"I should rap about art history's irrelevance", I thought back in March 2013, while grumbling to Jennifer Chan about academic art or something on FB chat.
Although I must admit my love towards Mount Olympus and the challenge its arcane forms provide us with, I'm still left unconvinced that an artist should be able to contextualize oneself. I'm not kidding! My fave art is the kind of which delineation is impossible to perceive (lol is that even English anymore).
I dream of works that are like water and u know how water is, right?
As you can see from the pic above, within an hour from coming up with this simple idea, I was lucky enough to get together the dream team for the job. I chose "I'll Be Missing You" as our song. It defined my childhood. It gave me an understanding, albeit confusing one, of what sadness and longing mean, and what afterlife is about.
Additionally, IBMY challenged me to view sampling and music-making differently, at the ripe age of 16. I realized that hit songs -and later, art works- are platforms for self-expression, instead of altars for passive worship.
Shawné Michaelain Holloway and Georges Jacotey took care of delivering the vocals, and giving the original lyrics a makeover. I sent them brief notes in the form of a silly-but-serious pdf which you can spot in the end of the video, telling them that it'd be nice if the lyrics would deal with art history & love life. Jennifer would then edit the video and I would take care of directing and sound. The background track was based on a IBMY midi version I happened to find online.
Why do a video for the cover, why do any of it? Maybe I was unconsciously ripping off Jesse Darling's Drake cover, in which I featured in. Or maybe I was dreaming of being a member of Disband, my favorite ever performance-music group. I don't know, it just happened on a whim. Previously, I've done a cover of a Notorious BIG's "Hypnotize"(I was tremendously happy with it btw) with Jenni Markkanen.
Money was a also a factor this time around. In Jan-Oct 2014, I've been living off of a grant I received from Kone Foundation, a private Finnish foundation supporting art and sciences bent towards the experimental. With that money, I was (more) able to compensate at least something to everyone for their time, and more generally to arrange these projects where I act as the convener/director.
When people send me their input it always feels like Christmas. I aim to work with people who I trust, so I can have them join in to do whatever they want. This way, you learn to accept new things & aesthetics, ones you didn't even know you could one day be into.
Maybe my love for the scenery over a particular image is something I've learned from curating stuff like Antagon. I like to call my exhibition- and event-making activities "producing" or "directing", instead of the c-word, though. I rarely have a particular vision or an inquiry of sorts in mind when I put together projects —I've rarely worked with themes, for example. Usually I have people and a space in mind, and an energy I'm after & I'm suspecting these people might also be going for. That was the case here, too.
I think both Georges' and Shawné's delivery on the video depicts the characteristics of their respective styles. With this I mean works like Shawné's "a personal project" (NSFW video) and sorry i'm sad all the time #22 (2013-14) (.zip file), or Georges' Son Of a Patriarch (a project/web site/performances) and this musical performance documentation.
Together they gave this song a living body. Georges did those shots of his legs, the city of Athens, and himself feelin' it feelin' it feelin' it. Shawné had already added some reverb to her vocal tracks and a real sense of space when I received her files. It figured that Jennifer edited her flying around in the video, like she's an unsettled love letter transmitted by wind from Chicago to Athens.
Georges I have met and worked together before (and are planning to do so soon again). Shawné was in Finland for a residency earlier this year (or sometime late 2013 - early 2014), and I met her for a drink in Helsinki, while being super scared whether I was boring her with my stock lecture on Finnish art funding (good news everyone, I've removed that act from my repertoire). I've never met Jennifer IRL, only had these life-affirming chat sessions with her online.
I'm glad that Jennifer decided to edit Deep 4 U, which meant sourcing all the visual materials other than the ones shot by Shawné and Georges themselves and a few pic I sent her, since it feels like a continuation of something that took place over two (?) years ago. She did an uncanny cover of my video "Express Yourself". The result was like a psychedelic music video from a world where choruses never happened. Needless to say I love Jennifer's work and admire her style (like in her "[[[ I'll Show You HD video ]]]"), which is easy to spot even on Deep 4 U.
Lastly, I added bits of my own voice to the song (intro and credits). I kept my parts muddy and distorted, like it's noise for noise's sake, which is a feeling I usually have towards the stuff I do. But even then I always believe that maybe something something something comes out, gets revealed, sees the sun, if I just let myself go. This time around, I had the pleasure of witnessing three artists I love doing just that, I think.
Monday Aug 4 2014 Helsinki Finland
Supported by Kone Foundation.