Interviews by Emma Jones and Athalia Foo
2high Festival, the creation of Backbone Youth Arts, is always one of my favourite times of the year! The Brisbane Powerhouse is overtaken by a multitude of local, emerging artists from every field who seem to hide in every crack and crevice, waiting to be found by audience members - and all for free!
It's always a struggle trying to plan your schedule, but it is always a treat wherever you plan (or don't plan) to wander by. This year we had the absolute pleasure of attending this one-of-a-kind festival and interviewing three fabulous emerging artists you may/may not have heard about, but should definitely keep your eyes out for!
Take 5 minutes and share an intimate chat with Megamix artists Jamee + Vanessa, visual artists CT Something, and Danny of The Kite String Tangle.
PERFORMANCE: 'Synthetic Limb.a.tations' Megamix Artists - Vanessa Flynn and Jamee Campbell
SC: So guys, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves as artists?
V: I'm an accessories designer, I have a label called Flynn The Label. I graduated from a QUT Bachelor of Fine Arts and Fashion like three years ago. I had a little break for a while, and then decided to start really honing in on my craft which is tassels and plastic. They're my most loved materials and I love playing with them, so I decided to make a label just using those materials. That's what I'm up to now.
J: Um, I trained as a dancer at QUT - I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Dance, and then I ran away to the circus in New Zealand to a place called Zirka in Christchurch, and then later I did a Diploma of Circus Arts and Physical Theatre. I'm really interested in Aerial Dance or Aerial Dance Theatre, so fusing the aesthetics of Dance and non-traditional types of apparatus or invented apparatus.
SC: How did you two meet?
V: We applied for the Megamix group, and I just got a called saying "You're in it", and I got introduced to Jamee and yeah. It was perfect.
SC: How did you find the Megamix program, and can you tell us a little bit about how you found it working together?
V: It was really great, the two performance coordinators organising it were so helpful and they really gave us guidance. We both just came in saying "umm, let's do something pretty...we don't know what to do", and they gave us directions and said like "think about this", so I found it a) really helped us to hone in and focus on everything, because we would talk about all these random things we wanted to do. It was a really good program. They gave us a lot of indepence as well. We would have a meeting once a week, then go off and do whatever we wanted and come back and just tell them what we'd done. They were so supportive. Make sure you write that!
SC: Where exactly did your idea come from?
V: Well first off, we started talking about the materials I used, like the tassels and plastic. I explained how much I loved it and I think I got Jamie enthusiastic about it as well! The materials really were the starting point, and then we went from there to make it into a whole performance. That was the starting point.
SC: That's really cool! So how would you say your personal styles have morphed with the influences now from each other?
J: I think we have similar ideas, we just come from really different arts background.
V: I think it was a perfect fit - the things I create are all about movement and the body wearing it, so it was a perfect match. It was very smooth.
SC: What's next for the two of you?
J: I don't know... I need to find a new project. I really feel inspired and empowered to create more independent work. This collaboration process was so smooth, I'm really enthused to do more collaborative work and I've really enjoyed working with an artist from a discipline that's not my own. I'd like to further explore plastic. Maybe in a different concept or a different way!
V: I really need to find a new project. I'm in the midst of releasing a new collection for my label, I'm just waiting for some beads to arrive. It's really annoying, it's taking forever. But yeah, I'll launch that and have a launch party, then find another project to get onto! I love it.
SC: Final question - If you guys were a digital device or a social media platform, what would you be and why?
V: I'd be Instagram. It's all about photos, I do a lot of photography. That's something I do every day!
J: Maybe YouTube? I get really into YouTube and online communities, watching stuff. It always ends up as cat videos though, that's when you know it's time to stop.
VISUAL ARTS: Ponay artists CT Something Caitlin Royal and Tahlia GeigerSC: Okay guys, so can you some up CT Something in five adjectives?
T: I would say... Playful
C: Mental... It's kind of... Disgusting...
T: Visceral! Let's say visceral! Um.... I want to say female...
C: Definitely absurd. There's always this whole idea of portraying the female, but then in an absurd manner. So it's playing with that...
SC: Absurdly feminine? It kind of tampers with the discourse of femininity?
T: Yeah! Trying to challenge ideas of it.
C: But in playful, mental, visceral ways!
SC: So we saw "Ponay", but we wanted to know what it is from the artist's point of view?
T: Well I don't know if you saw it but there are two projections.
C: So, there's a large projection up there [the front wall of the Powerhouse] of Thalia riding a pony, and there is one of me riding and falling off it. That is going to be up on this wall, so when the sun goes down it will actually look nice.
T: It started off with me getting a broken rocking horse from the side of the road.
C: And then we were at the studio together and I said "look, you've got to make a video with this, riding it!" So we went into the studio room and just had a competition to see who could be more crazy.
T: It just comes down to joking around and having fun with it whilst recording, and pushing each other to do ridiculous things. We just get in this crazy headspace where we're joking around and talking about it and then just seeing the most ridiculous thing that you can do. Often with one object.
C: We'll be in a sterile room where we can concentrate. That's why there's three projections - the moment when Thalia was the craziest, the moment where I was the craziest, and then the broken horse after the fact. That's on the TV screen. And of course, the screen is surrounded by our rug of decapitated stuffed toys. It's subverting the idea of play and art. And the sound is the instrumental part of the Ginuwine song, "Pony". It's a really sexual song telling you to "get on it", and we had Thalia saying "giddy up!" over the top of that. So kind of subverting the idea of sexuality as well.
SC: So what is your creative process? Do you just go into a room and go nuts and see what happens?
C: Our creative process is - if it makes us feel uncomfortable, we have to do it. We've had ideas where I broke down and cried before one of our performances, because I was scared of doing it - which made us have to do it.
T: We push the boundaries, and it's about our bodies interacting with a particular object and how you can push the object into a state where the function is lost. Just seeing how that translates to video.
C: Or just situations that you would never think of doing. We did an artwork where we sat in the carpark of the Powerhouse with plastic over our faces. We ended up making a video out of it and we just thought "okay we've gotta do this cause no one else will". We've also done a live performance where we had grown our armpit hair for three months prior to the show, and invited the audience to pluck the hair! We also stood in our underwear and yelled pick up lines at men as they walked by. We would feel like we have failed as artists if someone from the audience looked at us and felt nothing.
SC: Vanilla art is the worst art. So what is next for CT Something?
T: Well we're both still studying - I study Visual Arts and I'm going to do Honours next year.
C: I am doing my Grad Dip to become an Art Teacher.
T: We'll keep collaborating and filming and creating!
C: We just want to keep the momentum up, you can't cross anything off.
SC: Okay, final question! If you guys were a digital device or a social media platform, what would you be and why?
C: If you could have a hybrid of like a projector/TV/speakerbox that flies around... Something really bizarre...
T: Maybe something that hasn't been made yet
C: Or an old-school TV that's in the dump but still gets reception... Something you find in an op-shop for $3!
MUSIC: Danny Harley aka The Kite String Tangle
SC: So you've had a pretty exciting few months! What's been going on?
D: Uh, a great deal! I released a song a few months ago, and it seems to be connecting with people somehow. I've been getting really great feedback and opportunities. Going from writing a song in your room to playing a gig is crazy. I met two people in Melbourne who had gone on a first date to see me, and in Sydney there was a lesbian couple who had first hooked up to my song so there's things like that, where people are really connecting with it!
SC: How romantic! And your tour starts this week?
D: Yeah it starts on Thursday! A bit sooner than I'd like...
SC: That's awesome! So, "Given The Chance" is everywhere right now. Do you think it's a bit challenging to release new music to sort of "follow it up"? Did you expect the success of that song?
D: Well the song I put out before it went really well for me for where I was at, at the time. I was freaking out about following THAT one. I guess I've just gotta do what I do, and people will like it or they won't. Hopefully people like it, but if not I'm still doing what I want!
SC: So what's next for you then? Your tour and then what?
D: Writing. I'm gonna wrap up the tour and then lock myself away for a bit. Hopefully something nice will happen, otherwise I've just wasted a month... Which is also nice, to do nothing for a month... And then, setting up for my debut EP release in January/February!
SC: If you were a digital device or a social media platform, what would you be and why?
D: I would be my TV remote, because I would love to know where it is! Or my laptop, because it's where I do everything. We're kind of family, I think it knows me more than most of my friends do. Is that sad?
As a final note, we at Spool Collective would like to say we LOVE the work that Backbone Youth Arts does. Some of you may know about the funding cuts that many arts organisations won't be receiving next year - Backbone is one of those organisations.
They do so much great work to not only support local artists and arts in Brisbane and Queensland, but they also do a lot to support mental disabled youth to express themselves and learn through the use of performance and art.
Give them a hand so they can keep doing what they are doing - visit this link.