Here & Now (most of the time) aka Waiheke Island
Music, visual, design, theatre, performance, improvisation, technology.
Tell us a bit about your practice?
Best to read the rest of this, you ask some great questions!
Tell us a little about your background – did you always want to be an artist?
What path led you to what you’re doing now?
I was at a party not so long ago, which ended up being what I think of as my album release party by accident. I was relaying my reluctance to perform my music live, because I’ve always wanted to do more than just sing a bunch of songs on acoustic guitar in a bar. I want to have a bit of theatre with it, a bit of artistry to it and make an impact and challenge people, and you just can’t do that kind of thing in a bar in NZ without being laughed at and/or bottled. Yet, the bar scene here is kind of square one for a musician. And this person at the party said, “Well, I can tell from how you talk that you’re an artist, not a musician… some people are just musicians, but you’re an artist who makes music.”And I realised he was bang on. I hadn’t realised it before, and suddenly aspects of my life I’d always been confused about made total sense. Things I thought was a lack of focus, distractions from my role as “musician”, were in fact me exploring different mediums of artistic expression as an artist. My whole world view just opened up. If I’m an artist, I can do freaking anything!
All the ideas I’ve had that I’ve never known what to do with because I’d always forced them into the unnatural context of musician, were suddenly freed up.
Being a musician and making music is just one aspect in which I might choose to express my art. Plus it opens up the idea of what a suitable venue is – suddenly the world is my venue. Every part of my life is my venue. A gallery could be a fantastic venue. I could be one of the pieces. I guess it was a subtle shift in thinking, but its making a big difference to how I approach things. So I’m just kind of getting to grips with that idea now, and doing the Stop Start Play Repeat event with Ergo was a part of that exploration for me. And I loved it! I’d love to explore more, and especially continue to collaborate with like-minded artists and see what happens.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
Nature. I believe in following the ease and flow of creativity. And I believe that there can be ease and flow even in extremely physically or mentally demanding situations – in fact I think its impossible to achieve the highest heights of prowess without that naturalness, ease and flow. An acorn doesn’t exert itself to grow into a tree, it just does it, automatically. Yet it is an awesome feat, an incredible spectacle. I think nature has a lot to inform humans about how to live and create.
Which other artists, designers or creative people do you admire?
The KLF, Amanda Palmer, Banksy, Bill Hicks, Charlie Veitch (aka The Love Police)… anyone who pushes the envelope in that slightly-rude, yet ultimately coming-from-aheart- of-gold kind of a way. Truth is a difficult concept, as it is relative and subjective, and it is also in a constant state of flux and perhaps evolution, so I admire anyone who even attempts to communicate it.
What would be your dream creative project?
I think this is a good question to ask ones-self daily. And if the answer isn’t “what I’m doing right now!” then you need to take steps to move toward that. At certain times, when the light is just right and my psyche is balanced just so, I can honestly say my dream creative project is what I am doing right now. The rest of the time, I wrestle with doubts.
Are there any specific subject matter, themes or concepts that you like to explore in your work?
If there is one central theme that I am exploring it is the act of not-being-there while creating. Just letting the work come through me rather than have it be fettered by my thoughts, desires and any other stuff. I like to exist very much in the moment, spontaneously working with what is directly in front of me, and letting it have its own voice. That way I can discover afterwards, along with others, what it was I was moved to express and explore. It feels the truest way to do things and it also keeps my motivation up as it stays interesting for me. I’m not just doing the work, I’m also discovering it as a viewer or listener. My latest album is almost entirely improvised / first-takes when it comes to vocals or live guitar & bass, and when I used software to create sounds they were generally the first thing I clicked on, as were the modifications I made to them.
The chalk pieces I did in Britomart were predominantly informed by the space, the moment, the other eRgo members, not by my preconceptions. (Other than I had an intention to draw mainly from my own lyrics rather than my greater vocabulary, though I also ignored that as the environment informed differently.
Do you have a favorite work (of your own)? Why does this one in particular stand out to you?
My album From The Emptiness that I keep harping on about. In particular the first track, which I gave myself 30 mins to create from scratch and started a stopwatch, I did the vocals in the last few minutes I had available, improvising on the spot in one take. I also had the rule I couldn’t edit the vocal – hence the throat-clearing at the beginning. On that first track, you can hear the realization in my voice, of me realising what I am singing about, as I sing it.
I sing about hating writing music and the words evolve like a dawning on me of this fact, because that is literally what was happening as I sang. And it is basically true. I do hate writing songs. But, on the other hand, when I get the feeling that a song is already completely written, and I’m just discovering it – that’s different. I LOVE that! And it is primarily what happened across the album.
How do you develop your work? Are there any interesting rituals or things you like to do before or during creating a work?
I find that if I enjoy my life, and eliminate everything from my life that feels like an obligation, then it frees up the creativity to come through. If I am working in a job I hate, I will have no creative ideas whatsoever. If I am doing whatever it is I want to do on a given day, say, lazing around on the beach and swimming, then the next I will be bursting with creative ideas and inspiration.
How do you know a piece you are working on is complete?
When I start questioning every action I take. When I’m working on something productively – from a good place, I ask few questions. I know what needs to be done and I do it. So when I start questioning everything, it is likely to be complete. Or at least, its complete for today. I’ve stopped knowing what to do, and starting guessing. Doing anything further, from that place, where I don’t already know what to do, is likely to be me just breaking it. In truth though, nothing is ever complete. I’m a total perfectionist. Its hard to let go sometimes and my album was an exercise for me in confronting that. I basically had to be the opposite of a perfectionist to meet my goals for it.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned being an artist?
That I AM one, and to stop hiding from, ignoring and/or fighting it.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m promoting my album, but I’m trying to do it in a way opposite to the way anyone promotes anything. I can’t go into to much detail as part of it is that it is done mainly in secrecy. Its an interesting challenge, but I’m loving it and my motivation seems to stay whereas in the past I’ve lost interest when doing things a more ordinary way.
Who would you love to work with?
Anyone who “gets” me. If you get me, chances are you’ll also like working with me, because I am a very specific kind of nutcase, and someone who gets me is probably of the same kind. I generally avoid working with people who won’t admit they are a nutcase of at least SOME variety. I’ve come to the conclusion that people who believe and insist they are sane are SERIOUSLY DANGEROUS.
If you could invite any 3 people to dinner who would you invite and what would you have?
Amanda Palmer, Banksy and Charlie Veitch. Anything from the menu of the Sri Chimnoy Vegetarian restaurant in Cathedral Square, Christchurch.