Electric Ladyland


Who is your musical hero? Eminem

How important is music to your creative process?
It makes me forget that I am working

1. Wax Tailor - "The Games You Play"
2. "NTM - "Pose Ton Gun"
3. Eminem - "Real Slim Shady"
4. 2pac - "California Love"
5. Wax Tailor - "Que Sera"
6. Neil Young - "Old Man"
7. Rick Ross - "Hustlin"

9. Kevin Coyne - "Marlene"
10. Bob Marley - "Redemption Song"

 

Check out his mixtape below, download it here, or subscribe to Background Noise for free on iTunes. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes.

Background Noise, Episode 14: C215 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 14, the focus is on Parisian artist    C215.

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 14, the focus is on Parisian artist C215.

Photo by Matt Bomarr

Photo by Matt Bomarr

C215 is a very prolific Parisian stencil artist who has been perfecting his art for many years now. His subjects tend to lean towards those that are hidden from society: Homeless people, street kids, the elderly, etc. By doing this, he aims to bring attention to people that society has forgotten about. He doesn't stick to just those subjects though. He'll just as easily put stencils of cats and even his daughter (who is becoming a stencil artist in her own right) on the streets. All of his stencils are extremely detailed, down to every whisker or wrinkle on someone's face.

As usual, in my walks around New York City and Brooklyn, I stumbled on multiple pieces of his. They always made me stop and look close.  I've since seen his work in Opera Gallery in SoHo and on my honeymoon a couple of years ago, I visited Opera Gallery Paris where a very kind gallery employee pulled some of his pieces out of storage and let me photograph them.

Photo by Matt Bomarr

Photo by Matt Bomarr

He shows no signs of quitting any time soon. This guy will be around for a while.

Based on my interaction with him, music is DEFINITELY a big part of his creative process. When I asked for music, he sent a playlist containing over 50 songs, which would have made a roughly 5-hour podcast, so he gave me permission to whittle it down to fit my format. It's a beautiful collection of songs that I've already listened to a few times, and I'm excited to share it with you.

Check out more of his work here, or on his website.

What was your first concert? 
Antibes Jazz festival in 1984


Last concert/show?
A sound system in Kingston last week


First album, tape or cd you bought?
David Bowie lets dance in 1984?


Last album you bought?
Tabouley Rochereau


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


Who is your musical hero?
David Bowie


How important do you think music is to your creative process?
Its part of my life, so its part of my art

photo by Matt Bomarr

photo by Matt Bomarr

Stream C215's mix below or download it directly here.

Subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes, and be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates.