Interview: Leo

Today we’re joined by Leo. Leo is a phenomenal photographer, singer, and guitarist from Mexico. He is the lead singer and guitarist in an emo band. He also makes music on his own. When he’s not creating music, Leo also enjoys doing photography. It’s clear he’s a driven and passionate artist who loves to explore the world through art, 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.

Well my work might be seen as intermedia, I like to use photography, video and music. I have a kinda emo band and a solo folkish project, I also work as a photographer in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco in Mexico. It all started as a way to get through things in life, then I realized that other people experiment the same things and that we are all in this experience called life together and that is important to share it with the world so we don’t feel alone.

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What inspires you?

The people most of all, I think that there’s beauty in every heart but sometimes you have to seek for it. I also love music, movies, and love and childhood stories from others.

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

I wanted to be an astronaut or an engineer but in middle school I got some troubles because I used to fight a lot with other kids so my physiologist told my parents that I should try something more artistic and started to play guitar, then I wanted to make music for films so I started working on some short films and finally an ex-girlfriend has an online bazar and I started taking pictures of her with the clothes and the photography just made the way through my art.

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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?

Emotions and films, my work such as music or films or photography always have the style of some 90’s 00’s movies.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up, always give your best to yourself and be honest. Help others to get better and you’ll get better too.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual close to asexual, biromantic.

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

My friends still think that I’ll “get better” and stop of being asexual. It’s also so boring to explain to others what asexuality is and that is valid.

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

That’s for being a man I have to seek sexual intercourse with every person I meet.

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

It only matters what you think of yourself, you are valid and you are not alone. It is ok if you don’t feel that you don’t fit quite well on any label. There are more people like us than you think, you are not alone.

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

I have two Instagram accounts at poortraitsphotography and at tinaparados and a YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/Leokitee

My band is called Sylvia. For Sylvia Plath and here’s a song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TVAWCvbxrY

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

Interview: Emma Tyler Kantt

Today we’re joined by Emma Tyler Kantt. Emma Tyler is a wonderful artist who does both music and is also a cartoonist. They’re a very versatile musician who dabbles in a number of different genres. They play the guitar, sing, and write songs. As a cartoonist, they write and draw little comic strips with pen and pencils. They’re incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do two kinds of art! I’m a singer-songwriter and a cartoonist. Music-wise I play guitar and sing and write songs. My songs are kinda all over the place; I have ones about obsession, and conspiracy theorists, and anime, and a podcast called The Adventure Zone, and just…a lot of stuff.

My comic strips are little pencil/pen things. There’s no overarching plot or anything; it’s mostly little anecdotes or a look inside my mind. A lot of self-depreciative and dealing-with-anxiety stuff.

What inspires you?

I’m kind of the mind that everything I consume (media-wise) inspires and influences me in some way. Music is a big overarching one because it’s a big part of how I process my emotions. Comics, graphic novels, podcasts, and TV shows too. I’ve also gotten some comics ideas from stuff I see scrolling through Twitter.

talking head
Talking Head

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

I’ve always had an inclination towards music; I remember singing a lot and coming up with little bits of songs when I was a kid. I realized I wanted to be a musician in high school, maybe? Not long after I started learning guitar. The cartoonist thing is more recent. I’ve always loved comics and I used to draw some in middle school but I’ve only recently started doing it again. It’s just a really effective medium for me to express my thoughts, I think.

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?

Uh…I don’t know if this counts but a lot of my comics take place on couches or in beds? There’s not really a special meaning to it though; I just spend a lot of time lying on the couch or lying in bed.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m gonna kinda bastardize an eloquent quote from Ira Glass: Make a lot of stuff. Not everything you make has to be good! A lot of what you make will not be good, actually. But the more stuff you make, the more good stuff you’ll end up making. So just keep making stuff. And to back it up with personal experience, I’ve written probably about 90 full songs? And probably less than a third of them are truly good. (Wow I apologize for the overuse of the words “make” and “stuff”)

todd
Todd

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual! Alloromantic…I’ve attempted to say “heteroromantic” but since I’m technically non-binary that’s hard to define… So let’s say asexual and romantically attracted to guys.

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

So far no, thank god. I imagine it’ll happen eventually, though.

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

Probably the two big ones I’ve had to deal with are A) lack of awareness that asexuality is even “a thing” and B) conflation of asexuality with aromanticism.

pit
Pit

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

That’s tough, cuz I struggle a lot with it too. What I can confidently say is, whatever struggle you’re having, you’re not the only one. There are dozens of other people who have been/are going through what you’re going through, so you’re not alone. You’re never alone.

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

Oh boy. My comics Tumblr is https://crappylilcomix.tumblr.com/. My comics Twitter is https://twitter.com/crappylilcomix. My YouTube, which has my music and some other stuff is emmacan or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGWqmYQEXrT7VpCQG-WTCPw . Some of it is also on https://www.soundcloud.com/emma-kantt. I also have a music Instagram? Which is https://instagram.com/emma.has.a.knife, and a music Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/emmakanttmusic.

just draw
Just Draw

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

Interview: Jones

Today we’re joined by Jones. Jones is a phenomenal musician and visual artist. He specializes in a variety of music genres and plays no less than six instruments. When he’s not creating music, Jones does a lot of visual art including graphic design and drawing. His work shows an interesting use of color and beautiful visuals. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

The artist
The Artist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The only place I fit in this world is behind my guitar (or PC). I’m the weirdo loner that your parents probably warned you about. (And if they didn’t warn you about weirdo loners then you should get new parents). My name is Jones and I like creating music, filming, writing, editing, producing, photography, drawing, and graphic design. I love mimicking psychedelic art (cause the 60’s were awesome . . . duh lol) but my real passion is music. I taught myself six instruments (thanks YouTube!) and decided to get involved in producing my own work. I especially love beat making and sound designing. Anything that keeps me in my room. I’m an introvert. Outside to me is the hallway lol.

Asli Omar
Asli Omar

What inspires you?

Pot, Anime, and music… well that’s the vague answer… What really inspires me are events in my life whether it’s friendships, manic depression, music, or…. pot. I normally use my experiences in songs. I’m a huge lofi indie rock fan so I like to think of myself as the millennial version of Daniel Johnston (Shout out to the few people who know who Daniel Johnston is lol) but rap and metal are another form of inspiration.

I’m a huge fan of Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the creator, 2pac, Wu-tang, Future, Migos, Kung-fu Kenny and J Cole. My favorite metal bands that inspire my “Dark art” so to speak are: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Bathory, Acid Bath, BreakDown of sanity, Killswitch Engage, Alice in Chains, Mercyful Fate, Straight Line Stitch, Heaven Shall Burn and Uncle Acid.

But I’m a huge Indie rock nerd. I love Beat Happening, Beach fossils, Car Seat Headrest, Neutral Milk Hotel, Beulah (basically anything from the Elephant 6 label), A great big pile of leaves, Empire Empire I was a lonely estate, Marietta, The Ton Tons, Modern Baseball, and the War on Drugs.

Demon child
Demon Child

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

I wanted to be Goku when I was a kid… but that didn’t seem like a lucrative career choice so I opted out to drawing comics. From there I was hooked into art and drawing. I was always introverted as a kid. I stayed alone and watched cartoons all the time and tried making my own cartoons. I was always the weird kid at my school and I never fit in so I just avoided people and focused on my artwork. I found everyone to be distracting and I only hung out with people that shared my interests in art. It really freaked out my parents because I would stay home and watch cartoons all day then stay up at night acting out what my cartoons would say and do. I was living in my own world of art. It was pretty chill.

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?

Lo and Cho (Lo’s the dude and Cho’s the girl). They were doodles associated with my music because I was inspired by Beat Happening’s first album and the child like appeal of it. I wanted to mimic that for my lofi music. I also made comics with these two that I may or may not release. It’s mostly about tripping acid and contemplating life as a drawing inside of a huge notebook of drawings.

kinky sheets
Kinky Sheets

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re a musician, just starting out I’ll be straightforward in saying this: nobody is going to like you. Don’t ever get discouraged by this fact though. When the Doors had their first show, nobody came. Few years later, they had riots at their concerts because people lost their minds hearing Jim Morrison’s voice. Any skill takes time and it will take a while for some to build up a fan base whether you draw or sing. My best advice is to create something that changes YOUR world first. When I first started making music I’d put it on my iPod and pretend like I was a famous person before I started uploading songs online. I used these moments to critique and rewrite my work and improve my sound. Don’t worry about what anyone else says because your talent is something that they cannot take away. If you want your moment you’re gonna have to stay motivated because time and practice goes a long way. Some people blow up overnight while others never do, that’s just how it is. You just gotta stay focused and do it for you and you alone. This is YOUR world of art, use it to create something meaningful for yourself.

Frostburg Sunset
Frostburg Sunset

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m somewhere between Asexual and Demi/grey sexual. I’m still figuring it out but I find it hard to be attracted to people. Sometimes I can get curious (key word: sometimes) but when I notice someone it’s like “Oh He’s handsome” or “she’s pretty” but it doesn’t lead me to sexual feelings. I’ve had mild interests in sex but not to the point where I wanted to experiment because sex and body parts always looked weird to me. I was always interested in voyeurism and fetishes like BDSM, macrophilia, etc. because I got to notice body types without really touching them. My motto in life was always Snack, Fap, and Nap lol.

I never cared about flirting signals from others and I didn’t reciprocate any feelings whether it was from men or women. In late high school/early college I thought I was heterosexual but when I had sex for the first time it was kinda weird (Nothing wrong with my partner, she was wonderful, I just wasn’t really invested during the times we… you know). I tried experimenting with both men and women and neither really interested me. The only time I actually liked someone is through personality.

But just because I’m asexual/demi doesn’t mean sometimes I don’t get curious. I feel like that’s just a part of human nature to notice members of your own species and to identify with them. Sometimes I notice people and although for the most part it’s difficult to sexualize them sometimes I fantasize (again keyword: sometimes). For me it’s mostly from a voyeuristic standpoint where I’m not involved or I’m looking in from a third person viewpoint. My fantasies are not as common as regular people but sometimes it happens. For the most part, they’re just thoughts and I don’t really have any interest in acting on them but I don’t want to be seen as anti-sex because I’m an ace/demi. I’m indifferent when it comes to sex because it’s not that important to me and I can definitely live without it but if I ever fell in love with somebody’s personality I also wouldn’t mind exploring our buttons together.

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Giantess Ayisha

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

Oh yeah. My friends used to think I was only asexual because I couldn’t get laid. When you’re a black male you have to be this hyper-masculine oversexualize creature and here I am avoiding anything with parents LOL. I probably handled ace prejudice poorly when it happened to me.

But when I came out I didn’t fit in with my friends. All they did was have sex with each other and I felt suffocated by this because I was the odd man out who didn’t want to be touched.

I was also very misogynistic back when I first came out because I used to think hypersexual girls were disgusting. I’m not like that anymore and I now believe that women have the right to sexually express themselves any way they want to without anyone’s opinion but back when I first came out I had a different mindset. It started when the girls that wanted to sleep with me were more puzzled that I wasn’t as hypersexual as they were and they just simply marked me off as gay and spread rumors about me. This lead to the dissolution of a lot of female relationships because I felt weirded out that there was this unspoken pressure to form sexual bonds with them. I became the odd man out not only around my female friends but my male friends also and for that I became a slut shaming bitter misogynist and a loner. Many of my female friends were hypersexual and looked at me differently because I was this anti-sexual Queer that didn’t fit in with any group. Again I’m not misogynistic anymore but back then I had a different mindset and a lot of conflicting emotions that really came in the way of a lot of friendships with other people. For some time, I avoided girls because many of the females around me preached about their sex lives. This was also common with my male friends. I just started avoiding everyone. I especially avoided female friends because I was the “diary” to some and I didn’t want to be. (I also learned that a lot of my female friends could be very Queerphobic.)

What was worse was that some of my male friends would avoid me because I wasn’t interested in girls while others would accuse me of making up asexuality to get “closer to sleeping” with their girlfriends. It was insulting because it was like my sexuality didn’t matter to anyone. Even when I told them “I’m asexual, I never slept with any of your girlfriends” they would give me puzzled looks and brush me off. It was even harder explaining my asexuality to friends that I used to have crushes on. Every crush that I ever had I liked them for their personality. Some instances it got sexual but I was much more interested in their persona than the sex. When I came out some of these friends would hang it over my head like “didn’t you used to like me, what happened?” etc. I felt broken because I thought I was heterosexual then the more I experimented with people the more I realized how different my sex drive was compared to theirs. It was like I couldn’t shake my old hetero identity and my old identity wasn’t even the real me. It was an awkward time. I even used to joke about how college “ruined my sexuality” because I thought rejection was the cause of my lack of sex drive but it was the simple fact that I was always different and experimentation with both sexes showed me how different my sexuality was compared to my peers. Now I just avoid making friends and talk to people online. It’s easier to find people who like the same interests as me online instead of the real world.

frostburg watercolor
Frostburg Watercolor

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

That asexuality is the result of a mental illness. It’s insulting because there are plenty of Aces who ARE NOT mentally ill who live perfectly normal lives and there are Aces who do have mental illnesses that do not relate to their sexual orientation. It makes it difficult for Aces who actually suffer from mental illnesses to seek help because they fear that their entire sexual orientation will be put under the microscope. ASEXUALITY IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS IT’S AN ORIENTATION JUST LIKE OTHER SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS. DON’T FEEL ASHAMED IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE MENTALLY ILL AND ASEXUAL BECAUSE THE TWO ARE NOT RELATED IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM.

Hello (1)
Hello

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

Don’t take your sexuality so seriously. Feelings change and shift all the time and in the end Gay, Straight, Trans, and Asexuality are all labels. If you follow your heart and find what you love out of life the right people will come along eventually and you can establish any relationship you want with another person (just don’t be a creep about it). Don’t be worried if you’re struggling to find your sexual orientation. There’s nothing wrong with staying to yourself and there’s nothing wrong with experimenting. Just trust yourself to make the best decisions when the time comes and know that you don’t need all the answers all the time. Sometimes life just happens…

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

https://soundcloud.com/94sheets
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/ <- For Lofi/indie pop fans
https://apppk.bandcamp.com/album/projct-skybomb-cloudy-dreams-forever <- Chillwave beats

lianne la havas watercolor
Lianne la Havas Watercolor

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

Interview: Brianna Rose

Today we’re joined by Brianna Rose. Brianna is a wonderful visual artist and musician. For visual art, she specializes in cartoon style and is incredibly passionate about children’s media. For music, she does a couple of different genres, from blues to soft acoustic songs. It’s very obvious she loves to create, as you’ll 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.

My art is kind of like a big cartoon-medley. I can draw more realistic-looking stuff but I’ve always had a better way with exaggerated shapes and cutesy features. I’m really passionate about children’s media and making it as fun and imaginative as it was when I was young.

I work with a lot of different styles and I like to experiment a lot with them! I also love the process of designing characters, so a lot of my art leans heavily in that direction.

Aside from that, I’m also a musician! I mostly sing blues and rockabilly-type music (that’s what I usually write, anyhow) but I often record just… soft acoustic songs. They’re easier to play on guitar haha.

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What inspires you?

People, honestly! The best way to design a character is when they’re based around something you’re familiar with in reality. Of course, this doesn’t always hold true– but at least for personalities, it works pretty well.

Music also inspires me a lot. Like most artists, I listen to music nonstop while working– and I’m a musician myself, so it helps visualize things a bit better, and also drives me to make my own tunes too!

Also, other artists. Who isn’t inspired by looking at or listening to other peoples’ art, y’know?

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

Other artists, really. Artists like Jhonen Vasquez or Craig McCracken (my main inspirations while growing up) are what made me REALLY interested in cartoons.

As for always wanting to be an artist… I’d say more or less, yeah! I’ve always wanted to be an artist or a musician. Art just seems like a more… stable route. (Sad, ain’t it? Haha)

Also, for music, Joe Strummer (lead singer of The Clash and many other bands) is what got me interested in becoming a musician. I could always sing, but he’s what made it feel possible to make something of it (if I ever choose to.)

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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?

Mmm… I’m not so certain. I think the most reoccurring “feature” is that I have all of my protagonists be Native American. I, myself, am Plains Cree, and I know us natives don’t really have much representation, so I do my best to help fill that gap.

But, of course, that’s not really a unique symbol or anything. Though, sometimes I have a few characters in different projects that look or act the same– and that’s for a very top secret reason, that isn’t (always) coincidence!

Nothing for my music, though. Other than the fact I don’t know many chord progressions and try to desperately hide it!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just keep going. There are some people out there that will be better than you or be younger and have a similar skill-set as you — etc., etc. Don’t let that hold you back. What you perceive as “better” is just… different. There is no “better,” only different. What you can do is unique to you, whether you know it or not. What you have to offer is worthwhile — just sometimes it takes a lot of work. Often, too, a lot of time. But anything worthwhile is worth working and waiting for.

This goes for any type of artist.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an Asexual Demiromantic! (as in… not sexually attracted to anyone, but I can be romantically attracted to anyone if you give me a little time to get to know ya on a deeper level!)

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

I think aces encounter ignorance no matter what, truthfully. I’ve faced a lot of ignorance both in and out of my “field” — though the prejudice I’ve faced hasn’t really been relevant in what I do.

I’ve gotten some flack from a past band for wanting to avoid sexually charged lyrics in some covers they wanted to do… being told that I was overreacting, and all that. (Being looked at in a sexual way makes me extremely uncomfortable, but this didn’t matter to them.)

I handle it with aggression, mostly. It’s caused by anxiety. I tend to snap at those who don’t understand, which isn’t really the healthiest way of handling things. If it’s in a situation where I don’t feel threatened, then I’m better at calmly explaining things. Those who purposely try to be contrarian or disrespectful, however…

They don’t get my “nice” way of handling things.

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

That we’re all just robots. That we’re less human. That even if there are aces that are really into sex, that doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t matter. There’s a common misconception that we have to fill a quota to be “normal”. A lot of people use the “well some asexuals are fine with sex and love it!” which detracts from the issue at hand. Many of us don’t, and that’s OKAY. We don’t need to find these little loopholes so we’ll be accepted. A misconception in and of itself is the fact that we’re not “normal”. So what, you know? So what.

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

Don’t let idiots tell you who you are and who you have to be or should be. Whatever. That’s none of their business. You know yourself better than anyone– even if you don’t know yourself very well at all! What you feel is what you feel. Stick to that. Even if it’s ever-changing– that’s fine! Let it change.

If you’re young and identify as ace or anything of the like– don’t let anyone tell you that you’re wrong. Don’t let anyone sexualize your preferences. That’s wrong of THEM, not you. You don’t always get to choose how you feel, but you DO get to choose how you handle it. If you feel comfortable in a label, then label yourself that. Even if it doesn’t necessarily fit you perfectly. For most of us, there is no “glass slipper” label. They’re not always going to fit perfectly. That’s okay.

Just don’t let anyone tell you that you’re something you’re not. Don’t let people dictate that for you.

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

My Tumblr is Gunkers, so is my Instagram! If you wanna catch me on DeviantArt, then my handle is YouEatBugs

You can catch my music in the “gunk sangs” tag on my Tumblr blog as well!
I draw a hodgepodge of stuff, so if you don’t have any really specific interests, feel free to come find me!

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Thank you, Brianna, 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.

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: 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: Amber Skyler

Today we’re joined by Amber Skyler. Amber’s a wonderfully talented and versatile artist. They play musical instruments, sing, write, and do some visual art. They’re incredibly passionate about photography and the images they capture are so beautiful. They are also a very skilled drawer, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The arts I practice the most are photography, drawing, writing and singing/playing instruments. I usually take landscapes photos but I do occasionally take photos of people performing everyday tasks. I draw mainly flowers and fauna and write science fiction with the occasional fan-fiction. I have performed in choirs and also in duets and solos, I use my voice and usually accompany it with a guitar or ukulele except when I might be backing someone else who is singing with drums or a bass clarinet.

What inspires you?

The emotions of the people around me. If I am near someone calm, I may draw or sing something calm. If someone is agitated or angry, I write an intense section of a story or sing a heavy song whereas if it is silent, I take the moment and snap a photo of my surroundings.

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

I haven’t always wanted to be an artist, I remember that I used to want to be a personal trainer but I soon dismissed that. Listening to music, seeing people sketch their surroundings and taking photographs and reading often good books has all gotten me interested in art, I have always wanted to climb to their skill level and surpass them and become the best in my field and never stop trying.

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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?

Not really, however, I do like to keep the bold lines outlining my drawings present.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be an artist, don’t give up that dream. Don’t ever doubt your abilities to create something great, even if people tell you otherwise.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an aromantic asexual, with the addition of being agender.

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

I have had people tell me that since I am asexual and aromantic that I can’t write emotional songs but I usually just ignore them and prove them wrong.

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

When I first introduce myself to people and say that I am ace, they usually get confused and think that I mean that I can reproduce myself without another person.

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

You are you. No one else can tell you who you are and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are valid. You exist.

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

I put some of my art work (photographs, drawings and stories) up on Wattpad (https://www.wattpad.com/user/AnotherGinger11), a site where you can read and write and publish stories for free. My photographs and drawings are in some of my books but I do have a book dedicated to them.

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