THE(UN)FAIR Artists Q&A (adapted to include music)
- What is your earliest art-related memory?
I honestly don’t recall when I was introduced to music because it was pretty much always there. My mother would sing a lot when I was young and listened to a lot of music from her teenage years (Franki Valli, Dusty Springfield, Lesley Gore, Gene Pitney) as well as country music from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s (Johnny Rodriguez, Crystal Gale, Moe Bandy, Anne Murray, the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, etc). I liked it all.
When I was 3 or 4 my parents put a stereo in my room. It played vinyl, 8-tracks, and lit up in the bottom half with disco-esque lights. I was given a pile of 8-tracks (all of this likely came from garage sales) of which included Queen (“The Game”, the Flash Gordon soundtrack), Blondie, Doobie Brothers, Joan Jett, Devo, some 50’s and 60’s compilations ofr doo-wop and pop, and various others. One of the great things about 8-tracks were that a kid could pop it in and it would play on a loop until it was removed.
- How and when did you decide to make art a career?
I’m not sure I ever thought that I could make music until I discovered punk rock. I always wanted to play guitar and sing but never thought I was good enough at anything but drawing. And I sorta’ gave that up as teenage angst settled in.
I asked for a guitar when I was about 10 and, almost immediately, nearly lost my left pinky finger (which remains considerably compromised- stiff, unable to straighten or bend much). So that was that, I thought. It wasn’t until I got into bands like the Minutemen, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, and other punk acts that it seemed imperative to try to make something of my own. I was 16 when I got a bass (as my brother had gotten a guitar).
I left Oklahoma when I was 18 to join my high school best friend in Florida to try and do something.
- How has your artistic practice evolved since you started?
I used to really focus on being a good guitarist but my focus over the past number of years has shifted to the importance of songwriting. This could be a devolution. Not sure.
I think that cinema and visual art has always had a huge impact on how I imagine music, so I’ve started to openly embrace and encourage that. It’s become more about the sound as this entity; I like storytelling but have become quietly obsessed with “the shapes of sounds” as I write. I seem to listen to less literal lyricism in my older age, likely a reaction to getting really into French, Cambodian, and African musics- in languages I couldn’t understand- when I was in my mid/late 20s. Sometimes that idea becomes the foundation then I build a story or character on that.
So that’s different than the way it started…which was usually just trying to make something impressive arrangement or performance-wise.
- Who or what inspires you?
Cinema is huge to me. I love films and they generate a lot of ideas and emotions for me which often result in song ideas. Travel inspires a lot as well. Literature as much as cinema.
Too many people to mention between musicians, writers, filmmakers, and loved ones.
- Name an artist, alive or dead, with whom you’d want to collaborate and why.
I really have a lot of difficulty thinking of musicians in that way. Not sure why. I would love for Tom Waits to engineer/produce an album because I love the sounds he gets.
- Brag a little. What artistic accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’m glad to report that I’ve never done anything musically that I am terribly ashamed of. But I also never keep or listen to any records I am on probably for some connected reason. I was very proud to be on a record that Nick Cave released as well as doing some recent recordings with Steve Shelley and Steve Wynn. I don’t work comfortably in New York so having finally gotten my own band rolling here is a big accomplishment for me as well.
- What are the most important items in your studio?
The essentials: guitar, notebooks, french press, favorite mug…? Whatever book I’m reading. I guess that’s it.
- Describe your average day. Describe your awesome day.
Average day: not enough sleep, too much stress (financial, job). Awesome day: tuning out the lame shit to work on things that make me feel good about life, existing.
- What medium would you like to explore in more depth and why?
Film. I have done acting here and there but I would like to do it all: writing, directing, acting, and scoring. If I could, it would basically be capturing my ideas as much as is possible…unless things could be implanted directly into brains or programmed through recreational psychedelic drug use.
- Outside of art, what’s your idea of fun?
- Finish this sentence. “If I wasn’t an artist, I’d be a ____________.”
William Benton will be spinning vinyl tonight at Daddy’s Brooklyn.
Come by for beer, tofu dogs, and extended conversations about human consciousness theories that pertain to agencies outside of the supernatural realm. #secularparty #skepticsinthehouse
Any and all info greatly appreciated.
I was in the showroom at Union Pool last night visiting with friends when I placed a blue tote bag of about 8 or so used record on the little beer shelf/bar that lines the wall. It was literally within my reach the entire time but somebody discreetly grabbed it.
It contained records by the Kinks, Donovan, Coasters, Mink Deville, Pete Drake, Todd Rundgren, a live comp with the Flamingos, Gene Vincent and other doo wop/oldie rockers, and others.
Nothing terribly valuable but- this is New York. Every dollar spent is a bit of agony. Then you have to try and make thy dollar back doing something awful and degrading…
Please pass along if ya can. Thank you.
Help, if you can……..
Longshot but: somebody took a blue tote bag full of vinyl records I had with me. I was talking to a friend/performer at the benefit tonight, turned my head for no more than a minute, and then it was gone.
If you have any info please let me know. Nothing incredibly valuable but I’m poor so every penny counts: Kinks, Coasters, Pete Drake, Mink Deville, Todd Rundgren, a live record featuring Flamingos, others oldie/doo wop acts, and Donovan. Thanks.
Any and all info is greatly appreciated.
Childhood flashback to when my mother worked at Storm’s in Lindsay. She used to bring home defective lures and I loved them. They had such odd, unique art on them. #lindsayoklahoma #stormlures