One of the best things about the TUNE! project is seeing the diverse range of influences different artists reveal. The spectrum of musical collections is a great reminder that nothing is monolithic. It is easy to assume graffiti writers and street artists are all simple stereotypes (hooded vandals or hipster artists), the reality is, of course, not so monochromatic. For this edition of TUNE!, we talk to enigmatic local graffiti writer, photographer and urban explorer PK, who drops an eclectic mix of tunes, from Grace Jones and The Brian Jonestown Massacre to Dam Native and The Birthday Party, a perfect example of spiraling influences…
PK: Music is my second biggest obsession (the first isn’t hard to guess!). I think music is definitely the cooler of the two. I don’t often listen to stuff while I’m painting or going about my day now, but I have fun memories of boosting around on all night missions as a teenager listening to my punk cassettes and BBC One In The Jungle mixes. I wanted this list to have a bit of everything I enjoy but it got to like 50 songs so I cut it down to a lucky 13 that I think represents most of what I’ve been listening to recently…
Burning Witch – Stillborn
Lydia Lunch – Friday Afternoon
Joanne Robertson – Hi Watt
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – E to G
Flipper – Shed No Tears
Townes Van Zandt – White Freight Liner Blues
Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence – Grey/Afro
Scraps – Baby Baby
Grace Jones – Me! I Disconnect From You
Strawberry Switchblade – Trees and Flowers
The Birthday Party – Sonny’s Burning
Dam Native – Battle Styles
Marilao – F*@k Me Moon [Morph]
TUNE! is an ever-growing playlist of the music that inspires our favourite creatives – stay tuned for our next edition!
The next entry in our ever-growing playlist of music that inspires our favourite creatives comes from graffiti artist Peaz. With a mix of hip-hop, low-fi, pysch and blues, these cuts are a perfect blend and reflection of the artist’s tastes and a world view that is about the present and the importance of expression and experiences…
Peaz: I love all kinds of music, especially depending on which part of my life journey is being experienced. Everything from early psychedelic rock to the newer styles, doom, hip hop, blues, jazz and metal. Much like graffiti, I especially value artists with a message, who have a story to tell. There is a lot to be said for music and art that makes us look a little deeper and think a little differently. Most of the artists listed here constantly remind me of what’s really important in life and existing, much like being active as a writer. It’s about looking at the bigger picture and being here, now; living in every moment and expressing oneself as authentically as possible. It’s almost impossible to sweat the small stuff when creating and experiencing, so I suppose that’s what makes music more meaningful to me.
Tattoo artist, painter of gory monsters and creatures, maker of miniatures and custom toys, illustrator, Smeagol describes himself as having his “fingers in all the pies”. This wide ranging creativity makes it understandable that his taste in music would be equally diverse. After sending a killer playlist of 10 tracks that span the alt 90s vibes of Jane’s Addiction, the verbose wordplay of Aesop Rock, the energy of Misfits, the grooves of Modjo and even the croon of Chris Isaak, he explained 30 might have allowed him to fully cover his eclectic tastes. Oh well, it looks like we will just have to have more volumes of Tune! with Smeagol in the future…
Ironically asking a near deaf artist their favourite songs is probably a bad idea, but my art and lifestyle revolves heavily on music. From birth my parents enforced a good taste in music so to say, 70s staples like Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, and on and on…
My childhood was straight 80s and 90s baddassery. Grunge and alternative was life: Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Garbage… In between then and now, I’ve picked up on every genre in between and I literally listen to anything, hip hop mainly, but rock, metal, dance, DnB, soul, 90s trash, punk… Gimme something I haven’t heard please! Thanks for listening to my Ted talk.
Jane’s Addiction – Jane Says
Queens of the Stone Age – Burn the Witch
Aesop Rock – No Regrets
King Geedorah – Take Me To Your Leader
KMD – Sweet Premium Wine
Misfits – Hybrid Moments
Modjo – Lady (Hear Me Tonight)
Chris Isaak – Wicked Game
Ramirez – The Fo Five
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Giannis (feat. Anderson .Paak)
Follow Smeagol on Instagram to see all of his creative goodness!
The latest contributor to our ever expanding playlist Tune! is our pal Daken – our favourite graffiti, comics and bootleg toy enthusiast. When he provided us with his selection of five songs that inspire him as an artist, he admitted it was not an easy task, pointing to evidence of a scrawled page of ‘almost’ cuts that didn’t quite make his final list. Daken’s selection is influenced by his creative endeavours and, importantly, his role as a father, music serving as a bridge between his youth and his children. With a mix of hip-hop, Emo and the genre mixing Gorillaz, it is a road trip through a few eras, which is, to borrow a phrase, “for the children”…
Music is the closest thing I will get to time travel in my lifetime. Not to say I don’t listen to contemporary artists, I listen to a wide range of stuff. But two years ago a couple things happened. I became a father and I found a new art medium: bootleg art toys. Being a father lends itself to reflecting on one’s own childhood experiences. Trying to work out what makes you, you. Working in this new medium that invites play, wonder and nostalgia, my listening habits seem to be a higher percentage of things I listened to as a kid. Certain albums, artists, songs or even lyrics acting as doorways to memories I can pull on, to pass onto not only my art but to my children too. I hope you like these memories I put together for y’all. Stay dope, peace homies.
Jessie Rawcliffe is our next contributor to Tune! our ever-growing playlist of the music that inspires our favourite creatives. Jessie has built a reputation for her stunning works, often portrait-based, and constructed with intricate, painstaking detail. Her painting of Pōneke based tattooist and artist Richard Warnock is a finalist in The 2022 Adam Portraiture Award, a biennial competition and exhibition held at the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington. The Adam Portraiture Award is considered Aotearoa’s most prestigious painted portrait award. The first time she has been selected for the exhibition, Jessie’s painting is one of 45 works on public display from 26 May to 14 August.
Music has been an ever present part of my life – it’s affected the people and aesthetics I’ve been exposed to and has been a way of connecting with others. It’s fair to say that it’s influenced what and how I make.
There’s plenty of music I love that won’t get played while I paint. I’m looking to get into a dissociative state. Having to change album is a massive buzz kill and I’m haunted by that stupid sound my UE Boom makes when it turns itself off.
As problematic as Spotify is, I heavily rely on autoplay from the first thing I pick to give me a few hours of agreeable background noise. I’m only partially listening.
Each of these artists lead in a direction I like going.
MF DOOM – A.T.H.F (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
Minor Threat – Betray
Idles – Colossus
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)
[Video contains mature content]
Night Lunch – Haunted Mill
Follow Jessie on Instagram and check out our expanding playlist in our other editions of Tune! right here on our blog…
This month’s And That Was… is a special edition – dedicated to the impact of the Flare Street Art Festival across March (the festival opened on the 2nd and eventually came to a close on the 20th, an extended run). Who better to break down the highlights than Flare project manager Selina Faimalo, who gamely took on the challenges of such a multi-faceted event, and headline artist and pop-up gallery curator, Kophie Su’a-Hulsbosch (aka Meep). From the amazing murals to the additional elements of tours, exhibitions, panel talks and more, Selina and Kophie break down what made Flare such a success!
The Flare Ōtautahi Street Art Festival was a conglomeration of large murals, a pop-up exhibition, graffiti art, guided tours and art talks.
The ARCC collective wanted the festival to be a collaborative event, with artists involved in the curation of the event and to incorporate traditional graffiti as well as street art. Dcypher, Ikarus and of course, Kophie, were eager to jump on board to have the most authentic festival possible. It is amazing to break down Flare by the numbers:
Flare became a 20 day festival with a total of 44 artists participating, including seven headlining artists, as well as a three-artist collaborative 3D mural and a three-artist projection installation, a ‘Wahine Takeover’ at the BOXed Quarter with four female artists, an exhibition featuring 21 urban artists, and a two-part graffiti jam with 35 artists. Flare saw the completion of 44 new artworks across the SALT District. More than 1200 visited Flare Central on High Street, with many taking home art from the pop-up exhibition, while 136 people joined the guided tours (and more just tagged along!).
Overall, we had so many wins, including Koryu taking home Kathmandu’s People’s Choice Award (voted by FLARE attendees) and the heartwarming development of Olive the cat, star of SwiftMantis’ mural, finding a home when she was adopted from the Cat’s Protection League!
In addition, these were our personal highlights…
Kophie and I are the founders of The Conscious Club and until very recently we were based at The BOXed Quarter, an amazing part of SALT District with a variety of murals by different artists.
The Wāhine Takeover was added to the programme as when we were organising the graffiti jam, it became obvious that women graffiti artists are few and far between in Ōtautahi. Kophie took the initiative of choosing four wāhine to paint at the BOXed Quarter, adding a point of difference to the area and a diverse range of new artworks. The selected artists were Jen Heads from Fiksate Gallery, Lucia Kux from Berlin, who has a background in graffiti and is a tattoo apprentice, McChesney-Kelly Adams from Lyttelton, who specializes in realism and also has a tattoo apprenticeship and Jessie Rawcliffe, who specialises in highly detailed portraiture.
The Pop-Up Exhibition
As well as being one of the headlining artists, Kophie also curated the Flare Central pop-up gallery. The exhibition was primarily a representation of Ōtautahi graffiti and street artists as well as art work from our headlining artists. The curation of the gallery was to be a homage to graffiti art as the art form that began street art and large-scale murals and adds vibrancy and culture to the city.
Offline Collective x Fiksate
Offline Collective and Fiksate Gallery merged their creative outputs, mixing the work of local artists Dr. Suits and Jen Heads with Offline Collective’s renowned animated moving images. Overlaying visuals and interrupting the usually static images of both artists in two installations, the concepts were brought to animated life in an empty High Street space.
This installation was epic, exploring the murals at night and peering through the window on High St whilst eating an ice cream from Utopia (or even a few wines deep) was mesmerizing ! It was like seeing a Jen Head hologram from 2043!
We were so lucky with our selection of walls being so close together in the SALT District that all the murals were located within five minutes walk of each other.
Watch This Space facilitating the guided tours was absolutely amazing, Reuben’s passion and knowledge about the urban art scene had attendees hooked!! It created a sense of pride for residents learning about already existing art that they once just glossed over.
The great thing is, if you missed out you can still book in guided tour with Watch This Space!
The Watch This Space: Flare Artist Panel was another highlight. One of the biggest struggles with Flare was hosting a festival in red light setting, as well as being in the peak of everyone catching COVID! (including me, LOL!), with a limit on gatherings of 100. We were so grateful to have access to equipment through WORD Christchurch to live stream this so those isolating and all across Aotearoa could tune in!
We had all our headlining artists on the panel apart from Elliot Francis Stewart and Wongi who couldn’t make it, so it was really great to hear the diverse stories; their backgrounds and their journeys to where they are now.
As the festival was extended (we had a few artists down with COVID!), we ended up having two graffiti jams!
We had 20 Artists painting at Graffiti Jam Part One and 15 artists at Graffiti Jam Part Two, and it was so much fun to get the community together to paint legally and incorporate traditional graffiti into Flare. We even had North Island heavyweight Fuego, who happened to be in town at the right time, get a piece in!
Dcypher and Ikarus had been such a huge part of helping put Flare together and they facilitated both graffiti jams. They have a mana in Ōtautahi that brought everyone together and had a great time.
Both laneways are special in their own way and walking down each one takes you on a journey of a range of styles like walking into a gallery on the streets.
We honestly couldn’t be happier with how the festival turned out. Even though we were in peak Omicron and in the red traffic light setting, it all came together through an epic community and residents supporting the arts! Fingers crossed we can do it all again next year, and actually hold the street party!
Flare Festival may have come and gone, but it’s legacy lives on – an array of amazing new murals and a bolt of energy in the local urban art scene putting graffiti and street art back in the limelight. The flurry of activity that saw a pop-up gallery, guided tours, panel talks, mural painting, graffiti jams and live painting sessions was a lot to take in – luckily we had our man, Centuri Chan, on hand to capture some of the magic…
Centuri Chan is an Otautahi-based creative, photographer, tour guide, designer and LEGO builder…
In preparation for his upcoming exhibition Even in Darkness (opening at Fiksate on April 1st, 2022), I was lucky enough to sit down with Jacob Yikes and chew the fat over not just the new work he was getting ready to present, but a range of topics. Music was inevitably on the table, and it has long been known how central music is to Yikes’ creative practice (from song titles used for shows and works, to his choice of accompanying soundtracks for exhibitions), serving as a constant companion to his work.
When I asked him to put together a playlist for Tune! he jumped at the chance and sent me a list of a dozen songs within a day. Then he sent me a new list the following day. It was clear how much of a role music plays in his process and life. The music is, much like his art, evocative and transcendental, smooth and yet dark. From Miles Davis to Mara TK and a choice cut of independent hip hop and jazzy down beats, this is a truly killer playlist that needs no lengthy introduction…
Mara TK –Highly Medicated
Blockhead – Give Them Their Flowers
Khruangbin X Knxwledge – Dearest Alfred (My Joy)
Blu – amnesia
Skyzoo – Free Jewelry
Med, Blu, Madlib, feat. Anderson Paak – The Strip
Ivan Ave –Phone Won’t Charge
eLZhi, feat. Royce da 5’9 – Motown 25
Oh No- Elegant Smoke
@peace –Fine Night
The Doppelgängaz –Boston Beard
Miles Davis – Blue in Green
Even in Darkness, a selection of paintings by Jacob Yikes will run from April 1 to April 30 at Fiksate Gallery, 54 Hawdon Street, Sydenham
Next up on Tune!, our ever-expanding playlist of the music that inspires our creative friends, is Dr Suits. If Dr Suits is painting in his studio space at Fiksate, chances are there is a classic Reggae, Ska, Dub or Rocksteady vinyl playing. With an impressive collection of vintage and re-released vinyl (trips to Ride On Super Sound are a common occurrence), the music is a strong influence on his creative process, setting the mood for for his work and manifesting in various ways. For Tune! Dr Suits takes us on a trip through these vital and influential genres…
Music is a fairly important part of my creative process. I use music to help me get in a calm and consistent frame of mind. To do this, I like to play vinyl, predominantly Dub, Rocksteady, Ska and Reggae. The older the better. What I like about this music is its experimental and honest imperfections you can hear in the music. The artists are more about exploring a concept rather than trying to perfect a composition. Plus I generally love any old Jamaican music!
Playing vinyl means I’m engaged in the act of listening, its much more tactile. I like the physicality of flicking through the crate and experiencing the artwork, opening the cover, admiring the details on the insides and the sleeves. Each record will have 4-6 tracks on one side, this means every 20-30 mins of listening, in no time, I’m back there exploring the music again. So, although I like the tunes, I also love the vintage graphics, photography and bizarre outfits of early avant-garde experimentalists of Jamaica.
It’s hard to pick 5 albums, so I’m going to aim to cover the genres listed above…
Jackie Mittoo – The Keyboard King
The Skatalites – African Roots
Lee Scratch Perry – Cloak and Dagger
Studio one – Rocksteady Got Soul
Trojan Records – Rudeboy Rumble
Tune! is an ever-growing playlist of music that inspires our artist friends!
January can be a funny month – the first week or so can be filled with summer-y exploits of festivals, swimming, holidays and excess, before the realisation seeps in that reality is inching back and routine returns. That can mean valuing those moments to fit in as much as possible in small windows to avoid the dread of the mundane. But January can also be a month to be kind to yourself, to soak in the sun and soak in culture in the form of movies, books and digital content, setting the tone for your year and obsessions. For this month’s recap we asked our friend, photographer and multi-hyphenate Sofiya Romanenko to fill us in on what has captured her imagination in the opening weeks of 2022 – from documentaries to exhibitions, Instagram inspiration to new music, its a great list of must-sees, must-hears and must-dos…
Movie – Moments Like This Never Last by Cheryl Dunn
They say that time goes faster the older we get, which must mean I’m at least 95 years old, since January seemed to have lasted for only about a week, with a year’s worth of mental exhaustion.
Having succumbed to the holiday blues brought upon the cumbersome reflections on the year just gone, I spent the better time of the month splayed in front of a telly, eventually stumbling upon a true gem – Moments Like This Never Last, a hard-hitting documentary about Dash Snow who turned his self-destruction into art and his art into self-destruction.
The moment it opened with LCD Soundsystem’s song New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, I knew I was in for something very special. An hour and a half-long depiction of a raw, wild, confronting talent mixed with saddening reality of observing someone plunge deep into the dark well of their addiction brought upon some bitter reflections on the price of self-expression, but also an overwhelming wave of inspiration to create, create, create, which is everything I could ask for from a movie like this.
Books – Ariel & Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
Back in the day I used to be a notoriously avid reader, consuming every bit of literature my little hands could reach. Many years later, my attention span has adjusted itself to the length of Instagram captions, my hands remained just as little, and while I may not be able to do anything about the latter, re-introducing myself to the writers I held near and dear all that time ago became a great gateway back to proper reading.
In light of that, I have apparently mentioned the influence Sylvia Plath and her Bell Jar had on the coming-of-age feminine turmoil I experienced as a teenager to people often enough to receive her Unabridged Diaries and collection of poems Ariel as gifts this year. Exploring her work from a perspective of a somewhat mature adult as opposed to an insolent youth has definitely opened a whole new level of relatability when it comes to the experience of perceived womanhood, and given that I can finally do it in Plath’s native language too has brought a newly-found appreciation for her morbid sense of humour and immersive style, even when she’s describing the most mundane snippets of her life.
Music – Jackie Down The Line by Fontaines D.C.
If you were to pull a headphone out of my ear in the past two weeks to see what I’m listening to, there’d be a 99% chance it’s Jackie Down The Line by Fontaines D.C.
The monotonous recital of haunting lyrics over a sombre, almost uncomfortable tune absolutely consumed me the moment the song came out, feeding into my obsession with Fontaines D.C.’s anxious style of music that I grew so fond of when I first discovered them about a year ago. What makes it even more great is the fact that this is the first single from their upcoming album Skinty Fia, which explores the topic of one’s morphing and fading cultural identity when moving away from home – something I can relate to deeply, being a Russian immigrant of five years. Also, one of the songs on the record is called Nabokov, who happens to be one of my favourite Russian writers, so anticipation is palpable.
“What good is happiness to me / If I’ve to wield it carefully?”
Art – Nick Robinson’s LINWOOD at Absolution
My general approach to life is to expect as little as possible so I can be delighted if good things do happen and not particularly disappointed if they don’t. Which is why when I learned that not only there’s a show happening in January – one of the slowest months of the year for this type of thing – , but it’s also by one of my favourite local photographers Nick Robinson, I bee-lined for Absolution as soon as his work was up.
Shooting in a similar style, I really enjoyed seeing locations I recognised and even captured myself presented in a way that was different to how I viewed them, fresh, puzzling. The rubbish bins, decaying buildings, awkward angles – a familiar aesthetic with a tasteful, or, depending on the type of person you are, questionable spin. Definitely worth checking out.
For a while now I’ve been really drawn to collaging, creating work using vintage magazines, found photos and digital software, so a lot of my inspiration comes from artists creating in a similar genre of grotty-fetishy-morbid goodness which could have come straight from some shitty 80s punk zine.