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Art has been, and continues to be, integral to our society. It can be used to document, express and to preserve, among many other things. It captures the surreal. Within this realm of preservation and representation lies the art of memories, dreams, and nostalgia. These are the focus of Australia-born, Vancouver-based artist Aimee Young in her new collection, entitled Everyday Surfaces.

This collection of art is inspired by the juxtaposition of Aimee’s experience in the city and her formative years in the rural areas of Australia, “just running around and being like a dirty little kid in like the acres of land with no supervision.” Despite feeling like much “more of a modern city person now,” Aimee says her early experiences continue to stay with her — often appearing within her dreams. With this concept of nostalgia as a focus, Everyday Surfaces reflects the importance of the unextraordinary, the moments or objects of our lives we generally brush off — everything from little moments with friends to the smell of rain on hot concrete. The inspiration to create can come from anywhere. As Aimee says, these “everyday things that happen can be really unique and interesting in themselves,” and it is these everyday moments from her home that mobilised this project for Aimee.

Illustration by Vannysha Chang for Discorder

She likens the nature of memories to that of dreams, as both are narratives we tell ourselves and, as such, often personal and subjective — with each person in possession of their own differing ideas of the ‘truth’. Aimee’s art within this collection is about “crossing those little boundaries between dreams and memories.”

Aimee Young has multiple levels of experience within the art community; working as a curator for art shows and other artists, running an online art and apparel store, and working as a graphic designer. While these experiences have allowed for her to gain more confidence in herself and in her work — through meeting other artists, sharing experiences, and watching her online store take off — they’re also very much the result of restrictions she’s encountered.

All photography by Coltrane Yan for Discorder

One such restriction is her gender, which Aimee tells me has led to her not being taken seriously, being told that she can’t do something, and having “to work ten times harder to get a smidgen of the opportunity.” Many of Aimee’s varied roles within the arts world have stemmed from her defiance of those saying things like “it’s not perfect,” or “women don’t usually do that” — in favour of deciding to “do everything and give everything a try.” Part of this process has also been learning to recognize when to “very firmly, but nicely, [say] ‘I’m not doing this’ or ‘I’m not putting up with that.’”

Another pressure she has faced is one common to many artists: having to balance the personal aspects of her art with economic success. However, through diversifying her roles in the art community, Aimee has been able to adapt and grow, coming to value her enjoyment of what she does over monetary gain. For Aimee today, “making money from my art as a number one thing is not even something I would consider.” This is, I believe, an amazing quality to see in artists and other producers of creative expression, as there tends to be a lot of outside pressure to be financially successful, to not be a ‘starving artist’, over the value of doing something you enjoy.

  

Everyday Surfaces takes a different direction from Aimee’s previous work, much of which was created when she spent a lot of her time travelling, working off of a Wacom Pad and living out of a backpack. Having a larger, set studio space allows for her to settle in and work on larger pieces like the ones to be showcased in this up and coming collection —  a development she is excited about. However, like with any work, presenting her art to others comes with a certain vulnerability. Aimee in turn uses this vulnerability, and sometimes even fear, to strengthen her practice, saying it serves to “[reinforce the idea of] just do it and just keep working through the scary moments, and pushing through the hard part to get to the good bit.” This is something many artists can relate to, as there can be a pressure one places on oneself. But it is integral to creating art to allow yourself to be free of this pressure, to allow yourself to create. To allow yourself to be vulnerable and have that strengthen your work.

As Aimee says, “you don’t have to wait for inspiration to come to you.” It can be found in everyday surfaces.

xx

Everyday Surfaces opens Thursday, May 16 with a reception from 5-9pm at Slice of Life gallery on Venables St. The show runs until June 14. You can find Aimee’s previous work on her website and instagram.

 

 

The music video for Blocktreat’s latest single, “Alpha,” is a suburban hallucination; making neighborhoods and too-empty industrial spaces seem abnormally enticing. The scenes, composed of shots of cars, fences, and alleyways, appear to be alive: erratically re-calibrating themselves with flashes of quick light.

Impressing on the viewer a twenty-first century glitch-in-the-simulation sentiment, the video encapsulates the strange feeling suburbia radiates. The star of the music video is the small town of Williams Lake BC, where Brandon Hoffman, the mind behind Blocktreat, grew up. “Williams Lake naturally has this gritty charm about it. It’s a really beautiful area, in kind of a stark, lonely way. I thought it was only natural to highlight that kind of desolate beauty for the music video,” he explains.

All images in this piece used courtesy of Blocktreat

“Alpha” is wistful, beat-heavy, and features dreamy vocals and distorted instrumentals. The song also switches things up with a groovy guitar solo bridge. Explaining the inspiration behind the track, Brandon tell me “this song in particular is about a good bud who was having a tough time with some personal issues. She opened up to me and some friends about it, then kind of retreated from the whole scene, like she was embarrassed, or felt bad about dumping her burden on her pals… [I’m] still not really sure what her reasoning was for trying to brush it under the rug. It made me feel pretty rough to imagine her working through it on her own, especially considering she has so many friends that would gladly be there to help if she wanted it.”

The video feels homegrown, a lot like the way Blocktreat makes music — everything from writing to recording is done alone at Brandon’s home studio.  All songs from his upcoming record, After Dark, were written and recorded in Williams Lake. But the creative process behind the music video for “Alpha” was highly collaborative, bringing together Brandon and his friends. It was shot by photographers Casey Bennett and Rick Magnell, as well as Andrew Bettles — all locals of Williams Lake.

“We brainstormed the idea of collecting ‘live’ footage of the instruments and singing, and projecting that footage onto a handful of buildings and alleyways in town — so it would have a musical element tied into the video, but still highlight the town itself,” recalls Brandon.

  

It’s subtle. The video is dominated by shots of empty spaces. In some scenes, Blocktreat is projected onto the walls playing instruments. But the projections are somewhere else too far away, and too faint. In turn, the overwhelming feeling of empty is amplified; illustrating a nostalgic ghost-town.

“The overall vibe we were trying to capture was the desolate beauty of Northern BC living,” Brandon tells me. “I got [Rick] to shoot the instrumental and singing stuff in his studio. Then Casey and I, along with Casey’s bud Andrew, spent a day or so driving around Williams Lake with a video projector, blasting the footage on cool-looking buildings and stuff. We got a couple funny looks from passers-by, especially when we lit up that cube truck like a drive-in theatre.”

Check out the results for yourself:

“Alpha” is the first single from Blocktreat’s upcoming record, After Dark, which will be released in June. It’s available for pre-order now via bandcamp. Keep watch via their website for release shows in Vancouver and the interior.