Tag Archives: baltimore

Artist Feature: Lou Rouse

Lou Rouse is a Baltimore-bred / New York-based photographer who has been working on his craft since moving to the city at 20 years old. Lou brings up the bountiful opportunities that inspire response in the city – from the various active creative venues to the uniquely diverse and energetic character of the city. He strives to depict and describe the intangible in his work, eschewing more obvious images for interesting emotions of environments and specific passing moments in time. In our dialogue below, Lou breaks down some powerful aspects and responsibilities of art in relation to surrounding social environments. We’ve been fortunate enough to have collaborated with Lou before, and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to do so in the future. Check the word!

Lou Rouse

People get uncomfortable around art and artists because of [the power of art], and because art is not empirical. But because art succeeds where politics and policy fail, art plays a critical role in the survival of humanity. So artists must take care of themselves and other artists. Artists must learn how to survive in the current system while making the good work that will change it.

– Lou Rouse

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

LR: I am from Baltimore, Maryland. Grew up in the city until I was 17. Went to college in Michigan for a year and then moved to NYC at age 20 and have pretty much been here ever since. Worked on films and other odd jobs, then I started assisting fashion photographers. Being a visual person, I really got in to how photographers brought a vision to a set and carried it out with the help of other talented visual people. Eventually people began to ask me for my vision on creative projects, and that is where I happily am now.

Lou Rouse - Untitled

Lou Rouse – Untitled

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

LR: Reflection and response are crucial elements of art, of being an artist. For me, and I’m sure many other artists, the desire is to balance intake and output. In New York City you can consume a lot of great theater, museum and gallery shows, fashion, music, food, or just walk around and be inspired by the fantastic diversity and energy. It’s enjoyable just to witness…but if you are a creative type you begin to feel frustrated if you are not responding in some form. I’m always challenging myself to respond more and to better articulate my observations. But to survive as an artist you have to make the process enjoyable. It’s a tricky balance.

Lou Rouse - Habanero

Lou Rouse – Habanero

How does your work fit in with that definition?

LR: An important part of my work is capturing the emotion of an environment, form and moment. I’m really fascinated when there is this intense feeling in the light, facial expression, lines, movements or gestures, but I can’t fully explain where that emotion is coming from. If a photo is obvious to me I delete it. All the pieces you see here are me trying to describe things that are intangible and moving to me.

Lou Rouse - Untitled

Lou Rouse – Untitled

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

 

Continue reading

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Artist Feature: Adam Hopkins

Adam Hopkins is a composer and bassist living in the Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn by way of Baltimore, Maryland. As part of thriving music scenes in his hometown and his current city of residence, Adam tells an artistic tale of people coming together to create great music and community. Some of the groups he’s involved with, such as Signal Problems, have been around for years and thereby boast a unique group dynamic and musical language developed over time, which add intricacies to their exciting improvisations. Here, Reflection serves as the collective memory of the artist, while Response is a collective sharing and exploration of each participant’s story through sound. In our dialogue below, Adam delves specifically into two tracks, Pogo Stick and We Turn Around, and presents a video of the Adam Hopkins Quartet. He stays busy in New York and has various upcoming records with the several bands he participates in as leader and sideman. Peep the conversation below!

Adam Hopkins | Photo by Michael Yu (2014)

Adam Hopkins | Photo by Michael Yu (2014)

Playing music is all about relationships and communicating with other people, so I am constantly reacting to their ideas and embracing their musical identity as well as my own…it’s that concept of simultaneously reflecting on one’s own unique experiences and bringing them to a group environment, which creates something that is greater than each individual part combined.

– Adam Hopkins

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

AH: I currently live in Brooklyn, NY–Ditmas Park specifically. I don’t think I’d normally mention the neighborhood as part of a response to this question, but I really love where I live! A lot of my closest musical collaborators live within 3 blocks of me, and also there are trees. Lots and lots of trees, which is a bit different for Brooklyn.

I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I left for college and grad school, but found myself back there in 2005. I consider that time in Baltimore until I moved to NY in 2011 to be the most formative years artistically of my life to this point. The music scene in Baltimore, specifically the creative and improvised music scene, is very small but at the same time full of talented and inspiring people. We started a bunch of bands, wrote new music for them, rehearsed a LOT (something that is much more rare in NY currently), made records, and played shows. It was the best, now that I think of it. In 2011 four of us decided to move to NY from Baltimore, and settled into a house in Bushwick with a great rehearsal space in the basement. That group of people, who basically moved up on the same day, was already a band called Signal Problems led by my former-roommate-but-still-friend Danny Gouker. We continue to rehearse all of the time, and still play regularly. In fact we just released our debut album on pfMentum records which can be checked out right here: http://www.pfmentum.com/PFMCD080.html. There are no subs in the group ever, which has helped maintain it as an actual band and not just a rotating group of potential people. So, you know…Baltimore sticks together wherever we are. 

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AH: As an improviser, reflection and response are at the very center of what occurs any time I play music, be it solo or with a group.

Reflection to me is everything that has happened in my life, musically or not, that has gotten me to where I am in that very moment. At my absolute best I am able to look inwardly and draw on all of those experiences to present a statement or vision that is uniquely my own.  

The response can be looked at from a number of angles, but primarily a response is what comes out of my instrument as a result of those experiences. Playing music is all about relationships and communicating with other people, so I am constantly reacting to their ideas and embracing their musical identity as well as my own. It’s what makes improvised music like nothing else…we all bring our experiences from vastly different places to a performance, and as a group we find a way to make it work.

How does your work specifically fit in with that definition?

AH: This first track isn’t one of my own compositions, but I think it is a great example of this concept. It’s from Signal Problems, written by Danny Gouker who plays trumpet, with Eric Trudel on saxophone, Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums, and I’m playing bass. 

It is 30-seconds or so of written music and then we immediately launch into an improvisation. This band has been playing together for over five years, and we’ve developed our own sort of group language as a result. The entire improvised section is the band responding in the moment to everything going on around us. So again, it’s that concept of simultaneously reflecting on one’s own unique experiences and bringing them to a group environment, which creates something that is greater than each individual part combined. 

This second track is a little bit older, but it’s one of my own compositions from 2011. It is a band that was started in Baltimore called Turn Around Norman, with Cam Collins on saxophone, JJ Wright on keyboards, Nathan Ellman-Bell (again) on drums, and myself on bass. 

There was a time when this entire band lived in New York as well, but life choices spread us out a bit and we don’t get to play together nearly as often as we’d like. It is a good example of my compositional approach, so I figured why not include it!? There is improvising in the track, but I think it is mostly influenced by the grunge rock of my high school years and my earliest musical experiences playing in dive clubs and wearing funny hats. There’s maybe a little disco at the end as well, and I’m not sure where that came from. It seeped into my musical being somewhere along the line. 

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

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: