I was first introduced to the Portland-based label Dropping Gems two years ago when they released their first compilation, Gem Drops. I was shocked. Here was a labor of love, done by friends for friends, with incredible beats and songs, and all the revenue went to the American Cancer Society. I stayed fresh and young, I got down with some kale jams (seriously), and I loved it so much I even featured a track on my Redford Rise mixtape, for all of you to enjoy.
Gem Drops Two followed the next year with the same inspired blend of tracks. Anything from synth pop, hip hop beats, ambient, drone… it was there. This was music to fall in love to, to get lost in a forest with, to make you dance in the sunshine. Once again, the proceeds went to cancer. Once again, I was smitten with the music.
Gem Drops Three came out yesterday. Many of the same things are there, but after several years, the sound is more refined. This is a labor of love. So through some help by friends of friends, I got a chance to ask label founder and Portland native Aaron Meola how he does it. And in the loving tradition of The Fox Is Black interviews, I asked him five questions about music, love, and passion.
My favorite part of this piece though is at the end when Shigeru explains what’s important to him in regards to architecture.
What’s the most important thing when making architecture?
Even something that I intended as a temporary structure, like a paper church I made in Kobe in 1995, can end up being permanent. That church was relocated to Taiwan in 2006, after they had an earthquake there, and it still exists today. Ultimately, what determines the permanence of a building is not the wealth of the developer or the materials that are used, but the simple question of whether or not the resulting structure is supported — loved — by the people.
Architecture made simply for profit — even if it’s in concrete — is in fact temporary. Commercial architecture is precisely that. If it is made for making money then eventually some other developer will come along and try to make more money out of it by demolishing it and rebuilding it. And it just repeats. In that way concrete is in fact temporary.
However, if you make architecture that is loved by the people, then regardless of what it is made of, it will be kept.
I’ve been seeing a lot of folks suggesting I read this interview with Louis C.K. by Dave Itzkoff from the New York Times so I figured it must be pretty good. I’m not a huge Louis C.K. fan, nothing against him, but I’ve always admired for calling out that everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy. Overall it’s a good read though it may not shed a lot of new lot on C.K. for those who are fans. But I did find a lot of wisdom in this part of the interview, which is true of any profession, including design.
Does it matter that what you’ve achieved, with your online special and your tour can’t be replicated by other performers who don’t have the visibility or fan base that you do?
Why do you think those people don’t have the same resources that I have, the same visibility or relationship? What’s different between me and them?
You have the platform. You have the level of recognition.
So why do I have the platform and the recognition?
At this point you’ve put in the time.
There you go. There’s no way around that. There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute.
Odd pairings are always interesting. Earlier today Alec Bladwin released a new episode of his podcast Here’s The Thing featuring Radiohead and Atoms For Peace frontman Thom Yorke. To me, it sounds like an incredibly odd pairing, the movie star and the rock star, trading stories and getting deep. But the end result is actually quite interesting to listen to. Baldwin is a fantastic host who can masterfully guide the conversation to get such wonderful answers out of Yorke, while Yorke actually turns out to be a delightful, chatty guest. Highly recommended if you’re a fan of either of these guys.
Found through The Scout – Thom Yorke photo by Phil Fisk
Last month Nobrow Press launched an exciting new children’s book imprint called Flying Eye Books. Over the last 4 years Nobrow have been producing some really incredible books and comics and it’s exciting to see that they’re now bringing their talents to the world of children’s books. Focusing solely on publications for kids aged 4 to 11, the new imprint isn’t just exciting news for Nobrow fans, it’s exciting news for kids everywhere!
Over the course of the next year they aim to release 12 new titles, ranging from picture books and comic books, to fiction and non-fiction. Some are generated in-house while others are translated versions of handpicked French and German titles. Looking at their upcoming releases it’s clear to see that these new books will be just as good as their parent publisher’s output.