Originally posted at Paste Magazine on August 30, 2012:
When did you first start painting?
Apparently I’ve been painting since I learned how to crawl out of the crib. My mom told me that I must have seen where she kept her acrylics. One day, I apparently had crawled out of the crib, pushed a chair over and climbed up to where she kept her paints and grabbed them… and then I proceeded to use them as finger paints and finger painted the floor in a spectral array. She was pretty bummed when she found me. After that, my brother used to set me up in front of a window and have me paint different things. I have a vivid memory of him having me paint Medusa. But I was afraid to look at her face even as I was painting her after he had told me the Medusa tale.
Are you inspired by a particular painter or artistic movement?
From the past, post-war, I’m interested in Fluxus and the Situationist International. Eric [Chramosta] had turned me onto the United States of America, the band, and I had sampled a piece of one of Joseph Byrd’s compositions in one song. Joseph is one of the founders of Fluxus and one of the pioneers of electronic sound in rock music. He wrote me that he liked my music, but that I needed to credit him for the use of his music in my composition. We originally didn’t give him credit on it as we were afraid of being sued. When Joseph first contacted me, I didn’t believe it was really him as he wrote me a message from a newly created profile on Myspace (when people still used that interface). I thought it was someone else pretending to be Joseph Byrd. So originally I wrote back to one of my heroes telling him that he wasn’t the real Joseph Byrd and essentially telling him to go to hell. I was convinced that it was him once he sent an email back from his College of the Redwoods email address where he’s currently teaching some classes in music composition. It blew my mind and I responded by apologizing and saying that I might not have even sampled him or been interested in appropriation/pastiche if it weren’t for the Fluxus movement, and then, of course, gave him credit, and then he gave me his blessings.
I’m also interested in a lot of experimental literature movements that use visual poetry like a lot of the writers in New York right now—Lytle Shaw, Rob Fitterman and Brian Kim Stefans who just semi-recently moved to Los Angeles. Brian’s digital poetry is really interesting conceptually and visually. He’s also trying to get a little collective happening of friends and friends of friends in Los Angeles to work on pieces and projects together. A group of us recently made some pieces for a compilation that he put together called the Los Angeles Telephone Book, which you can download for free at mediafire.com/?gxqkj7fw39lndkn. I cut up pages of strange ads that were in the Los Angeles County Burbank/Glendale Yellow Pages/Telephone book to assemble a piece and even used the front cover of the phone book. Andrew Maxwell is an important part of that group who facilitates readings and performances at the Poetic Research Bureau and who also turned me onto some music/art groups like Caroliner Rainbow.
How does painting differ from music as a creative outlet for you?
I studied film in school and I think that film and music are very similar in that they’re both temporal or time-based mediums. Contrastingly, a painting (unlike music or film) isn’t bringing you along a time-based trip. It’s a static object rather than a moving piece. I really like that a painting isn’t as narrative-based as some popular music and most popular film. Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and get really lost in the narrative as I’m still thinking about a particular image even though the progression of the film has moved forward. In a painting you can think about it or be with the image as long as you want without it running to the next sequence as a musical piece does or as a film does. Hopefully in our music, we make enough space so that there is time for the listener to run with her/his own different ideas. As the reception of painting and the reception of music is very different in this way in respect to time, it also changes how it is made. The process can be kind of similar too though. Eric Chramosta and I have been sometimes working in a very cut-and-paste kind of way, usually even cutting and pasting our own musical ideas, and it’s similar in painting when you come back to a piece you’re working on. I had made one collage with children walking on a piece of equipment in the sky, and Nicole Zoppi had found an image of Nancy Reagan holding her hands up to them, which she added to complete the image and make it funny and interesting. I sometimes paint things like op amp schematics for circuits that I build to make and record music with, which is a similar kind of borrowing to create a whole picture.
Where can we see your work in person?
Right now, our self-release label and art collective, the Office of Analogue and Digital (O O A A D) is looking for a space to have an art show. We have a group of friends making interesting work, some of whom are also musicians! If anyone knows of a cool space and would want to host and collaborate with us on a show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for the platform!
By Matt Gangi
By Matt Gangi