Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Questions with Geordie McSullea + KEEP + Canecutter + Tel Benjamin

YOLK Collective was given the opportunity to ask the four guys involved in the project below about their inspiration, ambitions and interests...

Geordie McSullea of GMCS: 
Geordie is 23 years old and moved to Lisbon, Portugal earlier this year. He built the surfboard that started this creative collaboration.

YOLK: What made you embark on this project?

Geordie: As a kid I always enjoyed understanding the mechanics behind things I was passionate about, whether it was guitars, skating or surfing. My father grew up surfing and made his own boards because he didn't have much money, so I guess I picked up on the DIY surfboarding thing from him. I was finishing up my Mechanical Engineering degree and ended up doing my thesis on the hydrodynamics of surfboards. I read a lot of theory on the work of Lyndsay Lord and Planning Hulls. Guys like him and George Greenough, who built their own boards and experimented with the shapes of things, really inspired me to do this. 

YOLK: What type/style of surfboard did you make and how does it ride?

Geordie: The board was designed to maximise the planning force, this was done by increasing the width throughout the back two thirds of the board. During my thesis I found that the planning force is what drives a board through its turns and gives it speed through flatter sections. the board is great for long Australian point breaks, where the walls are long and a bit full. It took a while to really dial in the way the board has to be surfed but once that happened it was pure magic.

YOLK: What’s next for Geordie McSullea Custom Surfboards?

Geordie: My goals are not really defined, but I would like to be able to continue researching surfboard hydrodynamics and apply that to my surfboard designs. I think that collaborating with artists is a great way to make a board beautiful and different. today you can just buy a board online and it wasn't made for you in particular, by making your own boards and making it an artwork it becomes more of an extension of you and your own personality. 

Keep is a creative pseudonym of a student currently finishing a Painting/Arts degree at COFA/UNSW. Keep and Geordie have been friends since primary school and Keep illustrated Geordie's board, as featured in the video.

YOLK: What has influenced your aesthetic?

KEEP: I've decided to start making these types of works under a pseudonym because I'm not entirely sure what it is or what I'm doing yet which makes it difficult to say what my influences are. These designs are usually developed from a process of free drawing though, often including elements of what I'm watching or listening to at the time.

YOLK: What Materials did you use to illustrate the board?

KEEP: I used acrylic paints (water-based), which was a mistake in retrospect..  Geordie had applied a varnish to the boards surface that made it water resistant. The paint reacted kind of weirdly to that in some parts. Over the top i used super-ink markers for line work. 

YOLK: How was this particular design created? Did Geordie give you a brief?

KEEP: We talked a little bit about different things. Geordie boldly let me do whatever i wanted though. I include various things on the board that relate to our friendship.

Canecutter is part of the Sydney-base collective Filthy Children. His track 'Sleeping Habits' has been used for the video.

YOLK: What came first, the track or the video, and how did you decide on the pairing?

Canecutter: I made the song probably like almost two and half years ago now. It was a stand out piece from the slew of beats I had floating around at that time. Tom and Tel had decided to pursue the video project probably a year after that and asked me if I was willing to contribute some music too it. First I sent them a much rougher more grimey hip hop beat. However the process of putting together the video took quiet some time as we were all busy with different stuff- so when they eventually got around to sequencing it with my music I had just released 'Sleeping Habits' and the vibe and general mood of that tune fit a lot better then what i originally gave them.

YOLK: Have you and your music had much involvement in visual arts prior to this project? 

Canecutter: I've sorta done a few things in the past combining visual art with my music. With almost all of our Filthy Children shows over the past couple years we have always had someone VJing, initially Willorei Kirkbright, who used to use old VHS tapes and a sort of cross fading device to project them over the stage while we would play. Things like old SciFi movies, enviromental documentaries, cartoons and old acid house vhs' were heavy on rotation at those shows. It had a very tripped out, psychedelic vibe to it. In more recent times a Filthy Children member Kaukana who is kinda like our resident designer and visual maestro has done some similar stuff with his own animations and visuals which have been very interesting.
I've also worked with Ali Infinite who is a pretty well regarded VJ and director around town. He had a residency at the Oxford Arts factory where he was putting on shows know as the Gemini nights with his production company '5th Base Productions'. He had a really cool style of strange footage cut from youtube and people dancing, all sorts of great recycled stuff. I also did a short promo for a fashion label called Kid which was a collaboration between Ali, myself and the label. It came out really nicely, all the people involved were very talented.

In the future I'm planing to make some videos for my own stuff and work with some of these people I mentioned as things progress a bit more.

YOLK: How would you describe the genre that your music fits into and what artists, ideas and other genres are your tracks inspired by?

Canecutter: I kinda find this question a bit tricky. I've been asked it a few times, like as to what genre I would consider what I do. I think its kinda restrictive saying one thing but I guess it would probably fall under experimental beats and more sort of club orientated dance music. I know it may be a cliche thing to say but genre names don't really help a lot of artists out, they just kinda act to lump people into some sort of commodifiable box or reference point. I totally understand why that is necessary but to say that I make house music or hip hop music I feel like would be incorrect.

In terms of inspiration it comes from a lot of places like where I live, what ever is happening in my life like relationships or people around me. My music is kinda like little snapshots, like photos of different moods at times when I was making something and what I was going through around then or what was happening around me at that particular time. I guess its generally a pretty introverted pursuit in that sense.

I love art and cinema so thats a big influence but Musicwise. I'm really digging old house and techno from the mid nineties that I've been discovering thru people like Motor City Drum Ensemble and Moodyman. I'm also into Japanese onkyo music which is like a really refined style of experimental improvisation and older deceased dance music styles like early 90s Jungle. There is something special to me about Jungle because it seems so futuristic even when you listen to it now, it was never widely adopted by people and that has sorta kept some of the magic there. It has this crazy energy too it that is so primal and infectious. I really wanna get some of that vibe into my music somehow...

T. Benjamin:
Tel Benjamin is an actor who grew up in Sydney's Inner West. He shot and edited this film that documents Keep's creative process on Geordie's board with Canecutter's track.

YOLK: Describe the process involved in making this video:
We decided we'd shoot in Tom's studio because it had a very stark look which would make Tom and his work the focus.  The project was shot on a D7 which I borrowed from my housemate and buddy Nick and he gave me some basic advice on playing with aperture and  focus and away Tom and I went. I knew very little about lighting or anything like that so when we started we just relied on sunlight, then as it got darker realised that of course that would be a problem and the studio lights weren't very pleasing on the eye, so we got a lamp from another artist friend of ours.  

This is the first project I've ever produced, shot and edited myself so I learnt a huge amount, from things as practical as actually using a professional camera in order to capture what you have in your minds eye and editing with pro software, to shit you can only really learn on the job like trusting my shots, holding them long enough to help myself when it came to editing and what needed to be discussed between Tom and myself before actually shooting, in order to help each other in the work as much as possible.

YOLK: What ideas and moods do you aim to convey in the way that you have shot and edited this video?

The video is really about the process of creating a piece of art. I always wanted the video to have a forward moving motion, I wanted it to have a kinetic feel to it which I feel is the energy needed when creating anything. I absolutely wanted to show a moment from every step Tom took like penciling outline and laying down masking tape for borders.  I want the viewer to be halfway through the video and intrigued with seeing the finished product, in the edit I purposefully tried not to show the finished work until right at the end which became difficult on account of not shooting with that in mind (another lesson learned!) but I feel like by the time you see Tom's work in all its glory it's sort of an exhalation. 

Jake's music is a fantastic influence too in terms of setting a mood and having that kinetic feel to it, there's a wonderful peak and lull with this particular track 'Sleeping Habits' which fits right in with the theme of process.

YOLK: Where does this project fit in with your other interests?

I'm currently training full time as an actor at Actors Centre Australia in Surry Hills. I'm doing a Diploma of Performing Arts there four days a week so I'd say first and foremost I'm an actor, that's what I know I will do for the rest of my life and what really keeps me hungry and aching to create. I've also written a couple of things like sketches and have a short film which is a few drafts in and is set to be shot after I graduate next year. I'm also writing my first feature film which is, at the moment. It is a coming of age crime film set in Sydney's inner west heavily inspired by real events that my friends and I have experienced. I've recently thought about eventually directing it myself but we'll see. I know working this project won't be the last time I'll be behind the lens. 

In terms of how this project fits in with my other interests I think it very much lies in my hunger to get out there and just fucking do it. Create things. I think it's very easy for creatives to sit back and wait for the phone to ring and that's a dangerous place to be, you really need an insatiable hunger if you're going to survive and if your art is what you truly need in your life there's absolutely no excuse not to get our there and make your own. The third years just graduated from my school and one of our course directors and head of movement said in her speech to 'remember that being an artist is a life not just a career' and that's something I'll always remember. 

I saw an interview with Bryan Cranston recently and this young guy trying to make it in Hollywood asked for his advice and he said something along the lines of 'you really need to need it if you're going to make it, if you can see yourself doing ANYTHING else go do that. If not, then your hard work will be worth it.' I'm not particularly fussed with making a lot of money and red carpets and things, it'd be lovely, but if I can create work that satisfies me as an artist for the rest of my life I'll die a happy man.

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