Thursday, January 20, 2011

Audioproject2 - Musical Duo from Czech Republic!

Every so often, you strike gold on YouTube.  This is one of those times.  Several weeks back I stumbled on a musical duo (husband and wife) from the Czech Republic, who call themselves Audioproject2.  Their names are Adriana and Pavel.  I love their combination of blues and gospel standards.  They graciously agreed to be interviewed for my blog.

HRA:  It is somewhat unusual to hear the same artists singing blues and gospel. I really like that. You seem to express both kinds of music equally well. Is that a difficult balance to make?

Pavel: Actually,I don't find it difficult. At least not as I personally feel it.  Blues is about everyday life. It reflects ordinary week-days.  Good times-bad times, troubles, love and hate... Gospel - it is Sunday... It's a message. It's a message that you have found something bigger in this world below and it describes the way that led to this finding.  But there are still days of the week. These genres are as close as possible for me. Both of them have the same roots - the heart.

(Every good piece in so-called modern music is influenced by blues or gospel ..)

Adriana: Yes, I agree. I never devided music which I like to sing into categories.  For me the most important thing is the feeling.I believe there's not a bad music style, but just poor songs.  But if I should classify it - blues and gospel are my favourites.

HRA:  Can you name some of your musical influences (both vocal and guitar)?

Adriana:  My musical influences, they were quite a few. For me definately early music of Ike & Tina, she was my idol and I learned almost all her R'n'B songs. Then Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley. I love strong and impressive voices. And I must not forget about Johny Cash.

Pavel:  There are many... Paul Anka's Diana was my very first song. I played my guitar and sang it with Czech lyrics. And then, there was a very special genre, we call it "folk" in the Czech Republic.  It's a mixture of acoustic music across old time songs, country, bluegrass and Dylan-like singer-songwriters.  "Spiritual Kvintet (Quintet)" band, offered a bit more than this. They started to play in the 60ies,  i.e. golden age of gospel. Their music was for us at that time a window out of this part of the world, behind the cold war's wall :-). They played and sing about freedom and faith (We shall overcome).


And sure, I must mention big rock guitar legends as Hendrix, Clapton, Page and many others during my "Hard and Heavy" :-) years. But most of all DAVID GILMOUR from Pink Floyd was my hero.  Also I admire Mr. Guitar - Chet Atkins, Django Rheinhardt and many others.

I have to say I've found a lot of fantastic unknown and very talented artists on YouTube recently..

HRA:  How long has each of you been doing music? How long together?

Adriana:  My mom says I began to sing long before I could talk fluently :-).  Music was the main reason why I began to learn English....Singing has always been my passion!

But till now – just a hobby, because at first I studied law at The Charles' University and then worked here in Prague. As a child I was singing in a choir, then in several bands, but we performed not so often.

Now we'd like to form a band and play live much more often!

Pavel:  I got my first guitar when I was 10. On Christmas day. I played Diana till the New Year's Eve... :-) Later I played with a rock band, before I met Adriana. We did a lot of gigs in music clubs all around the country. We played a mixture of reggae, hard rock and rap (old school). The band broke up and I was looking for a singer. And I've found her!

But... we founded another sort of a band – marriage :-)) .

HRA:  Do you play live for people at coffeehouses or other music venues? If so, how do you like live performance?

Pavel:  Last spring we decided to start with music again. We are practising and preparing our own songs.  In the meantime, we play some jazz, gospel, and blues standards we both like.  We are glad to share them on YouTube with the others. Hopefully we'll be performing live soon...

Adriana:  Not much experience so far, but I'm looking forward to it!

HRA:  Do you have any idea of putting a larger band together, perhaps with electric guitar and drums?

Adriana / Pavel:  Yes, we are in touch with other musicians and working on it. But also we like acoustic playing especially for minor genres of music.  It's something like a test, if you are good enough to play and sing live, because every little mistake is heard pretty loud!

But of course the more instruments the richer sound, so we are putting a couple of good musicians with the same musical taste together (which is not so easy,for the majority of people here prefer playing rock and folk).

HRA:  Anything else you would like to tell the readers about you or your music?

Pavel:  We really much appreciate your interest in our music!

Adriana:  I would like to thank the readers and listeners for their time, and wish them all the best! If you find among our songs some that you like we'll be very pleased.  And the biggest THANK belongs especially TO YOU PAUL for this great offer!

Thank you so much.  Adriana Pavel AudioProject2

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interview with Artist Michelle Geromel

I first found out about the art of Michelle Geromel through a mutual friend on Facebook. She has a website, and writes a blog called Love & Passion. She also has an Etsy store, where you can purchase her work.

Hi Michelle. How long have you been painting?

Hi Paul. I’ve been painting for about 16 years. Before that I worked mostly in colored pencil and pastel.

Did you receive formal training for painting. If so, can you describe it for us?

No I did not. I have taken classes from instructors such as Diane Youngblood and Robert Burridge. But I never went to art school or took classes in college.

You seem to have a few distinct styles. What sort of thing is currently your favorite to paint?

Right now it’s a toss up between the abstract landscapes which I paint with my fingers and my figurative paintings.

Can you say a few words about the materials and brushes you like to use?

From a brush perspective I like to use filberts.

I have three favorite types of acrylic paint. I use a lot of Nova Paints (a small company out of LA). Nova paints are not as thick but keep their color well and are very inexpensive. Plus they have some fun colors to mix with or just experiment with like steel flecked or gold. I also love Golden and Holbein. Holbein has the best color pigments - but their colors are different than standard palette colors - so I mix it up.

Do you paint from life, or from photographic references?

Generally I paint from photos. That way I can setup the light the way I like and also from a practical perspective - I like to paint into the night. I don’t want to have to call a model at 10pm and ask them to sit for me for a few hours.

Do you derive more joy from the process of painting, or from the product?

That’s a really good question Paul. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that.

Probably the process. If I could paint in my studio all day long, every day I’d be a very happy girl. BUT - painting lots of paintings means you need to put them somewhere. And I do get a great amount of bliss from someone’s happy smiles, or other indications of joy when they see my work/ purchase my work. So the product can derive a great deal of pleasure as well.

Can you tell us a story about someone you have met through an art connection?

I met one of my best friends. She was sitting across from me at Sawdust Winter Festival in Laguna Beach. And she came over and introduced herself. We became inseparable after that. Some of it was because of the art - having a friend who is an artist can be very comforting. All of a sudden all the odd ways you look at the world aren’t so odd, when someone else see them too. And some of the connection was because we were both coming out of relationships at the time and needed a friend who understood that pain. We are very supportive of each other’s art and I see her every week for one thing or another.

It’s funny - and I don’t think I ever told her this. Years earlier I walked by her booth at that festival and I remembered her after that. Out of all the artists - she was the only one who’s art and person I remembered that visit to the festival. And now we are good friends.

Do you find that you need the validation of others (buyers, galleries, critics)? Or do you already know in your heart that a painting is good?

Validation is a double edged sword. If you believe other people’s press about you - then when it’s bad, do you believe that as well? I really try to not need outside validation because that is giving my power away.

Am I hurt if someone criticizes my art? Sometimes yes. But when I step back I realize in most cases that person was threatened by something they felt from my art and/or they are a frustrated artist and seeing someone who is successfully putting paint to canvas bothers them.

I think there are people in my life in whom their opinion matters. A few of my best friends - I do ask their feedback, sometimes about a painting (ie. Is it done? - they always say yes way before I declare it done) and sometimes about a new series. But I have learned even here, a lot of times people I love don’t necessarily see the vision until it’s complete. How can they? It’s not their vision to begin with.

I have also discovered something about my art - and that is- it’s connecting. Some type of art may not be for everyone - but I know it’s good. And I can tell when it’s crap. And generally, even things I think are crap, other people think are good. So I’ve stopped looking outside for that validation and just paint.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring painter, what would it be?

Just paint. People will try to mold you into what they think you should do - what subjects you should paint, what your style should be, what color palette you should use. Don’t listen to any of it. Just do what you do - and listen to your intuition and eventually you will find your own voice, your own style.
When you create a painting, do you consciously have the viewer in mind, trying to create a certain set of feelings for that person? Or do you paint for yourself (by which I mean, follow your own vision) and hope that it also resonates with others?

A little bit of both. I started doing my male torsos because people kept asking for them. But I couldn’t start them until I was ready to paint them - with powerful intention. Meaning on the back of every piece I place an emotion, an objective for that piece. And until I could comfortably do that I didn’t paint men. And now I think these are some of my best pieces. However, at the same time, I was told a while ago, by a great expert in art, that I knew nothing about nudes because mine were not lying down. That just doesn’t work for me. It’s not my vision - it’s not why I paint them. I’m inspired by the ancient roman and greek statutes. So while I do listen to what people want, and what resonates with them - it also needs to resonate with me first.

That's hilarious about the "not lying down" comment. Some people want to inhabit such tiny boxes.

What one aspect of your life in art has brought you the greatest joy?

Great question. Growing up and then working in corporate America, there always seemed to be a “what will people think” question running through my mind. I don’t mean about art - I mean about everything. The color of the rug in the living room, what I was wearing, what decorations I put outside my home etc. And I’ve noticed this internal dialogue in a lot of other people as well.

The awesome thing about being an artist is I’ve learned to turn that off. Because for me there is no way I could paint anything I now paint if I was worried about what people might say. No one got the torso paintings when I first started them. No one got why I would paint a giraffe - but now they love them. This worrying about what other people think is stifling.

And I don’t have that anymore. And occasionally if I forget, friends will remind me that I’m an artist, I can do whatever. So I do. I wear what I want. I decorate my house as I like. I even dyed my hair with pink highlights for a while, because I could. Embracing being an artist has been the best. Because it has been freeing.

Thanks, Michelle. Awesome interview!