I love Shirley Manson so much, I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps in the mid 1990s when all I was interested in musically was New Wave, Classic Rock and Prince Bootlegs… The Alternative music scene which had become uber-popular did absolutely nothing for me and as a result, I lost out on seeing bands like Nirvana when there were many chances to check them out. But then I heard the voice of an angel (and formerly of Angelfish), Shirley Manson. Her lyrics talked about some of the insecurities we are too afraid to admit coupled with a “don’t fuck with me attitude,” and to me and legions of fans, this was a winning formula. So many of her lyrics are so raw, honest and brilliantly poetic, I definitely place Shirley Manson amongst my favorite lyricists of all time (2 quick examples: “You should see my scars” from ‘Bleed Like Me’ and “I’ll tell you something, I am a wolf but I like to wear sheep’s clothing” from ‘Temptation Waits’ are a couple of my personal favorites). In my pre-camera days, I’ve had so many great experiences with Shirley and Garbage (for example seeing the final show of the Version 2.0 tour where they played 7 encores!) but last night was my first time taking a photo with the rock goddess.
In advance of Garbage playing later on this week, Shirley Manson discussed one of her favorite movies, “In The Mood For Love” (which was released in 2000 and was directed by Wong Kar-Wai) at the IFC center in Manhattan. It was my first experience seeing the modern classic and I completely understand why everyone loves it so much. The dialogue was completely improvised and cinematically, every shot in the film is gorgeous. Shirley talked about her love of this film, some of her experiences acting, as well as discussing her all time favorite film (see video below to find out what it is).
After the discussion was over, hordes of Garbage fans descended upon Shirley and she was cool enough to sign autographs and take pictures. As Shirley has said in the first song on the first Garbage album (‘Supervixen’), “bow down to me,” I am doing so via the written word. Thanks again Shirley for so many kick ass songs that have rocked my world! See you Friday at the show!
Gett Off! from the “Le Petit Prince” series by Troy Gua (photo from Google Images)
A2G: The Prince fan community, which can be very hard to please, really seemed to love “Le Petit Prince,” but Prince himself did not. What happened?
TG: I don’t know what finally caused the cease and desist order, because I had been advertising the sale of prints of the work (*my* work) for a while, but it was when I began selling calendars that I got shut down. I have to point out that I was only selling merchandise of this work to fund the project’s continuation towards the completion of the book. And I still feel that I was doing no wrong – I was simply filtering my memories, expressing my vision of a great artistic influence in my own artistic language – based on existing imagery, yes, but made wholly new by my interpretation – which so much of art is. Anyhoo, after 11 months of work, I received an email from the lawyers and a letter via FedEx the next day. It basically said that because of my use of Prince’s likeness to sell work, I needed to erase LPP from the internet and never show the work online or off. So – in the end I guess it was about money.
from “Le Petit Prince” (photo from Google Images)
A2G: Did any of his associates give you advice/support for dealing with the cease and desist order?
TG:No advice, really, but a lot of support – several of his former bandmates/associates posted really wonderful, supportive comments on Facebook and such.
Dirty Mind by Troy Gua
A2G: Aside from working through lawyers, you were never contacted by Prince. If you could send a message to Prince, what would you say about this whole situation?
TG: Wow, I really don’t know what he personally thinks of the project, so that’s a tough question. I’d like him to know that the LPP Project was meant as a loving and respectful tribute to him, and nothing more. It grew out of something I made for myself into something so much bigger than I could have ever planned or imagined, and was fueled by his fans’ adoration and passion for him and his art, on a global scale. The only ingredients in this project were admiration, joy and love, and it was a sad thing to have it stamped out so unceremoniously. I’d like to say “Let’s get together and make some wonderful art and make people smile – the world needs more of both”.
Troy Gua with Le Petit Prince
A2G: If Prince or his legal team were to change his/their mind(s), would you continue the “Le Petit Prince” project or has this experience soured you?
TG: I would, and I have continued – I just don’t post the work online. I was in the process of filling the visual gaps in Prince’s career to compile images for the book when the c&d came down, and I was actually getting close to wrapping – at least as far as that part of the project went. If Prince would change his mind and get on board, it would make a lot of people happy. We could offer the book (which is a beautiful, 12×12″, 160+ page coffee table volume including tons of never before seen, unreleased work), and who knows, maybe even LPP reproductions. The fans would LOVE it. I’ve been doing the most recent looks and some more surreal, fantastical stuff referencing the whole ’3rd Eye Girl’ thing that’s been going on. I could, of course, go on forever with it, being there is so much source material, but I won’t…or will I?
Le Petit Prince 2011 – 2012. RIP?
TG (continued): At the end of the day, I do have a problem with reconciling the concept of an artist censoring another artist, especially when the artwork in question was clearly a loving tribute. Appropriation is a tradition, art historically speaking, and there would have never been an Andy Warhol without it. Appropriation happens to be a big part of what I do as an artist, but the work I did with “Le Petit Prince” was a reimagining, an artistic interpretation of Prince as my life’s greatest inspiration, and *I* created that work using that inspiration, stealing nothing. I hold to that truth – and it could be argued. When the cease and desist order came down, my first reaction was to acquiesce – to fight would have been in direct opposition to the spirit of the project itself. But looking back on the situation now, I do feel it’s a bit extreme and quite unfair to the project’s fans as well as myself to not allow the work to exist or be shown anywhere – online or off. I still hold some hold hope that that decision can and will be reversed at some point.
Chysalis (Contents May Shift in Transit) photo by Will Austin
TG: I got no time to waste! I have so many ideas that it’s a struggle to get them made – they were backing up all last year when I was so focused on LPP, so now they’re starting to come flying out in various forms. I’ve been thinking about this particular design for a while – the <3 texting code for love. I call my design ‘Metamodern Love’. I’m fascinated with symbols and pictograms, and I wanted to use it as an updated version of Robert Indiana’s LOVE works, and it just seems like a design that would be big for the digital demographic. I’m into getting my work into people’s lives any way I can, and if that means on a t-shirt, I’m cool with that (I plan on releasing the design as a ‘floating heart’ pendant as well as a pin in the very near future). Plus, it is a symbol of positivity, of love – and as for the term ‘metamodern’, from Wikipedia: “Van den Akker and Vermeulen define metamodernism as a continuous oscillation, a constant repositioning between positions and mindsets that are evocative of the modern and of the postmodern but are ultimately suggestive of another sensibility that is neither of them: one that negotiates between a yearning for universal truths on the one hand and an (a)political relativism on the other, between hope and doubt, sincerity and irony, knowingness and naivety, construction and deconstruction.”
Metamodern Love (Look Inside Your Heart) by Troy Gua
A2G: You’ve also done a series of “Pop Hybrids.” (please explain the process or how the series came about). Have you received any feedback from the artists you’ve immortalized?
TG: The whole idea started when I decided to reboot my style by making abstract, highly graphic paintings of overlapping circles – the overlapping colors would make new colors, and new shapes were made by the overlaps. At the same time I had started making these 2D paper cutouts representing iconic faces that I would sandwich between glass in shadowboxes. I melded the two ideas together, essentially. I thought about the idea of overlapping, layering, and how we’re all running out of space – literally, mentally, memorially – and I thought about how, in the theoretical future, in order to save room, we’re going to have to combine objects, combine personalities, combine everything – distillation and hybridization. That made sense to me as a concept – and in keeping with the concept, I wanted to insert as many layers of interpretation into the work as I could. For instance, ‘The Boy King of Pop’ is a combination of Michael Jackson and King Tut. Layer one: the title – it hybridizes their popular monikers “The Boy King’ and ‘The King of Pop’. Layer two: they were both children thrust into the limelight without a choice or a voice in the matter. Layer three: they both ended up in masks of different sorts, literally and figuratively. I try to implement this layering system with all the pieces in the series, sometime more successfully than other times. As for feedback, I haven’t heard from anyone, but then again, many of the subjects are dead and buried.
Troy Gua with 2 Pop Hybrids
A2G: What’s a typical day in your life like?
TG: I live a pretty low-key life, really. I get up around 7am, have breakfast with my beautiful bride, and scan my computer in my usual loop of email, Facebook, job search (I need to either find a better way to make the art career pay off, or sell my soul – I’d prefer the former to the latter). Then I either exercise at the gym or go running to maintain my girlish figure, run errands, and then it’s time to work on whatever project(s) I’m working on, which is usually several at once. I stay pretty attached to my laptop and keep connected as much as possible with the social medias, which I see as part of the job of being an artist today – at least an artist at my level. My wife is going to school full-time and doing a couple of courses online, so we spend much of the day in close proximity and share meals and such. I love it – she’s my bestie. At night, we usually watch an episode of whatever show we’re currently obsessed with and turn in around 10 or 11. I used to go to a ton of art events, but that became draining and felt obligatory, so I stopped for about a year. I’m trying to ween myself back into going out more, though. Pretty mellow lifestyle, these days.
Andy Warhol vs. Man Ray by Troy Gua
A2G: Any plans on exhibiting in New York?
TG: Of course, that’s the dream – no plans at this point, because I haven’t been able to make any gallery connections, but if I can make it there…and if you know anybody, I’m so ready for a big break.
Facebox by Troy Gua
A2G: What does the future hold for you?
TG: I’ve got ideas for daaaayzzzz…I really just want to be able to continue to manifest my concepts, execute my work to the best of my ability and share what I do with the hope that it invites people to think, ask questions, and smile – on as big a scale as possible. I do have a solo show of my ‘Pop Hybrid’ series coming up in May at the Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery in Cleveland – working my way towards NYC.
Art Brut by Troy Gua
Fantome with Cheese by Troy Gua
Burger Cheveux by Troy Gua
The Physical Impossibility Of Equilibrium For The Art Of Art History Submerged In A Vitrine Of Piss (Coffee Table Book) by Troy Gua
Monument by Troy Gua
Venus Mars (Saturn) by Troy Gua
Untitled by Troy Gua
As you have seen from all these extremely diverse works of art, Troy Gua is definitely an artist to watch and I am very excited to see what he comes up with next. Thanks again Troy and my fingers are crossed for a New York exhibit soon! And Prince, if you are out there, please reconsider your harsh decision and let “Le Petit Prince” live again. Art lovers and Prince fans unite and let’s help make this happen! Visit Troy Gua’s official website here. (link will open in new window)
Photos (except for the Le Petit Prince images which were found on Google Images) courtesy of Troy Gua.
Father + Son by Troy Gua
There are few artists around that are truly masters of many styles. Seattle-based pop artist Troy Gua is one of them. As you will see and read from this Q&A that I did with Troy Gua, be prepared to be impressed by his art. His work even caught the attention of music legend Prince, however, as you will come to learn, that story (as of press time) did not end happily.
For the Love of Damien by Troy Gua
Troy was given Seattle Magazine’s 2011 Spotlight Award and with or without Prince’s support, Troy Gua is an artist to be reckoned with. I recently chatted with Troy about life, art, Prince any many more subjects and what you will read below (and in a future post) are the highlights of our conversation. Enjoy and thanks again to Troy for his honesty and of course for rocking my world (and hopefully yours too) with his great art!
Your Face Here (After Shepard Fairey) by Troy Gua
According2G: What’s on your iPod / Kindle / Netflix?
Troy Gua: Prince and associated artists are always in heavy rotation, but I’ve also been listening to Frank Ocean, Glen Campbell, Zapp, David Bowie. I’m reading a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Childs (one of my guilty pleasures), and have been watching Six Feet Under damn near daily for a few weeks now. Recently watched Looper and For a Good Time, Call…
At the Foot of the Opening at the Beginning and the End of Being by Troy Gua
A2G: You have a vast body of work that is extremely diverse. What’s your favorite medium to work in?
King’s Ruin by Troy Gua
TG: I wouldn’t be able to say what my favorite medium is – for me, it’s more about the idea than the material. I use whatever I can get my hands on to manifest my concepts physically, whatever makes sense, whatever the party calls for. Of course, the aesthetics are extremely important to me as well, but I generally let the concept dictate the materials.
Sustaining An Untitled Living Room Wall Fountain Progression by Troy Gua
A2G: When and how did you get into art?
TG: It’s always just been ‘my thing’. From the time I was a small kid, I got the pat on the back for being ‘the artist’ of the class. That part felt really good, and just like a drug addict chasing the dragon of his first high, I’ve been chasing the dragon of that first pat on the back ever since.
Bipolar Bear by Troy Gua
A2G: Who are your heroes or influences?
TG: I’ve got many from varied sources: my wife quite literally saved my life when we got sober together 6+ years ago. She helped me find a new path and renewed my dream of ‘making it’ as an artist – pretty heroic. My father was a hero of sorts, in that he always made me feel safe from harm – when he died, that feeling did too, to a certain extent. Prince is my artistic hero, and will always be my biggest influence. David Bowie, Luke Skywalker, Johnny Depp. From the art world, I love Maurizio Cattelan, Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, Yves Klein, Sal Dalí, Xavier Veilhan, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Donald Judd, Robert Indiana, Chuck Close…in no particular order, and I’m sure I’m leaving some important names out.
Ernie and Bert as Colorbandz by Troy Gua
A2G: You’ve done a series called “Colorbandz” Tell us about the process and how do you decide who makes the cut?
TG: The process starts with a color photograph – a head shot, straight on. I use the subjects features as guides for placement of transferred color samples from the photo, creating horizontal stripes. The idea is that of a portrait ‘at the speed of technology’, and is meant to reference today’s incredibly faced pace world. We see pictures of each other online, we get blips of information, we have short attention spans, we’re doing a million things all at once – we only see each other as we’re flying by at mach speed. That’s what the Colorbandz™ are meant to represent. As for who makes the cut, initially it was my friends and local art colleagues, but then of course, my celebrity obsession leaked into it and I began using famous folks that have iconic looks, that would also assist in delivering the concept to folks that just couldn’t get it. When I used Bert and Ernie, who are about as distilled as you can get as far as representative imagery, a lot of people had the aha moment with the series. I still take commissions for them, although I don’t regularly work on the series much at this point.
Starfish and Coffee by Troy Gua
A2G: I know you are a big Prince fan. What’s your favorite Prince song and Prince related memory?
TG: Eesh – I’ve been asked this many times, and my answer always wants to change, because it really depends on the mood, but I’m gonna go with Erotic City – followed closely by I could Never Take the Place of Your Man, Anotherloverholenyohead, Adore, Bambi, and She’s Always in My Hair. Favorite Prince songs are like potato chips – I can’t have just one. Best Prince memory? The first time I saw him live – February 15th, 1985 in the Tacoma Dome. Transformative. I have to thank my sister for that.
Le Petit Prince by Troy Gua (note: Image taken from Google).
A2G: Favorite unreleased Prince song/concert?
TG: Lovesexy Dortmund [from 1988], and the song I’ve never heard that will make my head cave in.
Comparison of Prince with Le Petit Prince by Troy Gua. Image taken from Google Images.
A2G: How did the “Le Petit Prince” project come about?
TG: I was really just doing something fun for myself. I’ve been working hard to make a living as an artist in Seattle, and it’s been a tough go. I feel like if I could get my work into other markets, I’d be much more successful, financially. Anyway, I’d had a real busy 2011, which was pretty successful as far as local visibility and recognition goes, but I was frustrated that it wasn’t really yielding anything opportunity-wise or money-wise. So I just wanted to take a small break and make something that wasn’t meant for exhibition or sale. I’ve always been fascinated with Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation work and wanted to make a sculptural doll of my hero that would be in the style of the Thunderbirds and such. I went about making that happen, tried to find someone to sew a ⅙ scale Purple Rain outfit (Purple coat, black pants, ruffled shirt), but couldn’t find anyone that would do it – so my wife convinced me to do it myself. I’d never sewn a thing in my life, so she helped on the first jacket and I took it from there. I posted some pics online, they began to get shared around, I started getting requests to do recreations of other Princely eras, took the requests as challenges, and went for it. It blew up from there. I began fabricating tiny guitars, all the clothes, using different wigs and cutting and styling them, making sets, and basically recreating Prince’s career visually with photography, all in ⅙ scale. I got to the point where I had done so many looks and eras that it just made sense to me to see the project through and complete the visual timeline. I was working towards a beautiful coffee table book and was hoping to exhibit the work at some point, but as you know [and will be addressed further in the second part of this interview], that idea was squelched.
CMJ 2012 was such a great experience for me. I was fortunate enough to host a CMJ-themed episode for MTV’s Weird Vibes. This meant that I got to skip lines, check out a ton of live music, hang out with the rich and fabulous and interview bands. If there was ever a gig I was born to do, this is it! You’ll be hearing more and seeing the episode very soon and of course, I will let you know all the details. But for now, I want to hip you to some singers and bands you might not be familiar with. First up is Mac Demarco.
Mac Demarco is a singer/songwriter from Canada. His music finds him crooning in falsetto or singing in a very deep voice. Rather than be your typical singer/songwriter where all tracks sound like they are from the same family, Mac’s songs are filled with hooks that will lure you in on first listen. In 2012, Mac Demarco released the “Rock and Roll Nightclub EP” as well as his first proper full length album “2.” I have to say, I am liking them a lot. The music world is taking note too. During CMJ, Mac Demarco was one of the most buzzed about artists and he played 9 shows in 4 days! Despite having such a crazy schedule, he was really cool to talk to.
I don’t want to spoil the interview for when you see it (because it was pretty epic!), but let’s just say that I brought him a pumpkin, we smoked a cig together and Mac Demarco took my on screen kissing viriginity from me. Sorry fellas, he’s straight! That’s what’s up! Mac Demarco is in his early 20s and if he’s this good being this young, the future is incredibly bright for him. I will definitely be following his career and I recommend you do the same!
A dream of mine came true yesterday at the CMJ music marathon in New York as I had the opportunity to interview Interpol’s lead singer Paul Banks for MTV’s show “Weird Vibes.” (Air dates and links will be posted as soon as I know, so stay tuned to the site and tell all your friends). Paul Banks is taking a brief break from Interpol and will be releasing a solo album called “Banks” on October 23, 2012. Long time readers of the site know I am a huge fan of Interpol so this was a huge thrill for me (and it was my first ever on-camera rock star interview. Not too shabby)! Before the interview, Paul performed a 30 minute set that included tracks from “Banks” including “The Base” and “Summertime Is Coming” and also “Games For Days” from his Julian Plenti solo album.
I asked Paul important questions such as his feelings on the fact that my world exclusive live video of “Not Even Jail” that I posted on According2g.com failed to go viral. It made absolutely no difference to him at all, moments before denying the site access to exclusive mp3s. Ha! We also talked about hanging with rockstars and he revealed he’s good friends with Britt Daniel of Spoon. He never got to meet Amy Winehouse and though he hasn’t met Gotye, he likes “Somebody That I Used To Know.” He did reveal that once touring commitments and promotion are completed for “Banks” he will get back with Interpol and they will record again. Thanks again to Paul Banks for being such a good sport and also to MTV for this great experience. And also, thanks for the photo op! “Banks” by Paul Banks is out on October 23, 2012. Get it!!!