Tag Archives: Washington DC

Artist Feature: Gavin Dunaway

Libel

Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction.

– Gavin Dunaway

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

GD: I was born outside of Washington, DC, in Northern Virginia, and spent 27 years trying to get out. I kid, but it’s very hard to get away from the DC area – there are good schools and government jobs; the suburbs are safe and comfy. And a little dull. On a professional (for a living, I’m an industry journalist) and on an artistic level, I needed something more, something bolder. I still love my hometown, and the choice to move to New York (really Brooklyn) was a tough one, but I’ve been here six years and have never felt more at home. A few years ago, I found an amazing deal on a big apartment in Bushwick near the Jefferson L, and I’m sitting pretty near my rehearsal studio as the neighborhood rapidly transforms.

 The main reason I migrated to Brooklyn was to extend my rock’n’roll dreams: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 and jammed in bands for longer than I can remember. While I jumped around from band to band for a while, my main focus now is the group I lead, Libel. I try to blend my love of 70s glam (e.g., David Bowie) with 90s post-punk (e.g., Fugazi), while sprinkling socially conscious lyrics on top – examining the contemporary state of identity; the decay of the middle class and domination of the plutocrats; the slide into hyper-reality; and even the volatility of love amid cultural confusion.

Libel

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

GD: Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction. Technology has encouraged us to respond without reflecting (I’m looking at you, Twitter), turning so much of our culture into a series of knee-jerk reactions with little depth. Indeed, I think many of us are so lost in the flood of information that we desperately seek guides to follow and allow them to tell us what to think – about politics, art, etc. Reflection withers, response dominates – we’re all desperate to be heard, and ultimately validated, in an ocean of voices.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

GD: I tend to let songs gestate for years; crafting both music and lyrics require a great deal of reflection before finalization. For example, I’m finishing up lyrics to a song focused on gentrification. When I finished the first draft, I thought, what is this trying to say – gentrification is bad? No, it’s more complicated than that. Am I just merely describing what I’ve seen in Bushwick the last few years? If so, is there a message below the straightforward chronicle? In the end, I realized the lyrics reflected the callousness of the gentrifiers (which includes me) to transform areas without any – wait for it – reflection on the environment they are disturbing. And then we move on when we get priced out or just… bored because the area turns into something we don’t recognize (or like).

 So my creative work feels much more dedicated to reflection, and encouraging others to reflect and develop their own responses.

Libel

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

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Artist Feature: Jeremy Flax

I first met my dude Jeremy Flax stompin’ away at the Open Mic at Triskel Tavern beating out some dope sounding electric guitar blues tune on a Thursday night at 1:30 AM. Jeremy is from Virginia and lived in Madrid from 2011-2013 and is now back in the United States working with his group J Flax and The Heart Attacks. Below, Jeremy discusses the self-reflective nature of Reflection and Response, and how conclusions drawn from this practice can help us better ourselves. Jeremy also presents his dope practice of listening to his old groups and selecting elements that he is currently using with his group today. Be on the lookout for shows throughout the Virginia and Washington DC area from this powerful performer, composer, and vocalist!

Jeremy Flax

Reflection means really looking back at the actions you’ve taken and the things you’ve said and thinking about how they have affected others…Response entails what you decide to do with the conclusions you’ve drawn.

– Jeremy Flax

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

JF: I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia originally. I’ve lived in Virginia my whole life except for two years that I spent in Madrid from 2011 to 2013. Right now I’m actually back living in Virginia Beach for the first time in several years, but I’m hoping to relocate to Washington, DC in the near future.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

JF: To me reflection means really looking back at the actions you’ve taken and the things you’ve said and thinking about how they have affected others. Did they have a positive impact or a negative impact? Did they help me to better myself or am I the same person now as I was then? Response to me entails what you decide to do with the conclusions you’ve drawn. What have I learned about myself and how can I justify the actions I’ve taken? Response is picking a road to go down after having examined the road you’ve already taken.

How does your band J.Flax & The Heart Attacks fit in with that definition?

JF: The music that I’m making now is in a way a response to conclusions I’ve reached having analyzed the music I was making with my former band, The Vermilions. Listening to both you can hear that the influences come from the same place but I feel like having gone back and listened to my previous record several years after making it I can pick out elements of those songs that I still enjoy and phase out the elements that looking back I find didn’t work. The result is a collection of songs that are far more streamlined and are a lot of fun to listen to as well as perform.

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

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