Rising Star

REVIEW | Ariel Pink's twisted take on pop music

REVIEW | In Pink's latest record, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, his fascination with pop music comes to the forefront.

Dedicated To Bobby Jameson...

In a 2014 interview with Vogue, Ariel Pink described his album pom pom (of the same year,) as "if you put Taylor Swift's 1989 in an old sudsy washing machine without separating the darks from the lights, you'd have pom pom." And this seems an appropriate way to describe the album, where Ariel Pink is most consistent is in his fascination and distortion of pop culture and music. The album is airtight, at times almost to a fault, but it does seem to be a sudsy and distorted take on Swift-esque bubblegum pop.

It's this twisted take on pop that makes Ariel Pink's music so compelling, and which comes to the forefront in Pink's latest album, Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, released earlier this month via Mexican Summer. Pink seems to be equally critical of and enamored by pop music and stardom, which we see first in the album's title.

Bobby Jameson was a Los Angeles based singer songwriter in the early 60's, but whose major rise to notoriety came through an incredible amount of media hype. Jameson appeared in huge print campaigns for publications like Billboard and Rolling Stone, claiming that he would become the next big thing in pop music. Jameson is an example of an industry creation of a pop star, notoriety through hype rather than actual music.

In Dedicated To Bobby Jameson, Pink gives his same sudsy treatment to 60's pop and rock. Instead of the hyper produced and airtight palette of contemporary pop, Pink has returned to the 60's style, the songs have slowed down, are a little more organic, and have more room to breathe. Songs like Feels Like Heaven and the title track Dedicated To Bobby Jameson use a sharp and melodic synth that sounds similar to the electric guitar of 60's psych rock

Though the album may be a track or too long, it's perhaps one of Pink's strongest albums to date, and one of my favorite releases of the year. The strongest song in the album comes about halfway through, in the seventh track titled "Another Weekend." In "Another Weekend" Pink sings about longing for an ex. The song slows down into the chorus as Pink sings, "feel a body, warm and close behind me / I turn around, but you are not there" - evoking the phantom limb-esque feelings after a breakup.

The music video for "Another Weekend" further takes on the 60's, Los Angeles aesthetic Pink seen in Dedicated To Bobby Jameson. The video is shot in grainy, retro film, and takes on the aesthetic of a 60's roller rink through cheap neon lights, disco balls, and cheap red leather couches. Meanwhile, we see Pink in an oversized vintage suit, snakeskin cowboy boots, and a large cowboy hat. The video serves as a perfect representation of the album as a whole - a psychedelic, neon look at the 60's era pop music machine.

For more on Pink, go to his website, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

Stream the album here.

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INTERVIEW | Neva Hosking talks being an artist in the digital age

ART | The Sydney based artist has grown a cult following on Instagram

"I think the internet has been invaluable for unestablished artists (especially the introverted ones...)"

For many teens - including myself - the way we access are is evolving. With the increased use of social media as the preferred method of exploring art, we are discovering new art via our iPhone screens. This has caused many artists to have to adapt their art so that it translates nicely onto a phone screen - and this adaptation is something that Neva Hosking has mastered.

The Sydney-based visual artist and current art school student creates beautiful and technically precise drawings that she shares on her Instagram - and has grown a cult following, raking in over one hundred thousand followers. And how does she adapt to being an artist in a digital age? Hosking employs a heavy use of negative space, and the selective choice of only creating drawings in black or blue - resulting in a feed that both pops from the blue while remaining minimal because of the negative space.

Should art have to be commodified as to receive likes and shares on Instagram or Tumblr? For Hosking, the answer is a selectivity when deciding which of her works she wants to share, as she is aware that some pieces just won't translate onto a phone screen. I sat down with Hosking to discuss her experience of being an artist in the digital age.


CONOR (Popdust): Many of your drawings are made on grid paper - is this an aesthetic choice? Functional? A little bit of both?

NEVA: Mostly aesthetic I'd say, I started collecting graph paper years ago, and would draw on it partly because it excites me, and partly because it's a lot less intimidating than a blank page. I'm especially into the old graph papers that had a practical use until everything became digitized, I feel like I can relate to them.

CONOR: Most of your drawings are made in either black, blue, or both -- what draws you to these two colors?

NEVA: I've always felt a bit overwhelmed by color so I tended to stick with the black and white and muted tones. Lately I've been a bit braver, fell in love with ultramarine and never looked back! I'm hoping this blue can hold my hand into a wider spectrum eventually, but at the moment I'm just obsessed with this color.

CONOR: Many of your drawings show a heavy interest in the subject's eyes, what about eyes do you find compelling or worth drawing?

NEVA: I think it's just a natural human impulse to be drawn to the eyes, it's how we read people and how they read us etc… Could potentially be overcompensating for my inability to handle eye contact in real life.

CONOR: Many of my favorite of your drawings depict faces covered in thin netting - where did this idea come from?

NEVA: It's really quite grim actually! Stems a lot from nightmares I'd been having about a specific murder (don't fall asleep to true-crime podcasts and forensic files ay) and my own feelings of entrapment and anxiety. I feel like I haven't managed to convey that very successfully yet, but still working at it. I've gotten a bit obsessed with nets visually and just wanna keep pushing it

CONOR: You recently shared on Instagram that "working with different materials has given me so much new energy, glad I got (temporarily) a bit fed up with drawing" -- what caused this frustration with drawing, and what different materials have you been experimenting with?

NEVA: I've really struggled with my attachment to drawing through art school, I've spent so many years teaching myself to draw and developing my style etc that it became more of an emotional connection than anything else. I felt like I was going around in circles and finally just thought 'sod this!' and started working with fabric and plaster and anything else that would keep me away from pen and pencil for a bit. I've been printing etchings onto cotton, embroidering nets with coloured threads and plaster casting etchings, having a lot of fun

CONOR: You have a very large following on social media - with over 100,000 followers on Instagram. How has your experience been as an artist in the digital age, and do you ever consider how a piece will translate onto a screen when drawing?

NEVA: Yeah totally, which is one of the reasons I don't share much of the work I'm doing in art school on social media, I don't want it to be influenced by the pressure of being ~consumable~, you know?

I think the internet has been invaluable for unestablished artists (especially the introverted ones aha) and I'm super grateful for it. I feel very connected to a bunch of artists around the world, gives me a constant supply of motivation and great advice (Caragh Savage, looking at you.)

Art theft is a definite negative that keeps popping up though. I'd like to think it'll improve as we adjust to a post-internet creative world, but it's been pretty disheartening. In saying that though, I'm pretty much constantly overwhelmed by how supportive and kind strangers have been, (in fighting art theft and in general) so there is always a balance!

CONOR: You also create some pretty awesome shirts for your website, does this come from an interest in fashion or just a way to showcase and sell your art?

NEVA: More from an interest in T-shirts than an interest in fashion I'd say, I've been collecting t-shirts I find interesting for a while and they've inspired me a lot in terms of how I make my own. But of course the side income has been super helpful, allows me to buy art materials that I wouldn't usually be able to and explore a bit more. Also just the idea that people want to wear something i've made is ridiculously lovely ahh.

CONOR: Who are some contemporary artists you are very excited about?

NEVA: I'm always excited about Julie Mehretu, Anthony Cudahy, Susan Worsham…. pretty much everyone I study with and my girl Alicia Jalloul in Glasgow who just graduated with some amazing work

CONOR: What are you doing when you're not creating art?

NEVA: Gardening! I just moved into a place with a proper garden for the first time, which is so exciting. Been spending most of my time taming it, planning a veggie patch, feeding the birds and sun baking with my bunnies (dream come true honestly)

CONOR: Thank you so much again for sitting down with us to do this interview, and what can we expect from you down the road?

NEVA: Thanks so much for having me! More textile work I think, more stitching, more plaster casting, more t-shirts!


WATCH | THE NATIONAL release new music video for "Guilty Party"

MUSIC VIDEO | The band shows a more electronic side in psychedelic new video

The psychedelic accompanying video might be my favorite part of this release.

Brooklyn based indie rock band The National have just released a new track titled "Guilty Party," along with the accompanying music video. The song comes off of their upcoming album Sleep Well Beast, which has already been a series of exciting releases.

"Guilty Party" - as well as some of the other songs which have already been released from the album like "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" have shown a different side of The National - showing a more electronic side to their music. The song is still melancholy like many of their others, but this track follows a drum beat rather than a guitar melody.

Though I love the song, the psychedelic accompanying video might be my favorite part of this release. The video begins with the imagery that appears on the album cover - of a tall wooden house in the woods with a triangular roof, however here the image has been entirely over exposed, and is filled with blue. The video then shows revolving shots of young kids, seen through this same lens of overexposure and blue or red tints. We are then taken to an aerial shot, and see the woods and rivers of the town from above - in the same unnatural blue tint.

After again seeing the house - that is also in the album cover and is the profile photo for The National on social media - I want to know the story behind it, and how it relates to the songs on the album, and the content of the music video. The video shares many similarities with the other music video they have released for the upcoming album, for the song "The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness." In this video, the viewer is going down a road which is being shown in very high contrast in black and blue. As we go down the road, the video turns into a series of dancing pixels - again showing a more electronic side of the band.

This electronic side seems to be a newer one. Their last album, Trouble Will Find Me (2013), followed a more traditional rock structure, with guitar led melodies. The album is one of my favorites of all time, but I am very excited about the band's new releases, and can't wait to hear the full album.

2017 has been a year for anticipated releases, and the new National album is no exception. In 2017 we've had the return of Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, and the (upcoming) return of MGMT - all coming back from several year long hiatuses. The new album, Sleep Well Beast, will be available on September 8th on 4ad, and if we're lucky we will get another release or two before then.

For more on The National, go to their website. Follow on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.