Les Testaments Trahis: An Interview with Gian Cruz

Gian Cruz is an up and coming photographer from Manila, Philippines who is also studying art theory and criticism at university.  With hints of Daido Moriyama, Cruz's photography are a quotidian, photographic diary  of his life. Razor sharp grainy black & white images capture his subject often with their heads, arms, legs, face cut out from the photograph entirely.  Gian Cruz is definitely a photographer to keep an eye on.  See interview after the jump. 

PAS UN AUTRE: What brought you to photography?

GIAN CRUZ: There are a lot of things that brought me to photography, but the two major motivations would be my fascination with cinema and the inherent paradox with taking photographs which I got from reading [Milan] Kundera. Being a cinéphile led me towards this desire to render my quotidien into cinematic images or to fashion photos that I take as if they are from some film or collectively as if they are film stills. My aesthetic was much inspired by the films I’ve loved from childhood which were Wong-Kar Wai films and a lot of films from the Nouvelle Vague cinéastes.

As for the paradox that charmed me with photography, it’s something lifted from the pages of Milan Kundera’s Les Testaments Trahis that has gone to a state of hyperawareness each time I take photographs. He said something about remembrance as to not being the opposite of forgetting but rather a form of it. Ever since, I have read that, it hasn’t failed to escape my mind. As memory is often seen through images, I find photography as a means of forgetting or forging elsewheres. For instance, you could be having a difficult time in your life yet on the surface these photos look like images of utmost sophistication and as these images further themselves into reproducibility, it turns things into something else. In a lot of the things that I do, I often like to see it in this love/hate relationship, or in this ironic manner because I believe it’s something that makes your images richer perhaps with meaning or some other unspoken aspect that your spectator could fathom from them.

AUTRE: Can you remember the first image you ever took?

CRUZ: I can vaguely remember the first image I ever took. When I started taking photos, I wasn’t really too big on the quality of my images but things started to change when I started to find my photographs as a crucial means of self-expression and of exploring my identity. Probably, maturity and the things I exposed myself to over the years- films, books, etc. paved way to take photography more seriously.

AUTRE: How does living in the Philippines inspire your work?

CRUZ: Living in the Philippines present itself as some form of paradox. I often come up with this love/hate discourse about my country. Quite specifically, it’s more about Manila, the city I live in. At times, my images could be some declaration of love for Manila and the things I love about it. On other occasions, it is this profound accumulation of anguish of being in it and this difficulty of living in a city wherein you feel you’re always underrated because the things you love do not fall into the aesthetic canon of the public here. And in this sort of love/hate relationship, I find it enriching my creative process. I think if it was all about loving something, it would turn out to be a dead-end because there wouldn’t be a sense of self-reflexivity working its way. Irony is crucial these days or perhaps humourising yourself finds itself more entertaining.

AUTRE: Who are some of your biggest influences?

CRUZ: Well, in the domain of photography my biggest influences include Nan Goldin, Jeurgen Teller, Robert Doisneau, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh, Helmut Newton, Evelyn Jane Atwood, Sally Mann, Inez & Vinoodh, Robert Mapplethorpe, Karim Sadli, Sofia Sanchez et Mauro Mongiello, to name a few. And quite recently, I’ve also developed a deep admiration for the photography of Sunny Suits because of the palpable intimacy resting on her images.

Photographic references aren’t necessarily an impulse for taking photographs chez moi. Other domains like art, music, dance, literature, and cinema often inspire me as well. A few names I find indispensable and always inspiring me would be: Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, Georges Bataille, Patti Smith, Bertrand Bonello, Serge Gainsbourg, Paul Eluard, Wislawa Szymborska, Alain Resnais, Johannes Brahms, Wong Kar Wai, Jean-Luc Godard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Dries Van Noten, Melvil Poupaud, Jean-Pierre Melville, Yves Saint Laurent, Jacques Demy, Maria Callas, Grégoire Chamayou, Nicolas Bourriaud, Pina Bausch, Mehdi Belhaj-Kacem, Elizabeth Peyton, Michel Maffesoli, Jean Baudrillard, Susan Sontag, Merce Cunningham, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Marguerite Yourcenar, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, J.M. Coetzee, Marguerite Duras, Marcel Proust, Walter Benjamin, Alain Badiou.

AUTRE: What do you think about when you look through the viewfinder?

I often am intuitive when I take photos. I can easily get lost in the moment and get into this frenzy of taking one image after another. At times, it could also be this subject gesturing you towards these particular angles I’d find aesthetically pleasing. There’s really no singular thought that comes into my mind each time I look through the viewfinder, it is dependent on my mood, the subject, what’s currently going on.

You can follow Gian Cruz's blog here.  Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre. 

AUTRE: Who are some of your favorite subjects to photograph?

CRUZ: My friends are often my favourite subjects to photograph. I like taking images of people I am in close terms with because you’d have a way of fashioning how the images would turn out to be that speaks of your relationship with them. That in itself already says a lot of things or would have the potential of taking your photos to some profound elsewhere. It’s like taking pride of being able to see things the way only you would. Often times, my bestfriend Mark Arvin ends up in front my lens and he humorously declares himself as my official muse. Other than my friends, I like taking photos of objects that create narratives of something in lieu of the person. I’m quite the romantic often taking interest in something like a photo of my belongings like the books I’m reading (I seem to even find them more charming when they’ve gained creases or the usual wearing out because I bring them along with me a lot) or the albums I’m listening to, a well worn article of clothing and many other possible objects as being able to tell more about yourself yet not giving everything away in a photograph.

AUTRE: Whats next?

CRUZ: By now, I ought to finish my postgraduate thesis on how death is being represented in contemporary Philippine art, as I am currently an Art Theory and Criticism major at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. Other than that, I ought to pursue photography or fine arts overseas. Perhaps if opportunities come into place an institution in Paris, New York or London or elsewhere would do me good. I like the idea of moving to a new city, which would enable me to grow as an artist. Moreover, there is also this growing concern to find platforms on which to exhibit my photographs, as I’d like to share them to a bigger audience. And if there is some more time, I’d probably be painting self-portraits although a bigger dream project would be to extend my photography into a full-blown film since cinema has always been something I’m passionate about.

No Time For Flowers: The Photography of Andreea Preda

Andreea Preda is a young photographer based in Madrid.  Her photographs are delicate, intimate, glimpses of her own life. There is a richness in Preda's photographs that owe a lot to a sense of innocence and lightheartedness without the treachery of the mundane or quotidien.  Preda's commitment to the analog process also give a certain cinematic element to her images with a striking palette of colors and shocks of sunshine. Read interview after the jump.

Would you please introduce yourself?  I was born twenty-one years ago in the south of Romania but I grown up and still live in Madrid, Spain. I’m currently studying literature and I take photographs because it makes me a little happier and fulfills my desire to reveal myself to others without having to use words, which I distrust.

What inspires you the most? I enjoy looking through other photographer’s work, I guess a lot of inspiration comes from that, or at least a clearer idea of what I like to see on a photograph and what I don’t. Films and paintings are also a great source of inspiration. It’s all about images that come to my mind and give me the impulse of wanting to reproduce them in my own context, with whatever I have handy and adding to it my own emotions. Beautiful light is also crucial when it comes to pressing the shutter.

Can you remember the first photograph you ever took?My father used to take a lot of pictures when I was little so photography was neither a mystery to me nor something I found attractive for a very long time, as I was only playing the model. However, in the midst of my teenage years I started taking self-portraits as a way of expressing myself. I was very shy but still wanted people to know me better, to understand me. So I started taking pictures with shitty digital cameras or even the webcam, anything would do. One day I discovered a very old camera of my father and begin playing around with it. I totally fell in love with the results and since then I had stick to analogue photography. So, no, I can’t remember the first photograph I ever took but this is how it all began.

Favorite quote to live by? I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." Kurt Vonnegut said this.Not really a quote to live by, just a sentence I repeat to myself sometimes, when I find it difficult to see any bliss in life.

Whats next?Keep taking pictures and hope that someone will like them.



The World According to KEEFJNAK: An Interview with Alexander Keefe

"Playa Los Yuyos, Lima: una prueba perfecta cont. Ectoplasm enters in the messianic guise of the perfect proof, the ultimate ghost-effect, visual and haptic, a new monstrance at the very edges of the sensorium and its modern prostheses―it exceeds photography (it cannot be properly photographed) it exceeds touch (it can be touched but only with grave danger) — it can barely be seen — emergent like a spider’s web cocooning the medium in a sticky veil, a prophylactic balm to salve the wounds of materialism, Casaubon’s key to all mythologies."

You could say that, unbeknownst to us, some sort of kismetic spirt is colluding with our lives, telling us when to go when we don't exactly know the direction or telling us what to say when the words aren't quite there. You could also say that a certain sense of wanderlust is innate and inexorable–the eternal wondering about magical, faraway places that seem entirely painted by daydreams and travel writers before us. And when you combine these two forces, one more corporeal and the other a tad more phantasmagorical–two forces conceivably as tightly wound as the double helix of our genetic code–it is a catalyst for something else altogether. Tarrah Krajnak, a documentary photographer who was born in Peru in 1979 in an orphanage run by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and grew up in Ohio, and Alexander Keefe, an ex-professor who studied Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard Universities, and a freelance writer for publications such as Artforum and Bidoun magazine, crossed paths in Burlington, Vermont and the rest, as they say, was history. Their online travel diary, called Keefjnak–an amalgam of their surnames–is a collaborative effort to document the world around them on their journey in the great tradition of travel documentation.  A great travel writer such as Ernest Hemingway and any scholar of his would admit that his fantastical stories of seafaring adventures and bullfighting would not hold the same weight without his extensive real life adventures. On Keefjnak, Tarrah Krajnak's somber, yet liberating photographs of a dream-like South America are supplanted with Alexander Keefe's brilliant, poetic text and historical minutia to paint a portrait of the same kind seething wanderlust that all great adventurers share in order to remind us that life is happening to us whether we like it or not. 

Barranco, Lima: the perfect proof cont. And so there is always an anxiety about the nature of their evidentiary claims, the proofs offered by photography and recorded sound in the late 19th and early 20th centuries required not just display but performance, hypnosis, and scripting… argument to fend off the lurking potential for disbelief and “ridicule.”

What is the Keefjnak project? Keefjnak is the project that Tarrah and I started as a daily photo/text blog... kind of a shared project while we were traveling around the world for six months working on other stuff. We made a portmanteau of our two last names and thought it sounded cool. We also liked that it was the only Keefjnak on the internet: a tabula rasa to do with whatever we wanted. We weren't really sure what we wanted to do with it, so that was appropriate. We just knew we didn't want to do a typical travel blog...

How did you two meet? We met when our paths crossed in Burlington, Vermont. Neither of us is from there, but Tarrah was living and teaching there at UVM for five years. I spent a couple years there as a kind of break from life in New Delhi, India, where I'd been living and working for several years previously. We hit it off.

Where did your journey start from? It started when we left Omaha where we were staying for a few months while Tarrah did a residency at the Bemis Center.

“Like the radio, it picks up voices from beyond the vibrations of the human senses but unlike the radio, the broadcast comes from a world which is tuned to rarer vibrations than our own, stepped down, or transformed, to us through ether by the agency of this ectoplasmic substance.

You mentioned that you post your photos and Alex posts his writing without consultation, is it safe to say that your photos and his text are a representation of how a visited place affected you both? Actually there is some consultation... But it is pretty low-key and usually takes the form of a quick editorial suggestion. Sometimes I'll show her a text that I'm considering and say "should I cut that part out?" She almost always says "yes" to that question for some reason... Ha! But I like it. I think of the texts for Keefjnak as the product of a kind of reductive rather than additive process. As for the photos, if she's stuck on deciding between a couple of them, she asks which I think is better for the blog. As for the question of representation, I don't know if that is really what the text and photos are doing. The photos are taken onsite in the various places we go so at least on some level they have to be tied to place. But I think that in the same way that my texts and Tarrah's photos sometimes converge and seem to speak directly to each other, and sometimes diverge and seem to operate independently, that our trip and itinerary works the same way. That is to say, sometimes our location and trip enter into dialogue with the texts and photo in a direct or explicit way, other times not at all. We always wanted the Keefjnak project to be not-obvious and kind of dry, stingy and austere, even cold. We don't want the text, photo and trip to be engaged in some big long group-hug and we don't want people viewing/reading the blog to feel that way either!

Any harrowing stories thus far from your travels or a experience that stands out the most? Tarrah got food-poisoning from a salad in Wisconsin and then ended up getting an upgrade on a flight from Chicago to Mexico City to first class so she could be closer to the bathroom and puke in luxurious comfort while I sat alone in the back of the plane wondering what was going on. At one point in my ambien-fogged semi-sleep I heard a flight attendant ask over the intercom "Is there a doctor on the plane?" I was worried. Then it turned out it was for someone else.

What's next? Well we are in Lima until late January working on a couple projects: Tarrah is shooting portraits of elderly nuns from the Catholic order called the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. They are German and have lived here in Lima at a convent in the back of a hospital for some 50 years. They also happen to run the orphanage that Tarrah was adopted from, which is how she got interested in the project. Some related work that she did in Reading, Pennsylvania at a retirement home for the missionary nuns is on her website: really affecting portraiture, some of it pretty harrowing, some more beatific. I'm working on writing an article on early video art for Bidoun magazine, a long-term writing project of mine that is being funded by Creative Capital and the Warhol Foundation. After Peru, we're making our way to India to work collaboratively on a project related to video art and the Indian space program in the 70s. I'm preparing by collecting stamps related to Indian telecommunications satellites.

Stay tuned to Keefjnak to follow Tarrah Krajnak and Alexander Keefe's journey. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper & Abbey Meaker for Pas Un Autre. All photos and captions Copyright © 2011 Tarrah Krajnak and Alexander Keefe.  

“There is an age-long and invisible force, termed ectoplasm, re-discovered by modern science, which has met with ridicule from every walk of life."

Dreams Are Gone: An Interview with The Kloaks

"Welcome to hell," beckons the song Dreams Are Gone, a demo track by a new, promising act called The Kloaks. Consciousness derailed and youth lost – the Kloaks belong to that brand of the disenfranchised by-product of suburban, societal disillusionment....the outcast strangled to death by the zeitgeist and bled out by the scythe of artistic angst.  With satanic overtones, the Kloaks' sound is a cacophony of gothic melodies that paints the dim portrait of a smoky basement dripping with black candle wax and pentagrams and their demo Dreams Are Gone sounds like the kind of song left on the record player after your mom finds you swinging from the rafters.  I was eager to learn more about The Kloaks so I emailed the band and Darren Hanson (guitar and vocals) wrote back with some enlightening answers to a few of my questions. Read the interview and listen to Dreams Are Gone after the jump.

Who are The Kloaks?  We are Darren Hanson from San Francisco on guitar and vocals, Michael Vincent Patrick from New York City on bass and vocals, and Ben Lee from Taipei on drums.

How would you describe your sound? It's like frost on rough concrete in the morning light.

How did The Kloaks come to be?I knew Michael because he was a record producer so I sent him some music and he liked it so much that he wanted to collaborate on the project ideas as a band. We share a similar aesthetic for music so collaborating works really well.

Inspirations and influences? Sex, death, love, sorrow, rejoice. We talk about a lot of the darkness behind closed doors.

Any plans for a full album? We are working on an album now. Our first two singles should be out in early 2012, just in time for the apocalypse.

Whats next? Well, I was thinking about sleeping but I can't because of the drugs.


Searing Eroticism: An Interview with ELVIS DI FAZIO

He's already shot editorials for some of the top magazines, but with his distinctive style, searing eroticism, pop art sensibilities and sometimes eccentric art direction in broad hommages to bygone eras and cinema, Australian based Elvis Di Fazio is definitely an auteur of the fashion photography genre. I've been following Di Fazio's creative endeavors over the past five years and it is certainly fascinating watching the evolution of an artist. Studied in the art of silkscreening, I first spotted some of Di Fazio's early prints.  The designs were original and genuine only because the influences were blatant, without being blindly derivative –indicative of an artist with a voice searching for a voice. And what you will learn in the following interview is that it was these exact influences that tangentially pushed Di Fazio, fatefully, into photography.  With Diaries of Smutographer – a blog showcasing Di Fazio's more deviant editorials the photographer fashions himself the identity of a playboy – sexually omnivorous, but slanting more towards the homoerotic, the Diaries, combining photography and video, are a provocative, orgiastic exploration of human sexuality.  Demand for Elvis Di Fazio is high these days and the chances of getting an interview are thin, but thankfully he answered a few of our questions. 


Can you remember the first image you ever took?Hmmm no I wish I could but I can’t, if I were to guess it was a family picnic and I was using my dads camera.

What brought you to photography?   To be honest I have such a love for the arts but I don’t have the patience to start a project from scratch, being able to tell a story through photography was a natural progression after several years studying fine arts and working with slow working mediums like oil on canvas.  In my course I majored in silkscreen painting where I would re-work the existing, de-collages of images lifted from old fashion magazines from the 50’s / 60’s family portraits, bed sheets, impasto jel, household paints from the hardware were amongst my favourite mediums for my art at the time.  After being questioned by one of my art teachers about the originality of my work and why I didn’t use my own images to screen print I took that on as a challenge and taught myself how to perform some dramatic looks through hair and makeup and styled my own shoots featuring friends, relos and street cast strangers which would sit for me while I turned them into fictional characters to be used in my New works of art. (you can see these on my website under old-world). I got so good at the photography element that I dropped the screen-printing all together.

Can you tell us a little bit about Diaries of a Smutographer? Well, I’m kinda obsessed with sex and sex culture. It was only a matter of time until people were gonna be like that’s not fashion or art, that’s just smut… so I beat them to it. If I was going to create erotica and use the fashion world as a platform there was no point playing it safe (for my blog anyways.) Creating the blog “diaries of a smutographer” was a way I could be true to myself with out scaring potential advertising clients. Girls gotta make the money, you know what im sayin?

What's one thing you've never told anyone before? Zooomagadoo do kee…. I know I’ve never told anyone that before because I just made that up then.

On your website you say that there is "no better combo than sex and humor" - can you elaborate on that? There’s no better combo then sex and humour “for me” sex and humor takes you far far away from your problems and stresses of life but it makes you feel so alive at the same time. If you can mix them together what a recipe for FUCK-YEH!

Any one thing exciting that you're working on now? Well I’m obsessed with these second generation Lebanese kids that invade our Sydney beaches during the summer. They live on the outskirts in the western suburbs, they have the most amazing mullets and a very unique way of dressing that is KINDA like a London chav but not at all. You can’t find any pictures of these guys but f you could you would see why I find them so fascinating. They seem to have a bad wrap in our society so If I could create something beautiful from that it would bring me a lot of joy. So right now I’m shooting stories that create humorous parodies of these characters that I’m sure they can laugh with too because I have no interest in making them a brunt of a bad joke.

What's next? Well summers around the corner so…. Maybe this project with the Lebanese kids?


The Ghosts That Follow Us: An Interview with Abbey Meaker


Abbey Meaker's images look almost as if they could be photographs taken by the ghosts that follow us during the course our lives – just behind us as we climb the stairs – as we lay in bed alone and naked – behind our shoulder in the mirror – sometimes they look out of windows gazing into a white ambiguous eternity as the light through the slats falls back on them like a cascade – sometimes they follow us on our travels – always invisible, but always present – they knowing us and us never knowing them at all.  The images – black and white, grainy, and sometimes out of focus – are haunting, preternatural, and erotic – as if on the journey these ghosts make in our existence they are learning day by day how to possess us with a lustful and forceful desire. I've known Abbey for close to fifteen years and she has always been an artist with an almost ancient, black-magic spirit, but only in past few years has her predilection for photography been so keen.  And I've seen first hand her photography evolve to develop a distinct style, reminiscent of the late Francesca Woodman, but entirely unique – Abbey's images have innate melancholia, but at the same time a beautiful chaos that cracks open a parallel world of hope and yearning. Last weekend saw the commencement of Abbey's first solo show in Italy, entitled Boudoirs and Landscapes, at the Palazzo Barsanti in Pietrasanta. I was going to conduct the below interview while Abbey got tattooed, but there was a freak black out at the tattoo parlor – so we made our way to a cafe to discuss art, inspiration, darkness, and the great power of Billie Holiday. 


So, tell me a little bit about what inspires you to create?  Well, there is always an urge to make something.  I have this – I see the world in a way that is more romantic than it actually is – so I try to make what I see in my mind tangible for other people.

Would you call yourself an artist or a photographer? I wouldn't call myself anything, because I want to be more open that that – I want to have more options.  I just like to make things…..

But right now your main focus is photography? Yes, photography.

And your current series? Boudoirs and Landscapes?

Yes, can you tell me about that?  Well, for the landscapes it's not specifically landscapes, but buildings and places that have an eerie quality – it's a place that I see that I have a visceral response to and I try to capture that on film. And the bedroom scenes are – I try to create a scene that isn't really an interaction between photographer and subject, but more a looking in on someone in a moment of reverie. Someone alone in their space. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your background – biographically – in terms of how it has influenced your work? Well, a lot of my family members are artists and I grew up around and I always – because of that – it's almost second nature, but I have always been searching to find a medium that feels right in every way, and I hadn't found it until I started taking photographs and it just feels right. Everything feels aligned when I'm taking photos. But no one in my family is a photographer. 

But creators? Yes, creators. 

Can you remember the first image you ever took? The first one I ever liked or the first one I ever took? 

The first one you took as you started to discover photography…. Yes.  There is this building in Burlington, Vermont where I live that has always had this presence, like a dark presence, and I have always been drawn to it, and I drove around back and took some photos of it and only later did I discover that it was an orphanage that my grandfather was in when he was younger. It was an orphanage run by nuns. Then is was an Episcopal diocese. And now it is a college. 

"I try to create a scene

that isn't really an interaction

between photographer and subject,

but more a looking in on someone

in a moment of reverie."

What was it like growing up in Burlington, Vermont? Not a lot goes on there – so you have to search within yourself to find things to entertain you, and maybe that's part of what led me to making things, because there isn't much else to do. Unless you want to be an alcoholic [laughter].  Because 8 months out of the year it's dark and snowy.  

Do you think artists in cities have a different advantage than artists growing up in a rural area? Not necessarily. I think an artist growing up in a rural area it's easier for them to look within themselves for ideas, because there isn't much else to do – so you are, for me at least, I am always in my own head, and I think if I had grown up in a city I would find inspiration from things that were happening around me, but as it pertains to business – I think the more people that see your work the better, so there is obviously more people in cities, so I think if you are an artist living in a rural area you have to get out there and network.

And you just had a show in Italy. Can you tell me a little bit about that? It was my first show – I've shown here and there - this was my first solo show.  I noticed in New York, where I've been to a lot of openings, it seems very social – people go to socialize and make connections and not really take in the work – but in Italy I noticed people really – theres a heightened sensitivity – and I really appreciated that people really seemed to want to know what I was trying to do and they asked really great questions.

What are some questions they asked? Well, there was one self portrait in the show and a man came in and asked me if there was a message I was projecting through my eyes.  Which I thought was a really interesting – and very spiritual. It was really intriguing. 

What was your answer? Well, I wanted to come up with something clever on the spot, but it didn't really pan out. Plus he didn't speak any English, so it had to be translated – and I'm sure a lot got lost in translation. But I was showing my vulnerability with this particular self portrait, because I was looking at the camera which I don't normally do, because I wanted it to be really honest. 


So even when you're taking self portraits there's still a sense of looking in – almost as if through a key hole? With self portraits I am letting the observer look in on me. When I'm the photographer I'm – I guess I'm still letting someone look in on someone else, but its usually more difficult being behind the camera to let yourself be revealed. To let myself be revealed.

Is it easier – is it different shooting yourself or shooting other people? I'm taking more and more self portraits, because there is more freedom. I'm still building up a lot of courage as to what I feel comfortable asking of my subjects, but when I'm shooting myself I can do whatever I want and if it's too much I don't need to show anyone. That's why I like taking self portraits. 

What are some of your thoughts as you are looking through the viewfinder?  I just want to create this other world. A non-reality. A place thats more beautiful than reality. 

You shoot mainly film? Only film. 

In terms of showing your work – is there a certain resistance to it, in the sense that you are showing too much? I think it's always a little scary for artists to show their work, because it's so personal – maybe not for all artists – for me. It's like I'm revealing a page in my diary – if I had a diary. So, it's a little scary, buts it's also kind of thrilling to just be naked in a way and let people see what they want and feel what they want or just feel something even if they don't want to.

You also paint too? I do.

Is photography as a medium something that you want to focus on more? Painting is more that something I just do – when I paint I am not trying to create something specific - its all emotive – so I'm just doing it as a practice – as something I have to do between taking photos. So, I don't really have any aspirations to show my paintings. 

What about the medium of photography do you find has allowed you to express what you want to express? People tend to trust photos and you can get away with the non-reality easier with photos, I feel, because people believe them. Does that makes sense? And it looks real, but it might not be.

What inspired you to pick up photography – I mean how long have you been practicing photography? Nothing inspired me to get into it – for as long as I can remember I've had this draw to it that I never really indulged in until a few years ago, but i've always had a feeling that it would happen – it just had to happen naturally. I waited and when I was ready I did it. 

Why did you feel you weren't ready? Because I wasn't doing it, so I must not have been ready [laughter].

Where do you see yourself taking the medium in the next five years? I want to start delving into large format photography and also film – I want to start making short films that expand on the photos. 


How do you think photography today, as a fine art – I mean do you see yourself as a fine art photographer? I do.

And you would never go commercial? No, and I don't want to.

How do you think fine art photography is perceived today in a cultural context? I think there are a lot of blurred lines – I mean there's fashion photography and fine art photography. It's hard sometimes to differentiate. I think it's regarded as a fine art. 

How do you think the definition of an artist has changed – and what do you think the definition of an artist is today? I think it's a romantic idea that – it seems like artists used to be perceived as these weird people and now it's cool to be an artist and people can dress the part and get away with it. I guess thats the biggest change I see – that now it's cool to be an artist and when I was younger I always thought of the artist as weird – the outcasts. 

Who are some artists that you are influenced by or inspired by? I don't think I'm influenced by anyone. Sometimes, Francesca Woodman, for example, I really appreciate her photographs, but I wouldn't call her an influence. I've taken things and then seen her work and noticed some similarities, so people may think I'm influenced by her, but I think people with similar mental ailments create similar images. 

Do you feel like you have mental ailments?[Laughter] No, but I think I tend to be on – I mean no one is any one thing and I hesitate to even say that I tend to be a certain way, because I don't want to be pigeonholed, but there are themes of melancholy and that emotion is evident in my work.  That mood – that heavy dark mood. And it's also evident in her [Francesca Woodman's] work. I'm drawn to a darkness. 

" I'm drawn to a darkness."

Where does the darkness come from? I mean it comes from inside of you or how you perceive the world around you. It's different for everyone and it doesn't have to be one thing or another.

Do you think artists are different – in terms of their role in society – is the artist's role, not necessarily more important, but more profound or carries more responsibility? Not necessarily. I think a lot of artists tend to be narcissistic for some reason. Maybe it's because we're always looking at our selves and expressing our selves – so we naturally become a little self involved. I think other people might be drawn to artists because they can be mysterious – people love mystery – people want to understand something they can't.  I don't know if that answers your question….

Yes…I mean artists unveil something that other people don't necessarily have access to…right? Yeah, they can show that the mysterious part of life – that romantic side. There is a Henry Miller quote, something about when you are writing – or when the artist is creating - or when the painter is painting – they are connecting to that source that is timeless and when you are in it you can feel immortal.  That struck a cord with me. 

And your dad is an artist – a musician – and he has had a big artistic influence on you? Huge. We have this strange connection. He has always been a source of inspiration, but I can't figure out why – it's not something I can put words to – it's just there. He's a musician and a painter. He has always been my role model – since I can remember. I've watched him paint and I – when I was four years old there was this period where I would have these nightmares and not be able to sleep and he would take me out into the living room and sing God Bless The Child until I fell asleep. 

A song written by Billie Holiday. Billie Holiday has been a big influence it seems like? Huge. It's the blues. She had a difficult life and that pain was in her and it came out in her voice and I identify with that. 

You said last night that if you could listen to one musical artist it would be Billie Holiday……over and over again….why?  It's that feeling of alignment. That feeling of alignment, like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. That feeling comes over me when I hear Billie Holiday. 

If you could, using five single words, to explain the different themes in your arts, what would those five words be? Blue……soft……blurred…..underneath……still.  

What is next? Feverish creation. 


Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper


Wake Up Little Susie: An Interview with The Shimmering Stars

Hailing from Vancouver, Shimmering Stars is an anachronistic throwback to that era – an era sandwiched between the birth of rock n' roll and the rambunctious medleys of Bo Diddley  and the beginning of the sexual revolution – where music was made in your parents garage and topics about sex, death and drugs were coated with infinite layers of sugar. The music recalled first night stands in the backseat of old Chevys and bad kids with switch blades and leather jackets, and of course James Dean.  After watching old demos of the The Everly Brothers and deciding to start a recording project, the Shimmering Stars are bringing back the same sucrose-induced ethos with their recently released LP entitled Violent Hearts (Hardly Art). Violent Hearts, a masterful fistful of songs about heartbreak, loneliness, murder and love, sounds a little like it could be the greatest hits record of some rare short-lived band that burned out in the 60s, but thank goodness its only Shimmering Stars' first album. Pas Un Autre got a chance to ask Shimmering Stars about their unique musical motivations – read the interview after the jump.

So I read somewhere that you started your band only about a year ago after you saw some Everly Brother's footage….what was it about the Everly Brothers that was so inspiring? The Everlys played pop music in its purest form, in my humble opinion. They wrote some of the most timeless, memorable melodies in pop music. Their love songs make me melt and their breakup songs are devastating. Also, they’re interesting in the sense that they were at the centre of various genres that converged during the late 50s: rock n roll, pop, country, crooner pop, and rockabilly. I think they were the best at what they did. Plus, they wore matching suits and looked fucking great!

You guys are getting a lot of buzz after only a year…how does that feel? We’ve been playing music for years and years so it doesn’t feel like it happened overnight. But, to be honest, it feels pretty vindicating to receive a bit of attention – especially after toiling in obscurity for so many years.


[audio:http://www.pasunautre.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/02-Im-Gonna-Try.mp3|titles=02 I'm Gonna Try]

There seems to be a lot of darkness just beneath the surface of a lot of the music from the 50 and 60s - why do you think that is? Because at this time musicians were very constrained as to what they could express, but of course they experienced the same range of emotion – from nice pretty emotions to dark twisted emotions – that we do now. So you really have to read into the music and make some inferences as to what the impulses behind the songs were. This to me is a really exciting process. To take the Everly Brothers as an example, they adopted all the popular affectations of the time – unrequited love, heart break, ‘Johnny stole my girl’ etc. They communicated in a way that was acceptable and palatable to people during their time. But if you look closer there are all kinds of emotions under the surface - intense yearning, sexual longing, misery, and violence. At least that’s how I interpret it.

What are some of your favorite bands from the 50s and 60s? Bobby Fuller Four, Everly Brothers, The Coasters, The Crystals, Del Shannon, Bo Diddley, ? and the Mysterions, Wolf Nebula!!!, The Drifters, Buddy Holly, The Ronettes, Frankie Laine, Beach Boys. I could on for days.

The name of your debut LP is Violent Hearts where does that title come from and what inspired the band name? The term ‘Violent Hearts’ refers to some of the themes on the record, which I think are pretty representative of a lot of the things that people my age are dealing with. The term ‘violent’ is sort of a blanket term for feelings of restlessness, anxiety, uncertainty, displacement etc. The basic themes on this record concern the very specific dilemma that a lot of people in their 20s experience these days: having limitless potential and freedom but feeling crushed by the possibilities; being conscious of the privilege that we are lucky to enjoy but also feeling miserable, anxious, and depressed - and feeling guilty about all of this; existing in a state of suspended adolescence where a lot of the markers for what we should be doing with our lives have disappeared. As far as what inspired the band name – it was pretty last minute to be honest. There’s really no other explanation than I thought it sounded kinda cool. How lame is that?

So, whats going on right now thats the most exciting for Shimmering Stars? Our record came out in North America on Sept 13th, so that’s pretty exciting. We also just returned from our first European tour – our first tour period, actually. And for me personally, I’m excited to start on new material and explore new directions for this project.

Whats next? Education 311: Principles of Teaching Social Studies. 10:30-12:30pm.

Pick up Shimmering Stars "Violent Hearts" here.

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Beautiful Translucence: An Interview with Photographer Lena Modigh

There is a delicate and beautiful translucence about the images of London based, Swedish born, photographer Lena Modigh.  With a softness of light, Lena weaves an deceivingly imperceptible gossamer, like a veil between romance and secret desire, in what seems more like stills from a movie than actual photographs – and maybe thats because of her background in film. Pas Un Autre got a chance to ask Lena a few questions about her background, inspiration, and what she's working on now.

So, who is Lena Modigh  - where are you based? At the age of nineteen I fortunately managed to avoid a career in Stockholm banking and instead fled my idyllic Swedish homeland for New Zealand. Soon after I set my sights on New York, where I resided for several years, working in the film industry. I became more and more fascinated with still image so decided to study photography in London, where I settled and after a few years assisting started shooting my own work.

Can you remember the first image you ever took? It must have been a photograph of a big rock in the backyard of my Elementary School. The project was to photograph something and then choose the music for that picture. Very exciting!

What brought you into photography? My Dad was a happy amateur, taking very close-up pictures of flowers, me, my brother and mother, and of trips that we made. Then about once every other month we would have a slideshow, a bit like a movie night. I think that must have started it.

What are some of your biggest inspirations? Patti Smith, Sara Moon, David Hamilton..women.....travels....and music.

If there was one thing you would to communicate through your photography - what would that be? A sense of feeling.

Are you working on anything thats the most exciting right now?An exhibition with illustrator Sagah-Maria Sandberg.

Whats next? Hopefully loads of commissions that involves travelling.


visit: www.lenamodigh.com

Naive Melodies: An Interview with RAZIKA


Even though they might not look it they are total badasses.  Razika, an adorable band of outsiders from Bergen, Norway, are an anomalous youth quake unto themselves. Whilst their first album, Program 91, is full of beautiful and rebellious naive melodies, its all too soon to tell how long the high will last – and they haven't even toured the U.S. yet – which they plan on doing this Fall.  Nevertheless, for a group of girls born in the early nineties – when grunge was still in in its impetus and a war in Kuwait blared a distant, televised firework show in night-vision – Razika's first album is an impressive landscape of angst, love, and longing painted by a group of girls wise beyond their years.  Having been playing music together since they were six years old, Razika had already years of musical chemistry between them when they started their band in 2005 – and they admit that it wasn't until two years ago that "things started getting serious." Now in their early twenties, the four girls of Razika are experiencing a tidal wave of critical success for their first album, which was recorded over the course of a year on the weekends, and was released only a few days ago, an album that could very well be part of the soundtrack to a tumultuous year that will no doubt be remembered when the youth of the world prevailed – in art, in rebellion, and even in war.


Photograph by Elrik Lande

I heard the name of your bands comes from a code word to describe a cute guy?  Correct...We were fourteen/fifteen and needed a codeword for all the cool and older guys we saw. We didn't want them to think (or hear) that we either looked at them or talked about them, so we came up with Razika. And when we started the band, it was natural for us to use that name "our name". Actually, Razika was a really weird and funny girl at our school and we thought her name was so catchy that we just started using it.

So, who is everyone in Razika? Can you introduce yourselves? Embla Karidotter on drums and backingvocal, Marie Moe on bass and backingvocal, Marie Amdam on lead vocals and guitar, and Maria Råkil on guitar and vocal on some songs.

How long have you all been playing music together?We have been playing for five whole years, but it's not until two years ago that things started getting serious. Our manager now, Mikal Telle, came to us back then and started helping us, giving us advice and so on. He released our very first EP (Love is all about the timing) knowing he wouldn't earn anything from it, but he believed in us and told that if we wanted to get somewhere with our music, we should start practicing more and work harder. Set goals. And that's exactly what we did.

"....It's easier to write songs when your heart is broken...."

What are some of your main inspirations? Influences?  Our main inspiration comes from life itself. Our life. 20 year old girls' experiences about love mainly. You know, not getting the "Razikas" we so badly wanted/want. Being too young, keeping secrets from our parents, skipping school, going out, being thrown out...It's easier to write songs when your heart is broken, you have so many feelings you want to get out. We wouldn't exactly explain our lyrics as jolly. The're sad, but honest, songs. And that's why we like the fact that our melodies bring positivity to it all. Our influences are mostly Norwegian rock and new-wave bands like The Aller Værste, The Pussycats and Program 81. As you see, this is where we got our album title from. But we changed it to '91, since we're all born that year. But we're also very influenced by ska. Love the Specials, Madness, Bad Manners and so on. And then of course we like the typical so called indie music, like The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys. These are the bands that inspired us to even start a band together. We wanted to play rock, then punk, then pop, then indie, then ska...we went through phases and found our sound on the way.

Some of your songs on your new album are in English and some are in Norwegian. How is it writing songs in two different languages - Is it easier or harder – do you think that helps reach a wider audience?  We don't have any specific reasons why we write in two languages. That's just how it is. We started writing in English, which is really the most normal thing to do even though you live in Norway, but then later found out that writing in our own language made us write more honest songs. It sounds so real and it hits you in the face when we sing in Norwegian, but English is a universal language and we're so influenced by it all over, that sometimes the lyrics just literally comes out in English. What's funny though, is that our most popular songs abroad, are actually the Norwegian ones.

What was it like growing up in Norway? Just to be born in Norway is like winning in lottery, and Bergen is both the most beautiful and coolest city in Norway. We have the biggest music scene, and Razika is s result of this.

Your new album is called Program 91 - where does that title come from? As we said, it was a new wave band from Bergen who started in '81. We found an old record of them in Maria's cellar, where we used to rehearse, and we loved it right away. We actually used to put the record on before we started practicing, so we would get inspired. Program 81 was in fact the band who made us realize we had to start singing in Norwegian.


Photograph by Rikke Laeng

I'd be remiss not to mention the recent devastating terrorist attacks in Norway.  What is the general psyche of the country right now?  A month has passed now and even though the grief and sorrow is like a blanket over our country, Norway, as one, has never been stronger. 

Your songs are so full of youthful angst and rebellion.  Can each of you recall your first kiss? First heartbreak? Yes. First everything...

You have a US tour coming up. Any fears or expectations? No fears, this will just be a fantastic experience! We're looking so much forward to it, we can't wait!

Whats next for Razika?  Better things. Just you wait and see.

Razika's new album Program 91 is out now on Small Town Super Sound Records

Text  by Oliver Maxwell Kupper 


DON'T CALL HER ALASKA: An Interview with Marlowe Tatiana Granados

London based photographer Marlowe Tatiana Granados is a chronicler of moments, a diarist, and her work is a visual collage of the moments of her life. Through her zines, such as the hedonistic title Petite Anarchy, and her first book, I Am No Longer Alaska, published by RVCA and now exclusively available at Colette in Paris,  Granados is a visceral artist who is not afraid to bare her soul to the world.  Concurrent with the release of her first book, Granados is exhibiting her photographs alongside David Mushegain at the Don't Call it Cool show now on view at Colette until August 27th.

Do you remember the first image you ever took? My first photo was when I was really, really young, it was probably of a cat.

What are some of your inspirations?  Vengeance, beauty, natural light, limerence, humour.

How does it feel to publish your first book of photography?  So, so grateful. David Mushegain really encouraged me to have it ready to run concurrently with his exhibition at Colette. The idea had been in my mind for a while and I had started to put it together. I was so anxious before I got to see the final version in Paris, I had nightmares that the printing order was wrong! The book is incredibly personal to me, it's dedicated to my mother. It's much more of a visual narrative than a book of my photographs, it's a lot more intimate.

Where does the title come from?  The title references Stephanie Says by the Velvet Underground, you know, She's not afraid to die/the people all call her Alaska...When you're really young you have a foolish sense of recklessness, this really romantic idea of being untouchable. The book is about the change, when you realize you've lost this kind of invincibility whether it's due to events out of your control or just time. I guess, figuratively "melting", but also looking back with fondness.

Each photograph is accompanied by a text, which one is your favorite?  "WE WERE ALL DANGEROUS ONCE"


Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

VHS SEX: An Interview with Com Truise

Com Truise's electric panoply of radioactive synth driven melodies is picking up where the likes of forefathers of synth-pop Geogio Moroder, Harald Grosskopf, and Kraftwerk left off.  In a nostalgic, yet with a uniquely contemporary cleanliness, listening to the carefully crafted songs of Com Truise is like unearthing some kind of long lost record from a time capsule which has been hermetically sealed in the center of the earth for the last 20 years. Combining vintage synthesizers with advanced modern day technology Truise proves to be an alchemical artist–even with the briefest listen it is absolutely safe to assume he is a master of his craft. And like his current alias is a play on words (other aliases include Sarin Sunday, SYSTM, and Airliner), Cruise's music is a play on music itself, because each dark and psychotically ethereal audioscape is the mark of an obsessive who is pushing the limits of modern sound. Jean-Jacques Rousseau is famously quoted from his Dictionary of Music, "Could we not imagine that noise...is itself nothing more than the sum of a multitude of different sounds which are being heard simultaneously?" Which brings us to the eternal question: what the fuck makes music in the first place. Com Truise was born Seth Haley in the suburbs of upstate New York where I can easily picture him in his childhood room surrounded by the ubiquitous sounds of early Nintendo and the synthy intros of countless low budget tv action shows like Quantum Leap and Night Rider. Or even the soft-corn porno's of Emmanuel, because Com Truise's music would make the perfect score for a sex scene in the rain. In June, Com Truise, who makes what he calls “mid-fi synth-wave, slow-motion funk” out of a tiny apartment in Princeton, New Jersey, released his first full-length, entitled Galactic Melt. Pas Un Autre contributors Abbey Meaker and Sean Martin caught up with Com Truise, who is currently on tour with the Glitch Mob, when he made a stop in Burlington, Vermont to ask a few pressing questions.

Is there a special synth you are mildly attached to? Right now? I just picked up an Octocat – I’m pretty sure mine is form 79. I picked it up in Austin on tour and incorporated it in a live show the next day, so I am really excited to record with it, because I don’t really have my writing situation figured out on the road.

That leads into my next question: Recording or live?  Recording. I am much more of a producer than a performer. It’s just me on stage right now so there is only so much to look at. I move around as much as I can but on this tour I can't really do visual [editors note: Glitch Mob, with whom he is on tour, already uses heavy visuals in their act]. For my next tour I am going to have a drummer. If it’s just me and a drummer it will be so much better. I am super excited for that.

I know you design your tee shirts–do you think the total package is necessary? Am I going to see you in a helmet or some face paint anytime?  I am going to have a special suit built. Not a full suit–just a strange jacket a pants. Future World Orchestra, on their album cover, they look like Jedi’s and that kind of inspired the idea.

Hyphenated phrase describing Com Truise? Slow motion synth wave funk. That’s usually how I describe the long of it. The short of it I just say synth-wave.

Do you sit down to work or do you wait for inspiration? Before this tour I was in the ad industry for 5 years, and the last position I had was the creative director for a pharmaceutical agency. What learned in advertising has given me one leg up in this sort of thing because I am so picky about branding. Your creative freedom is squashed. When I go home I erase the extra pressure but keep the brand in mind.

Europe or North America? I’ve only had the opportunity to play in Sweden. I will be in Europe for November, so ask me then. I have been on tour since June. I love North America, but the way I kind of explained it, just talking to a friend–not about music but about traveling in general, the United States is one giant different culture. Wherever you go there are the same things.

Necessities on the road? Whiskey.

Brand? Jack Daniels or Buffalo Trace, clean socks, American Apparel tee-shirts.

What VHS is currently in your VCR? James Bond Golden eye. It was the last VHS tape I recorded. That and Groove about the rave culture.

Do you feel like romance fits into your music? There is something hot about your music. I think I have that in the back of my mind and I try to put in there, but I don’t always bring it to the forefront. Some songs I want sexy and some songs I want dark.

You mentioned you’re influenced by the Cocteau Twins. What decade do you think you should have been born in? 26 in '85 or '86. That’s where I go to look for inspiration. I go to that time period and usually find what I'm looking for. Being able to go to the record store the day the record came out would have been unreal.

Future aspirations. Do you want to do soundtracks Video soundtracks? Scoring films. We’ve been talking to a few people about working on video games and producing for other people. Video game soundtracks are right up my alley. I will always try to inject my sound as far in the world as possible.

Intro text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper Interview by Sean Martin Photography by Abbey Meaker


Psychedelic-Tinged: An Interview with RINGO DEATHSTARR

Recognition for the psychedelic-tinged, lush shoegaze sound of Austin band Ringo Deathstarr has grown steadily over the past five years. Diehard fans are now joined by music journalists and bloggers worldwide in singing the praises of the trio after a stellar performance at SXSW and the release of their first full-length album, Colour Trip. The members include Elliott Frazier (guitar and vocals), Alex Gehring (bass, guitar, and vocals) and Daniel Coborn (drums). Recently, Elliot was kind enough to take the time to answer some probing questions from us via email about the origins of the band, their influences, and some of his own personal likes (i.e. Tokyo and an early 90s Kim Deal)…

When and how did Ringo Deathstarr come about?

It was 2005 and I was tired of watching really crappy bands, and at the time the popular trend was really folky type music—acoustic guitars, long slow boring songs, really quiet. I was just done playing drums for years and years and getting nowhere really, so I decided to play the guitar myself and sing myself.  The hard part was finding the right people to do it with!

Where does the name come from?

We were into the Brian Jonestown Massacre and it just seemed to be in line with that sort of thing, and the Dandy warhols.

Who are the members of your band and what do they play?

Elliott Frazier - guitar and vocals.....Alex Gehring - bass, guitar, vocals......Daniel Coborn - drums

What is your band dynamic like? What bonds you together?

We have a sense of humor. Also, when we are on the road, half the band is asleep at all times when we are in the van, so we don't argue about much.

What is the songwriting process like?

It varies from song to song. Sometimes it writes itself. Sometimes it takes months, and other times 5 minutes.

Who are your musical influences?

The music press says we are influenced by My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain, but once upon a time I listed to Stone Temple Pilots...of course you’ve got Brian Jonestown Massacre and And You Will Know us By The Trail of Dead, the latter of which we will be supporting on the West Coast this June!

Are you influences by other sources, movies, art, pop culture, etc? If so, what?

Movies are an influence for sure. I collect VHS tapes.

Are your songs based on real life experiences? If so, can you give an example?

Yeah, this one time I was in love with a girl. Sometimes she made me glad, sometimes she made me sad. I write about that sometimes.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Whoever wrote the Hank the Cowdog books.

Who are some of your favorite filmmakers?

Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay


I used to fancy myself as a photographer and I wanted to be Charles Peterson. Ed Moses is a cool artist.

If you could live in any other era in any city in the world, when and where would you live?

In feudal Japan. In Edo.

What is your favorite city to play?

Tokyo without a doubt.

How do you like Austin?

Austin is very cool.  I’ve been to a lot of cool cities and I almost would say I would never live in another USA city. But it is getting expensive to live here so when it gets too expensive I will live out in the desert.

Who are some of your favorite bands to play with?

The Flying Eyes are pretty fun to play with, really nice guys who know how to party. The Wedding Present was also great. And how can we forget Ume—our hometown heroes!

Do you have any musician/celebrity crushes from past or present?

Kim Deal in the Safari Video

Tell us about your new album!

Well, it is just some songs that we made, each one a little different, because we don’t like it when every song has the same vocal sound, same guitar sound, same drum sound. So, it is a musical journey through a few different sounds and colors. Some people might even go so far as to call it NU GAZE or something. But, to us it is just our first album, and we are having fun playing it and we are glad people are diggin' it.

Ringo Deathstarr begins a U.S.-European tour June 13, 2011. Find tour dates on their facebook page.


Sinister Sights: An Interview with Gabriella Marina Gonzalez

Gabriella Marina Gonzalez's accessory collections are exuberantly sadomasochistic and by turns contradictorily flocculent on account of her cosmic balance of mixing knit and leather. Gonzalez, who is based in London, is onto her fourth collection, entitled Sinister Sights in Synthetic Moonlight, for her eponymous, made to order label.  Pas Un Autre asked Gabriella Marina Gonzalez a few questions about her new collection and whether we should be prepared for some kind of apocalypse.

Can you tell me a little bit about your new collection Sinister Sights in Synthetic Moonlight?

A/W11 'Sinister Sight in Synthetic Moonlight' was inspired by what I imagined the hallucinatory aspect of having sound provoked synesthesia could be like and the video accompanying it  by Sean Wild on my website was meant to  give a visual  experience of it. * Editors note: sound provoked synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which certain sounds trigger color and simple shapes that arise, move around, and then fade when the sound stimulus ends.

Your leather harnesses and masks almost look like armor, is there something we should be worried about?

I don't think I'm the only person who can feel a battle approaching. I think there are thousands of people out there just like me who are preparing for a universal change.

Theres a quote in your bio that says you are trying to "set an example against wasteful mass production and relieve.....'the identity fraud that high street brands convince the insecure to consume." Can you elaborate on that?

Yes, I think there is an element of consumerism that is based on wanting 'things' to bring worldly comforts and ease an insecurity about a lack of identity and a need to fit in to something to feel safe. Its a form of brain wash and I think is very dangerous. As a designer I am ultimately creating an item to be consumed so it is very tricky but I'm not pro missing anyone any untruth. I only want people who feel drawn to the work for untarnished reasons to be interested in it. Not because of celebrity endorsement and things of the like. This is why I make everything by hand because It makes me feel useful, like I am providing an art form to people.

Whats one thing you've never told anyone before?

I have no filter. I tell anyone anything I am feeling even if it couldn't possibly wash with them or they think I have a screw loose because there is nothing more pure than true honesty.

Where do you draw inspiration?

On a sheet of paper.

Do you have a favorite quote, motto?

Yes I think one has to trust their instinct–not push it aside.

In what kind of world or landscape would everyone be walking around in your designs?

I don't consider my work a fantasy, I think its very much a reality as it is based upon my truth. Everyone is walking around in my designs because everything is everything and we are all one energy and consciousness. We are just a little out of touch right now.

Whats next for Gabriella Marina Gonzalez?

I guess we have to have patience till the next chapter of the story.

Visit Gabriella Marina Gonzalez's website to see more of the collection and more.....www.gabriellamarinagonzalez.com

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Not Taking the Piss: An Interview with The Rodnik Band

Lets tap into the strange and brilliant mind of Philip Colbert–designer and founder of The Rodnik Band. Marketed as an "ironic pop band," Colbert has built a bridge between art and fashion, à la Yves Saint Laurent's Mondrian dress or Peggy Guggenheim's Calder earrings. The Rodnik's Band's latest collection, "Venus in Sequins," which saw its debut at London Fashion week, is a tongue in cheek, satirical exploration of some of the most iconic works of art  sartorially adapted into incredibly intricate wearable sculptures. At face value, Colbert's designs are comical and verge on the absurd, but on a deeper, subatomic level they are definitive statements that respond to the basic foundations of the business of making art and fashion. And as if to validate, or maybe offer whiffs of irony, Colbert's wearable art has been getting the approving nod from industry giants such Ana Wintour to Karl Lagerfeld.  Ironic because Colbert is seemingly lampooning the lavish ridiculousness of fashion, especially couture, that designers like Lagerfeld have helped define.  

After studying philosophy and art history from St. Andrews University, Colbert went into the business of selling Russian scarves and in 2005 founded the Rodnik Band with no formal fashion training.  After six years of chopping his axe as a designer in the cut throat arena of mainstream fashion, with his collections showing around the world and carried by the best retailers, Colbert was seeking more meaning–in essence "....to create a more meaningful approach to fashion. [And] was less interested in the trend of fashion for fashion sake, the smoke and mirrors style of trend based fashion, which is repetitive, cyclical, and often devoid of meaning."  As we were still curious, Pas Un Autre asked Philip a few questions about art, pop culture, fashion, and The Rodnik Band.

The Rodnik Band is not presented as a traditional fashion label, but as a band. Why is that?

I present the label as a Band, because I was inspired to break the mould and present fashion in a new way. I was inspired by the cross over between fashion and music, and wanted to create a new cross over concept.

Can you tell me a little about your current collection, Venus in Sequins?

I wanted my artwork dresses to sparkle so they are made using intense sequin embroidery, which takes over three weeks of hand work per dress. I wanted to created wearable POP art with requisite hand crafted detail. They are a hybrid product, they stand in no mans land between the two established genres of art and fashion. I see them as a step in establishing a new conception of clothing as wearable art. I was inspired to create clothing with clear artistic expression. I found good past examples of this concept in the Ballet Rus, where Picasso and De Chirico designed costumes which are unquestionably great artworks, and take their painting styles into a different and exciting dimension. The graphical style of the dresses are unique as I create my own artwork interpretations of each inspiration (such as the soup can) and create lino block print to simplify and recreate the image by my own hand, allowing mistakes and giving the work my visual identity. The Naive black lines create a more satirical rendition on the idea and add a sense of humor. Sequin work is then added on top of the print artwork to make it sparkle. I use mostly silk, such as Duchess Satins and Georgette's, and Cashmere as a base. Then hand sew the sequin work on top.

On your website you say that you are inspired by Marcel Duchamp and Pop Art. Andy Warhol said in an interview once that "Pop art is about liking things." Its fairly vague, but what do you think he meant by that?

I was interested in the way POP art communicates, unlike many art forms it it relevant and accessible to people from all walks of life, it draws inspiration from the culture we live in, and is a very strong form of visual communication, it is essentially very democratic and connected with peoples lives. Similarly I think Warhols quote may have meant that it is a positive form of artistic expression.

"I feel the industry takes itself to seriously

and is in danger of missing the creative spirit

that makes it a higher art form

with expression."

If Marcel Duchamp were alive today what would he think of art in the 21st century?

If Duchamp were alive today, he would probably start painting like like the old masters, I remember a quote, which goes something like, "those that created Religion would be the same people who tear it down".

Pop Art is a reaction to current popular culture or the zeitgeist.  The Rodnik Band borrows from a lot of zeitgeists of yesteryear.  Is The Rodnik band a response or a statement? Or both?

The Rodnik Band is both a response and a statement. I feel the industry takes itself to seriously and is in danger of missing the creative spirit that makes it a higher art form with expression. I like the idea of breaking the conventional mould.

How does one stand out in a world where every one is trying to stand out? Is too much individuality bad for art?

To much of anything can be bad, I don't think we have to worry about to much individuality for art, the majority of people will always follow the crowd.

You studied philosophy originally.  What brought you to fashion?

I came into fashion in the spirit of unexpected adventure, and i always was inspired by that, it was never something i would have expected myself to work in. I have tried to create a direction and way of working that inspires me. I like the quote from Oscar Wilde, "We Should all be either a work of Art, or wear a work of art".

Whats next for The Rodnik Band?

New wearable artwork collection which is aimed at further developing the concept, a diffusion line to take Rodnik to spirit to more people, and more songs of course .

You can find pieces from the Venus in Sequins collection for sale here or visit www.therodnikband.com

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

An Interview with Jesse Ruins From Tokyo


Who is Jesse Ruins? No one seems to know. But, does it matter? Three brilliant songs have been released slowly over the past six months–Dream Analysis, Inner Ambient, and Sofija–each one just as good as the last.  While we don't know what Jesse Ruins looks like-we do know Jesse Ruins is from Tokyo and has put out a collaboration record on Cuz Me Pain records.  In regards to the mystery–Jesse Ruins maintains "that [he or she] is not doing this intentionally." There are no plans for a record release, but it seems as if a great record is tantalizingly just out of reach–perchance the next great buzz album of 2011, or maybe even 2012. And so we wait and fall right into Jesse Ruin's web. Despite the mystery Jesse Ruins was nice enough to answer a few of Pas Un Autre's questions.

You go to some lengths to remain mysterious, anonymous even - why?

Well, I'm not doing this intentionally, but I'm just trying to remove unnecessary information.

Will you ever divulge your identity - or will you be anonymous forever?

It will come out when it's the right time. I even don't know when it's going to be.

Do you have an album coming out?

I want to release it, but there isn't any specific plan yet (label and stuff like that) at the moment.

All anyone seems to know is that you are from Japan - true or false?

It's true, I'm living in Tokyo.

How would you describe your music?

I cannot describe it in words, so I do that through my music. I think it's really up to each listener how he/she feels about it.

Keep updated on Jesse Ruinshere

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Colorless Murder: An Interview with Aoi Kotsuhiroi

Aoi Kotsuhiroi, who has released the new chapter of her Exotic Regrets collection, entitled Colorless Murder & Silent Wolf -  Aoi sends Pas Un Autre a message each time a new collection or chapter is release - is nothing short of stunningly beautiful.  Her collections indeed recall a mystic, other worldly plane.  Infused with breaths of haikus, lyricism, poetry - oft times human hair, bone, and leather - her pieces are certainly beyond simple accessories - body accessories could explain it better, but it is much more. And because Aoi Kotsuhiroi is mysterious herself, a name or a categorization is even harder to attain. Aoi Kotsuhiroi was kind of enough to answer a few of Autre's question regarding the new chapter.

You just released a new chapter of your new collection entitled Colorless Murder and Silent Wolf. Can you tell me about the new collection?

The chapter Two of Exotic Regrets continues this 'relationship' that has begun in the chapter one... A number of characters find their place in the chapter two. Signs indicate that something happened or is going to happen... The images write a waiting, an in-between, in the middle of somewhere...

Each one of your collections, it seems, tells a story and you release each collection by chapters - the first chapter of the new collection Exotic Regrets was released a few months ago - just recently you released a new chapter. What is the concept behind releasing the collections like that? Is it for the anticipation?

There is no 'concept', no 'calculation'... Just affect and subject. I'm in the moment.

I also see a lot of poetry infused in the identity of the collections - are you a poet?

Yes, it's like breathing.

Can you tell me your poetic influences, inspirations and who is your favorite poet? Do have a favorite stanza?

I do not want to do any 'list', I find it boring and a bit simplistic perhaps...I like that has no "name", lost, which belongs to nobody, that we can not lock up or put in a category or a style. I have a short native american song in my mind:

"I walk in the sky I go with a bird "

And then:

"The clouds change"

You use some way out there materials; namely, human hair, horn (for the heels), and bone. There is actually something quite tribal about it. How did you get into those materials?

The materials are a language, they are a story...With them, in silence, and dialogue, a relationship is going and take shape...

In terms of fashion, who or what are come of your fashion influences?

I do not watch fashion, it bores me ... The influences are 'crutches', I walk alone by doing my own mistakes which are mine ...

Whats next for Aoi Kotsuhiroi?

The chapter three is on the road...

See Aoi Kotsuhiroi's designs here. Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper. 

The Ubiquity of Tattoos: An Interview with Cris Cleen

The ubiquitous proliferation of tattoos in today’s mainstream culture has peeled away all but every layer from the archaic notion that tattoos are taboo. Tattoos, let’s face it, have become commercialized. But if you dig your hands through the pile, you’ll find a new tattoo niche that harks back to the good ol’ days. A time of pre-world war industrial bliss…where hands were busy and sweat glistened proudly. It was a time when things weren’t necessarily easy, but you got the work done and didn’t quite worry about the unending mystery of the ever expanding universe. It was an era where tattoos were an earned folk art tradition. For sailors, long odysseys into uncharted hemispheres granted coveted sparrows, like badges, and crudely drawn women with seductive eyes are scrawled three layers deep into flesh to memorialize debauched, forgotten nights in remote tropical isles. Today, there is a new band of misfit tattooists keeping this tradition beautifully alive. Last Monday I got a chance to sit down to talk with tattooist Cris Cleen.

When I got to Idle Hands Tattoo, in the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco, he was hunched over an angled draftsman table sketching intently. Like an author of a novel would give a name that alludes to a character'sphysicality or persona, Cris Cleen was....well...very clean and well dressed – dapper even. His style of dress is a throwback to a distant, nostalgic era. It’s the era you see in black and white photographs of 1930s street hoodlums, bootleggers, and dust bowl wanderers. I should mention though, that Cleen is far from a Luddite, even though I could smell small whiffs of Ned Ludd. I learned that Cleen has “three computers and an iphone.” Cleen also recognizes the disadvantages of that era: “lights caused fires and people threw their trash out the window.” But there is still a soupcon of romantization of an earlier era, which seems not only nostalgic, but also appreciative of the bygone ethos of the American Dream. Even the brief story he told about himself, his brother and their mother moving out west from Iowa to California seemed very Steinbeck. But all this simply added to the splendorous aesthetic and personality of his tattoos: folksy, like patchwork quilts.

Cleen has never been to art school and never wanted to be an artist. Even now he doesn’t consider himself an artist: “I like to come up with ideas and put things together… I’d rather have a good idea than a good drawing.” At one point Cleen wanted to become a cop – a revelation that illustrates the merit of his character – something about cops having “the guts to defend something.” And Cris Cleen certainly is protecting something: his integrity. Cleen is not a people pleaser and has never had a problem speaking his mind: “I don't want to be suicidal when I'm 30 because I've been a people pleaser all my life.” Whilst most kids “were fucking off and spending their parents money” Cleen, in his early 20s, had a career – he started tattooing right after he turned 19. Cleen doesn’t really know what drew him to the world of tattoos, he had “no frame of reference,” but admits that after seeing flash art for the first time he became fixated. Cleen mentioned that something about the random smattering of images, the “dichotomy of a skull and a rose next to each other,” sold him right away. You could say that tattoos were Cris Cleen’s calling.

Cris Cleen appreciates the “folk sensibility” of tattoo art and theorizes that the commercialization of tattoos has made them too polished, and that “over stylization is dead.” Cleen likes to stick to stuff “that’s always going to be beautiful…like roses and girls.” In that sense, Cleen is a constant pursuer of timelessness. He sees tattoos like permanent jewelry…adornment, not defamation of the flesh. Cleen stays up late into the night working on his drawings for his clients. He doesn’t try to appeal to the “tattoo collector,” but to the “every man” who simply wants a beautiful tattoo. And Cleen doesn't like that the tattoo world overplays the working class persona. Cris Cleen is not a working class hero. Cleen considers himself more a part of an elite trade of craftsmen more than anything. Which brings us back to the new niche aesthetic of the misfit tattooist: here in the second decade of the 21st century there is a full on revolt against some of the most common iniquities in the annals of tattoo history, like tribal tattoos and Geiger inspired machinery. Cleen mentioned some of his influences, which date back to the turn and early 20th century, from whence he culls a lot of his inspiration, like Saturday Evening Post and pre-Norman Rockwell illustrator J.C. Landecker and Norman Lindsey, the Australian artist who was ostracized for the overtly sexual nature of his art, and for living with more than one woman. For Cleen, in art, there is a certain power and lust. What is male desire? The countenances of the woman depicted in Cleen’s tattoos all have an underworld quality…. as if they live in a dark velvet room in a constant state of indecency…disrobed…. sprawled out and ravaged.

Last Monday was my sister’s 25th birthday. Cris Cleen and I, after a weeklong email thread that stretched into twenty or so messages, decided upon simple design: a simple rose. When I got to the shop I asked him to put my sister’s name below the rose and he obliged. The tattoo came out beautifully. Cris Cleen’s tattoos are like precious permanent keepsakes…

Cris Cleen will be tattooing New York at Saved Tattoo during the month of March and back at Idle Hands Tattoo in San Francisco after that.  Text & Images by Oliver Maxwell Kupper.