Seamus Williams Worcester, Massachusetts is one of the most singular artists in the northeastern American experimental sound that I experienced while living there for five years. Detritus and negative space conspire to make odd jabs at your senses when engaged with one of his recordings as TVE. Audio diary and lo-fi are throwaway terms that I would hesitate to use, but the sounds themselves always pop up in unexpected ways. In much the same fashion, Seamus’ visual mixed media collages accomplish the exact aesthetic urge in a perfectly complementary format.
I had the pleasure of having Seamus’ visual work up at a visual gallery in Portland, Maine in 2019. We had a couple beers, I put on some Human League record, and we talked about his perspectives on his own processes and compulsions as an artist. – Jacob Deraadt
Even before i met Anna Cuevas, her project Dès Vu was enshrined with a sort of mythical presence. My partner first turned me onto her work when we were sourcing bands and projects for a benefit show to combat the racist and xenophobic US border crisis, which has denied safe entry for thousands of asylum seekers to the US, we reached out to several acts and the first one to respond with a resounding yes, almost instantly, was Dès Vu. Benefit shows can be tough, as underground music shows usually have a razor thin margin financially for paying artists/performers as it is, without even taking into consideration money for the space/promoters, never mind extra money to donate to a cause. The financial logistics of running a small to mid sized DIY show and coming out in the black are often next to impossible without a big crowd, sponsors, and a hefty amount of press backing the event.
“Dès Vu means the the awareness that this will become a memory,”
For many micro scenes benefit shows often require the artists and space to donate their time, money and resources to be able to raise enough money to make a big enough financial impact, with the artists donating their time, talent, and resources for free. Putting together (last minute) or any benefit shows often cuts down the choices of performers, as many simply cannot donate their labor for free or discounted artist fees, so the fact that Dès Vu not only agreed to play our show, and immediately stated that she didn’t need payment, and we’re excited to participate was just the boost we needed to get the benefit show rolling, only later, and still at the time of this interview am I figuring out that activism is a big part of the work of Des Vu, so it was no surprise that she were our first ally in bringing together a solid lineup. We sat down and spoke with Anna about her creative process, education, and future creative endeavors.
Welcome to Decaycast Interviews, please talk a little bit about the origin of your current recording and performance project Dés Vu?
Dès Vu (day voo) quickly manifested early 2018 in Birmingham, AL, my hometown. After a long writer’s block, one day I played one of the synths of my now-producer, and what became the EP’s “cycling affect” flowed out. That breakthrough compelled me to transform sketches I’d been writing on my synth into full songs. Dès Vu means “the awareness that this will become a memory,” and that all feels like a dream now that my musical path pulled me to the Bay.
How is the Bay Area different from Birmingham based on your experience within music artists and activist circles?
I’m really grateful for my Birmingham roots helping me bloom into who I’m becoming, but I see and hear myself far more in the Bay Area creative communities. Here there’s a lot more music in the spirit of what I make, and I don’t get questioned about being racially ambiguous, which has been really refreshing. In many ways I feel more comfortable performing here despite not knowing nearly as many people as where I grew up. Birmingham has a strong DIY community and network of grassroots movements, but those circles were pretty separate. Here there’s much more overlap which really resonates with my music. There’s also more people and resources for more radical organizing and direct actions, but the movement in Birmingham works as hard, just in a different way. They are such different places and I’m still adjusting to what initially felt like culture shock but in a good way for me. One’s preference just depends on what one is seeking and wanting.
Can you talk a little bit more about radical Organizing and the connection to your work if any?
Though not an inherently political project, my music instinctively weaves some radical anthems among more prominent ballads centering mental health. I consider those themes deeply connected; one way being how racism and capitalism shape the climate of modern society.
In Alabama I did a lot of grassroots work with workers’ rights, immigrant justice, prison abolition, reproductive and gender equity, and police brutality. Despite no longer having the stamina to continue frontline organizing, solidarity will always be a part of my work as I feel compelled to embrace the movement In my platform. However, while the EP’s “decolonize” and the single “for Rojava” highlight anti-imperialism and anti-fascism, my music primarily strives to create a world beyond this one.
So more of a vision of a different future than responding to the current one?
I like how you put that – it does respond to the current one but is also pushing for something more in a healing way.
Also knowing you’re a teacher In Oakland, had this affected your work at all in any way ? Have you ever we shown your students your music?
Actually yes, I recently had a music idea come to me about when public schools close for good and all the dynamics that entails. It’s not something those outside of education probably hear much about and discuss even less but through music, I can highlight that disparity that branches beyond schools and seeps into our communities, and yes I have shown my students my music.
Do you think social distancing has had an impact on your practice so far? Have you been in the mood to make music / art or not so much?]
Social distancing has had a big impact on my practice so far the first nearly three weeks (at the time of this interview) of quarantine, I really struggled with maintaining a creative focus. At first, I started feeling imposter syndrome, like why was I not using this extra time to churn out new material. . Then I realized that the change to working remotely in education was not only not allowing as much free time as many who sadly lost their jobs, but was also taking an extra emotional toll with the urgency to prioritize mutual aid for our school’s families. Parent conferences by phone prefaced academic updates with asking what basic needs, if any, the families lacked. Some weren’t sure how they were even going to get more diapers diving in to a bit of mutual aid outside of my job, looking to social media more to stay connected, and feeling the need to stay updated with news deeply affected my headspace for a while before I noticed how much it had negatively impacted my basic self-care. I felt kind of selfish for wanting to work on my music more than usual during these times, but now i’m reminded how crucial our own healthy wellbeing is before helping others so much embracing that notion now, i’ve started naturally practicing, writing, and recording fluidly again. As a solo artist with a bedroom recording setup. my imposter syndrome was exaggerated since i wasn’t even having to adjust to virtual group practices like many I know. Creating feels more like medicine than it ever has as it’s helping me process our new collective reality. My practice feels even more purposed now; though still very much digging inward, i’m projecting outward a lot more, like sending energy instead of staying in my own head so much. This will likely be a permanent shift as it will be impossible to ever completely forget these times we’re currently navigating.
Any future projects you’d like to discuss or general things to let our readers know about anything?
My producer is nearly done mastering the re-release of my EP, though unsure when I’ll be able to tour on it. My music video locations are also currently on pause, but I’ve been working on new songs for about a year and am learning to produce it myself
I do have another music project I’ve started but haven’t announced more details of yet and am not rushing it.
Generally, I encourage those who are financially able to donate to Bay Area mutual aid efforts: some that come to mind are houseless aid through :
Oceans of Blue, Forests of G R E E N : AN INTERVIEW WITH ANNA LUISA PETRISKO
The work of multi-media artist Anna Luisa Petrisko has been making waves in the bay area and beyond for years under her own name, the longstanding JEEPNEYS project which mixed recording, performance and video, which culminated in a video game project “JEEP JEEP”, The Black Salt Collective, and now her new album, titled “Green” , released on LA’s Practical Records help solidify Luisa as one of the most important contemporary artists working today across many different platforms while still retaining their roots and radicalized aesthetics. Luisas’ tour with XINA XURNER , “The Royal Hearts Tour” stops in Oakland this Wednesday at Pro Arts!
Hello Anna, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with Decaycast. Can you introduce yourself and speak a little about your current performing/recording project?
My name is Anna Luisa Petrisko and I am an artist working across many mediums. I recently released an album called “Green” which was co-produced with Julius Smack and features guest vocalists Adee Roberson and Ana Roxanne, and piano by Gavin Gamboa. I’m getting ready to tour (with my friends Xina Xurner) in support of this album. I’ve been calling it “tropical new age pop” but you could throw in “synth” and “experimental” too. It is definitely song-based. I live in LA and although there is a ton of nature, it isn’t the greenest kind, especially in the summer and after several years of drought. The “green place” I dream of through these songs is this lush space where we can all chill, heal, and play. And pray for rain! Green is the color of your Heart Chakra and I wrote this album while grieving, so the green place is also where we process grief and connect to the ones we’ve lost, our ancestors and whomever else we keep close.
Thank you for going in so deep, how has the sound of “Green”, your newest recorded work, changed since previous works such as the esteemed JEEPNEYS project? Also is collaboration a main theme of all of work audio works?
JEEPNEYS was a project that was in and of itself constantly evolving and was a way for me to process coming into my self as a multimedia artist, rather than somebody who was always in bands, as well as processing my identity and culture as a Filipino. When I decided to retire JEEPNEYS (in the form of a video game JEEP JEEP) I knew my next album would be something different. But it is still a lineage and a continuation because the theme music from JEEP JEEP evolved into the first song Offering on GREEN. Damn I guess I cannot escape myself! The songs on GREEN feel different than music I released as JEEPNEYS, and they are not tied to specific performances whereas JEEPNEYS releases are more like opera soundtracks.
I am mostly reclusive in the studio so collaboration is really fun and a way for me to get out of my insular world. I love my friends so much but I am also a create-aholic so collaborating is how I hang out with my peeps without having to leave the studio! Working with Adee, Ana, Gavin and Julius Smack on this album was absolute pure joy and lots of snacks. If we collaborate, I will feed you.
So in a way, the work under your own name is less tied to multimedia works? Are you still working in other mediums, and if so, will they work their way into these newer works under your own name?
I don’t have plans for Green to become a large scale performance project, but I did make music videos for “Mountains Gold Rivers Green” and “Maintenance in Loving” and they will be premiering this week! In terms of my other work, I continue to do the Sagittarian most. I am currently in a group show in Oakland at Dream Farm Commons with a bunch of amazing peeps including my longtime collaborator and friend Grace Rosario Perkins. I have plans to collaborate with The Creatrix for a special residency with Practical Records in Berkeley in November. I am also working towards my next experimental sci-fi opera premiering in 2019 which will have holodeck-inspired mixed reality experiences and space cult vibes!
Wow, thats a lot of projects in the works How do you manage to balance so many projects at once in so many different mediums? Do they all inform each other, or do you attempt to operate in different mind sets for the work flow of each project?
To be honest my flow often feels like a sporadic and heavy gas pedal / sudden brake situation but I thank my lucky stars every day for my completely nonsensical & non-linear process because it usually comes into focus at some point. Not always but that’s ok. I mostly just follow my intuition, make lots of mistakes, and try not to get anxious thinking about it all by doing lots of self-care. You seem like you are doing a million things, and supporting not only your own work but so many other people’s work who are all very unique. What’s your secret?
Honestly I’ve always respected you as an artist for many reasons, but one of them being you seem to have so many different projects going, but they all are fully realized and it seems as if you’ve successfully cloned yourself. I am doing a million things, but i have so much unseen support, mostly from women of color, and all of the amazing radical art that gets produced by folks that have exponentially less privilege than i do is a constant inspiration to do better, and do my part in documenting all of the amazing work thats being produced right now, also strong weed.
Is there anything else you’d like to talk about within either the context of your practice, or the world in general lol?
Thank you! I totally feel you and resonate with what you are saying. I have so much seen and unseen support from friends, family, and history in general! There’s a long lineage of artists who came before and after, and had/have it way harder than me! Grateful is a small word to describe a big feeling. Can’t wait to see you in Oakland! Take care
A good friend and seminal member of the bay area noise, experimental metal, and free jazz community Mr. Jay Korber was involved in an extremely life threatening bicycle accident, where he was ran over and dragged by one of the sweet sweeper trucks that paurse the SOMA district of San Francisco. (http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2012/12/cyclist_gets_trapped_under_cit.php) For many, this would have signaled the end/death/whatever. but for Mr. Korber, tough as nails, the doctors predict that a FULL RECOVERY is possible. His pelvis was completely shattered, amongst many other serious, life threatening injuries, and he endured many emergency “life saving” surgeries- just in his first few days at SF General Hospital. Throughout all of this unexpected chaos – the endless chain of apathetic doctors, buzzing machines, tubes, blood transfusions, confusiion from the drugs and painkillers, Jay has managed to keep a positive attitude and even the occasional burst of humor. His Girlfriend Angie, has been a huge support for him, easing the burden on Jay and his wonderful, but shocked/traumatized family, as well supplying the lifeline of information and updates between Jay and the concerned, bay area music/art community. Jay has been playing wonderful, aggressively exciting, tense music in the bay area for a decade, or more? now through various bands, such as current projects BURMESE, NUCLEAR DEATH WISH, ETTRICK and other projects such as KORBER/YEDA
DUO , ELF ASS, PUKE VOMIT, plus a slew of other projects. Here’s a video of him doing an extremely rare solo noise set from 2008,
Jay has been offering his music, thoughts, and art up to the bay area (any beyond) for years and now, never asking for anything but a spot to tune up or drop his drums, but now Jay’s life is changed drastically, at least for the time being, and any dealings with the city will take years. What does this mean? JAY NEEDS OUR HELP NOW!!. He needs his rent paid, medical supplies, a wheelchair, new glasses, the list goes on and on. Now Jay, being the kindred old spirit that he is , would NEVER ask for help, even when he does need it, which is exactly why we need to come forth and bond together as am artistic community to show solidarity and help him out. To HONESTLY call a group of artists, musicians, and cultural curators a “community” or “scene” comes with certain requirements, one being mutual community support for all members when something goes wrong. A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link, and right now there is a broken link, which means the chain is not at 100% , and we need to help fix that. Jay has enormous strength and what Macho Man Randy savage would call, “intestinal fortitude”, and he WILL pull through this, but he needs our moral, emotional, creative, and FINANCIAL support above all. If you’ve ever come to a Ratskin show, and been given a free beer, take that $5 that you would’ve been charged at a bar for it, and give it to someone who needs it. Donation link is right below here… Benefit shows to be held at local underground Oakland and San Francisco venues are in the works, but for NOW , please consider making a small donation here….
This incident has shaken the entire bay area music/art community, as Jay is such an inspirational life force and positive influence for us all, it only seems natural to give it right back to him….Have other ideas how you can help? Please email us at decaycast(at)gmail.com and we’ll be sure it gets to the right people.
Love and recovery,