- Published on Friday, 03 October 2014 16:00
In our latest Art of Sound episode, where we list our favourite albums and EPs based on music and art work, we showcased Chris Carrier’s True Step Locomotion. Intrigued by who was behind the amazing artwork, we scouted out artist Allan René to give us the low down on how he transforms a painting into a record sleeve. Part of the SlapFunk “crew”, Allan designed cover art, a flyer and stage background for the record label and its events. SlapFunk is a record label seriously worth noting with exciting releases from artists such as Larry De Kat, Malin Genie and Chris Carrier. Both SlapFunk and Allan are based in Utrecht, where they originally met and embarked on their artistic careers. While the guys over at SlapFunk started their musical escapades, Allan worked on his art. He holds a strong DIY ethos and is not afraid to show it with his “Fuck Your Gallery”, a type of bandcamp for art initiative, where works are sold directly to buyers without relying on intermediaries like galleries (as the name blatantly suggests). He has also opened his own clothing label, Bangladash, with its famous tag line, “Stay Humble, Smoke Loud”. Find out more about this talented and outspoken individual in our following interview…
Can you give me some background information about yourself? Where are you originally from? You look like you could be mixed, and some of your paintings have an Asian theme to it (i.e. Muy Thai, Noodles, chinese characters, BangladAsh).
I’m born and raised in Utrecht, the Netherlands. My dad is Dutch, but my mom is from the Philippines. So yeah I’m double blooded.
Maybe not always intentionally but still I find it important to counter the lack of Asian influences in western Pop culture. I think Asian or eastern culture is underrepresented in western pop culture, so I’m doing my part to shine (a little) more light on it. Although everything I make is in a way a reflection of myself. Logically you will find a lot of Asian influences because that’s a big part of me.
Your art could be seen as quite controversial. Do you take influences from graffiti art?
Yes I do, but not really. I find most graffiti not that controversial. I’m more influenced by street art, but if that’s considered graffiti than yeah you’re right. Although I like Fuck the gallery’s type of attitude: We don’t need a gallery or museum to express ourselves to the world.
What influences your art?
My biggest influence is mainly pop culture. Music, movies, fashion and the culture around it. Also classics are always a big influence. I always seem to be looking for some classic shit to insert into my artworks. Shit that’s recognized by certain people and makes them feel a type of way.
The theme of music is very present in your artwork. How important is music for your work and yourself?
Music is life right.. I mean everything in this universe is a frequency. So yeah for me music is very important. I always play music when I paint and of course I enjoy going out, festivals and all that. Music inspires, gets people together, relaxes the mind, gives people a voice. It’s life.
What makes you attracted to hip hop music? Is it the lyrics?
I like hip hop because of the aggressiveness, the go getter mentality that goes with it. It can be very motivational for me. And I’m a fan of the culture and all the ridiculousness that comes with it.
I like the attitude that comes with listening to hip hop. I ride on my bike faster when I listen to hip hop, I train harder when I listen to hip hop.
How did you come to design and create the cover art work for SlapFunk?
Slapfunk are my homies. We all know each other for almost 15 years now. We all represent the same tribe from Utrecht so we’re basically all brothers. All those years while they were doing their music thing, I was trying to do my art thing. So eventually when it was time to get someone to do some art for their label, I guess it was a organic thing to ask me for some stuff.
Your personal pop art is somewhat different to the paintings you made for SlapFunk. Can you describe the main differences between this work and your personal work?
Everything I make for myself is meant for me to like and is a pure reflection of me and my choices. When I make something for Slapfunk it has to be a reflection of them, the artist, and myself as well. So it’s not just what I would like, but also what they would like to see in the artwork or concept. It makes it a little more difficult because ultimately my choices have more effect than on just myself. My own art I make for myself, I may not hang it in my house, but I paint like that’s the purpose. When I do a cover it’s meant to satisfy the label, the artist, the buyers and myself at the same time. So it’s kinda different, but that makes it cool to do.
You turn commercial objects into art by reproducing them on a painting, and you turn your paintings into commercial objects (records to sell) for SlapFunk. Was this intentional?
I’m intrigued by art that isn’t supposed to be art. So I like to make stuff that isn’t supposed to be a painted onto a canvas and hung on a wall. And I also like it the other way around, making a record cover as an actual painting that you can hang in your office. I guess I like the contrast. Or the unconventional approach to making stuff.
How do you come up with album cover designs for SlapFunk? What do you consider when designing a cover? Do you take into account the music? Do you collaborate with the artist?
It’s always a collaboration. Sometimes between the label and me and sometimes between the artist and myself. There’s always a lot of communication in the decision making of the actual concept. When the concept is clear on both ends, they’ll take their hands of the project and I get to do my thing and convert the concept into an painting and after that into an actual cover. I do that by just trying to find out what works for me along the way. Nobody knows what the cover is going to look like until it’s finished.
What techniques do you use when designing album covers?
I mostly paint on wood with acrylic paint, make pictures of the painting, and fine tune that image into the actual cover ready image with Photoshop and an online editing program I must keep for myself.
What design are you making for Anil Aras’ newest release, ‘Slapcity’?
I’m doing a portrait of him in front of the pride of Utrechts called: De Domtoren (The Domtower). He came to me with this idea and a couple examples of the style he was looking for. So the concept was already made up and I did the rest. It’s not my everyday style but that’s fun for me. Playing around with different styles. I’m still working on it but I will finish it soon. I guess the release will be out in a couple of months or so. So get excited for that one.
You have a clothing brand called “Bangladash”. Can you describe to me your brand’s concept? What do the Chinese characters mean? What does Bangladash Stay Chiefin mean? What is the smokers club?
With BANGLADASH I’m trying to build a brand that puts some positive energy into this world and represent a different kind of lifestyle. I guess if a bunch of hippies would make street wear, something like BANGLADASH would come out. All the designs have a deeper meaning and are meant to inspire, educate and effect people positively. We have a couple of design and this Stay Chiefin Smokersclub shirt is one of them.
With this particular tee we want to represent our smokers out there that smoke cannabis with a conscious mind, respect the herb and feel a deeper connection with this plant, beyond smoking just for a laugh.
The Chinese text says: 星星之火，可以燎原 (xīng xīng zhī huǒ, kě yǐ liáo yuán) – A single spark can start a prairie fire. It’s a famouse Chinese saying that fits the concept well. As like: ‘Stay Humble, Smoke Loud’, you might notice we appreciate ambiguous terms.
The Slapfunk boys always have been very supportive of me and the brand, wearing the tees while playing. So shout out to them. If you want to know more about the brand go to: www.banglada.sh.
Thank you for your answers, Allan! As part of our regular competition series, Allan and SlapFunk have kindly offered some great prizes for one lucky Meoko reader:
- A Bangladash T-shirt
- Tasty vinyls on SlapFunk records:
- Chris Carrier - True Step Locomotion
- Daniele Temperilli & Stooge Wilson - Splittang 1
- 2 Tickets to ADE '14: VBX x SlapFunk x Natives presented by Meoko
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- Published on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 11:20
Ever wondered who was behind Smallville records' quirky cover art? Stefan Marx, an artist/drawer and part of the Smallville family, successfully represents Smallville as it is: A unique, friendly, open minded and creative "institution". Smallville stands out due to many reasons, one important reason being Stefan's art work. He has designed record sleeves for artists on the Smallville roster such as Christopher Rau's Asper Clouds and Moomin's The Story About You, and he is the designer behind Smallville's idiosyncratic logo:
Stefan Marx, like most of his Smallville people, is based in Hamburg. Aside from designing awesome record cover art work and covering Smallville's windows with extraordinary creatures, he also runs his own T-shirt label, "The Lousy Livincompany", designs skateboards for Cleptomanicx, and publishes his own zines and books with Nieves Books. His latest exhibition took place in his home town, Hamburg, where he showcased his "This Sounds a Bit Like Goodbye" (2012) art work at the "IM FRÜHLING, DARLING" exhibition, which invited international artists to create postcards, with the theme of longing. Stefan's poignant quotes never fail to create an emotional response. It is no surprise therefore, that many of his quotes he uses in his art work come from musical lyrics. Curious to find out which tracks inspired him to represent the lyrics in a bold white statement behind a black background, and the back stories behind the rest of his works, we asked Stefan about some of our favourite works by him:
1) The quotes you use for your art are a defining characteristic of your style. You have said before that your quotes are taken from lyrics from songs or sayings that you’ve heard voiced from friends and random passersby. Can you tell me who originally said these quotes?
This is a quote from Herman Dune, from his song AT YOUR LUAU NIGHT:
that's three blocks away but too far already
with the rain that crashes and the people walking
but i'd rather sit here a little longer
and i don't think you care and i don't think you're really waiting
and even if you do this is just kind of what i owe you for what happened before
and tell me all about it:
"were you drunk or not when you said you missed me?"
i want a haircut that kills, i want it in front of my eyes
i wanna wear tight jeans and raglan sweaters and dance at your luau night
and drive away with your best friend and make you cry
sipping on gin and tonic and talking about my band
telling everybody how fun it is to be touring across the new world
when you alone would listen and know how it hurts sometimes
and i would tell you all about it and you would kiss my forehead and smile
i don't know where i'm going, baby
i don't know where i'm going, baby
i don't know where i'm going, baby
i don't know where i'm going, going
i don't know where i'm going, going
This is one of my favorite Songs from Yo La Tengo, its name is TAKE CARE. It is originally a song by Big Star, and Yo La Tengo covered it... Georgia Hubley sings it in such an amazing way.
2) Are your drawings based on people you’ve seen as well? Why do you turn them into cartoon characters?
Yes, these drawings are based on people I see. And I just draw them, I don’t turn them into Cartoons. I publish these drawings mostly in Zines and Books, after a good time of traveling. Mostly with my publisher NIEVES.
3) What is so special about sunsets?
I think mostly the light.
4) What do you feel about Mondays?
I kind of like mondays, people are awake again, things are getting back to the process. My favorite place opens again on monday. The Goodbye Mondays is a zine I made for my exhibition Goodbye Mondays in New York in 2012, at PRIMETIME. I left the city on wednesday and it was a one night only drawing exhibition after I spent some good weeks in the city. It was a fun goodbye party too.
5) If you could get rid of something, what would it be?
All the difficult situations in the future.
6) Who is this? And what brought you to Marriott, Financial Center Hotel in New York?
I once had a meeting there and took the notepad.
7) What are some of your rarest pleasures?
Long distance flights
8) What is the saddest song you’ve ever heard?
Take Care by Yo La Tengo:
9) What do you like to do during the weekend? Are you a weekender?
I like weekends but hate Sundays. I think I’m not such a good weekender. I can have fun, but l like doing things people do on weekends during my week.
10) What does Smallville mean to you?
Smallville means freedom, friendship, places, music and record covers.
11) What is something nice to say to Mule on their 10th birthday?
12) Can you describe the sounds of Jacques Bon’s Two Hearts EP on Smallville Records?
Its a special Jacques sound of two hearts, a warm Paris, and the future in his very personal way I think. I love this release and I’m very happy how the cover turned out.
13) The artwork on Julius Steinhoff’s new record, “Flocking Behaviour” is inspired by...
Julius. His fantastic personality, his music & family and our friendship.
Stefan Marx and Smallville owner, Julius Steinhoff, have kindly offered Smallville's latest releases: Jacques Bon’s Two Hearts EP and Julius Steinhoff's debut solo album, Flocking Behaviour, plus an original Smallville Tote Bag, all for one lucky Meoko reader!
- Published on Thursday, 28 August 2014 23:53
What do COCOON Ibiza girls, DJ Cassy Briton, Ella Eyre, Jaime Winstone and Kelis have in common?
Cassy wearing The Gypset Diary's multi gem sequin body in Soho, London
Kelis in The Gypset Diary headpiece
Ella Eyre performed at Glastonbury and T in the Park wearing Gypset Diary's sequined jumpsuit
They are today’s wonderful gypsets! A Gypset is an independent woman. She is an entrepreneur, an artist, a DJ, a designer, a surfer, a yoga instructor, or anyone she wants to be thanks to her adaptable nature and DIY approach to life. She jet sets around the globe, picking up treasures from Indian and African markets to add to her bohemian jewelry collection and soaking up the sun at private pool parties in Ibiza. She loves beautiful things that life has to offer, is down to earth and of course, she loves to party.
Cassy playing in The Gypset Diary's Cosmic Disco body
You can see her exotic and sophisticated style in The Gypset Diary; a fashion brand founded by Stylist & Art Director Liz Mendez and model Sarah Qaiser. Both gypsets themselves, Sarah is based in Ibiza while Liz Mendez runs Kubicle, London's lengendary underground and Grace Jones inspired party.
The Gypset Diary designs and produces cosmic cat suits, studded bustiers, sequin capes and other club and festival clothes. They have creatively clothed, styled and adorned musicians in sexy sequins, such as Ella Eyre for her performances at T in the Park and at Glastonbury Festival, DJ Rashida, Cassy Britton and Kelis for Schön magazine. They have designed and created exclusive one off collections for COCOON Ibiza dancers and dancers for Ibiza's Pool Disco with special guests Seth Troxler & Craig Richards.
Blade Runner inspired one off collection for Ibiza's COCOON girls
For any stylish festival or club goer who dares to be different, there are a few ways to get your hands on some unique and lovingly handmade pieces from The Gypset’s Diary:
- Private orders online
- The Gypset Diary stall at The Wick Festival (the Old Baths), a Saturday market and party run by Kubicle and Project Sound.
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- Published on Friday, 22 August 2014 13:54
MEOKO spent a late afternoon chatting with talented and imaginative Maggio. A London based Italian artist, muralist, performer and more, Maggio founded Imaginary Beings art collective. She has worked on a mix of creative projects from a live theatrical show in Dalston to painting murals in Mexico, to a documentary about ayahuasca in Central America. She travels around the world, going deep into Central America’s jungles to live and breathe in nature with indigenous tribes. Delving deeper into her art pieces you are transported into a world of mysticism and lovely surprises. She exhibits the richness of her imaginative mind through her coffee stain concept; Le Stain Desire and her chromolithographic Visions wearable art, including her new beautiful collection of stained silk scarves. She explains the ideas behind her projects and gives us insight into her thoughts about her two lives in the jungle of South America and the concrete one of London.
Hi Maggio! You are based in London, in the east I assume?
Yes I live in Stoke Newington
Oh we are neighbours then. Meoko is based in Stoke Newington Studios!
How do you find living in Stoke Newington?
Oh I love Stockey. It's like a pink bubble of great coffee and healthy food and the park near by is such a treat, and the cemetery'! I filmed some music video there.
How long have you been living in London for?
I moved to London in 2005. I was 16 and mad for London and its creative Babylon, but I never stayed longer than two years in a row. It's like a passionate love story and London can drive you really out your mind uh? So I take breaks to South America or anywhere in jungles. Find sanity back….but I lived in New York too for a while and one year in Mexico and one in Portugal…but hey I always come back to London.
Yes, I get that. This concrete jungle is too wild sometimes! You have been to some beautiful places! What is it like living in the jungle?
The jungle is the closest I have ever been to my natural state of mind. Imagine: You wake up hearing the most extraordinary singing birds at best, or otherwise it's monkeys having sex which is not as charming. You wake up and everything is green and infinite shaded of exotic flowers.
You go and swim in a river. You are probably with good friends or keep people who are there to find peace from the city. You can sit with the natives and talk about life, learning from their immensely different perspectives, or just venture to explore nature, which is wild and keeps you on your toes. It makes you very respectfully and awake all the time and if we are talking about the Amazon you get to take ayahuasca which is a vine from there, highly psychoactive and very powerful self-knowledge brew. Have you heard of it?
It sounds like a paradise. Nature, travelling and meeting different people... I'm sure they give you many different perspectives. Yes I have, but I've never tried it before. I heard that you should be in a particular state of mind in your life to do the ceremony.
Yes! Worldwide perspective is so vital to produce art with honesty, or it's easy to get stuck in one's egotistical ideas . About aya, yes, when you want to dive in and if some inner troubles that don't seem to have a solution.
Can you tell me about your ayahuasca experience? How was your experience and what did you learn from it?
I took aya few times, always different, but what all those times have in common is that the separation (the duality of you and the rest of the world, or you and life) disappears, you are experiencing oneness, the most powerful feeling of love for everything that is…but it's no airy fairy, it so unbelievably grounding. When you come down it's not like taking a pill, you don't feel down, you feel clean and lucid and you swear you won't forget and will live life accordingly! But damn it's hard!!
That's beautiful. It seems like a significant awakening .
You would love it.
Do you experience any hallucinations?
Yes, but depends I think if you're a visual person- I saw giants, the first time I became a tree and disappeared in the jungle, had no past, the huge hands took me away, I met dragons and talked with entities which invited me to go back. I argued as I didn't want to!
You are definitely a visual person. When I look at your art I see many different fantastical, mystical images of creatures, women and objects. How do you find inspiration? Do you improvise? And is there usually a theme behind your designs?
I have always been fascinated by the subject of Oracles. The ancient Delphi, the muses of the poets and generally the contact in between the present and the future. In ancient times was simply part of reality, now it's new agey or seen as superstition... but what fascinated me is the oracular object (the end of a coffee, tea leaves, anything that the subconscious can read things in) and bring to life what I see, like looking at the clouds (when I was a kid and I needed advice I stared at the clouds to find answers) so when travelling in Mexico and I couldn't paint (couldn't carry material) I started to see much more, I kept in it. Until one day it exploded and I could see images everywhere. I then read it was a kind of condition called apophenia. Everything was not only the thing itself but there was a whole imaginary world in every shape. I realised I could just bring to life what I saw, so I used the stains I found around the world to tell me what to paint. This meant that I didn't need to struggle for inspiration, I just had to let my subconscious unfold. Suddenly I realised that that was what oracles do. And somehow became a whole practice and the more I am lucid and clean inside the more my inner eye see more things. So to answer, no there's never a theme, it's pure download.
You came up with your coffee stained idea after you accidentally dropped some coffee on a paper, which created an image for your eyes. Can you describe to me that image?
oh yes! It was monstrous! I didn't keep it, it was scary! A monster of terrible features, very dark. But yet I was amazed, it was as if it asked me to be created! Almost to get out of my system. In fact, the entire first stains series were rather dark and became gradually more positive and inspiring. I realised it was a proper subconscious washing machine! I see it as when you open a tap that has been closed for a long time and the water is dirty, and the more you let the water run it finally clears up. So my first stain was really nasty!
It seems like your coffee stain work has been quite therapeutic! Am I right to say this?
Is that partly why you changed your concept from Le Stain Desire to Vision?
Yes, when I created Le Stain Desire it was because the wedding dress of a friend in Mexico- she had it from her mother- was the same one she used and it was stained in wine from her dancing at the wedding. The memory was so beautiful but the dress was trashed and she thought it ruined. I asked her to let me turn the stains into art and something amazing came out! The stains were all about love and celebration, I believe because I was influenced by the story. So I thought that every story can make the stains unique and very personal to who carries them. Le stain desire was born with this 'desire' but it was me who wasn't liberated enough to see the colours as well as the shadows. Recently, few months ago, remembering the wedding dress I remembered how important is to dive into the right state of mind before creating an artwork, the subconscious will do all the work! So I started to focus on positive visions and the whole thing changed, massive saturation levels! So Visions Wearable Art was born to be all about colours and positive thinking, to see a stain for the heritage and story it tells rather then as something that ruins a fabric. It's basically the concept "circumstances don't matter, only your state of being matters"
I love your Le Stain Desire statement: “a symbolic act where chaos turns into harmony, ruin into renew”. What excites you the most? The act or the result of turning chaos into harmony?
Great question. The act. The act it's something of the magical, it's like becoming part of that chaos, those random shapes, till disappearing. It's adrenaline meeting control, yet letting go of all expectation of what will come out, you can't stop until your mind will register the presence of beauty in a way when the result comes up it,s not yours anymore, it's outside you, but it's comforting and gives you a sense of peace.
In your daily or private life, do you like stepping into problems and finding solutions? or do you that enough with Le Stain Desire?
Ah ah I really do that actually! Very perceptive! The world is a big chaos playground.
Your art work is a whole world of projects and collaborations! You are a performer, a muralist, a painter and more. What will you be doing this Sunday at Gaza Toy Drive’s event? Can you describe what type of art you will be showcasing?
I am going to do a live piece where I create stains art live, this one I have sold already but this is the concept, blowing colours on canvas and then drawing on it:
Wow, I am looking forward to seeing them in person! You literally blow the colours! That is great!
Hyperventilation! Maybe I just can't stay away from getting high? It brings all the emotions to surface! Breathing is the secret to it all!!
Thank you Maggio for your beautiful words.
If you have been touched by Maggio's positive words please check out Maggio's blowing colours therapy documentary! She will also be blowing colours this sunday at Vibe Bar for Gaza Toy Drive. On the way to Vibe don't forget to check out legendary graffiti bar, Monty's on Brick Lane. Giggle at her Lilth, watch the tower of babel fall to her shoes or let yourself fall into Aya's Vision!
Come join us as Meoko, Keep on Going, Colors lnd and DAMAGED residents come together to show support! There will be a great selection of live street and visual art, including Maggio's live painting, an art auction, a photography exhibition, market stalls and more, all for a good cause! Check out our review here.
- Published on Monday, 18 August 2014 17:40
A day party on a Bank Holiday is no new occurrence, with the extended weekend welcoming all sorts of hedonism all around the clock; but this Saturday at The Old Baths marks the launch of the new weekly project with a difference from a fusion of creative minds. Kubicle and Project Sound have teamed together to create multi faceted arts, shopping and entertainment extravaganza ‘The Wick’, and welcome Luca Cazal to kick-start their first party with an exclusive preview of his debut solo ep ‘Mariri’.
Opening at 12 noon, entrance is free and children are welcomed until 6pm, where as evening dawns it is adults only as proceedings move indoors and the party within a party begins.
Firstly, the daytime brings a vibrant market place to the Old Baths in hackney, supporting the local creative scene and urging to help the east London community thrive, this is a project with a purpose.
Stalls will be manned by up coming new talent and designers alongside luxury vintage and interior décor merchants, merging the old with the new for a well rounded and unique shopping experience. Gourmet food stalls and a Tiki bar will provide refreshments, all the while DJs and a hot tub provide the atmosphere to ease you in or out of the weekend nicely, depending on your plans.
Here is just a selection of the vendors who will be present on Saturday to whet your appetite for things to come:
Gypsy East: A traveling clan making things by hand -
Illustrations -Floral Crowns – Jewellery
The Gypset Diary: One who is gypset - the wiles of a gypsy mixed
with a sophistication of the jet set. Festival line formed from the love of disco and sparkle
Lucy In Disguise Vintage: The highest quality labels, designers and looks are brought to the customer at prices that make looking a million dollars for that special night out an affordable luxury
Boho Rose Vintage: Sellers of Trend-led, Unique Vintage Fashion & Jewellery
Dancing Leopard: Combining traditional Indian patterns with western chic to create unique boho fashion pieces.
Puckoo Couture: Independant clothing label based in the creative back streets of Bristol... We specialise in stretchwear and panelling.
Ruby Violet: Ice creams & sorbets hand made in Tufnell Park. Using only the finest natural ingredients and organic milk
Pieces of Eight jewelry: Happy little soul who has a passion for creating unique and ethically sourced crystal healing jewellery
Victoryus: Born of a passion for dressing up. Vintage clothing, jewellery, art & craft, collectables, cake and much more
Pizza Surgery: For all your Pizza needs.
Journey Through Sound: ‘Kids Hour’ Leave your children to play with instruments supervised whilst you explore the market
Shopping and eating aside, this event also pays special attention to the music; curated by reputable promoters ‘Kubicle’ combined with the creative flare of ‘Project Sound’ this side is sure not to disappoint. Alongside the launch of Luca Cazals latest ep, tunes will be also provided by Brigante, Robert Outch, FB Julian and special guests.
Luca Cazal may be more familiar to some as ‘Luca C’. Together with Brigante, also present at The Wick, they produced some of 2012’s catchiest tributes to 80s synth and slow rolling love songs that were impossible to miss. Now residents at DC10, The Wick launch party hosts a special preview of Luca Cazals latest solo mission.
All in all this looks to be a gathering of creative minds, beautiful sounds and off-beat culture and not one to be missed by those looking for more than just a dance experience this bank holiday and beyond.
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