Thursday, 14 January 2016

Artist Spotlight - Listen04

Art can be beautiful, disgusting, poignant, offensive, crude and thought provoking. All of those nouns and more describe the work of Listen04.

Imagine the childish drawings of junior school but with engorged members,  political statements and moments of pure truth that make your jaw drop and yours brain tremble. A dreaded realisation that behind the Disneyesque facade of bleached teeth, tanned skin and picture postcard backdrops something is terribly wrong in America and society as a whole. There's a worm in the apple and it's munching away at the core of humanity.

Listen04 delivers the message with the subtly of a hammer to the face, images of racism, white privilege, the perversity of terror and soullessness of globalisation batter your eyes and brain into a mush of introspection. When asked to explain his work he stated,

"I find talking about my work extremely difficult. It is the act of trying to re-interpret something that has already been done. It seems, and ultimately is, pointless. I have no flowery words of explanation. If you dissect it, it dies."


Just as quickly as you may have found Listen04's work he may now have ceased producing his drawings. A recent statement on his instagram said:

listen04I am now at my best and so Listen04 is over. I have officially stopped. all currently scheduled exhibitions are canceled (sic). The upcoming show in march will still be delivered at the daniel rolnik gallery. Listen04 was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by irreverence and vision. above and beyond "art". to my truest fans, please stay legend

If this is true his work is about to become a little more scarce so if you fancy owning a piece of it head to his website where prints are available here or for originals One Grand Gallery.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Artist Of The Month - Grant Haffner

Art tastes vary from person to person, one admirers treasure may be another's trash, yet there are times when you stumble across work that appeals broadly to many. Somebody who has recently popped up on FMW's radar is Grant Haffner. Grant was born in Berkley, California in 1978 and now resides in Long Island NY. We were fortunate enough to catch up with him for this exclusive interview and feature him as this our Artist of The Month.

What inspires you to create the paintings you do and use the varied sometimes neon colours we see in your work?

Growing up and living in this beautiful area of country roads and water really inspires me. The light here is incredible. I wanted to capture that light and paint landscapes of the my town, but in a modern way. After years of working outdoors I noticed my favourite time of day was the drive home, and it dawned on me that this was my landscape; “the open road”. I love stripes and road trips so my basic idea was to deconstruct the road scene into all lines. The use of lines helped give the road scene motion and colour became a great tool to create depth within the scene. I also try to paint road scenes that seem iconic, ones that I feel people can recognise or relate too.

Your pieces intrigue us, the sense of motion and depth is astounding, was this something self taught or did you study?

I was always good at drawing growing up but chose to major in Horticulture when I first left for college. Unsatisfied I dropped out, entered the workforce and spent a few years day dreaming while busting my ass in the landscape industry. It was during those long working days that I realised what I really wanted to do. So I went back to art school, and completed the art program’s foundation year at SVA in NYC. That one year of art school gave me the confidence to pursue my art dream. I was lucky to have some incredible teachers, one in particular who basically told me to stop wasting time, drop-out and start making art. And that is basically what I did - I went home, got a job and started making art.

Have you ever decided to experiment in other areas such as portraiture? 

When I have the time I enjoy painting still life of flowers. I cannot draw human figures at all and my faces are plain awful. I just love painting landscapes.

We personally get a feeling of intense movement in your pieces and an overwhelming desire to know what's at the end of the road, Who do you think your art appeals to and what feelings do you think it elicits in others?

I want the viewer to feel like they are right there, experiencing the moment I captured while painting. I want them to feel like they are alone, speeding down the road, listening to the sounds of the landscape. Sometimes I want the viewer to pause and look up in the sky for a change or to appreciate how beautiful everything is around them. I like to think my art appeals to art lovers, landscape enthusiasts, people with wanderlust, or people nostalgic of the time they spent here.

How do you find the contemporary art scene in the US?

Honestly, I try not to pay attention to the art scene at all, mostly because I don’t want to be influenced by it. I don’t want to try to fit into it. At the end of the day I just want to make art that I enjoy looking at, that is meaningful to me and hopefully others too.

Do you feel social media helps or hinders you as an artist, we see you recently joined Instagram, what was the reasoning behind this? 

I have always been slow to jump into social media, but it is hard to ignore that this is where the art world is heading. My experience with Instagram has been amazing. I am blown away by how awesome the community is. Connecting with artists and art enthusiast in this way is totally inspirational. The art world is changing. Hopefully social media and things like Instagram will help break down the walls that surround these elite insider art clubs and level the playing field for new talent to get seen. The hardest part is always getting the gallery to show your work. Now people can see it regardless and that is radical.

Our favourite is definitely Night Time on Old Montauk Highway, it draws us inward towards the sea, the sky dark and foreboding. Do you have a particular favourite? 

The painting that I am working on at the time is always my favourite. I believe this is part of the relationship that develops between the Art and the Artist. This favouritism is probably what helps me see the painting through to the finish. I get so excited when I am working on a new piece, only to move on and lust after the next one. That being said, I do love the night scenes. Painting on a black panel really makes the colour pop in magical ways. I also really enjoy making the sunset scenes because it opens the sky up for playful abstraction and fluorescent colours.

What are your goals for the future?

Right now my main focus is to get comfortable painting on a larger scale. I have been painting on small wooden panels for years and really enjoyed the intimacy of it. Now I want to bring my lines and brush strokes to a much larger canvas while still maintaining my style. I also want to continue documenting my home town through painting as much as I can before over-development finally changes the landscape permanently. .

Finally do you have any plans to exhibit in Europe, London in particular?

Not in the immediate future but I sure would love too. Travelling and exhibiting would be a dream come true. I guess I kinda just want to make sure my art is good enough first.

We would like to thank Grant for taking his time to talk to us. If you wish to follow Grant on Tumblr go HERE, Facebook HERE and his Website HERE.

Monday, 10 November 2014

MNEK 'The Party' at XOYO - Music Review

Seeing musician's and singers perform well is always enjoyable, it's rare however to see them get truly lost in the music. Last night was one of those moments and MNEK (real name Uzoechi Emenike) was the performer.

When he first came on the stage at XOYO with his trademark high top, bright printed shirt and trouser combo he looked a little shy. When he opened his mouth however it's easy to see why he is swiftly rising in popularity and that shyness faded away. With a super soulful voice and an incredibly range of pitch MNEK simply wowed the audience. He smiled throughout and engaged in conversation with the crowd, showing a flare for true showmanship and a great passion for what he does. All this from somebody who's only recently turned 20!

Performing a number of tracks from his upcoming debut album including 'Wrote a Song About You', and his hauntingly beautiful cover of Coldplays Magic. He whipped the crowd into a frenzy, throwing the club hit Gorgon City's Ready For Your Love at them amongst others.  The highlight of the evening for us consisted of a previously new an unheard track that had us bouncing up and down and is sure to be a massive hit when released, we'd like to share some with you but don't want to spoil the surprise! MNEK is set to hit the big time and he thoroughly deserves it.

Check out MNEK performing Magic for VEVO DSCVR at The Great Escape Festival, Brighton 2014 below. You can follow him on Twitter HERE or alternatively Facebook HERE.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Mac Are Back!!!

If you mention Fleetwood Mac to anybody, if they don't automatically recognise this beast of the music world, then they most probably know one of their tracks or at least a cover. The Mac have been producing music for over 40 years, through drug addictions, health scares and break ups, they have proven themselves to be one of the most resilient bands out there. They're a family, they squabble and disagree but it's the blood of music that keeps them reforming and touring.

Last night's concert was held in Madison Square Gardens, 34th Street, fittingly in the heart of the Big Apple. Attendees ranged in age from the pensionable, right down to those in their 20s.  That's one of the greatest talents of Fleetwood Mac, their music draws in all ages and types. From lilting ballads and love songs with Stevie Nicks on vocals, to screaming guitar solos by the magic fingers of Lindsey Buckingham the music flows and ebbs much like the emotions it elicits.

The concert was frankly outstanding, Christine McVie, an integral member of the group had recently rejoined after a hiatus lasting 16 years, ended by a phone call last October as Stevie put it "She asked me if it was okay for to rejoin!". The fact that Christine was there opened up the play list immensely, Everywhere, Songbird, Dreams and the Chain being our highlights.

For a band in their 60's and 70's in the case of Christine, the energy and enjoyment that they bring to the stage is boundless. Lindsey and Mick Fleetwood both dripped with sweat with the sheer passion and exertion of expertly manipulating the drums and guitar. It's safe to say they could put a number of entertainers half their age to shame. It was one of those moments that you didn't want to end, but knowing it was finite made the enjoyment all the better. As Mick Fleetwood said at the end of the concert 'The Mac are Back!!!".

Monday, 7 July 2014

Wireless 2014 - A Review

Wireless Warms Up. (Photo ©AdamLucy2014)

Wireless 2014 will forever been known as the one with the rant...

Finsbury Park played host to this year's 3 day event and it coped well with the estimated 40,000 revellers each day. The proximity of the stages to each other, meant that no longer did you need to train in sprinting to reach your desired act and a copious number of refreshment stalls kept us hydrated and fed throughout.

Let's talk about the acts, a few stood out for us Ella Eyre and Kiesza being two notables. In comparison to the headline acts on the Friday, these two girls really threw themselves into their performances. The crowd surged and pulsated to their upbeat dance tracks and both finished to a storm of applause.

Pharrell Williams brought it to the main stage, treating expectant fans to a variety of his hits, both from N.E.R.D days and his solo projects. Happy being one of our favourites. However upon speaking to a number of people who have seen Pharrell perform before, they mentioned that he lacked a certain energy. His message was sometimes paradoxical,  he talked about 2014 being the year of empowerment for women, yet songs were sung objectifying the female body.

I Am A God? Kanye and his mask
 (Photo ©AdamLucy2014)
Head liner Kanye West gave the festival goers definitely something to talk about when he launched mid-set into a 25 minute rant about the fashion industry. At the beginning a light smattering of boos could be heard (alcohol + rain doesn't make a good combination) this however grew in intensity and soon became a cacophony. We heard one fan scream 'This ain't Oprah Kanye!!'.  Kanye also made the mistake of turning off the screens to either side of the stage, focusing the crowds attention on the centre. This coupled with the fact that thousands could barely make out the ant like figure on stage and his insistence in wearing a bizarre silver mask, already had people questioning the ticket price and whether it was really him. Rant aside, when he WAS performing the crowd lapped it up with gusto. 

As festivals go it was a win, the sun was shining for most of the Friday and the atmosphere great, perhaps next year a little less personalty heavy and a little more music should be the aim.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Exclusive Interview with Rising Star Kris Collins

A shot of Kris for his EP AMYGDALA taken by Steven Duarte
If you don't know of Kris Collins now is the time to get to know. To be there from the beginning as this artist perfects his craft and evolves from YouTube video maker to a star. There is something very special about this guy, a spark of passion, a complex personality and style and some frankly amazing music. Its a pleasure to bring you this exclusive interview with Kris and to get an insight to what makes him tick.

You've been singing for years and originally came to light internationally via YouTube, What's it like looking back at those first videos? 

I don't like looking back at them (laughs). Well most of them (laughs). Because I feel like I've grown so much as a person and as an artist, and have become much more comfortable with myself. There are about 4 or 5 I look back at from time to time to get a sense of nostalgia. Jamming with the life long friends I made at Berklee (College of Music). I do miss those days was a lot of fun.

So you released your first EP Amygdala, what was your inspiration for the project?

Emotions, fears, sex, pain...the AMYGDALA is the part of the brain that controls your fears, emotions, and sexuality. These are things I was experiencing during the writing process for the EP. It's a pretty dark project...

What response did you get from your fans and the music community? 

It's been received well. Everybody seems to have at least 2 songs they fuck with. I don't think anyone knew what to expect from me. I think people are starting to take me seriously now.

You seem to really have developed your own style, has it been a struggle trying to develop your music and what do you think of the current music scene?

Um well you know everyone has an opinion of what they think you should do and who they think you should be. It was a struggle trusting myself initially. I think I'm getting the hang of it...

Kris and Marsha Ambrosius
You recently opened for Marsha Ambrosius at the Troubadour which is amazing, how was that experience and did you get to share some tips with her?

That experience was beyond inspirational. The energy just took over. One of the best shows I've had. And yes me and her chatted about some things (laughs)...

We hear you are already planning your second EP can you give us a heads up of its direction?

I'm becoming more inspired by Prince when it comes to creating

Amygdala was funded by your fans using the power of the Internet and social media, do you think this is the future for aspiring artists?

I think it's definitely a great platform to get your supporters involved. I think you develop closer relationships with them. Is it the future? Maybe...I don't know, but I'm very grateful
and happy to have the support I do have. I wouldn't have got the project out when I did if it wasn't for them. So thank you. I love you all.

Do you have any plans to visit the UK as we think your music would be very well received!? 

(Laughs) Yes I'm actually planning a trip now. The UK is the market I really want to see myself excel in.

What else can we expect from you in the next year? 

Expect evolution...expect blossoming...expect new layers...expect new levels...

Thank You Kris for taking the time to speak to us and we look forward to seeing your career flourish!

You can purchase a copy of Kris Collins debut EP AMYGDALA on Itunes or Amazon and follow him on Instagram and twitter at @Kriswak.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Janelle Monae At The Institute - A Review

Listening to Janelle Monae's album 'The Electric Lady' is no longer fun. After attending yesterdays gig at The Institute in Birmingham, we demand that she follows us around and sings it to us personally. There aren't many artists who you can say sound amazing, if not better live than their polished studio albums, but Janelle ranks in that minuscule list.

The Institute itself is a pretty cool venue, it wasn't our first choice of Metropolis, but as Ms Monae's tickets sell like hot cakes, it was one of the only ones still available. It will be somewhere we will return however, the staff were very polite and friendly which makes a change from certain London based venues. The Institute's size gave the gig an almost intimate feel.

Supporting act Cody ChesnuTT whipped up the crowd with his own brand of Neo Soul and some rather intriguing dance moves, all the while sporting his trade mark helmet. Audience participation and engagement was definitely to be the theme of the evening. He displayed great passion and a fantastically versatile voice, wooing the crowd with a number of tracks from his most recent album 'Landing On A Hundred'.

The act we had all been waiting for arrived on stage in trademark style. Wheeled in by a white lab coated 'technician' and wearing a straight jacket, Janelle burst from her restraints into a rendition of 'Giving 'Em What They Love' and by god did she give us what we loved, tenfold! Other highlights of the evening were a touching 'Cold War' in which she mentioned the current plight of the 200 missing Nigerian school girls, a barn storming 'Electric Lady' which had the crowd convulsing with energy and enthusiasm and 'Come Alive' resulting in everybody in the stalls either sitting or kneeling on the floor, while she teased and enticed us with her vocals.

Swept off her feet Janelle crowd surfs 

Janelle is a fire cracker or more appropriately a stick of dynamite. Whether planned or not she partook in a spot of crowd surfing towards the end of her set and the place literally exploded with excitement. If you can catch a gig or if more dates are announced get your hands on some tickets and you will experience the best show of your life!