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Month: March, 2012

Don’t Bother Asking Why A Pattern Never Cries

“Patterns multiplying
re-direct our view
endless variations
make it all seem new” – Devo “Patterns”

I’m not thinking of patterns in the same way as the men from Akron .
The dress I’m wearing is the only good thing that happened in Trois Rivieres. Villae des Valeurs , in the Hallowe’en section 7$. Vintage coat from Frip-Prix , same with the scarf 10$ & 1$. I made the scrunchie and necklaces cause I’m soooo crafty. Actually I’m not scrafty at all but whateves.

A better look at the dress + cummerbund from Tarantula Sisters’ free bin. As You can see from the pic bellow , I’m all about cummerbunds lately , it’s where I stash my pastry collection. Texture tights from Simons’ , vintage bracelets 1$ each. Wearing OCC lip tar in Katricia. Booties , Osborn. Doesn’t the hallway at my studio seem glam?

Ginger nails , cause you need patterns on your fingers too. Sinful Colors in Mint Apple topped with Sinful Colors in the sripe bottle , to lazy to see what it’s actually called. Both were 99¢ at Walgreens , in Chigaco. Ni idea where to buy it here.

Ok , now we are talking serious patterns. And serious bitch face , seriously , I have no idea why I’m so often squinting , it’s like my eyes are allergic to any natural light. My entire outfit here is all Cheap Opulance, Sarah is my fairy godmother or something but she won’t come over to Ville Emard. It’s ok , the cats are scary. Mmmm so she gripped me this blouse at a vintage sale I missed ’cause life was being stupid. Can’t tell how much it comes out in the internet-world-land but dig the collar! It’s so odd. She said it’s a Chloe blouse and I , Chloe, have to agree. The cummerbund and skirt were both raided from her warehouse. Earrings 50¢ from Cainon , I’ve had them for a decade. Tights from Simons, 5$. Lips , Butch from OCC .

I got that shirt at the clothing swap I wrote about. Black cardi I’ve had since the dawn of time comes from the Sally Ann in Notre Dame , black maxi skirt I’ve been wearing all winter is from Frip-Prix , 4$. Belt from Cheap Opulance. Lip Tar in Pretty Boy. Necklace is 3 different crappy ones put together, earrings are a giftmas gift from the M.I.L. Oh look at the pattern I painted on my living room wall.

Currently applying for several residencies , grants and exhibitions and it’s sooooo boring and stressful. Swimming under a pile of paper , my future hinging on a project description.
Or so it seems right now. Honestly, I’d kill to be an “art star” only ’cause then you can do whatever you want & I *think* at that point other people fill the paper work out…

Trying to sell as many prints as possible
to fund the giant outdoor piece that is freaking me out. Crossing my fingers and toes for CALQ or the Canada Council to say “Yeah”!


Dancing on My Own Grave

I couldn’t be more surprised to see my post On The End Of An Era has gotten over 3000 views , that’s probably more attention than the last AIDS Wolf record got.

On a less self-deprecating note , I’m heartened to have gotten amazing feedback via email , twitter , facebook and this blog from many of my peers and even some of my idols. Of course , it’s not a thing to celebrate that so many of us pursuing difficult music find it hard to sustain , but a I feel as a group we are smart , creative people who now that it’s all out & in the open , pursue a new paradigm for underground avant garde sounds. We can find a way to be part of the marketplace of ideas without catering to the market.

Back in the 80’s , when many of the bands we admire where in the trenches , carving out the DIY tour circuit they had no idea how clogged it would latter become , or how many bands would simply see “the underground” as a pit-stop on a road towards mainstream aspirations , lamestream sounds.

Now it’s simply a microcosm of the same capitalist structure in the mainstream, a structure that prioritizes sales & looks over honesty and experimentation. I’m not fully despairing though because with my entrance into the contemporary art world (certainly not a domain free of problems) , I’m seeing that in visual art culture , there is a structure that supports intellectual , challenging and unsaleble work. In Canada , we are lucky to have the artist run center system and CARFAC as well as the Canada Council & provincial/municipal arts councils , allowing visual artists to create and show work without the intent of sales/commercial backing. My own gradual acceptance in to that world , where risk taking is rewarded , makes it harder to justifying slugging it out in the clubs/lofts.

I feel for the time being at least , I’m better off focusing on my practice that not only has career potential for someone uninterested in compromise, but that is in a world generally more involved in critical thought. My experience in visual art is that of a higher level of discourse and an emphasis on content over style.(Plus I never get called ugly or a slut in art reviews.) These values can and should be brought into underground experimental music and seeing the success of artist /composers who manage to bridge both worlds Micheal Snow & John Oswald (both former scroungers) tells me it *is* possible .

While I would have wished there had been more interest and support for our music , I feel it’s important that we end with our dignity intact.

While thinking about all these things and hearing the disillusionment of many of my favorite musicians, I couldn’t help laughing in disgust/disbelief this morning when a band I’ve never heard / heard of sent me a spam email bragging about their inclusion on a compilation put out by right-wing owned, Rick Santorun donating clothing chain , Urban Outfitters . Boy are those guys ever barking up the wrong tree. I don’t want to live in the same world as bands doing shit like that , I don’t want to share bills with them , I don’t want to be fighting over dates in the same venues. I’d rather not know that the new fake “underground” even exists.

Today , Moskos was in town for 24 hours and we held a band meeting , talking about the future over pastries and tea. While breaking up is hard to do , we are all feeling pretty good about it right now and excited for our final shows/recording session. The Drainolith lp is gonna drop in May , and the last AW recording session will happen then too at La Brique with Sebastian Fournier of Panopticon Eyelids manning the deck. Yannick & I are going full scare Cristo & Jeanne-Claude-style nuts with the upcoming Seripop outdoor installation and currently scouring for funding. Also , I just got asked to participate in some freejazz sessions (not sure if I’m quite ready emotionally to grip a mic just yet but who knows what the future holds?), change is hard , the world goes on.

Now to apply for those student loans.

Moskos chilling in his new Death t , probably the first band shirt he bought new in a store in over a decade.

Bonus Feature – Osterreich from AIDS Wolf on Vimeo.

“Music is hard work. You must practice day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year” The Nihilist Spasm Band “Music is Fun” off of the LP Nothing is Forever // Wintage Records & Tapes / 2012

“Some people want to make art , others just want to make it” – Me / 2012

On The End Of An Era

aids wolf / chloe lum
Photo by David Walman , my blouse from Cheap Opulance.

So my band broke up and I’m having a lot of feelings about it. I’m going to try to make sense of those feelings here.

My band is called AIDS Wolf and we started as a 4 piece noise-rock band in Montreal in 2003. Over the years with line up changes and the growing sophistication of our own tastes we became a trio in 2009 and started calling ourselves either Formalist/Unknown Wave or Abstract Rock.

When my beau and I started the band our expectations were pretty minimal. We’d already been in 2 bands together and each several bands before meeting. Him more of the garage and punk varieties and myself of the noise and industrial ones. We dropped out of university to do a major tour with one of our previous projects , to have one of our band-mates leave the day we got home. We’d already learned that relying on others for one’s creative pursuits was dicey even in the best circumstances. Besides, as Canadians we were geographically challenged on the touring side of things. We told ourselves AW would be a fun hobby and we’d play around locally and that would be that. But it wasn’t that. We started getting more involved and reaching out to American bands we liked to bring them up here and while accompanying them to play gigs across southern Ontario our fate became cemented, we become a touring band. A REAL band. The type of band we looked up to , the type of band we all went to see. It had previously had seemed so out of reach.

In the early part of the 2000’s there was a swell of noise-rock , noise and no wave influenced bands doing it seriously , some of them managing to find actual audiences. From Youtube clips of our early gigs we started getting contacted by labels in 2005 , settling on Lovepump United & Skin Graft Records to co-release our debut album , The Lovvers Lp in January 06.At that point we started touring pretty much non-stop in Europe , the US , even doing a week of gigs in Israel in ’08.

We did our thing pretty modesty, sometimes getting decent crowds in the bigger urban centers, much less elsewhere. After The Lovvers came out music bloggers and journalists more or less collectively decided we were total shit and disingenuous to boot so after a rash of spectacularly awful reviews, we mostly got left alone by media. It didn’t seem to matter too much , we had our context , we had a crew of like-minded bands & musicians who were also interested in sowing a more difficult row.

And because things always change, that did too. In ’09 we stepped back after our guitarist Myles moved to the UK to woodshed as a trio with Alex. New rig , new songs and an goal towards greater abstraction. Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise had been passed around in the van and as a trio, going towards more a formal and disjointed sound seemed a natural progression.

So we stayed in the jam room for a year and wrote songs complicated enough that the only way to learn them was drilling them over and over for hours. My own lyrics got more abstract as I’d use made up words , vocal imitations of Alex’s electronics and plenty of stream of consciousness & cut up. During this time we wrote and rehearsed the material for Ma vie banale avant-garde.

Then , exactly a year letter we took in on the road and to Dub Narcotic studio in Olympia to record. It was to see that the setting had radically changed in the year we were woodsheding. For one , many of our peer bands had either disbanded , or stopped/seriously slowed down on touring. “I’m in debt and can’t afford the time off work anymore” they’d tell us , or “I want to start a family / go to grad school / get an adult job”. “I can’t face another empty room , it’s futile , pointless , ridiculous , demoralizing”. Same story everywhere and no surprise , we were getting older and so were our friends and what’s marginal at 20-something becomes much more so at 30-something or 40-something. But beyond many of our cohort moving on, there where significant changes in what was deemed “underground” , what could get booked where and under what circumstances. It seemed that as a bunch of 30 somethings in an extended van full of big amps and a loud as hell P.A. had become an anachronism.

All of the sudden bands doing ads for soft drink companies or department stores were considered “underground”. So where did this leave the actual underground, the one that couldn’t sell cars/soda/computers even if if wanted to? Because it was weird/ugly/dangerous/challenging? It left it in a cave.

In many smaller centers, our friends moved to the bigger cities, and we’d arrive in a college town where our previous crew had moved to Chicago/LA/Brooklyn/ect , each night was like starting from scratch.

But being the scrappers that we are , we got home and chalked it all up to bad luck / bad timing and got on mixing MVBAG , feeling chipper and more certain than ever about what we were doing creatively. Then the requirements for US touring visas changed. All of the sudden the price doubled & we needed signed contracts from every promoter 3 months before petitioning for the visa. As one might imagine , getting contracts from DIY promoters 6 months before a gig is as easy as teaching your cats how to play the drums.
So the expenses are going up , the paper work is going wayyy up , the audiences are going way down and most of the bands we liked , if they weren’t packing it in , where seriously scaling back. The whole thing started feeling like more trouble than it was worth but we were so confident in our record that we went ahead despite any lingering doubts. We felt on top of our game , stoked to share our tirelessly worked songs , rehearsed to precision, with our peers. Then the actual tour happened, where by the time we had played to less than 5 people several gigs in a row , being a scroungy jammer seemed less like a fun hobby / challenging art practice and more like an exercise in humiliation. At at least half the gigs, the opening bands would split right after playing, without even acknowledging our presence. In New Orleans, attempts to chat with one of the opening bands got us eye rolls.

Myself , I had been contemplating returning to school for awhile at this point but there would always be a tour on the horizon. While my cohorts in the art scene were doing MFAs and getting gallery representation , I was playing a warehouse in the Midwest , a piss flooded communist squat in the Alps or someone’s living room in Texas.

As the front woman I was also getting pretty sick of the unending stream of misogynistic comments I’d face at our gigs , online or in the rare press coverage we’d get. Even more sick when I was told I should feel *good* about strange men verbally dissecting my body.

As someone who considered music making as part of an artistic practice , I was getting more and more disillusioned with the underground rock circuit. A lot of the time DIY shows was as shitty than the bar shows. Providing the background tunes for a party was not why I was putting this amount of effort/sacrifice into a project.Is a better context for underground experimental music too much to ask for?

Apparently it is.

So now Alex is not living in Montreal , I’m going back to school to finish a BFA started 13 years ago and we are still paying rent on a jam space to store our gear.

The vibrant scene we were part of seems to barely exist and it turns out that no one is actually interested in an hour long record of very formal harsh jams.

So we are playing our last 3 gigs in May. Not because we no longer get along , cause we do , and not because we aren’t happy with the actual music making , because we are. It’s simply not sustainable to be in this type of project for us anymore. 9 years is a long time to invest all of yourself in something that gets next to no feedback. It feels like the death of a loved one and we have to bury the body .

The only reason I even though to announce the breakup and not just do it quietly so our friends who live near by can come up to celebrate/commiserate with us, I posted it on our Facebook page. And then the blogs and magazines got up on it. It’s hard not to feel cynical when publications wouldn’t wouldn’t waste an article or review on us before are reporting on the breakup.

I posted on my twitter feed that I was crying for an end of an era as much as I was mourning the end of my band. But it’s not just that.In a sense it’s the end of myself. I’ve been in bands since I was 17 and I’m now 34. My self image is that of a jammer. A scroungy jammer. If I don’t have a band and don’t play shows am I still a jammer? If not a jammer than where do I fit in?

I’m not sure yet if this is the end of me making music or just the beginning of a long break but if it’s the latter I hope I can come back to it with ideas on how to create a new context for underground experimental music. A context that doesn’t revolve around youth culture or selling drinks (or anything else for that matter) or “entertainment” but one similar that that of performance art or that of musique actuelle.

All that said, I regret nothing. I stand behind everything we put out and despite the difficulties, frustrations and financial hits , it’s been 100% worthwhile. I’m proud of what we’ve done and glad as well as humbled to have gotten to play/work with the people and bands that we have. I don’t know I’d recommend this path to anyone else or if it’s even relevant to younger folks but I’m glad for the experiences because even the terrible ones become funny in time.

In Boston , the last gig of our fall tour.

Exclaim! magazine article on our breakup
. The last editorial feature they did on us was in 2006.

*Edited to add that I find getting called “unstructured sonic chaos” to be backhanded in a very major way.

*** Edited again to add that anyone into AW should seriously check out Moskos’ solo jams , Drainolith , he blogs his-non AW musical activities here.

Who Gives a Fuck if The World is a Drag?

Life’s been kinda problematic lately , all I can do is shrug and wear pyjamas in public. Right?
Today I became addicted to Pinterest , here I am. Otherwise on the hard scrounger hustle to get various projects done and dig myself out from under.

I’m having a bake sale / print sale at the studio on Sunday. It’s my first time selling baked good to raise money to make (giant disposable) art (that needs to be freighted across the country), who knows I may even start my own lemonade stand one day. Dreamin’ big.

Last week I was setting up an art show , again. Skirt, random thrifty, somewhere in the south , maybe outside Atlanta? I really don’t remember but it was 4$. Blouse & belt from Cheap Opulance aka best in the world. I made friendship necklaces for myself , my own bff , using some of my silkscreened paper beads and the inspiration from Honestly WTF, tights from Winners.

Blouse gripped from a by-the-pound thrifty is Las Cruces ,NM . It was less than a buck. Paper bead necklace made by me , the queen of the spazzes. Shorts from Cheap Opulance, my main enabler , tights Winners discount bin. This was at the artist residency. A previous artist left this painting of an emaciated
burnt body (?) on the wall. I really have no fucking clue.

On the fire escape , no worries my apartment wasn’t on fire. Occ Lip Tar in Safety Orange on the mouth. Coat & sweater dress both from Frip-Prix 10 and 6$ respectively. Betsey Johnson tights fom the Bay discount bin 1.66$! I felt Like I won a prize. Slouchy socks from a synagog sale 50¢ , necklace Jess found on the street , Osborn vegan booties. I noticed Osborn don’t seem to be producing vegan shoes anymore (booooo!) and I gotta say i feel kinda betrayed (boo!). Check out Siamese Dream if you are looking for handmade VEGAN shoes with a similar vibe. Some are kinda too crunchy but they have quite a few lovelies and the price is fucking right on!

This what I mean by wearing pjs in public but I guess with a blazer it;s not that bad. Just a typical scene in Ville Emard , ignore the shoes I know they look moronic. Gay Beast t , rip , blazer from Cheap Opulance , vintage leggings from Local 23, 10$. Moronic shoes from a street vendor in Paris, 8€.No , I’m not drunk. In fact I don’t drink at all.

Dancing with my cat on the bed , way too hyper after test driving chocolate cookies for my bake sale (please come!) , I don’t know what I think I’m doing. Threadless shirt by Meg Hunt that I got for free when WE did our curated Threadless t ,pink jeans I got at Urban Outfitters for 10 bucks and weird wrap belt that the boy bought me at the Salvation Army in Austin that looks like a weird tail in this terribly unflattering pic. Genki , my cat is unimpressed.

And that’s what I wore this week.

Watching Paint Dry

Let’s make a scrunchies. Are they cool? No idea but I’ve been thinking about them lots. The Boy “reminds me of the girls in my elementary school.” Ok.

Perhaps you have a chunk of cool fabric hanging around your studio that you tried and failed to make patches with?
And perhaps you are waiting for the paint to dry?

So cut some fabric and make a rectangle as long and thick as you feel is right. Sew it up the side.

Sew it on the other side as well. I’m not sure why but it seems like a good idea.

Turn your tube insideout! It will look like a vulva?

Cut some elastic , I used just enough to fit around my wrist, then pull it through your tube.

Sew the ends of your elastic together , almost done!

Sew the ends of the tube together. I folded one on itself to make a small seam , then fit the other end inside and sew it up. It’s ok if it’s wonky.


Glam or ridiculous? Both. Hello Lucy Moran.

Did you know these “African” prints are actually Dutch made , copying Indonesian design?
Neither did I. Alfred Sung silk blazer from Cheap Opulance
, silk blouse my birthday gift to myself from Frip-Prix for 5$ , necklace from Nutcase Fashion still , I can’t stop wearing it. Earring 50¢ from a garage sale. Lip, OCC lip tar in Tarred.

Close-up of bracelet made by Sarah, it’s a friendship bracelet made from chain!
Various Barry M nailpolish shades.

Fire The Patriarchy

On this International Women’s Day , I keep hearing about celebration on the CBC but I certainly don’t see anything to celebrate. Right now in the US , the religious right has launched an all out war on women.

In Arizona the senate wants to allow doctors to lie about birth defects to prevent abortions.

A group of misogynist evangelical freaks have pushed in legislation for invasive, humiliating & unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasound, evidently to punish women seeking abortion in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Ohio wants to pass a bill to declare embryos “people”.

The very fact that the Blunt amendment was even on the table.

It all makes me despair about the future of reproductive rights in Canada with our current conservative regime.

Generally pro-lifers/ anti-choicers/ raging misogynists (yes , women can be misogynists too) use the term pro-abotion to denigrate the pro-choice movement. Often one hears the phrase “I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice”.

I however, am pro-abortion. I’m pro-abortion because I don’t think there should be financial barriers to access and I think all healthcare plans, state and private should cover the costs as they would for any other medical procedure. I’m pro-abortion because I don’t believe age should be a barrier to access or that minors should require parental consent. I’m pro-abortion because I believe all women and girls faced with an unwanted pregnancy should have access to this legal medical procedure without shame, judgement , harassment or condescension. I’m pro-abortion because I believe that women and girls should get to make the call on when/if they will become mothers.

Montreal rockgod Hamza Khan looking great w/ tshirt and blazer combo.

Also related , are women people?

Style Inspiration – The Video Art Of Ryan Trecartin

If I gave a fancy dress party where everyone had to style themselves as characters from Ryan Trecartin‘s video work would you come?

Sibling Topics (section a) from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

K-CoreaINC.K (section a) from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

Roamie View : History Enhancement (Re’Search Wait’S), 2009-2010 from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

Ready (Re’Search Wait’S), 2009-2010 from Ryan Trecartin on Vimeo.

You May Think These are the Finnest Pearls But They Are Only Cardboard Balls

Seemed in glue.

So I’m an artist who works with screen printing , that means I have lots of printed scrap paper. You always have to use some scraps to get the ink flow going after you wet down your screen. So with my surplus of brightly colored paper garbage I figured I’d made some paper beads.

The red, teal and polka dots come from our most recent piece at Action Art Actuel.

During the set up. Dress is from a Salvation Army in the suburbs of Calgary , it’s long and acrylic and cost 5$ , Sarah worked some sewing magic so it wouldn’t fit like a sack. Vintage beret from Frip-Prix in Verdun. Wearing OCC lip Tar in Reverb.

I’m sick and have been housebound for the past 2 days , chugging herbal tea, watching The Sopranos and coughing, lil’ old Genki hasn’t left my side for a moment. He pretty much always chills between the pillows or on a box full of records in our office.

Tradesy – A Scrounger’s Delight

A part of the boy and I’s ongoing climb towards legitimacy as artists we had one of our main ladies do up a clean and professional site for Seripop and I moved our print store over to Etsy (you can’t be a legit artist and hawk band posters on your website). The problem with Etsy is that there are so many fabulous makers and vintage sellers , I find myself wanting to spend faster than I can earn. not a good position for a broke-ass scrounger to be in. Enter the trade , my favorite invention of all time.In exchange for prints In the past I’ve gotten clothes, shoes, art supplies, concert tickets , records, books, meals, haircuts, photography and a secondhand Iphone. Thanks pals! Now if only my dentist or landlord where into prints..

Anyway and first Etsy trade just went down and I scored pretty hardcore.I swapped with Connie of Nutcase Fashion and got a fabulous necklace, even the jadded beau said “Whoa! That looks fucking insane.” Those are some major words of approval from him.
Her pieces are over-the-top in the best way & take simple outfits and make them look loud.

Check it out:
My rubbish photography really doesn’t do this necklace justice , you should really head over to her Etsy shop to drool.

With Friday’s outfit. Blouse was gripped at the Villages des Valleurs in Saint Jean, silk, snake print, 5$, score. Jeans & brass belt are from the Gap, boxing day sale 12$ and 4$. It’s slushy out so I’m wearing my vegan Docs daily. Really pleased with the quality on those. Gripped them in town at X20, they were 135$ and worth every penny. One of the bracelets was bought from a street vendor during an African music festival and I liked it so much I ordered another 5 from Senegal Style on Ebay for 10$, postpaid.
Lipstick is Beta Liptar from OCC , it’s a light neon orange. Nails are in Orange Knockout from China Glaze and Mushroom from Barry M . Both brands are vegan and 3 free. When I was at David’s opening I told him the brown polish was poop.

Bracelets up close.

My nails look pretty busted up close , I guess that’s what you get when you paint ’em while eating breakfast and reading The Hairpin.

Saturday I wore my necklace again to hit the galleries and then hit the press. By 11pm i was loosing my mind. Cardigan and belt (“a crown for you waist!”) from Cheap Opulance , skirt from Salvation Army on Notre Dame , 4$. Tshirt for my buds Yip Yip , the weirdest band in Orlando, Check em out. Lips are OCC liptar in Katricia, a slightly greyed neon purple. OCC are vegan and awesome professional makeup. Tights from Simons 5$, bracelet H&M 2$ , purple paint is a Seripop special secret mix.

Rookie mag has a lil’ article on thrifting , they call it a master class but I see as as more of a pep talk. I leave yas with a few Yip Yip videos.

David Lafrance – Fashion Icon

David Lafrance is my pal and a true renaissance man. Prolific as a painter and noise jammer and one of the more gregarious dudes around and about Montreal.

Check out this video for (one of) his band(s) , Monday Morning Erection directed by his brother Vincent:

(Pretty trippy)

Anyway , last night he had an opening for some of his sculptures? 3D paintings? Something like that at Monastiraki (0ne of the cooler junk stores/art gallery you’ll ever go to) and I manage to grip a few snaps of him looking especially dapper in his dashiki from Trinidad and Tobago.