Interview: Nya Holmes

Today we’re joined by Nya Holmes. Nya is a phenomenal musician who plays the bass. She plays in jazz bands and orchestras. When she’s not playing the bass, she plays the guitar just for fun. It’s clear that she’s a passionate and talented artist who loves 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 am a classical and Jazz bass player, but above all that I am a musician. I can play all kinds of music, pretty much anything you put in front of me I’ll be able to figure out eventually, so long as it’s on my instrument. Music is my entire life. I dedicate all days of my week to go to a performing arts academy at my high school where I am in the top jazz and orchestral ensembles. I’m in outside ensembles as well, dedicating my Sundays to music from 10:30 am to 8:00 pm. I love it, and hope to do it for the rest of my life.

What inspires you?

Honestly, the thing that inspires me the most is my friends. They are all incredibly talented musicians, and we all motivate each other to be the best version of ourselves. Besides that, it’s listening to recordings of accomplished musicians and orchestras that truly inspiring. Listening to the Berlin Philharmonic, or people like Bozo Padzick inspires me to be the amazing bass player I know I can be. My ultimate goal would be to play in pit orchestras of Broadway musicals, so going to musicals really inspires me and gives me an extra boost of inspiration to continue my craft.

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

I became interested in my field through school. I began guitar in second grade, then started bass when I was in sixth grade. Before this however, music has been around me my entire life. I looked around and I wondered why I didn’t play and instrument and wanted to so badly. I felt like I didn’t have a talent, and I’m so grateful to have found one. I guess I always wanted something, and I hoped it would be creative because I am greatly influenced by my father, who is an artist and an animator. He went to art school, so that concept has never been foreign to me and with my mother signing me up for music classes at a young age I have definitely always wanted to be creative.

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?

Being a musician, it’s hard to include your unique touch to work that was written up to hundreds of years ago, but I guess whenever I perform I make these really dumb faces that make people think I’m upset or in pain, but I’m really just concentrating.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cheesy but just keep going. If your art is making you unhappy, take a break. Take a walk. Then come back to it. Always come back to it, remember why you love your art, then keep going.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a bi-romantic asexual.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not encounter any ace prejudice in my field but that’s most likely due to the fact that I live in Los Angeles, a very liberal place.

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

That I asexually reproduce. They don’t actually think that, but it’s the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when I come out to them as asexual. Other than that they usually don’t know what I’m talking about, and when I add into this that I also identify as bi, they become even more confused. It seems like they cannot distinguish between romantic and sexual attraction.

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

Find people who understand and support asexuality. It’s impossible to go through something alone, so find people who understand to talk to. If that’s not feasible, then read about asexual people who have gone through what you are going through.

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

I don’t post too much about music but the best way to contact me would be on my Instagram, which is at nyaholmie, I plan to post more about music in the very near future.

Thank you, Nya, 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.