WERD art talk
I had the pleasure of attending the very first WERD art talk dedicated to music and culture, presented by Steve Baltin, on November 8th, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA.
This event featured original artwork and Q&A with Brandon Boyd of Incubus, Hannah Hooper of Grouplove, Karmin and Moby.
WERD supports Adopt the Arts, a non-profit funding arts programs in public elementary schools. Co-founded by Matt Sorum, drummer for Guns n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, Adopt the Arts implements music and art curriculum into public elementary schools that need funding for their arts programs. Over 300 schools have lost their funding for their arts programs and Adopt the Arts are working on changing that right now. So far to date they have donated over 1,000 instruments to schools in LAUSD.
Brandon Boyd of Incubus
With nine pieces showcased in the art gallery, Brandon Boyd was the first to be interviewed by Steve. They joked about failing to meet Brandon’s laser pointer request. He reminisced of his time in Rome, Italy, where he debuted all new work (Topograffiti series) at the Rossmut gallery in Fall of 2014. The exhibit was a success and the Italians wined and dined him. Brandon discussed his process and technique of spilling ink and paint on a page, then staring at it until imagery starts to emerge.
Another technique Brandon walked us through: getting a photograph, studying it, and then painting it. He made a joking remark about how hard it is, these days, to find a model that will hold a pose for hours without checking their cell phone every few minutes.
He talked about how music and art infuse and complement each other. Brandon also discussed showing new pieces for the first time at the upcoming Art Basel in Miami, Florida from December 3rd – 6th. The Art Basel booth is B31 and will be hosted by Project Gallery and Art Duet.
Guests viewing “Terrestrials” by Brandon Boyd
Hannah Hooper of Grouplove
Hannah Hooper has a 2-month-old baby and remarked about playing a lot of music at the moment but art came before music when she was growing up. Feeling like an outsider, Hannah got into street art and lettering but wouldn’t reveal her “street name” for obvious reasons. Keith Harring, a NYC street artist from the 80s, was an inspiration to her. With street art now in the past, her latest work is shown in the picture above – Spreading Rumours.
Hannah once found a box of photos of women from the 1920’s who never became successful in stardom, so she painted them. She mixes her art and music by designing backdrops, album covers, posters, and flyers for Grouplove along with being the lead vocalist of the band.
Karmin is a pop duo consisting of Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan. On this day they were accompanied by dog Gary (@GaryKarmin on Instagram), and discussed how their latest album “Leo Rising” came to be and the concept for their upcoming film.
Being very skeptical at first, the two saw an astrologer in Silverlake, Los Angeles – Gahl at cosmicnavigator.com who Nick says is the “greatest astrologer ever” and it totally changed their life. Gahl’s focus is not on palm reading or psychic reading where they read your energy, but it’s based on real events, movements of planets and how that affects us. At the time, Karmin was looking for direction on how to get out of their record deal, which was stopping them from what they wanted to do creatively. Now they have the freedom of being independent.
Being inspired by this visit to the astrologer, Amy learned how to read charts and questioned, “Has anyone ever made an album that every song represented the emotional sentiment, the personally traits of a sign?” Karmin ended up writing “Leo Rising,” a 12-song album based on the Zodiac.
Their music video Along the Road had almost 1,000 shoes that were color coordinated into a backdrop of the sun setting. Two trucks full of shoes were later donated to Los Angeles’s most needy at the LA mission. In “Along the Road”, there is a man in the beginning wearing a blue suit who represents Karma. Turns out the same man will be featured in their upcoming film. Karmin is planning to release their 12-song album as a soundtrack to the film they’re working on.
While walking us through a fantastical storyboard for the upcoming film, Amy said, “In Kabbalah, they have colors that go with each sign like temperatures and energies, so Aries is red, so if there’s any Aries here you probably like the color red.” to which Nick replied, “And if you don’t, get out.” Great to know that Karmin definitely supports the color red! 😉
Moby was raised in a family of artists: Mom was a painter, one uncle a sculptor, another uncle a photographer and grandmother a watercolorist. When he was 10 years old, his uncle gave him his Vietnam War Nikon F camera and it was way too sophisticated of a camera at such a young age. Moby and his family were also broke; they were on food stamps and welfare so he would save up for months to buy a roll of film.
Moby’s uncle gave him his old dark room equipment at 13 or 14 years of age which included an Omega D2 enlarger and trays. Then he had to start saving up for chemicals and other supplies, because of this, shooting a roll of film would take months and he would shoot around 10 pictures a year. Moby said if he developed a picture wrong, it was a disaster and a significant percent of his net worth was destroyed every time he messed up a picture.
Even though Moby shoots digitally now, he doesn’t take pictures the way most photographers do. “Most digital photographers shoot like it doesn’t cost anything for the good reason it doesn’t cost anything but I grew up where shooting was very expensive and time consuming so I really think before I take a picture. I watched some of my photographer friends, if they shoot one thing, they’ll shoot 100 pictures of it and I can’t bring myself to do that cause every time I shoot something I feel like there’s some sort of financial commitment to it.”
Featured in the art gallery, were two audience shots taken by Moby from a stage point-of-view, and this is one example of how Moby’s music and art infuse each other. Moby’s uncle always said “Shoot what you see that other people don’t see” and a few years ago Moby thought, “what do I see that other people don’t see?” As a result, a crowd documentary series was created where all of the crowd pictures are decontextualized – the way he shot, cropped and worked on them, you never see the circumstances or context, you just see the crowds.