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View Full Version : art into pop--abiding or ailing?



blissblogger
11-03-2005, 05:45 PM
someone in the maya thread, sorry forget who, said something that suggested that the art school pop tradition in the UK wasn't as strong as it was, that art schools had changed -- i've no basis on which to know but i wondered if this was true -

certainly a huge proportion of the UK bands i liked in the 80s had some links to art school but by the 90s i don't get the sense particularly that they were coming out of that area so much

have art schools got more businesslike and less like freeform spaces for fucking about? or is it just that artists are more inclined to stick to an art path? (the boom of Brit Art making art seem cooler than music?).

in new york though the No Wave thing of painters picking up plectrums seems to be quite strong at the moment -- gang gang dance is full of artists, and the singer liz bougatsis is actually a painter of some reknown i believe

ariel pink is also a product of Cal Arts

polystyle desu
11-03-2005, 06:43 PM
There IS a current wave of artists making music ,
some from other parts of US coming to do it here , and many here as usual
Gang Gang ,
the boys reprogramming Nintendo cartridges and video games : Cory Archangel/8 Bit Construction Set /Beige.
Only recently learned from Cory a whole slew of current NYC artists (himself included) ,
musicmakers (members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Rapture ) .
DJ's ( Acute label owner Dan Selzer) came out of Oberlin , a music (or art ?) school in Ohio (i believe)

Artist collective gang/group Paper Rad make their own crunk -y/electro mixes and tracks
among others
fresh daily

ripley
11-03-2005, 08:21 PM
Heh. I went to Oberlin. It has a music conservatory and a small 'progressive' liberal arts college.

I think the college has spawned more musicians (than the conservatory) in the pop/rock/post whatnot side of things.. but I'm not sure.
Trans Am, Morgan Geist/metro area, Bevin Blechdom. Karen O of Yeahyeahyeahs went there are well. Seam, John McIntyre (of tortoise and the sea and cake).. lots of rock, but not exclusively.

sorry that's a tangent from artists making music. It's just funny to see your wacked-out little college be known for something..

dannyDMX
18-05-2005, 06:41 AM
while the conservatory helps create a musical environment, most of the music people are in the college, and not usually the art department. I think a big factor was the influence of Dave Toddarello who ran Sound Sensations Imports and later the Co-Op record store, and is responsible for getting WOBC to be filled with great records and turning many students onto the good stuff.

Nobody from the Rapture came out of Oberlin, but here's a partial list:

Oneida, Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co, Morgan Geist/Metro Area, Blevin Blechtom, Kelly Polar Quartet, Rye Coalition, We Acediasts(Native Nod), French Kicks, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Seconds, Pterodactyl, Ned Rothenberg, David Shea, Ashford Breaks, Codeine/Come, Seam, Bitch Magnet, Tortoise, Metamatics, Cory Archangel, Paperrad, Tall Boys, Northern State, Liz Phair, Prosaics, Trans Am, 8-bit Construction Set etc

dannyDMX
18-05-2005, 06:44 AM
but the pink elephant int he middle of the room of a discussion like this is RISD. Beyond Talking Heads and that indie-rock band who's name i can't remember, it spawned that entire Lighting Bolt type scene.

jwd
18-05-2005, 08:59 AM
I certainly haven't heard of that many UK groups coming from the art-school angle these days - um, do Franz Ferd have some art pedigree? For some reason it wouldn't surprise me - I can't help but feel that art-schools are producing lazier groups these days, certainly nothing like the critical/theoretical intensity of, say, Leeds in the 70s. Would certainly love for someone to prove this wrong.

Current situation seems reflective of University etc. moving away from critical/analytical to the vocational, something that's happening big-time in Australia, with our English department abolishing its Critical Theory course and making way for more Media Studies.

Woebot
18-05-2005, 09:05 AM
have art schools got more businesslike and less like freeform spaces for fucking about? or is it just that artists are more inclined to stick to an art path? (the boom of Brit Art making art seem cooler than music?).

i went to camberwell art school in 1990 having schooled myself on rock criticism ;) i was desperate for the place to be full of people riding bicycles around in the nude and doing lsd in the dark-rooms and felt fearfully cheated when the atmosphere, as you hint, was very subdued. i remember this being brought into focus by reading Frith's Art Into Pop which I actually stole from the Clerkenwell Library in a quasi-political act of reclamation.

was it thatcher who kicked the shit out of the institutions? see on the other hand, when I'm feeling more sober, i sort of regret that, quite to the contrary, i wasnt encouraged more in the more practical areas of illustration and graphics. it never occured to me that there might me a perfectly feasible way to "practise art" albeit without the full charge of art rebellion (though that in itself is contestable innit) could have saved myself six painful (boring) years "travelling" through film production...

i suppose acid house transformed the art into pop axis. creativity became more lumpen. art school bands tend to strive for individuality and the cult therof, whereas acid house (+++) seemed opposed to this. also the visual aspect of those art pop bands was crucial. even a band like The Who were very visual. I think the new wave of post-punk and shoreditch electro must have attracted quite a few art students cos theres the whole performance aspect of it. Peaches etc

owen
18-05-2005, 02:34 PM
i remember saying on the maya thread that art-pop was dealt a blow by tuition fees and the abolition of grants, in that the class tensions that lay behind most art school pop were absent- as you seldom get working or lower-middle class art students anymore. mind you i do agree acid house and 'scenius' gave the idea a bit of a kicking

a lot of the neo-britpop stuff that is such a blight on 'top of the pops' at the mo has an art school 'pedigree' (glasgow, st martins, goldsmiths) which i certainly take for stagnation...

i do go to one of the latter three (and have done for an unheathily long time) and the problem i think is a sort of cowardice-i know people in bands who listen to dancehall all day and have all manner of esoteric interests, but whose own music is total four-square indie. there isn't a belief that these things could be connected.

Rambler
18-05-2005, 03:00 PM
"deptford ... goldsmiths"

I think we go to the same college Owen. Closeted in the music dept I don't know many art students that well, but the ones I have known have mostly had really conservative music tastes - Jamiroquai, etc - which always surprised and disappointed me.

Blur deserve at least one mention on this thread. In the mid-90s they were obviously the biggest band to come out of any art school, but they were positioned (deliberately, or by their promoters) against the distinctly non-arty Oasis. Oasis won that fight hands-down and were able to spawn a string of successful ancestors (Cast-Embrace-Coldplay-Doves...). Blur gave us Menswear. The fact that the likes of Franz Ferdinand are commonly referred to as 'art-rock' (you what?!) shows the power that drab pub rock has over the British scene these days: anything that goes beyond a plodding G major riff and a singalong chorus is 'art'.

Rambler
18-05-2005, 03:03 PM
(not that I'm proclaiming Blur to be a latter-day Sonic Youth or anything, but at least they had genuine art-school pedrigree)

owen
24-05-2005, 12:31 AM
curses! i've been found out! i'm in the english dept mind you. you aren't doing the contemporary music MA by any chance rambler? i have some friends doing that.

some of the art students i know are very into bpitch control/kompakt/tiefschwarz and the like- the 'let's move to berlin' perennial....the art into pop thing seems much healthier over there- this may be true in the u.s, i don't know myself.

surely blur circa 'country house' were a nadir for art as much as pop? that appalling damien hirst video.

oh and partly, though i find her a bit asinine, MIA is in my book a step in the right direction for art school derived music- a move back to rhetoric, pick-n-mix exoticism, non-musical input (though i don't want to re-open that can of worms)....

as for the other stuff described as 'art school' in the uk, the 18th May post on silverdollarcircle is pretty definitive- though i am often inclined to recall goldsmiths in 1999 and the popularity therein of gomez, combat trousers, zero 7 and thank god things have at least started to pick up.....

Blackdown
24-05-2005, 10:29 AM
About once a year someone tells me New Cross is the new Shoreditch, yet no scene ever seems to explode out of there. then of course i'm more interested in Bow and Mile End, Croydon and Norbury, pirates and dubplates so it could be off my radar.

so is there an art/music/scene in New Cross?
or is it just a shitty place to live like everyone says it is.

Noah Baby Food
24-05-2005, 10:49 AM
The recently-split band Ikara Colt had an art background...every member exhibits work. (For the record, they were a good band, taking the Fall and The Stooges as starting points, with a touch of cold electronics and interesting lyrics. They've split up because THE KIDS DON'T FUCKING CARE, and would rather listen to some other lumpen MTV2 shite. Incidentally, Babyshambles' "Killamangiro" IS The Jam's "Down At The Tube Station At Midnight".... DO ONE!)

I know cats from art school, and the impression I get these days isn't so much "let's push things forward" as "let's get all the references right"...a lot of retro aesthetics...

Rambler
24-05-2005, 11:00 AM
you aren't doing the contemporary music MA by any chance rambler? i have some friends doing that.

Yup, I did that, but a few years ago. It's all PhD now. PM your friends' names if you want, I might have tutored them at some point...


surely blur circa 'country house' were a nadir for art as much as pop? that appalling damien hirst video.

Oh, I wasn't saying it was good art :D


i am often inclined to recall goldsmiths in 1999

Rumbled - although I never listened to Gomez, I swear.


so is there an art/music/scene in New Cross?
or is it just a shitty place to live like everyone says it is.

There's a fair bit goes on around the college - around examination time there's obviously more new art than you'd ever hope to see in one month. And there are odds and sods going on in the bars and so on around during the rest of the year. From a modern classical/experimental point of view the music department is one of the best in the country - there are several good things every term, mostly free. It may not be as good as it was when John Cale was a student, but there are some very talented young composers and performers in the department. It's all probably too institutionalised to be called a 'scene', but it's a creative place, definitely.

Grievous Angel
24-05-2005, 11:05 AM
on the other hand, when I'm feeling more sober, i sort of regret that, quite to the contrary, i wasnt encouraged more in the more practical areas of illustration and graphics.
yeah, if only you could draw, eh matt...

martin
24-05-2005, 11:47 AM
About once a year someone tells me New Cross is the new Shoreditch, yet no scene ever seems to explode out of there. then of course i'm more interested in Bow and Mile End, Croydon and Norbury, pirates and dubplates so it could be off my radar.

so is there an art/music/scene in New Cross?
or is it just a shitty place to live like everyone says it is.

I used to live there, seemed to be hundreds of students who were all in bands, but none of them recorded anything or played any gigs. Which is a good thing. The only real cultural highpoint I remember was "Paco's Racket Club" at the Goldsmith's Tavern. I did meet Stuart Hall (the academic, not the "It's a Knockout" compere) once. But once that reggae shop shut down, the place became a grey parody of Barking.

It seemed to be more of a fanzine writer thing round then. Some Northern bloke called Harry who used to do a zine called 'Dog', he spent lots of time in the Marquis of Granby and he knew all these other zine writers and underground publishing houses

Britpop was hideously boring, all amps turned down to 3, young men looking like chimpanzees, people paying M&VE's retro shop 40 for those naff old Le Coq Sportif schoolbags that I used to get laughed at for still using in 1989, Irvine Welsh supposedly the greatest writer alive....though I did really like a couple of Echobelly songs

john eden
24-05-2005, 12:00 PM
These people are ok:

http://www.transpont.blogspot.com

as is this:

http://www.uncarved.org/sale/graphics/deptford.jpg

Available from me (http://www.uncarved.org/turb/cat.html) for 3 quid.

john eden
24-05-2005, 12:04 PM
"Paco's Racket Club" at the Goldsmith's Tavern.

Paco of Conflict fame, iirc.

martin
24-05-2005, 12:14 PM
Paco of Conflict fame, iirc.

Yeah, that's the one. There was probably a shortage of anarcho-punk drummers in SE London at that point, as he used to fill in for quite a few other bands too. He did this gig with 'Riot/Clone' and someone shouted out a request for 'H Block' between numbers. The singer got all arsey and remarked, "It's 1992, not fucking 1982!". Some punk girl pointed out in a loud voice that it was 1996. Then we all started chanting 'H Block! H Block!' just to wind him up. Paco was always quite friendly and down to earth offstage.

don_quixote
24-05-2005, 02:47 PM
i think franz ferdinand are refered to as "art-rock" because they went to art school and portray this 'we're so clever' exterior which really doesnt match the music, but they appear to be either believing their own hype or actually believed in the first place that they were cutting edge

owen
24-05-2005, 05:10 PM
oh the tavern! i'm going to get all misty-eyed in a minute....i vowed to move out when that got taken over a couple of years ago (i didn't,obviously)


These people are ok:

http://www.transpont.blogspot.com

as is this:

http://www.uncarved.org/sale/graphics/deptford.jpg

Available from me (http://www.uncarved.org/turb/cat.html) for 3 quid.

both of those things are excellent

oh and blackdown, essentials are from round my way so there....but hmm well deptford/new cross have been 'up and coming' for the 6 years or so i've lived here....its not going to happen though, much as i love it the place it is basically one huge and incredibly obnoxious road with some houses and estates dotted around it.

daren
24-05-2005, 08:05 PM
i think franz ferdinand are refered to as "art-rock" because they went to art school and portray this 'we're so clever' exterior which really doesnt match the music, but they appear to be either believing their own hype or actually believed in the first place that they were cutting edge

I definitely agree with this statement.

It's kind of funny seeing how my band is probably the only band in the midwest United States who are all art students. We're planning on touring in a couple months around an art showing of one of our members. He's a print making major who's currently in grad school for intermedia. Most bands in this area have members that are in the liberal arts.

I think the assumption of art schools becoming more business-like really has to do with the specific college and the people running it. I've attended a couple universities with completely different programs, but are no more than a two and a half hour drive apart. One was quite rigid, and to the point, while the other is quite flexible with their program. Then again, it could also be due to the city atmosphere too.

hint
24-05-2005, 08:05 PM
so is there an art/music/scene in New Cross?
or is it just a shitty place to live like everyone says it is.

bloc party and art brut wrote some songs that everyone realised would / could chart and hence a "scene" / a&r stomping ground was born... there's a line tracing back to the first compilation put out by angular (http://www.angularrecords.co.uk/about/radio.html) - "the new cross".

looks like it's being called "art wave"... :rolleyes:

owen
24-05-2005, 08:55 PM
lots of bands who like the idea of having ideas without having any actual ideas

(cf franz fred saying 'you should be subversive in everything you do'- what exactly are they subverting? hairdressing protocols?)

there are some nice things in the new cross 'scene'. fear of music frinstance may often involve dreadful bands but also involves fine dj sets (including rave fixation!) and enthusiastic dancing, not least by me

angular records can fuck right off mind you.