Independent music has always been a grey area in music. A kind of limbo, where artists hope to not have to dwell for long before being snatched up by one of the big five record labels. There are many hardships for an independent artist; there’s no big promotion budget or built in studio producers, to ensure hit records. But, the independent artist has the most crucial element for reaching the ultimate creative nirvana: freedom.
Nacho Picasso is one of the most uninhibited artists we’ve met. He’s been shaking shit up since his debut album, Blunt Raps. His music is a reflection of his turbulent lifestyle, rapped with a sense of humility instead of grandeur. He came into the game with the intention to piss people off and hilariously has attracted so many people to him. His blend of realness is intoxicating. He’s self deprecating with a dry sense of humour, a personality that comes across as soon as you hear the first few bars.
Not having any of the inhibitors that can plague the creativity of an artist removes most of the compromises that have to be made to please a team of executives. There are so many artists releasing music through their own channels and the internet makes it possible for independent artists to be massively successful.
This is the case with Nacho, who shot straight to number one on bandcamp the day that Stoned and Dethroned, his fourth collaboration with producers Black Sky Blue Death was released. His fans are constantly in an uproar about including him on “best of” rap lists and on the map in terms of leaders of the new school. But, Nacho stands seemingly unbothered about all of it.
Perhaps it’s the Seattle in him, the inherently, not too bothered, stance that many people in the Pacific Northwest display. Or it’s the fact that at such a young age, Nacho has already achieved what some spend their entire lives wishing for. He’s turned his stormy youth around completely and is now an inspiration to many. Nacho’s only intent in rapping was to make music that he and his friends could relate to, the rest of the world is just a bonus.
We spoke with Nacho the day Stoned and Dethroned dropped, and asked him about his process, and working with producers Blue Sky Black Death and Harry Fraud.
Etsuko Ichikawa‘s work is a fusion of traditional technique with conceptual influences. Her work is inspired by nature and the elements, as she uses fire and water to create her pieces, perhaps as a self-fulfilling prophecy since her name means “an inlet of water”. The pieces, fittingly called pyrographs and aquagraphs are laid together using fire, molten glass and water.
Etsuko was born in Tokyo and trained in a multitude of techniques. This multi- disciplinary way of working has allowed her to flourish in drawing, performance art, film and sound. The writing in her aquagraphs is sometimes in Sanskrit; the sweeping movements she makes with molten glass feel very traditional somehow, even if not traditionally Japanese.
Etsuko has been collaborating with other artists, to produce some very conceptual work, in sound and film. Her latest short film, Echo at Satsop, was created as a way to reflect on the environmental issues that have plagued Japan in recent years. She’s a quiet activist, letting her work speak for her, authentically and organically.
We visited Etsuko in her studio in Seattle, (check out her space in the post below) and watched her create aquagraphs in preparation for her show, taking place in Seattle. We asked her what propelled her to become an artist, and why she chooses to incorporate nature into her work.
Etsuko is having a solo show at Winston Wächter Fine art running from 9/10- 10/30.
We’d like to invite you into the studio of Etsuko Ichikawa, our featured artist this week. Visiting an artist’s studio space is one of our favorite parts of interviewing. Seeing the way they’ve laid out their space is an insight into their process. Is it sparse and minimalistic, in a way that mimics their work? Or full of eccentricity, with photos of muses, past works, and odd objects that inspire the artist? It’s intriguing to see which works are in progress and which didn’t quite pan out as they’d hoped.
Etsuko is a Seattle based, (Tokyo born) artist whose love of the elements nurtured a unique type of art. She works with fire to create movement with molten glass around on heavy parchment paper. She’s also been working with sound and produced a haunting piece titled Echo at Satsop, which reflects on the natural and manmade tragedies which have plagued her home country of Japan.
Her studio, illuminated with natural light, was spacious with a long table running down the middle – perfect for the large pieces of paper she often works with. Etsuko was preparing smaller pieces for a showing taking place in a few weeks. Most surprising was the book of Sanskrit on her table, alongside a notebook, with neatly pencilled transcriptions of Sanskrit letters – a language she’s learning because she enjoys the movement of the characters.
We’ll share our video interview with Etsuko tomorrow, in the meantime, here’s a peek at her studio.