Artist Feature: Alan Pugliese

Alan Pugliese es un cantante punk rock que nació y vive en Buenos Aires, Argentina. Conectamos con él por su padre Angel, un amigo de Peter cuando él vivía en Argentina hace unos años. Recientemente contactamos con Angel otra vez, estuvimos emocionados cuando Alan se apuntó a la idea de hacer una entrevista con nosotros. Alan forma parte del grupo Pegamento que toca en vivo a menudo. El cantante habla del papel de Reflexión en el proceso de componer canciones y Respuesta en el acto de tocar en vivo. Nos alegra la colaboración de Alan como parte del colectivo the LIFESTYLE. Lee el dialogo y mira los videos abajo!

Alan Pugliese is a punk rock vocalist straight of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We connected with Alan through his pops Angel, who was a friend of Peter’s while he was living in Argentina a few years back. After reconnecting with Angel recently, we were juiced when Alan was down for an Artist Feature with the LIFESTYLE. Alan is part of the group Pegamento and they perform live regularly. In our dialogue, Alan discusses the role of Reflection in songwriting and Response during live performance. We’re juiced to have Alan as part of the LIFESTYLE collective — peep the dialogue and some videos of his work below!

Alan Pugliese (2nd from left) & Co.

Alan Pugliese (2nd from left) & Co.

Estamos en contra de las canciones tristes; lo que queremos es transmitir alegría. Cantamos lo que vemos y lo que sabemos, las cosas que nos pasan, aveces escribimos las canciones de forma irónica.

We’re against [making] sad songs; what we’d like to do is communicate happiness. We sing about what we see and what we know, the things that happen to us, [and] sometimes we write songs in an ironic way.

- Alan Pugliese

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

AP: Mi nombre es Alan Pugliese, soy de Bs.As Argentina, y actualmente vivo hay.

AP: My name is Alan Pugliese, I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is where I live now.

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AP: Reflexion es pensar sobre un tema o experiencia tratando de mejorar ese aspecto, o madurar si la situación lo requiere.

Respuesta es la acción que puede cambiar una situación conflictiva para mejor.

AP: Reflection means to think about a topic or experience in order to try to improve it, or mature [from the experience] if the situation calls for that.

Response refers to an action that can change a difficult situation for the better.

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AP: Aveces reflexiono sobre un tema antes de escribir una canción, la respuesta la veo cuando subo al escenario.

AP: Sometimes I reflect on a topic before writing a song, and my response comes out when I get on stage.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AP: Aparte de cantar creo veladores artesanales y soy fumigador.

Estoy apunto de sacer mi nuevo cd con mi banda. 

AP: Aside from singing, I make hand-crafted tables and I work as a fumigator.

 I’m also getting ready to release a new CD with my band.

Quien o que te inspira?

Who or what inspires you?

AP: Me inspiran las buenas experiencias.

 AP: I’m inspired by good experiences.

Hay algo más que quieres que sepa el Collectivo? 

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Liz Borda

We welcome photographer Liz Borda to the Collective! We met Liz through friend and fellow photographer Lou Rouse. Born and raised in the New York City area, Liz currently makes her home in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Her photography represents a powerful look at the variety of the human experience and the stories that stem from these images contain deep Reflection and Response. Liz is active with her craft and is working on several new projects, including a piece about a young woman in the Bronx and the New York Dream Act. Liz drops some dope knowledge throughout this piece. Make sure to read her ideas and peep her work below!

Liz Borda

Something may trigger me to reflect on a moment, my life and my work. As a result I am active or inactive in my response. Being inactive is a response as well.

- Liz Borda

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LB: I am a born and raised New Yorker. I grew up in Inwood, Manhattan and later moved to Flushing, Queens. Both places make me super nostalgic when I hang there. I enjoy going back to these neighborhoods and hanging out in my old spots, I love visiting my friends and family. I live in Sunset Park, Brooklyn now and dig it as well. All these places have incredible energy, people and eateries!

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LB: I feel like reflection is a constant ongoing thing for me. Something may trigger me to reflect on a moment, my life, my work. As a result I am active or inactive in my response. Being inactive is a response as well. Will you act or not after the said reflection? I ponder this more with age.

How does your work fit in with that definition? 

LB: My work ranges from street photography, long format documentary stories and essays to doing assignments for not-for-profits, organizations, to shooting events and portraits. I feel like reflection and response happens in all these types of photography. Theresa from a project named Ladyride had panic attacks for twenty years and she felt her learning to ride motorcycles helped her overcome this. We talked extensively about it and we reflected on that time. She shared with me how she changed her life. I met her after she overcame this. The images I have captured of her you would never guess she had this earlier problem. To me these images show her response to her fears now.

Liz Borda: Theresa Takes the Lead, Ladyride Series

Theresa Takes the Lead, Ladyride Series. Theresa Thompson had a twenty-year history of panic attacks where she couldn’t drive very far in her car or truck. She believes riding was therapy for her and the panic attacks stopped after she started riding. “I think most of my life and relationships I felt pretty trapped, you know, wanted out but was afraid to leave and so this was probably the first major thing I did in my life for me that I was pretty much in control. Started my road to independence.”

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

LB: I am working on a project about a young woman from the Bronx named Janet and the Dream Act as well as the New York Dream Act. I am looking to keep working on long format stories, working with more organizations as well as to keep learning and trying new things with my photography. I want to keep pushing myself and enjoying this crazy journey I am on.

Coming Out of the Shadows

Coming Out of the Shadows

Who or what inspires you?

LB: I am inspired by many things around me. At times it can be a piece of music, walking around the city, a show at a gallery or museum, people in my life or reading/listening to a news report. I love listening to Morning Edition on NPR.

Stoop Life

Stoop Life

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

LB: Thanks Lou, Vicken, and The Lifestyle for this platform and for featuring me. Much love.

Shout out to …?

LB: My husband Joshua Auckenthaler, he is a talented retoucher and photographer. He is my rock. He is such a supportive partner. I also would like to give a shout out to my mother, sister, buddies and loving folks in my life. They offer another level of support and cheer me on. I love them all to pieces! Thank you!

Check out the following links to keep up with Liz’s photo projects:

Reflection and Response.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Erica Hellerstein

Erica Hellerstein is a Bay Area-based journalist who we’ve known since attending high school together back in the day in Berkeley. She has contributed to and published stories from around the globe, from Central California to Chile. She highlights the importance of Reflection in her craft as the ability to find universal themes within circumstantial details of a story. She exhibits this approach in a current piece on cervical cancer in South Texas, exploring central ideas of womanhood and resistance. Throughout our dialogue she discusses various other projects including an investigative narrative piece exploring the use of the abortion pill misoprostol, and a radio documentary about Curanderas in the Bay Area. We’re excited to have an engaging talk with this craftswoman tough on her grind! 

Erica Hellerstein

Reflection is the process of distillation. It’s the opposite of reflex, of the reactive tweet or the fiery text. Reflection forces me unpack my impulses. As a journalist, it’s probably one of the most important and satisfying muscles that I can exercise.

- Erica Hellerstein

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

EH: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, in a trendy, club-friendly corner of the East Bay called Kensington. After High School, I moved to the East Coast , where I stayed for several years. It was terrible. Everything was grey and frigid and even the wind howled more despairingly. Now, I’m happy to report that I’m finally back in California, wrapping up a graduate program at UC Berkeley.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

EH: I like this question because I’m sure I would have had answered it very differently had you thrown it my way a year and a half ago. I think that reflection and response will mean different things to me at different times. Right now, I am in a transitional period, and have genuinely no idea what I’ll be doing five months down the road — which makes the process of mindful reflection difficult. Sometimes it’s easy for me to get bogged down in the uncertainties and transience of my life, and this maddening tendency I have to beat myself up over matters I can’t control. When I’m constantly on the go, sometimes I forget to stop, look around, and relish the volatility of it all.

So for me, reflection is the process of distillation. It’s the opposite of reflex, of the reactive tweet or the fiery text. Reflection forces me unpack my impulses. As a journalist, it’s probably one of the most important and satisfying muscles that I can exercise. Without a process of reflection, my pieces wouldn’t have depth or universality. For me, it takes careful reflection and contemplation of the human spirit, to understand the stories that really pack punches. The ones that transcend time, place, identity, gender, nationalism, and religion — these are the pieces that endure and connect people across virtual bridges. Certainly it’s my aspiration as a writer and a journalist to tell universal stories. I think that reflection is the vantage point through which I can suspend my complicated identity and simply observe.

Now response, that’s easier for me. As you can probably tell, I’ve always been a talker. To me response feels natural, it’s what I do. Response means telling a story. It’s reflection digested — and I love to eat.

How does your writing fit in with that definition?

EH: Sometimes I view writing as a birthing process. I’ve created some deeply embarrassing babies — think angst-ridden college memoirs and romanticized articles about revolution in Latin America — so it’s hard for me to go back  to stories I’ve already produced and analyze them through the prism of reflection and response. Instead, I’m going to flip this question around and talk to you about a piece I’m working on that embodies this definition. Just to keep you on your toes, Peter.

So right now I’m writing a story about incredibly high cervical cancer rates in South Texas. It sounds like a terribly depressing story, and in some ways, it is. Or it would have been if I hadn’t reflected on the real story, which isn’t a doom-and-gloom piece about cancer. The real story is about women. And resistance. About a fascinating and inspiring group of of educators who are driving from slum to slum in South Texas, teaching women about their bodies and how to prevent cervical cancer and other reproductive health problems in spite of family planning clinic closures.

There are certainly elements of this story that are unsettling, raw, and unfair. There’s a community that has been forgotten by our health care system, and a group of women who are suffering because of that. There are children who are losing their mothers because they can’t afford to get regular check-ups, and there are families who are moving back to dangerous border towns in Mexico because they can’t get their health care needs met here.

But this is exactly where reaction and response came in. From afar, I thought it would be an incredibly sad and terrible story to work on. But when I got to South Texas and shadowed the health educators, driving from home to home on dusty, unpaved streets, I realized that my preconceived notions about the community and situation were completely wrong. It wasn’t depressing. The women couldn’t change the cards that they were dealt, but they were absolutely changing the ways that they played the hand. They were responding, reacting. The health situation there is still dire but they don’t think about it in a fatalistic way.  It was humbling to for  me realize just how wrong I was about the situation. Those are the moments that make me want to continue doing this work — when I realize how much I have left to learn. 

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

EH: I’m working on a lot of projects right now. First off is my master’s thesis, which is a long, investigative narrative piece about the use of the (in some countries, illegal) abortion pill, misoprostol, in South Texas, where all of the abortion clinics have shut down. In many states in the US, it’s not legal to take this pill to induce your own abortion. It’s really a profile of this pill — an exposition of its lifeline. It has a fascinating history, it was discovered by women in Brazil in the ’80s to induce abortions and became wildly popular. My story follows the pill around the world and is rooted in Texas, where there are these parts of the state without abortion clinics that have basically turned into these pro Roe v. Wade wastelands. It’s rumored that misoprostol is sold illegally in South Texas flea markets, and I went undercover at the markets in search of the pill. You’ll have to read the piece to see what ultimately ended up happening.

I’m also working on a 30-minute radio documentary about Mexican folk healers, or Curanderas, in the Bay Area. There’s a really vibrant movement of female healers in the Bay that have all coalesced together in recent years. Nobody quite knows how it happened, but my documentary explores this group of healers and how they integrate their ancient practices with the modern. It also follows the story of a young woman who recently found out that her grandmother was a Curandera in Mexico, and is sort of exploring her own past by learning more about this tradition.

Who or what inspires you?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Valerie Wilson

Valerie Wilson is a visual artist and educator based in San Francisco. We first met when she was working with students at Alchemia, an arts program for adults with developmental disabilities. In our dialogue, she comments on the conscious and subconscious nature of Reflection, and the unique uses of these Reflections that each person chooses as their Response. Valerie chooses to reflect through art as a “healing interpretation,” of her world, as she describes with her print, The Royal Rooster, dealing with mixed emotions of a past relationship. Check out Valerie’s ideas in more detail below and snapshots from her printmaking process!

Valerie Wilson

Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa).

- Valerie Wilson

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

VW: I’m originally from Sebastopol, a small town in Northern California infused with wine, liberals, and art.  In 2005 I moved to San Francisco, and have set up a semi-permanent fort there.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

VW: Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa). Reflection and response are symbiotic with each other, for every action there is a reaction, creation is what happens when these two work together (which is all the time).

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster

How does The Royal Rooster fit in with that definition?

VW: I’m incredibly detailed oriented and love symmetry, but besides that, my artistic process is very lackadaisical erring on the side of intuitiveness. My most complex pieces have surfaced during equally complex life events. Without a doubt I’d say that my work is a creative and healing interpretation of my world & existential well-being. My art is interchangeable between Reflection and Response, and is definitely fueled by both concepts. The Royal Rooster is the romanticization of a past partner. In the spring of 2011 I started carving and designing this bird after a breakup with someone I truly respected but equally despised. He (the rooster) is so tall and proud and beautiful while simultaneously reiterating his haughtiness and unattainability. Of course, I come to realize this only retrospectively, but see this piece as an obvious phoenix rising from the ashes of a failed (but cherished) relationship.

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson - The Royal Rooster (Process)

Valerie Wilson – The Royal Rooster (Process)

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Alicia Martínez Díaz

Conocí a Alicia Martínez Díaz por primera vez en un concierto de artistas locales en Madrid en 2012. Era compañera de piso de Amber Stiles, miembro del Colectivo the LIFESTYLE, y en el concierto hablamos de su interesante arte visual ecléctico, que incluye medios tan diversos cómo el mundo musical hasta la publicidad. Dos años después de conocernos seguimos en contacto y estamos alegres de que haya aceptado la oferta de hacer una entrevista con nosotros. En nuestro diálogo, Alicia nos cuenta su proceso creativo, la naturaleza pensativa de la reflexión y la acción de la respuesta. Además describe su proyecto llamado “La Vida de los Otros,” que busca explorar la idea del “desconocido” tras una mezcla de medios diferentes. Abajo disfruta las palabras y unas selecciones de una artista visionaria!

I first met Alicia Martínez Díaz in Madrid in 2012 at a concert where several dope local artists were performing. She was friends with LIFESTYLE Collective member Amber Stiles, and at the concert we spoke about her eclectic visual art projects, ranging from working with musicians to advertising. Two years later, we remained in contact and we’re delighted that she accepted an interview spot for an Artist Feature. Throughout our dialogue, Alicia delves into her creative process, the pensive nature of reflection, and the active nature of response. She also describes her exciting project “The Lives of Others,” that seeks to explore the idea of the “stranger” through a milieu of different mediums. Enjoy the words and selected pieces from this visionary artist below!

Alicia Martínez Díaz

Mi proyecto fotográfico denominado “La vida de los otros”…recoge y muestra mi mirada, mis pensamientos y conclusiones, sobre personas que no conozco y que veo pasar; las personas que pasan por mi vida directa o indirectamente, las que están y las que no están, y todas las historias que imagino al verlas, las historias que me sugieren los enigmas que parecen rodearlas.

My photo project “The Lives of Others”…gathers and showcases my vision, thoughts, and conclusions concerning strangers that I see but don’t know; those that pass through my life directly or indirectly, those that are here and those that aren’t, and all the stories that I imagine upon seeing them, stories that suggest the oddities that seem to revolve around people.

- Alicia Martínez Díaz

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AMD: Soy Alicia, de algún lugar de la Mancha, y resido en Madrid (España) desde hace más de 15 años, ciudad que conozco por tanto muy bien y que cumple a la perfección el dicho: “de Madrid al cielo”. Y debe de ser verdad, porque aunque siempre estoy ávida por conocer lugares nuevos, siempre estoy ávida también por regresar después. Estudié un símil de Bellas Artes en un lugar tan peculiar como la Casa de la Moneda, en otras palabras, el lugar donde se fabrica el dinero en España. Mientras de día aprendía con una mano a grabar, dibujar y diseñar becada y mimada durante 4 años; con la otra, de noche, y de manera eventual para conseguir algo de dinero extra, destruía con una troqueladora millones de euros empaquetados en fajos de billetes… irónico, y un acto que, aunque no tuviera nada que ver con el aspecto artístico, tenía su evidente carga simbólica y sirve de ayuda para relativizar la importancia a lo material y concentrarse en el lado más espiritual de la vida. Desde hace más de diez años soy cofundadora de mi propio estudio de diseño (91Nueveuno), pequeño y con ganas de ayudar a aquellos que nos llaman a descubrir lo que necesitan y todavía no saben, haciendo de medium entre lo utilitario y lo artístico. Pero mi pasión real son los libros, la música y, sobre todo, fotografiar.

AMD: My name is Alicia, I’m from a place in la Mancha, and I’ve been living in Madrid for over 15 years – so it’s a city that I know really well and it fulfills the saying “de Madrid al cielo” (“from Madrid to Heaven”). And it must be true, because although I’m always eager to get to know new places, I’m also always eager to return [to Madrid] afterwards. I studied Fine Arts in a place as strange as la Casa de la Moneda (the Royal Mint), in other words, the place where they print money in Spain. Meanwhile, during the day I studied film, drawing, and design on a 4-year scholarship; on the other hand, at night, in a sporadic way in order to earn a little extra money, I used a machine press to turn thousands of packaged euros into bundles of bills… ironic, and an act that, although it had nothing to do with the arts, had it’s own apparent symbolic responsibility, and served to help me diminish the importance of material [things] and concentrate on the more spiritual side of life. For over ten years I’ve been the cofounder of my own design studio (91Nuevueno), a small project with the desire to help those who ask us to discover what they need but don’t already know, operating in between utilitarian and artistic aspects. But my real passions are books, music, and more than anything, photography.

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Barcelona

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Barcelona

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Berlin

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Berlin

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AMD: Para mí, reflexión es pararse a pensar. La respuesta, casi siempre, actuar. Reflexionar es hacer un repaso de nuestro “histórico” personal, emocional, intelectual (y, en mi caso, especialmente importante también, el visual) y, en base a nuestro objetivo previo, decidir qué deseamos hacer. Con todo ello en mi cabeza y sin que la reflexión sea eterna para no caer en la “parálisis por análisis”, me dispongo “a pasar a limpio” lo dibujado y escrito en mi mente, ya sea diseñando o fotografiando. Pasando a una dimensión real esos planos de mi pensamiento. De todos modos lo que realmente lo inunda todo, tanto en lo personal como en lo profesional, es el factor X de la intuición. Ese intangible mágico y decisorio que se encuentra entre la reflexión y la respuesta. Para mí es lo realmente determinante. Y que en el caso del artista es lo realmente fundamental. Yo diría que ahí es donde reside el verdadero talento.

AMD: For me, reflection means to stop and think. Response, almost always, is to act. Reflection involves taking another look at our personal, emotional, intellectual (and, especially important in my case, visual) “histories,” and based on our individual objectives, deciding what we’d like to do. With all this in my mind, however, I run the risk of falling into the trap of reflection leading to “paralysis via over-analysis,” and I often start over from scratch both in design and photography.

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz - Madrid

Alicia Martínez Díaz – Madrid

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AMD: Es diferente, aunque no radicalmente, si se trata por tanto de un proyecto personal o de un encargo por parte de un cliente. Cuando se trata de un encargo en el desarrollo de la reflexión serán claves también las premisas del briefing del proyecto y, aunque el resto de pasos del proceso sean los mismos, será necesario sumar un análisis más condicionado y un timing más estricto, eso seguro, pero también debe satisfacerme a mí además de al cliente. Jugar como decía entre lo utilitario y lo artístico. En el proyecto personal los límites los pongo yo. Es más experimental: lo emocional y lo intuitivo lo llenan todo…

AMD: This is different, though not radically, depending on whether I’m working on a project for a client or a personal project. For orders, the premise of the client’s instructions are instrumental for reflection, and though the [creative] process is the same [as a personal project], working for a client is more conditional and requires strict timing; however client orders should be satisfying for both the customer and myself. [This process] involves working between pragmaticism and artistry. [Alternatively,] I set the limits on personal projects. These are more experimental: these are projects filled with emotion and intuition.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Marc Stretch

Marc Stretch is a renaissance man based in Oakland, California that we were fortunate enough to meet through producer Wax Roof, a recent Feature Series contributor. Marc has been an important player in the Bay Area music scene for some time, and he’s currently involved with several groups including Foreign Legion, Big Willie Dynamite, Handclap Technicians, and a bunch of other dope projects. In addition to being a masterful craftsman of the art of rhyming, Marc keeps the dance floor crackin’ as a video DJ throughout the Bay, and is expanding his repertoire with more video and photography projects in the future. Marc’s perspective on Reflection centers on the idea of returning equal energy that comes your way, while Response is a more developed and better articulated plan of action. Check below to see how he approaches R & R in his music and Reflects on the evolving nature of his work.

Marc Stretch

Marc Stretch | Photo by Leo Docuyanan

Reflection is returning the same energy to a situation that is aimed at you…Response is what happens when you take the energy of a situation, take a moment to think over the possible repercussions of options that you have, and articulate a plan and put it into action.

- Marc Stretch

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MS: I’m originally from Ft. Dix, New Jersey (born in Huntsville, Alabama) but I’m currently resting my sneaker collection and bacon addiction in the lovely city of Oakland, California.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MS: To me, they’re opposite sides of the same coin. Reflection is returning the same energy to a situation that is aimed at you. If somebody directs anger towards you, you respond with anger. If a situation directs peace towards you, you direct peace towards the situation. Response is the other side of that. Response is what happens when you take the energy of a situation, take a moment to think over the possible repercussions of options that you have, and articulate a plan and put it into action. That’s response to me.   

How does your music fit in with that definition?

MS: I feel like all the music I make is the result of inherited reflections and informed responses. I am a result of every thing that has happened to me, every person I’ve met and every word I’ve ever heard. Sometimes, that means that you’re going to get the instinctive Reflection side of me in a song. Those songs tend to speak to where we’ve been or where we are in the moment. Sometimes, I’ll make the Response which is usually focused on where I feel we need to go.

Traditionally I’m known as a goofy rap guy or a battle MC, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the opportunity grow and express myself in a more mature and honest way. Not saying that the party MC wasn’t me, because I’ve torn down plenty of stages and wrecked plenty of hotel rooms. It’s just that the older I get, the more I realize that the “goofy rap” box is just way too small for me.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

MS: Man…. Quiet is kept, I’ve been pretty busy. I just released the 2nd album for my group, Big Willie Dynamite along with my brothers Mondo and raysthebar. It’s called Joes vs. Pros and we’ve been rocking shows to support it. We’re currently finishing up our next album (untitled at this time) and working on the visual side of that. I’m also working with Prozack Turner on our next release as Foreign Legion. We’re getting ready to shoot a video that I’ll be co-producing and co-directing. We’re considering releasing a limited edition 45, for all the vinyl heads. Next, I’m working on a solo record with production from myself, Rice4Ever, Unjust, Flight 27, raysthebar and a few other friends. I’ve got some guest appearances from people that I’m close to like Danjres Will Robinson, Ariane Mitchell, Mondo, and Lowbrow The Hypnotic. The record is tentatively being called Marc’d for Def.

Oh… Just for the record, I tend to only work with people I actually know and like. The way music is now, it’s not really to your advantage to work with somebody just cause they are hot. It doesn’t matter. Make good music. Speaking of good music, I’ve got an album done and waiting to be mastered with the indomitable G Koop called Instruction Manual. Together we’re known as Handclap Technicians. Most recently, I’ve started working on a project with my dude Wax Roof and I’m crazy excited to get that done and get that in the hands of the people. He’s a young dude that is super talented and hungry to make great music. He’s definitely one of the best kept secrets in the Bay. He doesn’t know but we’re gonna call the album Paisley Paint Job and the group is going to be called The Corduroy Boys.

In addition to all of the recording that I’ve been doing, I’m also rocking live monthly with the G Koop and O-man Band on the first Friday of every monthI’m also Video DJing for my night on Second Saturdays called #FUTURESHOCK along with Deejay Saurus and DJ Halo as well as some one-off gigs around the Bay. Both of these gigs happen at Prozack’s place, The Legionnaire Saloon.

I also caught the photo bug from my girls Adza Adrienne and Araya Diaz, which is kind of a return to my roots since my Dad was an amateur photographer and I used to work with him. I was in charge of developing the film, back when you actually had to develop film to make pictures. I’ve been refining that in my somewhat spare time.

On top of aaaaalllll that, I’ve been flexing my athletic prowess by playing adult Kickball for WAKA. Yes…. I said kickball. I’ve won more than a couple local championships and even went to the Nationals, in Las Vegas.

What am I working on next?  Well, along with the audio projects, I’m really excited to be working on more video projects. I’ve already done a comedy film with Prozack (shot by Tim Nolan and Dave Medina) called Night Moves and I’ve shot some music videos with the likes of Roy Miles and Behn Fanin. I recently shot my own video for a song called Ready2Fly and that was really when the video bug bit me. I’m working on videos for some songs for my solo record and starting treatments for a Foreign Legion joint and some of the Corduroy Boys songs too. I’ve also been talking to Nightclubber Lang from Boom Bap Project about a cooking variety show. We’re both culinary enthusiasts and feel like we can bring something to a younger generation of viewers.

Who or what inspires you?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh is a clarinetist and composer we recently connected with through musician Timo Vollbrecht. Kinan grew up and studied music in Damascus, Syria, and has continued with his craft in New York City over the past 13 years. Throughout his interview, he discusses various strands of Reflection and Response, whereby artists sometimes reflect on their surroundings and on other occasions work to idealistically recreate realities. However, in Kinan’s opinion, art allows him to access another world of emotion not readily available in everyday life. Along with his words, this multifaceted artist showcases some incredible compositions that display his range and creative vision. He’s released three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, and an album with his New York-based Arabic/Jazz quartet, and the future is filled with some ill upcoming projects including a commissioned flute concerto, film scores, and tours in Europe, USA, and the Middle East. Peep the dialogue below along with some dope sonic landscapes from this dedicated craftsperson!

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Kinan Azmeh | Photo by Jill Steinberg

Making music is an act of freedom by default.

- Kinan Azmeh

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

KA: I was born in Damascus, Syria, and have been living in New York for the last 13 years.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

KA: If we think about it on the most general level then we do realize that this is how nature works, cause and effect, action and reaction. In the arts, reflection and response are a little bit more complex. There are several schools of thought when it comes to the arts, one that says that the artist’s role is to reflect on the world around him/her, others say that the artist’s role is to recreate the world in the most idealistic way. I don’t subscribe to either camp; my personal philosophy is that we make art to experience emotions that we don’t have the luxury of experiencing in real life, some kind of fantasy world that is more complex than what is experienced in our daily lives.

What have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

KA: I grew up playing western-classical music in Damascus, a city that is very rich and diverse in its musical traditions, then moved to New York. That opened my eyes (and ears) to a variety of music that I enjoy performing today. I have been wearing different hats at different times, sometimes playing as a soloist with orchestras performing western classical repertoire, at other [times] you would find me playing with my Arab-Jazz quartet in New York, and other times playing with electronics and visual arts. I am now at the stage where I am trying to bring all these heads under one hat. I am working now on a concerto for improviser for soloist and orchestra. I do feel that music is a continuum and I would like to [replicate] that in my musical life as much as possible. I have a number of projects that are coming up including a commission to write a flute concerto, a couple film scores, and also a number of tours are coming up in the US, Europe and the Middle-East.

Who or what inspires you?

KA: I am inspired by what’s around me, my life, the lives of others and nature. However, the main idea that is occupying my brain for the last three years is home, Syria. Since the revolution began three years ago, I started to wonder about the role of art: can a piece of music feed a child, can it stop a bullet? Certainly not. But it inspires me to know that I have the power to inspire someone else, to reflect and to think. I am also inspired by the belief that making music is an act of freedom by default, which continues to provide me with the tools to keep creating. The piece “a sad morning, every morning” was written to commemorate one year of the Syrian revolution in March 2012. The title says it all, you get up in New York, first thing you do is you turn on your computer and you “put your hand on your heart” as the saying goes, waiting for the sad news to come from home (since Damascus is 7 hours ahead). The piece was written in very little time and it gave me the peace of mind i needed at that particular moment. It was also the first piece I wrote after almost a year of a silence.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Ebru Yildiz

Ebru Yildiz is a New York-based music photographer that we met through Adela Laconte. Active in the New York music scene, she breaks down the role of Reflection and Response in music photography/portraiture into two concurrent yet distinct concepts: a photographer’s effort to capture the musician in his or her response to/through music, and the photographer’s own response to the performance. She showcases some of her recent music photography work, talks about the process of creating meaningful, expressive portraits, and discusses expanding her craft with an upcoming project using a photographic process developed in the 1850s called “wet collodion.” Check the dialogue and prints from this artist steeped deep in exploration and creation!

Ebru Yildiz | Photo by Mitchell King

Ebru Yildiz | Photo by Mitchell King

In order to make meaningful portraits, you really need to have interest in people other than yourself; you need to have a genuine interest what they have to say, what their story is…No two people’s stories are the same, no two people’s feelings could ever be the same when they are faced with similar situations.

- Ebru Yildiz

Ebru Yildiz - Shilpa Ray

Ebru Yildiz – Shilpa Ray

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

EY: I was born and raised in Ankara, Turkey. I moved to New York-where I have always dreamed of living- the minute I finished college. And I started making photos few years after that. When I was in Turkey, I always preferred to go to live shows than any other club scene that was so popular back then. So when I moved here, it took me a minute but I eventually found “the” places to go and see music. I was always at shows, so making photos at the shows came as an extension of that lifestyle. After I developed a certain style that I was happy with, in order to keep things exciting for myself, I decided to take a little break from shooting live shows with exception of occasional shows here and there and focused on personal projects and making portraits. Right now, I think it is a healthy mix of all three.

And I am still in New York where I hope to live for the rest of my days if I am lucky!

Ebru Yildiz - Savages

Ebru Yildiz – Savages

Ebru Yildiz - Savages

Ebru Yildiz – Savages

Ebru Yildiz - Psychic Ills

Ebru Yildiz – Psychic Ills

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

EY: When you say response, I can’t help but think the other end of the spectrum, which for me is reaction. I believe being able to respond to things happening to you rather than reacting to them is a difficult form of art to master. Not everybody can succeed in taking the time to think about what is actually happening, listen to how they really feel about it and/or put themselves in the shoes of the other person before they decide how to go about it. I always make a conscious effort to respond to things around me but having the hot Mediterranean blood in me definitely makes it a challenge at times. I only hope at some point in my life, it is going to come naturally.

Ebru Yildiz - Jason Pierce

Ebru Yildiz – Jason Pierce

To me, reflection means to take the time to look at what I have done so far and going forward questioning if I should change anything about them. During this process, being able to acknowledge good as well as bad with all honesty is super crucial. I never understood why people cannot be humble and are so afraid of admitting negative things about themselves. These only show you are a strong person and nothing else. Either ways, I believe even the acknowledgement of the need to change is a gigantic step in and of itself. Being able to make the changes you think you should is a completely other animal though. And it takes time.

Ebru Yildiz - Mitchell King

Ebru Yildiz – Mitchell King

How does your work fit in with that definition?

EY: Well, I have never thought about reflection and/or response in terms of my photography but now that I did, I can see that it comes out the most for portraits. The photographer and the subject respond to each other continuously. People feed off of each other. If you are in a good mood, it is going to rub off on people around you, if you are not in a good mood, that is going to rub off on people too. So it is a constant flow of emotions back and forth. I remember I used to try to get a certain emotion out of people, for that reason I liked making people uneasy, and uncomfortable by asking incredibly private questions during the shoot. But right now, I take joy in letting the people I photograph just be. I become mindful of what they allow me to see and try to focus on those. So I guess it is kind of reflecting what I think they project to me back into the photograph, if that makes any sense. But everything is so subjective. At the end it is collaboration. It is my interpretation of what my subjects let me see. Regardless, I personally think that in order to make meaningful portraits, you really need to have interest in people other than yourself; you need to have a genuine interest what they have to say, what their story is.

Ebru Yildiz - Frankie Rose

Ebru Yildiz – Frankie Rose

Ebru Yildiz - Tamaryn

Ebru Yildiz – Tamaryn

As for live photographs, I think in those, I am focused on catching musicians’ own response to their own creation, of course that combined with my own response to their music. And like everyone else I respond differently to different music. I heard my husband talking about my work to a friend once; he was saying that he thinks that most of my live photographs are like portraits of those people who happen to be playing a live show. I don’t think I have ever heard a bigger compliment than that.

Ebru Yildiz - Thee Oh Sees

Ebru Yildiz – Thee Oh Sees

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Ángel Rams

We’re excited to welcome Valencia-born and Leipzig-based comic book artist and illustrator Ángel Rams to the LIFESTYLE collective. Angel sheds light on the roles of Reflection during the process of interpreting an author’s scene and Response as the illustrator’s goal to tell the story through that interpretation. He goes in on the importance of telling a story without sacrificing the narrative for superfluous illustrations that only aim to impress readers. Ángel showcases these different features of the creative process using dope examples from his portfolio. He also sheds light on exciting future projects such as serving as the artist for  Alfred Ngubane‘s book Shaka Zulu, the upcoming release of a graphic novel set in post-WWII, and his participation in the 2014 Egmont Graphic Novel Contest with his graphic novel Cayuco. Check out the dialogue below accompanied by samples from Angel’s eclectic collection and links to various projects he’s got going on.

Ángel Rams

 

One of the main rules of sequential art is that you are here to entertain people, telling them a story throughout panels, not to gather a bunch of cool pin-ups on a page. A good comic book page can be understood without the dialogue on it, because it responds to the script.

- Ángel Rams

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AR: My name is Ángel Rams. I´m a comic book artist and illustrator born in Valencia, Spain. I currently reside in Leipzig, Germany.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AR: I consider myself a comic book artist that takes occasional illustration commissions. The bulk of my artwork is what we call “sequential artwork”, in plain English: comic book pages. So I guess I should respond as a comic book artist. I believe Reflection and Response are a great part of a comic book artist’s work.

I would say Reflection describes my intention when I draw a scene, an object or a character. I try to capture on paper how I conceive that scene, object or that character. I try to reflect my perception of reality through my artistic skills. Of course that reality doesn’t really exist; it’s a reality the writer created. My task is to read, interprete and reflect. And that leads us to the next question: Response.

I understand Response as the artist’s level of commitment and efficiency toward the story. Rule number one is: tell the story. The closer my drawings are to the writer’s initial idea, the better Response I provided as a professional. In my opinion, a good comic book is the one where art and dialogues work along so well that it makes you wonder if it was made by a team or by one single creator. For this to happen you need a collaborative effort between writer and artist, or such a complete, well written script, that it gives the artist information enough to provide a good Response. Luckily I’ve been in both situations.

One of the main rules of sequential art is that you are here to entertain people, telling them a story throughout panels, not to gather a bunch of cool pin-ups on a page. Sadly, many artists focus their efforts on showcasing lots of boobs, muscle and plasma beams in cool postures rather than telling the story effectively. They adapt the story to the art and it should be the other way around, and that creates divergences. There’s nothing worse than divergences between artwork and dialogues. Seeing a character doing something or showing a body language that doesn’t match what they say, drives you out of the story and makes it less believable. A good comic book page can be understood without the dialogue on it, because it responds to the script. You don’t really know what they are saying but you know what’s going on.

Ángel Rams - Tunnel, page 9

Ángel Rams - Tunnel, page 10

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AR: When you look at the pages [from Tunnel] above, even with no lettering work on them, they convey the defenselessness and vulnerability the wounded character is feeling at that point of the story. His posture laying on bed, the martial mood of the military character that’s talking to him, the dark empty infirmary room, how the doctor approaches step by step with his apron stained with blood… All of this is telling you that wounded dude is in trouble. My task as an artist is to convey that idea throughout the page, to respond to the writer’s idea. Even the page layout imitates the shape of the window’s grid. All these elements subconsciously affect the reader, they create a mood and make the story believable. They all work together to tell the story.

At the same time, I have to reflect on the look of the room (it’s not a civil hospital, but a camp hospital), the ethnicities of the characters (the doc is Japanese) and every single object in an effective way. That means hours of documentation and study before even picking up the pencil. How many amateur comics did you see where cars look like shoe boxes? That happens because they don’t reflect real objects properly.

The next scene, below, [is] pretty much the same. The female character has the sensation of being observed, and so does the reader, because  the position of the statues, the deer head and the empty library convey that feeling.

Ángel Rams - Tunnel, page 23

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Linda Wartenweiler

We met actress Linda Wertenweiler recently through some friends of ours in Brooklyn. Linda has been living in New York since 2006 working on her craft, performing, and acting on camera. In this interview, she discusses her journey from a rural setting with a distinct culture to the fast-paced and eclectic city she now calls home. She cites the importance of dedicated moments of Reflection to provide breaks in the rapid pace of life, and she considers the data gathered from Reflection as necessary input when Responding via the dramatic arts. Recently, this artist appeared in a 1980s-style horror short film, Imprisoned Souls, and is filming another short entitled Canvas, set to shoot in May of this year. We are excited to have the unique perspective of this active craftswoman who is consistently dropping dope projects!

Linda Wartenweiler

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

LW: I was born and raised in beautiful Switzerland (Amriswil TG), right at the border to Germany, Lake of Constance. In 2006 I left my banking career at “home” in order to chase my childhood dream: ACTING! New York City has been my residence ever since and I am loving my new chapter and my life fully!

Being from such a different continent, culture and being from the country side, New York has enriched my life, perspective, lifestyle etc. tremendously! Lots had to be learned, lots had to be explored, lots had to be understood, lots of adaptations needed to be made…. Looking back today to where I was 8 years ago…. WOW, how much growth has happened in me in this fast paced city!!! I am truly grateful and happy with every single experience and lesson that currently is in my back bag. I am looking forward to fill my bag with many more adventures and experiences.

The transformation from the banking world into the acting one was quite an interesting journey! My acting experience was very small, my desire of my heart and soul to pursue it was and still is super strong. Looking back on my growth and path as an actress/artist/human being makes me very happy and evokes a satisfying feeling all over me. It was THE PERFECT decision that I made back then!! “Don’t dream your life, live your dream!” is what is driving and pushing me. The future is unwritten, it will be what we are making out of TODAY and the NOW. Anything is possible if you believe it is! ;)

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LW: Reflection definitely is a very, very important part of my life. It shows me all the colors of my past, it shows me where and who I was then, who I became and where I am heading towards. To me response contains sort of a reality check. I get to see if I am still on the “right” track or if there needs some adjustments to be made. In general I believe that whenever someone intentionally stands still for a little while and starts his/her own reflection process then it means to me that this person cares about himself/herself. It means that this person was running and running and doing and simply functioning without being aware anymore of its initial intentions. Or this person is focused on his/her way and is simply checking in if everything still is ok with what is going on. Sometimes we come off track because of many distractions in our lives or our needs and wants simply change as we do daily.

How does this definition fit in with your acting career?

LW: All the knowledge about myself is more than essential for my work as an actress! The better I know myself, the more I feel myself, the better my work will be as my inner life always reflects my outer life after all. As an actor you need the understanding of your behaviors first, you need to be able to see life in general from a psychological point of view. You need to have the understanding of yourself, your surroundings and of the whole world in general. With your own interpretation of it all you then will be able to use all that data in order to let it flow freely into your work. Reflection will be your helpful guide and director in order to grow faster if you are willing for this exciting adventure to happen…

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

LW: During the past few months I have actually given a lot of my time and focus to myself and to my inner world. Reflection was and still is a big thing in my life and will always be. So it is truly funny to me that I am doing this interview about this subject with you right now Peter! That’s just how the Law of Attraction works after all. ;)

One of my last exciting acting projects was the 80s horror slasher short film “Imprisoned Souls” in which I am portraying the villain “Jeanne Wrayy”. My talented writer and director friend wrote this part for me. Thanks to this character I had a true breakthrough in my craft and that character opened up a whole new dimension in my acting reality. It’s absolutely inspiring to me and I am now applying all the new knowledge into my work.

I just got cast in a short film called “Canvas”, which we will shoot in the beginning of May 2014. This time I will play a lawyer’s wife who is an avid supporter of the artistic community. It will be a very fun project that includes some of my talented friends in cast and crew. My other focus is also in taking new headshots within the upcoming 2 weeks and updating my acting reel. Within the past year I have grown and evolved a lot in my personal and artistic life. It is more than time to capture this “new” me at this point in my life/career in order to sell myself more specifically and effectively.

Who or what inspires you?

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers

%d bloggers like this: