Interview: Silivrenelya

Today we’re joined by Silivrenelya. Silivrenelya is a wonderful singer and songwriter who sings with a pop/rock band. She’s been performing with her band since 2012 and they’re currently working on their debut album. We’ll likely be seeing quite a lot more of Silivrenelya in the future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi! I am a singer-songwriter in a pop/rock band. We’ve been playing together since 2012. We are currently recording our debut album, as signed artists, since 2015. Our main influences are The Killers, The Beatles, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys, Queen, The Kooks, and The Struts.

What inspires you?

Beautiful and powerful stories inspire me. Everything that can make me feel something strong inspires me. Soulful and talented people inspire me. Soothing landscapes and music made with passion inspire me.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I think I have always liked singing and telling stories. Growing up, I went through crucial moments in my life that strengthened my desire to do this as a job. I remember feeling so good and like I belonged when I first sang in front of people, and when they expressed their enjoyment, I felt great. I managed to make people feel something, and that was it. I loved this feeling and I wish to keep it for as long as I’m able to provide it.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not particularly! I really like to write stories that have a double reading or “double entendre” in them though. I personally love it when a song has different meanings, like levels of understanding, and the deeper you search the deeper the meaning is, and thus the song becomes even more relevant.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say, if you’re really passionate about your art, about what you’re doing, then burn your bridges that would take you backwards and go forwards, always straight ahead. Have a goal, no matter how tiny or huge it is or seems. One step at a time. Never regret what you’ve done, only learn from your mistakes, there is no such thing as failure, it’s only new data to analyse and try to avoid or improve for the next time. Try to be indulgent towards yourself. It is always the hardest part, but it can actually save you from so many dark times. And sleep!

I am still a young artist myself though, so it is just what I gathered along the way. I still have a lot to learn.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify myself as asexual (and panromantic).

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I realised only recently that I belonged to the Ace spectrum, so I am not out to everyone, but my closest friends know. At first they were just really confused because I used to be very active in relationships – but they didn’t realise I was doing this to try to figure out what the hell I truly felt about all this. After then they all didn’t know what was asexuality, so I tried to explain to them, using some quotes from different aces’ testimonies, and also with the 4 sides of attraction: that proved to be the most efficient and clear explanation so far for ignorant people.

I always try to remain calm and open when explaining it, because in my country (France), it is still not very well known and clarified, and all I wish is for asexuality to be better understood and handled.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The common misconception about asexuality that I’ve encountered is that of the sexual trauma or sexual hate. While it may be true for some, it is not for all. And people often think that you are ace because of some awful past experience, or because you haven’t found where you really belong. But… That’s not how it works. At all. They often don’t understand why you wouldn’t have any sexual attraction or intercourse. Sex is such an inherent part of society – it forced itself so hard in it – that for us to say that we are not receptive to this side of the system is often seen as a form of – rebellion? Weirdness? Marginality even. People simply don’t understand (yet) why we are like this. But they will eventually, I have hope!

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Just like “It’s okay to be gay”, it’s totally okay to be ace! And it’s okay to be afraid of who you are at first. I mean, it’s frightening when you don’t know what you are, why you’re feeling what you’re feeling. And even if you’re not 100% sure about what you are, guess what? It’s ALSO okay. And, please, don’t worry about whether people will still like/love you if you’re ace. They will. The right people will always love you, no matter who you are.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

For now there is nothing public that I can give away, but as soon as there is, I will let you know!

Thank you, Silivrenelya, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Alice Marie

Today we’re joined by Alice Marie. Alice is a phenomenal visual artist who is currently studying sculpture at uni. When she’s not sculpting, Alice enjoys singing and songwriting. She’s got a wonderful enthusiasm and love for her art, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-17-53-43

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sculpture student currently in my second year at Camberwell, UAL. My practice has always been a bit sporadic – with the constant thread of connection being my sense of humor, and my habit of making elements a little cryptic, often leaving sculptural pieces as an in-joke with myself, and moving recently into outright baffling video works. I also earn sporadic money as a singer/songwriter, pandering to different fandoms at different times, but ultimately it was Destiel that taught me to write about love.

What inspires you?

I look very much to my own experiences, largely being media that I consume – be it an actual television show, a Netflix original, a meme, but then also folktales and Shakespeare, anything that I’ve found funny or engaged with on a more intense level will ultimately end up included somewhere. My music started off literally written for and about fandom, could literally not be divorced from the original content, but in the last few years I’ve moved on to more mythological themes, which are much more socially acceptable for some reason.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve gone from singer, to chef, to actor, to comic book artist, to fashion designer growing up. But creativity is a real part in all of those careers, so I knew from early on that the creative process was an innate love. Ultimately it was my parents’ support that meant I could choose GCSEs and A-Level qualifications for purely what I enjoyed, and not what I thought necessary to succeed in a specific career, and I could never get away from Fine Art.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I always like having humor, if a project isn’t amusing to me in some way then I tend to drop it very quickly and move on to something more entertaining. My art is very self-indulgent, it’s a purely selfish process of ‘what do I want to do?’ and never what I ‘should’ do, because that gets very boring very quickly.

I also like there to be levels – either by different things combining in strange ways, or different intellectual levels to understand something – though I always talk about them on the most accessible level in public, because sometimes a floral plushie stingray pushing a shopping trolley full of tuna is literally just that.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Look at art, talk about art, just sit and work on your practice, and build up a file of images or text that grabs your eye! Even a blog, instagram, any form of documentation of ideas is invaluable because when you are lost you can always look back at something to reflect where you started from. But also, be open minded about everything – having a position is an attractive thing in any discussion, but learning is more important.

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-18-50-06

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual, hetero-romantic… But with the added bonus of not being terribly attached to my gender, but not with strong enough feelings to go through the hassle of talking about pronouns, so I’m just staying under the umbrella of the female binary for now. Which means that yes, still hetero-romantic. I want to lean back into someone with more masculine body temperatures when having a movie-marathon.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

My field so far has been as a student, and studying any Fine Art at Uni means that absolutely nobody cares as long as anyone involved is a fully informed and consenting adult. Ignorance, yes, because not every student arrives at Uni fully educated about the ace spectrum, but no prejudice. I’m normally quite patient with people worth the time, but I’ve been known to say ‘please Google it, sleep on it, see me in the morning’.

I could write essays on what I’ve seen online, but it’s only ever been observed as petty discourse squabbles. Everyone in direct communication with me has been at worst ignorant, and never malicious unless I already knew they were rotten eggs to begin with, in which case they’d be malicious about any personal information I revealed. So, Tossers.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The assumption is either that I have no sex drive and can’t get turned on (which hey, is one hell of an assumption to make after knowing me for the duration of one conversation) or that I am happy to be alone, completely solitary in my existence, for the whole of my life.

It gets so old, so fast, as I’m sure anyone else has said before and will say again. I now just, when asked about my sexuality, say ‘nah’ and make vague shrugging gestures until they take the hint.

The amount of times people have asked ‘do you wank?’. I normally ask ‘Does your mother?’ and go from there.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Just remember that any healthy relationship, of any kind, should be based on a mutual trust and respect. If you don’t have that, then nothing will work. But also that you don’t have to know – you can just agree to yourself to do what feels right if and when the time comes. If you want to go on a date, or kiss someone, or just hold hands, or just hang out, then do it, because if you are honest with yourself and the people around you then any crap they give you is their crap, not yours. Don’t play a part and then be confused when you feel like it’s not real, because you can’t make feelings happen, they just do.

One day you might – like I did – find a word on tumblr that resonates with you, and makes you think ‘oh, yes actually, darn, yes very much, the whole of 2010 -15 makes sense to me now, oh gosh, so many interactions could have gone so much better if I knew’. I never would have asked that guy to prom.

Even then, don’t worry about finding a word/label if none of them fit. You are a complete individual. Have a cup of tea. Pet a dog. You’re good.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I have a Tumblr where I post music related things at Alicemariemusic, I have a more personal Tumblr where I reblog funny things at Plamplamp.

I also have an Instagram when I remember that photography is fun at Alicemaarie

I also have a YouTube that has some songs, some educational videos, and some art videos at Hitstereo, but you could find it under Alice Marie too.

I have a Soundcloud at alicemarie-e, and my Bandcamp is alicemariemusic.bandcamp.com!

And then, because the social media presence and links never end, I have an official website (shiny, new, never been used) at goodsardine.wixsite.com/alicemarie.

Please, if you have any ideas you want to share for collaboration, music or art or literally anything, I always love to hear from people! Even if you want to chat about Diabetes or having a cleft lip, asexuality or the weather, I’d be happy to see a new name in literally any inbox from any of these sites, except maybe soundcloud ‘cause I’m rubbish at checking that fellow.

Thank you, Alice, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Lee

Today we’re joined by Lee. Lee is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. They love cooking the most, but they also do some writing and crafts. They also enjoy music and play a number of instruments as well as sing. It’s very obvious they love creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I like to cook, knit, cross-stitch, write and play music. I love cooking the most, as it provides a lovely meal for you to eat when you are done! My specialties include mushroom risotto, spaghetti carbonara and chicken chow mein. My knitting and cross-stitching is really good for relaxing in my spare time with some music and a cat on my lap.

Writing is also one of my favourite things to do, but unfortunately writer’s block stands in my way like a stubborn boulder more often than not. I like to write romance (because asexuals can still have lovely romantic relationships!) and horror. Sadly for my characters, they are sometimes combined.

As for music, I can play bass, keyboard and ukulele, and I love to sing. My friend gives me the nickname Tyler Joseph because I can rap as well. I mostly do covers, but recently I composed an original song.

What inspires you?

My inspiration for cooking and writing almost always starts with a ‘what if?’.

I love to take tropes and recipes that people are used to and flip them on their heads. Adding a certain new ingredient can make meals really tasty, especially if you switch out a vegetable you don’t like for one you do. What if instead of beansprouts and lettuce, you had mushrooms and sweetcorn in your stir-fry? What if you added cinnamon to your muffins? (I add cinnamon to everything and anything I bake. Someone needs to stop me.)

In writing I love challenging tropes, and mostly I use it as an opportunity to make my characters diverse and three-dimensional. For example, what if the superhero is ace & aro and never gets a love interest, but the villain is so busy trying to find out who they’re dating that they don’t realise the hero has found their lair? If I’m writing fanfiction, my question may become “what if this scene went differently?” Or “What if these characters had a happy ending?”

Inspiration also comes from things I read; books, I like to believe, are not just paper. They reproduce, as plots and characters and settings from all different books inspire more plots and characters and settings in other writers. It’s like a whole new species.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’d have to say the thing that got me interested in writing was reading. I was the epitome of a bookworm when I was little, and all those books made me want to write some of my own. I thought, if these characters can have these adventures, what adventures can my characters have?

I’ve also always loved music and singing, but I was never very good at anything but keyboard until my music teacher introduced me to the bass guitar. It’s my favorite instrument as it’s simple yet really effective, and can serve as both melody and percussion. Plus, I can play the bassline to Dance Dance, which is one of my favourite basslines ever.

My interest in knitting and cross-stitching came from, as with many others, my grandmother teaching me how. Since she got arthritis and can’t do it anymore, I feel like I should carry on her legacy, so to speak. Plus, it comes back again to challenging stereotypes. Whoever hears of a teenager knitting?

And cooking, of course, comes from loving food.

I always loved writing and wanted to be an author, but I never thought the other three would become so important in my life.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think everyone who has read my writing knows that I use ‘though’ in every other sentence.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make some art. And then make some more. And if you have art block in one area, try another. Things like drawing, painting and writing can take up a lot of mental energy because your creativity is being pushed to its limits. If you’re struggling with a particular piece, find something new to create that has a set of instructions to follow, like my personal favourite, knitting. Once you get into the hang of whatever you’re making, your mind wanders and maybe you can have an idea that can help you! Remember that all art is good art and you don’t have to be amazing at everything straight away. Be patient with yourselves.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am currently questioning my position on the spectrum, but I believe I am most likely to be completely asexual. I’m not rushing to get to an answer, though. I’m also questioning my position on the romantic spectrum, though as I am currently in a lovely relationship I think it’s safe to say I’m not aromantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Luckily I am quite sheltered from a lot of prejudice and ignorance as most of my friends are very well educated and/or on the asexual spectrum themselves. I haven’t experienced any as of yet.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Again, most of my friends are well educated on asexuality, but I do find that people tend to go straight down the path of ‘not finding the right person yet’. It’s a bit like telling someone with a nut allergy that they haven’t found the right nut yet.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

If I’m honest I’d say I’m one of those people who are struggling with their orientation, but I think that being patient with yourself is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to identity. There’s nothing wrong with identifying as anything as long as you’re not harming anyone.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I have posted one of my covers on my YouTube channel anomalee, and more will probably be up there soon.

My AO3 account is heyitslee, though I would advise you stay away from the old stuff.

I have a blog that occasionally posts tips for brit-picking, called its-not-block-its-street, that you can check out.

I also recently started a writing blog called thescientificterm. I am yet to post on it, but I will be posting some pieces I have already done on there soon, and any new pieces will be going up there. I am currently working on a horror piece for my creative writing coursework, so keep your eyes out for that! I might make it into a crafty blog and post some other stuff up there too.

Thank you, Lee, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Signal Boost: Success 5000

Hello all!

I have a bit of an unusual boost for all you lovely followers. Not too long ago, I interviewed a fantastic cinematographer named James Hastings (interview here: Tumblr & WordPress). He recently finished working on a music video for a musical comedy duo.

The video can be found here: I Wanna Eat Everything

The band itself is not ace, but James did excellent work on the video and feels they deserve a bit more exposure. 🙂

So give it a watch, leave a like and/or a nice comment, show them some love!

Interview: Georgia Evans

Today we’re joined by Georgia Evans. Georgia is a phenomenal musician. She’s most passionate about singing, but she also plays the piano, violin, and guitar. Georgia also composes music and is a very dedicated songwriter. She’s got an incredible enthusiasm for music, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

georgia-evans-img_0809

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a musician so my art is incredibly versatile and eclectic. I play piano, violin, and guitar all self taught but I am, above all else, a singer. Vocals were the first thing I trained myself in and I have been singing longer than I have been playing any instrument. I am a singer songwriter and a performer. This means that I write my own songs and then I perform my own work at any opportunity. I have posted a few online but in the last six months I have gone into pre production for my first CD in the hops of getting my music onto platforms like iTunes and Spotify. This means that not only have I written the songs themselves but that I am now in the process of writing all the other instrument parts for them, including bass, drums, strings and harmonies. Adding dynamics, adding effects and filters and writing out the parts for other musicians to play when it comes time to take the songs into the studio. This stage of making an album can take months and months. It is all of the preparation of setting everything up just so, so that you have to spend minimal time in the studio. Because here’s the thing, studio time, costs a lot of money and session musicians (the guys and gals who come in and play the parts written for instruments I cannot play myself) have to be paid for their time as well. Then you have to pay the tech who runs the desk and the techs who set up the rooms and the producer who mixes and masters your tracks for you. It gets expensive if you’re still writing parts in the studio, so you get it all done before you go in.

When I’m not working on this though I like to learn new instruments and do covers of songs that I like. I have a Facebook page where I post videos of some of these, which has gotten me a lot of positive attention as an artist. I gained an invite to the Wollongong RAW festival this March and an invite to a sit down with the creative director of Fire Entertainment in the Surry Hills.

The most important thing about this art form for me though, is that through it I can reach out to people and make them feel something. I can make people feel less alone in their mental illness with my songs. Music is my safe place, my release and I can use it to impact people in a positive way which I think is beautiful.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me, to be honest. Some of the time I write songs about my own feelings and experiences. Other times I write about my family and their experiences and how they make me react emotionally. Then there are the days when something happens or I see a friend struggling and I am inspired to write something that tells them that they are not alone and that I am here and I understand and I see them. A lot of people with mental illnesses (like myself) I think feel invisible and unseen by the music industry, which is so focused on love songs and sex and fighting the establishment. That’s what sells you see. It was Jared Padalecki and his AKF campaign that helped give me the courage to start writing songs about a subject that’s, thus far, still quite taboo. No one talks about it and so those of us fighting these kinds of things end up feeling isolated and alone. I want to write music that brings us into the light again, humanizes us and unites us so that we no longer feel so alone or forgotten or like we have to blend in in order to be a part of the society that we live in. I want to make people with mental illnesses, young and old feel like they are seen and heard again finally. We have been silent and invisible for so long. It’s time for a change.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a famous singer. I used to get told off for singing along when my mum sang lullabies because I was supposed to be sleeping. I grew up, luckily, with a mother who was incredibly supportive of this dream and who did everything in her power to give me the tools to make it come true.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think the signature is the content and the actual sound of my voice… I’m not sure how I’d share that aside from saying, have a look on my Tumblr for some of my videos. There might even be a link there for my Facebook page if you’re lucky.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Being a professional musician is hard. It is rewarding and amazing and it can be great fun, but it’s hard work. You will be turned down for gigs, you will be sent away from labels. There is no talent scout just waiting around the corner, you have to go out there and perform, and practice, and learn new things. You are the only one who can make yourself successful.

People will tell you, you have to have talent to be a musician. They’re wrong. You have to be strong, and determined and willing to work immensely hard.

And above all else, you need to love what you do and have faith in yourself. Be a musician for the love of the music and the people who hear it. Make music to bring joy and music will bring you joy in return.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m not actually sure how to answer this. I only learned what asexuality is a year ago during my recovery from a relationship that had turned abusive. I hadn’t realised that I was allowed to feel the way I do. That it was normal and dint mean there was something wrong with me as my partner at the time inferred regularly. I have always felt that if I am in a relationship then the other person is going to want sex and I’ll have to give them that because society taught me that love=sex. In the last year I have started to learn that they are two very different things. I can love someone and never want to touch or be touched in that way and that is OK. Because I was ignorant I allowed terrible things to happen to myself, which means that I am still confused about where I sit on the spectrum and where I belong. I know I will figure it out eventually but at the same time even if I never do I know I can still identify as ace and take each situation as it comes to me. I have met a lot of lovely people who are in different places on the spectrum and they have all been lovely about helping me to recover and understand myself a lot more.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Most people try to tell me I just haven’t met the right person yet and then once I explain that I have had encounters and decided I still identify this way they try to convince me it’s because the other person was doing it wrong. Men regularly seem to think that they have magic in their genitals that will make me like sex if I just try it with them. I try to stay calm but often I end up laughing in their faces and walking away. Sometimes they follow me which means I have to find a crowd (which I hate, crowds are scary) or find someone I know to scare them off. Other times people are less aggressive and more ignorant. “So… you’re like a plant?” is a common phrase. So I try to educate them. It’s like this; imagine that sexuality and sexual attraction is a fridge full of fruit. Lets stick with apples and oranges for now, (I know there are more genders but the metaphor will get too messy to understand.) Some people like apples, some like oranges and some like both. Someone who likes apples can go to the fridge, get an apple and be satisfied. Someone who prefers oranges can go over, get an orange and that’s that. Someone who likes both is spoiled for choice but they can pick either one and be satisfied. Now imagine staring into the fridge only to realize, you don’t like apples or oranges really. Even worse, imagine you’re hungry and realizing this fact.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s not a real thing and that there aren’t many of us. I have met dozens of aces from all over the place. Admittedly that’s mostly online here on Tumblr but the point stands, we are out there, we are real and we are valid.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s OK to be unsure. You are allowed to take your time with this kind of thing and it is 100% OK no to realize that you might be asexual till later in your life. It is also 100% OK to know and be sure from a young age. As we grow up and learn new things our perceptions of ourselves change. I went from straight to lesbian to bi before I realized that it was OK to not really be attracted to either. Now I am proudly asexual and Bi romantic. The label doesn’t define you, you define the label.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

The easiest place to find my stuff is on my Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/georgiamusicofficial/

Alternately you can search the tags #music #original #songwriting and probably a few other music terms or song names on my Tumblr, heck even message me and ask for a tag and I’ll find the posts for you.
https://keepingcalmisoverratedgoddamnit.tumblr.com/

Thank you, Georgia, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Brenna

Today we’re joined by Brenna. Brenna is a wonderful young artist who is quite versatile. She does visual art, writing, and singing. She’s currently studying art in school and is incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do many arts from painting and drawing to singing- but the one I’m most passionate about is my writing. I even go to an arts high school for it.

What inspires you?

Music usually inspires me, but other times it’s dreams or TV shows, movies or books that I really like.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I really got into writing in sixth grade, I loved it and I realised that that’s what I want to do for a living. When I was younger I really wanted to be a vet- then I wanted to be a singer, then I wanted to be an actress, so you can say I’ve always been into art- but it wasn’t until the sixth grade that I was sure of which art.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I’m not sure if I do- I’m sure if you look intently through my recent works you would be able to find something. I usually write first person from a female protagonists view, that female protagonist is usually quite arrogant and sarcastic. That’s all I can notice for now, but I’m positive that there has to be something else.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To young aspiring artists: Go out there, experience new things, work on your art- because you’ll never be perfect, there’s no such thing as perfect- but you can pretty well damn try.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as heteromantic, demisexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I haven’t actually experienced any ace prejudice or ignorance in my field, as I said- those in my field that I interact with all go to the same arts school as I, and so we are exposed to many sexual orientations, many genders, many religions- and so we kinda have to go into everything with an open mind. I say I’m very lucky not to have experienced it in my field.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The most common misconception that I’ve encountered is that since you identify as somewhere on the asexual spectrum you are also aromantic. It actually gotten tiring explaining it to people when I tell them that I identify as demisexual and then in later conversations say that I want a boyfriend, they’re always like “oh but aren’t you aseuxal?” Yes, I am- but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel romantic attraction.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s okay if you don’t understand where you identify on the spectrum- you honestly don’t need to put a label on it, no, or ever. It’s okay if you don’t know why you feel, or don’t feel these things- we don’t know either, the best thing I can tell you is to embrace it and move on with your life, it’s a part of you and you can choose what to do with that knowledge.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

People can find more of my work on Wattpad at: https://www.wattpad.com/user/JazzHz0o0 but I would advise not reading the stories I wrote before 2016, because they are cringey and make me visably cringe when I read them. But you can do what you want with your life, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other than that I am working on another story that will come out soon, because it is almost finished- so look out for that.

Thank you, Brenna, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Brandon

Today we’re joined by Brandon. Brandon is a fantastic author who is a prolific writer who has written a novel and is currently working on the sequel. Aside from writing novels, he’s also working on short stories. When he’s not writing, Brandon enjoys singing and has begun to dabble in visual artist. It’s very apparent he’s an incredibly passionate artist. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main artistic interest is in writing, specifically narrative work. At the moment I’ve got a 250,000 word novel waiting in the wings, I’m starting up on the sequel and I’m bouncing around ideas for a new (shorter) story which I’d like to get published as my debut to help get my foot in the door of the novel-writing world. I’ve dedicated the past three years to two writing-related major goals – completing my novel and earning my Bachelor’s degree in English and Writing. Like I said, I’ve completed the former (sort of, bar the publishing thing) and I completed the latter last year – I’ll be graduating in May and hopefully moving on to do a Master’s degree in 2018, focusing on narrative features of video games.

Besides that, I also love to sing. One of my major projects for a paper in my final year of my degree allowed me to write a creative non-fiction piece on a topic of my choice, so I decided to write a piece on barbershop after reminiscing about the several years I spent singing bass in a chorus during high school. I also recently joined the internationally ranking chorus, Vocal FX, which has rekindled my love of performance.

I’ve found that I enjoy visual art but I’m not particularly good at it since I only recently got into it. My favourite part is always coming up with the ideas for a scene rather than drawing it. I suppose given my writing habits that wouldn’t be surprising.

What inspires you?

A friend of mine has been with me every step of the way since I started working on my novel and she’s been the one who encouraged me at all times. She’s one of the few people in the world who’s read my novel (I sent it to her chapter by chapter or sometimes scene by scene whenever I finished a draft I was satisfied with) and she’s the only person other than me who knows the upcoming plot as well as I do. I can never thank her enough for her help and for putting up with me constantly needling her with sad plot points, and for her willingness to bounce ideas back and forth which often gives me better ideas than I started with. She is without a doubt one of my biggest inspirations simply because her genuine enthusiasm helps spark that creative flow that I need to get going better than anything else.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I think the first piece of creative writing I can remember doing was when I was only six or seven years old. I remember it quite vividly because it was basically a butchered plagiarized fanfic that smashed together Lilo and Stitch and a video game called Impossible Creatures, where the protagonist was one of Jumba’s experiments which was basically this horrific monstrosity of numerous combined animals. It landed on earth and ended up being worshipped as a god and had to defend its people from other creatures that came to harm them. I’m surprised my parents didn’t put me into therapy for that. I also labeled it as ‘a true story’ because I had no fear of being sued for false advertising. I also remember having a dragon phase (didn’t everyone?) and writing a series of short stories about dragons which I think I still have lying around, as well as a phase after buying the game Spore in which I wrote a lot about aliens.

So, long story short (hah) I’ve always loved to write, but when I got older I started worrying that it wouldn’t be a viable career. I initially planned to study my second love (zoology) at university, but not long after I finished high school, I started my novel, and I decided to hell with practicality, I wanted to pursue my dream. Now I’m here with a completed novel, a bunch of ideas, and my fingers crossed that I strike lucky with publishing.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think the biggest feature of my work is more in the background, in the worldbuilding, particularly when it comes to fantasy wildlife. I spent a very, very long time on the worldbuilding of my novel before I started writing on it and by far enjoyed coming up with creatures, their habitats, and their behaviours the most (I once had an hours-long chat with a couple of my friends about the territorial and communal habits of trolls in my novel despite them never having read it). I think this translated well to the plot, given that one of my main characters has a troll for a companion and their interactions with each other and those around them added a significant and special dynamic to the story.

Can you tell trolls are a major thing in this book?

brandon-troll-art
Troll Art Commission by padalickingood

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Inspiration won’t always be there for you. Honestly, in my experience, it’ll barely be there for you at all. But that shouldn’t stop you. If you have it, seize it with both hands at every possible opportunity. If you don’t, push forward regardless. Write something that you know you’ll just rewrite later. Draw that sketch you don’t feel confident about. Practice that song you hate. You never know when inspiration will rear its head, and if you’re lucky, all the hard yards you put in without it will force it out of hiding and allow you to make something incredible.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify most closely with demisexual but I’ve come to feel pretty lax with the specifics. I’m not sex-repulsed but I definitely don’t have any particular urge for it, and god knows where I am when it comes to gender identities I’m attracted to. Throw a dart at the Kinsey triangle and I might be somewhere near that.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve never dealt with any prejudice directed towards me for being an ace writer specifically. I mean, every ace person has probably had to put up with an acephobe at some point, but when it comes to writing I’ve never had an issue. As a viewer/reader, though, I’ve noticed ace-spec characters aren’t really that common – even just implied asexuality doesn’t show up often. And even in the event that it does, a lot of the time it’s full of misconceptions or just poor writing, including the good old ‘but sex is so great / sex brought you into the world why don’t you like it’ talk that I’ve come to hate with a burning passion.

As for how I deal with it, I just think the best thing to do when confronted with lack of representation is to fix the problem. Be the change you want to be and write your own ace characters. Headcanon characters as ace. Nobody can stop you from seeing yourself in a character that already exists, and remember that no matter what people may say, headcanoning a character as ace is not ‘stealing’ them from another community – gender attraction and level of sexual attraction are two different things, and you aren’t harming anyone by headcanoning a character as ace or aro regardless of their gender leanings. Just be considerate to others if they express concern and keep their points in mind so long as they treat you with a similar respect.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

This is honestly hard to pick from because I’ve heard a lot (nothing malicious but people have a habit of really not getting how asexuality can work) but I think the biggest thing is people think I don’t like physical intimacy or that I would never have sex. They could not be more wrong about the first point and I’d probably say they’re wrong about the second.

I love physical intimacy. I’m a human teddy bear, I crave contact from certain people. I love hugs, I love kisses, with the right people I could be down for anything. All I ask from people is that they respect my boundaries for each individual person, because they vary. This isn’t even a uniquely ace thing – everyone has certain levels of comfort with physical affection – but I’ve heard people cite my asexuality a lot when they express uncertainty about it.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Finding a label or a category can be satisfying, but it’s not a necessity. It’s fine to not know where exactly you fit in the spectrum, and in fact sometimes it’s easier to be flexible with it. That being said, if you do find something you identify closely with and it means a lot to you, take pride in it. You are who you are and nobody has the right to question that or take it away from you.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I do have a sideblog dedicated to stuff from my novel series – the username is chroniclesofandrasfar – but I haven’t used that very much lately. If any big news comes up, you’re sure to find me raving about it on my main blog, mythicfictionist.

Thank you, Brandon, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.