Friday, November 7, 2014

Klute, Among Other Things, Is Helping Bring Tribes Together in San Diego [Interview]

The OG DJ and producer known as Klute (I asked the origin of his name, yes it was a hokey question and no he did not answer), has been in the drum and bass game legitimately longer than some of us claim to have been in it.  Over the span of his career he's put out some of the essential dnb tracks which defined the genre, worked with Metalheadz and Hospital Records, and started and run his own record label, Commercial Suicide, which now has its own impressive lineup and discography.  

Honestly, if you're reading this blog you'd better damn well know who Klute is.  I'm not here to drive my SEO, man.  It's about recognizing what dnb powerhouses like Klute bring to the table, and the answer is a hell of a lot, past and present.  He's just released a new Invaderz EP on Commercial Suicide to critical acclaim, and will be wrapping up a U.S. tour in San Diego this week.  After 20 years in the game, Klute is the gift that keeps on giving, and in a scene which is changing and getting punked by the new EDM culture and group divisions, it's the mainstays like Klute who will dig their heels in with us and get us to the other side.

Another mainstay of dnb culture is Bassdrive, and once again I have to say if you're reading this blog and you don't know about Bassdrive, pause your reading and go educate yourself. is the best and most heavily visited live Drum and Bass streaming player we have going stateside, and also in many countries where dnb is even more marginalized than it is here.  We know Bassdrive pretty well in San Diego as we have two shows from local DJs here: HEAT Live and Impressions DnB Radio, run by Delano and Indentation respectively. 

What I suspect many DnB heads didn't know, however is that Bassdrive is now a booking agency, representing both international heavy hitters like Klute, and some of the lesser-known djs who have shows on Bassdrive and may not have been able to get representation otherwise.  "The launch of Bassdrive Bookings Drum&Bass Talent Agency is part of a natural progression of Bassdrive. It was at first to provide much needed representation for the Bassdrive Radio Staff DJs and look out for select few top quality international headliner caliber artists in the states and Canada," Bassdrive Operations Manager Dvus told me as we were putting this all together. That's good enough for me; the more we can get both heavy-hitters and up-and-coming djs moving around the country and the world, the more of a chance we have of survival and of showing people what this music is truly about. Using its connections with major international talent, Bassdrive is helping spread the love.

The Klute show marks a convergence of minds and talents in the microcosm of the San Diego dnb scene as well. Every city has a few crews within their individual scene which take on the responsibility of throwing parties, and it seemed to some of the promoters in San Diego that a bit of fractionation was going on, where loyalties had built to specific venues, djs, sound systems, etc. This party will be unique because of the fact that all these factions have come together to bring this party to a neutral venue and pool all of their talents to make the best possible party. "We didn't even want people to know which crew was throwing this thing," one of the promoters told me. It's true, when I first saw the flyer I was like "OK, what is going on with this. Who is throwing it?" For lack of a better term, they're calling the group, representing multiple crews "Converge." I'm not allowed to name all the separate parts that went into this event, but if you take a look at the local talent on the flyer and you know the groups in San Diego, you'll see that the promoters are really trying to make sure everyone is represented fairly, and that the best possible party comes out of it. Klute via Bassdrive is an excellent place to start.

So, this post is listed as an interview because as a cranky old scenester stuck in the crosshairs of these many elements of dnb both local and global, I was lucky enough to get to interview Klute, who just by the virtue of who he is is able to help bring together all these people, crews, countries, sounds. I wanted first and foremost to find out what's going on with Klute, his record company, and any new releases, but also what he thought of some of these bigger questions. If you haven't already scrolled down to get to the good stuff, here's what we talked about:

DWS: You just got finished with Sun & Bass, and now you’re wrapping up a pretty whirlwind U.S. tour. How does it feel to go from the chill atmosphere of Sardinia to clubs in the U.S.?
KluteThere's no real way to answer to answer that, I really enjoy the intensity of travelling and seeing different places and different people. The main thing is that places and people are different and that’s the beauty of it all.

DWSIt looks like you and your label, Commercial Suicide, are really excited about the new Invaders LP, New Found Dialect which is releasing officially while you’re here on tour.  How did you come to work with The Invaderz and what do you like about their style?
KluteI've been a close friend of Darrell from the Invaderz for many years now. We both debuted on Metalheadz at the same time back around 2001 and we’ve kept in close contact ever since. We share a similar sense of humor so eventually it seemed only natural to put their stuff out.
These days there are precious few artists who can diversify their sound, and that’s what I love about the Invaderz. They’re a three piece and all three bring a range of styles and influences to the table. It’s a great album, I thoroughly recommend everyone at least check it out. 

DWS: Are there any upcoming releases for you  yourself on the horizon?
Klute: Yes! 2014 was a slow year for me on the release front. I put out one single with a Calibre remix. I wrote plenty of music so theres plenty to come in 2015 starting with a solo single on Commercial Suicide in January.
On the compilation side of things I have tunes on forthcoming albums on 31 Records and DNB Arena. Look out for them.

DWS: You’re going right down the coast of California on this tour (with a brief stop in Puerto Rico!), and you've been to all three cities, SF, LA, and SD many times before.  From your vantage point as a pioneering Dj and producer from the UK, what do you see are the differences in crowds and fans from each of the three?

Klute: People are people at the end of the day, and with that also comes time, things change .
For awhile there San Fran reigned supreme in the USA as the home of DNB but I think things are spread around more evenly these days. Its been a few years since I was in San Diego, so im really looking forward to checking it out again, but these days, I’d say my fav’s on the west coast are def Respect in LA, Stamina Sundays in SF, the Baltic Rooms in Seattle and not forgetting Portland which just totally rocks.

 DWS: Same question East Coast vs Midwest vs West Coast (if any), and what you find interesting or weird about U.S. dnb heads in general?
Klute: I was born in the US so I'm not really in a position to judge Americans (or maybe I am!), but I really like coming out here to tour, I love the diversity and distance of the cities. I love to fly around. It's my fave country in the world I don’t want to single out certain cities only to make others feel bad cos they're all awesome in one way or another. Favorites include Chicago, Boston, NYC (my sister lives there)...everywhere.

DWSYou’re finishing the tour up in San Diego, and obviously this is a San Diego-based blog.  Any specific observations for San Diego heads? 
KluteI had the best burrito of my life so far in San Diego.

DWS: The sub-genres in Drum and Bass seem to be disappearing as the music evolves and styles merge.  For many producers and fans who have been around a while, however, you’re seen as one of the pioneers of Liquid Drum and Bass, but you got started in a hardcore punk band called The Stupids, which is pretty hard stuff comparatively.  What draws or inspires you towards the prettier and more ambient sounds you create in your dnb music?  Is it expressing that musical side of you versus punk, or do you feel dnb is a more flexible genre to create those kinds of sounds?
Klute: I wouldn’t say I'm synonymous with “liquid” at all to be honest. My palette of sounds has always been pretty random, it might be that I make better "mellower” tracks or whatever but I have to say that the balance of styles and emotions is all part of nature. I like the rough with the smooth, otherwise I think it gets pretty boring.

DWS: Some of the older electronic acts are starting to get fed up with the current EDM culture, with Dj Craze and the Prodigy putting out releases which are anti-EDM in no uncertain terms.  What do you think about what’s going on with the mega-star EDM producers and the culture that’s popularizing them? 
Klute: I think EDM and corporate culture has infiltrated a lot of “our” culture. It's about money and making lots of it very quickly, strip mining a culture that has grown organically over decades. 

That was a very poignant note to end on, but think about the evolution of this culture, and the fact that suddenly we are being "strip mined" for our parts, jammed together into more palatable sub-genres like Dubstep and Trap, and infiltrated by festivals and newcomers who not only don't get it, but have no desire to even try to learn (aside from an awesome few who have made a tremendous effort, you know who you are).  It's no wonder people hold onto their crews so tightly.  

It takes a special type of person to be able to break down those walls some of these wounded warriors have put up, and try to bring everyone together for the sake of the music.  Something I've realized over the past 8 years or so is that in drum and bass in the US we can't really afford to be too crew-oriented anymore.  We're all fighting for the same thing: the glory of the bassline. 

Corporatized electronic music has come around a few times in the twenty-odd years since jungle and dnb were born, and we've managed to beat it back and keep our integrity, but each time we loose a few soldiers, and each time the scene is diluted a bit with new infantry who may not be quite as Spartan as we are, who aren't as sure what we're fighting for.  The San Diego crews on the microcosm and Bassdrive and others like them on the national front are providing a way for us to keep fighting, and our main weapons are unity and the ability to bring Klute and the like to cities everywhere, and let the music speak for itself.  

I know most of us feel this way: drum and bass and jungle have given so many of us so much, and in some cases it's saved our lives.  It's brought a group of people together who otherwise wouldn't have known each other into this shared reality of fast, hard bass music but also of integrity and valuing the respect of the few over the adulation of the masses.  Unified, we're big enough to give back to the music and keep it going for a long time coming.  Klute's not going anywhere and neither is Bassdrive.  Let's make sure San Diego stays strong so we can keep the bass rolling.

I want to thank Klute for taking the time to speak to DWS during a very busy tour, and to Bassdrive and the promoters from San Diego for facilitating all this.  We all look forward to his performance in San Diego on November 8.  Click here for details.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Contest Reveal: Whose Art Is It Anyway?

You really are a disappointing lot, you know that?  Even if I did announce the prize for winning last week's "Whose Art" contest, you probably still would remain passive, drooling in your porridge or whatever it is my readers do all day.  This one was so easy and I gave so many hints!  Well, despite your complacency, I stick to my commitments, so the featured artist from last week is famous street artist and activist, Panmela Castro (street name Anarkia).  

All of Panmela's work is centered around bringing awareness to domestic violence in her home country of Brazil and she recently did a massive mural exhibition with 60 other artists at the World Cup 2014.  Check my article in a legit newspaper about it here.

Panmela's art is well-known in the street and contemporary art worlds, and she uses her organization, Rede Nami to spread the message of women's rights in Brazil and to empower other female artists to paint and make murals all over the favelas in Rio and other cities.  Castro's pieces are bold, bright, and feature both spray/can work and brush paint.

Lately, Castro has been focusing on the abduction of 200 girls in Nigeria by terrorist group Boko Haram, and got this piece up in just 48 hours:

Talent and a soul?  I love it.  Visit Rede Nami's facebook page and follow them to stay updated on Panmela's shows and causes, and for God's sake, pay attention on the next contest!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy' Season Two Premieres Today! Took Them Long Enough

Not for the last time, I'm jealous of people in England.  Why this time, you say?  Because I know it's going to take me at least a day or two to find some bootleg copy of the first episode of Noel Fielding's breakout sketch comedy, Luxury Comedy.  I guess I should count myself lucky that England's copyright laws on Youtube are a little more lax than ours here in the US, and at the very least it will be posted by one of my lovely friends back in Blighty within a week.  It's little consolation, however, since I know one of the most fun, weird and artistic shows ever to be created will be starting on BBC's E4 network in just a few short hours.

Why am I writing about a TV show on a blog that is so hopelessly dedicated to underground music and street art that Google AdSense just laughs at me every time I submit my requests for sponsorship?  Simply put, Luxury Comedy is so bright, odd, multi-layered and surreal that there really isn't any disputing that it is, in fact, art posing as comedy - or vice versa.  Need more convincing?  Well here we go.

Most of you may remember Noel Fielding from the cult hit TV show The Mighty Boosh, which he developed with fellow comedian Julian Barratt.  "The Boosh" ran on television from 2004-2007 and was developed from a stage show Fielding and Barratt created in 1998.  There were also a number of live tours, a book and numerous Comic Con appearances in the meantime.  To this day, Barratt and Fielding threaten more reunions every once in a while, which keeps their rabid cult following on pins and needles.  Despite no new episodes being made since 2007, fans are still clamouring for more, but in the meantime Noel has Luxury Comedy, roles in a number of other English TV shows, and, of course, his art.

Fielding grew up in the cutting-edge music and art world in the Westminster area of London with two "quite cool" parents and attended both Croydon Art College and Buckinghamshire New University, obtaining a BA in graphic design.  Artistically, Fielding leans toward the surreal, as is quickly exemplified in The Mighty Boosh and in Luxury Comedy.  He's not bad, either.  He's had a couple of well-received exhibitions in London: Psychedelic Dreams of the Jelly Fox and Bryan Ferry vs. The Jelly Fox.  The elusive and fun "Jelly Fox" character was also a skit in Luxury Comedy, in which Fielding's paintings were animated in a pseudo-stop animation style, and the skit now plays on a loop in a gallery in London.  Fielding also penned an art book with fellow comedian and Boosh cast member Dave Brown called Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton.

Fielding's painting appears in Luxury Comedy in more literal ways, in an interlude skit where he paints a "Foulmouthed Cuckoobarrow Slotted into the Top Pocket of a Wallaby," and that piece is hung next to a portrait of Andre the Giant clearly also painted by Fielding, though a weird character named Doo-Rag claims a 5-year-old named Sam took credit for painting it.  Lost yet?  The video won't help:

The artistic aesthetic of Luxury Comedy can also be attributed partially to Noel, and also to his writing partner Nigel Coan, who also worked on The Boosh.  Coan is credited with designing the set and much of the animation, and had a heavy hand in the overall feel of the show.

Aside from the art, the crazy writing and the surreal sketches, the other outstanding feature of Luxury Comedy is the characters.  There are probably at least a hundred of them, most played by Fielding himself.  Many of Noel's friends are also featured in these wacky vignettes: Rich Fulcher from The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade, and Noel's own brother Michael who played the mystic Naboo in The Boosh all feature in the show, playing all sorts of characters from a hundred year old man who summons some sort of ripped flea creature from the netherworld to celebrate his birthday to a hammerhead shark music producer.  Music is also heavily featured in the show, with Sergio Pizzorno from Kasabian helping with the soundtrack, and an entire episode centered around the debate between Brian Eno and Bryan Ferry.

I will tell you this, in case you haven't already guessed: season one of Luxury Comedy is a total mindfuck.  Even for me, it took some getting used to, and I had to take breaks from the complete lack of any connection with reality that goes on for 22 minutes in each episode.  That said, once you do get used to it, it's a beautifully written piece of work and the stories and sketches are amazingly well-thought out and, well, artistic.  Unfettered by the story line and grounding straightman force of Julian Barratt's character in The Boosh, Fielding was free to run wild with his imagination, and he certainly did that.  I'm going to make a lot of enemies saying this, but I honestly think it was better than The Mighty Boosh.

Season two has been long anticipated over the past two years, and I have a suspicion a lot of that time was spent convincing the BBC to do a second season, as the format sounds like it's changed quite a bit.  Luxury Comedy will now take place in a coffee shop in Hawaii on the edge of a volcano, and will have a more continuous storyline rather than being free-form sketches.  I'm interested to see what Fielding will do with this new format, though I wonder if the last two years and the process of getting to this point has made him question whether he went too far in the last season.  If I could, I would assure him he didn't.  "...In the second series I have been looking for ways to make it more accessible without losing the original trains of thought," said Fielding in an interview with The Independent.  Feh.  Give me surreal, I can take it.  
I'm going into season two with an open mind, however, and if you haven't seen season one, now's the time to start binge watching, and keep your mind open as well.  All seven episodes are available to stream on Youtube.  Then when season two makes its way to us poor unfortunate souls in the US, it will be an easier pill to swallow - or a jagged one - it's too early to tell.  What is certain is we will still be subjected to some form of psychotropic spectacle, courtesy of this artist, comedian, rabid music fan, Madcap Shambleton, Noel Fielding.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Contest: Whose Art Is It Anyway? Lobbing You an Easy One Here...

This is actually a very famous Brazilian graffiti artist, and was recently featured at the Word Cup last month.  Brazil has become a hotbed for talented street artists to emerge, as graffiti was decriminalized in 2009.  The main reason this is an easy contest to win points?  I JUST did a piece on this artist in one of  my posts on another site.  Find the post, find the artist.  Happy hunting!

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Contest Post: Whose Art Is It Anyway? Gene Hackman Edition

So last time we played this game, I had the answer or could at least look it up.  This time I am genuinely looking to my readers to help me solve the mystery of the Gene Hackman bomb.  Behold:

I don't know why someone would make  a sticker bomb of Hackman, and furthermore I don't care (although if we find the artist, I'll listen).  It's awesome, and I must know the genius behind this genius.

If you know who this is, you'll get points if I can corroborate your story, so when you answer in the comments section, pluease include a website or links to other Hackman sightings.  Please help me find my futire BFF or husband!

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Just Can't Get You out of My Head: Otto Von Schirach's Tipo Tropical

I've been meaning to do a big feature on this guy for a while, and I still will and you will be astounded.  In the meantime, however, magnificent weirdo Otto von Schirach has just dropped a sick new release, and I can't stop singing the first single, the title track "Tipo Tropical."

Otto has been warning us since about 2010 that one day he would just go full-on Miami Bass on our asses, but previous ventures such as the epic Supermeng have given glimpses but not full-fire Booty Bass, save for the title track.  Supermeng did a lot of combo work: there was a subtle reggaeton beat in "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth," "Gravitron" had a sort of backwards, flipped-inside-out breaks backing track (commonly used in amen structures in Florida breaks), and the opening track, "Salpica," was exceedingly Bootytastic, exceedingly Cuban, and exceedingly loved by Chongas the world over (real and ironic).  Take a look here:

Weird enough for you?  That's nothing.  Supermeng also reintroduced Otto as a downloaded being from the Bermuda Triangle, here to teach us about "Mind Power," show us the gifts and dangers of "Quasar," and knock us over with the Triangle Forcefield of his own "Portal Prayer" for humanity.  All these tracks are nowhere near Booty Bass, but are weird, experimental, and, without being to blatantly breakcore about it, gave his old fans what they wanted.

Speaking of old fans, critics of Supermeng may also be critical of Tipo Tropical as it's an even farther cry thematically from the first 10+ years of his work.  Otto is credited with bringing the most evil and gross breakcore and dubstep (before it was dubstep) to those communities, and this is coming from GERMANS.  I would say to those naysayers, however, that it seems like a natural progression.  As a young, weird, intense producer, Otto explored his angrier namesake and German roots through creepy shit like "The End of the World" and "Teabagging the Dead" (one of my favourites).

Supermeng and the accompanying singles he collaborated with Pepe Billette were transtional, bridging the gap between the hardcore corpse-fucking and meat-fisting breakcore and his Miami Cuban side, and giving way for the full-on colourful flourish that is Tipo Tropical.  It seems counterintuitive that maturation would be defined as going from one's German side to one's Cuban Miami party side, but in this case, it kind of is.

Whether you agree with themes, triangles, or vampires, one thing is for sure.  Otto von Schirach still has pretty much the cleanest production values and most on-point style in the underground world.  I really can't even come up with another artist whose levels and the tightness of transitions are as accurate and well-planned in any genre or scene.  Whether you're listening to a track like "Mind Power," which is perceived experimental noise, or something more structured like "Salpica" ("structured" is a relative term in Otto's world), it's always clean, lean, and absolutely no beat or crazy sample out of place, yet it's all thoroughly emotive and fun.  With Otto it's not just the cache of weird, but truly some of the best-written, best-produced, and most interesting music you'll ever hear, and the videos get crazier and crazier.  So, for all these reasons, I'll be singing, quoting, and posting Tipo Tropical ad nauseum all summer.

You've got a streaming clip of the title track above, but if you're ready for purchase (I know I am), the whole album is available for download on his label page, MonkeyTown records.  Also be sure to check the tour dates and pick up a kickass Triangle Forcefield Necklace on

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

4/15 Reveal: Whose Art is it Anyway? Meet Matt Forderer!

Photo by LKL Studios

Ok so I'm late, so sue me, but none of you bothered to guess and get points toward hipsterprize 2014, so whatevs @ you too.  Either way, aren't you glad you tuned in?  Matt Forderer showed his amazing zooscapes (my own words) at a group show back in February, and this piece is now my desktop background.  It's that great.

Matt's ability to great mythical, spliced together, science project-like creatures which are photorealistic but then live in a surrealist backdrop is just such a great nose-thumbing to adherence to genres is just brilliant (and has caused this run-on sentence because now I'm gushing).

He's also got wacky collages which you can check out on his portfolio and keep up with news on, and I've provided a slideshow below that should speak for itself.  Love him or lose cool points!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Interactive Feature! I Just Can't Get You Out of My Head: Sombear

This will be the first installment of this category, so I get to suggest the first one because it's my blog.  What I'll be doing going forward is allowing y'all to submit a New(ish) Artist or favorite that you'd like a writeup on this blog.  You can even submit yourself (but not in a kinky way)!  Just email us at or submit your idea on our Facebook Page or Twitter, and we'll choose a winner each week, posting a piece about that artist the following Wednesday.  So come up with some ideas - I can't be this brilliant all the time.

New Artist Sombear - Ooh, Look at the Sparkly Dubstep!

As a Drum and Bass Oldschooler and jaded Junglist of the very strictest order, I generally regard Dubstep and Trap music as my two slow-witted, completely amoral, and utterly disappointing children (Trap may also have a mild case of retardation).  This new generation, pretending EDM is a thing, stealing helicopter samples and heavy bass for their own sellout purposes, and slapping Lana Del Rey vocals on it like that’s at all ok really makes my blood boil.  Whenever I hear a shitty dubstep track I always find myself thinking “where did we fail you, my poor lost children?”  After all, ultimately a kid that turned out shitty is at least partially the parents’ fault.

Quite often lately, however, I’ve found myself stumbling across shining beacons of hope amongst the literal ocean of crap dubstep, and I see a glimmer of hope.  Kid Unicorn, 501, even the odd Flux Pavilion track will make me smile, and possibly even stick around for at least a third of a dubstep or trap set which is inevitably and awkwardly jammed somewhere into the timeline of one of my Dnb parties.  I don’t know if I’m just getting used to it, or there is some actual talent out there, but really if the music is good, who cares?  As long as they don’t say “EDM” at or around me, I can learn to coexist.

Enter Sombear, given name Bradley Hale, from Minneapolis.  He certainly looks like a Dubstepper, with his well-coifed hair and hopeful millennial smile.  His beats are largely dubstep and dubstep-adjacent, but he also has a healthy dose of ambient Europop along the lines of M83, but a little more concrete and American.  His SoundCloud Page actually has quite a diverse collection of beats and sounds, and you can check and find your favorite here:  He has a little something for everyone, including pretty remixes of some pretty dirty rap songs.  Interesting stuff.

Despite my 3-paragraph tirade, I’m sticking with the most heavily dubstep track on Sombear’s page, “Incredibly Still.”  This is where his dubstep stands out from the crowd.  Clean, not-too-slow beats with really pretty sampling (again, think M83 or Passion Pit), and, something heretofore unmentioned in this article, some really beautiful vocals.  We have a video on this one, so check the hair and the pretty here: 

With the addition of these vocals which are not only almost pitch-perfect but lyrically mature and thoughtful, Somebear emerges in my mind as not just a dubstepper, but a multi-talented real musician who can compose, produce, and perform at a level we’re just not used to in indie-pop land anymore. 
The video for “Incredibly Still” also connotes this artistic sensitivity, showing a beleaguered-looking Sombear in a room contemplating his navel and the wide world, juxtaposed against television images of various television image feeds, and then what I think is film of himself as a kid.  If it’s not him, they found a pretty good lookalike with the same deep, pensive, searching eyes.  Either way it makes for some powerful imagery to go along with a very pretty and meaningful song.

“Incredibly Still” is the 2nd single off of Sombear’s most recent album, Love You in the Dark, which came out last July via Trans-Records.   There’s also a title single which is just as pretty but not quite as heavy on the dubstep.  It’s also on his Soundcloud , or if you prefer audio and visual, Youtube’s got you covered: .  Both the videos were directed by Sombear himself, proving my point that he’s more than just a young EDM punk, but a true renaissance man/Mohawk owner. 

Love You in the Dark is available on itunes, or to stream on Albumstreams, but he’s put out tons of singles since then so I say putter around his Soundcloud and find your favorites, or check him out on the BitCandy player, player!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Whose Art Is it Anyway? The Contest is Back!

Ok, so if you're new to DWS (which you probably are), you won't know that one of our sections is me posting random photos of even more random street art to see if you can guess who the hell the artist is.  This is part me sincerely wondering, and part me wanting to see who of you pays attention to all the awesome art we can find right on our streets.  The bonus for you is if you guess 3 in a row correctly, I will have some awesome hipster indie weirdo prize, absolutely unfathomable in its coolness.  We're rebooting this so if you guesses on any previous posts, you're back to zero.  Sowwy.

So this week, this isn't technically street art, but it's damn cool.  I found this artist at a random show in a back of a beer bar, and fell in love with the random mythical beasts and Folgers cans.  How can you not love it!

Look at the majesty!
So, if you can name this clearly insane but talented painter, you will have one point toward winning the prize.  I will reveal the real name by next week if no one guesses.  Happy Googling!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

DWS Relaunch! October '13 Brewery Artwalk Wrap-Up OR April '14 Prequel

Well, I've been sitting on this piece and rotating, as I have with my entire writing career (how did it all fit up there?) lo these 6 months, but I'm happy to see that many of you are still checking in with DWS, and I really appreciate it.  With all the apathy and self-loathing through which I wring myself, it's awesome to know there is an audience for this stuff.  I don't believe in resolutions, but it is a sincere goal for me to take this unapologetically Po-Mo/Pop Fuck to new heights this year, and I'm glad that some of you are sticking it out with me.  And so with that, I bring you the unofficial re-launch of (Dropping) Weird Science with, unsurprisingly, a wrap-up of the last Brewery Artwalk in October 2013.  It was a doozie, so strap in.

Ok, I feel like I've been on my soap box for long enough; if you are in Southern California and haven't made it to the LA Brewery for their semi-annual artwalk, I don't even know what to do with you.  Luckily I have this blog, so I shall once again spend hours trying to summarize and sell this wonderful phenomenon and convince you to go to the next one on April 26-27, 2014.  Please, for the sake of your own cool points, listen to me this time!

I'm not going to spend much time on the history of the LA Brewery or the nature of artwalk, I think those are covered pretty well in my three previous harangues: the Artwalk Preiew, the April '13 Review, and my Interview with the Brewery's Press Director, Kristine Schomaker.  I also want to spend more time featuring the many and sundry artists who opened their doors to the public this time around; they are the true heroes of the Brewery.

"Hole" image from
Randi Hokett     On first glance, Randi's Hokett's work seems simplistic and modern, but as so often is the case, it's all in the details.  Multimedia takes on a different meaning than usual in the many materials Randi uses to create different textures, shadows, and effects in her pieces.  However the real interest in Randi's work, for me anyway, are the ridged, textured rifts and holes which look like prisms and feature often in the center of each piece but also appear on the sides in more recent works.  On largely blank backdrops, these topographical features, for lack of a better term, spring out with sparkling reds, graduated blues and purples, even black.  One could make the obvious vaginal reference here (keep it classy, San Diego), but the holes and chasms seem to represent more in my opinion.  An emptiness that comes form the human condition here on earth;  a gaping wound, a blind jump into a deep abyss.  Looking at them, one is able to re-connect with the heart of what makes us what we are; fear, beauty, pain.  It's all right there, not to be covered up or sterilized by man-made materials; the glaring fact that we are organic, perishable, fallible.  Check out her portfolio at and see her unique take on textures, found materials, and the nature we can't escape.

Image used by permission from artist.
Christina Ramos     My friends and I had a differing of opinions on thought-provoking artist, Christina Ramos.  I thought her featured images of G'd out nuns throwing up gang signs and other fun poses were interesting, charming, even - dare I say - quaint.  My friend, not so much; she found them offensive and possibly a little racist, stating that we should go out and get some real cholos and see what they thought about their "quaintness."  Personally, I think most of my friends who are ex-bangers would think they were cool.  I'm not sure, however, how a nun would feel about them, but that point was not raised at the time.  What I think we can agree on (arguing friend has not been asked for further comment, so I'm positing here), is that the juxtaposition of religious piety with imagery generally associated with urban culture in these pieces is definitely meant to raise some eyebrows, and it's a cool commentary on the paradox of many criminals' seemingly extreme devotion to the Catholic faith.  I see it as a reversal of the tattoos many of these guys have all over their bodies: instead of a big dude in a wifebeater with the Virgin Mary slapped on his back, does it still look cool when an archetype of faith and chastity is playing poker while smoking a spliff?  I say yes, but I'm not part of either of those archetypes, so until we are able to drag a cholo and Sister Sassy to Ramos' studio, my friend and I will have to agree to disagree, but which one of us has a blog, hmmmm?  Check and mate, graciously unnamed buddy.  Christina Ramos' full portfolio, which includes some not-not-so-pop portraits, can be seen on her website at  Title of image shown is "You Can Take the Sister out of the Hood, but You Can't Take the Hood out of the Sister." 

"Fly" image used with permission from the artist.
Sarah Jane Hardt Photography     Do you like pubes?  As many of my friends know, I'm not much of a fan, but Ms. Hardt got me to care about them again in two of her photo series, "The Skin Series" and "Redhead Fetish".  There's body hair aplenty in "The Skin Series," and one of the photos from "Redhead Fetish," featuring a closeup of a ginger pubis, has earned quite a lot of attention.  From the artist, "As a photographer and Celtic-born redhead, I'm curious with the preoccupation some men and even women have with us 'gingers'...And naturally it (the series) took a slightly provocative course."  In my opinion, provocative is an understatement.  Beyond the shock value (many of us have taken pics of our parts mid-coitus, but few of us have the balls to immortalize them in lacquer and show them to the public), it's the lighting, the colors (or lack thereof), and the sense of illicit movement in these pieces which really stun.  Both gritty and pretty, Sarah's eye for the interesting art that can be found right in our own bodies makes her a truly stand-alone talent.  Sarah has put "The Skin Series" up on her professional Facebook page, and it'll be available for a limited time via this link.  If you want to view more of the "Redhead Fetish" series or are interested in purchasing her work, she can be contacted via email at  Sarah also takes her unique eye and techniques to her commercial work, and if you are looking for very high-end event photos, check out her commercial website at

Image from
Kevin Flint/Dystopia     Termed by the artist as "apocalypse chic," Kevin Flint's Dystopia studio jumps out at visitors from a corner as they first enter the Brewery.  Hooks, chains, industrial surfaces, gas masks, and much more adorn every inch of this loft, so "apocalypse chic" seems a very apt descriptor, indeed.  Flint also has a line of "functional art," which includes coffee makers, water coolers, and other architectural features with which to adorn one's kitchen or office.  I usually find my way to the actual paintings and photos in the Dystopia studio, however, most likely because these pieces cross the border separating apocalyptic architectural oddities and just plain kink.  While the photos of nudes with gas masks are obvious, there's also something to the flat, textured pieces with surfaces being rended apart by hooks and chains that has something vaguely (or not so vaguely, in my case) shows kinship with BDSM imagery.  The deep blues, reds, and purples of this "industrial flesh" with hooks in it being dragged apart by some unseen force - it just seems inescapable.  The victim without a body, the sadist pulling at the rope just out of view.  The industrial wasteland feel of the studio is haunting enough, but when you add this layer to it. it's downright sexy.  Kevin has a brand new Etsy store at which you can purchase his curious pieces, and it's linked to his website,, where you can view all his work.

Image taken from
Keith Collins/Artexture     What do you do when you're walking around an art city and you see a huge, photorealistic image of Siegfried and Roy with their white tiger hanging in a window and it's a fucking CARPET?  I'll tell you what you do - you get your ass into the adjoining studio as fast as your fat little legs can carry you.  Upon entering Keith Collins' studio, wonders abound.  It's set up like a high-end furniture shop, and most of those gorgeous furniture pieces are also for sale, but the show-stoppers of course are the tapestries; Marilyn Monroe in life-like detail, Muhammed Ali after knocking out Joe Fraizer, a stunning Martin Luther King mural.  They even have T2!  Even more amazing is where you think these would be woven tapestries, they're really hook rugs, and all of them are made from found/recycled yarn scraps.  If you think it's possible to get any more awesomely hipster than that, you're delusional.  This guy should be featured on Portlandia immediately, and if I ever win the lottery, my first unreasonable purchase will be the Siegfried and Roy piece.  Keith Collins also does home installations of more modern carpet pieces as well as floor mats, and they're all pretty sick.  Check out the crazy stuff this guy can do with yarn on his website, but save the tiger rug for me!

Tuki Lucero     Tuki Lucero's business card titles her as an "Artistic Recycler."  This is true; she does create tiny sculptures in found objects, mostly old tin cans.  The label she gives herself, however, belies the full emotive scope of her tiny sculptures.  Part Dia De Los Muertos, part religious imagery, part sparkle, these tiny vignettes are usually only about 2"x4", but pack a huge visual punch nonetheless.  The tin cans are all vintage, and it looks like the pieces inside are done collage-style, with images of the Madonna and child, disembodied masks, etc.  One would think these pieces are meant to be gruesome or some sort of tiny phantasmagoria, but I don't think that's Tuki's aim, though some of them do seem to make a comment on the true nature of organized religion.  There is definitely an element of the past; somewhat Victorian and somewhat Mexican religious imagery, but to me the ultimate goal is whimsy with a deeper meaning and a connection to those past ways of making found objects or items around the house into folk art (think those weird hair sculptures from the Victorian and Edwardian eras).  I think Tuki's creations are far from folk art, but there is definitely a nod to it there.  Tuki Lucero's Etsy store is currently under construction, but if you're interested in viewing more of her pieces or purchasing, you can email her at

MNKR Clothing     It didn't take much for me to know I would be featuring MNKR in this post.  When I walked into Designer Matt Fellows' studio, there was a podium with a poster glued on in the style of those annoying inspirational paperweights which read "Be the Change, Sucka."  Sold!  I'm a sucka for tongue-in-cheek satire that's done so simply and eloquently.  At that point I didn't even really care what this place was selling.  Luckily, this would not simply be fleeting hipster lust.  MNKR's website advertises itself as "t-shirts and other weirdness," and both t-shirts and weirdness are on point.  Most of the t-shirts do indeed contain weirdeness, continuing the irreverent wit I saw on the podium into wearable art.  You might have seen some of these before: "Helvetica is Awesome," for example, or an outline image of the state of California with the word "home" inside.  These clothes hit me right where I live and if I don't snap them all up, visit MNKR's website and Be the Change to your wardrobe, Sucka!  The site also has a list of vendors in case you're 80 years old and prefer going to stores to shop over online shopping.  "Like" MNRK on their Facebook Page or follow them on Instagram for news and product updates and - I'm sure - more weirdness.

Dave Lefner Reduction Linocuts     Well, nothing says "Pop Art" more than a linocut of a Tootsie Pop wrapper with a large yellow overlay that reads "POP!"  With so many permutations of Pop Art and street art these days, it's nice to see a literal translation of the form, whatever "literal" might mean in the Pop Art world (I can feel Andy Warhol's smug glare bearing down on me from the ether over a pair of sunglasses as I write this).  Literal or not, I really enjoy Dave Lefner's purist commentaries on pop culture and advertising, and his linos are some of the cleanest you'll ever see.  Now these aren't photographs, mind you or even paintings.  They're carefully etched linocuts which are made to look somewhere between a photo and a litho, but the tiny cuts create a greater dimension to the image.  In the example above, the wrinkles in the candy wrapper do look photorealistic, but it's literally cut out of a template.  Lefner's website is awash with examples from his Pop! series, as well as a number of old theatre marquis and some more abstract pieces.  Many of the Pop! series are sold out, so if you want to know how many cuts it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, contact Lefner on his site.

Wyatt Mills - Just Badass Art     I hope you're still with me here, because Wyatt Mills was one of my favourite finds this time around, and I'm not the only one who thinks this retro skater-looking kid is going to blow up.  The image to the left here is actually a self-portrait (awesome) which I believe was to be featured in his most recent show, "Phantasmagoria."  In a YouTube video about the show, he says that his style is mean to shock, and meant to wake people in up out of their computer realities and look around.  His technique is great - oils slapped onto various media with a trowel or other unconventional instrument so that he gets crazy textures, shadows, and sweeping madness.  It's a very modern or Dadaist approach, and I always marvel when artists can slam paint on a canvas (or door, in the case of this portrait) seemingly haphazardly, and pull not only a clear face or shape out of it, but something so emotive and full of perspective and depth.  There's not many of those around anymore, save David Choe and a handful of other street artists.  In keeping with the Dadaist theme the pieces in this show and that I saw at The Brewery also incorporate news clippings, headlines from gossip mags and other verbal pieces set up in a collage format either over or under the oils.  If you didn't get an emotion from the haunting, twisted faces, the words and nods to the brutality of our screwed up media system will strike a nerve on that tip.  Mr. Mills has probably the most kickass website I've seen in a while as well, and you can take a look at his other pieces or hit him up about pricing at  Good God, I hope he shows at the next one!

Rob Silverman Photography     My obvious inclination toward the strange, the weird, and the avant-garde of the art and music scenes would imply that I also lean that way when it comes to photography.  With all the options for different washes, digital manipulation, and lacquering, one can make a photo look like pretty much anything else.  While I do love a good surrealist photo, I actually tend more toward the classic in both my own photography and in other artists.  Working almost exclusively in black and white yet somehow able to capture shading and light grades expertly, Rob Silverman is an excellent example of all that is awesome about classic photography technique.  The ability to capture the beauty we find all around us in the real world in all of its stark, unpixelated reality is, in my opinion, something only photography can wholly do as an artistic medium.  Not so easy to do, especially in black and white, is the ability to capture the emotions and true feeling of the subjects of this photography; the forlorn energy of a dog in front of an old gas station, the stern and enduring countenance of a Navajo brave in full headdress.  Turning motion and light into still life and back while not losing any of the emotive quality and without digital covering is what separates good technique and good eye from good photography, and Mr. Silverman is a good photographer.  I don't even feel the need to make the requisite reference to Ansel Adams here.  Silverman has a solid, deeply emotive style and technique all his own.  Though I've prattled on about his black and whites quite a bit, Rob Silverman has a whole array of photo styles, including commercial and event photos, on his website  You can also contact him via the site for pricing on current works or bookings.

So, there we have it.  Ten of the great artists making me jealous by living at The Brewery and doing what they love.  Now the next Brewery Artwalk is upon us, just two weeks from today, and I am once again planning to wander through it in awe, bumping into more weird and wonderful art and people, wistfully wishing I could live there as well but also gaining hope for the future of art.  Ironically, San Diego's much more commercial and therefore LAME artwalk takes place in San Diego on the same weekend, April 26-27 and it's literally outside my doorstep.  I will choose, however, to drive 2 hours up to downtown LA to the LA Brewery and support my new friends and idols in the pursuit of truth, love, and beauty in art.  Pardon me as I'm waxing extremely sappy at the moment, but I think The Brewery is really important in sustaining a real art culture in America, and that makes this event important, because for two weekends a year, the general public and unartistic schmoes like you and I can be a part of it.  How can you not get sentimental about that?  Do yourself a favor and take that weekend to go do something good for your soul and witness a living, breathing art community at its very best.