Words by Ryma Chikhoune & Shauna Alexander
Photos by Shauna Alexander
RYMA: The Creators Project, presented by VICE and Intel to showcase “creativity and culture across media,” kicked off at Milk Studios in New York on Saturday. The 12-hour event was free for the 3,000-plus crowd who registered online, and between 2 p.m. and 2 a.m., goers enjoyed open bar, free gelato, burgers and performances that included Mark Ronson, Interpol, as well as M.I.A., who was the special surprise guest of the night.
There were multimedia art exhibits extending three floors of the warehouse, works involving the xx, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and film screenings, including Spike Jonze’s “I’m Here.” (Watch the short.)
Muti Randolph’s Deep Screen is a 3-D cubic video presentation made with 6,144 animated light spheres. Attendees lined up to see the piece from inside the cube while listening to the sounds produced in “real-time according to the images’ movements and colors.”
Music video designers Kirby McClure and Julia Grigorian of Radical Friend introduced their first live art piece, entitled The Digital Flesh. When the two solemn-looking male models give you the gesture, you enter the cone and have a 3-D image scanned, which is then “added to the giant living organism” and projected for all to see.
At around 4:50 p.m., Mark Ronson, Sam Spiegel of N.A.S.A., Alan Palomo of Neon Indian, and Alex Greenwald of Phantom Planet were all part of a panel aimed for creating a pop hit in a hour.
Audience members were able to collaborate with the famous producers when Tiffany Ortiz, who was volunteered by her friends, sang a line proposed by another spectator: “Can’t Delay the Party.” Then, Donnis joined by rapping a verse, and in the end, we were all asked to clap and to scream.
Greenwald sang some harmonies and played the guitar, while Palomo used a theremin, which plays “by moving your hands around it without touching it, manipulating the electric currents produced by the metal instrument, the manipulations of which are then amped and pumped out of speakers as sounds.” Before the hour was up, Ronson announced that each of the men was going to spend time creating his own version of the song. So, look out for some new remixes.
SHAUNA: I managed to stake out most of my afternoon in the press room to cash in on the 20 minute question & answer forums with some of the artists from the Creator’s roster. Shane Smith, co-founder of Vice Magazine moderated each session with the coolness you would expect from seasoned but hip professionals. Stay tuned for our interview with Sleigh Bells, which will appear on BYT later this week. Until then, enjoy some teaser photos.
Interpol was brought into the already impressive list of Creator’s thanks to their rightful place at the threshold of the resurgence of the New York music scene in the early 2000’s. With a new album on the way (September 14th!) those of use in the media suite were lucky to get a few minutes with frontman, Paul Banks, and drummer, Sam Fogarino before their show later in the evening. (And I’m pretty sure they were taking the piss out on me because of how ecstatic I was to be able to talk to them.)
BYT: “What made Interpol decide to become involved with the Creator’s Project?”
Paul: “I think Vice kinda throws the best parties. I’ve known Shane [Vice Co-Founder and all around awesome guy] for years. And, my voice is kind of fucked so I’m trying not to shout too much.”
BYT: “No no, no worries.”
Paul: “ They’re just really, you know, great individuals. Very talented and intelligent people work there, so I’d sign on to most things with Vice. The whole event is just really well put together and interesting.”
Sam: “You just don’t want to end up a Vice Don’t!”
BYT: “Touche. That’s awesome. Alright, tell me about your new record because I am really excited about it.”
Sam: “There’s some songs on it….”
BYT: “Really!? That’s brilliant.”
Sam: “Ha, yeah. We’re pretty excited about it too. As usual, ten songs… produced by the band in New York City at Electric Lady studio. Mixed in London by Alan Moulder…. Do you know who Alan Moulder is?”
BYT: “I… I definitely do.” (For those of you not in the know, Alan Moulder is in my humble opinion one of the best alternative rock producers. He has worked with such artists as Depeche Mode, Erasure, Gary Numan, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Curve, Ride, Lush and My Bloody Valentine, Lostprophets, Placebo, Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, The Smashing Pumpkins, Them Crooked Vultures, Ontronik (The Apex Theory), Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Puscifer, Blonde Redhead….. Yeah, you get the picture.)
Sam: “Wee feel the same way. You know I think [the new effort] is an interesting take on what we do. There’s still part of that identity that we adhere to, but I think we pushed the envelope a little bit too.”
Other Media Outlet: “ So you have the addition of Dave Pajo (ed. Guitarist for Slint, and contributor to Tortoise, Will Oldham, Zwan, etc. Yes, Carlos D left the band a few months ago…) to the lineup. You must have had a crazy/awesome short list of possible bassists. Why did you go with Dave and what is he bringing to the project?”
Paul: “I think he was it. Actually, yeah, he was the short list. I was a fan of Slint in high school and we’re all sorta fans of different parts of his body of work. He’s amazing and he’s really gelling well with us.”
Other Media Outlet: “It’s been awhile since you’ve all played aside from solo work. What is [Dave] specifically bringing musically to the group?”
Paul: “Well right now the songs are written by the original line up of the band, including on our new record which the original Interpol created, so as far as input there hasn’t been much. There hasn’t been any creative input except for the live part.”
Other Media Outlet: “And your record is self titled? Why did you go with self-titled on your fourth record?”
Paul: “I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. It just fit. It works for this one. Yeah… should I know the answer to that? I’ll work on that.”
Sam: “We like our name sooooo much… that why can’t it serve both purposes? [Laughs] It’s rough times, why can’t we be economical?” Paul: “Amazing.”
BYT: “How do you guys juggle your side projects and Interpol? Obviously, Paul you have your solo effort, Julian Plenti and Sam you’re in another band as well, Magnetic Morning.?”
Paul: “They overlap.”
Sam: “ Paul and I on the last tour, when we were touring for Our Love to Admire, we were both in the back of the bus writing. There’s just not enough time. Ever. To write… you know, to put Interpol to bed, put it to rest for awhile and casually move on to other projects.”
BYT: “Can I be bold enough to ask if we are going to be hearing any new songs, tonight other than the recently released track ‘Lights’?” Paul: “Yes.”
BYT: “We will?”
Other Media Outlet: “Is this an experiment to see how the songs go over live?”
Paul: “ Um, we don’t usually play live stuff just to see how it goes over because if it didn’t go over well we’d still be playing it. [Laughs] We just don’t have the time to write new stuff. But it is…in a way we just did some warm up shows before this, pardon a few dates that got canceled… wait, what was the question? Oh wait. No we’re just playing a mix of all of them, and that’s what we’re going to do. Not the same tracks every night.”
Other Media Outlet: “What’s it like playing for your hometown crowd, New York, verses elsewhere?”
Paul: “Ooh.. tough to impress the crowd. There’s more head nodding and less… clapping in the air. [Laughs] But it’s such a great place. A great place to be from and play.”
Other Media Outlet: “Is the album completely done or is it still being mastered?”
Paul: “Oh it’s finished.”
Other Media Outlet: “Isn’t it kind of hard to sit on it since it’s done and wait till September?”
Paul: [Laughs] “Yeah, I guess that’s why we’re playing now.”
Sam: “Yeah… Ha. Well, I don’t know. But I’m guessing that kinda helps when having to sit on it and wait, you know, to see what happens.”
Other Media Outlet: “The first music video is already out for ‘Lights’ would you say that’s going to be the same way you approach other videos for the album? Or is it it’s own baby?”
Paul: “It is. It’s it’s own baby.”
Sam: “More like it’s own bug.” [Laughs]
Paul: “We try to keep it cohesive for each record. Each campaign. But in the case of that video, it was Charlie White, who’s an artist that we really respect and admire, we let him make it his own piece of art. Kind of like what’s happening here [at Creator’s Project], we like to just collaborate when working with other artists rather than letting them do their own thing in conjunction with our own music. So it’s not so much, next director, next idea, next style really.”
Other Media Outlet: “Do you already know who you’ll be working with on your next videos?”
Paul: “We have some treatments from certain people… but… we’re not really at liberty to say anything yet.”
Other Media Outlet: “You’re not going to shop around for ideas from any of the artists here?”
Paul: “Ha, yeah. That would be a good idea. [Laughs] Yo! Spike [Jonze, who had a film premiering at Creator’s]!”
And with that my interviewing time, all eight minutes and twenty-nine seconds of it, with Interpol was drawn to a close as the guys had to zip off to prepare for their show later that night.
RYMA: We talked to one of the curators of the night, Sulumi, for a minute. The DJ is from Beijing, and there was definitely a language barrier, despite having the help of a translator. Check out his music.
BYT: How would you describe your work?
Sulumi: I make music. I’m a live performer.
BYT: Have you played in New York before?
S: Yeah. In 2008.
BYT: How do audiences in the U.S. compare to those in China?
S: There’s more passion.
BYT: How did you get started in China?
S: I was really into Rock n Roll music and was in a band.
BYT: What bands were you a fan of growing up?
S: The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Sonic Youth…Chinese people like many, many bands from America.
BYT: How do you incorporate newer technologies into your work?
S: Technology is for the music, but the most important thing is your mind.
BYT: Who are you looking forward to seeing perform here today?
S: I’m excited about them all.
SHAUNA: As fans of the XX, we made sure to stop by xx: A Sculpture of the Album, which was essentially three podiums, each projecting the image and sounds of the individual members of the band. The closer you moved to one podium, the more prominent Oliver’s basslines reverberated against your spine; Romy’s guitar riffs and vocal billowed throughout your soul, or Jamie’s beats and electronic drums smacked you in the face. The concept was clever and certainly brought about a new appreciation for a staple piece of my music collection.
As with any party of this caliber, especially in Chelsea, there were some celebrity sightings. Nick Zinner, of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s fame, had a special exhibition of both his photography and a musical piece he composed specifically to tailor with his snaps. He’s got one hell of an eye, with most of his photos inspired and taken during his days on tour. Other notable sightings on the VIP balcony included actor Josh Hartnett, Will Roan (of Amazing Baby), Karl Lagerfeld’s new best friend Leigh Lezark, and supermodel Omahyra Mota.
If the excitement in the interview phase of my interaction with Interpol didn’t come across, it certainly showed after I got to see the five-some (in the addition to new bassist, Pajo, Interpol added Brandon Curtis, a member of the Secret Machines to play keyboards and sing backing vocals) play live in the loading dock of Milk Studios. The set started a few minutes late, due to some unfortunate technical difficulties with the corresponding light show, courtesy of James Powderly’s much hyped L.A.S.E.R. tag team. However it was by far one of the best-lit shows I’ve ever been too, especially considering the ultra DIY nature of the space.
Anxious fans gathered way all the way out to the street as the band rocked through eleven songs, occasionally causing a city bus to halt for the spectacle. Now I’ve heard a lot of repeated gripes about Interpol’s live show… how they remain stoic and still on stage and play their records exactly as they were recorded, which has lead me to steer clear of opportunities to see the original line-up in action. Boy, were those critics (and friends!) wrong! Interpol opened with guns (or is that guitars?) blazing as they gave the audience a glimpse at what their fourth effort will sound like come September. “Success”, the opening number, is full of potential with its dark atmospheric sound, gentle keys and moody lyrics. If this what’s to come on the new album, I am balls out ready for it.
The rest of of the set list didn’t disappoint either, with the band banging out “Evil,” “Say Hello To The Angels,” new song “Summer Well,” “Narc,” recent single, “Lights”, “Mammoth,” “PDA,” “Slow Hands,” “Obstacle 1,” and ending on the punchy beat and swishy reverb of a perfect version of “Not Even Jail.” Even though I was responsible for photographing what proved to be a gorgeous show, I didn’t hesitate to fist-pump, jump, dance, sing and sway along much to the chagrin of the rest of the photopit. It was definitely the highlight of my Creator’s Project experience and proved to be even more spine-chilling and mind-blowing than I could have expected. After all, this is a band I have cared about since before I went to college… there were high expectations and they were met with the poise and talent that Interpol is well known for.
Sure, as a die-hard Interpol fan I would have loved to have heard some of the rough cuts like “Mind Over Time,” a Japanese b-side to Our Love to Admire, “Untitled” or “Specialist,” but 45 minutes is barely enough time for them to get through all their hits. However as far as the show goes it was an incredible face-to-face introduction to a band I have loved from afar for a very long time. I certainly won’t be dodging the ticket booth when they come to Ram’s Head Live on July 25th, hopefully with their full catalog in tow. The suits of old would be nice too!
Photographer’s Note: Despite my best efforts, I could not get all the way up to the press area to snap M.I.A., so courtesy of Vice and Intel, here’s the snaps they got. Photo credit goes to Brayden Olson, who has probably the coolest job in the world.
RYMA: M.I.A. took the stage in a packed second-floor gallery at 11:30 p.m. wearing a wig, marijuana leaf goggles and hooded camouflage jacket. There were many people onstage for the high-energy show, including burka wearing backup singers in sunglasses. The crowd sang along devotedly to opener ‘Born Free,’ and showed even more excitement when M.I.A. closed her set with ‘Galang’ and ‘Paper Planes.’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOKtd4b_ofw&feature=player_embedded
All in all, only great things can be said about The Creators Project. The international series will continue in London, followed by Sao Paolo, Seoul and Beijing.