Background Noise, Volume 102: Kristen Liu-Wong

Kristen Liu-Wong’s brightly colored paintings are akin to what would happen if you took the guy who created Aeon Flux, gave him a tab of acid, and sent him back in time to create early Japanese folk art.

The pastel colors are a significant contrast to the often violent, animalistic and sexual imagery she depicts. It’s a bit much for some, including the NYC MTA, which deemed Kristen’s art too sexual for the subway system, but I love it.

I’m always a fan of art that pushes boundaries while challenging people’s perception of what’s appropriate or not. There’s so much to unpack in these paintings, too. I keep finding things I missed the first time around.

Have a look for yourself. Check out more of Kristen’s work below, or over at

First album you bought?
I bought Usher’s “Confessions” and Maroon 5’s “Songs About Jane” at the same time. They still hold up, just saying.

Last album you bought?
The last album I bought was a Naomi Greene EP on vinyl.

First concert?
I think it was an Architecture in Helsinki concert my freshman year of high school at Bottom of the Hill in SF, but I could be wrong.

Last concert?
Jonny Fritz at the Bootleg Theatre in LA

Was there one album that made a significant impression on you?
I’d say the first album that really made me feel like I had discovered some sort of treasure was finding a copy of Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” at Rasputin with my sister as a teen. It was definitely one of the first albums that made me feel like I wanted to actively start seeking out new music.

Who is your musical hero?
Yo-Yo Ma. He is a true artist and master of his craft; he performs hypnotically and with such pure joy. And he’s always trying new things and finding new ways to collaborate with other amazing musicians. I would love to be able to see him live one day.

How important is music to your creative process?
It can be important, but I do regularly alternate between television, podcasts and music while I work.

BONUS: Is there any music, in particular, getting you through this strange time we’re living through?
Enya. She has always been my musical rock in trying times.

BONUS #2: Any visual artist(s) you’d like to see answer these questions?
Hmm, maybe Cindy Sherman. I feel like a lot of artists, you might be able to tell what kind of music they like from their work, but because her work is all about identity and her fluidity in that respect, I can’t imagine what music she would actually like!

Drinking Song, Haley Heynderickx
New Love Cassette, Angel Olsen
One of these things first, Nick Drake
Waltz of the 101st Lightborne, Joanna Newsom
Ebudae, Enya
For Phoebe Still A Baby, Cocteau Twins
Come to Me, Bjork
Watching You Without Me, Kate Bush
San Andreas Fault, Natalie Merchant
Since She Started to Ride, Jonathan Richman
Savage Night at the Opera, Destroyer
Hvernig Á Að Særa Vini Sína, Mum
No More I Love You’s, Annie Lennox
Tonight Will Be Fine, Leonard Cohen
Attaboy, The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Video, Aimee Mann

Check out Kristen’s playlist below on Spotify. Be sure to like Background Noise on Facebook for updates on future episodes. You can browse ALL the Background Noise episodes right here.

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