wheatpaste

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 53: Swoon 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 53, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST SWOON

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 53, THE FOCUS IS ON ARTIST SWOON

photo via  unurth.com

photo via unurth.com

Swoon is a humanitarian, to say the least. She's devoted pretty much all of her artistic time to the betterment of man (and woman)kind. Filled with positivity, and always aiming to inspire change, Swoon, also known as Caledonia "Callie" Dance Curry, has left her mark everywhere she's gone.

Let's look at a couple of her notable endeavors:

She has her Konbit Shelter Project, where she and a team of others build housing in Haiti that consists of 10% cement and 90% earth, and are resistant to anything Mother Nature may choose to throw at them. Be it earthquakes, fires, tornadoes and floods, these shelters are not only beautiful, but they're sturdy.

There's the Braddock Tiles Project, where she is turning an abandoned church in Braddock, PA into an experiential learning and arts-based community center.

And on top of that, for her well known 2013 contribution to Goldman Properties' Bowery Wall mural series, she made it less about her, and more about the people affected by the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Her biggest contribution to that mural was her depiction of Greek sea goddess Thalassa, rising from the center, surrounded by imagery sourced from stories youth employment groups gathered from local communities in the area.

She's working hard to inspire change, and now you can hear the songs that inspire HER.

photo by matt bomarr

photo by matt bomarr

What was your first concert?
Daytona Beach, I was like 15 maybe, we had this teeny tiny little club no bigger than a shoe box which was the only safe haven for punks freaks and artsy types. When I got brought there by a couple friends it was like the most grateful day of my young life. This ska(esque) experimental band called "What!?" was playing all fun and dancy. The singer was singing in a sweet distorted way through a megaphone, and we danced so hard in the Florida summer heat, dozens of us packed into the world's tiniest dance floor, and it got so hot that the bartender started hosing all the people down from behind the bar. I was in heaven. 

Last concert/show?
I saw Alicia Keys perform at her charity ball, 8 months pregnant. it was mind shatteringly beautiful. She, just beaming and glowing and dancing like nothing in the world could stop her from the music. It was really unbelievably inspiring. Also Angel Haze shared the stage that night and she's one of my heroes. 

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Ha! Do I really have to answer this honestly? Ok, deep breath, i'm gonna do it. It was….."Poison….Look what the Cat Dragged in"

Last album you bought?
Yesway - Yesway
Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Yes, so many. Probably the most influential of all would have to be In the Aerolplane Over the Sea, by Neutral Milk Hotel

Who is your musical hero?
Well, I guess I would have to then say Jeff Mangum. When I discovered Aeroplane Over the Sea, my uncle had just committed suicide. He was my mom's baby brother. I was born on his birthday, and if I had been a boy I would have been given his name. It was such a terrible loss, and in the months that followed I ended up listening to that album on repeat. The layers of beautiful lyrics, the references to death, suicide, and intergenerational family trauma, all wound through these other beautiful stories and deeply poetic images of distress and anxiety "the bridges burst and twist around", and of course the music, funeral and celebratory together. The album created a place of deep solace for me. And it became a place that I could enter to more deeply access my own grief, as well as to create from. I must have played that album a thousand times while making some of my more major drawings and installations. I later learned that many people have the exact same story with that album, and I think it's such an incredible thing - that someone was able to create a vessel of mourning and grief, healing contemplation and revery which so many people have been able to connect with.  It's one of art's highest aims as far as I can see. 

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
!!! So much so much. In fact, sometimes I get jealous of music! I think of the way that songs become the soundtrack to my life, carry me through my emotional world, instigate, inspire, make me dance myself silly, and just generally accompany almost everything I do and I think !Damn! who is ever gonna say that about anything that I make? 

--- 

Sad slow songs to play while drawing:
Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
Yesway - Howlin' Face
Neko Case - Dirty Knife
Tom Waits - Tango Till They're Sore
Anais Mitchell - Young Man in America
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Can't Sit Down
Cat Power - Cherokee
Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
Cat Power - I Don't Blame You
Great Lake Swimmers - Still 
Valerie June - Workin' Woman Blues
Fleet Foxes - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
Mirah - Goldrush
Major Lazer (ft. Amber of Dirty Projectors) - Get Free
Mountain Man - Mouthwings
Angel Olsen - Lonely Universe
Ane Brun - One
Dark Dark Dark - Wild Go
Bonnie Prince Billy - Grand Dark Feeling of Emptiness
The Arcade Fire - Born on a Train
Damien Jurado - With Lightning in Your Hands
Chad VanGaalen - Old Man + The Sea
Jolie Holland - Mad Tom of Bedlam
The Returnee - Marcel Khalife
Sufjan Stevens - Romulus 

Bonus mix (no audio included):
songs to play while cleaning the studio:
Angel Haze - Werkin Girls
Mykki Blanco and Princess Nokia - Wish You Would
Lykke Li - Get Some
LE1F- Wut
Azaelia Banks - Grand Scam
Santigold - Look at these Hoes
Nicki Minaj - Massive Attack
YeaSayer - Sunrise
Bestia - Julieta Venegas remix of Juana Molina
TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
Young Bleed/Master P/C Loc - How You do Dat
Nikki da B - Express Yourself
Outkast - Dirty South
Missy Elliot - My Struggles
Lorde - White Teeth Teens
Mos Def - Sun Moon Stars
Gary U.S. Bonds - New Orleans
Tito Puente - Eleguana
Madlib - The Rumble
Quasimoto - Good Morning Sunshine
Lazaro Ros - Anything

Check out Swoon'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 Swoon's website here

Background Noise, Episode 27: Stikki Peaches 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 27, the focus is on Stikki Peaches

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 27, the focus is on Stikki Peaches

Stikki Peaches is a street artist out of Montreal. His work is often pop culture-based, using well-known imagery that we all know and love.  One of his best known characters, known as "Bat Bond", blends the Caped Crusader's head with James Bond's body, with some spiked shoulder pads and a gun with a flower in it for good measure. This piece is usually accompanied by a question that Stikki asks in frequently in his pieces: "What if art ruled the world?"

You'll find that he also has a penchant for Star Wars. Darth Vader's helmet, and the Stormtrooper helmet have become iconic images in their own right, but Stikki takes them another step further, juxtaposing them onto men in suits, usually with some form of bright pants on.

His work is eye-catching from afar, but he adds yet another layer to his work to make it that much more interesting. He'll frequently fill in the faces of his pieces with hand-written words and drawings, sometimes looking like facial tattoos that might look like a bunch of scribbles until you get closer and see words like "hope" , skulls and crossbones, diamonds, "troop life" and more. Or for some extra color in the pants, he'll paste in some colorful comic book pages, and sometimes lays out stickers given to him by his friends in the street art scene to create hair or other features on his work.

Stikki has risen fast in the Montreal street art scene, and shows no signs of slowing down. He'll always get his stuff up when he visits NY as well, and people are taking notice.

Check out more of his work here, as well as his Tumblr, and buy some of his art via the great folks at Station 16.

Transient

What was your first concert? 
U2

Last concert/show?
Jay Z, Holy Grail 

First album, tape or cd you bought?
Thriller vinyl (Still have it!) 

Last album you bought?
Kissland (The Weeknd) 

Was there any album that made a significant impression on you?
Kiss (Psycho Circus) I was crowd surfing and unexpectedly ended up onstage. 

How important do you think music is to your creative process?
I couldn't imagine working with no music either in the background or plugged in my ear. It helps me get lost in my work, no other distractions. It’s like an escape. The music comes on, the creative juices start flowing and before you know it, you've created magic, all because of those good vibes running through your veins :)

Episode 27 track list:
Bonobo - First Fires
Blackroc - What You Do To Me
The Weeknd - Wanderlust
Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
Radiohead - Creep
The Bad Plus - Sing For A Silver Dollar
Nirvana - Come As You Are
The Roots - The Seed 2.0
The Killers - This River Is Wild
Frank Sinatra - You Make Me Feel So Young
Arctic Monkeys - Fluorescent Adolescent
Oasis - Hello

Check out Stikki'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.

COMING NEXT WEEK............HOW + NOSM

Background Noise, Episode 19: ASVP 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 19, the focus is on Brooklyn-based duo  ASVP .

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 19, the focus is on Brooklyn-based duo ASVP.

(photo via hendershotgallery.com)

(photo via hendershotgallery.com)

Back in 2009, when I was living in San Francisco, and not long after joining up for the smartphone revolution, I started photographing street art and random stuff in the Bay Area. By mid-2010, about 6 months before moving to New York City, I started seeing some eye-catching wheatpastes by ASVP.  I'd see these pieces on my walk into work, a few blocks south of Market in downtown San Francisco. They'd be plastered onto walls or onto the giant beams under the highway overpass. I knew nothing of ASVP though, just that I liked the imagery, like the menacing, balaclava-clad thug with a halo above his head that you see above, or the Future Cop design, which featured a boy wearing an ASVP helmet while riding a fish.

Fast forward to December of 2010, the month I moved to the East Village in Manhattan. I started seeing these same pieces of art in my neighborhood, as well as some newer designs, like the one above. I was hooked, and had to find out more this artist. As expected, information was scarce, aside from the fact that it was not just one artist but two, which somehow made it even cooler to me, that these guys were running around town putting this great art up on the street.

I was fortunate to have met one of them at a mutual friend's art show on the Lower East Side a couple of years ago, although I still know nothing about them, which, I'm sure, is how they like to keep it.

In the past couple of years, they have designed a trench coat for Angés B, installed an astounding 25 pieces in Spotify's NYC office, and were yet another of the many great artists who participated in Hanksy's "Surplus Candy" show in an abandoned building a few months back. Most recently, the exhibited their work alongside Skewville at Doyle New York, one of the world's largest auctioneers and appraisers of fine art, for a 3 day show on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

I caught up with one half of ASVP when I was invited to their studio to collect a tracklisting and ask some questions for Background Noise while they kept working, trying to stay focused on finalizing some of the work for the Doyle show that coming weekend.

(photo via asvpart.com

(photo via asvpart.com

The mix turned out great, as you will hear below. I really love the diversity here. Anyone who can jump from Aphex Twin to Marshall Tucker, AC/DC to Underworld, gets respect in my book.

ASVP studio (photo by Matt Bomarr)

ASVP studio (photo by Matt Bomarr)

What was your fiirst concert?

Fishbone

Last concert?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Barclays Center

First album?

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead

Last album you bought?

The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love

Any album that made a significant impression on you?

Radiohead - The Bends 

Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants

Who is your musical hero?

Wayne Newton

How important is music to your creative process?

Very. I listen to music all the time when I work and it definitely has an impact on my ability to focus and dig in.

Listen to their mix below, download the podcast directly here, or subscribe to the Background Noise podcast on iTunes.

Find ASVP on Twitter, their Facebook fan page, or at asvpart.com

Background Noise, Episode 15: Left Handed Wave 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 15,  the focus is on Chicago-based artist  Left Handed Wave    .

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 15,  the focus is on Chicago-based artist Left Handed Wave.

Chicago's Left Handed Wave is another prolific artist who tends not to take himself too seriously. His character of choice is "Banana Man", a man who is often seen in a banana suit, smiling and waving at passers by. While Banana Man started off in this outfit, he's taken on various other disguises throughout his evolution on the streets. Sometimes he'll be grinning at you from inside a bunny suit, sometimes he'll be dressed like a hot dog. Other times, Santa Claus, a ghost, etc. It never ends, really. He's constantly evolving.

Most prolific in his hometown of Chicago, his work will often be spotted in the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan. He was yet another of the select few artists that Hanksy chose to participate in Surplus Candy, his 2-hour abandoned building art show in NYC's Alphabet City a few months back.

He always has great merchandise to sell. He made a limited run of stuffed plush Banana Men, recently made some limited edition t-shirts, and almost always has stickers and prints available for sale on his Big Cartel page. Go there now though, because his work almost always sells out.

A few words from LHW:

Hanksy and Left Handed Wave at "Surplus Candy" (photo by Matt Bomarr)

Hanksy and Left Handed Wave at "Surplus Candy" (photo by Matt Bomarr)

What was your first concert?

All shit talking aside... I'm pretty sure the first concert I attended was New Found Glory at The Riv in Chicago, I must have been in the 7th or 8th grade. My best homie's dad took us and I remember him advising us not to take any drugs or alcohol from anybody while he was slyly getting dad drunk at the bar. The show was god awful, being a young kid from the suburbs I had never seen so many people going nuts before and I was a little weary to see another show after that. The next concert I went to wasn't until high school, I did everything my friend's dad said not to and then shows got pretty rad after that.

 

Last concert/show?

The last concert I went to was George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic at the Concord. I drank a lot of delicious adult beverages and found a five dollar bill, it was fun...

Photo by  Billy Craven

Photo by Billy Craven

First lp/cd/tape you bought?

I'm pretty sure Blink 182's Enema of the State was the first CD I bought with my own cash which makes me feel like the whitest, most generic suburban kid ever. Everyone I knew had that album though, it has that skanky looking nurse on the front and it made me feel a little rebellious listening to it. The songs they swore in the most were my favorite, look up 'Family Reunion', its no hit, but for a sixth grader I was easily entertained.


Last album you bought?

I recently picked up RJD2's latest release, 'More Is Than Isn't'. It's no platinum joint, but I can rock some of it, especially the collaborations. I don't get down with too much of his new stuff like I do with the classics, but RJD2 was a big player in my transition into hiphop and electronic music so I always keep up with what he's doing.


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

There has to be a dozens, but as of late, 'Daily Bread' By Hassaan Mackey and Apollo Brown has me listening on repeat. It's somewhat of an underground classic, but maybe it's too early to make that distinction. The beats on the album have this old school hiphop vibe and Mackey's lyrics are super raw, I feel a lot of struggle them which kinda reflects our current brutal winter here in Chicago. If I could describe Chicagoins right now all I'd say is we're fucking miserable, I've lived here my whole life and this is by far and wide the coldest winter ever. All that grit in the lyrics has really been reflecting my mood, but it gets me through the day like all impressional albums usually do.


Photo by  vivaspygirl

Photo by vivaspygirl

Who is your musical hero?

If you don't play dubstep, well, your my hero then.


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

Music is incredibly important to my creative process and daily routine in general. I'm not super hip to what the kids are listening to these days, but I always need something to narrate my day. I'm always plugged in, if I suddenly had to work in silence nothing would ever get done and my creative drive would most likely shut down. Art and music have always gone hand in hand, for myself it'd be impossible to have one without the other.

You can follow Left Handed Wave on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Listen to his podcast below, or download it direct here. Don't forget to like Background Noise on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.