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: 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.

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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: Kyle Etges

Today we’re joined by Kyle Etges. Kyle is a phenomenal musician who specializes in quite a few styles. He’s a saxophonist who plays with the band Contraband. He’s a composer (some of his music can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/kyle-etges-463890162). Kyle is an incredibly passionate and dedicated musician, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a saxophonist, educator, composer, and bandleader. I have been playing music professionally for the past 12 years in the Denver area, and have been writing music for probably even longer. I’ve led or helped lead 6 bands in that time, and I’ve written several pieces for all of them, particularly my Afrobeat band- Contraband. I also work for commission, and have arranged music for a few funk bands in the area, as well as a handful of guest entertainers with Celebrity Cruises.

If I had to characterize my writing, it would be an eclectic mix of jazz, funk, and reggae with a touch of classical. I like writing large through-composed works that leave a lot of room for improvisational interpretation from my band members.

What inspires you?

Oh boy… it’s different every week, it seems like. Right now I really like Snarky Puppy, and have been trying to emulate their sound in my writing. I’ve also been incorporating some hip hop elements into my music as of late, and have been checking out a lot of Hiatus Kaiyote, D’Angelo, Kendrick Lamar, and Brotherly. I really like music that grooves hard and gets people dancing, and I especially like Snarky Puppy’s (namely their primary composer, Michael League’s) ability to transition and weave through several different grooves in one tune.

I’m also heavily inspired by a jazz composer named Maria Schneider, especially when it comes to writing in solos. Many composers will just have a soloist play with the drums and bass, maybe with a few backgrounds thrown in. But Maria Schneider always paints these beautiful tapestries of sound that take the soloist and listener on a journey on their own. It’s something I’m still trying to master in my own writing, but I’m already pretty good at nerding out about it.

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

I knew I wanted to do something in art since I was very young. I loved visual art when I was a kid, and I also got into theater from a young age. Music sort of took a side seat until I was 12, when I began listening to jazz and decided I wanted to pursue that full time. I think I was attracted to the idea of jazz more than the music. I like the image of being in a smoky club at three in the morning, surrounded by my friends calling out tunes to play. It all has a romantic quality to it, and I’ve been fortunate enough to experience that on multiple occasions.

As for writing music specifically, I think video games probably played the biggest hand in my interest. I was raised on Nintendo, and grew up listening to pieces by Koji Kondo. I’ve been told some of my pieces sound like overworld themes from a Zelda game, and I can’t say I’m surprised. I still get goosebumps when I put in Twilight Princess

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?

Hmm… I kind of do, but it’s difficult to explain. Do you ever have a tune stuck in your head, but you’re not sure what it is or where it came from? I get those all the time, and naturally as a composer I eventually get to thinking, “is this a song already, or did I make this up?” I had this one a few years ago that was driving me nuts, and it became an inside joke amongst the band that it was every/any song. We started throwing this little melody into our solos, and eventually I started throwing it into my pieces.

I’ll try and upload a picture of it, but in solfedge it would be do-me-sol-^do-te-sol-me-fa-sol do-me-le-sol-me-do-re-me. I know it shows it’s face in 3-4 of my pieces. I guess I should make it more of a thing!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

One of the biggest lessons I had to learn -or perhaps am still learning- is to foster discipline for your art. Many people are inspired to make art, and some of those people are even motivated enough to go through with it and create something beautiful. But I believe a true master is marked by daily regimen and improvement, even in the absence of motivation. In short … to truly master something, practice it every day, even if you don’t want to. Between inspiration and daily discipline, discipline always wins- hands down. It’s the only way to ensure growth improvement in your craft. No matter what, you always need to strive to be greater. Keep going!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Panromantic Demisexual, but usually I just say Asexual for simplicity’s sake.

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

If there has been any prejudice, I haven’t heard about it directly. There are of course many musicians who don’t understand what it is, particularly musicians I met when working on a cruise ship. For most people, it’s a simple matter of educating them on the subject.

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

My asexuality is a recent self-revelation, and a big part of my self-acceptance was upon meeting another asexual, with whom I proceeded to get into a queerplatonic relationship. For that reason, many people think my asexuality is a choice for the benefit of my partner (now fiancé!). It’s true that she played a huge role in helping me realize and accept this aspect of myself, but the truth is it’s always been a part of my life, and it’s dictated all of my past romantic relationships. Still, many people still tell us that our relationship ‘isn’t fair to me’ or in one case ‘is a waste of my penis’ (I really hate the guy who said that one). However, the truth is I’m happier than ever to be in a relationship that finally makes sense to me!

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

No matter how weird or different you feel, there’s at least one person out there who feels the same way. You are probably not as special as you think you are, and that’s not a bad thing! Find like-minded people and connect with them. I would not recommend trying to fit in by doing things you don’t want to do. I did that for an embarrassingly long time, so take it from me- it doesn’t work out!

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

Follow my Facebook page for now: facebook.com/etgesmusic. You’ll hopefully see some information soon about my website launching!

Contraband can be found at contrabandco.com or facebook.com/contrabandco

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

Interview: Mal

Today we’re joined by Mal. Mal is a wonderfully talented musician who specializes in song covers. She also plays the guitar and is starting to learn the violin as well. Aside from music, Mal is also a dedicated writer who enjoys crafting novels and occasionally dabbles in poetry. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a musician and a writer. In terms of music, I sing and play guitar, and I’ve recently started learning the violin but I haven’t incorporated it into my recordings yet. I don’t generally write my own stuff; I mostly do covers, particularly a lot of Indigo Girls as they’re my all-time favourite band (seriously, I think half of my Soundcloud is Indigo Girls covers). My style is pretty stripped down, mostly just me on acoustic guitar and vocals, although sometimes I record harmonies to accompany my own singing.

As for my writing, I generally tend towards longer forms – I’ve written two novels, and I’ve got a third in the works. My first novel was about a suburban street and it was divided into four parts and each part was from the perspective of a different person who lived on the street, and it was about grief and family and appearances. My second one was a coming of age story about this girl named Julie and the band she’s in and the family she forms and the family she leaves behind and the first girl she falls in love with. And the one I’m starting to write now is about a band of female soldiers, kind of like knights, and they’re sworn to protect the royal family but there’s corruption creeping into the nobility, and it’s going to be a story about loyalty and betrayal and proving yourself. There’s also going to be a cool metaphor/storyline for asexuality and I’ll be primarily featuring gay relationships, and I want to explore the relationships that women have with each other and how they can be incredible avenues for change as well as sources of deep love and commitment. Oh, and I also dabble in poetry.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for my writing is definitely music. If I listen to the right song, it can give me really great inspiration for a scene or a character’s backstory. For instance, in my second novel, at least three of the scenes are directly inspired by specific songs. I also draw a lot from my own experiences and the situations I’ve found myself in. My characters aren’t all like me, but I’d say they all draw from an aspect of my personality or my life; they all come from a place of truth within me, and I think that’s really important. People will tell you to write what you know, and I don’t think that means you can never write about things you haven’t experienced. I see it more as always writing from a place of truth, of authenticity; the scenes I write that have the most raw emotional honesty, that I really draw from my own experiences to write, always ring the most true and pack the most punch.

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

I’ve been singing since I was really little – my first performance was when I was six years old. My dad’s a musician, and he really kindled that interest and that passion and dedication in me since I was really young, and taught me so much. I’ve also been writing for a really long time. I think I started writing (mostly the beginnings of what I conceptualized as novels, though I never finished any) when I was about eleven; I remember my favourite thing to do at the time was sit down at the computer and pull up a Word document and create something. I wrote in all genres back then: I remember writing a realistic fiction story about girls at a music summer camp, a fantasy story featuring dragons who lived underground, a historical fiction piece about a family in 1865, and some truly terrible Harry Potter fanfiction in which I wrote myself in, full name and everything, as the “star Ravenclaw seeker.” (I know, cringe.) Because of this love I had for writing, I wanted to be an author for a large part of my childhood, till partway through high school when I decided to keep it more as a hobby than pursue it as a career.

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 don’t know if this counts, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. Like I said, I did a lot of writing when I was eleven or twelve, and of course created a lot of characters at that time. They were all in middle school of course, like I was at the time, and they were generally pretty one-dimensional – at eleven I had no concept of how to create a complex character. But I still remember all of them, and what their names were, and what I pictured them looking like. So whenever I can, I insert these characters that I invented when I was younger into the things I write now. Same thing goes for setting. When I first wrote these characters, they almost always lived in the fictional town of Chandler Valley, and the city of Merinda Heights was right next door. In my second novel, I mentioned both of these cities as settings the characters visit. I like to call back to these old characters and settings because it’s almost like paying homage to my younger self – like, yeah, I’ve improved a lot in the ten years since I started writing, but I wouldn’t want to forget those beginnings.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For the writers out there, I would say to just write your story – tell the story that you believe in, that you think is important, that you connect with the most. As soon as you try to cater to what you think people will want, your writing will fall flat and become hollow. Writing coming from a place of authenticity will always be your best writing, and there will always be people that connect with it and it’ll become important to them too. So never underestimate your story – you never know who you could reach with it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an ace lesbian. I used to think this identity was unique and kind of weird, but it turns out there’s a really cool little community on Tumblr of women who identify as gay and also identify along the asexual spectrum. I think it’s a cool place to be.

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

I wouldn’t say I’ve directly encountered any prejudice or ignorance myself, mostly because I haven’t really entered into the professional realm with any of my art, but the feeling of exclusion is definitely there. As someone who identifies as ace, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t understood, and when the overwhelming majority of literature is geared towards people who aren’t like you, that can make you feel lonely. As well, as a musician I am continually frustrated with the amount of music that’s about sex and sexual attraction and that equates love with sex. Not only do I identify as ace, but I’m also sex-repulsed, so I can’t relate to songs about sex and they also often tend to make me uncomfortable. So it can be challenging to find music that I can relate to enough to do it justice when I perform it. Sometimes that requires me to put on a bit of an act, as if I actually know what I’m talking about when I sing about wanting someone in that way.

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

A misconception that bugs me is that asexual people just haven’t found the right person yet, or assuming that they’ll feel attraction eventually, and that bothers me because you essentially aren’t trusting that person to know their own self and their own feelings. When someone tells you that they know who they are, you don’t get to decide that they don’t know yet – you have to trust that they’ve likely spent weeks or months or maybe even years figuring out their identity, and know themselves inside and out. It’s also missing the point. Will I ever feel sexual attraction? Probably not. But if I ever do, that doesn’t suddenly invalidate or negate my identity right now, which is as someone that doesn’t experience that attraction.

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

First of all, let yourself struggle. I had a really hard time at first accepting the asexual part of my identity, but I just let myself feel those feelings and rode it out and now I couldn’t be happier or more comfortable in myself. I just had to get through the gross hard part first. Second, seek out people who get it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with other aces, because it can be so isolating when you feel like you’re the only one that feels this way. You’re not the only one, so follow as many ace blogs as you can find, and see if you can meet other aces through local queer groups or community centres near to where you live. That’s made a huge difference for me.

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

The best place to find both my writing and music is on my blog, isobelfree.tumblr.com. My writing is at isobelfree.tumblr.com/tagged/isobelwrites, and my music can be found at isobelfree.tumblr.com/tagged/isobelsings.

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

Interview: Jacen

Today we’re joined by Jacen. Jacen is an incredibly versatile artist who works in a few different mediums. She’s a very passionate visual artist who does both original work and fanart (her Eevee is truly delightful). She hasn’t met a medium she doesn’t like and uses both traditional and digital mediums. Aside from visual art, she’s an incredibly dedicated oboist who was an admirable love of music. It’s very clear that she loves creating art and that’s always awesome to see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Ahsoka

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a digital artist, primarily, but I love to experiment in all different mediums. I’ve worked with pencils and pens, Copic markers, watercolors, oil paints, India ink and more, and I like to combine different mediums as well. Be it fanart or original works, I enjoy taking an interpretive approach to my pieces.

In addition, I am a passionate musician. I’m one of the few oboists in the city and even though I haven’t been playing for all that long, I have an extensive background in music and theory.

What inspires you?

With my art, a big part of my inspiration is geometrical shapes. I like arranging irregular shapes and making them work together to form an image. As someone who heads out to the Rocky Mountains on a regular basis, I also enjoy taking inspiration from nature, both living and inanimate. And, of course, my favorite TV shows and movies. I just really love seeing my pieces come together and make sense.

My music is a lot of the same idea. I absolutely love just the sound of my oboe, and I actively enjoy practicing on my own, but my real passion is for sitting down with the entire band and hearing all the parts together. My favorite pieces are always the ones that send chills down my spine to hear and to play. I’d say that’s really why I play, to hear mine and everyone else’s parts combine to make something incredible.

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

Ever since I was very young I’ve drawn and played instruments. Growing up as a longtime student in the Gifted program, creativity was always massively encouraged. I would definitely say that being in such a program was what got me continuing to draw and make art into middle and high school. I wouldn’t say I’ve always wanted to be an artist, it’s more something that slowly and unconsciously evolved into a hobby; I’ve never really been interested in a career in art, but it’s still a big part of me.

As for music, I actually hated piano lessons when I was young, and I stopped playing anything for a long time. In eighth grade my best friend convinced me to join band and I started out on the clarinet, which I can still play, and the next year I took up oboe. That, I can see myself continuing for a long time, for sure.

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Flareon

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 mentioned earlier incorporating geometric shapes into my work, that’s really my thing. I like the challenge of taking an image and turning it into shapes, and making it still make sense. That’s something I do with a lot of my work, even sometimes when I do semi-realism.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You really have to stop worrying about getting it right. Especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, you have to stop trying to get it right every time. You gotta experiment with styles and techniques and mediums and don’t feel that you have to know anything about that medium to just try it. If you like it, that’s when you do your research, take some classes, whatever you want. Just practice your art without worrying about how it might turn out.

For any oboists who may or may not be reading this: FIND A GOOD TEACHER. Band is great but oboes are so weird and specialized that you need an expert to help you. Oboe reeds need a lot of tweaking and I’m gonna guess you don’t know how to make reeds yet. Not to mention that damn Db key. Trust me, a teacher you get along with and who knows their stuff will be invaluable to you.

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Wolf Inverted print

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic asexual.

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

Ignorance, definitely, more than prejudice. But I’ve found that artists and creative-types in general are quite accepting and open-minded. When the odd person arises who has a real issue with it (mostly only existing on social media) I try to not let it get to me. It’s not the minority’s job to educate anyone on their community, but when someone genuinely doesn’t know what they’re talking about, I try to clear it up for them.

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

That we just don’t like sex, or we’re scared of it, or that we’ve had some kind of sexual trauma. Of course there are aces who are scared of sex or have been traumatized, but it’s inaccurate and rude to place that assumption on all of us, because it often leads to us being dismissed or harassed for it.

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

When I was figuring out I was asexual, I was scared to identify as such in case I really was just a late bloomer. There’s so much emphasis put on the fact that aces are definitely never going to change or start feeling sexual attraction that it’s easy to forget that it’s alright if it is a phase. It doesn’t make it any less valid. If you identify as ace now and you don’t later in your life, who cares? Sexuality can be fluid, so if it feels right at the moment then just go for it.

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

I have my Tumblr (http://the-cat-in-the-fez.tumblr.com/) that you can always message me on.

I post art to my Instagram (stcrmpilxt)

I have a couple works-in-progress on my AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/satancat)

And I sell my art on Society6 (https://society6.com/suncat) and I’m working on uploading stuff to Redbubble (http://www.redbubble.com/people/satancat)

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Eevee

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

Interview: Emily

Today we’re joined by Emily. Emily is a fantastic younger artist who enjoys drawing. Using mostly traditional media, Emily draws in ink, colored pencils, and has begun experimenting with watercolors. She also enjoys music and plays the alto saxophone. Her art shows a phenomenal attention to detail and a wonderfully vivid imagination. This artist has a bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I draw a lot. I’ve managed to take 3 art classes so far in school and will be taking another in the upcoming year. Within the past year I’ve been inspired to sketch more than ever and have filled a little over one and a half sketchbooks with drawings of various things. I enjoy drawing dragons and other fantasy-related art. I normally work with ink, whether it be by using ballpoint pen in the margins of my notes, or using nicer pens in my sketchbook. Recently I’ve also started using dip pens and ink which has been an interesting experience. For color I normally prefer colored pencils, although recently I’ve dabbled in watercolor. I normally use colored pencils because they are significantly more portable and cleaner.

I also play alto saxophone in both full and jazz band, and enjoy participating in school plays and musicals as an actress.

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What inspires you?

For visual art, I’m inspired by the books I read and the world around me. I often find myself drawing flowers or things inspired by the curves and colors found in nature, even for fantastical doodles. For music and theatre I’m just inspired by the passion of the people around me. Music and theatre can be filled with so much emotion. I also have been grateful to have such talented musicians/actors as my friends in my school.

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

I’ve always been a doodler and recently decided that if I’m going to keep doodling, I might as well put it to good use and try to improve. I still don’t know if I will pursue art as my only career path, but it will definitely be a constant in my life even if I don’t only make money via art. I’ve always been interested in band and theatre. Both of my parents were involved in both subjects in high school and college and their stories intrigued me. I also have always loved music and singing, so musicals are great fun.

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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 don’t really have a signature object in my art, although I do always sign it with Em.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know everyone says this, but just keep drawing, or playing, or doing whatever you want to do, even if you’re just doodling a quick BB8 in the margin of your history notes, or learning how to play the Sherlock theme song, or memorizing a dramatic monologue about cheese. Just do what you love and don’t force yourself to fit in with what others think you should do. Even if you don’t want to become a full time artist, actor, or musician you can still do those things casually. They’re meant to be enjoyable.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and who knows what romantic.

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

I’ve only recently (as in, this summer) started identifying as asexual. I feel like we are generally ignorant of the concept of asexuality as a society, but I haven’t encountered any prejudice.

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

As I’ve only recently identified as ace, I haven’t really encountered many misconceptions other than the general thought that I might someday meet “the one” from my relatives who I have come out too. In all they were pretty accepting of the general idea of asexuality though.

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

Story time- the first time I heard about asexuality was probably around 2 years ago in an online chat with a gay guy who was my age. We had met from an online art app and were generally discussing outlooks on life and religion. Somehow the conversation turned to crushes/sexuality and I mentioned that I’ve never had crushes. He proceeded to try to explain what crushes felt like, and then asked me if I had heard of asexuality. I looked it up and then decided that I was probably demisexual because at that point I thought that announcing that I had no sexual attraction was a bit extreme and weird. Now, a year later, I am very chill with the idea that I don’t experience sexual attraction, and there are others like that, and we’re all pretty cool people. Coming out of that story, my advice is to identify with what you feel fits your feelings. Other people don’t know how you feel or what you experience. Worst thing, you’ll end up changing your label at some point in your life. It’s not the end of the world. Someday I might find that I was right a year ago and I am demi or gray. Or I might be an 80 year old cat lady, or happily married with a great romantic relationship. Who knows? God made you the way you are and loves you like that.

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

All of my reblog stuff can be found (at) ladyknighttime which is where I also post any ace stuff I do beyond art. My art blog is (at) themanyartsofemily.

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

Interview: Sage

Today we’re joined by Sage. Sage is a young, up and coming pianist who lives for music. They have done a bit of everything: choir, composing, playing multiple musical instruments. It’s very clear that they absolutely love music and has a very bright future ahead of them. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a 14-year-old musician and I compose for and play piano. I also play guitar and ukulele, and I sing in a choir at my school. I’ve been playing piano for about 4 years. I mostly play classical music on the piano and I take Royal Conservatory of Music exams (I’m in grade six), and I also enjoy doing covers of various songs. As for my compositions, they are in a variety of different styles and genres, but I compose in minor keys mostly, although I’m not entirely sure why.

What inspires you?

Literally anything. Sometimes nature, sometimes art, sometimes people. My piano teacher is a composer as well, so he often gives me tips and pointers on composition. I would say that he inspires me too.

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

When I was little, there was always a piano in my house and I would play songs by ear. My mom played piano and I really looked up to her. I was constantly asking for lessons, and when I was 10, I was finally got my wish. My dad played violin and my cousin played guitar, so I guess I grew up surrounded by music. Seeing the people around me play music sparked my own interest. I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but when I was younger, before I started playing piano, I was interested in drawing. It was only when I started taking piano lessons when I realized that music was my passion.

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 really, except that 99% of my compositions are in a minor key 😄

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would tell them to try everything because there are so many different types of art. Also that they shouldn’t give up if something doesn’t work out or if they don’t like something immediately.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and aromantic.

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

I haven’t encountered any ace prejudice, because I’m not out for the most part. All of the musicians I’ve come out to (which is like four) took it well and said that the fact that I’m ace and aro doesn’t change the fact that I’m a musician.

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

That we don’t like anyone, we’re heartless, or we can’t love. This is absolutely wrong. We’re definitely not heartless, and we definitely can love. Being asexual doesn’t mean being aromantic, and even if someone is ace and aro (like me) we still love our families and love people platonically.

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

I would say that they shouldn’t worry if they can’t find a label that fits them, or if they don’t feel like they belong in the ace community, or if people don’t accept them. They know who they are deep down, and if it takes a while to find a label, or if they can’t find a label, that’s fine. Sometimes it’s a good thing to go without a label for a while. I would also say that they shouldn’t cling too tightly to labels, because there may be a better label for them that they would miss if they clung to their current label too tightly.

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

Currently, nowhere. I’m going to get a Sound Cloud account, but I don’t have one right now. I occasionally post music stuff on my Tumblr (programming-ace) so I guess people could look there.

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