GLITTER AND GLEAM: Trinie Dalton meets COCOROSIE (Arthur, 2004)

Originally published, with photography by Melanie Pullen and page layout by W.T. Nelson, in Arthur No. 10 (May 2004)…

Glitter and Gleam
The two sisters who are CocoRosie have made an astonishing, haunting debut album. Trinie Dalton finds out how they did it.

CocoRosie’s debut La Maison de Mon Rêve capitalizes on its sexy feminine allure to seduce the listener into a dream state, one that’s half bliss, half nightmare. CocoRosie’s two singers and sole band members, Bianca and Sierra Casady, could be compared to sirens if their wailing was deeper instead of high-pitched and tweaky like Billie Holiday’s on 45rpm. Listening to La Maison gives you an opiated sense of well-being; here are two beautiful young ladies singing sweet harmonies together, their lyrics about Skittles and diamond rings and other things being disturbed by an undertow of discontent. CocoRosie songs put old folk tunes into new perspective; take the sardonic lyrics that critique Christianity in their cover of “Jesus Loves Me”: “Jesus loves me/but not my wife/not my nigger friends/or their nigger lives/but Jesus loves me/that’s for sure/‘cause the Bible tells me so.” The last song on the album, “Lyla,” is about a child prostitute sold into slavery who “ate McDonalds all day/ and never had a chance to play.” Toys, penny whistles, Casios, and thrift store drum machines keep the beats: they’re reminders of sinister deeds. The magic of childhood is built up then trashed like a sandcastle.

The acts of reminiscing, relishing and examining childhood were a natural place to start for two sisters who hadn’t seen each other in years. Bianca was living in the U.S. while Sierra studied music in Paris. Once Bianca decided to move to France, they found their interests finally overlapping, as Bianca had just begun to write songs…

Q: Sierra studied gospel and opera. Did you study music too?

A: Not at all. I didn’t even start singing really until over a year ago. I used to read poetry out a lot but there was something unsatisfying about it. Then I wrote a small series of songs that weren’t very typical, they didn’t have choruses or anything, and I did a show where I sang them a capella. I felt really good singing. That was right before I went to Paris. I had never sung in front of an audience.

Q:Was it scary when you first started performing?

A: Yes, it was. It was scary but it was a wonderful high simultaneously. I got sort of addicted to it. It was way more intense. I think that my writing is more accessible through music, or more enjoyable. Sierra has been singing most of her life. She always sang. In junior high she was in a choir, she got really into choral music, had a special teacher who encouraged her. Immediately her teachers saw that she had an operatic soprano voice and pushed her into that. She just went for it. So she spent the last five years in music school. She did really well, got many accolades, won awards…she was told that she should go for it. But it takes 100%. Not just of your time, but you can’t want anything else. It’s a thing that’s so hard to succeed in, that you can’t even lie to yourself, you have to want it all, and she didn’t. It was creatively stifling. They didn’t encourage her to compose, or try other types of music. It’s as if that’s your only job in life.

Continue reading

Sat Oct 16, Providence RI 6pm: TRINIE DALTON reading from SWEET TOMB – FREE

Above: Sweet Tomb cover by Matt Greene

Author and longtime Arthur contributor Trinie Dalton writes:

Hello Providence!

I’ll be coming out this Saturday, October 16th, for a reading at Ada Books. I hope you can join me. 6pm. I’ll be reading with Madras Press editor, Sumanth Prubhaker.

http://ada-books.com

Madras Press is a great new small press that publishes novella-length books:
http://www.madraspress.com/news

See you there, and thanks for helping to spread the word—if you’re not in Providence but know someone who might like to come, please kindly forward this note.

Trinie Dalton blog: http://sweet-tomb.blogspot.com

Your friend,
Trinie

Trinie Dalton meets DELIA GONZALEZ AND GAVIN RUSSOM (Arthur, 2006)

Originally published in Arthur. No. 21 (March 2006)

Mind-Melders
At home, at work and at play with visionary artist-musician duo Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom

by Trinie Dalton

My boyfriend Matt and I arrived on our bikes to this chic Berlin restaurant that had no sign, and I wouldn’t have known we were at the right place had there not been a long dinner table set outside where a Stevie Nicks-ish redhead sporting a ’70s military jacket sat next to a semi-crusty, spaced out guy with really long hair and a beard that looked matted as if he had just gone scuba diving; his locks looked like they were caked with sea salt. I hope we’re eating with them, I thought, in awe of their awesome style. I also immediately liked them because we were gathered to visit mutual friend, artist AVAF, a.k.a. assume vivid astro focus, a.k.a. Eli Sudbrack, and friends of Eli’s are all jovial and talented. Eli had just come from Brazil via London and was in Berlin for two days before going to Barcelona, or something. Next to him was artist (and also, like Matt and me, summer Berlin resident) Terrence Koh, wearing a buckled-up Michael Jackson leather jacket. Then there was gallerist Javier Peres, the ultimate host, who’d just flown in from somewhere like Greece, England, or the U.S., and was stopping through before a trip to Estonia to pick up travel partner and permanent Berlin resident, Danish artist Kirstine Roepstorff. The other ten people at the table were French or Spanish DJs.

I locked up my bike, sat down, ordered some champagne and a bowl of white asparagus soup, and introduced myself to Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom, the most stylish couple in the world. They looked like a couple I could relate to: same age as me, creative, but with a way advanced fashion sense. I chatted with them while I waited two hours for the waitress to come out and tell me they were out of soup, and it was now too late to order more food since the kitchen was closed. Oh well, I enjoyed more champagne and listened to Delia talk about horoscopes and her visit to a highly-skilled psychic. It was a summery night and Delia and Gavin had only spent a few months thus far in their new Berlin apartment, where they moved to escape the New York art world and high cost of living. They met eight years ago in New York. Matt and I enjoyed discussing the beauty of discovering a new city with them. I felt a bond with Delia and Gavin, a sense of expatriate camaraderie, which imbued the rest of my stay in Germany with the comforting knowledge that other youngish American artists were living only blocks away. Even if I didn’t get to hang out with them, since they had an intense traveling schedule, they were still there, making the city cooler. Delia and Gavin made Berlin feel less foreign to me.

Therefore, I first met Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom as visual artists. They’ve worked as a pair for the past seven years, used to be a couple but aren’t anymore, and live separately, sharing each others’ apartments; Delia’s house is the art studio and Gavin’s is the music space. I’d seen their sculptures, knew they were represented by Daniel Reich, and seen another piece of theirs in a catalog for a group show in Austria. Their sculptures look like minimalist architecture, gleaming and pristine, hypnotically formal, and are either covered in cowrie shells or sequins. Sometimes they’re laquered or gold-leafed. They have a sort of punk-new age spirit, if one could mention the two together without extreme cheesiness. Their artwork’s punk glamour is cross-pollinated by a fascination with the occult. The sculptures are inspired by Art Deco, the golden age of Disco, and 70s Italian horror movie sets; some pieces have religious undertones, referencing Latin-American and African ceremonial totems and shrines, and illuminated manuscripts. Human-sized cubes and cones get cowrie shell eyes and mouths, transforming simple geometric shapes into magical talisman. Most of their sculptures are soundtracked by Delia and Gavin’s trance-inducing disco.

But Delia and Gavin didn’t begin as a collaborative sculpture team. Delia, originally from Miami, moved to New York in the mid-’90s to dance in troupes like Fancypants. Gavin, from Providence, was hosting magic shows under the name The Mystic Satin when the two met at a loft party. At first, Delia joined The Mystic Satin, while her and Gavin tinkered with prop making, set design and several varieties of modern dance. Since then, they’ve made videos, starring themselves, about zombies who wander Times Square; performed live magic acts dressed as a ballerina (Delia) and a warlock (Gavin); danced in their troupe called Black Leotard Front, and played in a heavy metal band, Fight Evil With Evil. Their first 7” single (and straight-up music project) “El Monte,” came out in 2004. Last October, hip electronic label, DFA (home of LCD Soundsystem and The Juan Maclean) released Delia and Gavin’s first full-length album, The Days of Mars. They’ll be playing some U.S. gigs while here for their art opening at Peres Projects Los Angeles in April. They’ll also be promoting the release of their single and video, “Relevee,” out this month.

Days of Mars is like Brian Eno, Goblin, and Kraftwerk combined into four long synthesizer tracks that are ambient but layered with pulsating rhythm. Gavin makes their analog synthesizers. When you listen to it you feel like you’re traveling to well, Mars. But their music is really more about life on Earth, Delia and Gavin each told me separately over the phone from Berlin. I spoke with them both as they passed their phone back and forth. Their wide range of interests reflect how limitless the idea of making art is to them. Genres don’t matter. Music, video, dance, magic show, sculpture, drawing: they love it all.

ON SCIENCE FICTION SOUNDTRACKS, HOT LESBIAN AUTHORS, AND HOMEMADE SYNTHESIZERS
Delia: Days of Mars is named after a Winifred Bryher book. She was Hilda Doolittle’s girlfriend. I had a little crush on her. It’s about WW2 in England. Bryher lived in Switzerland, but when the Germans were bombing England, she went back to support her friends, and kept a diary. The way she described people’s reaction to the war, the way they ignored everything that was going on, reminded me of Bush’s re-election. Everyone was threatening to leave the country, revolt, but when he was reelected, no one did anything about it. Everyone was in denial. “Black Spring,” the fourth song on the album, is also named after a book, by Henry Miller. I found out about that while reading Anais Nin.

Continue reading

June 4, Lower East Side: "Homunculi" show curated by Trinie Dalton at CANADA

Longtime Arthur contributor Trinie Dalton sent this over…

Homunculi
Matt Greene, Allison Schulnik, Ruby Neri and Matthew Ronay
curated by Trinie Dalton

June 4 – July 11, 2010
Opening Reception: Friday, June 4th from 6 – 8:30 PM
Canada New York

While Charles sat there in a thoughtless, vegetative stupor, completely surrendered to circulation, respiration, and the deep pulsation of his natural juices, there formed inside his perspiring body an unknown, unformulated future, like a terrible growth, pushing forth in an unknown direction.
—Bruno Schulz, Mr. Charles.

If monsters are metaphors, then we now think of the little man that Paracelsus brewed by beaker as a pocket of thought deep in the recesses of the scientist’s unconsciousness. In alchemical magic, homunculi were diminutive men under twelve inches tall who, like goat kids who pop out as walking, whinnying critters, were birthed fully-formed through the mystical transformation of sperm. Their embryonic recipe consisted of bones, sperm, skin chunks and animal hair steeped for a month in horse manure. In slightly more modern science, homunculi represent the conscious parts of our brains. But as one website essay reiterates, “homuncular arguments fall into an infinite regress, with the consciousness of each homunculus explained by ever smaller homunculini, nested like Russian dolls.” At the very root of creativity is the desire to tame, harness, and generate art made of this miniature circus material, parading through our minds like a migrant herd of wildebeests.

The artists in this show make figurative work that feels like primordial, barely changed representations of their inner-homunculi. But actually, it is their artwork itself that is a labored, half alive thing with its own life. Their art is the homunculus. Their blobby, witchy monsters are sprung forth onto canvases like the homunculus concocted to chat with Mephisto by Faust’s assistant, Wagner. Like golems, some are even sculpted out of clay. Their figures pile up, fornicate, dance, rest in awkwardly yogic poses, and generally exude respect for charmed, ancient ritual. While these works are not made on diminutive scales, each artist here makes large works that incorporate miniscule elements to express a fascination with microscopic aspects of hybrid human forms.

Allison Schulnik’s chunked out paint application compliments her studies of hoboes, clowns, gnomes, and other tricksters. As a Claymation animator, too, she gets deep into golem territory, to create an overall body of work that pays homage to James Ensor but is more playful than plagued.

Matt Greene makes drawings and paintings reveling in his own female fantasies that transform sexuality into a magical symbolism. His works become talismanic portrayals of beings that, like Hindu gods and goddesses, incorporate myriad aspects of self into unified, all-powerful forms that fuse gender, species, and archetypal character into his own sexpot ideal.

Ruby Neri could have fallen off a wagon pulled by Der Blaue Rieter group. Her visionary paintings are reconstitutions out of Bay Area funk and early twentieth century Fauvism. There is a brute physicality in her work; these are figure paintings with the bones left in. Unnatural color and form stains us with the spirit world, they are paintings to die for.

Matthew Ronay’s sculptures, videos, and installations commingle tribal, indigenous, and modern formalist aesthetics to invent new mysticisms and Jungian-inspired things. Whether fictionalized or real, his objects and images seem borne from an infinite well of psychological chaos. Enduring extreme costuming and physical trials, Ronay has recently begun using himself in his sculptures to return to the ritualistic purposes inherent to sacred art. In this, he is the ultimate homunculus manikin.

CANADA is located at 55 Chrystie Street between Hester and Canal Streets in New York City. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 6 p.m. For more information, please contact the gallery at 212-925-4631or at gallery@canadanewyork.com.

NEW TRINIE DALTON COLLECTION: "SWEET TOMB"

DaltonSTCover

Author, artist, critic, journalist and Arthur veteran Trinie Dalton has a tasty new book out. Sized to fit in a large back pocket, wrapped in a delicious front/back cover by Matt Greene, Sweet Tomb features the short stories “Sweet Tomb,” “Green,” Accessing the Vein,” “Gardeners Anonymous,” Killer Pair,” “Best Cake Ever” and “Death Wish.” 104 pages of high-quality Dalton for only 7 bucks.

Sweet Tomb is published by Madras Press—a new, non-profit publisher of individually bound short stories and novellas, with a mission to donate all proceeds to charitable organizations chosen by the authors. Proceeds from Sweet Tomb are going to the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants, a non-profit California native plant nursery, seed source, bookstore, and education center, open to the public year round. Learn more at theodorepayne.org

Sweet Tomb is available from http://www.madraspress.com/bookstore

and also at a few independent bookstores, listed at http://www.madraspress.com/locations

Trinie Dalton archive: http://sweettomb.com/

Friday, May 29, Eagle Rock: BRIGHTBLACK MORNING LIGHT (all ages welcome)

brightblackweb

Friday, May 29th
Brightblack Morning Light
Rio En Medio
William Fowler Collins
@ the Center for Arts, Eagle Rock
2225 Colorado Blvd
LA, CA 90041
$12 / 8:00pm / All Ages
Advance ticket link: http://bit.ly/HghCW

Brightblack Morning Light were interviewed by Trinie Dalton in Arthur No. 31 (Oct 2008), with photographs by Lisa Law. The magazine is available for $10 from the Arthur store. The article is available online here.

Brightblack were also interviewed by Daniel Chamberlin in Arthur No. 23 (July 2006), with photography by Eden Batki. Were almost out of copies of that issue, so it’s going for $100 from the Arthur store.

April 25th – Reminder: Trinie Dalton's presentation of MIRROR/RROROH at The Observatory in Brooklyn, NY

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY3lcGx3Lz4&feature=player_embedded

Longtime Arthur contributor Trinie Dalton sez:

“I’m giving a little slide talk about the Mirror Horror section in MYTHTYM. Horror films, sexy ladies, mirrors in myth. Should go about 30 minutes, then a cup of wine and hello. Wine-soaked signing to follow event.”

MYTHTYM is a collection of zines that Trinie has produced through the years:

“…I deliberately include not only established artists and writers but also young people who are relatively unknown in their field. The idea of introducing and contextualizing artists by hanging their art on the same wall is a fundamental one in the art world. To me, my zines are literary/art/music history anthologies, following the group-show or salon style. They’re like parties on paper, and I want to be an exquisite host.”

Admission: Free.

When: Saturday, April 25th, 7pm

Where: Observatory (same building as Proteus Gowanus, Cabinet Magazine, &
Morbid Anatomy Library). 543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Subway: R/M to Union Street or F/G to Carroll St.

Directions: http://observatoryroom.org/directions/

Copies of MYTHTYM will be available for $25 cash.


April 25, Phantasmaphile Blog Presents Trinie Dalton Book Talk at the Observatory in Brooklyn

mythym1
This Saturday, Phantasmaphile‘s Pam Grossman hosts “Mirror Horror” at the Observatory, a brand new event space in Gowanus run collaboratively by seven Brooklyn-based bloggers and artists. Trinie Dalton, Arthur contributor and creator of the multidisciplinary modern myth anthology MYTHTYM, will be giving a visually-enhanced talk on the theme of mirrors in horror films and art, followed by a book signing. Should be a grand old time!

When: Saturday, April 25th, 7pm

Where: Observatory (same building as Proteus Gowanus, Cabinet Magazine, & Morbid Anatomy Library). 543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215

Subway: R/M to Union Street or F/G to Carroll St. Directions here.

Admission: Free. But bring cash for wine & copies of the gorgeous book, MYTHTYM. Trinie will be happy to sign it for you.

Some more background on Trinie Dalton:

“Trinie Dalton has long made popular zines on variety of subjects. She brings together artists, musicians, critics, novelists and cartoonists in one gorgeous stew. MYTHTYM compiles the best work from her previous zines on Werewolves, mythical beings, and the natural world. But best of all, this volume includes an entirely new, 100-page body of work on the theme of mirrors. This new section will investigate the mirror as a symbolic object in horror stories. The metaphorical mirror within the scope of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. The metaphysical implications of mirroring, especially in the ancient world of alchemy. Reflective surfaces. Disco. The mirror’s role in psychedelic, symmetrical art. The first mirrors to emerge in primitive cultures, and the roles they played in early mythologies. Mirrors as scrying tools. It can branch out from there, into light, rainbows, death, vampirism, magic. Not restricted legally to mirrors by any means. In fact if it were all about mirrors that would be too many mirrors.” — PictureBox, Inc

Download an excerpt from MYTHTYM here.

Merriweather Postponed Pavilion

So if you’re in Southern California and you had tickets for one of the two canceled Animal Collective shows this weekend — canceled due to sickness, so no bad vibes — you are no doubt very bummed. Doubly bummed now that the AC site is encouraging ticket holders to contact the point of purchase for a refund, i.e. the shows aren’t being rescheduled.

Your contributing editor has been elevated to the point of ecstatic laughter at an Animal Collective performance on the Sung Tongs tour, and he has walked out early from a disorienting and rather grating show when they were out pushing Strawberry Jam. It appears as if this current tour was of a quality suggesting the former experience, as in true jam band fashion AC has been taking older songs from their back catalog and re-rubbing their edges to fit into the gloriously swirling forms of the transcendent Merriweather Post Pavilion.

To get a sense of what we Southern Californians missed out on, we direct you toward NYC Taper’s excellent AUD recording of their January 21, 2009 Bowery Ballroom show. Put the “My Girls” house-building anthem video on repeat, mute the audio and let the reel-to-reel roll. (Re: the video. How many granola jam-band credits do you get for rocking a headlamp on stage? Enough to counterbalance the lack of hairy chinspace?)

It was just last year that Arthur pal Zach Cowie, in his 2007 year-end list of favorite things, predicted that “homeboys are about five seconds away from having a tapers section.” Now, a year later, and this is definitely the reality. NYC Taper’s show is the best we’ve heard, but if you find something as good or better here in this Animal Collective dot org archive of live recordings, drop us a line in the comments.

And while we’re at it, Arthur contributor Trinie Dalton — who profiled AC for the cover of Arthur 19 (Nov 2005) — catches up with the band once again for LA Citybeat. Read “The Polka Dot Lives On” here.

Animal Collective will be back for shows all up and down the West Coast — including an already sold-out (DANG) stop at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur — in May.

UPDATE:
Read a take on the aforementioned Bowery Ballroom show (written by one of our favorite Deadheads, natch) over at the Village Voice.

(thanks to Raspberry Jones for the AC dot org tip!)

NEW TRINIE DALTON BOOK DETAILS…

productimage.jpg


MYTHTYM
Compiled and edited by Trinie Dalton

Hardcover
5” x 8.5”
204 Pages
Full Color
$30.00

“Trinie Dalton has long made popular zines on variety of subjects. She brings together artists, musicians, critics, novelists and cartoonists in one gorgeous stew. MYTHTYM compiles the best work from her previous zines on Werewolves, mythical beings, and the natural world. But best of all, this volume includes an entirely new, 100-page body of work on the theme of mirrors. This new section will investigate the mirror as a symbolic object in horror stories. The metaphorical mirror within the scope of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. The metaphysical implications of mirroring, especially in the ancient world of alchemy. Reflective surfaces. Disco. The mirror’s role in psychedelic, symmetrical art. The first mirrors to emerge in primitive cultures, and the roles they played in early mythologies. Mirrors as scrying tools. It can branch out from there, into light, rainbows, death, vampirism, magic. Not restricted legally to mirrors by any means. In fact if it were all about mirrors that would be too many mirrors.

“Contributors include: Aurel Schmidt Folkert De Jong Takeshi Murata Jim Drain Andrew Leland Aura Rosenberg Sue De Beer Leif Goldberg Matt Greene Francine Spiegel Derek McCormack Jesse Bransford Shamim Momin Amy Gerstler assume vivid astro focus David Altmejd Sammy Harkham Rachel Kushner Marnie Weber Bjorn Copeland Paper Rad

“About her zines, Trinie Dalton has said: ‘I don’t want my books to be cliquish, but at the same time I don’t see them as communal free-for-alls. Of course, many people I invite to participate are my friends, and are friends with each other, but I deliberately include not only established artists and writers but also young people who are relatively unknown in their field. The idea of introducing and contextualizing artists by hanging their art on the same wall is a fundamental one in the art world. To me, my zines are literary/art/music history anthologies, following the group-show or salon style. They’re like parties on paper, and I want to be an exquisite host.'”