• Odalisque Magazine x Son Lux

    Written by Klokie

    Odalisque had the pleasure of interviewing New York based Son Lux preparing for their performance at the Moogfest. The band consists of guitarist Rafiq Bhatia (RB), drummer Ian Chang (IC), and singer Ryan Lott (RL). Once described as “the world’s most lethal band” by NPR, they claim they are really all sweet and mild-mannered and describe their music as “Gangsta ass beat with a choir boy melody.”

    OM: Can you tell us briefly about your life, like where you were born and when you moved to New York?

    RL: I grew up all over [the US]. My wife and I moved to New York on our sixth anniversary in 2007. We had four suitcases and took a Greyhound bus.

    I didn’t come from a musical family, and music wasn’t an important part of my life early on — the “oldies” station on road trips, that’s my only early memory of music. But it was a family rule for us kids to play the piano, as a matter of discipline, more than anything. It was one of the best things my parents have done for me, along with ignoring my years of protestation on the matter.

    But after a few years, I began to feel an urge to write my own music and change what was on the page. As soon as music became something that I could author, it came alive for me. Eventually, a life in music was my only option.

    OM: When and how did you and your collaborators become aware of each other’s work?

    RB: Rafiq and Ryan met through mutual friends, and Ryan asked Rafiq to guest on some Son Lux projects after hearing his solo material. Rafiq and Ian met on a one-off gig they played with a different band. When Ryan decided to start touring behind Lanterns, he reached out to Rafiq, who in turn brought in Ian. A few short rehearsals later, we began the tour that would ultimately lead to Son Lux becoming a band.

    OM: What did you do for your debut show as Son Lux?

    RL: Our first show as a band was in front of 750 people in Berlin. We’d never played any of the material live before, and we had only rehearsed four times. And before sound check, I fell on a glass bottle and cut open my hand, dropping my laptop down a flight of concrete stairs. So what we did was survive, basically.

    OM: The videos for “Change Is Everything” and “Breathe Out” are fantastic, and you’ve been getting some great awards and recognition for those collaborations.

    RL: We’re so proud of our videos, but we can’t take any credit for them. We’ve always approached videos as open collaborations.

    OM: You’ve also written film scores - what is that process like for you?

    RL: I’ve scored three features now, the most recent of which just premiered at Cannes. It’s extremely challenging work, and the process is necessarily a bit different for each movie. The goal of a score is to serve the picture, to assist. For that reason, the act of scoring feels very different than making an album, and it’s an opportunity to allow an external force to cull new approaches to making music, both technically and philosophically.

    OM: Have you been writing new material while on the road?

    RL: We’re always writing. Most of the Bones record was made on the road.

    What works on a record doesn’t automatically work on stage. The inverse is also true. The two worlds are divergent Live, there is more improvisation, and the arrangements are generally less dense.

    OM: What was the creative process behind “Bones”?

    RB: It started in the back of a van, and often involved fastening a makeshift music stand / desk to the floor with gaffe tape. We all collaborated heavily on the sonics, flow, and presentation. A lot of it was born from the excitement and potential we discovered when touring behind Lanterns together, which is when Son Lux expanded from being just Ryan to a full band.

    OM: How did it compare to your previous projects?

    RB: Well, a lot of the contrast is explainable by circumstances: this is our first record as a band, and the first since Son Lux became a touring project - we played about 200 shows in 18 months while making Bones. It’s also the most outwardly-focused Son Lux release to date.

    OM: Where do you find inspiration for making music?

    RB: It comes from all over, and from within. Some recent sources include Richard Serra’s massive iron sculptures; traditional West African musical structures and instruments; sounds that have an ephemeral nature, that reflect a specific instant in time; Brooklyn, New York; and Ryan’s dog, Leroy.

    OM: You’ve made a number of great collaborations, both musical and visual. How did those start – where do the ideas come from and how do the interactions take place?

    RB: We are lucky that our music seems to draw in so many amazing creative minds, particularly in visual media. Often, we provide very little direction aside from encouraging the people we work with to take risks and enjoy themselves. But perhaps the cohesion of it all suggests the music itself provides a fair amount of direction, even if it’s just in terms of the type of artists that are drawn to it.

    OM: What do you do when you’re not making music?

    RB: Sleep, eat, love, feel, learn, and watch House of Cards.

    OM: What are you looking forward to about summer?

    IC: European festival season is always exciting for us! In particular, we have the opportunity to perform with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at Holland Festival. And imminent transmutations.

    Before the next album, transmutations are imminent. Keep your ears and eyes open.

    photo credits: Shervin Lainez

    Son Lux
    Son Lux
  • photography by TESSSTORC / Eyesonnets

    An interview with Giovanni Leonardo Bassan

    Written by pari

    Being bailed out of jail by Michele Lamy the same evening you were modelling naked at a Rick Owens installation in Paris for “Dazed and Confused” is quite an uncommon experience, except for 25 year old Italian artist Giovanni Leonardo Bassan. Since the occasion several years ago he has developed a strong bond with the Owens couple and now considers them mentors.

    Bassan works with Rick Owens as a creative in his studio in Paris and retreats to his personal art at his own studio when he’s not there. Bassan was recently noticed by international press for his sold-out debut exhibition “Martyrdoms” at The Mine Gallery in Dubai. His drawings are considered a holy punk interpretation of modern culture.

    Agata Fabri: What is it like working with Michele Lamy?

    Giovanni Leonardo Bassan: Michele is an polyhedric artist. Her demeanor could instill fear at the same time, she is so maternal in nature.

    That night I ended up at the police station for no particular reason. Michele bailed me out. She also invited me to spend the rest of the night in their home. She paid my ticket to go back to Milan the day after. I was in shock.

    Afterwards, she kept me under her wing and she still pushes me to explore my art.

    AF: When did you get into art?

    GLB: Ever since I was a child, I have been drawing. In the past I used to draw only what I believed was beautiful. Today I have a different point of view. I’ve changed. I have a studio in Paris, a basement where I invite friends over to discuss our generation’s issues. And this is a way to get into my art, being inspired by frequent dialogues.

    AF: What kind of issues do you discuss?

    GLB: I find that Paris lacks collective thinking. Parisians all behave as individuals. Once I asked my friends if they shared my need to have a say about what surrounds us nowadays, because I find that I keep wondering: “What battles are we fighting? How does it feel to be a 25 year old male, in Paris, in 2016?” That is just the starting point of our discussion.

    By the end we’re all questioning our lives and issues like drug addiction, religion, homosexuality and gender transitions. The power of youth is not just about having the freedom to express ourselves, but, more than anything, it is about shouting out loud what we are feeling. I’ve had sort of an epiphany, a revelation. I don’t want to draw only because I like it, but I consider it a way to express what I feel.

    AF: Can you explain the background of your art?

    GLB: I consider my art as a personal study. I express myself through it. I started with an exhibition in Paris at my studio where I showcased my work. Then, in an Iranian gallery in Dubai, I showed drawings that I had made just before and immediately after the Paris terrorist attacks last November, presented in an exhibition I called “Martyrdoms”.

    I asked myself, “Who’s the martyr?” In Italy there is a huge, vivid tradition of worshipping saints. So I decided to study the paths of saints: they expressed their ideas, even though this caused their deaths. Society and politicians condemned these people for their ideas because they didn’t understand what they were stating. Nowadays, people who are marching in Moscow for gay pride, black people who are still abused in the USA, and Syrian refugees all represent martyrs in my mind.

    I put together images I had researched and then I mixed them with the golden backgrounds used as a symbol of purity in Christian art. Then I went to Dubai to show these works. In Dubai people wanted to know about the stories about the saints, and visitors kept asking me, “Are these myths? Is it true?”

    AF: Do you feel that people understand your art?

    GLB: I have a feeling that in Dubai, they understood my art.

    And, the fact that they asked me about historical martyrs, about Italian culture and about the Paris terrorist attack that inspired my works, made me feel I was going in the right direction. And of course I didn’t expect a sold–out exhibition at all.

    AF: Next projects?

    GLB: I am working on a mid-June exhibition in Paris, in partnership with “The Mine Gallery” in Dubai, and another project in New York with a group of artists that will take place in October.

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    Live: Stockholm
    Age: 22 
    Web: https://www.facebook.com/yemibas/?fref­ts
    Instagram: Neoyemi

    An interview with Yemi

    Written by Robin Douglas Westling by Arda Sarper

    When Yemi was 12 years old he started to make his own music. He downloaded a free FL-studio-demo and had to finish his tracks in one sitting since the demo verion wouldn’t let him save projects. Yemi has earlier released a number of great and greatly celebrated singles and today, the 12th of May, the rapper and producer releases his first album via Universal/Ledighetsmaskinen. 

    The album took two years to make and include collaborations with some of Sweden’s most interesting and innovative producers and artists. 

    Big congratulations to your first album! Tell us about Neostockholm, and what has the creative process been like behind the album? 

    – Thanks a lot! The process and the development of this record have occurred very naturally. About two years ago I started to have a vision of how the album would work. I think the entire album in a sense orbits around a world of ideas which I have created, and how I’m more or less trying to reach this world in real life. 

    Who have you been working with to create Neostockholm? 

    – The album is entirely produced Yung Gud and Teo Sweden and I. The process is as important as the result and it is crucial to have a good relationship with the people I collaborate with. Both Teo Sweden and Yung Gud are close friends and I'm grateful for the fact that we work extremely well together in the creative process. Busu and Cherrie are guesting the album. I think both of them are some of the most interesting and innovative artists in Sweden. Busu and Teo are my oldest friends. We are identical in many ways, I think our thoughts are interwoven in a really nice way when we are doing music. The same applies to the photographer and director Natan Gullström. We started doing things together around 2011, 2012 and I could say that we have both progressed in the same pace.    

    What are you the most satisfied with regarding Neostockholm? 

    – I’m very happy about how coherent the final product became. Many different thoughts have flowed into the creation of the album, and it wasn’t until I first listened to the final product that I could leave the process and see a very clear red thread.  

    What does a creative process look like to you? 

    – It’s very different. Usually a creative process begins with a simple idea. It can be that I'm super excited for having found a new, cool or special sound. Play around and make something out of it, or maybe I’ve thought of a word that sounds cool and then try to create something from that one word. When I’m planning videos and artwork for covers the creative process is the same. I often think of tracks in colors, and usually have a certain color pretty strongly connected to the tune. In my videos it’s usually quite obvious what color I’ve been influenced by. Fenix, for example, feels very red to me. 

    Yemi tells me that he has always had aesthetic interests and as a child he used to draw a lot of comic strips and cartoon characters. 

    But, at what age did you discover your love for music? 

    – Music has always been important to me. My parents are music enthusiasts and they probably lay the foundation for my interest in music. When I was 12 I started to listen to a lot of music, and that’s when I started to do my own music for the first time. I downloaded a FL-studio-demo and finished tracks in one sitting since you couldn’t save projects for later in the demo-version. I think this technical limitation affected how I go about making tracks today since I still make the main part of the track during the first sitting. 

    How involved with the work are you when you collaborate with other producers, directors and artists? 

    – It’s a given for me to always be a hundred percent in on the processes behind something which I am about to put my name on. I always want to talk about an idea for a video with the director and I’m always a part of the production before someone else is producing.  

    Why do you think it is so rare today that artists make their own music? 

    – It probably has to do with the fact that people want to sell as much as possible. I don’t think that singers or rappers see themselves as artists in the same sense, maybe they only see it as if they’re just doing their thing but I think, unfortunately, that they don’t have a real interest for the creative process. 

    I read an interview with you a while back where you question if you actually belong to the Swedish hip hop-scene, why is that? 

    – I don’t listen to Swedish hip hop. Except for the music that my friends do which is categorized as hip hop. Swedish hip hop is more of a genre than actual hip hop from Sweden. I don’t really have an appreciation of the genre, it’s a very shallow notion I possess. But I wouldn’t place myself in that genre. 

    What genre would you place yourself in? 

    –Hip hop.

    What does the Swedish music-industry need to work on? 

    – It can feel very stiff in many ways, and above all very divided. It’s like Swedish hip hop is a “camp” and it consists of “these artists” and they sound “like this” and if you don’t sound “like this” then you don’t fit in.

    It’s the same with other genres as well. It appears as if it comprises a lot of routine and that more artists could be applied to the entire industry. People who are not musicians could think bigger and the musicians in turn could also think bigger. 


    I have always created partial goals for myself in order to reach the end goal eventually. To reach a partial goal is supposed to entail this really sick feeling in my opinion, but most often I don’t feel what I thought I would feel. What does it feel like for you? When you reach a goal or partial goal in life?  

    – Yes, sometimes I think back and I’m like “shit” now I'm doing this, the thing I dreamed of doing as a child. But I think I’d like to feel more than I actually do. I talked to Busu about this a couple of days ago. You reach partial goals all the time but if you’d jump two, three, four steps forward immediately it would feel a lot sicker I think. But it’s just that, that it’s a process that makes it really easy for you to get used to being the one you are at the moment and it suddenly feels all natural and not as strong as you had imagined. But you get used to it so very quickly, or I at least get used to the position I'm in at the moment very quickly. It’s nice, then you always have something to look forward to, the next step in your career or your next step in life. But I tend to forget to a certain extent to look around me and see where I am, in relation to where I was just a year ago or even half a year ago. 

    There was this other interview where I read about you where it said “Yemi hasn’t even turned 20 but is already living the dream”. Were you living the dream back then? 

    – I’m not even sure there is a dream. (Haha) I can’t remember if they just wrote that or why they wrote precisely that. But, I didn’t think I was living my dream back then and I cant say that I'm living any dream right now either. I don’t even know if there is a dream to be lived, but maybe it was for the fact that I tried to appreciate the progress that I had achieved by that point. 

    But, what is your dream? 

    – My dream is to have the tools and conditions to be able to work creatively all my life, and to feel good about it. It’s truly a privilege to be able to do that and I can’t say that I'm there just yet. You’re not offered a privilege, or yes some people certainly are, but it feels like this is something I’ve been working towards and it feels goddamn nice. To be able to reach there by yourself. 

    Your debut album is released today, so what are your plans for the summer? 

    – Yeah, today my debut album is released. I’ll see where this album lets me land during the summer and so I’ve kept my schedule pretty open. I want to have the time to rest though, but also start to work on some new music.  

    photography by CLAUDIA FRIED
    stylist's assistant RL PEARSALL
    photographer's assistant BEA HOLMBERG


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