Layla Sailor's gorgeous photo series, Kokoshnik, examines the traditional Russian headdress in a gloriously colorful and modern fashion. Historically worn by married women from the 16th to 19th centuries, the customary kokoshnik is generally characterized by a nimbus crest-like shape and decorative design. By contrast, Sailor's photos, a collaboration with designer Lisa Stannard, are an apt abstraction of the traditional headdress, incorporating lively geometric forms as well floral and animalistic elements, while honoring the intense, ornate design of the traditional pieces. The impetus for the series was to challenge how pattern is photographed, but nearing its completion, Kokoshnik took on additional meaning, as a way to show support for the members of the feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot, a feminist punk rock group who were protested the Orthodox Church's support of Vladimir Putin on the soleas of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior and were subsequently arrested. In Sailor's photo, the phase “Let Our Sisters Go” is placed prominently and resonates as solidarity for the cause of freeing Pussy Riot. The Kokoshnik project is exemplary of Sailor's affinity for color and her talent for displaying imaginative and cinematic images.In the interview below, Sailor dishes on her dreamy style, her lifelong passion for folk art, and the distinctions between commercial and personal work.

 

Stemming from a road trip director AJ Rojas took that spanned over a dozen states, the music video for Portugal. The Man's "Modern Jesus" is purposely treated to alternate between hi-def and lo-fi, as is paralleling the fascination which can be found in middle America's often gritty underbelly. A cast of memorable characters appear to leave indelible marks upon one's brain in "Modern Jesus": a grandpa dancing in a farm-like setting; bloody youth wrestling one another atop barbed wire; overweight and wheelchair-bound individuals repping the same taser-owning crew; the list goes on. This fascinating sociological portrait seems to serve as a reminder real life is often more interesting than fiction -- and that embarking on a creative journey without a plan can often lead to brilliantly unraveling realities. In the featured interview, Portugal. The Man's bassist and back-up vocalist Zach Carothers speaks to his love for music videos, on working with friends, and on occasionally skirting record label rules to follow your own creative impulses.
"I have wanted to work with AG since our friend, Michael Ragen, introduced me to his work with Earl Sweatshirt a few years ago. He has an eye for the things that happen below surface, in bedrooms, in the streets and in our schools and captures it without prejudice. AG has a vision and it doesn't matter if you think the video could use more of John running because, in the end, he knows what he wants and always makes the right decision. A true artist." - John Gourley, Vocalist of Portugal. The Man

 

In Hinduism, there is a term called Shaktipat, in which a guru transmits enlightenment by their very presence. Considering the places that some of us here at REDEFINE Magazine have voyaged to while listening to the music of Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti, solo musicians who are also collectively known as Barn Owl, we decided to harangue the duo with a bunch of questions about meditation, to see how much they had seen in such altered spaces. Barn Owl's music seems custom-made for the sweat lodge or meditation hall. As you listen to an amalgam of tribal percussion, temple bells, cosmic synths, and rustic American transcendentalism, you can practically smell the sweet sage burning. Their music knows no bounds, and as such, is a ritual that everybody can take part in. As increasing amounts of people and culture make demands on our time and attention, the ability to find a quiet, sacred space becomes essential. Barn Owl's portable ashram is a precious resource -- you can strap on a pair of headphones and find some space on a crowded train or a busy street to reflect. They encourage us to slow down, and find a little peace. Barn Owl's latest full-length album, V, is out now on Thrill Jockey Records. PURCHASE BARN OWL's V ON AMAZON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANTHONY MASTERS; ABOVE ARTWORK BY EMILY FRASER

Jon Porras

"Into Midnight" from Black Mesa

Evan Caminiti

"Fading Dawn" from Dreamless Sleep

Barn Owl

"Void Redux" from V Barn Owl’s music has a way of slowing down attention, slowing down one's perception of time. Meditation produces a similar result. What are your intentions with putting music out into the world? Are they aligned with such qualities?
Jon Porras: Especially in the Bay Area, I feel myself trying to slow down in the wake of a fast paced, technology-based culture. Maybe this desire to slow down comes out subconsciously in our work. We’ve always gravitated toward music that builds slowly and thoughtfully, and I believe it can be powerful to feel big impact from subtle shifts in tone, volume and texture.   
Evan Caminiti: I approach music less conceptually than I once did and rely more on intuition and daily practice, embracing the strong moments of improvisation rather than trying over and over again to execute an idea based on concepts that don't resonate viscerally. Having a specific vision and knowing what we want to hear is crucial; I would say we always make the kind of music we would to listen to. I think slow music, deep music that taps into something beyond just entertainment, music that engages your body and mind in an all encompassing way -- that is really valuable and crucial. Personally, it is a major part of my well-being, and I hope through releasing music that it does the same for others. I find it to have a grounding effect, both energizing and calming.
 
Though they have long been manufacturing their own visual aesthetic, Seattle's Midday Veil recently enlisted the help of director Steven Miller and cinematographer Ian Lucero for their newest music video for "Great Cold of the Night". The final product is a dizzying take on spiritual death and rebirth, made possible by zombie-like witches and their "cannibalism" of a carefully-sculpted red velvet cake. Midday Veil's Emily Pothast and director Steven Miller take turns to offer their commentaries in the Q&A interview below, followed by a stream of the music video itself.
"The basic concept has been sort of developing for years, due to our interest in mythology, especially ancient mystery religions that involve sacrificing or dismembering a god/hero and taking him into the underworld in order to give him a secret awareness of the processes of death and resurrection." - Emily Pothast

 

The childish use of color and scraggly linework of Hamden, Connecticut-based artist Christopher Mir are misleading; if these works strike you as digital MS Paint drawings made by a youngster, you'd be dead wrong. Herein lies the most well-rendered chicken scratch you've ever seen, set down with acrylic paints and enamel, and full of fascinating characters, unusual settings, and off-kilter subject matter. In the full post, Mir offers some words about the inspiration behind a select number of pieces. Despite their simple and straight-forward presentations, Mir's inspiration is often rooted in current events and older artistic works, as well as symbolic and esoteric knowledge.
(9 IMAGES TOTAL) The Alchemist "This is based on an image from a book called Alchemy and Mysticism. In the original work -- from the 17th century I believe -- the man in the foreground isn't blue, but in the painting I wanted to make him into a Krishna figure or a water being. He's there to water the trees and put out the fire. The entire image is open to interpretation, but in my mind, the symbol of the tree refers to our own feeling of being grounded -- rooted within the body -- or of being uprooted -- lost in thought or egoistic delusion."
Mir currently has a solo show at Benrimon Contemporary in NYC (514 West 24th Street, 2nd Floor) through February 23rd and another next month at TMproject in Geneva, Switzerland (2, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers).
Shaman

 

At this moment, your mind is receiving stimuli that defines the space around you. Infinite waves of molecular interactions are coursing through your body, separating isness from notness, being from perception, object from space; determining the contours of your physical and mental limits while daring you to shatter them. Space is your space, the loop from your mind to subject and back. There is room for much confusion here due to latency -- the time it takes to complete the loop -- but there is also room for exploration, for realization, and for creation. How we fill the space is up to us. The opportunity a wonderful gift which can be made even more powerful when we share it with other people -- when we bottle the loop so that others can trace its orbit. We do this through every creative act, and yet, some are more obvious than others. Architecture, for example, or sculpture, but what about words? What about music? There are sounds that define and create spaces that feel more real than those confirmed by visual or physical cues. These are the sounds that characterize the music of both Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, and The Congos. All three artists are prone to constructing material hallucinations from sonic vibrations. And now, in 2012, we have Icon Give Thank, a record combining Sun Araw's desert acid zones with The Congos' Kingston temples into one heroic dose. Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw, Geddes Gengras, Ashanti Roy of The Congos, and director Tony Lowe all chime in on this interview, to offer a glimpse into the divergent cultural and creative worlds that intersected in the creation of a final record and short film product.

Sun Araw

"Crete" from Ancient Romans

M. Geddes Gengras

April 2012 Tour Set

The Congos

"Fisherman" From Heart Of The Congos

 

By focusing in on a simple guitar riff from The Megaphonic Thrift's David Lynch-inspired track, "Fire Walk With Everyone," director Mona Fastvold has turned an indie rock track into a setting for occultism, witchcraft, and magick practices. In the interview below, Fastvold expands upon the ideas that a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge crafted together in her mind.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMq4fu_j5dw

 

If you even remotely keep tabs on the news cycle these days, it's easy to get bogged down in horrifically menacing thoughts of the world falling apart at the seams. The American military industrial complex has nearly doubled in size over the last decade, and it was already a ridiculously bloated frivolity. We continue to rape the environment for our own selfish expansionary agenda of warped materialism, with little respite in sight. There are no spiritual leaders of any real consequence despite the obvious need. The stupidest people with the least resources continue to have the most children, and their billionaire overseers encourage them to take great pride in their own shameless ignorance. And each time I think I've seen the lamest lowest common denominator pop culture moment possible, all I have to do is wait five minutes and something else will creep up knocking my faith in humanity down a few more pegs. It can get worse than Jersey Shore, and does. What to do, then, with all this bleakness constantly lurking in the outskirts of our collective unconscious? A true mystic can take even the darkest of human plotlines and shine the impenetrable light of our higher spiritual destiny on them, illuminating the hidden beauty in the seemingly most hopeless of scenarios. Which is where an artist like Chelsea Wolfe excels. She manages to take the unrelenting horror of her apocalyptic dreams and effectively channels it towards transcendent catharsis. I caught up with the enchanting Miss Wolfe recently by e-mail to chat about how exactly she pulls this off so effectively as well as her admiration of Ayn Rand, amongst other things. Read on, true believers.

 

Like a whale call bubbling forth from oceanic depths, Sister Crayon's 2011 release on Manimal Vinyl, Bellow, is an album dense with emotional weight. "When I think of someone bellowing, I just see a sad, really powerful thing coming out of someone," explains vocalist Terra Lopez. "Years of an... exhausting type of feeling." Bellow is an aural manifestation of such exhaustion -- a collective "bellow" from a group of Nothern California musicians who do not shy away from the fascinations which arise from darkness. Filled with trip-hop beats, soaring operatic vocals, distorted guitars, and delicate synth lines, the sonic universe of Sister Crayon is a varied and complex one. What holds consistent, though, is the band's fortitude, as they explore parallel emotional states through individualized experiences.