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2007 October Archive at Inside ontheinside.info

Monthly Archive for October, 2007

Hipster Olympics in Williamsburg

This is a funny parody of hipsters in Williamsburg. The beginning takes place in front of Sideshow Gallery which was recommended by one of our favorite artist, Jacques Roch.

On the track with Beatrix Slaughter!

Scott and I went to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby bout today to interview Beatrix Slaughter. Here’s a couple preview shot taken from my cell phone during warm-ups:

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On The Inside City Hall?

I went with Brian to interview NY1 political anchor and Inside City Hall host Dominic Carter. It is intimidating interviewing a person who interviews the Hilary Clinton’s, Bloomberg’s and Giuliani’s on live TV for a living, but Dominic was a gracious host and it was a great afternoon. Here’s a cell phone shot:

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Interview with TooFly

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Ontheinside.info: Where did you grow up?
Toofly: I was born in Ecuador, and I came to the United States on Christmas 1985. I was 7 years old. That’s when I moved to Corona, Queens where my grandparents had a house. It was just like a little one family house with a basement that my grandfather built and fixed up. Everything was there to make us all comfortable. I grew up with my family, like with everybody there and you know your cheesy little pool that they would buy at Woolworth or something. Just growing up, little Queens girl in the neighborhood.

Q: Where did you go to school?
TooFly: I went to IS 61 junior high in Queens like right near my neighborhood, then I went to fashion Industries high school in the city. I thought I wanted to do fashion because I used to play with this little girl across the street, with Barbies and shit. She wanted to go to fashion school so I decided to follow her. When I got to fashion I learned that all I really wanted to do was draw and paint, not design clothes. So I switched to be an art major. I remember going into the classrooms and seeing a whole bunch of graffiti on the tables. They had these wooden tables for the fashion kids who would do patterns and clothes. Almost every class had these huge tables with illustrations of characters and graffiti tags and it would follow on to the walls and hallways. It wasn’t like, dirty dirty, but every now and then you would see it, when someone went crazy tagging and drawing. It would be cleaned up the next day of course.

Q: Did graffiti come easy to you?
TooFly: Well, a lot of my work revolves around this female image that I feel should look really strong and fierce and beautiful but like, edgy. I really want to put that energy in my work. And then I start layering it up with all kinds of marks that i like. I think back sometimes how it all came together. I used to draw mermaids, and characters from comic books. My uncle had a stash of X-Men, when I was growing up. Then I got into Wildcats and Gen 13 on my own. I enjoyed re-drawing the illustrations of the women in these comics. Graffiti wasn’t even in my life then, it was just comic books. When I went to high school I would take the 7 train and always look out the window and I would see graffiti everywhere, all over the rooftops, on my way home, walking, everything was just covered with graffiti and there were certain graffiti writers in the neighborhood whose styles I felt were really inspiring me. But I wasn’t doing anything about it. When I got to high school I started seeing it everywhere too. It wasn’t just on the walls, it was on the tables, hallways, lockers, books. Then I met this graffiti writer artist and his graffiti style blew my mind. It was then that it all came clear to me I knew what I wanted to be.

Q: Did something just click one day or was it over a course of time?
TooFly: I think now it’s clicking but before I think I was just going through self-discovery, you know like young people and their different phases and I think by having a name and by claiming that I was a female and then getting involved in graffiti where you start by just tagging your name up in a neighborhood or you start drawing in these black books that passes around different high schools and it goes from borough to borough and it comes back to you and it comes back with all these famous writers that, you know they’re like twice your age but they’ve seen your work and then they write you comments. Some of it will be mean, like ‘who’s this little girl trying to be like a graffiti writer’, but they just couldn’t deny that my illustrations were like - ‘yo, who is this?’ And I feel like that just made me kind of more excited, cause I was like, oh they’re taking notice, you know like I admire their stuff and I hear their names and they’re known and I’m like, damn but I just don’t have the balls to go and paint on the walls!

But also the greatest story that I tell is that my mom supported my art so much that she would drive me in the neighborhood to just go and do graffiti. She would literally wake up at 4 in the morning cause I would beg her, cause I was like such a teenager like, c’mon ma, I really want to be paint, these people see my work but they’re not going to respect what I do cause I just do it on paper and I want to start doing this on the walls, I know I can do it. Of course, you know, cops and everything, she didn’t want me to hang out with the guys like really late so she was like, I’ll just take you out. She would go with me to rooftops where I would get to paint, she would be my lookout is what we would call it, my mom was the lookout. And she’d be like opening the door and she’s like alright, hurry up - you know, like all nervous.

Those memories mean so much because I’m not your typical graffiti person that’s like you know, maybe has bad relationship with their parents and they’re sneaking out at night and they’re getting in trouble with the cops. I just don’t fit some of that criteria and that’s why some people are like, iffy about what I do but man if they only knew the pleasure of doing what I do, shit I’m a good ass role model to young women that’s more than all the tags combined out there. Their kids are looking up to my work. Young girls these days just can’t be hanging out so late at night bullshitting our life away. They need better examples, like how do I flip it!. So you show them. These guys are underneath trains and subways, scary situations. Many of them have died doing graff. I just feel like in time I’ve shown people that I grew up with a this culture, hip-hop, everything that makes me, and breaks me, with that I was able to transform it into something positiive that I can share with everyone because at the end of the day it’s about your story, your style, your flow, it’s about showing the experience we have lived through. Good or bad, and also there wasn’t many women that represented back then. Just a very few. There was always all these guys, all this graffiti everywhere, everything was just guys. Along comes around something different, a woman doing it differently.

Q: How much of a problem is the illegal aspect in the city?
TooFly: I think graffiti writers are the only ones that could understand that. I know we destroy property and we deface things and it’s not okay to do stuff on churches but there’s such an art form with calligraphy and the way we do tags and the way we communicate just through our writings, that’s just an underground thing, like it’s only among us. But for me, like I can’t write my name anymore on the walls. Like as a teenager, yeah, nobody knew who the hell I was, but as soon as I started putting myself out there, doing more public works or working with young people, I just kind of had to switch it a little bit and just kind of not do that anymore. If I do it it’ll be like some other name that nobody knows about. Because we can’t get away from the art form, the freedom of just writing on a surface is like nothing else. Only we get it. Yea some of us are sorry that we’re messing up your wall but it’s just the way it is in this city so deal with it. That’s what makes New York, at least what’s left of it.

Q: Have you had run-ins with the police?
TooFly: Yeah, I mean, different run-ins then what the writers go through. For public walls, most of the times we have the permit and then sometimes you know, permit’s not enough and we have to stop, we have to put our paint away and they’ll tell us that it’s about the environment like you know the spray is like getting into the air and we’re like destroying the ozone layer and all this stuff. So then we just have to stop and come back another day. But it’s usually somebody in the neighborhood like calling on us. Or just people that know we’re there and they’ll do it on purpose and call the cops.

Q: Are you part of a crew?
TooFly: I never wanted to be down with any crew because I didn’t want to just belong to them and then they had beef with somebody else and then there’d be problems just cause you’re part of their crew, it’s just like nonsense to me. Like a lot of the guy stuff that goes on, the politics, is just retarded. I just I don’t want no part in it. I go, I paint, and I leave. I got my own little circle of friends. I would love to build with writers but they’re just on some other shit. Politics ruin everything I rather not get involved with the bullshit, there’s more important things in life. I just want to paint, build with good people, and get better at my craft.

Q: If you’re not part of a crew, is it hard to keep working?
TooFly: Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of exclusivity and then there’s some people that are just cool with everybody and just invite people to walls. So there’s all kinds of stuff. But now it just feels like we gotta create our own because we run into that beef situation, people going over people’s work so most of us just have to try to get our own spaces. The New York mentality, wants to hold down the real graffiti shit and I understand that 100% but there’s like so many levels to the culture now you can’t just keep it to one idea. People want to paint all mixed up, people want to do community, people want to be hardcore and stay real, or people want to have commercial success, then there’s those that want it all, that’s what gives everyone a place to grow and explore shit. A lot of the public doesn’t know that but there’s so much going on, just with graffiti, it has it’s own world. Then women got their own shit too, but that’s why there’s this whole women’s movement now where we have our own book dedicated to our work, called Graffiti Women and it’s just like all these women from all over the world who are getting highlighted for their graffiti works. And I know we all want to be artists and just not be just considered women but there’s a strength to that. At least in my community there is. It is more necessary to my people than maybe to others who grew up differently.

Q: Do you have a day job?
TooFly: I freelance at a licensing company 3 days a week and that allows me to just live comfortable enough, pay my rent, hang out, and eat here and there. But then the rest of the days I do my paintings, I sell things on my own shop, I make my own shirts, I design, I do graffiti events where I paint live and I’ll get to paint my own art, not doing some like commercial crap. I’ve done a tiny bit of that but I’m trying to stay away from that cause I feel like I’m just selling out the art instead of just keeping it true to like the people and the neighborhood. They pay good money but now I’m just like being cautious about those type of projects cause I still want to keep the integrity of my art and what it means to do what I do. So yeah, I mean, I’ll have to continue to figure that out, it’s complicated. People will offer me mad money but I’m just like, no, I can’t. I could buy a house with that but I’m like, something’s wrong with the end picture. I guess that’s why they consider us all starving artists, but we’re really not, we got gigs coming from all kinds of places. We work with independent labels that we believe in or we do our own projects where people support us or we do our own events, like we just do our own stuff. It’s so much more rewarding because your learning how to run your business without someone else running it for you, or doing it for you. You have total creative control of your work and the message behind it.

Q: How about community service?
TooFly: I’ve done a lot of community work, I get so much of it because being a female in the graffiti hip hop culture is scarce still. There’s all these hip-hop events, and there’s not a lot of people stepping in to share their stories. A lot of graffiti artists don’t, and I understand why. Many have not had the experiences I’ve had, or have understood why this is necessary. I’ve chosen to share and do workshops with kids, I speak to them about the history, the motivation it takes to stand up for something. A lot of people feel like I could inspire young people in the inner city because they can relate to me. People say graffiti is negative but I’m like ‘look what we’ve done with it so far’. We’ve been able to, sustain ourselves, get projects here and there, go and present graffiti as an art form to different countries, at different hip hop events, be like someone visible that’s doing graffiti but that’s not getting in trouble. Now I’m workin on this project called Younity that’s gonna work to put together dope ass art events where we’ll paint live or do art exhibits creative collaborations, and we’ll involve young people to help assist us and then we’ll nurture them and teach them the process so they can in turn run their own shit too in the future.

- Interview by Thomas Collardeau, photo by B.A. Van Sise for http://ontheinside.info

See Toofly’s profile and favorite NY places at http://ontheinside.info/toofly.

Interview with David Hochbaum

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Ontheinside.info: So you were born and grew up in New York?
David Hochbaum: Yeah, I grew up right outside here. I first was in Brooklyn in Island Park, then my folks moved upstate like 20 miles north. But my parents split and my pop had a place here at 1st and 1st in the 80’s. And also when I was real young my dad had a business here as well so there was a lot of time spent in Manhattan.

Q: So you were roaming the East Village as a kid?
DH: Yeah, my dad was, he was a party guy and he had all his friends living in this neighborhood, so pretty much when I was that age I was depending on where he was taking me.

Q: Have you notice a change in the East Village over the years?
DH: There’s a good reason why people romanticize it a lot, just cause that’s what happens, but a lot of that is definitely true. You know the reasons why I fell in love with the city was because, just the way I was growing up, it wasn’t like the average kid in the upper middle class neighborhood. Coming around here, there were a lot more, I guess, freaks around. You know, you wouldn’t see a lot of those kind of people in more suburban areas, you know, the punks, the fags, the junkies, they’d be walking around. But it really was sort of a natural environment for them. It wasn’t like, oh, look at the weirdos, It was kind of like being anonymous yet being able to be individualistic compared to the norm. So that’s what I was really turned on about. And now of course it’s very different.

Q: Can you describe how it’s different?
DH: Yeah, I mean, first off I think it just got really popular cause it was so cool, so everybody sort of migrated to the area. And for the most part it became so popular that all the reasons that made it so cool were pushed out because of the real estate, you know people take advantage of that, real estate goes up and then all the artists, musicians, and writers had to move away. And so, it kind of left everybody just walking around, looking around for the things that they got attracted to, but it was just a lot of walking around, looking around, showing off rather than doing. The organic sort of progression of the creative environment forces diluted and got pushed away.

Q: But you didn’t get pushed out?
DH: Yeah I kind of stuck to my guns and don’t want to leave, even though I feel like I’m a lot more of a minority, and lucky enough to still be able to maintain a studio and apartment here because of circumstances and friends who have their cheaper leases, whatever. I like to maintain that sort of energy here too by, you know, periodically throwing events in my space, from art exhibitions from artists internationally and around the U.S. and have a lot of parties here, you know like silk-screen parties, so it’s sort of like an interactive artist environment thing going on. But it’s just a party too at the same time, it’s not like trying to show anything off rather than just like getting people together and having a decent time.

Q: How did your art career develop?
DH: I went to the Museum school in Boston, and I’d say halfway through, by the second year, I had to make a decision, you know, if I was going to pursue art or am I going to try to find a way to find some kind of career, do graphic design or film or something. But I was really gung-ho about it, I just wanted to make art. I was into mixed media, and fine arts and conceptualizing fine art. You know, just working through projects, so I just decided to go full force and take a chance. Cause I knew it was an absolutely ridiculous career move, it’s fickle and it’s tough. But, I moved back to New York in ‘95, back to the East Village and spent about 11 months couch surfing, looking for jobs, not making any art for like a year. And then getting settled and just like starting from scratch like anybody else I think, who moves to New York, no matter where you’re from, here or anywhere else, you move back you’ve got to start from scratch and pay your dues. I went through it you know, painting, pushing my work, peddling stuff, carrying stuff to restaurants, cafes, bars, hanging art anywhere possible, working as much as possible, and doing shows that got me nothing, doing shows that sometimes make a little bit of money but not really making any money off the art, working in bars mostly, bartending for like 10 years now in New York. Still do a couple days a week to guarantee the bills are paid. Over at Hi-Fi.

Q: How did you develop your multi-media art? What role did New York play in that, if at all?
DH: I sort of started discovering the media while I was at school. First I wanted to make films. Film was too expensive and time consuming so I went back to photography which I was playing around with a little bit. But it was boring as far as the process. I really enjoyed the darkroom but it’s very precise. And I like getting my hands dirty. So I started exploring more things like sculpture and painting, drawing. I love that sort of organic raw quality from that, where photography’s kind of, pretty, what you see is what you get. So I started mixing, not being able to afford frames I’d find wood in the trash and start just framing my own stuff out like that. You know, not being able to photograph everything I’d want I’d paint in things, eliminate things, start really, you know, messing with the media a lot and getting turned on by a lot of other artist I looked at like Mike and Doug Starn, Rauschenberg, Anselm Kiefer, Werner Herzog or Alejandro Jodorowsky, and you know, getting inspired by that approach and working through it.

I don’t know how much New York City played a part in sort of directing how and what my media was. Definitely the raw, urban quality of the city helps a lot, the energy. It’s kind of like, very layered, very multi-layered, textural, and chaotic. New York’s great for found objects, New York’s great for the fact that anything you need or want to use you can find, you can get any material you want pretty quick and easy. It’s easy to expose yourself on many levels, as basic as you know, showing in cafes and bars, or if you want to hound down galleries you can get there, walk over there and start just pounding on people’s doors and there are a lot of eyes to look at what you’re doing. As long as you keep and maintain, that energy’s there pushing you a lot, there’s a lot of pressure in the city.

Q: What would you tell a young artist coming to the city?
DH: Expect a transition. Expect maybe a lull in productivity, but that doesn’t mean that you know, you really lose anything cause you can’t really tame the city, a lot of people try to conquer the city, the idea of, oh I’m going to conquer New York—New York’s not to be conquered. New York is to be, I think, adapted to and taken into your psyche and the way that you do things. That’s fine, that’s why you come here. It’s a great city for that. To exploit that, be able to use that.

Q: You’re a big fan of collaboration right?
DH: I’m a big fan, first of all, of acknowledging my inspirations, a lot of artists tend to find their whatever, their technique or their kitschy thing, the thing that they keep on doing, and sort of hold on that. It’s become very romanticized, the idea of the artist in the studio alone and blah blah blah, don’t want to share their contacts or whatever hookups they can have with other people or their ideas, they’re afraid of being ripped off. I don’t think it’s really possible to not be inspired by someone or something that gets into your work. And I think to emulate something is a lot more admirable than to disregard and not acknowledge your inspirations. There’s, I think, fear of being unoriginal and that’s something you have to work through as you work as an artist and you start to—as long as you’re really working from your heart it’s going to come through. And if it looks like something that someone else is doing that’s natural, there’s this, you know, a common social unconsciousness that everyone’s sort of on. Especially if you’re in a city like this where a lot of people are getting fed the same kind of vibe. You’re bound to pick up the same thing other people are picking up and it’s going to come through in the work. But if you have your own voice then you really don’t have anything to worry about, it’s just going to happen.

Q: What are your inspirations?
DH: I’m constantly inspired cause I’m surrounded by some pretty amazing and talented people. I’d say my most immediate inspirations are my peers and the people I work with in my collaborative group, The Goldmine Shithouse, and they’re the artists Travis Lindquist and Colin Burns, cause they motivate me and push me in not so much like an academic way, like if you were in school being pushed by professors or whatever. They motivate me from their passion and their ideas, they teach me a lot about painting, and printmaking, things they do in their work that eventually gets mixed into my work and vice versa you know it happens to them as well. Plus a lot of the other artists I hang around with, the models I work with, cause all my work, the majority of the work I do… I shoot all the photos and they’re all from people I know, they’re either friends or friends of friends or people who’ve contacted me, you know, sort of given themselves up to me. And I depend a lot on them to capture the image and I also work with other photographers in the studio to help me with lighting, so things are not always consistent 100%, you know I like things to vary and change, and working with other artists I learn. And you know we learn from each other, and we push each other and we support each other a lot. I think that creates a nice strong sort of community of artists. And anybody takes another step up a level, we’re always there to pull them up in any way we can. If this works for so-and-so, doesn’t work for me, but I know you can get a hookup from this, I’m gonna call this guy up and be like, hey you should check this out, or we’ve got something going on, I got an event going on, ok I can pull people in on it.

Interview by Thomas Collardeau, photo by Scott Gordon Bleicher for http://ontheinside.info

See David Hochbaum’s profile and favorite NY places at http://ontheinside.info/david-hochbaum.

Interview with Beat The Devil

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Q: How did Beat The Devil come about?
Shilpa:Three years ago, I went to Sidewalk Cafe after I kept hearing from a couple people that you can go there and sing stuff and it’s a pretty loose open mic. I didn’t know how to really start cause I never played in a band. So I was writing my own stuff and I went there and I didn’t have any instruments on me or anything, so I just sang it a capella. The guy that runs it, Latch, was like “you should come more often” and I did and then eventually got a set. Then, I wanted add drums to this, so I called up my friend, our first drummer, and I asked him if he wanted to play. And then it started out as a duo and then we wanted a bassist so we put out an ad.

Q: So you started out with just voice?
Shilpa: Yeah, and then I started lugging my harmonium down.

Q: Were you trained in singing?
Shilpa: Yeah, yeah. I was trained in singing—I never wanted to do it, for like, a real thing. But I was classically trained in North Indian classical music when I was a kid and then I guess when I hit my teenage years I really resented it. I didn’t like it a lot cause I couldn’t understand a word I was saying and anything structured really sucks when you’re like 16. So I was like, I don’t want to do this, this is bullshit. And then when I was in college I’d just find that I would hang out by myself a lot and smoke a lot of pot and listen to music. And then I wanted to sing along so I started singing along and I really wanted to do it, like I wanted to play.

Q: Did you start writing pieces?
Shilpa: Slowly. I mean, I didn’t really know how to write a song, so I started mostly writing poetry. I’ve always written poetry, it’s something I like to do. So, I always start writing first. It wasn’t till actually I started playing at the Sidewalk and listening to other people that play there, that I was like, ohhh, so if you put this chord and this chord together it works. You know, it starts making more sense. So, I mean, that helped a lot, like I took it, like fish to water, it felt very natural to me.

Q: How did you hook up with Mishka?
Shilpa: It was Craigslist.
Mishka: Yeah, her ad was like, “harmonium and drums duo seeks bass player. Influences—Can, The Fall, and Howlin’ Wolf.” and I was like, I haven’t heard your band but I’m the fucking bass player for this band.
Shilpa: You wrote us a really long letter, I remember that. I was like, who is this guy? This is the longest letter, saying “I’m in Portland right now, I’ve played in so many bands.”

Q: Did you interview a lot of bass players?
Shilpa: Yeah, I mean we tried talking to others. The thing you learn about Craigslist is, the response is just the first stage. Cause like after that it’s the phone tag—are they gonna still stay for the phone tag. And if they stay, are they going to make it through 2 practice sessions, and then after that it’s like, are they gonna make it the month, you never know.

Q: You went through a rotation of drummers too right? Mitchell’s been in it how long?
Shilpa: Since February, so it’s been 6 months.
Mitchell: It’s been a long 6 months though.
Shilpa: Yeah, look at him. When we first met him he had a twinkle in his eye, now he wears sunglasses in the dark. (laughs)

Q: So you guys all work day jobs?
Mishka: Yes. We all work. Too much. And have too many day jobs.

Q: What kind of jobs?
Mishka: I work for a construction company.
Shilpa: I work a customer service job for an online eyeglass company and I also work sales at a dress shop.
Mitchell: And I’m a real estate agent.

Q: Let’s talk a little about New York and the neighborhoods you lived in and maybe your history, when you first came here.
Mitchell: I’m from Georgia originally, I just moved here about 3 years ago, 3 1/2 years ago. And I live in Brooklyn in Kensington right now, just below Park Slope and I love it here. I moved here for, I don’t know, something different than what I had always known—rural southeast. And I definitely got it.

Q: Where were you in Georgia?
Mitchell: Northeast, kind of northeast corner, where the Appalachian Trail starts. Very pretty, very nice. Kind of, about 12-15 years behind the cultural curve.
Shilpa: Did you guys have donkeys in your yard too?
Mitchell: We had donkeys in the house actually (laughs).

Q: So were you in a band in Georgia? Did you come here seeking that?
Mitchell: Nah, I really don’t know why the fuck I moved. I had a couple thousand dollars in my pocket and I thought that was big money so I was like, let’s go to New York. I found out about 4 days later that that wasn’t big money. I managed to make it work though. And then I just kind of fell into music. I played when I was in Georgia but nothing really seriously you know, I would pick up stuff. Not in any like, touring bands or anything. But um, I always wanted to be in a touring band and I dug these guys, so it worked out.

Q: Was it also through Craigslist?
Mitchell: Yeah, yeah, same thing. Craigslist yeah.
Mishka: Careful what you wish for with a fucking touring band.
Mitchell: Well my tenure might be about up, I mean you know, we’re reaching the 6 or 7 month mark.
Mishka: This is the point where drummers burst into flames.

Q: So you [Shilpa] grew up near the city?
Shilpa: I grew up in Jersey. I went to school in Philadelphia and after I graduated I guess I also had some big dreams about living in New York. But I don’t know, I have like younger-child-syndrome where I don’t save up and I’m pretty irresponsible.
Mitchell: I have that same syndrome and I’m the older child.
Shilpa: I had like $200 in my pocket and I’m like, I’m going to live in New York!! So I lived in a couple living rooms for a while and I just moved in last year actually to my first room that has, like, a window and a door and I was so psyched. I was like, I have a room with a window and a door! I have 3 windows! Not one but 3 windows! So I got really excited about that.

Q: What neighborhood have you lived in?
Shilpa: Um, I first moved to Astoria and then after Astoria, Washington Heights. After that I lived in a windowless room in Greenpoint, and after that I lived in Bed-Stuy in a loft with no walls or doors, sharing with our first drummer which is insane, don’t do that.
Mishka: Which is exactly what I said when you guys were doing it.
Shilpa: And then I finally live in Greenpoint again by McCarren Park and it’s fun.

Q: How has the city shaped or influenced you and your music?
Shilpa: I think from when I was 3 the city has shaped me. Cause my dad used to commute here and I grew up like an hour outside. And I mean, when you’re living in suburban New Jersey you’re like, I want to go to the city, I want to be cool and go to the city. You would like sneak out of the house at 12:00 when your parents are asleep and you’d go take the train up and go to the city. So everything for me was like, I would read books about it, I knew everything about the whole Pop Art - Andy Warhol thing when I was in like middle school, high school and stuff. And I would just dream about coming to the city and something wonderful and big was going to happen. But it gives you a kick in the ass you know, when you really live there. And you’re like, oh, I’ve gotta work in a basement full of rats—whoops. So much for the city. I still love it though. It’s great.

Q: What about you Mishka?
Mishka: I moved here from Colorado with $200. And I lived in a one room apartment with my step-brother. Eating hot dogs every day. I’ve been here for 10 years and I moved here like, yeah I’m going to take over this town, I’m going to make it big in the big city. And I’ve been here for 10 years and I work for a construction company. I don’t know I’ve just always been like, hustling in New York and I always—being from, I mean I was born in Canada and always lived incredible far from New York, there was always sort of this legend in your mind as to what New York is like. It’s almost like a cartoon or something, you know. My mom got me a subscription to the New Yorker when I was 16 because she was like, oh you’re going to be a writer, this is the best writing magazine. So I was reading all this stuff about like, John Spencer playing in New York City and I was like, oh man, it’s so fucking cool.

Q: Do you see yourself here for a long time?
Mishka: I keep thinking like, man it would be awesome to get out of New York and then I’m like, well where am I gonna fucking go after this, you know? It’s kind of like getting hooked on drugs or like a bad relationship or something, you know, it spoils you for anything else. You get it in your blood. Regardless of how long we’re gone, if we’re gone for 2 days or if we’re gone for 2 months, whenever we’re getting back to New York I’m like, oh man, I can’t fucking wait to get back to New York. I’m gonna go get like, you know a cup of coffee at the deli and like, the 25 cent granola bar.

Q: Do you feel a connection to New York Mitchell?
Mitchell: Uh, not totally yet. I mean I don’t feel like I’m a lifetime New Yorker, but it grows on me every day. There are definitely those days when I love it and those days that I hate it.

Interview by Thomas Collardeau, photo by Sumeet Singh for http://ontheinside.info

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