It’s been a while since we interviewed anybody, so it’s our pleasure to talk with Soul Clap, from Boston. Be sure to check out their first mix CD, Social Experiment 002 and Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap - DJ Kicks CD. They are bringing the 90′s back in case you didn’t read the interview. Follow their story as they blast through the his and lows- the Great White Hope is here.
Please tell the shogunate a little about how Soul Clap got started and how you got to where you are today?
If somebody were shopping for Soul Clap in the local supermarket, where would we find it?
Feminine products / family planning section
What type of fruit or vegetable would you compare to the listeners of the music?
Granadillas. Because you can hold them like a popsicle, crack them open and they’re full of gooey shit, but they taste amazing. Big up Morph crew!
I once requested Bridgette by NWA at a sorority shindig, what’s been the craziest request for you as DJs?
When girls ask for put it in your mouth by akinelye
The Adventures of Soul Clap podcast series is awesome and really gives much needed exposure to globally lost musics, what is the science behind this branch of your tree?
We’re really trying to capture music and djs we discover along our travels. The only rule is that mixes have tell a story or have a theme.
If the duo was walking a straight line would there be a way to magnetically move people thousands of miles away?
Yeh of course. We use the schwartz.
I’ve been making some ringtones on a prepaid Samsung flip phone that sound better than some songs on pop radio garbagio, what advice would yall give to creative types trying to separate themselves from the masses, while also trying to make the mass something else and think in a new way?
We learned a lot from mr miyagi. He taught us:"Karate not here (points to head). Karate here (points heart)."
I feel like Soul Clap helps fill a large void, is this space occupied by aliens?
The real question is how did that vag get so large. Hot dog in a hallway? Oh wait you said void. Go ask ya momma. Most of these answers, just like us, end up in ya moms.
To earn a monthly minimum wage of $1,160, artists must sell 143 self-pressed CDs or have 1,546,667 plays per month on last.fm, what on god’s green earth is the balance point between the high number of fully capable indie artists, the few signed acts, revenue and technology in "the industry"?
Pretty sure its 43.68. Although last year its was 41.3.
What year and place would you go back to feel a certain era, or are yall futurists?
Obviously we’re pretty nostalgic about the 90′s. But there are definitely things about the disco 70′s and the crackrock 80′s that we’re pissed we missed. And don’t get us started about the high renaissance. Definitely wish we had a delorian.
Somebody once told me that a woman’s nectar comes from her voice, what’s up with the lack of female MCs nowadays?
Your right. There’s no one sexier than fran drescher. About the mcs, niki minaj is actually pretty dope, but the real problem is that hip-hop has been taken over by trance music.
Your web portal has real good design, I’m especially feeling the "Title" mini browser in the center of the front page, what challenges have you had in terms of getting the site and e-presence to where you can sit back and say ‘that’s exactly how we want it’
One thing has been trying to avoid grinding our teeth and of course the gurn face is always a challenge. Seriously though, big thanks to g-notorious and mr butterworth for designing our site.
:: all images courtesy of Soul Clap ::
This week for the Industry, we talk with ZERO PER ZERO, a design duo of two graphic designers (Jin Sol and AKim Ji-Hwan) in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Specializing mainly in the field of graphic, information design as well as in illustration. Currently they are focused on their City Railway System series. Enjoy the interview!
What is your interest with line map design?
Current railway map system has been developed on the basis of system made by Herrybeck of England. Our design also does not stray a lot from his influence. It’s just that we are finding it really interesting to take the official railway map that is a little bit stern and make it more interesting and charming. We consider the railway map not just as a guide to using the railway but as a cultural merchandise of the city.
You have interpreted the railway systems of New York City, Seoul, Tokyo, Osaka, Barcelona and Hokkaido- what has been the most challenging city to design?
Tokyo was the most challenging one. Japanese railway system is more unique and complicated that that of any other place in the world. It was very difficult to effectively organize more than 1500 stations and over 100 lines. It went through several editions before we settled on the current design.
What makes your interpretations of subway maps unique?
City Railway System is a new approach of projecting the identity of a city onto its subway map. Whereas standard subway maps are aimed at conveying information as clearly and concisely as possible, City Railway System by Zeroperzero is distinguished by grafting symbolic elements of each city on to the map while preserving clarity. Targeting specifically tourists, we also marked major landmarks and attractions on the subway map, making it convenient for the tourists to figure out the fastest way to get to the destination just by taking a glance. The railway map itself is also good for souvenir.
You have chosen to graft symbolic elements of different cities onto the map- how do you choose what is iconic?
The symbolic element cannot be something notably commercial and it has to be something everybody agrees on. Also, it needs to have a simple and clear image so that it transforms into an icon easily. For these reasons, we are often inspired by the national flags when designing for the nationa capitals. The idea comes to us more easily if we have lived in the city or have travelled through the city and got to know the characteristics of the railway system.
How do you package the maps?AWhat type of experience do you want to give to the reader?
Our maps is good for practical use and for interior decor. For Mini Maps, we minimize the packaging so that it can be carried in a wallet or scheduler easily. City Maps come with separate cover so that it is a bit fancier and it is also great to hang on a wall. Additionally, we apply our design to everyday commodities such as mouse pads, folders, notebooks, etc. to answer diverse needs of diverse buyers.
What awards and recognitions have you recieved for your work? What has been the most important?
We won various international awards with our City Railway System: iF Communication Gold, ADC-Silver, IDEA-Silver, etc. Among these, we are most attached to the iF Award because it was the first big award that we were recognized with. We definitely worked with more confidence after winning it.
Are you open to collaboration?
We have done collaborations with companies such as 10 Corso Como or SK Telecom of Korea. We always welcome collaborations.
What challenges do you face on a day to day basis working in graphic design?
We would like to make more profits off of our own contents rather than client jobs, however, in reality, client jobs are more profitable currently. If it continues like this we won’t have much to our name at the end, so we are always thinking about ways to make profits using our own contents.
How do you see zeroperzero’s place in design world in the next 5 years?
In 5 years, City Railway System series should be near completion. We expect there to be more variety of work forms, collaborations and commissions going off of the cities we would have worked on. Also, we will be coming up with and working on new contents other than the map series.
Welcome back to another look aroundAthe art side of business per say (whether it be in music, photography or even some sciences). This week the Industry talks with Tadafumi Aoza of Cataci.com part of style-pd, a speciality art shop based in Japan, Sweden, France and the US.
Product Name :Another Crypto 1
Designer : Dizel & Sate
Producer: Dizel & Sate
Product information: Dizel & Sate’s graffiti design is delivered as pizza slice! Limited edition of 30.
Material : Digital print on painted mdf board. Back sockets included.
Size: 58 x 58 x 3 cm (22,8 x 22,8 x 1,2 inch)
Weight per piece: 7.0kg
Could you please introduce yourself and outline your role at Cataci?
Cataci.com’s main objective is to offer a global platform forAindependent creators such as freelance designers and smaller companiesAwho we think are truly unique, talented, and contributing toAsociety.We aim to build a creative platform which is located at theAopposite end of the mass production.
How did Cataci decide on the format, "limited releases by independentAcreators" ?
We realized that there are many web stores which are selling exactlyAthe same products, and thought that we should do something different.AOn top of that, we also think that there are so many independentAcreators who have brilliant ideas, but not being able to survive dueAto the fact that large companies are focused on mass products andAmaking profits. So we thought that we can help them out.
What have been some of Cataci’s most surprising products (in terms ofAcustomer response) that you have represented?
Metaphys’s Planters (Factory/Picture)
Product Name :Factory / Rectangle
Designer : Chiaki Murata
Product information: Living with "Green" makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. Metaphys's planters are the replacement for flowers and plants that would normally need lots of attention. Keep it moist all the time by watering every day. Water the seeds sparingly until the first sprout appears in a week or two. It grows up to 40cm - 50cm in the temperature over 20 degrees (Celsius) or 68 degrees (Fahrenheit) which is the normal room temperature. All the Metaphys's planters come with orchard grass seeds and water retention agent. Once it grows, you can cut it so that the surface of the plants will be even.
Material : ABS Resin
Weight per piece: 1.24
These products are based on minimalist Japanese design, but it alsoAshows the traditional Japanese spirit in which we co-exist withAnature. Liviing with nature is something very natural for Japanese,Aand Metaphys’s planters have made it more universal and appealing toAthe people outside Japan.
Cataci seems to align itself with many under-served creative markets, howAhave you been so successful in your B2B niche?
There are retailers and interior designers who share exactly the sameAideas with us. So we have been recognized by a certain people, but weAfeel that there is still a long way to go.
Cataci is based out of Japan and Sweden- how do you coordinate creativeAinput?
Surprisingly, in terms of design and the creative process, there is aAstriking similarity between Japan and Sweden. Japanese and Swedes areAboth into minimalist designs, and ideas inspired by nature. So it hasAturned out to be quite simple to coordinate them.
What type of style defines Cataci?
"Simplicity" and "humor"
Is it difficult representing hand-made and limited run products against theAstuff that is made for the masses?
It is definitely a niche market, but we are sure that there is aAcertain demand for these products which we are representing.
Product Name :Prol/Board
Designer : Chiaki Murata
Product information: When set against the wall, shelves can appear isolated and even lonely. This new shelf design from METAPHYS brings shelves in towards the center of your room. Users can enjoy creating a variety of different shelf setups that provide the freedom to arrange your own individual space.
How has Cataci worked with the public sector?
The public sector has been conservative, and it has been difficult forAus to penetrate the market since we carry more unique and limitedAedition products.AHowever, we believe that people will have more understanding in theseAunique products we are representing in the near future. The publicAsector has a certain understanding in Art, so why not in some uniqueAtableware or chairs?
What is the process like if an up and coming artist is looking to sell andAget distribution for their work?
They are always welcome to approach us by email: infom(at)cataci.com
Why did Cataci decide to re-brand from style-pd?
This is a story behind this. We have our offices in Japan, Sweden, and France.A`When I came to Paris, I met some designers and introduced myself andAgave them my business card. Then, some people were laughing by lookingAat my business card. Apparently, "PD" means "Homosexual", butAactually, it is more like insulting gay people. If it just meansA"Homosexual", then obviously we wouldn’t have changed our name. ButAapparently, it is very insulting gay people. So we decided to changeAour brand name. "cataci" means "shape" in Japanese. Officially, itAshould be "Katachi", but we thought "cataci" is even better because itAcan sound like some Latin words as well. By the way, our company isAstill registered as "style-pd, Inc.". Only our brand name has beenAchanged to "cataci".
Product Name :Birds on a wire
Designer : JBA Design
Producer: Launch Design Partner (LADP)
Product information: Birds on a wire: a frozen moment before the pecking begins. Bird is a hand made, ceramic wall hanger inspired by the characteristic shape of woodpeckers. Comes in black, white and yellow.
Where would Cataci like to expand in the world and see their presence build?
China and Russia. There is growing interest in these unique designAitems in these countries.
What can the creative community look for from Cataci in the next couple ofAyears?
We would like to be the global platform for independent creators, andAthat is how we want to be recognized by the creative community.
:: images courtesy of Tadafumi Aoza of Cataci.com ::
Bonnier has introduced a working concept of the Mag+, a product that is seeking to understand the experience of reading magazines on handheld digital devices. MNP recently caught up with Pontus Schultz of Bonnier R&D and asked him about the concept and its recent success with Popular Science+
Could you please describe the concept behind the Mag+?
This is one of several prototypes we've developed with our design partner Berg, based on our vision of future digital magazines that can be consumed on e-readers, smart phones, netbooks, etc. It's a work in progress. We think there is a big focus on technology and e-readers but in the end, it's about creating a product that is so good that people are willing to pay for it. But I should emphasize that this is a product designed for e-readers and not primarily for the Internet.
Who was behind the development of the Mag+?
Bonnier R&D and design partner BERG.
Where are the limits when reading into what the "magazine experience" is?
As our partners at BERG like to say: "The Mag+ platform is not a wrist screen running clock software… it is a watch." The user doesn’t need to look through the device at the content. It is an immediate experience of the content. It will never feel like you’re working through the screen, it should feel like you’re touching the actual product. It is about body language, a natural interface, rather than a set of computery buttons.
Ultimately, should the new digital magazine device, as in the Mag+, be ultra affordable like the current non-digital equivalent?
We want to reward loyal readers with a subscription offer in which you save over buying single issues. What's important to note is that both the Popular Science+ app and the TIME magazine app cost USD 4.99 and we are in 18th and 15th place respectively for best-selling apps at iTunes. GQ, which costs 2.99, is in 64th place. For me this proves that it isn't just about price but about the experience.
In the concept video, the narrator talks of approaching a "deeper reaching reading experience"- what does this mean exactly?
See our design principles, below.
Where in the world do you see a Mag+ really taking hold in society?
The popularity of Popular Science+ speaks for itself I think.
What would be the long-term vision of the Mag+ if made available to the public?
We plan on releasing many of our titles in the U.S., Sweden and Denmark on the platform in the near future.
Mag+ Design Principles
1. Silent mode - The time for myself. Our Mag+ concept has fewer distractions. It offers a passive and relaxinging experience. Lean back. Away from the browser. We believe that reduced complexity increases immersion
2. Fluid Motion - "Flow is the new flip". Persistence of flow in the scanning of the content encourages immersion. Think about our concept as a panning camera, not a flipping page experience.
3. Easy to overview - The Mag+ concept offers an immediate understanding of the content.
What is this and why is it relevant to me? Delivering a beautiful overview of content has always been a core competence of print
magazines, but something that got lost on the web sites of magazines.
4. Clearly defined beginning and end - We want to reluanch the end with a simple linear flow. A defined storyline. A sense of completion. The end of endlessness. Returning to the notion that something can be, and wants to be, completed.
5. Advertising as content - We are treating advertising as preferred content integrated in the consumer experience. We want advertising to be pin-ups too. We want advertising to be appreciated applications.
6. Delivered in an issue format - Mag+ is a collectible that will be an important part of the consumers collection of beautiful magazines. The nice stack. It is something to look forward to and a recurring experience. Offered with convenient distribution. We want to establish the same time frame for all readers. No continuous updates. Content published at a defined point in time.
the Industry is back again with an installment focusing on the work of creator extraordinaire, Remo Camerota (Australia). He got his foot in the Japanese door with the book, Graffiti Japan and has a plethora of projects scheduled for a 2010 release. His blog (Drainspotting), design studio and graphic novel publishing co. are all good places to keep up to date with his work. You can download a free preview of his upcoming Japanican graphic novel, Scar- here (36 pages). Now to Remo…
Please introduce yourself to the shogunate and ninjas at large- who are you?
I am a film maker, fine artist and photographer from Melbourne, Australia. After graduating from 2 bachelor or art degrees, one being in fine art and the other in film and television in 1995, I have been working in the visual arts andA film/television since. I work across disciplines and am committed to exploring new ways of expressing Apolitical and artistic views in a compelling visual style. I have had some success with films, corporate video, graphic novels and photography books. In 2003 I startedA a creative agency calledA Whitewall studios. With a small team of composed of myself, Hisako Emura, and outsourced talent from around the globe, we work on projects. Whitewall has enabled us to work with a variety of clients including Kiss, Gene Simmons, AMTV, NIKON, Yoshimoto, Wachowski Brothers and Concave to name a few. Whitewall is now based in Tokyo and enjoys clients form Japan and the US. On top of agency work, I am committed to the arts and have completed 3 photography books to date. These are Graffiti Japan, a series of visual essays highlighting graffiti scene throughout Japan, Drainspotting, an essay on the diverse manhole covers in Japan and Menko, the art of japanese game cards, a study of Japan game cards throughout history. The last 2 will be out in 2010. Also while in Japan I co-founded company called Raven Books with Michael Shawn Conaway. We produce graphic novels and original Manga stories for books and feature films. Our first title, Scar, is due to be released on the Iphone/Ipad within the next month.
Can you talk about the intersection of film and visual art in your life?
From a very early age I have been highly visual in my approach to everything, constantly drawing and creating images. Eventually while at university, this is where I discovered the moving image and realized that film or video could capture 1 still image and create 30 images per second. This changed the way of my thinking of the one image into many separate images. So since then i approach each frame as a single image, and this is how I began the process of incorporating film into my life. Upon leaving university it became clear to me that I was interested in visual art and film, so I have always practiced them in sequence. I have had many exhibitions worldwide and have done much corporate work which is very different. The common thread between these disciplines is that I will always incorporate visual art within the medium. Thus the end result of many of my projects is a highly finished art piece.
When you say that your views are social, political and comedic (and designed in a horror type of view), what do you mean exactly? Can you tell us about a specific film or two relating to these subject matters?
Yes of course. Well if you watch the Doubletwist ad as mentioned above you will notice it is a parody of the Macintosh ad from 1984. In the day, Macintosh was highly innovative and both seductive and appealing to the individual. Now it is more like Microsoft trying to persuade everybody to own a Mac. So the big brother character in the film is of course Steve Jobs selling his idealism to the world and while the clones all walk around with iPhone head phones. This comment speaks about the many drones now found in the street sporting iPhones and iPods.
Another example would be my music video from 2005, In Theory by Horsell common. Here I play with the idea of that people in the future will be able to shop for faces and body parts at the supermarket. AThis challenges the conforms of plastic surgery affecting today’s world.
Another example would be my graphic novel, Scar. The whole story is poking fun at the cosmetic and celebrity world that we live in today, and the obsession people have with being someone else - or looking like someone else- identity crisis in general.AThe synopsis being: Scar is a psychological horror film using the cosmetic beauty industry as its muse. Dr. Alice Drake is literally a mad scientist, a female Frankenstein. She will do anything to repair her sister's scarred face, even if murder is on the menu. Alice is the first doctor in the world to perfect a full-face transplant using donors, but rather than share her discovery, she uses it to more nefarious ends. Add colleague’s, Frank, who is re-animating dead soldiers into a Zombie Army for the government, and Gerry, who masterminds a celebrity face theft. Mix it with some gripping action and sexual depravity that would make any porn star blush, and you have a dark psychotic comedy that takes the piss out of our sacred cows of beauty, fame and identity. By the end of the film, with the body count high and shocking surgical and sexual procedures, audiences won't be sure if they really should be laughing.
We at MNP are really interested in the photography that you compiled for your book, Graffiti Japan- what was that experience like?
I didn't realize that there was so much graffiti here! I ended up taking up to 15,000 photographs here in a year. So, I flew out here with the small advance from the publisher and traveled all over Japan. I knew nobody and I didn't know the language. On the Internet, a whole bunch of graffiti artists came up in google and that's how I found Suiko, my first contact- graffiti artist. I contacted Ahim in basic English and said "I'm coming to Japan to do a book. Can you help me? He wrote back almost immediately and said, "I live in Hiroshima and you can come and stay with me. I'll take you around to all my work and other peoples' work. So that’s how my agenda flew, it was a day by day adventure, nothing was planned too much. So Suiko turned out to be the king of Hiroshima and one of the best artists from Japan a but I didn't know that at the time. He took me to his small home with his family, gave me his bed and slept on the floor, and then he slowly introduced me to the next artist in Horishima, followed by Tokyo, Kanagawa, so on. The next artist Awould introduce me to the next artist.When I first landed here I was so impressed by the culture and people. Japan is filled with Apeople that have talent. Everyday I was meeting new guys that were doing influential work, and this did not stop for months. So In my time there I met some of the greatest graffiti writers and manga comic book artists and animators in the world. This helped me to shape a beautiful looking book and this inspired me to start up Raven with a partner from the USA and move my company Whitewall here. ARaven is a comic book company and we have our first title coming out on iPhone, about 3 years after its inception. On this I got to work with some wonderful artists, on my own story, that are working in the forefront of manga comics and animation today. We are continuing to create many titles with many artists in Japan. My other company Whitewall studios worked on the Wachowski Briothers next film - Shaolin Cowboy- which is a full feature animation, and I even got to direct my own short manga, which is a parody of the 1984 Mac big brother ad by Ridley Scott, for the company Doubletwist. On this I had a director from Ren and Stimpy working on the animation.
On top of that, this has enabled me to produce 3 photographic books for Mark Batty Publisher,A all on subject matter within Japan. This manifested in three years, and would never have happened if it wasn’t for Graffiti Japan taking me to Japan in the first place. Basically everything is go, go, go in Japan and the artists are in the wave moving with this. Japan is also the most technological advanced country in the world offering the kids and artists Athe use of modern technology in their artwork and music. Everything that is produced here is always contextually modern. At any part of the day or night in Tokyo, the city is constantly moving. Just being in the city makes you feel like you are part of something. While being here I have also met a great ex-patriot network of creatives and we meet on a regular basis - supporting each other in the arts through jobs and advice. Tokyo has now become a much smaller place for me now and from anxious beginnings. I now have a new road to follow. It impressed me so much that I then choose to live and work here now. I live in a place called Shimokitazawa, which is a bohemian city 5 stops from Shibuya. A lot of artists and students live in this area, and I love it there. The source for my next book on Menko Cards came directly from there. This place totally motivates me to keep on working and creating, Japan is truly inspirational.
How would you trace the evolution of the graf movement in Japan? How does Japanese kanji and historically calligraphic techniques help contribute to graffiti in Japan?
Well all Graffiti in Japan stems from New York Aand LA in one way or another from the late 80s to the 1990s. All of the styles you see here resemble these beginnings in one way or another. Even down to English lettering used. But after visiting the world, some of the artists would bring back the western style to Japan and of course eventually it evolves into their own style - this is often because of the Kanji and historical calligraphy used. Manga and Kanji. The Japanese are brought up on manga comics from and early age also. That's all they read when they are kids. This is prevalent throughout their graffiti. It is very animated and character driven. But not western characters - no - more Japanese style - intricate characters. Look at Phil and Fate and Shizentomotel for some of the best characters from Japan. AAlso Kanji - the use of japanese lettering - the letters are already highly visual, so when used in graffiti it becomes something entirely Japanese.
Are there any other countries that you would compare to Japan’s footprint?
Well the USA of course have some of the leading works in the world, the UK are also right up there and other places in Europe being Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin. But some unusual suspects would be the rise of Australia, they have a wonderful range of world class artist and the other unknown would be Thailand, with a whole host of upcoming world class artists.
Is graffiti in Japan another trend? Or how is hip-hop culture viewed internally in terms of mass culture?
No graffiti is not a trend as much as it is a lifestyle. The people who do graffiti have their roots implanted firmly in the world of art and not necessarily hip-hop. Although hip-hop culture is deeply in trenched in the graffiti scene, I would say that the younger of the artists are following the HH style, as the more mature artists don’t really follow this trend. Regardless, it looks like hip-hop and graffiti are here to stay and are now part of the ever growing Japanese fashion style that never ends such as pop punk, goth and lolita styles.
Which teachers and artists have inspired you to keep creating?
Some of the obvious artists are people like Obey, Banksy, Flail and Twist and Beautiful Losers in general all because they are great at what they do and keep on doing it, but there are some obscure guys that I really like - Blek le Rat has been doing it since the 1980s and C215 , I met him on my travel to Paris. His work is amazing. He is transforming a whole city of Vitry into an art installation. Over the next year he will be inviting artists to Paris from all over the world to help color this city in. This is truly inspirational.
What is your view on technology and the arts? Is it possible to separate the two nowadays?
Even in graffiti, technology is prevalent. Over 15 years ago the only paints for instance were cans from the hardware store. These days there are many companies creating paints and custom caps that enable the artist to pick and choose from many different size holes which makes it easier to paint on your picture. There is also a wider range of colors and markers of all sizes. Technology has also made it possible to use other mediums to do "Urban Art". I.e. the use of vinyl is used to create images on walls and the use of large laser printing to create huge murals incorporating illustrator and computer arts. These days it is really hard to separate the two, but it is possible to distinguish an artist with talent and one without. At the bottom of all tech is the paper and pencil. This is at the core of all wall art and graffiti. At the end of the day all the tech in the world will not help you paint a good picture if you cant draw.
What are you currently working on?
I have 2 more photography books coming out this year through Mark Batty Publisher. Drainspotting is one which documents the manhole covers throughout Japan. The other is Menko - the art of game cards in Japan documenting over 100 years in cards. ABesides that I will be having some art shows -graffiti painting at Upfest in the UK in June 2010 and doing some photography/book signing shows in Europe and USA and Japan. On top of that, with my company Raven, I have a graphic novel titled Scar- this should hit the shelves this year. Its also coming out on iPhone/iPad very soon as an interactive comic through One Coin Comics. This will also Abe made in to a feature film hopefully this year too. So a big year. Lastly I am also creating a series of iPad photography books as companions to my real world books.
To keep up to date with my work head on over toA.:whitewallstudios.net->
:: all images courtesy of Remo Camerota ::
the Industry is back with an unsigned group, The Universal Ninjas, hailing from Evanston, IL- the North Pole. With their spoken word and live instrumentation combined with house, Anika Trujillo and Ariel Rogers are paving the way here in Chicago. Check their music out and enjoy the interview!
What are the Universal Ninjas all about?
Anika Trujillo: The Universal Ninjas to me are a collaborative project, I believe everyone has art in them we view the world through two artistic lenses daily. AMy dream is to build this beyond music, not anything necessarily physical or tangible but an understanding. We can have a "place" formed where my individualism does not interfere with your individualism or our collective understandings of respect, acceptance, and love. AThrough this I believe untold strength and solidarity can be not only created but fueled and sustained.
Ariel Rogers: Right to the point, eh? I am about good music. Period. Lyrically punctuating and melodically enveloping.
How would you define your sound?
Anika Trujillo: I would have to say we are soul, funk, jazz, electric hop. AWe play and sing or play and rap, I believe this is where hip hop will have to go to stay relevant. AEvery other genre allows the artist to be a musician/singer/songwriter but for some reason in the world of hip hop we compartmentalize so much and limit people to being a rapper or a producer…why? The sound I try to create must be free more so than anything else.
Ariel Rogers: Delicious and Nutritious: Our music bases with house, reverbs with soul, and bleeds honesty. Progressive thought is the message and its draped in layers of our sound-manifested energy.
What is your view on the fragmentation of Chicago?
Anika Trujillo: Chicago is fragmented firstly geographically so why wouldn't people's attitudes and behavior follow suit…I believe the fragmentation within Chicago is a symptom of a much greater problem that is prevalent throughout the US. AWe have a long way to go but fortunately I have seen many people such as ahem *Drunken Monkee* that are determined to unite the city and aren't afraid to speak about it. Tearing down gentrification, eliminating/decreasing police brutality and getting Daley out of office…phew I said it…will make an impact without a doubt. I'm ready to see and be a part of real change; but I'm not leaving it to the government to take care of.
Ariel Rogers: I really only gear attention to progress…unity. In fact, we appreciate the exchange of energies and perspectives that result from collaboration. Email The.Universal.Ninjas@gmail.com
If you could fly anywhere, who would you want to hear your music?
Anika Trujillo: I'm gonna take this a step further and say if I would want Jack White to hear my music and jam with me. AWhile this great opportunity was still available I would also cut up with Benny Benassi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, N.E.R.D and Sa-Ra.
Ariel Rogers: Outerspace…The Universal Ninjas (>.<)
Do you have to be crazy to be involved in the arts, or are you born into it?
Anika Trujillo: Ha! We all are born with a lot of crazy in us so utilizing that in terms of art is a natural progression…we are also trained systemically through school, work, etc to not let loose this crazy. AThe first lesson anyone learns is restraint in some form…in short we are born into it but the degree to which we all implement it is dependent on the degree to which we allow ourselves to be broken.
Ariel Rogers: Your question merits an A or B answer. Nature vs. Nurture? Chick vs. Egg- kinda answer.But there are no rules or criteria in music.
Everyone keeps talking about a "Chicago Industry," what do you think of this?
Anika Trujillo: Where? Who? Please give them my number… AI see a lot of people that are working on their own. AI see a lot of people with their own label or their own group… AI do not necessarily see these individuals composing what you would call an industry. AI know that there are bigger venues and connections to be made but you end up having to make 50 different contacts through 100 different people because so and so has beef with such and such over show money or event promotions. I always leave room for me to be halfway wrong about anything and that is my sincere hope with this. AOtherwise I will have no choice but to join the "they had to leave Chicago to blow up" Club
Ariel Rogers: I hope they're saying positive things! There's a lot of uniquely authentic talent. Some of my favorites have been Prince God, Blah Blah Blahs, Professor Gorilla Dickens, Bomba Con Buya, FM Supreme, ILL-legit, I Luv Luv Birds, Le Ciel, Lady Fipsyde, Kahari Williams
I like to think that positive music always has a place next to "negative" music- is music just music?
Anika Trujillo: I believe music is never just anything; it is expression and can move a person to any range of emotion depending on their listening objectives. APersonally I make it a habit to be focused on a solution, progress is the goal. AI don't address negativity but rather the solution to that negativity. I cannot stop anyone from doing whatever they wish, but I will say be careful what you speak into your life as well as others lives. The words we use have a funny way of echoing and coming back to us. AIt's all in the universe.
Ariel Rogers: What? Kinda like "you need the good to balance the bad? I see it like this. Music is art. Art is expression of thoughts and feelings and P.O.V.'s. "Negative" music is an indication of a negative person. The question then becomes, what is making this person so gosh darn surly? This universal medium tells stories and conveys information. Its unfortunate that rap music has stagnated because it's a reflection of ones livelihood. We humans have another level of consciousness to attain…self and mutual respect.
Who are some of your major influences that you listen to?
Anika Trujillo: I listen first to what God says to me, second my mother, third all of my sisters, fourth is music.
Ariel Rogers: Michael Jackson. The Beatles. MC Hammer. AGnarles Barkley. Etta James. Eminem. The Fugees. The MisEducation is still and forever will be a classic. Stevie Wonder. Aretha.Franklin.
How do you start the creation process?
Anika Trujillo: It's different every time. AIt could be just this stage in my life but a lot of my lyrics come from frustration. AI speak on what I feel in my heart about myself or the way I view situations with other people that don't necessarily include me but affect and effect me. AIt comes from a zone, a trance almost. ACreating music is difficult and for me always lasts longer than the initial creation/blueprint.
Ariel Rogers: We jam. Whatever results from a session of unscripted music creation is what we end up piecing together for complete compositions.
Which artists in Chicago do you think are paving the right way?
Anika Trujillo: A lot of artists are moving in new and creative directions so it's hard to name all of them. AThere are a couple that I truly admire the first is a band called I luv luv birds they are so innovative and ingenious almost without even trying. AThe second is of course, Drunken Monkee, he is hands down the best hip hop performer in Chicago. Go to his shows, anyone and everyone.
Ariel Rogers: See the sixth question.
When is the LP coming out?
Anika Trujillo: Ahhhh Homemade…well the EP is done, but going from EP to LP takes a bit of time. AHopefully some new song will be up soon. AI believe whatever it needs to be it will be and it should be done by the end of the summer or perhaps sooner or possibly later. AAnyone looking to get their fix can go to our myspace or FB or just google us, any site has our songs free for download. ANo need to resort to piracy just yet.
Ariel Rogers: In time for Chicago Summer :)
What makes your music unique?
Anika Trujillo: I don't know, I try to write things that I can repeat over and over but still believe in its content and feel it emotionally every time. AI try really hard to write things that also sound somewhat familiar in terms of phrasing to what we actually say on a regular basis in conversation. ACreating a unique sound is not the primary goal but it is a factor in the process. I would say that Ariel & I play off of one another a great deal and our songs evolve 2-4 times with each of us revising or redoing what the other did with our own spin on it.
Ariel Rogers: The audacity to spoken-word on top of live instruments, braced on a thumping house beat…its musical gumbo. Plus we're classy ladies.
::images courtesy of The Universal Ninjas ::
The Industry is going from music to barcodes my ninjas..AWe recently got an opportunity to talk with Bar Code Revolution, Tokyo.ABar Code Revolution is an innovative company that has sought and answered the question, "why has the barcode never changed?"
Can you please talk about how Design Barcode is changing the existing information tag into something new?
First and foremost it is turning it into advertising. A Our belief is that anything that powerfully attracts the hearts and minds of consumers is advertising. Our Design Barcode can function as "advertising" in various unique ways. For example, some "barcode-aficionados" may actively seek out our designs and display their finds as their "collection" on their blog, exposing the barcodes to numerous, unspecified people on an individual level. Or the barcodes can serve as a tool for companies to bond with their consumers by acting as sort of an "Easter egg" for loyal customers. We believe that we were awarded the Titanium Award precisely in recognition of that kind of out-of-the-box thinking.
How does the Japanese team go about the creation process when working with a client on a new design?
We take an agency approach to creation. AClients send us a creative brief so that we understand the priorities of the brand, the audience, and other necessary characteristics that should be represented in the design. AFrom that point we begin a draft phase where we present a series of concepts and work with the client closely until they are comfortable with the vision. AOnce we have agreement final codes get created and fully tested.
It is exciting to see design at such a micro level, what is the inspiration behind Design Barcode?
We recognized the problems that barcodes had, like the fact that it blemished the look of the packaging or lacked personality. The Japanese aesthetic traditionally focuses on small details. For example, in the olden days, Japanese people liked to play with the design of the fabric used as the lining of one's kimonoasomething that is barely noticed. Our idea was born from that kind of quintessentially Japanese aesthetic.
Which barcode designs have gotten the greatest response from the public?
That’s is a difficult question to answer, but in general when a brand with multiple SKUs uses different barcodes to "tell a story" it deepens the playfulness and evokes more curiosity by the consumers.
Do you see the barcode gaining more real estate on the package as the designs become more integrated with the product?
Definitely. ARe-packaging a particular item can give it a temporary boost, but it seems to rarely evoke any emotion or thought in consumers. AA Designed Barcode tends to hold more cause for study. AWhat is the story being told by it? AIs it clever? How was it designed, etc. AIt’s a very visceral experience for people because it represents a shift in peoples expectation of what a barcode can be.
How has Design Barcode enhanced the consumer experience?
This is a very thoughtful question. AWe think one of the great things a design barcode does is give packaging the ability to "wink" at a consumer. ABecause finding a design on a barcode is unexpected, consumers get to feel a sense of discovery. ATo that end, a Design Barcode, more than other aspects of the packaging are usually what is shared with others.
Do you think the consumers will now look twice as hard at the items they wish to buy because of the added detail on the barcode?
This is one of our desires. AWe want to create advertising that consumers would actively seek out, as opposed to advertising that forces an insipid message upon them.We want to create attractive advertising that consumers would pay to see, rather than something that makes the client carry the large cost on their own. In that sense, we position consumers as "spectators."
Why haven’t we seen this type of transformation yet in American designs (or have we)?
We actually have been making big strides in the U.S., but for the most part we are bound by NDAs so if we told you who we have worked with we would have to kill you.
Why is the barcode so appealing?
Barcodes are appealing because by their nature they are meant to serve a very single purpose in packaging. AWhen design is integrated into them it suddenly feels like "out of the box" thinking, and it challenges the consumer. AAWe believe when you listen to consumers too much when marketing a product, you can only create advertising that is within the limit of their imagination. Being sensitive to the needs of the consumer is of course important, but we believe that "artistic" advertisingasomething that challenges the consumerawill become more common in the future. In fact, today, creation of advertising is becoming "borderless," by which we mean that successful advertising is being created by creative professionals who come from fields other than advertising. For example, a rocket designer has created advertising for an airline, and a poet for an insurance company.
Is Design Barcode just another example of the Japanese as trendsetters?
Well, in Japan the competition to capture the attention and imagination of people is so intense that people in the creative industry are constantly looking at challenges from every angle possible. ASo, it may be another example, but it also may be about what happens culturally when competition is so intense.
How much information can be stored on a barcode?
It depends on the software the merchant has.
The barcode looks like a non-blind person’s Braille system- how much of the barcode is utility and how much is left for design?
There are very strict rules around how much scan area must exist in a barcode and how the design interfaces with that space. AIn terms of design it’s mostly a function of how much real estate a brand wants to give to the barcode!
:: images courtesy of Pacarc, LLC - Representing Design Barcode, Inc. Tokyo ::
To jumpstart the next few editions of the Industry we met up with Drunken Monkeee, Chicago et. al. If you’ve been to one of his shows, then this interview is a real treat for the fans. Instead of providing the usual photos, we’ve got five of his stellar music videos for your enjoyment.
Who is Drunken Monkeee?
I am a ball of fusion, I am Energy, I am the freedom that is good music. I know this may sound crazy but I really do feel like I’m a superhero, a super nova here to save the world through my music, my own sound, my live stage shows & my spirit.
Can you talk a little about your discography?
Over the years I’ve put out some delicious favors of music such as my first CD in 2003 "Pickles Rolled Into Blunts" (The Mama’s Boy version & the Captain Hill’top version) after that I hooked up with Ill Legit and we formed The High Channel and put out a hiphop underground classic "The Boy with The Iron Blunt" (2005) it was a instant classic because everyone said it was fresh, new and outta the box hiphop. People compared it to Redman & Method Man meets BlackStar (Mos Def & Talib Kweli), then in 2007 I released yet another Chicago Classic "The Banana Pudding Treat" and in 2009 I put out a mixtape (Live From Tweak Central") & the trip hop electro lounge "Sex Music 101″.
What is the Tweak Central Academy?
Tweak Central Academy is a movement and a lifestyle, we are not and do not follow the in crowd we think outside of the box, we don’t try to look or make music that people say is in we just do it the way we want to, we take pride in being different and unorthodox space cadets.
Who are your biggest influences musically?
God, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Micheal Jackson, Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Fela Kuti, Jim Morrison, Nicola Conte, Sade, Tricky, Peven Everett, Old Dirty Bastard, Redman, J Dilla, Wu Tang, Lonnie Liston Smith that’s just to name a few cause there are so many, too many, a helluva alot more.
Which other artists and genres do you work with?
I’ve worked with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Zzaje, BlahBlahBlah, Yaw, Khari Lemuel, Ill Legit, Neo Dot Com, Fatboy Skinny, Universal Ninjas, Blackdaylight, Lokua, B.B.U theres so many to name. When it comes to music I dont limit myself on genres or who I work with. I’m a big fan of experimental none of my tracks sound the same and I dont want anyone to label me underground or mainstream.
How has your music evolved?
My music has evolved a hell of alot I can really feel and see sound. I can really put my emotions, pain, and happiness into a song and make it into a classic. My music is more reality feel good music now because I like to talk about everything in the world. I don’t care if I’m making a track about pouring barbeque on a big booty unicorn’s back, when I’m done it’s going to be a banger. When I first started I used to rap more about sex, weed, and life and curse my ass off but now it’s just straight get it off my chest feel good music.
How do you use mixtapes to elevate your exposure?
I got so much music that I just put out as soundtracks, projects, and albums. Everyone can make a mixtape but not everyone can make back to back classical albums.
Where (besides Chicago) have connected most with your music?
I stayed 4 years in New York and got to do alot of street performing around the city with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Also Seattle, Tampa, the entire Midwest and with the help of the internet, the world. It’s been plenty of times when friends of mine would travel and be approached by someone or have an out of town guest that have already heard of me because of Myspace. I have alot of genuine friends and fans that stay in different cities that have bootleg my music just to push and help get my name out because the music and God have truly bless me.
Chicago often has a small town feel to it, do you agree with this?
Hell Naw who told you that, I just think Chicagoans march to a different beat a different drummer, I admit that when it comes to the poetry, fashion, hiphop, juke, and nightlife everyone does know each other, everyone has some type of history with someone you would not expect but far as it being a small town, hell naw, it’s a whole ‘nother world.
Why do a lot of artists end up leaving Chicago (what can we do to change this)?
Alot of artists leave the city because they feel like Chicago is a city filled with haters, its too clickish, and there is no money or help and it’s true. It’s so much bullshit that goes on behind the scene where people dont want to give you shine cause you either dating a chick they like, because of your clothes, because you’re too this, you’re not that, and the shit be lame as hell but that’s why I decided to create my own scene and do things my way. Basically all I did was segregate the city at a time when they said it couldn’t be done. The city don’t need much but media but lately the city has been more in the limelight. I think Barack becoming President is bringing more money to the city.
Where would you like to perform?
Shit everywhere in the world…countries I can’t even pronounce, Space, Pluto, Heaven, the jungle. I’m a big fan of believing you can do anything you want to do. God made us in his image we just have to get back in tune with our spirituality.
What flicks would you compare your music to?
Shaw Brothers Kung Fu Dynasty of movies, Porno Movies, Japanamation, Dramas, Tragedy, and comedy it’s so many good movies to name but my life is already a american movie classic everything about me. My movement is very action packed, my live shows are very intense, and just like a comedy I will put a smile on your face, but it’s real life like a Tragedy or Drama.
MNP ran into Sean Bono of Art Battles and got a chance to talk about what is really going on- like we have done before, we’ll start off with a brief documentary about the movement and then move on to the interview.
Can you please describe what an art battle is?
Art Battles is both an event for artistic entertainment as well as a movement for social change. Its a peaceful conflict built out of the framework of capitalism and democracy. Artists are competing with eachother t0 sell their work, win prizes and to do that by winning over the audience with popular vote.
How have you seen the audience of these events respond to the creation process?
The audience responds really well, that is and has been my biggest sense of accomplishment with ArtBattles.. Seeing people treat art with the passion of sport and seeing painters connecting with a huge crowd is pretty wild. It really makes me think wow, this is getting BIG.
What has been your favorite battle and why?
I think my favorite battle was our Kong Zilla battle between Leif and Dre. The tension was in the room with two huge canvasses spotlight on the stage of Le Poisson Rouge. The crowd filled the room bubbling with anticipation DJ JUs Ske played a killer set. I will never forget Leif paints his whole canvas black and in doing so he shoots a wad of paint off his brush through the air and onto the shoulder of Dre the whole place went nuts and they both painted amazing pieces. In the end the crowd decided Leif the victor.
I think that the sky is the limit with Live art. I boastful joke by saying that there is a whole wing in the met dedicated to what we are doing that know one new was there before.
How do you see this movement evolving over the next say ten years?
As for in the next ten years where to and what music like I said the sky is the limit and with live art andf ArtBattles there are no boundaries on where it can exist or styles that can be expressed inside of it.
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