Interview: Angela

Today we’re joined by Angela. Angela is a phenomenal artist who hasn’t met a medium she didn’t like. She does a fair amount of visual art, specializing in graphite and colored pencils. When she’s not drawing, Angela enjoys doing a variety of crafts: knitting, papercraft, making candles, etc. If all that weren’t enough, she also plays some musical instruments and works in theater tech. It’s very clear that Angela is a dedicated and passionate artist, 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 not sure where to begin. I create all sorts of art from drawing, to knitting, to music and more. In terms of drawing, my favorite mediums are graphite and colored pencil; those are about the only things I work in. I also love crafting; I knit, I bind books, I make candles, I do papercraft… you name it and I’ve probably given it a shot, or at least would like to.

When it comes to music, I mainly focus on clarinet and saxophone. I’m in my college’s pep band but in high school I played a lot of jazz and more traditional wind ensemble music. I’m not sure if theater tech counts as art, but if it does, I love building, painting, and running set pieces. I also love doing sound and lights for theater and other events, which isn’t typically seen as art, but I think there’s a certain degree of artistry to it.

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What inspires you?

I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who really has a lot of inspiration, but I guess my pure love of the arts inspires me. I love creating things for myself and others to enjoy.

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

I’m not sure what got me interested in each of my respective fields. Art is just a hobby of mine; I’m actually studying chemical engineering right now. I guess I’ve just always loved music, and everyone always told me I was good at drawing so I kept up with that too. I started building sets my freshman year of high school because I’ve always wanted to build things and the school play was my first opportunity to do so. When I turned seven, my grandma taught me how to knit so that got me started on fiber arts.

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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 actually have any sort of signature or symbol that I include in my work, but I absolutely love when people do.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I guess the advice that I would give young aspiring artists would be to never give up. If you find an art form that makes you happy, keep doing it. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough or that it’s a waste of time. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get. And even if your work never reaches professional quality, the important part is that you enjoy it and it makes you feel good.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

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

I haven’t really encountered any kind of ace prejudice in general. I tend to surround myself with good people, and I’ve been very lucky in that respect. The most I’ll get is people not knowing what asexuality is, but when people ask I just explain it and it’s all good.

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

I think the most common misconception about asexuality is that it’s the same as sex repulsion. I think a large part of the community is sex repulsed or sex averse, but that doesn’t mean that they’re inherently linked. Plenty of aces enjoy sex without experiencing the attraction.

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

It sounds pretty clichéd, but I would say to know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to question, and it’s okay to be unsure. There’s a great asexual community ready to welcome you home and help you through anything you need.

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

I’ve posted a bunch of my arts and crafts at angelas-arts-and-crafts.tumblr.com if anyone wants to check that out. If you want to speak to me about all the stuff that I do, feel free to message me there or I suppose you can e-mail me at emailjunkedyjunkjunk@gmail.com (yes that is my junk e-mail, I’m not kidding, Gmail didn’t accept the first five or six options I put in so I decided on something ridiculous) if you’re really that interested. I’d be happy to talk to you!

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

Interview: Fran

Today we’re joined by Fran. Fran is a phenomenal musician who plays a variety of instruments and also participates in her school’s marching band. When she’s not playing music, Fran enjoys doodling and is currently writing a novel, which sounds like a fun adventure (a superhero rom-com, how can you not love that). She has also written some poetry and short stories. It’s very clear that Fran is a dedicated and versatile artist, 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 just graduated high school and plan to attend university as a double major in music education and music performance. My primary instrument is flute, but I also play saxophone and a little bit of piano, ukulele, and clarinet. I really enjoy playing classical music, but a lot of my passion lies in jazz, and I am a member of my high school marching band and a future member of my college marching band. I also doodle a little bit, and I am writing a rom com superhero novel about a meteorite that wishes that she can become human and the stars grant her wish. It is a wlw romance, but mostly it consists of humor and superhero action. I also write poetry and short stories.

What inspires you?

My hero is Michael Giacchino and other movie soundtrack writers like him. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved getting inspiration for my music from soundtracks. Because of this wonderful music guiding my life, I plan on inspiring others to pursue music by teaching, and maybe even continue my talents into the professional field. For my visual art, I mostly get inspiration from my friends. We all draw together as a hobby so we get inspired by each other often. For my writing I am inspired by my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, David Leviathan, and Rick Riordan. I love writing books with positive outlooks and messages about love and peace.

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

I have loved music and art ever since I was a child. I started playing flute in 4th grade and I have been obsessed with band ever since. I loved watching movies and playing games almost solely for the excellent musical track. It was only a matter of time until I decided it would be my career. I’ve drawn and written for just as long. I wrote many short stories when I was young, and drew in that stereotypical 6th grade anime style that all artists cringe at later in life. My writing and drawing styles are a little bit better now, though I look back at my childhood doodles and stories with fondness.

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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. My signature is just my name in cursive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be a musician, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “phony career” and that you won’t be able to make a living with it. With hard work and a little thinking outside of the box, you can make a good career out of any art form. Follow your dream and don’t let the downers destroy your passion!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Asexual Lesbian. I experience no sexual attraction, but I am romantically attracted to girls exclusively.

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

I’ve had people tell me that you can’t have a romantic relationship without sex and that I’ll “change my mind”. It used to bother me, but now I just let the words wash over me. I know that I’ll find someone who will understand and love that part about me. I can’t help it that their concept of relationships is so small-minded. I don’t experience that often, though. Most people in my field are very accepting.

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

That I can’t experience a romantic relationship. Many people lump asexual and aromantic together without realizing that they are both different. You can be both, or just one or the other. There are also people who think I’m just innocent. It’s true that I’m a bit innocent in some areas, I don’t like to cuss, I don’t have a dirty mind, I would rather watch Disney movies than anything with too much sex or violence, but that has nothing to do with my orientation. I know how sex works. I just don’t want to have it.

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

Don’t feel like you have to rush into a label. And your label can be fluid and change over time. I know that I may change my label in the future. Just like your favorite color changes over time, so can your label. Also, I know it’s hard living in a world where sex can be prioritized over a healthy and understanding relationship. Be who you are. Because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind”. Your identity is a beautiful thing!

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

I don’t really have a website or anything. Most of my work is just in my ensembles or in my community.

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Thank you, Fran, 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: Dee

Today we’re joined by Dee. Dee is a fantastic musician who is currently studying jazz at university. She has dabbled in other arts like filmmaking and drawing, but it is clear that her heart and passion lies with music. An incredibly dedicated musician, Dee’s lively answers demonstrate a love of music. 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 do a couple of forms of art as a hobby. I draw the occasional fanart, which I’ve been doing as a hobby for about six years. I did art at school though the restrictive nature of it never appealed to me. I was also interested in filmmaking at school, and my best work would have to be the documentary I made on asexuality for my final project last year. I haven’t yet found a way to incorporate my interest in filmmaking into my everyday life as I don’t have access to a lot of the necessary equipment but hope to get back into it sometime in the near future. I also recently started writing thought pieces on subjects related to asexuality which helps declutter the many thoughts in my head and a lot of people seem to enjoy reading them.

My main form art is music. I have been playing the saxophone for 8 years now and it has become a central part of my life. I was a huge band geek at school, playing in jazz band, concert band and saxophone quartet and received some highly regarded awards in music from my school during my final year. The highlight of my time as a musician would be when I played in the Western Australian Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO) back in 2014. A lot of the photos you’ll see are from back then as I don’t have any other performance photos. At the moment I am studying a Diploma of Jazz at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) which is an absolute privilege. I started study recently, though I have found I’m not getting much of an opportunity to do what I love (that is, playing in band) so I’m considering my study options at the end of the year including the Bachelor of Jazz.

What inspires you?

When it comes to art, my direct influences which I am often inspired by are my other interests. In the past I have always drawn my favourite characters from video games and anime, and also write the rare fanfiction of my favourite ships. I have found in the past year that asexuality (and aromanticism) have become more and more of an influence on my art. It started with my documentary when my media teacher suggested we each pick a topic we are passionate about. I have been increasingly interested in writing on asexuality and after contributing to a couple of the Carnival of Aces I decided to give hosting a try, and did February on platonic attraction. Recently I have started a side blog where I’m posting my writing pieces from my main blog.

With music it is very different and a little more vague. As a musician I am inspired by the feeling that I get when I perform in a band setting and if I’m not feeling it, I will follow paths that are likely to lead me to it. It acts as a driving force in my life and shapes a lot of  the decisions I make. It’s involved me taking some risks, such as prioritising music over academics and even pursuing it as a career though everyday I feel like I’m closer to where I want to be (that is, playing in a professional band setting).

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

I guess just being exposed to different forms of music (particularly jazz) was what got me into music. I had no musical experience or interest until I started playing the sax at age ten, and my teacher dove me into jazz within my first year of playing and that’s how I came to love it. I didn’t know how much I’d love playing in band until I actually experienced it, and that was definitely a turning point for me.

I’ve definitely always been interested in art, though. I was always drawing, colouring in and making crafts when I was little and that has continued to this day.

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’d say I’ve developed a particular style when it comes to drawing, especially my way of colouring and shading. It’s a little unrealistic and more bright and fun. I want to make my drawings pop off the page in a cartoony way.

Music has taken a bit longer but I’ve recently started to develop my own style of playing and what I’m aiming for is a crisp tone that’s rough around the edges, if that makes sense? Haha

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t listen to people who tell you you can’t do it! While it is always important to keep back up plans in mind, your passions should always be a priority. Set short term realistic goals and don’t let yourself be effected by other people’s negativity. If they’re not giving you constructive criticism, then they’re not worth your time.

Another piece of advice is have patience. Improvement can be slow and hard to notice at first, but over the long term you’ll start to notice your improvement in different areas so it’s important to be patient, not be so hard on yourself and stay positive!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual, though it has taken me a long time to realise because I only found the asexual community a year ago.

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

When it came to school there wasn’t any ace prejudice but there was an abundance of ignorance when it came to LGBTQ issues. It became frustrating listening to conversations where people were trying to decipher trans identities because if they can’t even understand transgender people, how would they understand asexuality? There was even a time when I was talking to a guy in my tutor group who was going off about how marriage equality isn’t a big deal. Because school can be a toxic place, I only came out to my group of friends and even then I had to get out my dictionary. I suppose just keeping in mind that ignorance is not intentional and that people don’t mean to come off as amatonormative in their everyday conversation got me through my final year of school.

It’s been a lot better since I started university, as I’ve already made a bunch of queer friends that I was comfortable enough to come out to and they all seemed to know what aromantic and asexual were, which is great! University tends to be a more openly sexual environment but in a more casual way that isn’t so in your face like school was for me, which is a lot easier to deal with.

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

The only misconceptions I’ve encountered since coming out have been from my sister, otherwise, everyone else has been very understanding. She has that attitude where everything she says is gospel and it’s included cliches like you don’t know until you’ve tried it (and funnily enough I have) as well as being convinced that I’m putting myself in a box and closing myself off from experiences. So I guess it’s pretty obvious why I’ve only come out as asexual to my family, and avoided using the word aromantic (while still expressing my disinterest in further relationships).

The Internet, on the other hand, is full of acephobia and ignorance. I most often see the you can’t be asexual if- line as well as that asexuals can’t identify as queer unless they experience same gender attraction or are trans (which I completely disagree with).

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

If they’re struggling to figure out their orientation, I’d say don’t rush it. You can take as long as you want to find the word that’s right for you, and even then, you don’t have to use labels. If they’re struggling accepting their asexuality I’d suggest surrounding yourself with people who accept you, and get involved in the ace and LGBTQ communities if that will help you feel better about your orientation. (I couldn’t tell which you meant)

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

– For my asexual writings check out http://ramblings-of-an-aro-ace.tumblr.com/
– For my drawings take a look at sexyaussiekirkland.deviantart.com
– My main blog is sexyaussiekirkland.tumblr.com

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