The choice of The Sumi Ink Club exemplifies the meeting of art and community. The club's mission is to create a collaborative drawing using ink on paper. Just imagine the state of the world if we all just gathered around a giant coloring book and talked. The Sumi Art Club uses art as a vehicle for communication. The visual results are as delightful as the group’s intent, founded by Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck (AKA Lucky Dragons). David Horvitz documents his visual life daily in photographs. He finds things of interest wherever he might be at a given moment. He displayed a sequential series of photos in contrast and juxtaposition on the cover. It displays a lone figure disappearing in two separate landscapes, each creating a context of scenarios. Check his site for interactive conceptual pieces that the viewer sponsors through donations. Here
The formidable husband and wife photography team Crackerfarm creates work that is cutting edge and passion directed in all areas of their domain. The essence of Crackerfarm is their fine art. Whether they are creating commercial work in music portraiture, fashion, music video or fine art photography, their aesthetic framework scaffolds seamlessly.Featured on the Crackerfarm website is an intriguing photo series of masked individuals posed stoically in a variety of settings. It is simultaneously unsettling and humorous. The individual subjects identity is hidden and therefore altered presenting a visual play. The internal identity and branded identity intertwine and form a contextual perception. Other photos juxtapose inanimate objects to construct a forbidden territory of taboo and edgy affectation.
In the field of music, most notable is their photographs and videos of Langhorne Slim and the Avett Brothers that follow both groups journey from grassroots to their rise to the national stage. Producing work out of passion and love has derived superb results. While their photographs are provocative, they also beckon the viewer with their humanity and warmth.
Their more recent entry into the world of music video and music film documentation is a welcome addition. Crackerfarm’s "EPK" of the Avett Brothers is a production that was assembled with snippets from their ongoing full-length documentary. It combines the grainy quality of old reel-to-reel film footage with a warm afterglow seen in vintage Photographs. They lovingly intersperse color shots with black and white without sacrificing the overall sensibility.
Crackerfarm’s more impromptu footage of Langhorne Slim and the Avett Brothers create an authentic moment in time. The viewer doesn’t sense the camera. It is deliberately there to capture. It is what the eye sees from a certain point of view but specifically it is what Crackerfarm sees.
The impact of the Crackerfarm aesthetic will continue to contribute to the world of art and music and broaden our perception with their artistry.
OC Educational background? How did you meet?
CF In Ohio, I went to vocational school for photography my junior and senior years of high school in photography. I moved to New York for college after that. I went to SVA... that's where Mike and I met.
OC In what way does working as collaborative team effect the outcome of your work?
CF We have a very similar aesthetic and similar taste overall...our work might be the same if we made things separately.. but we pretty much collaborate in all ways on all the things that we do make..
OC Does it work more like a collaborative negotiation of sorts?
CF We really like the same things most of the time, but there is always negotiation...making pictures, and now video, is the thing we agree on the easiest in our relationship I think.
OC Is your art photography a separate entity from your music and commercial work?
CF Yes and no..we've always wanted the line to blend between the two and sometimes it starts to blur a little..that's certainly a goal of ours.
OC Does your commercial affiliations whether shooting for Urban Outfitters or going on a music assignment conflict or add to your artistic goals?
CF Commercial work is our bread and butter....we think of photography as both art and commerce..knowing how to take pictures is a trade for us sometimes and a meaningful form of expression other times.
OC It seems to me that people hire you for your aesthetic.
CF Thanks:).. for the most part maybe they do..but we try to work harder than most and to do it with a good attitude too so hopefully that comes across..
OC Are you ever concerned that becoming commercially successful will effect Crackerfarm's artistic goals? Do you take precautions?
CF I would feel happy and fortunate to become successful commercially..it would just allow us more financial freedom to make art or movies...or whatever else, babies?
OC When people hire Crackerfarm, how much control do you have in how your photograghs are represented?
CF Again, it sort of depends on the job.. sometimes we have total control and opportunity to see a project through to the end..other times though, we just take the pictures and whomever hired us does the rest...either way is cool with us..
OC Your music photography and video are presentations are obviously your aesthetic but also create iconic images that represent others. Is that aspect important you? Which comes first?
CF I think it ends up being very collaborative most of the time...we bring a little and they bring a little and when the interaction is harmonious and awesome I feel like that's when the work is at it's best..That's sorta the ideal situation..
OC What brought you to the music of the Avett Brothers and Langhorne Slim? Is this personal and outside of commercial endeavors?
CF We fell in love with Langhorne the first time we saw him perform..He was sharing a bill with Kimya Dawson and Regina Spektor at Tonic..he stole the show in my eyes. They were all great but I remember being entirely blown away by Slim. That was in 2001 or 2002..We met the Avetts because they hired us to do a photo shoot and we hit it off immediately. We went to see them play that night for the first time at The Living Room and were blown away in the same way that we were at that first Slim show..Both the Avetts and Langhorne are like family to us now..In that way it's extremely personal work because we really care about them as people. The work we do with them is as much about having a really good record of this exciting time in all of our lives as it is about photographing them because we have a career as photographers..if that makes sense..
OC Was music always a passion aside from photography?
CF For me it was.my big brother is a musician and since I was a little kid music has been extremely important to me.very cathartic and theraputic...I am not a talented musician however..so I find my ways of expressing my love of music I guess, visually..
OC Langhorne Slim "Rebel Side of Heaven" and the Jamie Lidell "Little Bit Of Feel Good" videos are quite a departure from the videos featured on your site, what does the Crakerfarm team bring to commercial videos, like art direction etc....?
CF We have started to venture into that world of motion pictures and it's exciting..those videos are ones that we conceived with the musicians and everything else we did ourselves.. with some help from an awesome team of course..
OC DIY Ethic, the Internet, offering work for free, do you think it leads to opportunities?
CF Yes indeed..those have all been important elements of our business growth for sure..very important ones..
OC Do you have future goals about video production and directing as it relates to music, and the EPK of Avett Brothers, is there a documentary in the making?
CF Yes we have many projects in the works..we have been shooting an Avett Brothers documentary for over a year now..Our goal is to release it at the same time as their next full length album..dunno exactly when that'll be but we're filming all the while.. We think that this will be an ongoing documentary, the afore mentioned release being the first of a series.
OC Anything I left out that you would like to say?
CF Thank you!!!:)
Avett Brothers sing "For Today"
Langhorne Slim Singing "We love the Animals"
Crackerfarm You Tube Channel
If You Make it is a thoughtfully entitled Website that will realize the self-fulfilling prophecy that if you make it, they will come. Dave Garwacke's site features friends who love and make music. He films bands that have created a history, memory, and soundtrack in the lives of a broad music community he has been a part of. Dave has been recording them at shows, in garages, apartments, outdoor festivals, and the special The Pink Couch Sessions. He is creating an archival record of current bands and disbanded outfits to be filed on the Web.
What started out as a simple idea is growing, and although it is a labor of love, it has turned out to be a labor of hard work. Dave’s undeniable web programming talent defies the very nature of his philosophical bent. Despite its best intentions to be a makeshift low-key affair, it has seen a lot of traffic. This is a Web community!
Since its inception If You Make It has gone through many design configurations. Right now, he is settling on its current format, but I suggest don’t get too comfortable. I am sure there will be more changes.
The Pink Couch Sessions' quality has stepped up, without losing its downright homey nature. The footage captures the way musicians are rather than just highlighting the music. It presents people true to form. It is as if you, the viewer, are just hanging out, and the music is in your living space. It is close-up and personal and definitely not staged.
One of the most unique things about the site is the music. These bands are not the latest or on anybody's buzz list of up-and-coming bands. They have little web history but are well known within certain music communities, grassroots, word of mouth, and DIY culture.
I am glad Dave took the time and has the ambition of his convictions and wherewithal to know how to present what he loves in the best way possible. This kind of work ethic is unusual for someone who is Twenty-five.
Dave Garwacke's love of music is apparent. I am grateful that he will put forth the time and effort to share this love with all of us.
My interest and affiliation started when I realized Dave was embedding my writing along with the videos he was presenting. His forte is in web development and not writing. So as he started this site I’ve been watching from the sidelines.
OC Your background education/web programming combined with a love of music.
DG I went to SUNY New Paltz for Computer Engineering, but the whole time I was teaching myself web design and programming. I worked on a couple of local things, including a website for the house I lived in, which had shows in our basement. A ton of bands came through there, and I saw it as a way to get the word out about shows and document all of the things going on there. Unfortunately, our landlord shut it down when he saw an article in the school paper about it. Afterwards I realized that no physical evidence existed of the things that we did there. When I moved to Brooklyn, I wanted to make sure that sort of thing wouldn't happen again.
OC Philosophical mission of site?
DG I want to expose people to my friend's music through channels that they might not have access to. It's also a fun experiment for me to fool around with.
OC Other possible directions, or wish List for future endeavors.
DG Recently I added in the Pink Couch Sessions which features artists in my Brooklyn apartment performing 2 songs. The next project will be more dynamic and involve artists performing different places in their home communities. Through touring I've seen a lot of communities being sustained by one or two bands that act as parents, fostering new bands and venues into the scene. I want to capture those bands somewhere iconic to them and their community.
OC Affiliation with Plan-it-x (designing their new site) plus other connections to the bands etc.
DG The majority of the bands on the site are my friends, along with the folks from Plan-it-X. A band I'm in, Halo Fauna, is also on the label. I saw that Chris (owner of PIX) needed an update, I mentioned it to him, and got to work on the site. Other than that, most of the friendships were formed through touring and helping other bands with shows at my old house in New Paltz. For Pink Couch Sessions, I usually just shoot people an email when they come into town, or talk to them at the show about coming over afterwards.
OC Is part of your goal to keep the music you love alive and exposed?
DG I worry that bands will break up before people have a chance to get into them. Also the ability to see the band in a show atmosphere adds so much more to the song. When you witness the energy the crowd and artists put in it adds something that you never get from a record. Having the videos online also let's younger viewers, who may not be of show age, keep in touch with bands their into.
OC Any commercial considerations? My philosophy is to expose great music and hopefully help musicians have a viable income from their music without being distracted by other jobs.
DG I'm all about getting help running the site (i.e.; hosting, pr), but I want to make sure that it represents the music first and me second. Hopefully I can get some help from labels that are trying to promote these bands, but the main goal is to help them get attention that may not come naturally. I also had the luck to pick a camera that does an amazing job at recording audio in a live environment. I think it has to do with its lack of bass pickup, which tends to distort other cameras, even ones that cost more. It's a Panasonic GS320, if Panasonic is listening and wants to help a poor boy out.
OC Has your perspective changed since starting the site and realizing the impact it can have on music?
DG I've noticed throughout the course of the site that the videos on it fall into a special niche. They represent a new group of talent that is up and coming on the east coast. IYMI is in a unique situation because it doesn't come off as commercial, or inversely, poorly done. I want to make sure that the videos are of good quality, but don't want to come off as cheesy or exploitive. MTV already exists and it's a flawed vehicle, only pushing music that has been enhanced and misrepresented.
OC Anything else you wish to mention?
DG Some friends with new releases worth checking out; Get Bent (NYC), Tin Armor (OH) and Cheeky (NYC).
Wham City Site De Jour
Wham City is an Internet site that encompasses the OCD vision of an ingenious collective of musicians/bands, artists, writers, animators, filmmakers, comic artists, actors, and fashion stylists. A Drum Roll, Please! They can’t be stopped! Their trademark of inventiveness is extreme. Dan Deacon is their breakout music artist who is gaining national attention and press for his frenetic live shows. The magnetic force of his talent will draw people to the Wham City Website. Their projects are in full gear despite losing their physical headquarters in “Charm City” Baltimore, Maryland, the city of choice for low rent and large space.
The Wham City site menu displays uploaded projects, events, touring, creative videos, alternative TV shows, comic sites, and fashion sites that are updated regularly. Their uninhibited application of technology is a highlight, creating a site destination that is one of a kind.
The collective imprint is their kitsch aesthetic that creates a maze of visual and auditory entries. They Scramble images and sounds, melding the juxtaposition of; the new with old, found with consumed, high art with low, craft art with machine-made, trash with treasure, and commercial with lo-fi.
Through the scrambled web, the collective merges its obsessions of pop culture, consumer culture, treasured eras, comic book heroes, and video gaming into unique visual and musical affectations. They celebrate these obsessions and parody them with abandon. One of the great delights is melding the individual vision with the collective.
Living Large Resourcefully
The Wham City collective is comprised of its original founding members all (graduates of Purchase College), their friends, and talented Baltimore contributors who share a similar sensibility, vision, and lifestyle. They all live large without being weighed down by the materialistic standards driving others. They understand the inventiveness of living creatively on a low budget, which has guided their creative freedom.
To Highlight a Few of The Heavy Hitters
Dan Deacon is an absurd music composer. His music is created with a keyboard and mic plugged into a collection of discarded electronic equipment. He cranks the decibels and alters his vocal frequencies, speeding it up with whimsical nuance and childlike wonder. Creating a chaotic beat that is infectious to audiences all over the country. He combines theatrics and audience participation into a lively frenzied performance happening.
Jimmy Roche is a Baltimore based Filmmaker, Video Artist
Jimmy Joe Roche created Dan Deacon’s latest video release, "Crystal Cat," from the CD entitled Spiderman Of The Rings. Clocking in fast, the psychedelic kaleidoscope zooms in and out of Dan Deacon singing and convulsively moving his body. Through the lens are floating animation, puppetry, and guest band appearances by the Video Hippos and the Santa Dads.
Dina Kelberman: Web Designer for Wham City and so much more…..
Another founding member Dina Kelberman is their web designer and the creator of two spectacular links on Wham City. Her comic book site called Important Comics displays her small shape abstractions that communicate within the bubble, saying things like; I’m bored, I’m a loser, this sucks and you’re a dick. It is dry humor based a little on self-deprecation and is hilarious in the context of slacker culture. Somehow she manages to sprinkle sweetness into the dialogue, portraying an obscure moral. It is simple but smart.
Poor Choice Clothing features Dina’s clothing concepts. The paradoxical name magnifies her unique and insanely funny humor. The fashions are must-see. Dina’s detailed illustrations can be seen on the cover art of Wham City bands like the Santa Dads flyers for events and shows. She also creates
three-dimensional assemblies that are used for plays and video productions.
Ed Schrader Comedian / Talk Show Host
The Ed Schrader Show is an episode talk show spoof using the host formula format. He welcomes guests from bands like the Parenthetical Girls, locals, and the Charm City Roller Girls or presents a film by Meredith More with music tracks by Dan Deacon. Every show features his very own house band of rotating players. Done badly on purpose, the show looks like a late-night cable access TV show, only it is intended to be funny. Ed has unique personality quirks, like his obsessive, unhealthy love for David Bowie, and a comedic approach similar to the late Andy Kaufman.
Dina Kelberman Quote, Wham City Pipe Dreams
“There are always tons of pipe dreams being thrown around; it's hard to tell what's actually going to happen. There's talk of farms, legitimate venues, new warehouse spaces, another round-robin tour, a monthly multi-media curated exhibition, and a theatrical interpretation of Jurassic Park. Keep watching the skies!”
Wham City a Collective Spirit of Culture
Without a large budget and their philosophical bent intact, they have forged an Internet territory like no
Music Site Scavenger: Series 2
No Junk Food or Muzak At This Site
Dinner With The Band is a site destination that features great music and great food. The formula is simple. Invite a band to a spacious loft for dinner and ask them to help prepare culinary specialties with the guidance of a master chef. Sit down to eat, converse and drink adult beverages. When the band is satiated, they will do what they do best: play music. This is the recipe for an entertaining and musically informative show. The simple formula is full of surprises and made fresh with the arrival of each new band. Although this site is professionally produced it is not watered down for mass appeal. That can ruin anyone’s appetite for either food or music.
Dinner With the Band is created based on the combined passions of two brothers Darin and Greg Bresnitz with credentials in both food and music. Sam Mason the shows host is a well-respected pastry chef, owner of Tailor Restaurant in Manhattan, and a music fan. The fun begins in his homey pad, when the band members take on the duties of ad hoc sous-chefs. Mason’s relaxed amiable personality and style fit right into the mix. Seeing his beautiful tattoo sleeves, one might think he is a band member, brushing a snare drum instead of basting soufflés.
The show has a boutique feel and is produced with high quality digital film and sound by the top-notch outfit Super!alright! Media. Karaoke type graphics appear on the screen, to highlight each ingredient of Mason’s creative recipes. The music performances are vividly filmed, giving the viewers a close and detailed look into every aspect of the playing dynamics. More interesting then just straightforward filming, the camera picks up communication between musicians with close up footage and fresh camera angles. No gimmicks necessary, just the music.
Matt and Kim: Newest Episode Entry
The latest episode is with the band Matt and Kim a catchy dance punk duo, featuring Kim playing drums and Matt on keyboards and vocals. They are well known in the DIY circuits and have been gaining national attention for their lively energetic heartfelt sets. The striking film segments capture the duo’s obvious deep connection to each other. Their unbridled energy is so forceful and honest, that this intimate private session feels like a performance for a large crowd. Their infectious music and fun-loving spirit thrive on the screen.
Matt and Kim help chef Mason prepare black olive cobbler and homemade almond ice cream. The pitting of the olives is comical as they try to negotiate the special tool. We find out little quirky details, like Matt has sensitive teeth, while we watch him try to politely hold back the pain the hot and cold dish has triggered. We learn that Kim started to play drums three years ago and get to witness how far she has progressed, only by touring and relentless practicing. My favorite anecdote is that they toured the country for three years with one self-released EP. That is DIY ethic in all its glory!
Life Affirming Combination
The winning formula of Dinner With The Band would have a different outcome in the hands of mainstream media. Think of the mass marketing of food and the mass marketing of music, you know that both appeal to the lowest common denominator. In contrast, at this site you are treated to a life affirming combination, where great food and great music is sustenance.
I have found the time to explore the Internet for musicians and fans who have an interest but don't have the time. So I hope this will give you all something to look forward to. Part one of my series is The Big Purple Van Club (the post below this one). My previous article about Daytrotter in July 2007 is the first.
Obsession Collection -
Music Site Scavenger Series #1
The Big Purple Van Club is a French Internet music site that features videos of awesome underground music acts, filmed in a 1970s Van. While the van drives through the streets of Paris, it becomes a moving theater. The interaction between the musicians and the colorful crew replicates a contemporary version of "The Magical Mystery Tour." The Big Purple Van Club site is a destination where viewers will see all genres of music captured in an atmosphere of love and celebration. The authenticity is potent. It is like seeing a band in a basement, living room, or garage show, where few boundaries separate the audience from the musicians.
The creative staff that makes it all possible includes: Pablo Nicomedes (creator/cameraman), Mc Load Le Pirate (the van conductor), Joaquin Lola (sound), and Muchachos (lights). The chic hobo-styled foursome brings artistry and personality to the fray. They have designed ingenious ways to film and edit impromptu music sessions while layering humor in the mix.
I regularly visited their myspace site and wrote glowing comments. With a few communications in broken English, we discussed the possibility of doing an interview. Some time passed and I went back to the site and was a little concerned, it was looking a little strange.
Surprisingly, all their top friend icons were beautiful women posed in funny and provocative positions creating a parody of myspace. I was offended and didn't quite get the joke. My rush to judgment was a little embarrassing. I have grown to appreciate their zany antics. They don't take themselves too seriously, which is one reason the site is so refreshing. You almost never know what they will do next.
My interview took place with Pablo Nicomedes, the creator/film director of The BPVC via email.
As a teenager in the sixties, a van symbolized freedom and the awaiting open road of possibilities. Gas was cheap, there was the call of the sexual revolution, and young people decorated their vans as lo-fi love shacks, unlike the customized vehicles of the “Pimp My Ride” generation.
The Vans Torrid History and Karmic Upgrade
When Pablo found the van, he was surprised by its history. It was a destination for prostitutes to do business in Pigalle, the red light district in Paris. This was a love shack of a different order, and in Pablo’s mind, it represented the love of sorts. While viewing the van, He had an epiphany, he thought it would be wonderful to film musicians and poets in the van and share their energy and passion via the Internet. The dull old van got a face-lift and was painted purple. That was the inauguration of The Big Purple Van Club.
Finding and presenting music not found in commercial media is the primary focus of The BPVC. Their music selection is not genre specific. They are open to music of any category and what suits their fancy at a particular moment. So far, many filmed sessions have included musicians respected in the underground scene, like Ramona Cordova, Francois Virot, and David Fenench. The uploaded videos offer exposure to their music.
The original concept has evolved and has enabled the fluidity of ideas. This year The BPVC presented “The Big Show,” which included twenty-five recent live-in van performers to participate. Affording pop, underground, hip-hop, strange electro, comedic, and rock to share the same stage in one night. The collective created a pre-show event with the purple van parked in front of the Le Club Des Chats. This theatrical red carpet staging area added momentum for the line-up to follow.
The BPVC has just updated its website, making it a necessary pit stop that showcases all its creative endeavors. They have recently added a French radio broadcast that presents a different artist weekly, along with podcasts of each performance. For the future, they are planning to bring the purple van to New York in the summer of 2008, culminating in a big show in September.
This madcap crew knows how to have fun, and their eccentric frolics can be outrageous and campy. The van interior and their costumes change to accommodate the varying line-up. This collective has discerning taste and creative vision. Most importantly, they share their love of music with viewers worldwide, hoping to make purple a symbol of music passion.
Daytrotter's music selection reflects their acute taste that formally presents alternative quality music. A standout feature is the signature "Daytrotter Sessions" which capture two recording sessions a week by selected touring bands. The bands record exclusive, reworked, alternative versions of songs and unreleased tracks available for free download. One click on an illustrated band image leads to four original one-of-a-kind tracks. Accompanying the sessions are literary articles that offer a highbrow approach to the written word, sometimes followed by a quirky, offbeat interview style.
The verbose writing informs the desire to hear the music of new and unknown music groups. This is a sample of Sean Moeller’s writing about the music of singer-songwriter Elvis Perkins........ Listen closely, and you can hear all of the intricacies that make Perkins unlike all other manners of fare and ilk. There are fireflies in these songs, and there are warm touches..................
I stumbled upon Daytrotter while writing a review about the band o’death, and found their SXSW recorded session. I was pleased to discover the recordings of bands I have written about, including, Two Gallants, Langhorne Slim, Willy Mason, Illinois, Trainwreck Riders, and many others in my personal collection.
I have permanently bookmarked this site, so it is always close to home. Daytrotter succeeds in designing a consistent quality experience that authentically represents its vision. I marvel at the future possibilities of this website. As it evolves, I hope it broadens the musical culture beyond the boundaries of mediocrity.
Langhorne Slim sessions
Willy Mason sessions
Daytrotter signature session archives