Interview in Makinfluence

July 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm (Uncategorized)

For all my French peoples – I was interviewed recently in the awesome French artblog, Makinfluence. It is very interesting to see what things I say look like in another language. Probably a lot more elegant than my real talk. Word up to my man Camilla for making this happen! If you speak French, read the interview here. If you are monolingual (?), like me, read the original English interview below:

Why did you decide to create a blog? What does it deal with exactly?
We live in an age where most people have two selves now, physical and digital, and my digital self was wandering around the internet with no place to come home to. A blog is a home like that. As an artist, that also becomes an attraction, sort of a ghetto DIY storefront where I can represent myself and my work. I talk about what I like, what I’m thinking about; also give a lot of props to artists I respect and keep my readers updated on whatever projects I’m busy with at the moment.

What are your main inspirations?
Art, girls, drugs, conversations. Dali was huge for me, Dali changed my life. I have a melting clock tattooed on my arm. Graffiti, old train tracks. Telephone wires. In film, I’ve been profoundly changed by Aronofsky and Jodorowsky; in books, people like Burroughs, Faulkner, Lorca. And you couldn’t spend one hour with me without hearing some hip hop; I never stop listening to it. Dilla! Also long nights where we drink more than we should, and lose sight of real life. And the constant circle of falling in love and getting heartbroke. That stuff all inspires me somehow.

Have you got models, some artists that are like guides?
I pay very close attention to what Madlib is doing. I love Stones Throw, and what Buckshot does with Duck Down. I love when an artist can make business part of his art; I think that’s all part of the 21st-century aesthetic. I used to be so anti-business it was crazy, but the reason I started making art in the first place was always to communicate, and the proper representation of your art as a “product” is how you communicate with people in the 21st-century. It doesn’t mean compromise; I never compromise. It just means being strategic in how you deliver information. Hip hop has always engrained this into its aesthetic, and I love that.

What can we find on your iPod?
Mostly hip hop, mostly from the 90s. Lots of instrumental beats – I love Doom, but I actually have Madvillainy Instrumentals on my iPod (which maybe some Doom fans will hate me for). Lots of Dilla, Pete Rock, anything Premier does… the stuff I have on there that’s not hip hop would probably surprise some people – stuff like Circa Survive or At the Drive-In, Boards of Canada, Explosions in the Sky…

What are your favorite writers/poets?
I already mentioned some of them above, but let me say that anybody unfamiliar with these contemporary writers is doing themselves a disservice: Cameron Pierce, Steve Aylett, and James Chapman. All of them deserve to be legends, and if this generation’s illiteracy doesn’t fuck them over, they will be. Reaching into the classics: Dante, Dostoevsky, Keats. I’m reading One Hundred Years of Solitude now and it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Also, keep locked on Swallowdown Press! Jeremy Robert Johnson is a genius.

Have you got favorite French artists?
Yes – DJ Cam! He’s my favorite. France should be very proud of him – is he well known there? Debussy, Celine, the surrealists… Daft Punk… Paris is one of my favorite cities in the world. Many of my favorite artists spent significant time there, too; Dali, of course, Giacometti, the Hemingway crew, the Beats… I love thinking of the Beats livin’ the grimy life at Rue Gît-le-Cœur.

You seem to be very interested by the subculture? Why?
Because I am the subculture. The subculture is the real culture. People I meet in Europe often have ideas of who I am before they know me, because I’m American. But I’m proud as fuck to be American, because I know so many people here who do what they do despite the police or the mainstream ideals of “American living.” The subculture is the only culture worth celebrating – but of course the mainstream is worth studying, and understanding.

About skateboarding and graffiti, what do you like in the street art?
The absolute freedom of it. A homeless man in Boston once said to me, “You kids don’t skate just to do tricks – you skate to be free, and ride through the city.” It’s true – skateboarding is so free, so different from organized sports. ANYTHING can be your playing field. I’m even more obsessed with graffiti, and similar reasons apply. I often say that graffiti is the best art gallery available today. It’s free, done purely by people with real passion, and it’s constantly updated – whether it’s because the trains in the yard just switched or because somebody’s piece got painted over by somebody better, graffiti walls are updated even more frequently than the walls in a museum (and those walls cost 10, 15 bucks to look at).

What are the best films of the decade according to you?
Of the decade? Shit, that’s hard. Aronofsky’s the best director going today, no doubt. I don’t know when all of his films were mde, but most were in the 21st-century. If I had to pick one film, I’d say The Fountain.

Why Gasoline Monk?
For the monks who burned themselves alive in protest. Some people have taken offense to the name, which always surprises me. It’s meant in tribute more than anything else. I believe it’s one of the most powerful gestures human beings have ever made to express themselves – I’m not even saying I “condone” it, and I’m definitely not making fun of it – but it’s power as a gesture is indisputable. Hip hop is all about self-expression, so it felt natural. The name had been kicking around in my head for a while, too – a bit before I started applying it to my music.

What are your regular reading (blogs, magazines…?)
I read mostly books. I do cruise around blogs sometimes, but my life has always been too messy to commit to reading things on a regular schedule – it usually has to be a book, something separate from time elapsing. Right now I am studying the way ideas spread through societies, and also reading Marquez, like I mentioned. I like to learn about things then walk away from them; I was always a miserable student, and can swallow knowledge only at my own pace. Lately I read Rolling Stone a lot, because I think it’s fascinating, the way different people deal with fame. But in general, it’s just instinctual – I’m the kind of person that’ll take 20 books out of the library and read only one, but chew on bits of the others and feel like I know them.


Thanks again Makinfluence – that was fun.

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